Category: Electric Vehicles

By on August 17, 2017

2017-hyundai-next-gen-fuel-cell-suv, Image: Hyundai

Hyundai isn’t about to let Tesla hog all the eco glory. The automaker has announced a near-term roadmap for green vehicle production, promising 31 hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, and fuel cell models by 2020, shared between the Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis brands.

Having already joined the fray with its compact Ioniq, offered in hybrid, plug-in, and EV flavors, the company wants a larger presence in the fledgling (but growing) EV scene. To this end, it’s planning long-range, high-end EVs built on a dedicated platform, as well as a much-needed crossover that dispenses with gas stations altogether. The Kona, which arrives in the U.S. in gas-powered guise this winter, serves as a body donor.

Will a 242-mile electric crossover give Elon Musk reason to sweat? Read More >

By on August 8, 2017

tesla model 3

Tesla Motors launched the Model 3 last month and has been scrambling to improve production volume as over 500,000 eagerly await delivery. However, by the time Tesla hits its targeted production rate of 10,000 units per week in 2018, it is still going to have months — if not a full year — of orders sizzling on the back burner.

It’s not the worst problem to have, since each reservation holder tossed down a $1,000 deposit. But CEO Elon Musk is aware that meeting demand is going to be an uphill battle. “We’re going to go through at least six months of manufacturing hell,” Musk told the press ahead of Model 3 launch event.

With the company already having spent over $2 billion in capital this year, restocking the safe is probably a good idea. As an upstart automaker framing itself as going into battle with traditional manufacturers, Tesla is issuing $1.5 billion in junky war bonds to fund the coming onslaught.  Read More >

By on August 6, 2017

2014 i-MiEV Aqua

It’s always a little sad to see an existing model discontinued. Well, almost always. Mitsubishi is taking the hint and officially killing the unloved i-MiEV — something we are willing to bet isn’t going to inspire an abundance of heartache within the driving community.

Despite being a pioneering electric car (and kind of cute), the i-MiEV was never what one might consider a volume vehicle. Since 2015, North America had frequently seen months where the little Mitsubishi couldn’t even break out of the single digit sales bracket. Last year, Canada sold a total of 86 units and the United States moved 94.

With a 62-mile range rating and one of the smallest interiors money can buy, it has always been poorly suited for the majority of American drivers’ needs and repeatedly slashing the price never made up the difference. While Nissan’s Leaf comes in almost $8,000 grand higher, $22,995 is still a lot to pay for something you don’t want — and nobody wanted an i-MiEV.
Read More >

By on August 3, 2017

Volvo-self-driving-car

Suppliers have begun putting automotive companies on blast for overly ambitious mobility claims. While self-driving cars are definitely en route, manufacturers have ramped up their arrival time and omitted the necessary pit stops to win favor with investors or the general public. Meanwhile, parts suppliers have been frank on the matter — explaining they know when autonomous cars are really coming because they’ll be the ones providing the tidbits that make them work.

Don Walker, CEO of Magna International, one of the world’s largest OEM parts suppliers, suggests automakers may even be misleading their customers. “A full autonomous vehicle is a long way off for lots of reasons, because of legislation, class-action lawsuits, all the complexities and the costs associated with it,” the executive said.

Speaking Wednesday at the 2017 Center for Automotive Research Management Briefing Seminars, Walker also took umbrage with the popular claim that electric vehicles could comprise around 25 percent of the new market by 2025. Instead, he claims EVs will only account for 3 to 6 percent of the global market within that timeframe — a figure predominantly dependent on how swiftly the highly regulated Chinese market grows. Read More >

By on August 1, 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf, Image: TV2.no

The 2018 Nissan Leaf was ready for its close-up, but didn’t count on a Norwegian tourist peering through a hotel window.

Photos have emerged of a completely uncamouflaged next-generation Leaf spotted in Barcelona, Spain, apparently while in the midst of filming a commercial. The photos, sent to Norway’s TV2 television channel (Norway does love its EVs…), show the unclothed Leaf wearing a far more appealing body than that of its predecessor.

