The Truth About Cars » electric cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 04 Sep 2015 15:00:35 +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 » electric cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com BlueIndy Electric Car Sharing is Born (Under a Bad Sign) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/blueindy-electric-car-sharing-born-bad-sign/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/blueindy-electric-car-sharing-born-bad-sign/#comments Wed, 02 Sep 2015 20:14:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1159138 BlueIndy, the nation’s first electric car sharing service, launched in Indianapolis on Wednesday, according to Time, but with controversy. The car service, which uses Bollore Group electric cars, has met initial opposition with the Indianapolis City Council, who’ve taken aim at the mayor who launched the project with Bollore — whose other EV car-sharing cities include […]

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Vincent Bollore with his Bluecars in Paris

BlueIndy, the nation’s first electric car sharing service, launched in Indianapolis on Wednesday, according to Time, but with controversy.

The car service, which uses Bollore Group electric cars, has met initial opposition with the Indianapolis City Council, who’ve taken aim at the mayor who launched the project with Bollore — whose other EV car-sharing cities include Paris and London.

The cars shouldn’t be parked in downtown spots, council members say.

“The mayor needs to understand that even though this is one of his pet projects, he is not above the law,” City council member Zach Adamson, told WXIN. 

The program is drawing fire from local residents as well.

The city’s buses are among the worst in the nation, according to StreetsBlog.org, and residents say the $6 million from city coffers for the service could be better spent on better public transportation. The lack of public transportation is reason alone for the service, BlueIndy General Manager Scott Prince told the Indianapolis Business Journal:

“We think it’s the perfect city to do this,” he said. “If we had the world’s greatest mass transit system today, this arguably would not be the first city we’d be launching in in America.”

Nonetheless, neighbors say the dedicated city parking spots and charging stations for the cars are an eyesore:

“I live in a historic neighborhood, and I’ve got a rental car business in front of my house,” Chas Navarra told the Indianapolis Star. “What’s the difference between having this and Hertz or Avis parked out there? How is this going to be good for my (property) valuation?”

A safety hazard:

“When it smacks you on the forehead like that, it’s really something,” Navarra said. “Do we even know if these chargers are safe or if children should be playing around them?”

Unnecessary:

“I drive my car to work Downtown,” Sean McCarthy told the Indianapolis Star. “It’s only three miles, but we have a parking garage, and traffic isn’t bad at all.

“I just don’t think Indianapolis is at that point where we have to find all kinds of other ways to get to work. It might make sense in a larger city but not here, yet.”

And a “leap of faith”:

“It’s quite alien,” Michael Thwaite, who is president of Plug-In America, told the Indianapolis Business Journal. The car “requires someone to take a leap of faith that the thing will work and it will meet their needs. It has to be better than the alternatives.”

The service will eventually have 500 cars available, according to its website. The cars fit four adult passengers and have a range of 150 miles.

Membership for the service costs $9.99 a month and $4 for 20 minutes in the car. After 20 minutes, users are charged $0.20 per minute.

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Model X Buyers Can Spec Out Their $100K Cars, Add $10K in Speed, Still Get Rebate http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/model-x-buyers-can-spec-100k-cars-add-10k-speed-still-get-rebate/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/09/model-x-buyers-can-spec-100k-cars-add-10k-speed-still-get-rebate/#comments Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:20:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1158082 Prospective buyers of Tesla’s coming Model X SUV can go online Tuesday and pick out their color and options for their cars, which should be arriving at the end of September, Automotive News is reporting. The online configurator popped up Monday night for potential buyers and forum users started posting pictures of their cars online. The pictures are […]

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Prospective buyers of Tesla’s coming Model X SUV can go online Tuesday and pick out their color and options for their cars, which should be arriving at the end of September, Automotive News is reporting.

The online configurator popped up Monday night for potential buyers and forum users started posting pictures of their cars online. The pictures are the first from the automaker before its official reveal.

The interior pictures detail seating for seven adults and the Model X’s falcon doors that will reportedly sport sensors that keep passengers from getting out hitting the doors on low garages.

20870112889_866fbd89a7_oAccording to the Automotive News report, the Model X Signature series will start at $132,000 and can be configured with Tesla’s “Ludicrous Speed” update that’ll boost performance.

A standard Model X can also get the “Ludicrous Speed” update, but buyers would have to opt first for the performance package and then “Ludicrous Speed” beyond that.

Other features on the Model X include the option to have the car park itself, leather seating, heated and ventilated seats and the ability to return your federal rebate satellite radio.

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(Photos courtesy the automaker and Flickr user tobi_wan_kenobi.)

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At This Price, Nissan Just May As Well Pay You For a New Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/price-nissan-just-may-well-pay-new-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/price-nissan-just-may-well-pay-new-leaf/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 20:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1152793 I live at the crossroads of liberal and libertarian. Despite what some of you have said, I’m not Marxist (although I have read plenty of his work, along with Ayn Rand and Adam Smith, Milton Friedman followers, et al.) and economics for me qualifies as a hobby. Therefore, the economy of how Colorado just made the Nissan […]

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2011 Nissan LEAF

I live at the crossroads of liberal and libertarian. Despite what some of you have said, I’m not Marxist (although I have read plenty of his work, along with Ayn Rand and Adam Smith, Milton Friedman followers, et al.) and economics for me qualifies as a hobby.

Therefore, the economy of how Colorado just made the Nissan Leaf one of the least expensive new cars in America is fascinating.

Right now, Leaf buyers in Colorado can receive the following perks: a $7,500 federal rebate, around $5,000 back from the state of Colorado, and $5,000 from Nissan if you finance your purchase through them. (Georgia, West Virginia and Connecticut are pretty high as well.)

All told, that’s $17,500 back in Colorado on a car that starts at $29,860 ($850 destination included) and your price — before negotiations with the dealer — is $12,360, if your shirt is starched, teeth are white and you max out rebates.

I called up a local Nissan dealer to confirm the details and after a little bit of checking (and a lot of trying to sell me on a lease) she confirmed I could score a Nissan for severely cheap.

FYI: A Mitsubishi Mirage starts at $12,995.

The financing rebate ends at the end of August, and Colorado’s $6,000 incentive (which is the highest in the nation) can’t last forever.

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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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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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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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2015 Volkswagen e-Golf 3

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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Spyker Emerges from Bankruptcy Charged with Enthusiasm http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/spyker-emerges-from-bankruptcy-charged-with-enthusiasm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/spyker-emerges-from-bankruptcy-charged-with-enthusiasm/#comments Sat, 01 Aug 2015 18:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1131465 Spyker — the former Saab owner, F1 contender, and builder of aircraft-inspired supercars — has emerged from moratorium and plans to merge with Portland, Oregon electric aircraft manufacturer Volta Volare, said the company in a release on Thursday. As part of Spyker’s future plans, electrification seems to be the common theme, whether it be for […]

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Spyker C12 Zagato (courtesy zcars.com.au)

Spyker — the former Saab owner, F1 contender, and builder of aircraft-inspired supercars — has emerged from moratorium and plans to merge with Portland, Oregon electric aircraft manufacturer Volta Volare, said the company in a release on Thursday.

As part of Spyker’s future plans, electrification seems to be the common theme, whether it be for airplanes or automobiles. Now silver-tongued Skyper CEO, Victor Muller, only needs to find an electric train company to complete the set for a modern movie remake.

In a statement posted on the Spyker website, Muller stated:

After winning a long legal battle with just one creditor, we have now finally succeeded in exiting moratorium and we are back in business as a healthy, debt free enterprise. In the coming weeks we will finalize the agreements with investors which were held up for over two month by the protracted litigation. But true to our logo “nulla tenaci invia est via” (for the tenacious no road is impassable) we have persevered and we can now move on and pursue our ambitious goals including the merger with Portland, Oregon based electric aircraft manufacturer Volta Volare.

