Category: Electric Vehicles

By on June 20, 2017

electric car charging smart car

With the possible exception of the United States in the near future, emission regulations are getting harsher everywhere. Nowhere is that more true than China. Not only does Asia’s most populous country have some of the most stringent emission requirements for new cars, it also has the strictest sales quotas for electrically powered vehicles on the planet. Too strict, according to some automakers.

A Chinese draft regulation issued last week stipulates automakers must sell enough electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles to comprise 8 percent of total volume by 2018, 10 percent by 2019, and 12 percent by 2020. This comes after talks between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that hinted China might have mercy on Germany manufacturers.  Read More >

By on June 20, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, Image: GM

The State of Texas arouses visions of oil-rich tycoons with dysfunctional families, a fierce adherence to individual liberties, and vast quantities of trucks bearing the names High Country, Longhorn, Laramie, and King Ranch. While agriculture and industry play a major role in the state’s economy, not every vehicle in the Lone Star State’s fleet relies on gas or diesel.

With numerous major urban centres and a good economy, electric vehicles have made inroads in Texas over the past several years. Soon, a resurrected incentive could light a fire under EV sales. Well, except for one brand. Read More >

By on June 19, 2017

2017 smart fortwo cabrio electric drive (Euro spec image)

It’s been roughly a decade since Daimler’s Smart Automobile first caressed America’s purple mountains and amber waves of grain with the microscopic Fortwo. Despite a promising first year in the United States, the brand never really managed to carve a space out for itself in a competitive and size-obsessed marketplace. The same is true (over a slightly longer timeline) for Canada.

Standalone Smart dealerships have become a rarity, frequently rolled into Mercedes-Benz sales lots over the years. But both have to ask themselves the same question: Is it worth pursuing sales when Daimler converts the little two-seater into a pure electric later this year and abandons the gasoline engine?

Obviously, the gut reaction is to tell every Mercedes-Benz franchise “probably not” and recommend any standalone Smart dealership immediately consider arson. Small car sales in North America are dwindling and EV sales are miniscule. Claiming a vehicle that exists as one of the least capable examples of both is a good investment is not something any rational person would suggest. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for the unfortunately named Fortwo ED in North America.  Read More >

By on June 16, 2017

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

As part of its emissions cheating penance, Volkswagen AG previously agreed to support clean vehicles by injecting a juicy $2 billion into green initiatives in the United States. A whopping $800 million of that sum was reserved for California. On Thursday, state legislators pressed the automaker to spend electric charging infrastructure funds in low-income areas, passing a bill included in a budget package supported by Governor Jerry Brown.

The reasoning behind forcing VW to install more charging stations in disadvantaged communities is twofold. First, and most obviously, is the fact that poorer neighborhoods typically don’t receive the same level of infrastructure advancement as affluent or high traffic areas. In fact, they’re probably the last place the state would bother installing EV charging stations. Secondly, it’s a good way to keep this punishment from becoming a business opportunity.

Criticism arose when rival automakers realized Volkswagen’s charging network could become profitable and give it an early advantage in a competitive new market, especially if it could handpick the sites.  Read More >

By on June 14, 2017

Toyota Camry NYIAS 2017, Image: Toyota

Despite being Japan’s biggest automaker, Toyota has lagged behind many of its rivals in terms of cutting-edge technology. Most major car manufacturers have already begun developing self-driving vehicles, with some going so far as to make strategic partnerships with companies specializing in the applicable technologies. By contrast, Toyota has a strong R&D program but never saw fit to pursue autonomous development or battery-electric vehicles quite so aggressively as General Motors or Renault-Nissan, for example.

Toyota President Akio Toyoda has now admitted that may have been a mistake. At the company’s annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, he promised the automaker would become more committed to achieving technical developments. Toyoda didn’t bring forward a concrete strategy but conceded the spending of additional capital would likely play a role — and an alliance or two isn’t out of the question. Read More >

By on June 12, 2017

Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar

Despite being Volvo Cars’ official performance arm since 2015, Polestar has always felt like a separate entity. Its current offerings for the North American market are limited to amped up versions of the S60 and V60 — distinctive in personality and produced in extremely limited quantities. However, Volvo’s parent company Geely wants to make a change, converting Polestar into its own global performance brand focusing on, get this, electric cars.

Apparently, Geely wants Polestar’s future role to mimic Mercedes’ AMG by having it continue to produce modified Volvos while also honing in on exclusive models singularly fixated on performance. However, if many of those are intended to be EVs, questions must be raised as to how things might change at Volvo.  Read More >

By on June 9, 2017

2017 Bolt, image: General Motors

General Motors will begin selling the Chevrolet Bolt nationwide in August, a month earlier than it originally planned. While California power nerds like Bill Nye and Steve Wozniak received their EVs months ago, GM’s rollout schedule hinged on dealerships getting their ducks in a row before the rest of America could gain access.

“We were waiting for the training to be done, we were waiting for the right tools to be in place,” Steve Majoros, Chevy’s marketing director, said at a media event. “We are kind of ahead of schedule on implementing all of those things as well as making sure we have enough sufficient inventory.”  Read More >

By on June 9, 2017

tesla model x, Image: Tesla Motors

A horrible situation transpired in Midtown Detroit yesterday evening, in which the driver of an old Chevrolet Silverado pickup crossed the center line on Canfield Avenue, near Second Street, and struck four people standing outside the Shinola store.