Still sporting a hatchback bodystyle, the 2018 Leaf boasts a number of advancements Nissan has slowly and carefully dripped to the media over the past few months. Head office won’t be happy to see these pics. Read More >

By on July 31, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt - Image: Chevrolet

When you think about it, it all adds up. There was no way the powertrain of the Chevrolet Bolt, America’s first reasonably priced long-range electric vehicle, was ever going to remain solely the domain of one vehicle. General Motor’s CEO, Mary Barra, alluded to as much following the Bolt’s introduction.

While the 238-mile Bolt is already sold in Europe as the Opel Ampera-e, and in China as the Buick Velite 5, those vehicles don’t amount to much more than simple badge swaps. However, a new report claims U.S. buyers could see a Buick crossover based on the Bolt, and soon. Read More >

By on July 31, 2017

2017 Jeep Compass

It’s no secret that hybrids and fully electric vehicles are about as appealing to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne as a crisp, button-up shirt. The FCA boss once famously railed against his company’s sole electric offering — the tiny, money-losing Fiat 500e — for losing $10,000 for every unit sold. Placating California doesn’t come cheap.

Still, Marchionne isn’t alone in distrusting the plug. Subaru and Mazda have shown a similar aversion to electrification, though even those automakers concede it’s a losing battle. In a conference call with investors late last week, Marchionne admitted defeat, outlining a plan to add electric motors to a significant chunk of FCA’s fleet in the coming years. One division stands to go the way of Volvo, with electric motors planned for each new car introduced after 2019.

What prompted the shift in thinking? Diesel, and the public’s growing distrust in compression-ignition engines. Read More >

By on July 30, 2017

Kangaroo sign Australia, Image: bluedeviation/Flickr

Australia’s Queensland Cabinet announced it would be constructing one of the longest electric highways in the world this week. The expanse of roadway already exists on the country’s eastern seaboard, but the $3 million plan intends to add an 18-station network between Gold Coast and Cairns. While EV owners might not want to hazard into the outback just yet, coastal drivers will have some peace of mind traveling between Australia’s major towns.

The fast-charging network plans to provide free power for at least a year in what the environment minister, Steven Miles, explained was a bid to increase the number of electric cars on Queensland roads.  Read More >

By on July 29, 2017

Tesla Model 3, Image: Tesla

Perhaps the most anticipated automotive event of the year (Tesla disciples might say millenium) took place in California last night, as electric car guru Elon Musk handed over the first 30 production Tesla Model 3 sedans to customers — most, if not all, of them employees — at a glitzy, livestreamed event.

Eyesight was restored to the blind. Others rose from their wheelchairs, walking for the first time in years. Okay, that’s not true, but the depths to which some Tesla fans deify Musk and his car company cannot be understated. Certainly, after seeing the final production model, learning its specifications, and hearing Tesla’s lofty production plans, even a cynic drowning in a vast ocean of media-driven hype can’t help but feel impressed.

Hailed as the first affordable, long-range, mass-produced electric car — a crown stolen by the Chevrolet Bolt months ago — the Model 3 will retail for $35,000 before federal incentives, but not just yet. The only version available at launch is the $44,000 Long Range model, good for 310 miles of range per charge.

The 220-mile base sedan, which carries that vaunted lower sticker price, won’t be available until this fall. So, what can the roughly 500,000 reservation holders expect? If they’re on a budget, black had better be their favorite color. Read More >

By on July 26, 2017

Exhaust pipe of running vehicle, Image: By Ruben de Rijcke (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Britain will ban the sale of all new gasoline and diesel cars starting in 2040 as part of the government’s plan to reduce air pollution and copy France. The strategy, fronted by U.K. environment secretary Michael Gove and transport secretary Chris Grayling, would not only ban the future sale of internal combustion engines, but also provide a governmental incentive program similar to the United States’ Car Allowance Rebate System — colloquially known as “cash for clunkers.”

Because, as you know, nothing is better for the environment (or the used car market) than populating scrapyards with fully functional automobiles and having factories across the globe expend extra energy to replace them.

“We can’t carry on with diesel and petrol cars,” Gove told British television audiences on Wednesday. “There is no alternative to embracing new technology.”  Read More >

By on July 25, 2017

2017 Toyota Prius Prime

Toyota, the company that came out with the Prius in the 1990s and decided it had perfected the electric car, may be looking regain its EV advantage by 2022. It’s not something you’d expect to hear, considering Japan’s largest automaker has lagged behind in terms of competitive electric development for the last few years.