In summary, Spyker is back with a vengeance and we look forward to a bright future for the company I founded 15 years ago and which is now set to build sensationally elegant and classy (electric) motorcars and electric planes for decades to come.

Spyker’s new partner, Volta Volare, has one aircraft — the GT4 — that was announced in 2012 with test flights to start that spring. However, we have been unable to verify if any test flights ever took place.

While the news seems rosy at first, I doubt this is the last we will hear of Spyker’s woes.

 

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Refer 10 New Tesla X Buyers, Get Your Tesla Model X for Free http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/refer-10-new-tesla-x-buyers-get-tesla-model-x-free/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/refer-10-new-tesla-x-buyers-get-tesla-model-x-free/#comments Thu, 30 Jul 2015 20:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1129465 Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told press Wednesday that people who refer 10 people to buy the company’s new Model X would get one for free, Mashable is reporting (via Car and Driver). The caveats: You need to be the first in your region to refer 10 people (we have no idea on what “regions” mean, […]

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Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk told press Wednesday that people who refer 10 people to buy the company’s new Model X would get one for free, Mashable is reporting (via Car and Driver).

The caveats: You need to be the first in your region to refer 10 people (we have no idea on what “regions” mean, we asked) and you’d need to do it by Oct. 31.

Despite how you feel about Tesla, the company is proving that an automaker can be run like a tech startup and not a car company.

The incentive is part of a larger program that Musk detailed in his call.

Any current Model S buyer who refers another new Model S buyer gets $1,000 off the purchase of another Tesla. The new buyer also gets $1,000 off the purchase price of their new car too. Refer five new buyers, and you get a tour of the new Gigafactory. Refer 10 new buyers and get $20,000 knocked off the price of a new Model X.

There isn’t a similar program in place for Tesla’s used cars, but Musk said he’d be open to the possibility.

So, who wants to be a Tesla dealer today?

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Editorial: Tax – Don’t Subsidize – Electric Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/editorial-tax-dont-subsidize-electric-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/editorial-tax-dont-subsidize-electric-cars/#comments Tue, 14 Jul 2015 14:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1114993 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 […]

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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.

“These factors generate critical questions as to the merits of the federal subsidy. The first factor questions the policy in terms of its sign: is it better to subsidize or tax electric vehicle purchases? The second factor raises concerns regarding the one-size-fits-all design of the subsidy,” the report states.

The second factor answers itself: a one-size-fits-all approach rarely works — and in terms of the electric car subsidy, it doesn’t work at all anymore.

It’s clear that well-heeled buyers — who may not actually need a tax perk anyway — are adopting expensive electric cars at a higher clip than middle-class Americans. In the first quarter of 2015, Tesla’s Model S outsold the Nissan Leaf despite costing nearly $40,000 more. In addition to the pricier pick, proportionately more electric-car buyers were from regions of the U.S. with higher subsidies than other parts of the country.

It’s hard to imagine how luxury car buyers deserve the same tax breaks as car buyers shopping in ranges half that of their counterparts, but it’s even harder to imagine how buyers in markets with comparatively “dirtier power” deserve clean federal tax rebates at all. As the report exhaustively details, the externalities of states’ electric-vehicle incentives weren’t considered before states began offering them. According to the report, 91 percent of pollution from electric cars is exported to states other than where the car is driven.

It’s clear there are innumerable factors when considering the efficacy of economic incentives for the “public good.” Markets often don’t respond quickly or with conscience when it comes to public initiatives. Electric vehicle purchases in the United States are clearly lukewarm now after gas prices have dropped considerably over the last 5 years. It’s equally clear that the future of transportation of a growing population needs to be powered by something other than a finite resource that requires breaking the earth, extracting ancient raw materials, refining them, and shipping them halfway across the world to be sold for less than milk in many markets. Relying on that incredibly destructive process for a lasting consistent energy resource makes little sense.

And still, gasoline is an incredibly potent and efficient fuel. A kilogram of gasoline has more potential energy than coal, methanol, ethanol, fat, gunpowder, TNT or even dynamite. Our reliance on gasoline is not without reason: it’s incredibly useful as an energy source.

But just like gasoline has in the past, electric energy requires progressive taxes and consideration to improve the infrastructure it relies on, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach. California recently adopted a tiered system for its incentives based on buyer income. That’s a good first step, but it should also be expanded. The United States should consider a tiered tax on some electric cars based on income and use.

It’s clear the gas tax is outdated and ineffective at maintaining America’s roads and bridges. A tax on electric cars should not be considered as some kind of replacement, supplement or even complement to a woefully outdated gas tax that needs comprehensive reform.

But the gas-guzzler tax, a penalty that creates very little revenue and even less discouragement from buying inefficient cars, is an interesting first step. The tiered system levies a tax that gets progressively larger as the car gets thirstier. Even the 16-cylinder, quad-turbo Bugatti Veyron, which swallows more gas than any other production car on the road, didn’t qualify for the steepest penalty. In 2012, the sin tax generated only $73.5 million in revenue — a fiscal drop in the bucket for the government.

Any tax revenue based on the electric car’s initial price could help fund infrastructure improvements to the power grid and offset environmental impacts felt beyond than where the vehicle is purchased. Just like municipal and state taxes vary by region and services, an electric car tax wouldn’t need to be a unilateral levy.

Like the gas-guzzler tax, a tax on electric cars isn’t meant to raise money — it’s meant to be a consideration: how much help is a tax break on a luxury car?

The appeal of electric cars and clean energy would still remain, and a graduated tax on cars based on MSRP could still persuade middle-of-the-road buyers to consider potentially cleaner electric cars when they head to dealer lots. But needlessly subsidizing wealthier buyers purchasing environmentally neutral — or marginally helpful — electric cars doesn’t serve a larger goal of cleaner transportation. The United States wouldn’t be the first country to revisit its electric-car incentives.

The power of public perception is very often greater than reality. In that respect, all power is clearly not equally created.

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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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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 The Aging Electrics You Know Best Are Predictably Falling Fast http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sales-aging-electrics-know-best-predictably-falling-fast/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sales-aging-electrics-know-best-predictably-falling-fast/#comments Sat, 23 May 2015 14:17:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072482 We’re accustomed to seeing outdated sports cars stumble as they age. They’re as capable as they were when launched, of course, but demand for the cars often decreases rapidly. Those who were interested in the stylistic proposition already bought one. Those who saw them as paragons of performance encounter newer models with a greater dynamic portfolio. […]

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Nissan creates "World's Cleanest Car" Ð a zero emissions Nissa

We’re accustomed to seeing outdated sports cars stumble as they age.

They’re as capable as they were when launched, of course, but demand for the cars often decreases rapidly. Those who were interested in the stylistic proposition already bought one. Those who saw them as paragons of performance encounter newer models with a greater dynamic portfolio.

Consider the Scion FR-S, sales of which plunged 23% in its second full year in the United States; sales of which declined 29% in the first four months of 2015.

Perhaps exacerbated by falling fuel prices, the sharp downturn in sales of two particularly famous, unconventionally powered hatchbacks is vaguely reminiscent of a sports car nameplate’s yo-yoing. A Camry-like ability to sustain demand right up until the new model arrives in dealers? Not for the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt.

Granted, the Volt’s decline began before old age. Launched during the same month, December 2010, as the Leaf, the Volt volume ramped up much more rapidly. 2,029 copies of the electric-plus-range-extended Volt were sold in the United States during the car’s first five months, compared with 1,044 Leafs.

Volt vs. Leaf sales chart

Yet by March 2013, when the Volt was 28 months into its first-generation, year-over-year volume plunged 35%. That began a three-month streak of decline for the Volt. In calendar year 2013, Volt sales decreased by less than 2%; declining in seven of twelve months.