According to the latest reports, a 73-year-old man has died, while two others remain in hospital in serious condition. The 42-year-old driver, who has reportedly never held a license in his life and was driving with illegal plates, was arrested at the scene. He told police he had taken two Ecstacy pills, Xanax, and officers also suspect he was under the influence of alcohol.

An unidentified passenger riding in the truck told media he didn’t know why the driver crossed the line, adding that he tried to stop the vehicle by jamming the gearshift lever into “park.”

What makes this story different from the many instances of innocent bystanders being injured by passenger cars not being where they’re supposed to be (not to mention criminally irresponsible behavior on the part of vehicle operators) is the location of the crash, and the reason those pedestrians were standing along Canfield.

It was a Tesla pop-up event. And those bystanders were looking at Tesla vehicles near a mobile design studio. As early reports filtered out, some decided to take speculation to new heights. Read More >

By on June 8, 2017

Honda Targeting Introduction of Level 4 Automated Driving, Image: Honda

Honda Motor Company finally expressed an interest in developing autonomous cars on Thursday, while also stating its intention to bring two new electric vehicles to market by 2018.

The Japanese automaker has been cautious in making tech-related promises, especially those that relate to self-driving models, even as many of its rivals wear their autonomous development efforts like a badge of honor.

We knew Honda was working on the technology, but any semblance of a goal-oriented timeline was absent prior to this week. As part of its “Vision 2030” strategy, the car manufacturer claims it will coordinate R&D, procurement, and manufacturing to minimize development costs as it branches out into the realm of self-driving and electric vehicles.  Read More >

By on June 7, 2017

Model Y teaser, Image: Tesla Motors

Tesla Motors has released its first official teaser image of the Model Y, a future entry in the highly profitable compact crossover segment. At a shareholder meeting yesterday, CEO Elon Musk said he believes the Model Y will eventually outsell the Model 3. While he made similar claims about Model X volume before the vehicle entered production — a prediction which did not pan out — Musk says the company has learned from the errors made in the larger CUV’s development.

Unlike the Model X, the Model Y will use a unique platform and receive a dedicated assembly line at its own factory. Musk also told investors that production expenditures would be significantly lower for the small crossover, compared to the Model 3.  Read More >

By on June 2, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt, Image: General Motors

Despite the protestations of many members of the green car crowd, dollars and cents do seem to play a major role in the motivation to purchase an electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle. Right now, EV proponents and domestic automakers are worried the U.S. won’t renew the green car tax credit — a segment-boosting incentive that shaves thousands off the price of a new electric vehicle.

Some would argue if green car buyers are really devoted to the planet’s health, purchase price wouldn’t be an issue (assuming the buyer’s bank balance is sufficient). Individuals being what they are, motivations and circumstances will vary. Still, no one can argue that a tax credit doesn’t sweeten the pot, just as dealer incentives on the hood of a truck help move sluggish inventory.

In Denmark, however, lawmakers have discovered that once-steady sales of EVs will slow to a trickle when green vehicle buyers are treated like regular car buyers.  Read More >

By on June 1, 2017

Volkswagen Atlas in front of Chattanooga sign, Image: VW

Volkswagen’s sole U.S. assembly plant was spared any fallout from the company’s wildly expensive diesel emissions scandal, but the upcoming North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations could see VW throttle back its future plans for the facility.

The Chattanooga plant, which builds the Passat and Atlas, has seen $900 million in investment over the last couple of years. More models are anticipated, and the automaker said it expects the plant to reach full production by 2020. However, recent threats of an import tax to be levied on German automakers has VW brass in wait-and-see mode before sending any new models or money to Tennessee. Read More >

By on June 1, 2017

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

It’s not just the range — it’s the weight, too. Oh, and don’t forget about cost. These are some of the potential stumbling blocks facing Tesla’s introduction of an electric semi truck, say Carnegie Mellon University researchers in a peer-reviewed study expected later this month.

Tesla has two trucks up its sleeve. One, an electric big rig, is slated for reveal this September, while an electric pickup should appear within the next two years. So far, it’s looking like the latter vehicle is the viable one. Read More >

By on May 31, 2017

[Havelaar Canada Bison, Image: Havellar Canada]

A paradigm shift must have occurred within the truck community, as electric pickups are beginning to become more than just an easily dismissed theory posited by a bunch of fringe engineering weirdos. Tesla has already announced plans for an electrified pickup, Workhorse is toying with the idea of bringing its W-15 to the consumer market, and now the Canadian division of Havelaar Group has unveiled its own in Ontario.

Dubbed the Havelaar Bison, the pure-electric pickup uses twin motors to drive all four wheels simultaneously, with a battery unit that allows for a maximum range of about 186 miles. The firm claims the truck is designed for the very worst weather conditions the Great White North can throw at it, using its adaptive dynamics to mitigate varied surfaces.  Read More >

By on May 30, 2017

2016_nissan_leaf_01

The Nissan Leaf, which burst onto the scene in late 2010 as one of the first mass-market electric vehicles, hasn’t changed much since its introduction. Until very recently, driving range sat well below the three-figure mark. And as its technological edge dulled, the Leaf gained a reputation as one of the fastest-depreciating vehicles on the market.

If you find yourself living in a certain jurisdiction, Nissan and a mid-level government has now made a purchase of a used Leaf far more attractive than it once was. Message to the U.S. and the rest of Canada: Quebec wants your old Leafs. Read More >

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