The Truth About Cars » Alternative Energy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:00:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Alternative Energy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/alternative-energy/ Interest in Hybrid Cars the Same, But Not When Money is Involved http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/interest-in-hybrid-cars-the-same-but-not-when-money-is-involved/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/interest-in-hybrid-cars-the-same-but-not-when-money-is-involved/#comments Sun, 23 Aug 2015 14:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1150945 Two stories paint an interesting present reality for hybrid and electric vehicles in America. Interest in hybrid vehicles has stayed consistent for the last two years among people in the U.S., AutoGuide is reporting. But apparently dealers and buyers can’t keep their hands off of those cars in Connecticut, where that state recently offered up to $3,000 […]

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Two stories paint an interesting present reality for hybrid and electric vehicles in America. Interest in hybrid vehicles has stayed consistent for the last two years among people in the U.S., AutoGuide is reporting. But apparently dealers and buyers can’t keep their hands off of those cars in Connecticut, where that state recently offered up to $3,000 on the hoods of those cars, Automotive News is reporting.

According to a Harris Poll, 48 percent of polled Americans say they would consider a hybrid vehicle next time they’re in the market for a car, which is roughly the same number of people who said so in 2013. Interest in electric and plug-in hybrid cars was up slightly to 21 and 29 percent of respondents, respectively.

Getting people to pull the trigger on that purchase, it seems, is still a matter of dangling a tangible benefit — fuel economy and environmental benefit may still not be enough.

Jeff Aiosa, who owns a Mercedes dealership in New London, Connecticut, said his electrified B-Class cars weren’t going anywhere until that state started offering money directly to consumers to buy one.

“We weren’t selling them heavily before,” Aiosa told Automotive News. “The program certainly created some amped-up demand.”

Connecticut is offering money off the cars directly from a $1 million fund aimed at moving cars off lots. The state is putting up to $3,000 on the hoods of some cars, depending on battery size, to incentive purchases of hybrids and electric cars. Through July, about one-quarter of the incentive money available had been claimed.

“This is the type of program that can be a win-win-win for the state, auto manufacturers, dealers and consumers,” said Leo Karl, who owns a Chevrolet dealership. Karl said he was nearly out of 2015 Volts, which qualify for $1,500 from the program, and expects that the 2016 Volt, which will qualify for $3,000, will go quickly too.

Interestingly, part of the Connecticut program allows dealers who sell the cars to keep up to $300 of the incentive.

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Aston Martin CEO Throws Rocks at Glass House, From Glass House http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/aston-martin-ceo-throws-rocks-glass-house-glass-house/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/aston-martin-ceo-throws-rocks-glass-house-glass-house/#comments Thu, 20 Aug 2015 18:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1148665 Gearing up to sell its own four-door, all-electric sedan in a couple years, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer told well-heeled listeners in Monterey, California that Tesla’s “Ludicrous Speed” was plain ol’ dumb, Automotive News reported. “We don’t do Ludicrous because Ludicrous speed is stupid,” Palmer said. (But selling a variation of a four-door Aston Martin […]

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Gearing up to sell its own four-door, all-electric sedan in a couple years, Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer told well-heeled listeners in Monterey, California that Tesla’s “Ludicrous Speed” was plain ol’ dumb, Automotive News reported.

“We don’t do Ludicrous because Ludicrous speed is stupid,” Palmer said.

(But selling a variation of a four-door Aston Martin that’s been on sale for 6 years with a 200-mile range for $200,000 to $250,000? That’s genius.)

Palmer also described Aston Martin’s upcoming DBX, an all-wheel drive crossover four-door that could go on sale as early as 2019. That car could be offered as a plug-in hybrid, an all-gasoline model and eventually as an all-electric vehicle, according to the report.

Few details about the all-electric Rapide were made available, however. The four-door sedan could boast around 800 horsepower and a 200-mile range.

Aston Martin currently sells the gasoline Rapide for just over $200,000 in the U.S. Tesla’s Model S P85D with Ludicrous Speed update costs $118,000 before incentives.

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Audi’s First All-electric Car Will Be a Model X Fighter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/audis-first-electric-car-will-model-x-fighter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/audis-first-electric-car-will-model-x-fighter/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 15:00:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145761 Audi’s first production electric car will be a crossover to fight the Tesla Model X, the German luxury carmaker said Wednesday. Concept drawings and initial specifications released by Audi detailed their crossover that is powered by three electric motors — borrowed from its R8 e-tron concept car — with a proposed range of over 300 miles. […]

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Audi’s first production electric car will be a crossover to fight the Tesla Model X, the German luxury carmaker said Wednesday.

Concept drawings and initial specifications released by Audi detailed their crossover that is powered by three electric motors — borrowed from its R8 e-tron concept car — with a proposed range of over 300 miles. According to Audi, the crossover, which is called the “e-tron quattro concept,” would slot between the company’s 182.6-inch Q5 and 200.3-inch Q7. Tesla’s Model X is 197 inches long.

The crossover’s lithium-ion battery would give the car a range more than 300 miles.

The crossover will make its first appearance at the Frankfurt Auto Show next month.

According to Audi, the SUV would be incredibly slippery. Its 0.25 coefficient of drag would be the same as a Toyota Prius. The car would use moveable aerodynamic elements in front, on its sides and at the rear of the car. In addition to moveable aero, the crossover will have a completely flat underside.