Looking back from April 2015’s 42% year-over-year decline, Volt volume has decreased in the United States in nine consecutive months, in twelve of the last 16 months, and in 19 of the last 26 months.

2011 Chevrolet Volt

The Leaf’s downturn is much more recent. After posting annual increases in each of its first four years – including a 130% jump in 2013 and a 34% increase last year – Leaf volume has declined in each of 2015’s first four months.

The 15% drop in January resulted in just 1,070 Leaf sales, the lowest total for the all-electric Nissan in two years. February sales fell 16%. March volume plunged 38%, a drop of 690 sales. In April, Leaf sales slid sharply once again, with a 26% decline measuring a loss of 535 sales. Preceding this four-month streak was a 23-month-long span in which Leaf sales consistently improved on a year-over-year basis.

Many electric cars are ultra-low-volume portions of a high-volume vehicle’s lineup. Tesla infamously doesn’t release detailed monthly sales reports. (HybridCars.com estimates 6,800 Model S sales in the U.S. through the first four months of 2015, a 26% improvement.) The Model S, while never fully replaced during its near three-year lifespan to date, is markedly different from the Leaf and Volt in the sense that Tesla constantly provides significant updates to the car and the Model S lineup. Predictably, during its phasing-out, U.S. sales of the first Toyota Prius Plug-In, a vehicle which posted an annual peak of 13,263 units just last year, is down 66% to 1,699 sales.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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2015 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-smart-fortwo-electric-drive-review/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/2015-smart-fortwo-electric-drive-review/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071066 I like Smarts. It’s not a guilty pleasure, for I am not ashamed. It is a bizarre pleasure, however, lacking consistency and believability. I’m a true blue car enthusiast with a love of V8 rumble, turbocharged torque, supercharged sizzle, manual shifters, and performance wagons. And yet, I can’t help myself: I like the way the […]

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2015 Smart Fortwo ED

I like Smarts.

It’s not a guilty pleasure, for I am not ashamed. It is a bizarre pleasure, however, lacking consistency and believability.

I’m a true blue car enthusiast with a love of V8 rumble, turbocharged torque, supercharged sizzle, manual shifters, and performance wagons. And yet, I can’t help myself: I like the way the Smart Fortwo steers. I’ve adapted to the way it wants to be shifted. I love the feeling of interior airiness. And I periodically enjoy well and truly pushing a car to its limits just to make proper forward progress. Approaching the limits in those performance cars I love? That’s a recipe for jail time.

As much as I like Smart Fortwos, my wife likes them a whole lot more. So in 2009, after our old Topaz, a new Civic, and a Santa Fe company car, she leased a second-generation model during a week of ridiculous Mercedes-Benz discounting that made the Fortwo significantly more affordable than any other new vehicle. The W451 wasn’t as efficient as the diesel model with which she fell in love in 2004, but it was thousands of dollars less expensive, much roomier inside, built better, and – in concert with the severe price cut – free to maintain. (The diesel 450 most certainly was not.)

2015 Smart Fortwo ED rear

She rarely drove the car outside the downtown core where we lived. Chief among the car’s annoyances wasn’t the transmission – the car really does force you into an unconventional acclimatization – but rather the difficulty of holding steady at the posted speed limit of 110 km/h. Fortwos prefer to settle in at an easy 130, a speed at which highway fuel consumption sharply increased. Cargo capacity and flexibility never ceased to amaze. The observed mileage far exceeded the Smart’s official ratings.

RATIONALIZING
Surely, nostalgia alone would be sufficient to melt her heart when an electric version of the Smart Fortwo appeared in our driveway in early May, loaned to us for a week by Mercedes-Benz Canada. It’s been years since we ran a Fortwo; lifestyle changes long since made a Smart an impossibility in our family. But a gas-free Smart, with all the charm of the conventional car plus the ability to plug it into our house, is unquestionably a winning ticket, no?

2015 Smart Fortwo ED interior

No, not in our province, not in our lives, not even as a second car. A $30,000 two-seater with no performance credentials to speak of, no available tax rebates, lengthy charging times, and a dearth of ordinary creature comforts isn’t a recipe for success. This whole “compliance” electric car production works in a buyer’s favor with the right lease deal, in the proper U.S. jurisdiction, if they plan to operate a different primary car, and, of course, if they like Smarts.

DRIVING
Attempting to draw comparisons between an electric Smart and cars we typically drive is virtually impossible. This feels nothing like a conventional automobile, more unlike the Nissan Micra I drove the week before than a Prius is unlike a Camry.

More unusual is the stark difference between the way the Fortwo Electric Drive makes its way down the road in comparison with a normal second-generation Fortwo. The electric version is 16% heavier, and with the added weight settled low in the structure, the Electric Drive rides more sedately. But the steering is very heavy and rather unwilling to move far off centre.

cargo collage

Throttle calibration is nicely weighted, and the initial surge of torque is genuinely pleasing, as in so many electric cars. With no shifts to be completed, the Fortwo ED simply continues to build speed in a strange manner, so very unlike the normal Fortwo which, while in possession of passing power at highway speed, doesn’t exactly race down an on-ramp. The Electric Drive, on the other hand, is out of breath at higher speeds.

Brake feel is dreadful in this electric car, but the regen modes (through which you can cycle using the paddle shifters) can be so effective that one-pedal driving becomes commonplace. One-pedal driving is the best.

From a handling perspective, the weight which improves ride quality greatly reduces the feeling of agility that makes the regular Fortwo such a blast in the city. As a result, much of my reasoning for labelling the Fortwo as “fun” is lost, because this car isn’t nearly as enjoyable to hustle around town as the gas car.

RULING
Approximately 16 hours of charging (in a standard outlet) resulted in a range read-out of 140 km, well in excess of the car’s official 109 km (68 mile) range. The estimator was accurate for the duration of the car’s stay. Driving for 40 km resulted in around 40 km of range reduction. (I opted against testing the full limit of the car’s range for obvious reasons.) For the record, in 30 months, my wife’s 2009 Fortwo averaged 40 (U.S.) mpg in city driving, around 46 on the highway.

interior collage

A Fortwo Electric Drive and a normal Fortwo share another trait. They are most definitely acquired tastes, even for the previously indoctrinated. On day one, the Fortwo Electric Drive comes across as weird and mildly humorous. A day later, it’s simply weird. On day three, you’ve surely encountered an experience that causes it to be unfortunately weird and you’re not especially humored. Day four brings your mind around to weird but decently useful. On days five and six you’ve learned to drive the Fortwo as it wants to be driven, making it both weird and moderately fun.

By week’s end, it’s weird and likeable. But not sufficiently likeable, not with such limited range or at such a lofty price. Similarly equipped gas-fired Fortwos are at least $10,000 less, ride worse but handle better, accelerate slower but cruise more effectively, and are not limited by a charging cycle.

WAITING
Any interest in a new Smart, whether electric or gas, must be tempered by the realization that the third-generation Fortwo is set to arrive shortly. It won’t simply be newer – it will also be much better. Not only is the outgoing Fortwo Electric Drive not the most newfangled electric car, it’s based on a design that originated seven years ago.

2015 Smart Fortwo ED badge

The 2016 Fortwo will be slightly larger but still blissfully small. While the size causes such consternation in legions of buyers worried for their personal well-being, I always believed the Fortwo’s tidy dimensions produced odds which were ever in my favor. After all, there’s a lot less of me to hit.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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Was the First-Generation Volt a Success or Failure? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/first-generation-volt-success-failure/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/first-generation-volt-success-failure/#comments Mon, 04 May 2015 14:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1059658 Over the weekend, General Motors announced the 2016 Chevrolet Volt extended-range hybrid car will have a MSRP more than a thousand dollars lower than the current price of the first-generation car. The next Volt will have a base MSRP of $33,995 (including $825 as a destination fee), which GM say is about $1,200 cheaper than the 2015 Volt. With a federal […]

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2016 Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS Detroit

Over the weekend, General Motors announced the 2016 Chevrolet Volt extended-range hybrid car will have a MSRP more than a thousand dollars lower than the current price of the first-generation car. The next Volt will have a base MSRP of $33,995 (including $825 as a destination fee), which GM say is about $1,200 cheaper than the 2015 Volt. With a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 still in place, the new Volt could cost as little as $26,495 before any applicable state-level subsidies.

