NHTSA has closed their investigation into the Chevrolet Volt’s fire risk, stating that the agency “does not believe that Chevy Volts or other electric vehicles pose a greater risk of fire than gasoline-powered vehicles.”
Tag: electric cars
A fellow auto journalist posted this video of the Chevy Volt dance from the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show on his facebook page. At that point in time, nobody was paying me to write, and I was not yet a “social media influencer”, so I was unable to attend the L.A. show (and I still haven’t). In honor of Bertel’s post detailing General Motors deciding to “match supply and demand” for the Volt, let’s all take another look back at a very memorable marketing initiative.
General Motors announced changes to the Chevrolet Volt’s design after a NHTSA investigation into why a Volt caught fire following crash testing.
The changes will go into effect once production restarts at the Hamtramck, Michigan facility, but customer cars already sold will follow a different protocol.
Wamp wamp! That’s the sound of the sad trombone playing for the Chevrolet Volt, which missed its 2011 sales target by 2,329 units. General Motors hoped that the Volt would sell 10,000 units in 2011, but it was not to be.
Bloomberg reports that the bow tie brand sold only 7,671 Volts in 2011, but has plants to increase annual production to 60,000 units annually. 45,000 of those will be sold in the United States. The Volt had only been on sale nationwide for the final three months of 2011.
Because electric cars represent the first fundamental technological shift for the automobile since its invention, their appearance on the US market has elicited quite a bit of skepticism. And as with any new technology, the first generation of EVs does have some serious downsides. For example, you can charge a Nissan Leaf at any outlet, but it takes 21 hours. Also, the Leaf’s range that was once promised at 100 miles is typically under 70 miles in the real world. Plus, it’s not exactly cheap. In the face of these challenges, you might think the Leaf, the first mass-market pure-EV in the US, would be forever doomed to a small niche of the market. But small compared to what? To give a real-world taste of how America’s first pure EV is selling in the context of the broader market, here are the year-to-date sales numbers for the Leaf and 15 other vehicles that you might not expect to be selling worse than an electric car. Incidentally, all of these models are also selling better than the market’s other pioneering plug-in, the Chevrolet Volt… which now has its own graph in the gallery below.
We have no wish to dampen enthusiasm for any new development in the light commercial vehicles sector but at this point the prospects for all-electric vans are fraught with difficulties, despite the clear operating advantages of using one for specific kinds of work
The Commercial Vehicle Monitor editor for the British residual value gurus at CAP, Tim Cattlin, tells Honest John that the new electric Azure Transit Connect has a few issues that fleet managers may want to look at before buying Britain’s first electric van. To wit:
The £39,999 van is expected to have a value of £8,000 after three years and 30,000 miles, with CAP explaining that uncertainty over the unproven technology and expensive batteries are the biggest issues.
That’s a 20% residual value after three years of driving 10,000 miles per year. Yikes! (Incidentally, if you drove the Transit for its entire 80 mile range every day for a year, you’d rack up about 30k miles in that year alone). The Azure Transit Connect is reportedly available in the US for $57,400, although Ford doesn’t list a price on its website and production is said to only be about 600-700 units this year. Meanwhile, Ford had better hope that the residual value issues aren’t linked to Azure’s technology (which uses Johnson Controls batteries), because it’s just announced a plug-in hybrid Super Duty Chassis Cab for 2013… with Azure as a partner and fleet businesses in mind. Better take a look at those projected residuals first, guys…
Between Nissan’s Leaf racer and a new EV-only racing cup, electric auto racing has been coming along in recent months, although significant challenges remain. For one thing, batteries are still extremely heavy, and for another, they take a long time to recharge. Finally, thermal management issues conspire with both of these battery challenges to force EV races to be quite short. And in search of a solution, one team that’s entered into the EV Cup is looking to the original EV racers for inspiration: slot cars. Rather than getting hot and heavy with big batteries, figures Drayson Racing Technologies, why not charge the car as it’s racing at speeds upwards of 200 MPH? Luckily HaloIPT has come aboard the project, bringing its eponymous wireless Inductive Power Transfer technology to bear in order to create life-sized, wireless, slot-free slot cars.