Audi e-tron quattro concept – Exterior Sketch – Rear Audi e-tron quattro concept – Cockpit Sketch Audi e-tron quattro concept – OLED-based operating and display Audi e-tron quattro concept – Headlight with e-tron light sign A157360_large

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Cadillac Will Have Diesel Engines in US http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/cadillac-will-diesel-engines-us/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/cadillac-will-diesel-engines-us/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 20:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145481 Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen said future Cadillac cars in the U.S. will have diesel powertrains, Automotive News is reporting (via Autoblog). De Nysschen told journalists that oil burners would make their way to the States after they’re launched in Europe, presumably around 2019. He said engineers at Cadillac were working on 4- and 6-cylinder models, but […]

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Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen said future Cadillac cars in the U.S. will have diesel powertrains, Automotive News is reporting (via Autoblog).

De Nysschen told journalists that oil burners would make their way to the States after they’re launched in Europe, presumably around 2019. He said engineers at Cadillac were working on 4- and 6-cylinder models, but wouldn’t specify what cars those engines would power.

Audi, BMW and Mercedes offer diesel power plants in their compact or mid-size sedans that would compete with the theoretical Cadillac.

In January, de Nysschen said as much, “If you want to play in Europe, you better have some diesels,” he told Reuters.

It wouldn’t be the first foray into diesels for Cadillac, Automotive News points out, but perhaps it’ll be a less smoky one.

Cadillac has shown off a hybrid CT6, but it’s unclear how electrification would play into Cadillac’s future plans.

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Saab is the Automotive Kiss of Death, Apparently http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/saab-automotive-kiss-death-apparently/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/saab-automotive-kiss-death-apparently/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 19:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1145401 The resurrected Swedish automaker producing electric 9-3s with a Saab badge signed an agreement with Dongfeng Motor Corporation to help stay afloat, GoAuto in Australia is reporting. National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the Chinese company that purchased the remains of Saab after its parent company Spyker went bankrupt, announced that it would distribute electric cars in China […]

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The resurrected Swedish automaker producing electric 9-3s with a Saab badge signed an agreement with Dongfeng Motor Corporation to help stay afloat, GoAuto in Australia is reporting.

National Electric Vehicle Sweden, the Chinese company that purchased the remains of Saab after its parent company Spyker went bankrupt, announced that it would distribute electric cars in China with automotive giant Dongfeng and add a production facility there, the report details.

In return, NEVS will supply Dongfeng with engineering standards to help it meet safety standards in Europe and North America.

It certainly has been a bumpy road for Saab.

State-owned Dongfeng has a slew of joint ventures with other automakers, including Nissan, Honda and PSA in China.

According to the report, Dongfeng will open a production facility in Tianjin, China to build the Swedish electric cars. Production of the electric 9-3s halted last year when Saab couldn’t pay suppliers.

Dongfeng is apparently unfazed by Saab’s record since the turn of the 21st century.

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Analyst: Tesla Could Surge with Autonomous Ride Sharing Biz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/analyst-tesla-surge-autonomous-ride-sharing-biz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/analyst-tesla-surge-autonomous-ride-sharing-biz/#comments Tue, 18 Aug 2015 17:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1144945 Tesla’s ride-sharing business could be worth hundreds of millions to the company in the future, an analyst for Morgan Stanley said Monday. Adam Jonas increased his price target for Tesla from $280 to $465 — but said the stock could go even higher to $611 — based on his forecast that Tesla could introduce an autonomous ride-sharing […]

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Tesla’s ride-sharing business could be worth hundreds of millions to the company in the future, an analyst for Morgan Stanley said Monday.

Adam Jonas increased his price target for Tesla from $280 to $465 — but said the stock could go even higher to $611 — based on his forecast that Tesla could introduce an autonomous ride-sharing service by as early as 2018, Bloomberg reported.

It’s at least the third time that Jonas has publicly pumped Tesla’s stock.

Jonas says that Tesla’s future could be in part-time car ownership or autonomous sharing, which could position the carmaker with the likes of Apple or Google who may be building cars for those purposes.

Jonas dubbed the prospective venture “Tesla Mobility” although the automaker hasn’t publicly shared plans for that kind of service. Jonas said the automaker could make public plans for a ride-sharing program in 12 to 18 months, with a launch shortly after the mid-size Model 3 in 2017. He predicted that Tesla could launch a fully autonomous, ride sharing program in roughly 10 years.

Before people could split payments for robot cars, Jonas says that there would be two phases: a semi-autonomous phase and then a nearly completely autonomous phase before launching a fully driver-less car in 2025.

Jonas asked Tesla CEO Elon Musk about the program earlier this month during an earnings call and Musk was predictably tight-lipped:

Jonas: First question: Steve Jurvetson was recently quoted saying that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told him that if by 2020 Tesla’s cars are autonomous, that he’d want to buy all of them. Is this a real, I mean, forget the 2020 for a moment, but is this a real business opportunity for Tesla? Supplying cars to ridesharing firms, or does Tesla just cut out the middleman and sell on-demand, electric mobility services directly from the company on its own platform?

Musk: That’s an insightful question.

Jonas: You don’t have to answer it.

Musk: I don’t think I should answer it.

Jonas: Sometimes you can tell more from the non-answer than from the answer.

Shares of Tesla were up 1.5 percent in early trading Tuesday to $259.05.