The Volt will not only be cheaper to buy, it should be less expensive to operate. Range when running in EV mode has been increased by 31 percent to 50 miles. When powered by gasoline it will get 41 miles per gallon on the EPA’s combined traffic cycle. In comparison, the current model is rated at 38 EV miles and 37 mpg. Another economy will be gained by the fact the combustion engine will run on 87 octane gasoline, unlike the first-gen Volt requiring premium fuel.

Now that the first Volt is going away, it’s probably appropriate to perform a postmortem. Has it been a success or a failure?

Introduced as a concept with great fanfare in early 2007 and championed by Bob Lutz as a way of gaining technological and environmental credibility for GM in the face of Toyota’s ascendancy, the Volt took almost four years to get to production. This lead to considerable skepticism, not the least of which was published on TTAC. Those four years spanned the time of GM’s financial crisis, subsequent bankruptcy and bailout by the U.S. government. It’s not much of a guess to say the Volt project survived bankruptcy, while the entire performance-oriented Pontiac did not, probably because of the environmental and alternative energy priorities of the Obama administration. For a while, the Volt was the favorite whipping boy for critics of the administration, particularly those fond of using the term “Government Motors”. It’s died down a bit since.

2016 Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS Detroit

Politics has affected the way people see the Volt, judging its success in ways they wouldn’t necessarily evaluate other automotive enterprises. We saw evidence of this in the way a fire in one crash tested Volt received more attention than the hundreds of thousands of real-world car fires happening every year. The real world isn’t always as binary as the political world can be.

While the Volt hasn’t set any sales records, I can’t bring myself to say that it’s been a failure, even though it’s undoubtedly fallen short of sales predictions made by former GM CEO Dan Akerson. When the Chevrolet Volt went on sale in late 2010, General Motors executives publicly projected sales of 60,000 units a year. Per GoodCarBadCar, through the first four months of this year, Chevy has delivered a grand total of 76,136 Volts in about four and a half years.

2016 Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS Detroit

With sales exceeding 23,000 units in both 2012 and 2013, I’m not going to call the Volt an abject failure, even if it never came within hailing distance of sixty thousand cars a year. Volt customers are certainly happy with their cars, showing unheard of 90 percent loyalty rates. It has no doubt helped GM improve its image with consumers.

I have a neighbor who traded in a Mercedes-Benz on a Volt, then they leased a second one for his wife’s use. Just recently, I noticed a new Cadillac ELR on their driveway. (They are, as my father used to say, “of means.”)

Seventy percent of Volt buyers and lessees have either traded in a non-GM vehicle or bought the car as an addition to the family fleet. The most common trade-in has been the Toyota Prius. However, while the Volt hasn’t been a Lincoln Blackwood level failure, it hasn’t been a roaring success. Sales in 2014 were down about 4,300 units. Since the second-gen car was revealed, year-to-year sales of the Volt have dropped 46 percent in 2015.

2016 Chevrolet Volt at NAIAS Detroit

The other day, in a post nominally about a rental Prius, Jack Baruth pointed out while gasoline may be cheap today, the situation may not be so 20 years hence and there are some pretty strict CAFE standards facing automakers. Hybrids and EVs are not going away. With that perspective, GM has to play the long game and keep working at electrification, including the Voltec platform, whether it hits pie-in-the-sky sales goals or not.

As a car, the Volt is great – perhaps the best engineered car General Motors has ever built. Unfortunately, it’s been overshadowed by bankruptcy and politics. Maybe the second-generation Volt – media willing – can be evaluated on its merits as a car and not a political football.

Photography by Ronnie Schreiber. For more photos of the vehicle in this post, please visit to Cars In Depth.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Chart Of The Day: The Chevrolet Volt’s Long And Harsh Decline http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chart-day-chevrolet-volts-long-harsh-decline/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/chart-day-chevrolet-volts-long-harsh-decline/#comments Sun, 19 Apr 2015 13:07:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1046514 The first three months of 2015 marked the lowest-volume quarter of U.S. Chevrolet Volt sales since the summer of 2011, when Volt production was just ramping up. Volt volume in January of this year, more specifically, fell to the lowest level since August 2011. With only 542 sales in the first month of 2015, Volt […]

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2012 Chevrolet Volt

The first three months of 2015 marked the lowest-volume quarter of U.S. Chevrolet Volt sales since the summer of 2011, when Volt production was just ramping up.

Volt volume in January of this year, more specifically, fell to the lowest level since August 2011. With only 542 sales in the first month of 2015, Volt sales were down 41%.

February sales then tumbled 43%. Most recently, March 2015 volume slid below 1000 units for the third time in three months, tumbling 57% to just 639 units, just the fourth time in 38 months that GM has sold fewer than 1000 Volts in the span of a month. 

Are fuel prices to blame, or the fact that the next, improved Volt has already been revealed? Both may be contributing factors in the most recent months, but a straightforward drop in demand, from low to lower, is the more appropriate response. Volt volume was in decline long before the latest fuel price decline.

Chevrolet Volt sales chart quarterlyVolt sales peaked during the car’s second full year on the market, 2012, before beginning a steady decline that saw monthly volume decrease on a year-over-year basis in 18 of 25 months, including each of the last eight months. Initial expectations called for approximately 40,000 annual Volt sales in the United States. GM hasn’t yet come within 16,000 units of matching that goal.

One thing is certain: there are Volts to be had. The drop to only 1874 first-quarter sales in 2015 occurred despite the fact that GM had, according to Automotive News, a 56-day supply at the beginning of January, a 192-day supply at the start of February, and a 159-day supply when March began.

The Volt was America’s 67th-best-selling car in 2012 but fell to the 70th position in 2013, before falling to 78th in calendar year 2014. Through the first-quarter of 2015, the Volt is now America’s 99th-best-selling car.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Capsule Review: Chevrolet Spark EV http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-chevrolet-spark-ev/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/capsule-review-chevrolet-spark-ev/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1034073 There comes a moment when it’s time to try something new. Like switching to an iPhone after using a Nexus and promptly learning that the iPhone can bend. Or wearing a mechanical watch rather than a quartz watch, only for it to stop ticking after it was on a nightstand for the weekend. Moving to […]

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IMG_20150309_160118

There comes a moment when it’s time to try something new. Like switching to an iPhone after using a Nexus and promptly learning that the iPhone can bend. Or wearing a mechanical watch rather than a quartz watch, only for it to stop ticking after it was on a nightstand for the weekend. Moving to a house from an apartment and dealing with the perils of home ownership, such as property taxes, having to clean gutters, and the inability to have the building manager fix the broken kitchen faucet. My trying something new involved testing an electric vehicle for a week.

IMG_20150309_155918

After all, I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, home to Tesla Motors and ZAP (the hard-core TTAC B&B should know them; there’s even a road test on here of their cars from way back when), and home to dinner parties with prolonged debates about whether electric car ownership is worthwhile. “What if you’re coming home from work and you forgot your phone? You’ll run out of charge retrieving the phone and then there’s no way of getting home.” an attendee might say, while his counterpart might reply, “Well, I’ve saved hundreds of dollars on gas and I haven’t had to visit a gas station. And are these chips and dip vegan?” Since I get asked the electric car question a lot as the “car guy” among my friends, I decided once and for all to test an electric car.