While its hybrid program got the drop on the competition, it subsequently favored hydrogen fuel cells over purely electric vehicles as the next automotive epoch — creating a bit of an industrial dinosaur.

Fortunately, Toyota has no shortage of muscles to flex. Once news broke that Toyota was earnestly considering electric R&D, everyone speculated it would be competitive at roughly the same time as other automakers. Not so. On Tuesday, Japanese newspaper Chunichi Shimbun reported Toyota has quietly upped its game to surpass them.  Read More >

By on July 24, 2017

Tesla Supercharger

Tesla Motors changes its lineup more frequently than I replace my soiled bed sheets and, with the Model 3 fast approaching, it’s tweaking things yet again. This time the manufacturer is getting rid of the rear-wheel drive variant of the Model S 75, leaving the all-wheel version as the new base-trim — presumably to make room between its $74,500 price tag and the $35,000 Model 3.

This move also streamlines production, as eliminating the RWD car results in the Model S being an exclusively AWD build. However, that doesn’t mean the upscale sedan will be slim on options. Tesla has claimed the Model S will maintain gobs of premium features, unimaginable on the Model 3, for a grand total of 1,500 possible configurations. Do you need that much choice? Probably not. But you have to differentiate yourself from the plebs in the more-common EV somehow — apparently, superior size, speed, and free access to the company’s charging network isn’t enough.  Read More >

By on July 20, 2017

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Cousins Shore, PEI - Image: © Timothy CainThe planning session was brief. At TTAC’s virtual HQ, also known as TTAC Slack, Steph Willems, Corey Lewis, and Adam Tonge were busy formulating an idea.

Fascinated by the Cain family’s recent move to rural Prince Edward Island, the guys wondered if, on electric power alone, Ford’s plug-in hybrid 2017 Fusion Energi SE could cross Prince Edward Island from the north side’s Gulf of St. Lawrence to the south side’s Northumberland Strait, which separates Prince Edward Island from mainland Canada.

Sure it can, I said, but that’s too easy. There are many narrow parts of Prince Edward Island. Crossing Rte. 308’s nine miles from Naufrage to Rollo Bay wouldn’t be much of a challenge.

Building on that idea, however, we developed a plan that would grant yours truly a midday office reprieve, or so I thought. From the Cain homestead in Margate, just outside the bustling metropolis of Kensington, I would depart with a fully charged 2017 Ford Fusion Energi and attempt to reach five spectacular beaches along the Gulf of St. Lawrence on PEI’s so-called Green Gables Shore.

Google Maps said I would need to travel 22 miles. The 2017 Ford Fusion Energi has 23 miles of pure EV range. This’ll be a breeze, I thought to myself, and I fled my office and TTAC’s virtual HQ minutes later, thoroughly unprepared for what came next. Read More >

By on July 20, 2017

2018 Nissan Leaf [Image: Nissan]

What’s an e-Pedal? No, it’s not some dorky electric bicycle built by Ford, though that scenario doesn’t sound far fetched.

As the steady decline of manual transmission availability brings the three-pedal lifestyle ever-closer to oblivion, the e-Pedal is Nissan’s way of sending the two-pedal setup a step closer to obsolescence. Will cars in the heady, electrically powered future contain just one pedal? Maybe. Maybe not. But starting late this year, one Nissan model will allow drivers the choice of accelerating and braking with just one pedal. Read More >

By on July 18, 2017

Lucid Air

It’s the dream of every startup to bring forth an exciting idea and then allow itself to be purchased by a much larger and less imaginative company to ensure the concept never reaches fruition. Lucid Motors, one of the few automotive startups attempting to temper hype with reasonable expectations, is approaching that dream as rumors of its attempt to sell itself to a larger automaker begin to proliferate.

While most of the talk surrounding the potential sale of the company is just that, Lucid has been desperately seeking funding for the production of its electric car in Arizona. Unnamed inside sources claim the company reached out to Ford Motor Company and even held preliminary takeover talks.  Read More >

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