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England Studying “Charge As You Drive” Inductive Charging Roads http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/england-studying-charge-as-you-drive-inductive-charging-roads/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/england-studying-charge-as-you-drive-inductive-charging-roads/#comments Sun, 16 Aug 2015 17:45:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1143369 The British government is continuing on with a study of inductive charging on England’s busy A roads a reality, reports the BBC (via Gizmodo). Feasibility of the technology hasn’t been fully proven as of yet, but England is getting one step closer by tendering bids for off-road trials. If off-road trials are successful, you might […]

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The British government is continuing on with a study of inductive charging on England’s busy A roads a reality, reports the BBC (via Gizmodo).

Feasibility of the technology hasn’t been fully proven as of yet, but England is getting one step closer by tendering bids for off-road trials. If off-road trials are successful, you might be able to drive long distances across the UK without needing to stop to recharge. The trials are expected to take 18 months from 2016 to 2017.

Elon, you might soon lose your killer app.

The technology has been used in the past in England and elsewhere to provide electricity for public transportation fleets. In Milton Keynes, metal plates were installed in the road to inductively charge buses, but those vehicles must stop in order to receive an electrical top up.

The long-term plan to install the technology in public roads might come to a halt even if the technology itself is proven to work in off-road trials. The cost to implement it on British roads combined with advances in battery technology may negate its viability.

However, this does open up the possibility of a whole new class of vehicle — that of the battery-less EV — which would likely be much more efficient as less mass would need motivation. Also, just imagine how roomy it would make the autonomous pods of the future.

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Report: Next-gen BMW M3 Will Be All-Wheel Drive Plug-in Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/report-next-gen-bmw-m3-will-plug-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/report-next-gen-bmw-m3-will-plug-hybrid/#comments Fri, 14 Aug 2015 17:00:33 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1142001 TheDetroitBureau’s Paul Eisenstein has a fine piece of reporting that the next-generation of BMW’s iconic M3 will have a hybrid, plug-in powertrain — a first for the performance sub-brand. Eisenstein says internal sources provided the information. According to the report, the rear wheels would be driven by the gasoline engine, which could be the M3’s current […]

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TheDetroitBureau’s Paul Eisenstein has a fine piece of reporting that the next-generation of BMW’s iconic M3 will have a hybrid, plug-in powertrain — a first for the performance sub-brand. Eisenstein says internal sources provided the information.

According to the report, the rear wheels would be driven by the gasoline engine, which could be the M3’s current boosted six — or even perhaps an ultra-potent four. Up front, one or two electric motors could power the forward wheels. Eisenstein’s story points out that by using tandem electric motors, the M3 would have baked-in torque vectoring that engineers could exploit for handling performance.

If the report is true, that E36 M3 you passed up on Craigslist eight years ago will soon be worth eleventy billion dollars.A plug-in hybrid M3 would be a seismic shift for the German automaker.

Already, supercar makers such as McLaren and Ferrari have used similar technology for cars that cost more than $1 million, and BMW’s system could use a kinetic energy recovery system, although it’s unclear in the report how it would be used.

Porsche’s Panamera S E-Hybrid already uses a plug-in hybrid powertrain, although that car is in a much different segment than the M3.

The report says engineers initially balked at the additional weight a plug-in powertrain would add, but lightweight materials such as carbon fiber and aluminum found in the i8 could help offset those losses.

A plug-in hybrid could also make the future for BMW’s sub-brand “i” less clear. A few days ago, BMW CEO Harald Kruger said the “i” brand could have more cars in its lineup, but it’s clear that some of the technologies such as electrification and lightweight materials appear to be bleeding into the mainstream lineup.

And a plug-in hybrid system seriously casts a shadow of the future of manuals for BMW’s M division.

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Will America Get The Funky Toyota C-HR Hybrid? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/will-america-get-funky-toyota-c-hr-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/will-america-get-funky-toyota-c-hr-hybrid/#comments Mon, 10 Aug 2015 17:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1137354 Toyota’s interpretation of the VehiCROSS new generation of compact crossovers will go on sale early next year after its reveal in Geneva in March, according to Autocar. The Toyota C-HR (or perhaps Auris Cross) will be built on Toyota’s new global architecture, from which half of its cars will be based by 2020. It’s unclear if the […]

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Toyota’s interpretation of the VehiCROSS new generation of compact crossovers will go on sale early next year after its reveal in Geneva in March, according to Autocar.

The Toyota C-HR (or perhaps Auris Cross) will be built on Toyota’s new global architecture, from which half of its cars will be based by 2020. It’s unclear if the car would be released in the States as a Toyota or as a Scion. The Auris recently went on sale in North America as the Scion iM.

The car hasn’t been confirmed for North American shores yet, but considering our penchant for anything crossover, the subcompact C-HR would scratch an itch Toyota has in its lineup now.

The new model could also be shared between Toyota and Mazda under a newly minted agreement between the automakers. We wrote in June that the car could be powered by one of Mazda’s 1.5-liter diesel engines overseas, perhaps even paired with a battery as a hybrid.

The new global architecture narrows the window for Toyota in development, and can produce cars “one-by-one” in a production method that could allow for some aggressively styled cars to roll off of Toyota production lines for short times.

The next-generation Prius should be the first car to be built on the shared architecture with more cars to follow. The platforms range from full-size to crossover.

Either way, it’s possible that we’ll see the C-HR on the streets sooner rather than later.