IMG_20150309_155739

To live out my electric car experience, Chevrolet had a Spark EV available in the Northern California press fleet, which was delivered to me with 301 miles on the odometer. 55 of those miles involved delivering the car to my driveway from the press car place. So I was effectively testing a brand-new car. Additionally, it should be noted at this point of the review that most of the country cannot buy the Spark EV. It’s only sold in California and Oregon, where the metropolitan areas tend to have a more developed electric vehicle infrastructure. As a result, this review applies to less than fifteen percent of the population, so those of you not within a 10-hour drive of San Francisco don’t have to care as much.

IMG_20150309_160424

The first thing I did when I got the Spark was test the performance of the car using the 22 miles of range it arrived with. Its performance was surprisingly good thanks to the torque from the electric motor. It could go from 0-60 miles per hour in around seven seconds, which is on par with most six-cylinder midsize sedans. Chevrolet also got the suspension tuning very right, making the Spark quite fun to drive at low speeds. There’s even a “Sport” button which sharpens up throttle response. With this car, it’s actually possible to create an autocross course around your housing development, and have actual fun doing it, without waking up the neighbors. Just make sure there isn’t too much tire squeal.

Secondly, since spirited driving tends to use up much of the battery, I needed to ensure I could charge it at home. Now, to make electric car ownership worthwhile, it helps to have a 240V outlet in your home to ensure your electric vehicle charges faster. Usually, an electric car can go from empty to fully-charged in one night (usually within 8 hours) with the 240V setup. Thankfully I had the means to “improvise” a home charging facility for the Spark with the 120V outlet that came with the Spark. However, most homes have 120V outlets, which is what my house had. With a 120V setup, it usually takes about 12 to 18 hours to go from empty to a full charge.

Regarding styling, the Spark EV more or less looks like any other Chevy Spark on the road. For me, that’s not necessarily a good thing, as many people will believe your car is a lot cheaper than it actually is. Most people will also believe that you’ll be driving a rental car. I had the fortune to have a Jaguar XF Sport in the driveway before I got the Spark EV, and most of my neighbors did a double take when passing by and noticing the red Spark in place of the XF. Personally, I don’t think homeowners’ associations will tolerate a Spark EV in the driveway.

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Inside, the Spark is airy and has plenty of visibility. It is a narrow car though, with the potential to rub shoulders with your front passenger and the rear seat only accommodating two people, but there is plenty of headroom. The trunk only has enough space for two airplane carry-ons. My test car had the “leatherette” (I consider it vinyl) seats that I didn’t like, largely because of how the material felt and I didn’t like sitting in them after the car had been out in the sun. Personally, I’d try to get cloth seats, but that involves “downgrading” to the 1LT trim level for around $400 less, though the steering wheel won’t be leather-wrapped.

On the highway, the Spark had no trouble keeping up with other cars or getting up to speed quickly. However, you will definitely hear the road noise at speeds above 45 mph. If you’re driving on the highway in periods of low traffic with speeds of 65 to 70 miles per hour, you will hate being in the car. I tried to turn up the stereo to compensate for all that road noise, but it didn’t help things and added to the noise pollution. As a result, the Spark EV is a car you’ll prefer in traffic jams and off-highway environments.

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I have to admit I didn’t use OnStar with the car (the OnStar Turn-by-Turn navigation is free for 3 years), so I don’t know if it’s a viable alternative to an actual navigation system. To get navigation maps projected onto the dashboard screen, Chevrolet MyLink can connect to your smartphone and garner the necessary information using the BringGo app. Downloading and installing the app on my smartphone would have been $50 so I didn’t try it out.

As for the money saved on fuel costs by buying the Spark, the car’s Monroney sticker states that it’s possible to save $8,500 in fuel costs over 5 years compared to the average new vehicle which gets 24 mpg and costs $11,000 to fuel over five years. The $8,500 figure comes from driving 15,000 miles per year at 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. On the other hand, when researching potential cost savings on FuelEconomy.gov, the website gives me an estimate of $5,250 saved over five years, but that’s based on “45% highway, 55% city driving, 15,000 annual miles and current fuel prices.” I’m assuming the Monroney value estimates the price of gas becoming higher with time while the FuelEconomy.gov number tends to fluctuate. But only you can estimate how much money you can save based on your driving habits and knowledge of local charging stations.

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When I had to ensure the Spark had a full battery, I fully charged the Spark EV at my house twice during the week I had it, and the electric bill only went up $10 compared to the same period last year. I’m not quite sure if the Spark contributed the extra money to the electric bill, but I did charge it during peak usage hours once, which may have contributed to the total. Also, many of my local hangouts had charging stations where I could park and charge the car for free for a limit of 2 or 3 hours. As a result, I largely didn’t have to pay for the car’s electricity when running errands. (On a side note, the Plugshare app came in handy when finding charging stations.)

Also, my test car had the “fast provisions” charging capability option, it enables the Spark EV to recharge 80 percent of the battery within 20 minutes utilizing the SAE Combo DC fast charging stations. Unfortunately, there were no SAE Combo DC fast chargers near me to sample. Nevertheless, having one of these nearby will help tremendously with range anxiety, especially if your daily commute is more than 60 miles round-trip.

The MSRP of my test car was $28,785 (before the $7,500 tax credit), with the sole option being the $750 “fast provisions” charging capability and an $825 destination charge. It also includes two years of maintenance. At that price point, Nissan has the Leaf which starts at $29,860 including destination, Ford has the Focus EV at $29,995 with destination, and FIAT’s 500e at $31,800. With the $7,500 federal tax credit and a California tax credit of $2,500, the Spark EV can easily come in below $20,000. (Unfortunately, Oregon doesn’t offer an electric vehicle tax credit.) Furthermore, the Spark EV’s lease rates are reasonable and close to the lease rates of the aforementioned electric vehicles, though their advertised leases are for 36,000 miles. On Chevrolet’s website, the current offer is $176 a month (plus taxes and fees) with $0 due at signing for a 3 year, 30,000 mile lease.

All in all, if you’re among the fifteen percent of the American population considering the Spark EV, I would advise buying it as strictly a commuting and errands car. It would make the perfect second or third vehicle if fuel costs are getting out of hand, you drive around 50 miles every day, and you would like to minimize trips to the gas station. With its $176 per month lease deal with $0 due at signing, the Spark EV is worth thinking about if considering a Leaf, the lease rate of which doesn’t come close. Even if you plan to buy an electric car, the Spark is a good candidate as the net price can go below $20,000 with the federal and California tax rebates.

And if you don’t live in California and Oregon and you’re still considering the Spark, come to nice and sunny California and make a vacation out of test driving the Spark EV. Though be wary of any dinner party invites you come across if you tell people your reason for visiting California. The menu has a good chance of being completely vegan.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He also learned that it’s surprisingly easy to sneak up behind people in an electric car, especially cyclists. 

 

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Before The i3, There Was The E1 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/i3-e1/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/i3-e1/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 13:27:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025089 Tomorrow, we’ll have a review of the BMW i3, BMW’s first mass market electric car. Developed in just 10 months, the E1 used an aluminum spaceframe with plastic body panels – remarkably similar to the i3s use of advanced materials and construction given that the E1 was developed in 1991. BMW claimed that the rear-drive […]

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e bmw  1602-e30-3-series-e36-3-series-e1-concept-photo-283777-s-1280x782

Tomorrow, we’ll have a review of the BMW i3, BMW’s first mass market electric car.

Developed in just 10 months, the E1 used an aluminum spaceframe with plastic body panels – remarkably similar to the i3s use of advanced materials and construction given that the E1 was developed in 1991.

BMW claimed that the rear-drive E1 was good for 150 miles from its relatively puny (but today’s standards) 32 kW electric motor and 19  kWh sodium-sulphur battery – which weighed 400 lbs.

