It would appear that the Smart money is literally on electric cars. Daimler says it plans to stop selling combustion-engined Smart models in North America entirely. If you live in the United States or Canada and want a goofy gas-powered mini car, you’d better buy one now.
Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Dietmar Exler has issued a letter to dealers explaining that the sale of Smart cars with gasoline engines will stop when the 2017 model year ends this fall. (Read More…)
Along with the rest of Volkswagen AG, Audi has made plans to invest heavily into electric vehicles. The company expects EVs to comprise 25 percent of its U.S. sales by 2025 and is devoting the e-tron moniker to an entire division of electrified models, with the first arriving next year.
Addressing the J.D. Power Summit at this year’s National Automobile Dealers Association Convention and Expo, Audi of America President Scott Keogh told salesmen to welcome the electric mobility market with open arms or learn to cope with an ambivalent future. However, jumping head-first into a relatively small market with a huge potential for growth isn’t without pitfalls, and it isn’t unwise for dealers to remain cautious. Still, with Audi planning to introduce three new BEVs within the United States by 2020 and Volkswagen Group hoping to have 30 battery-electric models out by the 2025, you can see why Keogh is pressing the issue. (Read More…)
Renault and Nissan will build the next-generation Zoe and Leaf electric cars using a shared platform. The cooperative endeavor should result in leaner, cleaner, and better EV technologies — something the Japanese automaker needs to implement immediately in the helplessly floundering Leaf.
While the models will have their own distinct styling, they will share the same basic framework and electric motors. Arnaud Deboeuf, senior vice president of Renault-Nissan BV, said that the new generations of the Zoe and Leaf would compete in the same segment. However, since the current Zoe is a supermini, it will need to be sized up into a compact or the Leaf will need to be miniaturized slightly. (Read More…)
EV “conversions” make for strange bedfellows when it comes to competition. There is no gasoline Kia Soul that competed even slightly with Mercedes or BMW. Oddly enough however, when you electrify one of the least expensive cars in America, you end up with with a Kia on the same cross-shop list as the i3 and B-Class Electric. Obviously a Kia Soul EV vs i3 vs B-Class comparison table is at the extreme end, but I am surprised how many folks wanted to hear that comparison. It isn’t just the luxury-cross shops that become possible however, comparisons normally considered to be “one-tier up” and “one-tier down” become more reasonable as well. For instance, the gasoline Soul isn’t a direct competitor to the Fiat 500 or the Ford Focus, but in EV form they are head to head.
When I was a kid I was told that by the time I was 30 we would all be piloting nuclear powered flying cars. Reality, of course, has dictated that gasoline is still the most cost effective way of delivering what the average person considers a “normal driving experience.” In an attempt to change not just how we “fuel” a car, but the very way a car is integrated into our lives, Nissan has released the first volume produced electric car in North America. Yea, yea I know about the GM EV1, Toyota Rav4 EV and the Ford experiments, but let’s be real, Nissan has already sold more Leafs (Nissan tells me the plural is not Leaves) in the first few tsunami-effected months of this year than GM sold during the two years of EV1 production. How did they do it? We borrowed a white Leaf for just under three days to find out why 20,000 have already pre-ordered one of these pure-electric cars.
In typical Carlos Ghosn style, the father of the Nissan EV throws down the gauntlet. gm-volt.com quotes him from a talk with reporters:
“Frankly, I mean so far there is no competition. Let’s be serious. It’s not because someone is coming with a prototype and one car that this is competition. The question is how much capacity are you building. What I am sure is that in 2011, I am going to be the only one on the market”.
In that regard, Ghosn has put production capacity where his mouth is with Nissan planning on 500k in global sales by 2012: “The numbers are big,” Ghosn said. As a frame of reference, GM has indicated production of 8k Volts in 2011, and an ability to ramp up to about 50k annually thereafter. Did GM bet on the wrong horse with its smaller battery but range-extending generator equipped Volt? GM NA Prez suggests that might well turn out to be the case. (Read More…)
Battery electric vehicles are widely seen as the most promising long-term automotive greentech, but they’re also hardly poised to take over the industry. A host of issues are keeping EVs out of mainstream acceptance, ranging from battery capacity issues to the lack of a charging infrastructure. For a group of electric transportation-sector businesses though (including Nissan, which is heavily hyping its Leaf EV), it’s nothing $124b in government support won’t fix. A press release on the Electrification Coalition’s “Roadmap” explains:
The Electrification Roadmap presents a bold and specific vision: By 2040, 75 percent of light-duty vehicle miles traveled in the United States should be electric miles. As a result, oil consumption in the light-duty fleet would be reduced by more than 75 percent, and U.S. crude oil imports could effectively be reduced to zero… “It is absolutely crucial that all of the key elements of an electrified transportation system are introduced in a highly coordinated fashion and in a way that is effective, affordable, and appealing to actual American consumers,” [David Crane, President of NRG Energy] said. “Introducing all of the separate elements, from cars to infrastructure, simultaneously in select communities across the country will move electrification beyond the early adopters; policymakers will witness the national benefit derived from a new kind of transportation system while consumers will benefit firsthand from a new kind of driving experience.”