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Audi’s Plug-in Hybrid A3 Will Start at $38,825, On Sale in October http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/audis-plug-in-hybrid-a3-will-start-at-38825-on-sale-in-october/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/audis-plug-in-hybrid-a3-will-start-at-38825-on-sale-in-october/#comments Sun, 09 Aug 2015 17:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1137026 Audi announced this week that its plug-in hybrid version of the A3, dubbed A3 Sportback e-tron, will go on sale in October and cost $38,825 to start — $47,725 in Prestige trim — before federal and state incentives. The car, which combines an 8.8 kWh battery and a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, will make a […]

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Audi announced this week that its plug-in hybrid version of the A3, dubbed A3 Sportback e-tron, will go on sale in October and cost $38,825 to start — $47,725 in Prestige trim — before federal and state incentives.

The car, which combines an 8.8 kWh battery and a 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, will make a combined 204 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy and range for all-electric driving hasn’t been announced by the automaker, although some reports peg the EV range at 30 miles.

The A3 plug-in hybrid will be the first Audi to run (at least partially) on electricity in the States.

The plug-in A3 starts at roughly $7,000 more than the base A3 sedan and about $4,700 more than the diesel A3 sedan. The e-tron is only available in front-wheel drive configuration.

Audi says that the car would take about eight hours to charge on a standard 120-volt outlet or just over two hours on a 240-volt outlet. An optional residential solar panel program, featured on the automaker’s online configurator, and carbon-credit program is available for the car. The automaker didn’t specifically detail either program in its announcement.

According to the automaker, more e-tron vehicles will be released in the U.S. but those haven’t been announced.

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BMW CEO Confirms There Are Numbers Between 3 and 8 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/bmw-ceo-confirms-numbers-3-8/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/bmw-ceo-confirms-numbers-3-8/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 18:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1136250 In addition to the battery-powered (or is it a hybrid?) i3 and i8 cars, BMW may build an electrified X3-sized crossover, 5-series sedan and perhaps a larger Tesla Model X-sized SUV in its “i” car range, The Detroit Bureau is reporting. The speculation comes from BMW chief Harald Krueger who said there was room in […]

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In addition to the battery-powered (or is it a hybrid?) i3 and i8 cars, BMW may build an electrified X3-sized crossover, 5-series sedan and perhaps a larger Tesla Model X-sized SUV in its “i” car range, The Detroit Bureau is reporting.

The speculation comes from BMW chief Harald Krueger who said there was room in the “i” range for something else.

“Between the i3 and the i8, there is space if you look at it from the number point of view,” Harald Krueger said in an interview with the German newspaper F.A.S.

Precisely four numbers are between 3 and 8. Let’s speculate!

Perhaps it was a foregone conclusion that BMW would expand its “i” range of cars with other models, such as an electrified SUV or crossover. The Model X goes on sale next month and other German automakers are already preparing for plug-in or electric versions of their cars.

The Detroit Bureau says the X3-sized electric crossover i5 (or maybe it’ll be a 5 Series-sized sedan?) will go on sale in 2017, and there may be more to come.

Of course, BMW could just fold up the “i” brand and assimilate their tech into the current naming convention and then we’d all have less to talk about. Maybe.

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Volkswagen Selling e-Golf SE in August, Targets Nissan Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-selling-e-golf-se-august-targets-nissan-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/volkswagen-selling-e-golf-se-august-targets-nissan-leaf/#comments Fri, 07 Aug 2015 16:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135890 A lower priced e-Golf will directly compete with the Nissan Leaf for sub-$30,000 electric car buyers, the automaker announced Wednesday. The e-Golf SE will start at $29,815, before federal and any available state incentives, which is nearly the same price as a Leaf S, Autoblog correctly pointed out. The e-Golf has a range of around 83 miles. […]

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A lower priced e-Golf will directly compete with the Nissan Leaf for sub-$30,000 electric car buyers, the automaker announced Wednesday.

The e-Golf SE will start at $29,815, before federal and any available state incentives, which is nearly the same price as a Leaf S, Autoblog correctly pointed out. The e-Golf has a range of around 83 miles.

The Leaf has sold nearly 11,000 copies since the beginning of 2015.

The SE trim will have a smaller, 6.5-inch touchscreen, compared to the SEL’s 8-inch model. Additionally, the e-Golf SE will only have a 3.6 kW onboard charger as standard. A 7.2 kW DC fast charger will be available later in the year for the model.

The Leaf S has an available quick charge package that boosts capacity to 6.6 kW for $1,770.

The Golf SE should be arriving in dealerships later this month, Volkswagen said.

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Beer-based Ethanol is the Best/Worst Idea for Car Fuel http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/beer-based-ethanol-bestworst-idea-car-fuel/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/beer-based-ethanol-bestworst-idea-car-fuel/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 18:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135474 A New Zealand chemist has found a good use for spent yeast normally discarded after brewing beer, Popular Mechanics is reporting (via AutoFocus). It’s not the first time beer-based ethanol has been used to power cars, but New Zealanders can fill up on 98-octane (!) booze-fuel for a limited time. The mix is 90 percent gas […]

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A New Zealand chemist has found a good use for spent yeast normally discarded after brewing beer, Popular Mechanics is reporting (via AutoFocus).

It’s not the first time beer-based ethanol has been used to power cars, but New Zealanders can fill up on 98-octane (!) booze-fuel for a limited time. The mix is 90 percent gas to 10 percent beer ethanol.

(Note: I covered parts of the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver and remember the Coors-powered cars in Denver and think it’s the best imaginable use of Coors Light)

New Zealand-based brewery DB Exports calls their fuel “Brewtoleum,” but they have a much more clever marketing campaign.