The lone E1 ended up catching fire while charging, taking part of a building with it. But like the Geo Storm that ended up previewing the Chevrolet Volt, the E1 ended up leading the way for the Mini E, BMW ActiveE and the latest i3 and i8.

P90056854 bmw-e1-photos-2 bmw-e1-photos-3 bmw-e1-photos-4 bmw-e1-photos-5 bmw-e1-photos-6 bmw-e1-photos-7 bmw-e1-photos-8 bmw-e1-photos-9 bmw-e1-photos-10

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A Leaf Falls In January: After 23 Consecutive Increases, Nissan USA Reports Leaf Decline http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/leaf-falls-january-23-consecutive-increases-nissan-usa-reports-leaf-decline/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/leaf-falls-january-23-consecutive-increases-nissan-usa-reports-leaf-decline/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 15:54:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006802 In the same way that consecutive games without a point draw attention to the fact that Sidney Crosby previously achieved a 25-game point streak, the Nissan’s Leaf slight decline in the lowest-volume month on the calendar shines a light on what was a 23-month streak of year-over-year improvements. Leaf volume slid 15% in January 2015, […]

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2015 Nissan Leaf whiteIn the same way that consecutive games without a point draw attention to the fact that Sidney Crosby previously achieved a 25-game point streak, the Nissan’s Leaf slight decline in the lowest-volume month on the calendar shines a light on what was a 23-month streak of year-over-year improvements.

Leaf volume slid 15% in January 2015, a 182-unit drop. On a monthly basis, Leaf volume increased every month between February 2013 and December 2014, year-over-year.

It’s not a high-volume car, the Leaf, but it’s not so exclusive as to be called rare. Leaf volume has risen beyond 1000 units in each of the last 23 months. Average monthly U.S. volume measured 2911 units in the second half of 2014, up from an average of 2129 monthly sales in the second half of 2013. Leaf volume shot above 3000 units in May, July, August, and December of 2014. (The Chevrolet Volt has only topped the 3K mark once, in August 2013. Toyota has only sold more than 2000 Prius Plug-Ins in a single month twice.)

In fact, that high December output – U.S. sales jumped 23% to 3102 in the final month of 2014 – was partly to blame for the Leaf’s first decline in two years. “Increased demand in December from customers looking to take advantage of federal and state incentives at the end of the tax year pulled some sales ahead,” Brian Brockman, senior manager of corporate communications for Nissan, told TTAC yesterday. And while Nissan doesn’t see low fuel prices having long-term impact on the EV market, Brockman said, “We are also seeing some short-term effects of historically low fuel prices on EV demand among buyers who are solely focused on the economic benefits.”

Some? In the case of the Leaf, very little at all. Even in January, the lowest-volume month for the Leaf since February 2013, the all-electric Nissan still outsold a long list of conventional cars, SUVs, crossovers, and vans, including a large number of Nissan products: NV, Q40, Armada, Xterra, Titan, Quest, Q70, and many more. The Leaf sold more than twice as often as the approaching-replacement Volt (not that the Leaf is a spring chicken), 43% more often than the Scion FR-S, more than three times more often than the Volvo V60.

January 2015 Nissan USA Leaf sales chartThe Volt, FR-S, and V60 aren’t exactly mainstream machines. But that’s not really the point. In a slow month for the Leaf, it was wildly more popular than truly rare cars. In a slow month for the Leaf, it outsold approximately 47% of all passenger car nameplates in January. In a slow month for the Leaf, it outsold all-electrics like the Mercedes-Benz B-Class, Volkswagen e-Golf, Smart Fortwo EV, Fiat 500E, Chevrolet Spark EV, Ford Focus EV, Kia Soul EV, Toyota RAV4 EV, and Mitsubishi i MiEV combined.

It’s worth noting that while HybridCars.com estimates that Tesla sold 1300 copies of the Model S, the Tesla is mostly alone in its electrified nature at the Model S’s price point. The same can not be said for the degree of direct competition faced by the Leaf. Indirectly? Toyota, for instance, sold more than 12,000 total Prius family cars in January.

Regardless of what the competition manages, Nissan would prefer to see Leaf sales continue to improve. Crosby fans also want to see Sidney do more than record points in back-to-back games after being held scoreless in five of six. That’s The Truth About Hockey.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Detroit Electric Reveals Production Exterior, Interior & Signs Asia Distributor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/detroit-electric-reveals-production-exterior-interior-signs-asia-distributor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/detroit-electric-reveals-production-exterior-interior-signs-asia-distributor/#comments Tue, 06 Jan 2015 20:26:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=972394 Detroit Electric, the startup company that hopes to revive the early motoring age’s most successful brand of electric cars, has revealed the final design details and specifications of its Lotus based SP:01 battery powered sports car, which it says will start production in the UK early this year. Preproduction prototypes are being tested at the […]

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Detroit Electric SP01 exterior

Detroit Electric, the startup company that hopes to revive the early motoring age’s most successful brand of electric cars, has revealed the final design details and specifications of its Lotus based SP:01 battery powered sports car, which it says will start production in the UK early this year. Preproduction prototypes are being tested at the Leamington Spa assembly facility. Detroit Electric also announced the appointment of its first distributor in Asia.

The company claims that the carbon fiber bodied 210 KW (285 HP) SP:01 will be “the world’s fastest pure-electric production two-seater sports car”. Since the Tesla Roadster is no longer in production I’m not sure that Detroit Electric even has a competitor for that fictional title belt. Either way, the company is claiming performance stats of 0-60 MPH in 3.7 seconds and a top speed of 155 MPH.

Three transmission choices will be offered, a manual gearbox and two automatics, one with two ratios and one with just a single speed. I’m interested to see why they describe that single ratio transmission as an “automatic”, since an electric motor theoretically doesn’t need a clutch or a torque converter as it doesn’t spin at idle.

Detroit Electric SP01 on the road

Exterior changes made since the second prototype was shown at the Shanghai Motor Show in 2013 are said to be for aerodynamic reasons and include a new rear profile with a fastback roof line and rear window that replace the flying buttresses of the first two prototypes. A new rear wing on top as well as a functional diffuser underneath the rear end that are intended to reduce lift at speed. Paint options and carbon fiber accessory parts were also announced as was a custom paint program for folks who insist on lime green cars. Customers will also have the choice of three different wheel designs, original to Detroit Electric.

Detroit Electric SP01 interior - Left hand drive

The centerpiece of the new interior design is an 8.4 inch touch screen in the console that the company says replaces all analog dials and switches on the instrument panel (though the photos seem to indicate conventional speedometer and tachometer dials in the binnacle in front of the driver). Infotainment, HVAC controls, battery status indicators, and V2X (Vehicle-to-Grid and Vehicle-to-Home) communication will be handled by Detroit Electric’s Android based SAMI (Smartphone Application Managed Infotainment) app. By using an open source platform, the company hopes that third party application developers will create new features for the SP:01. Interior color options were also announced, including the choice of leather or Alcantara upholstery. Based on the publicity photos, the SP:01’s cabin will be much less spartan than that of the Lotus cars on which it is based.

Detroit Electric SP01 interior - Right hand drive

On the business side of things, Integrated Energy, a Korean firm, has been announced as Detroit Electric’s first importer/distributor in Asia. Detroit Electric’s first Asian showroom will open in Seoul, South Korea, also in early 2015. Integrated Energy will also be be working on developing Detroit Electric’s V2X technology at a test site on Korea’s Jeju Island, using a fleet supplied by the startup automaker.