Some folks are convinced that EVs are taking over the world. So convinced they are that they are already publicly worried about peak Lithium. Lithium is found in unstable places. An internal Pentagon memo states that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium,” writes the New York Times. Then there are distressing news that countries like Chile, Bolivia and China sit on piles of lithium. Should we be worried? Nein, says a study from Germany. (Read More…)
When you think Volkswagen and alternative powertrains, only one kind of springs to mind, and it’s no very alternative. Diesel. They are pretty good at it in Wolfsburg. But these days it isn’t enough. Nowadays, we have E85, fuel cells, hybrids, more efficient petrol engines and many more. Volkswagen can’t afford to bet their future on Diesel. So where do they go from here? I hear California is quite nice…? (Read More…)
The remote Goto Islands in the East China Sea, about 60 miles west off the port city of Nagasaki are turning into the world’s laboratory for massive EV deployment. The islands used to be known for heir unspoiled nature and their old churches. Soon, they’ll be know as the island of EVs. That because of a large-scale pilot project that began on the islands in April. (Read More…)
Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is electrified. They think, next-generation automobiles will make up as much as half of the new passenger cars sold in Japan in 2020, says The Nikkei [sub].
By 2020, the ministry aims to have 2 million household chargers for electric vehicles installed, along with 5,000 fast-charging stations for commercial fleets. The ministry promotes joint development of infrastructure projects between the government, industry and academia to help pave the way for Japan to become the world’s most electrified nation.
People who make cars for a living have a more conservative outlook. Privately, they think the ministry should lay off the sake. (Read More…)
Financial Times calls “Volkswagen a long-time sceptic about hybrid and electric cars.” However, the pink sheet announces that Wolfsburg “has officially shifted gears.” That VW had been a sceptic is an understatement. Despite green initiatives for public and political consumption, internally, they laughed about hybrids and electrics. Their private position was that the consumption and emissions of a hybrid could be achieved with their low displacement supercharged engines and some weight savings. Pure plugins? Ach du mein Lieber. People have their next vacation in mind when they buy a car, and last VW looked, there were no charging stations on the Brenner Pass to Italy.
The official gear shifting occurred at last week’s Geneva motor show, where Volkswagen announced an “unprecedented” drive into electric vehicles. (Read More…)
Company No One’s Ever Heard of To Tune Exotic Car With Ugly Body Kit and Ostensibly More Horsepower
A company that no one’s ever heard of, but which claims to have 40 years of experience tuning the most exotic sports cars, plans to tune an extremely expensive, high tech exotic sports car with an ugly body kit and theoretically additional horsepower. While the original car’s engine was developed on the Formula 1 racetrack after hours and hours of race testing, and the body was honed in a wind tunnel and then refined on the same F1 track, the tuner company actually knows better.
“You see, we do what the manufacturer of that $500,000 exotic car was unable to do, as a result of limited budgets and engineering restrictions,” said a spokesman for the tuning company. “We know way more than the car’s nerdy original engineers how much horsepower the body can tolerate, and we’ll achieve that horsepower by using a carefully installed supercharger from the eBay.” Additionally, the spokesman told MetaCars, “Carbon fiber is light and really expensive. How could it be wrong to replace body panels on the exotic sports car with carbon fiber. One step: lighter, just as strong. Must make it better.”
In announcing that it will be tuning this particular high-end exotic sports car, he tuning company joins the ranks of the legendary Wald, Gemballa, Ruf, Brabus, Lorinser, Carlsson, Alpina, Novitec Rosso, Hamann, Koenig, Wimmer, and Edo Competition, all of whom have said they too have tuned it already. The car goes on sale from the manufacturer next year. The tuning company says its work will cost $200,000 in addition to a donor car. They also ask us to point out that the photos included here, which came with their press kit, are photoshops. (Read More…)
It’s one thing to say “the electrification of the car is inevitable” (Bob Lutz) when you’re buying the motors from suppliers. But GM is putting (somebody’s) money where their oracle’s wandering mouth is, and getting into the electric motor building business. The General has announced that $246 million dollars, of which $105 million came from a DOE grant (not loan), will be spent on facilities to build lighter, smaller and more efficient electric motors for the next generation of their two-mode hybrid system and rear-wheel drive applications. Looks like a “slim-Jim” version is being developed for a “future range of rear-drive cars”. Hmm… (Read More…)