Alcohol and motors are nothing new: Top Alcohol dragsters, most cars on the road in Brazil and corn-fed ethanol in the states.

But for beer-producing states in the United States (California, Michigan, North Carolina, Colorado, Oregon and the other 45 states in the union) the spent yeast conversion could justify keeping whatever it is that Anheuser-Busch makes these days around for longer.

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Battery Tech – Not Better Range – Is Why We Should Be Excited about Chevrolet Volt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/battery-tech-not-better-range-excited-chevrolet-volt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/battery-tech-not-better-range-excited-chevrolet-volt/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 20:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1133705 Chevrolet announced Tuesday that its new 2016 Volt would extend its all-electric range from 38 miles to 53 miles, which is a 40-percent improvement and would satisfy more than 90 percent of normal drives. The feat itself would put the Volt on par with many all-electric commuters, whose normal range is anywhere from 60 to […]

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2016 Chevrolet Volt

Chevrolet announced Tuesday that its new 2016 Volt would extend its all-electric range from 38 miles to 53 miles, which is a 40-percent improvement and would satisfy more than 90 percent of normal drives.

The feat itself would put the Volt on par with many all-electric commuters, whose normal range is anywhere from 60 to 90 miles. Of course, the Volt packs with it a 1.5-liter turbocharged four cylinder that bumps that range up to more than 400 miles, but that’s neither here nor there.

Let’s talk about the batteries.

On paper, the Volt’s new battery capacity is 18.4 kWh compared to last generation’s 16.5 kWh — an only 11 percent increase in capacity. Even further, there’s 96 fewer cells in the 2016 Volt compared to the current model and the batteries themselves are 20 pounds lighter.

So where does the 40-percent bump in range come from? Better batteries and a better approach.

Chevrolet has steadily improved its batteries in the Volt since the car came out in 2011 — 16 kWh to 16.5 kWh — but the bump to 18.4 kWh would be the largest improvement in six years to overall storage. Chevrolet has put the car on a diet, too, and that signals a change for the automaker from previous years.

The overall weight of the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is down 250 pounds over the current car (3,543 pounds vs. 3,781 pounds) and 100 pounds of that alone comes from slimmer energy storage.

All the little things — plus big improvements in battery tech — have equaled a 38-percent increase in EV range in six years and the car still costs $33,995, which is only $453 more than the average new car price in the United States. Range wars may become the new horsepower wars.

Almost two years ago, GM announced it was tripling its investment in its battery labs. It appears that investment is starting to pay off.

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Whoa, Don’t Get Amped About Your Free Model X Just Yet http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/whoa-dont-get-amped-free-model-x-yet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/whoa-dont-get-amped-free-model-x-yet/#comments Fri, 31 Jul 2015 20:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1130529 Yesterday, we reported that in a sales call, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced a referral program that could, possibly, maybe net one free Model X for someone who referred 10 new buyers. The qualifications for getting the free car: Refer 10 buyers by Oct. 31 and be the first in your “region” to do so. […]

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Tesla Model S Center Stage

Yesterday, we reported that in a sales call, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk announced a referral program that could, possibly, maybe net one free Model X for someone who referred 10 new buyers.

The qualifications for getting the free car: Refer 10 buyers by Oct. 31 and be the first in your “region” to do so.

Turns out “region” doesn’t mean what we think it does.

According to a Tesla spokesman, “region” in this case means “country.” As in, apparently, one (1) Model X will be awarded to a single (1) person in the U.S. for referring 10 new Model S buyers.

In case you’re wondering, the U.S. is a larger market for Tesla than the next nine countries combined.

So if you live in Switzerland, it may be a good deal to get your friends to buy a Tesla and score your own for free. If you live in Dallas, however, you should probably line up your friends at the “dealership” today.

Lesson: Elon Musk is really, really good at marketing.

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Senate Committee Approves Bill to Help Detroit Make Hybrids http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/senate-committee-approves-bill-help-detroit-make-hybrids/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/senate-committee-approves-bill-help-detroit-make-hybrids/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 21:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129497 A U.S. Senate committee for transportation passed along a bill Thursday that included provisions to help domestic automakers develop and build cleaner vehicles, the Detroit News is reporting. The proposal, dubbed the Vehicle Innovation Act, was included in a larger clean energy bill taken up by the committee. The Vehicle Innovation Act would set aside […]

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Chevrolet_Tahoe_Hybrid_O'Malley_--_01-12-2010

A U.S. Senate committee for transportation passed along a bill Thursday that included provisions to help domestic automakers develop and build cleaner vehicles, the Detroit News is reporting.

The proposal, dubbed the Vehicle Innovation Act, was included in a larger clean energy bill taken up by the committee. The Vehicle Innovation Act would set aside $313.6 million next year for research and development of hybrid technology, battery development and alternative fuels such as natural gas. Funding would increase by 4 percent every year up to 2020.

Nearly all major U.S. automotive lobbies representing manufacturers supported the proposal.

The proposal, which will now head to the Senate, faces an extremely difficult future. The bipartisan bill, which was sponsored by Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Michigan Democrat Sens. Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, may be a long shot in the Republican-controlled House — if it makes it that far.

Separately, a bill that Peters introduced that would allow states to use highway funding to help advance road-to-vehicle communications, passed the Senate as part of a larger transportation package. The bill, called the Vehicle-to-Infrastructure Safety Technology Investment Flexibility Act of 2015 says what it does and does what it says will be part of the Senate’s larger 6-year highway funding package.