Detroit Electric is still run from their offices in Detroit’s Fisher Building and they say they still hope to one day assemble Detroit Electrics in the cars’ namesake region, but in the meantime they say they are completing the new, dedicated assembly facility in the UK as well as a new European headquarters in Houten, Netherlands that will hand sales, marketing and customer service in the EMEA region.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Chart Of The Day: ExxonMobil Predicts Long Reign For The Internal Combustion Engine http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-exxonmobil-predicts-long-reign-internal-combustion-engine/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chart-day-exxonmobil-predicts-long-reign-internal-combustion-engine/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 15:38:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962202 The next 25 years of automotive powertrain technology belongs to the internal combustion engine, according to oil & gas giant ExxonMobil. While many will dismiss this as the wishful thinking of an industrial dinosaur, it’s worth remembering that 25 years isn’t that long of a timeframe in the automotive world. As we speak, automakers are already […]

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The next 25 years of automotive powertrain technology belongs to the internal combustion engine, according to oil & gas giant ExxonMobil. While many will dismiss this as the wishful thinking of an industrial dinosaur, it’s worth remembering that 25 years isn’t that long of a timeframe in the automotive world.

As we speak, automakers are already planning for what products will be on the market within the next decade. As it stands now, they must meet increasingly stringent emissions targets in the United States and the European union by 2025, in the form of both CAFE and the next round of Euro regulations that call for a fleet average of 95 grams of CO2 per kilometer (for comparison, a Toyota Prius emits about 100 grams per km).

One way of meeting this target is through the use of hybrid technology – a sector that ExxonMobil sees as making rapid, substantial gains over the years. At this point, every single OEM has some kind of hybrid technology that can be adapted to their volume models in a way that is efficient in terms of both packaging and cost. This is sure to be the case for plug-in hybrid technology as well.

The zero-emissions front is substantially more fraught. The battle between battery electric vehicles (BEV) and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles has barely begun, but supporters of the two camps are already locked into a Betamax vs. VHS style conflict. As it stands, there is minimal infrastructure for both systems, and a combination of low oil prices and consumer skepticism is likely to stall its growth for the foreseeable future. And while BEVs technically have a head start on hydrogen, their market share is, in real terms, negligible.

In 2013, BEVs had a market share of just 0.28 percent, or about 260,000 units. Even the relatively scarce plug-in hybrid segment managed to best pure electrics, with 0.31 percent of the new car market. Only in Norway, where BEVs receive heavy subsidies in the form of tax breaks, have electric cars made any real headway, and even then, they have barely cracked 6 percent.

While tales of daring and disruption and averting cataclysmic climate change make for great headlines, the reality is that technological progress, especially in the automotive sector, moves at a much more gradual pace – otherwise, we’d likely have seen a major breakthrough in EV battery technology by now, one that would allow for significant range and negligible refueling times. Utopian visions of a fleet of silent, zero-emissions vehicles are just that. Instead, we are likely to see a proliferation of hybrid technology throughout new model lineups – and much of this will likely be driven by regulatory inputs, as a means of helping vehicles meet government mandated fuel economy targets, even if consumers don’t necessarily care.

Advances in the internal combustion engine are also on the horizon. Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) engines, which allow for diesel-like combustion while running on gasoline, are expected to debut on Mazda cars by 2020. Mazda claims that they will provide a 30 percent fuel economy boost, while significantly lowering emissions. Between HCCI, increasingly cleaner diesel engines and incremental improvements to traditional engines, the ICE powertrains are likely to be ubiquitous due to their familiarity and what is sure to be a cost advantage. Barring any major, prolonged spike in energy prices or a wholesale shift in attitudes towards climate change and the environment, dollars and cents (not to mention sheer convenience) will remain the primary motivating factor in new car purchases. And that means that the internal combustion engine is well placed to continue its dominance through the next quarter century.

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Junkyard Find: Electric-Powered 1988 Ford Ranger Custom http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-electric-powered-1988-ford-ranger-custom/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/junkyard-find-electric-powered-1988-ford-ranger-custom/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926825 I’ve just driven a couple of modern electric cars, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Tesla Model S, and they’re real cars. Actually, the i-MiEV is a perfectly serviceable short-distance commuter and the Model S is the best street car I’ve ever driven, but I was ready to hate both of them a lot, because all […]

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15 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI’ve just driven a couple of modern electric cars, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Tesla Model S, and they’re real cars. Actually, the i-MiEV is a perfectly serviceable short-distance commuter and the Model S is the best street car I’ve ever driven, but I was ready to hate both of them a lot, because all my previous experience with EVs had involved growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1970s and hearing a lot of eat-yer-vegetables talk from earnest green types about how electric cars are good for you, when in fact those cars sucked stringwart-covered pangolin nodules. Then, of course, there are all the flake-O electric conversions from the 1980-2000 era that I’ve seen, a fair number of which appear in self-service wrecking yards as long-abandoned EV conversions are towed out of back yards and driveways. In this series, we’ve seen this EVolve Electrics 1995 Geo Metro and this 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Electric Sport, and there have been others too stripped to be worth photographing. Today we’re going to look at a California-based Ford Ranger that still has just about all its electric running gear.
14 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinSome EVs like this were put together for driving around in warehouses, others were built by government agencies trying to showcase green technologies, and still more were built by backyard electric-car fanatics. Ford even built their own electric Rangers later on.
04 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinSince the battery box (or what I am assuming is the battery box) is so small, my guess is that this truck was made for short-distance indoor use. Running parts inside hangars at nearby Oakland Airport?
Note: Crab Spirits did some research and found this truck on the North Bay Electric Automobile Association website for us. It turns out to be a veteran of the 2004 North Bay Eco-Fest, i.e., it was admired by a lot of earnest Marin County green types, all of whom probably abandoned their 20-mile-range EVs the moment they could buy a Leaf.
17 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI thought about buying these gauges for eBay reselling later, but it didn’t seem worth the hassle.
09 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinThe motor was still there when I visited this yard about a month ago, but the value of the copper inside it means that this is one part that will not go to The Crusher.
06 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinGreat big Bycan battery charger under the hood.
16 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI doubt that the sight of this truck had Chevron execs trembling.
19 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee MartinI didn’t check underneath to see if the original automatic transmission was still installed. The shifter might have been just used to control forward and reverse.

01 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 02 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 03 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 04 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 05 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 06 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 07 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 08 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 09 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 10 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 11 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 12 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 13 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 14 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 15 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 16 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 17 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 18 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 19 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 20 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin 21 - Electric 1988 Ford Ranger Down On the Junkyard - Picture By Murilee Martin

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France To Provide $22,000 Subsidy For Diesel Drivers Who Switch To EVs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/france-provide-22000-subsidy-diesel-drivers-switch-evs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/france-provide-22000-subsidy-diesel-drivers-switch-evs/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 14:27:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=897386 While France already offers a subsidy of $8,400 for consumers who purchase a new electric vehicle, a proposed piece of legislation would see that figure expand for drivers of diesel cars, bringing the total subsidy to a staggering $22,000. The bill, proposed by Segolene Royal (France’s minister for ecology, sustainable development and energy, and a one-time […]

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280px-Geneva_MotorShow_2013_-_Renault_Zoe

While France already offers a subsidy of $8,400 for consumers who purchase a new electric vehicle, a proposed piece of legislation would see that figure expand for drivers of diesel cars, bringing the total subsidy to a staggering $22,000.

The bill, proposed by Segolene Royal (France’s minister for ecology, sustainable development and energy, and a one-time Presidential candidate) would provide enhanced subsidies for drivers of diesel-powered cars, according to the International Business Times

With diesel cars being extremely popular in France, the bill would likely give drivers an incentive to scrap their oil-burner in favor of a new electric vehicle – and how convenient it is that French automaker Renault currently offers a range of EVs to suit every purse and purpose.

Although the Twizy is a niche city car, Renault’s Zoe and Kangoo EVs neatly cover the compact hatchback and commercial van markets, both of which are important segments and commonly powered by diesel engines. If a diesel driver took full advantage of the available subsidies – which, under the plan, would amount to an extra 10,000 euros on top of the 6,300 euros already available -, then a 20,700 euro Renault Zoe would cost just 4,400 euros.

