Category: Electric vehicles

By on April 22, 2016

cmax

Thirty-three months ago, I announced the addition of a long-term C-Max to our “fleet” with much Sturn und Drang about how I’d be keeping you comprehensively updated on the ownership experience and whatnot.

Well, I’m sure none of you noticed, but I never wrote about the thing again. Why? Well, there wasn’t anything about which to write! My baby-momma got a steady 42 miles per gallon, never had a single mechanical issue, loved the car to death, and became a total Jonestown convert to the C-Max way of life.

It’s now time to replace that C-Max. I suggested an Accord Hybrid. My son suggested a used AMG SLS Black Series. Her new husband suggested keeping the C-Max and getting a faster motorcycle for him instead — possibly a Hayabusa, who knows. All of these were good ideas. But she decided she wanted another C-Max, so we started running the numbers … and as they say on Buzzfeed, you won’t believe what happened next!

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By on March 29, 2016

BYD ebus-12 electric bus badge, Images: © Kamil Kaluski/The Truth About Cars

“I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but EVs are great,” John Beltz Snyder boldly writes in the opening sentence of Autoblog’s “More research shows why EVs are awesome” article.

For more than 15 years, when not writing about cars, I’ve worked in the public transportation sector. With the exception of the two years I spent as an automotive test engineer, I’ve worked on bus and rail projects in engineering and managerial roles.

Mr. Synder, Autoblog’s resident electric-car guru, states a study published by the Indian Institute of Science shows how much money electric buses save over conventional diesel buses. He continues, in a somewhat non sequitur way, to claim that “switching to an EV is about as big of a difference a single individual can make without giving up driving altogether.”

Needless to say, the Autoblog article, and the study it referenced, is of great interest to me. Unfortunately, it misses the benchmark of the cavalierly claimed awesomeness.

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By on September 11, 2015

2015 Nissan Leaf

My enthusiasm for Nissan’s dirt-cheap Leaf in Colorado is well documented. Here in the Centennial State, we have 100 ways to make a 2015 Nissan Leaf affordable for poor journalists like me — thank you, Beer Baron Governor.

For me, the specter of a brand-new car for less than $10,000 is too good to pass up — and even good enough to delay my quest for the best Alfa Romeo Milano in the U.S. That even felt weird to type.

So on Thursday afternoon, I packed up the girlfriend, my expectations for a rock-bottom priced Nissan Leaf and hit the local dealership for a rendezvous with the least-expensive new car in America.  Read More >

By on July 14, 2015

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All power is not created equal.

That’s one of many takeaways from a comprehensive study by the National Bureau of Economic Research, one of the nation’s prominent think tanks.

The paper focused on the relative impact of green-energy cars, concluding that an electric car in New Jersey doesn’t have the same environmental impact as an electric car in California.

The initial reaction has been largely surface-deep: electric cars on the East Coast and in the South are powered by “dirty energy” and aren’t as clean as their gas-powered counterparts. That much is a quasi-fair assessment — the source for the electric cars’ power should be considered when it comes to ultimately determining their environmental impacts.

The study, however, is a larger look at the federal subsidies offered on electric cars.

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By on May 13, 2015

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Though I don’t watch broadcast or cable television much anymore, I like the idea of the ABC’s Shark Tank. Actually, when I still had cable, I watched the original Canadian version of the show, Dragon’s Den, since Windsor, Ontario’s CBC affiliate station is generally part of Detroit area cable bundling. As a tinkerer, inventor and small business owner, the idea of a show premised on pitching your business idea to possible angels is appealing to me. However, while all of the “sharks” undoubtedly have been more successful entrepreneurs than I have been, sometimes they make investments that just don’t make sense to me.

On last Friday’s show, one of the potential investors, Robert Herjavec, pledged $5 million in funding to a startup named Zero Pollution Motors to start building cars propelled by compressed air. ZPM says that they will start building the cars in Hawaii sometime later this year.

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By on March 9, 2015

Obligatory XKCD

You’d think that, after all these years, I’d have a tougher skin for people who say stupid things on the Internet. And I’m pretty good about that, but now that I own a Tesla, it strangely gets under my skin when people write ill-informed drivel about the car. Here at TTAC, we’re all about well-informed drivel. It’s a subtle distinction, but we’re proud of it. Anyway, here’s a bit of unfortunately typical writing, found on a random Internet chat board (not TTAC, because the B&B would never stoop to this). All grammar and spelling have been left untouched.

Tesla interior is junk far away from luxury. BMW 335i has better interior design, and 550i in whole different league. Road noise, cheap panels, flimsy speaker grille, seat comfort, ceiling height, sound quality (premium sound!!) all materials that tesla uses belong to 20$K Honda. So rest of money goes into battery price.

Let’s break this down, shall we?

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By on February 20, 2015

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In an op-ed in USA Today, headlined “Electric car benefits? Just myths“, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, Bjørn Lomborg, calls for people to “stop our green worship of the electric car,” arguing that EVs  end up costing society a lot of money while doing little to cut emissions of carbon dioxide. Even more provocatively, Lomborg claims that because EVs are, for the most part, ultimately powered by coal fired electrical generating plants, the pollution associated with cars that run on electrons will end up killing almost twice as many people as that created by gasoline powered vehicles. Read More >

By on February 10, 2015

Tesla charging

I’ve got a buddy who was once a titan of industry, a computer geek in the C-suite who never forgot his roots. Let’s call him Professor Zorkmid. He never needs to work another day in his life, but he enjoys hanging out with students, telling grand tales of his adventures in the Great Underground Empire, swinging his sword at trolls and making his way through the maze of twisty corporate passages, all alike.

Two years ago, Zorkmid was planning to upgrade his C6 Corvette Convertible to a C7, but then he developed a fancy for the Tesla. Being a rational fellow, he developed spreadsheets with detailed cost models, agonizing over whether it was worth the extra bump for the P85+ (a tighter sport suspension on crappy Houston roads?), the larger 21″ wheels (more opportunity for curb rash?), or the panoramic glass roof (versus the pounding summer heat). The catalyst for him was the August 2013 refresh, when Tesla added parking sensors and made a handful of other small tweaks to the car. He took delivery later on in the year, and fell in love with the car.

Fast forward to the recent announcement of the P85D and Tesla’s various “AutoPilot” features. Zorkmid was sitting in my office, going back and forth about the relative costs and benefits of the new P85D. The extra performance? Certainly desirable. The extra features like the AutoPilot? Seriously beneficial for his commute to campus from his white house, out in a distant field. Sure, it’s got the latest Frobozz technologies, but are you willing to eat the first-year depreciation? He had to think about that. Because if you want to sell it, I might want to buy it. And that’s what leads us to this TTAC exclusive comparison of two Teslas.

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By on July 24, 2014

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The upcoming pure electric vehicle being discussed in the wake of the Opel Ampera’s demise will also be sold in the United States, in the form of a Chevrolet Sonic.

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By on July 21, 2014

ampera-450x317

The Opel Ampera, an Opel-badged Chevrolet Volt, will be killed off in Europe due to slow sales.

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