Along with the Vehicle Innovation Act, the “smart road” provision and larger funding bill won’t be taken up by the House anytime soon. Congress is working toward a 3-month stopgap measure and will take up the larger spending packages after its August recess.

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Drivers Hogging Electric Spaces in Illinois May Get Ticketed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/drivers-hogging-electric-spaces-illinois-may-get-ticketed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/drivers-hogging-electric-spaces-illinois-may-get-ticketed/#comments Mon, 27 Jul 2015 19:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1125865 An Illinois bill that would make it illegal to park a gasoline-powered car in an electric car charging spot is awaiting the governor’s signature, Green Car Reports writes. The practice, also called ICE-ing, would net a $75-$100 ticket for the offending car owner in Illinois. The electric vehicle charging spot would need to be clearly […]

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ICE-ing Parking

An Illinois bill that would make it illegal to park a gasoline-powered car in an electric car charging spot is awaiting the governor’s signature, Green Car Reports writes.

The practice, also called ICE-ing, would net a $75-$100 ticket for the offending car owner in Illinois.

The electric vehicle charging spot would need to be clearly marked, the bill states. The bill would also make it legal to tow a car from an electric vehicle parking spot, whether in a public place or private garage.

According to the bill’s sponsor, Illinois State Rep. Robyn Gabel, a constituent called her to complain about the practice and that’s what prompted the statewide measure. (Find your state legislator here.)

Several municipalities have already outlawed the practice and there’s a Facebook group dedicated to sharing pictures of reported “ICE-holes.”

In 2012, a Fox News story asked aloud if the parking stations were a perk or privilege and quoted a driver in St. Paul, Minnesota, who said electric vehicle owners could be incapacitated because of the car they’ve purchased.

“This makes me think drivers of electric cars must be a little disabled,” one customer who didn’t want to give his name to FoxNews.com. “They are usually health freaks, so I wonder why they don’t mind walking a half-mile back to a charging station.”

(Photo courtesy ICEHoles – Internal Combustion Vehicle Shaming via Facebook)

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Porsche May Bring Smaller, Electric Panamera-ish Car to Frankfurt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/porsche-may-bring-smaller-electric-panamera-ish-car-frankfurt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/porsche-may-bring-smaller-electric-panamera-ish-car-frankfurt/#comments Wed, 22 Jul 2015 21:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1123433 Porsche may roll out a Tesla-fighting, BMW 5-Series-sized sedan concept at this year’s Frankfurt auto show, L’Automobile Magazine is reporting (via Car and Driver). The smaller sedan would be about a foot shorter than a Panamera, sport an all-electric powertrain — a first for Porsche — and could be offered alongside gasoline, diesel or hybrid-powered engines. Rumors […]

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Porsche may roll out a Tesla-fighting, BMW 5-Series-sized sedan concept at this year’s Frankfurt auto show, L’Automobile Magazine is reporting (via Car and Driver).

The smaller sedan would be about a foot shorter than a Panamera, sport an all-electric powertrain — a first for Porsche — and could be offered alongside gasoline, diesel or hybrid-powered engines.

Rumors about the car, which has been nicknamed “Pajun,” (PA-namera JUN-ior) have been around for some time, but plugging in a motor that runs on electrons and not gasoline would be relatively new for the perpetually speculative car.

The smaller sedan has seemed like a forgone conclusion for the automaker that is expanding into a full-line manufacturer. Even if our own Jack Baruth can’t stand it. 

The Frankfurt show begins Sept. 15.

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Tesla Prices 70 kWh RWD at $52,500*, Adds Ludicrous Mode to P85D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tesla-prices-70-kwh-rwd-at-52500-adds-ludicrous-mode-to-p85d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/tesla-prices-70-kwh-rwd-at-52500-adds-ludicrous-mode-to-p85d/#comments Sat, 18 Jul 2015 15:18:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1118985 Tesla is yet again updating its Model S range with interesting options on each end of the price scale before the release of the Tesla Model X. Elon Musk, in a blog post yesterday, announced a new single-motor version of the base model Model S 70 priced at $70,000 — or $52,500 after maximum incentives […]

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Tesla Model S In Hero Blue

Tesla is yet again updating its Model S range with interesting options on each end of the price scale before the release of the Tesla Model X.

Elon Musk, in a blog post yesterday, announced a new single-motor version of the base model Model S 70 priced at $70,000 — or $52,500 after maximum incentives available in certain states — which is $5,000 less than the all-wheel drive Model S with the same 70 kWh battery pack.

On the other end of the spectrum is a $13,000 (!!!) upgrade to the P85D, pushing Tesla Motors’ top performer to a 0-60 mph time of 2.8 seconds.

With the new Model S 70 rear-wheel drive model, the main change is the removal of the front-wheel motor, effectively turning the car into a rear-wheel drive model and reducing cost. The new option will make the Model S a more palatable option for those looking for budget luxury, especially once state and federal incentives are woven into the final price.

However, upgrades to the top-range 85 kWh models are more involved. For starters, there’s a new 90 kWh battery option for those willing to part with an extra $3,000 on top of the asking price of 85 kWh models. The new pack increases range by a mere 6 percent, extending drivable distance to almost 300 miles on a charge, says Musk.

Before you rush out to upgrade your pack, Musk offers some guidance:

“Existing owners can also purchase the pack upgrade, but I wouldn’t recommend doing so unless usage is on the edge of current range. On average, we expect to increase pack capacity by roughly 5% per year. Better to wait until you have more time on your existing pack and there is a larger accumulated pack energy difference.”

