By on February 15, 2017

2017 IONIQ HEV

Once upon a time, Toyota’s Prius was the only real choice for anyone looking to get into a futuristic “hybrid” car. The microscopic Honda Insight, looking like a tear dropped from a poet’s eye, held two seats — and that’s no good for taking your friends to book club.

As technology did what it has been known to do (advance), other automakers picked up the torch, outfitting conventional family sedans with battery packs and Atkinson-cycle engines. The segment soon became more diverse, just in time to see the public’s enthusiasm for hybrids taper off.

Now, from Japan’s neighbor, comes a new Hyundai model — offered as a hybrid or electric, and with a plug-in on the way — that undercuts the world’s most recognizable hybrid in price. Your move, Toyota. (Read More…)

By on February 1, 2017

Kia Niro, Image: Kia Motors

Kia’s foray into the hybrid segment might be ill-timed, considering the current contraction of sales for its main rival, the Toyota Prius, but the Korean automaker is betting big on the Niro’s traditionally boxy shape bringing in would-be Prius buyers offended by origami-esque sheetmetal.

Still, with that two-box silhouette comes some preconceived notions — like all-wheel drive.

While you want it, and Kia Motors of America would surely love to give it to you, there are a host of reasons why Kia’s newest hybrid-only crossover doesn’t offer all-wheel drive and likely won’t anytime soon.

(Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

2015 Chevrolet Spark EV

There might be more than a few empty chairs at the Chevrolet Spark EV’s funeral, as the diminutive electric didn’t exactly inflame the passions of the buying public.

The Detroit News reports that production of the electrified model ended this past summer, though General Motors only saw fit to mention it last week. Apparently, the fatal shot was fired by the Chevrolet Bolt, which began production in the fall. Two’s a crowd in the GM EV garage, it seems. (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

e-tron

Along with the rest of Volkswagen AG, Audi has made plans to invest heavily into electric vehicles. The company expects EVs to comprise 25 percent of its U.S. sales by 2025 and is devoting the e-tron moniker to an entire division of electrified models, with the first arriving next year.

Addressing the J.D. Power Summit at this year’s National Automobile Dealers Association Convention and Expo, Audi of America President Scott Keogh told salesmen to welcome the electric mobility market with open arms or learn to cope with an ambivalent future. However, jumping head-first into a relatively small market with a huge potential for growth isn’t without pitfalls, and it isn’t unwise for dealers to remain cautious. Still, with Audi planning to introduce three new BEVs within the United States by 2020 and Volkswagen Group hoping to have 30 battery-electric models out by the 2025, you can see why Keogh is pressing the issue.  (Read More…)

By on January 31, 2017

2017 Kia Niro - Blue

Kia’s new hybrid crossover, the Niro, should expect a sister model that dispenses with fossil fuel altogether.

A Kia official has implied that an all-electric version of the model is coming, joining a vehicle that arrives this spring in hybrid form, with a plug-in version on the way. By offering a Niro EV, Kia would have two electric crossover-style vehicles on the market — and plenty of green clout. (Read More…)

By on January 25, 2017

Girfalco Azkarra

The Canadian province of Quebec has a history of churning out offbeat, low-production speed machines. Blame the six months of winter or the intoxicating effects of pure maple syrup; whatever the reason, enterprising gearheads living in New England’s tuque have a habit of building their own cars.

From the Dubuc Tomahawk, an all-electric 2+2 promising 0-60 miles per hour in three seconds, to the sheep’s-head ugly (but fast) HTT Pléthore, there’s no shortage of cars being designed and built in La Belle Province. Now, another Quebec-based company, Girfalco, intends to increase that number with its new three-wheeled EV — the Azkarra.

(Read More…)

By on January 24, 2017

Faraday Future FF 91

When Faraday Future showcased its new car at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show, everyone temporarily forgot the company was a structural and monetary dumpster fire. A large portion of that amnesia was the result of the extremely impressive presentation put on for the FF 91’s unveiling. Some of the visual effects used by Faraday in its presentations and propaganda marketing have been so impressive, it left me wondering who the company has trusted with those projects.

One company Faraday outsourced to was The Mill — a New York-based video production company that is suing Faraday for 1.8 million dollars over failure to pay it for a graphic presentation commissioned in September.

This is an exciting return to form for Faraday Future, which announced at CES that the construction of its Nevada factory — stalled due to similar payment issues — should continue shortly. (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Beetle

Rumors of the Volkswagen Beetle’s demise are either greatly exaggerated, or right on point. The Model languishes on the low end of the sales scale, hamstrung by a retro design that shuns updates and the public’s dwindling enthusiasm for compact cars.