While the program is undoubtedly cloaked in environmental benefits, the real gain here is for Renault, and France’s new car market. It’s hard to imagine that legions of diesel car owners wouldn’t be compelled to make the switch to a 4,400 euro new car, even with the limitations that come with owning an EV. Year to date, EV sales are down 12 percent in France, with Renault sales down 6 percent. This move should reverse things tout de suite.

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Detroit Electric Gets To Work In Detroit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/detroit-electric-gets-to-work-in-detroit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/detroit-electric-gets-to-work-in-detroit/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853545 When Detroit Electric launched their brand last spring at a gala affair in Detroit’s magnificent Fisher Building they, and the building’s landlord, said that the revived electric car brand would be making its headquarters in a suite on the 18th floor of the historic Detroit skyscraper. They also laid out their plans for assembling cars […]

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Detroit Electric Vice President Doug Moore. Note the used whiteboard in the conference room behind him.

Detroit Electric Vice President Doug Moore in the company’s Fisher Bldg headquarters in Detroit. Note the used whiteboard in the conference room behind him.

When Detroit Electric launched their brand last spring at a gala affair in Detroit’s magnificent Fisher Building they, and the building’s landlord, said that the revived electric car brand would be making its headquarters in a suite on the 18th floor of the historic Detroit skyscraper. They also laid out their plans for assembling cars in southeastern Michigan.

 

When the company announced in November that they were delaying their plans to start electrifying Lotus supplied gliders at a Detroit area production facility, while going ahead with plans to build cars for the European market somewhere in Europe, Detroit Electric North American president Don Graunstadt insisted that the company was still dedicated to having operations in the Detroit area. To see what kind of progress they were having with their headquarters I stopped in at the Fisher Building back then and discovered that their Fisher Building suite was empty, with apparently no sign of any work having been done to set up a business office. We published photos of the empty offices here at TTAC, which got some attention.

Detroit Electric has now announced that they’ll be assembling cars for the European market at a facility in Leamington Spa in the United Kingdom, with sales and marketing for Europe, Africa and the Middle East handled out of the Netherlands. However, company CEO Albert Lam’s statement reiterated their commitment to the Detroit area, saying, “We’re growing our team at the company’s headquarters in Detroit and we are committed to bringing investment and jobs to the Detroit economic area in the very near future.”

Since he mentioned the Detroit headquarters I returned to the Fisher Building today and I’m happy to report that there is now visible activity at Detroit Electric’s Detroit headquarters, with most of their North American staff located there. I also found out, according to company VP for administration Doug Moore, that my November photographs may have given the wrong impression.

Moore said that it was true that at the time I photographed their suite in November they had made no progress on moving into their permanent offices, but that it was due to the landlord’s delays in getting the suite ready and that they actually had staff working then in temporary offices on the Fisher Bldg’s 12th floor. The company vice president came out to speak with me today after their personnel director found me setting up my cameras in their 18th floor lobby. While it wasn’t exactly a beehive of activity – there wasn’t even a receptionist, this time the office did look occupied and behind the entry doors I could see a conference room whose whiteboard looked recently used, covered with automotive jargon.

Moore gave me an update on the company’s current plans. Their plans to sell their SP:01 sports car in the U.S. were contingent on getting waivers, as a small scale manufacturer, on some Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. With those waivers seemingly stalled, they decided to go ahead with European assembly, since a facility on the continent was always part of their long term plans and starting assembly there made more sense than building the cars in the U.S. and incurring the additional customs and transportation costs of shipping them overseas.

Moore said that the company’s second generation sports car, to be based on the Lotus Evora so it will be a larger, 2+2 grand tourer, will be assembled in the U.S., assuming they can get government approval. Moore reiterated that the company’s proposed more mass market four passenger car will be designed and engineered in the United States with final assembly being most likely done somewhere in or near Detroit.

He said, regarding that four passenger Detroit Electric, that the company is pursuing two possible strategies. They are going forward with a blank sheet design at the same time that they are negotiating with a couple of large automakers who might provide gliders for them to electrify.

Concerning their existing Detroit operations, Moore said that they currently have eight employees working in the Fisher Building and that will increase to about a dozen people soon, as he already has been interviewing engineers to augment their design team. By the end of the year Moore expects there to be about 20 Detroit Electric employees to be active in their headquarters. When I asked which corporate personnel are working out of the Fisher Bldg suite, he rattled off the positions for most of their current North American staff, including himself and Graunstadt.

As for when we’ll see actual Detroit Electric cars, Moore said that styling on the SP:01 is currently being finalized, with changes to the front and rear looks of the car from the concept shown in Detroit last year. Job One for assembling the SP:01 in the UK will take place in early September of this year, with ride & drive demonstrations for potential customers and retail sales soon after. I didn’t ask about distribution and dealer networks and Moore didn’t offer any information on those topics. As for the four passenger Detroit Electric, Moore said that they were aiming to launch it in the first quarter of 2016.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Junkyard Find: 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Electric Sport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-sprint-electric-sport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/junkyard-find-1988-chevrolet-sprint-electric-sport/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 13:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=788522 Now that it’s possible to buy electric cars that actually do what cars are supposed to do, we mustn’t forget the very lengthy era— say 1970 to just a few years ago— during which all manner of optimistic-yet-doomed companies converted various econoboxes into lead-acid-battery-based EVs. Every once in a while, I’ll spot the remains of […]

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12 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNow that it’s possible to buy electric cars that actually do what cars are supposed to do, we mustn’t forget the very lengthy era— say 1970 to just a few years ago— during which all manner of optimistic-yet-doomed companies converted various econoboxes into lead-acid-battery-based EVs. Every once in a while, I’ll spot the remains of such an EV at a junkyard; we saw a junked EVolve Electrics 1995 Geo Metro EV conversion last year, and now a different Denver yard has given us this ’88 Sprint “Electric Sport.”
06 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Sprint aka Cultus wasn’t a bad choice for an electric vehicle, being lightweight and cheap.
01 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinElectric motors are worth money, either as working motors or as sources of valuable scrap copper, so the one in this car is long gone.
18 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe remnants of the battery tray may be seen in the rear cargo area.
17 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinSomeone grabbed the no-doubt-modified instrument cluster, too.
07 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinBonus points to anyone who can track down the company that built the Electric Sport Sprint!

01 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - Electric 1988 Chevrolet Sprint Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

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QOTD: Toyota, Not Tesla, As A Force Of Disruption http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-toyota-not-tesla-as-a-force-of-disruption/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-toyota-not-tesla-as-a-force-of-disruption/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 20:11:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757641 Writing in Bloomberg View, former EIC Ed Niedermeyer has published a crtical essay of Tesla, albeit one with a fresh angle: Toyota, one of Tesla’s main automotive partners, is in fact the true force of disruption in the automotive world. Although Niedermeyer touches mainly on Toyota’s efforts in manufacturing and quality (namely, kaizen),  which disrupted Detroit’s […]

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Writing in Bloomberg View, former EIC Ed Niedermeyer has published a crtical essay of Tesla, albeit one with a fresh angle: Toyota, one of Tesla’s main automotive partners, is in fact the true force of disruption in the automotive world.

Although Niedermeyer touches mainly on Toyota’s efforts in manufacturing and quality (namely, kaizen),  which disrupted Detroit’s stranglehold on the automotive market, other improvements come to mind. Lexus disrupted German dominance of the luxury segment, while the Prius is the world’s most successful hybrid car. Even if the company is anathema to enthusiasts, Toyota’s contributions to the broader automotive world are immense.

On the other hand, Niedermeyer takes a much more grounded (or dim) view of Tesla – you won’t find any appeals to a utopian society of autonomous EVs, as one analyst touted this past week. According to Ed

“Auto industry success is a marathon, not a sprint … and at current volumes, Tesla is barely walking.”

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