In addition to the pack upgrade, owners and buyers can now upgrade to the new Ludicrous Mode on the Model S P85D. This upgrade is quite involved, requiring a new, advanced “smart fuse” and upgraded main pack contacter. Together, the upgrades result in a 2.8 second sprint to 60 mph — an improvement of 10 percent — and a quarter-mile time of 10.9 seconds, states Musk. Car & Driver says the upgrade gives the Model S 762 horsepower.

If you are ordering a new P85D and want the Ludicrous Model update, prepare to shell out $10,000 plus another $3,000 for the required range update. Even though Musk says “the battery pack size upgrade and the pack electronics upgrade are almost entirely independent,” when ordering the Ludicrous Mode option, you must also select the new, larger battery pack. If you already own a P85D, you can upgrade to Ludicrous Mode for $5,000 (plus labor) sometime in the next six months. There was no word on pricing beyond the six-month window.

Just to add a teaser, Musk says there will be another mode added — beyond Ludicrous — in the future, but it is reserved for a second-generation Roadster in four-years time.

Musk also states Model X production will begin in two months, but we will believe it when we see it.

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Toyota Taking Reservations for Mirais in California Next Week http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/toyota-taking-reservations-mirai-california-next-week/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/toyota-taking-reservations-mirai-california-next-week/#comments Mon, 13 Jul 2015 20:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114809 Californians itching to claim one of the first of Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai can raise their hands starting next week, the automaker announced. Toyota announced today it would begin accepting reservations for the Mirai starting July 20. The sedan will cost $57,500, according to the manufacturer, and will be available only at eight California dealerships. Only […]

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Californians itching to claim one of the first of Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai can raise their hands starting next week, the automaker announced.

Toyota announced today it would begin accepting reservations for the Mirai starting July 20. The sedan will cost $57,500, according to the manufacturer, and will be available only at eight California dealerships. Only California residents can buy the car.

The purchase price includes an 8-year/100,000-mile warranty on “key fuel cell vehicle components” and three years — or $15,000, whichever comes first — of fuel.

Toyota says “Power On-Demand” Mirais won’t appear until late 2016, in which the car acts like a mobile, hydrogen-powered electric generator. According to the automaker, the Mirai may be able to power electrical devices — or a home — for “a limited time.”

The Mirai is eligible for a $5,000 rebate in California.

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In Mother Russia, Electric Cars Charge You (Lots of Money to Own One) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/back-mother-russia-electric-cars-charge-potential-buyers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/back-mother-russia-electric-cars-charge-potential-buyers/#comments Wed, 08 Jul 2015 19:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1110553 Wealthy Russians are clamoring for Teslas that aren’t even available in their country, Bloomberg News is reporting. Buyers are paying up to double for the electric vehicles, the story reports, which include freight and import fees of more than $60,000 for the cars. “It doesn’t pollute nature and it’s super cheap and easy to use,” Herman Gref […]

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tesladeal

Wealthy Russians are clamoring for Teslas that aren’t even available in their country, Bloomberg News is reporting.

Buyers are paying up to double for the electric vehicles, the story reports, which include freight and import fees of more than $60,000 for the cars.

“It doesn’t pollute nature and it’s super cheap and easy to use,” Herman Gref told Bloomberg News in an e-mail.

Super cheap is relative term — even in Russian we hope.

The “iPhone on wheels,” according to one Russian buyer, has a small but devoted following, apparently.

There are only 300 registered electric cars in Russia, not including Teslas, for more than 144 million people. By contrast, there are 1,200 registered electric cars in Estonia, with a population 100 times smaller than Russia’s. So far, more than 35,000 battery-powered electric vehicles (excluding Volt) have been purchased in the U.S. this year.

According to the story, Tesla has no future plans to enter the Russian market — which is the world’s second-largest producer of oil. Electric cars in Russia are exceptionally expensive, infrastructure is severely lacking and the Russian government doesn’t offer any incentives to make the switch to electric cars. 

But Russian automaker (with an unfortunate name) Revolta Motors say they’ll introduce a Chinese-built electric car in Russia this year.

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Sales of EVs, Hybrids Slumping After Gas Prices Dip http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/sales-evs-hybrids-slumping-gas-prices-dip/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/sales-evs-hybrids-slumping-gas-prices-dip/#comments Thu, 02 Jul 2015 16:00:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1105913 Sales figures from automakers this week show slumping sales of electric vehicles and hybrids nationwide as gas prices drop and tax incentives dry up. According to the Detroit News, sales from EV makers such as Nissan and Chevrolet have slowed down significantly — more than 30 percent for the Volt and 12 percent for the Leaf […]

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Atlanta Police Nissan Leaf

Sales figures from automakers this week show slumping sales of electric vehicles and hybrids nationwide as gas prices drop and tax incentives dry up.

According to the Detroit News, sales from EV makers such as Nissan and Chevrolet have slowed down significantly — more than 30 percent for the Volt and 12 percent for the Leaf — last month, and both models may end up down significantly for the sales year.

Hybrid carmakers such as Ford and Honda are also reporting slow sales for their cars. Ford reported that its hybrid sales were down 29 percent over the last five months, and Honda reported a 15-percent drop in June.