Still, there exists fans of the model, even inside the scandal-shaken and SUV-fixated company. No one loves the Beetle more than VW design head Klaus Bischoff, who claims the model is his favorite in all Volkswagendom (um, have you seen the Atlas, Klaus?). So great is his love for the Beetle that Bischoff is urging VW to spare the model the axe and stimulate interest through a new method of propulsion.

A report suggests that top brass might be listening. (Read More…)

By on January 20, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

(Update: Fred Ligouri from Chevrolet Communications confirmed GM is aware and is currently investigating.)

One Bolt owner thinks Skynet may already be here.

Fresh off its North American Car of the Year victory (despite being classified as a crossover) and just days ahead of its official media launch next week, something strange happened in Southern California.

This owner alleges his Bolt turned itself on, selected reverse gear, and backed into the work bench in his garage. The incident happened with the car shut down and in Park, both keys in the house, and the owner nearly 40 miles away on business in the family’s third vehicle.   (Read More…)

By on January 15, 2017

tesla model-s-rear

Tesla pricing is about as predictable as the winning lottery numbers. This year it added numerous surprise fees onto its supercharging network and rearranged the pricing structure for its Model S sedan more times than I can remember. Most recently, the company increased the price of its base Model S 60 from $66,000 to $68,000 with an $8,500 software update that unlocks the battery’s full potential — since the 60 is just a 75 that has been digitally neutered and rebadged.

In some instances, almost 30 percent of the value of the vehicle can be unlocked through in-car purchases. There are all manner of software-upgradable items but keeping up with their pricing is nearly impossible, especially when Tesla doesn’t actively announce those changes.   (Read More…)

By on January 12, 2017

Car Battery

Earlier this week, Samsung’s SDI battery subsidiary announced a new cell designed for use in electric vehicles that will supposedly improve maximum range and possess a cutting-edge quick charge capacity.

Exhibited for the first time at the North American International Auto Show, the battery comes hot on the heels of Tesla and Panasonic’s own ultra-dense “2170 Cell” planned for use on the Model 3.

While Samsung didn’t elaborate on a specific testing platform, it claims the new battery should permit a range of 372 miles on a single charge, with an 80 percent restoration after a 20 minutes quick charge. (Read More…)

By on January 4, 2017

Faraday Future FF 91

Despite a year’s worth of absolutely scathing publicity and countering hype from the company, Faraday Future finally presented the world with an electric vehicle at the Consumer Electronics Show last night.

The car — called the FF 91 — would become the quintessential futuristic vehicle if it lives up to even a third of Faraday’s claims. Faster than any Tesla, with better range, more sensors, and an incredible user recognition program, it was an extraordinary example of what Faraday needs to bring to the table in order to continue existing.

Faraday’s presentation contained a number of strange moments that touched upon the myriad of criticisms against it, without addressing anything too directly. After two countdown timers, Senior Vice President of R&D Nick Sampson took to the stage to remind the press of Faraday’s achievements over the past two years — suggesting its incongruous structuring and clean-slate history were assets. Sampson presented a short film of FF’s factory construction locale in Nevada — currently stalled due to non-payment — and the following speaker introduced North Las Vegas’ mayor in a sign of good faith.  (Read More…)

By on January 3, 2017

Mark-Fields (Image: Ford)

Ford Motor Company CEO Mark Fields didn’t completely walk back the company’s long-range production plans today, but the automaker pull a hard U-turn on one goal.

In a speech at the automaker’s Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant this morning, Fields said he was “encouraged” by President-elect Donald Trump’s “pro-growth policies.” Because of this, the Blue Oval’s planned $1.6 billion small car plant in Mexico is now off the table. Instead, the automaker will expand and modernize Flat Rock as it brings a slew of promised hybrid and electric vehicles to production. (Read More…)

By on January 3, 2017

fca-portal-concept

It turns out that the all-electric car Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was rumored to unveil at the Consumer Electronics Show isn’t going to be a EV Pacifica, but an new concept EV called the Chrysler Portal.

However, FCA’s new concept electric doesn’t show that the company is abandoning its internal combustion predisposition. If anything, it is weighing its options. (Read More…)

By on December 30, 2016

FFZERO1 Faraday Future

Faraday Future continues to dispense epoch-making levels of hype as the company seemingly implodes. Last week, Faraday’s chief brand and commercial officer and its vice president for product marketing both abandoned the company. This week, they were followed by elusive Chinese overseer and “unofficial” CEO, Ding Lei. Of course, Faraday Future has already spent the last two years without a CEO — much in the same way it has functioned without sufficient capital, a clear business plan, or a tangible product.

Meanwhile, the company’s Twitter feed is excitedly counting down the days until it unveils something at the Consumer Electronics Show — making use of slogans such as, “When electricity could travel further, so could ideas.” At this point, I’m wagering ideas are just about all Faraday has left to offer.  (Read More…)

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