Industry analysts say the slowdown could be a result of the lowest gas prices in five years, and a adjustment of states’ EV incentives. Recently, the California Air Resources Board unveiled a tiered incentive program that would adjust rebates based on income. A study showed that more than one in four EV buyers in California earned more than $200,000 a year, but still received the full benefit during the second quarter of 2015. More than three-quarters of EV buyers made more than $99,000. Georgia will end its incentives.

None of this has slowed down automakers’ production of EVs, however.

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Used Tesla Values Could Be a Bubble Waiting to Burst http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/used-tesla-values-could-be-a-bubble-waiting-to-burst/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/used-tesla-values-could-be-a-bubble-waiting-to-burst/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 17:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104801 The National Automobile Dealers Association new electric vehicle retention list released last week has a tasty little tidbit in its roundup of value retention rates. Tesla’s Model S, which topped the 3-year value retention rate list for EVs in the new list, also sported a better value rate for most cars on a similar list released last year for all […]

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Tesla Model S Center Stage

The National Automobile Dealers Association new electric vehicle retention list released last week has a tasty little tidbit in its roundup of value retention rates.

Tesla’s Model S, which topped the 3-year value retention rate list for EVs in the new list, also sported a better value rate for most cars on a similar list released last year for all segments, including mid-size luxury cars. That includes BMW.

But the news may not be all good, all the time.

According to the most recent NADA study, Tesla’s Model S retains 57.2 percent of its original value after three years based on dealer trade-in values. That figure is tops among mid-size luxury sedans, including BMW’s 5-series, in a study conducted last year.

Also noted in the 2015 study, there is a significant cliff after three years when most EV manufacturers’ powertrain warranties expire, meaning there’s good chance that the Model S’s value plummets after that.

The 2014 study by NADA (which examined all segments – including EVs) was comprised of only the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf — the only two cars that had been on the market for three years by the time the study was conducted. The Volt and Leaf retained 41.6 percent and 38.2 percent of their values respectively, due partly to price drops from their manufacturers and increasing competition in the segment. The 2015 study had worse news for Volts and Leafs on trade-in: those values dropped to 31.3 and 25.3 percent respectively.

As Tesla prepares to release their Model X, there’s no doubt quite a few Model S owners will be looking to replace their sedans. This could trigger a market saturated with Model S’s (or is it “Models S”?) at or nearing the end of their warranty lives — and it’ll likely have legitimate competition in the near future as well, further driving down retained values.

Tesla Model X Teaser

It’s no secret that Tesla has no significant cash flow, hasn’t turned a profit for more than one fiscal quarter in five years, and probably won’t have a cash-positive year until 2020.

That all could mean the bottom falling out for Tesla Model S values soon. Or not.

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Hyundai Struggles Against Infrastructure Issues To Meet Global FCV Sales Target http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hyundai-struggles-against-infrastructure-issues-to-meet-global-fcv-sales-target/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/hyundai-struggles-against-infrastructure-issues-to-meet-global-fcv-sales-target/#comments Wed, 17 Jun 2015 17:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1094721 Global sales of Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell haven’t been able to match sales targets since the FCV’s launch in 2013, though not for a lack of trying. Hyundai says it shipped a total of 273 units of the Tucson Fuel Cell to showrooms in its home market and abroad since 2013, Yonhap News Agency reports, […]

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2015 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

Global sales of Hyundai’s Tucson Fuel Cell haven’t been able to match sales targets since the FCV’s launch in 2013, though not for a lack of trying.

Hyundai says it shipped a total of 273 units of the Tucson Fuel Cell to showrooms in its home market and abroad since 2013, Yonhap News Agency reports, 69 of which were delivered in 2015 thus far. The automaker planned to move 1,000 units by the end of 2015, a goal not likely to occur at this rate.

As for why, the problem comes down to infrastructure. Hyundai Auto Canada representative Chad Heard told TTAC the Canadian subsidiary leased two Tucson Fuel Cells thus far, and received its second shipment for allocation this month.

Heard explained there were more interested consumers than actual product, but doesn’t expect for sales to hit double-digits in 2015 due to infrastructure constraints, adding the company would be able to meet demand in Canada “if there was more access to hydrogen gas.” There is only one filling station available to Tucson Fuel Cell owners, located in Surrey, British Columbia, while the United States and South Korea fare little better with 10 and 11 stations, respectively.

[Photo credit: Hyundai]

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Tesla Unveiling Home, Business Battery Products April 30 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/tesla-unveiling-home-business-battery-products-april-30/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/tesla-unveiling-home-business-battery-products-april-30/#comments Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:00:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1050849 Tesla wants more than to be in the garages of its customers as it plans to begin offering batteries for home and business energy-storage applications soon. The automaker stated in an email to investors and analysts Tuesday it would reveal its new battery products April 30, according to Bloomberg. Investor relations boss Jeffrey Evanson said the […]

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2013 Tesla Model S Cargo areas

Tesla wants more than to be in the garages of its customers as it plans to begin offering batteries for home and business energy-storage applications soon.

The automaker stated in an email to investors and analysts Tuesday it would reveal its new battery products April 30, according to Bloomberg. Investor relations boss Jeffrey Evanson said the unveiling would explain “the advantages” of its home and business battery products and why current options aren’t as compelling as what Tesla has to offer.

Though scant details have come out about the batteries, Tesla’s plans aim to put the automaker as a leader in the emerging energy storage market. Many players in the market look to not just supplement, but ultimately surpass the traditional electric grid. The automaker and sister company SolarCity have already signed up companies like Wal-Mart and Cargill for their energy storage pilot program in California to help establish and accelerate said plans.

[Photo credit: Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

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