By on September 19, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma 4Runner Tundra TRD - Image: ToyotaEarlier this month, Toyota board chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada told CNBC that the company was “skeptical there would be a rapid shift to pure electric vehicles, given questions over user convenience.”

It shouldn’t be perceived as a revolutionary thought. But with automakers increasingly touting their plans for “electrification” — a word too many observers have interpreted incorrectly — and regulators increasingly promoting their plans to do away with internal combustion engines, Uchiyamada’s honesty regarding the limitations of electric vehicles flew in the face of advanced automotive thought.

It did not, however, fly in the face of conventional Toyota thought. According to Reuters, the president of Toyota Motor Corporation, Akio Toyoda, says, “EVs are in focus at the moment but customers and the market will ultimately decide which powertrains will be successful.”

You’d almost think Akio Toyoda was — crazy as this may sound — running a business. (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2017

2015 Mazda RX Vision Concept - Image: Mazda

Mazda recently announced the testing of its Skyactiv-X compression ignition engine, which promises to burn gasoline with diesel-like efficiency. If it hits its projected launch date of 2019, it will become the first mass-produced motor of its type and is likely to be showered with praise from environmentalists and enthusiasts alike.

However, as we progress deeper into the millennium, it’s becoming evident that more and more automakers are willing to embrace electricity as the next solution to efficiency. That makes Mazda a bit of an oddity, maybe even a dinosaur, and we were wondering when the company would give in to electrification. Especially since it has already partnered with Toyota to tighten its grasp on the technology.  (Read More…)

By on September 13, 2017

Concept EQ, Exterieur Concept EQ, exterior

Everyone’s doing it. It’s as popular as the fidget spinner and Pokémon Go crazes all those years months ago. In a rush to signal their environmental bonafides and display their dedication to the Next Big Thing, luxury automakers are tripping over themselves in an effort to promise an all-electrified model lineup as soon as technology and finances allow.

This time, it’s Mercedes-Benz. The world’s oldest car brand doesn’t want its rivals cashing in once governments around the globe start turning off the fossil fuel taps. So, earlier this week, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche stepped up and made a promise we’ve heard ad nauseum as of late: every model in the brand’s lineup will soon sport some form of electric propulsion, be it a hybrid setup or full-on battery electric powertrain.

For Mercedes-Benz, this means 50 hybrid or EV models, including at its irrelevant-to-Americans Smart brand. The move isn’t without a steep cost, however — Daimler is bracing for a slashing of vehicle profit margins. In some cases, the green collected from green cars could be half that of a gasoline Benz. What to do? (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2017

tesla model 3

Until now, Tesla’s growing network of Supercharger stations was generally aimed at the long-distance crowd. If a (very) premium-priced sedan can’t make the five-hour trip to your sister’s house for Thanksgiving, well, second thoughts might crop up about that purchase.

To accomplish the goal of Tesla proliferation, much of the automaker’s fast-charge network sprouted up in locales convenient for travellers. Places like Holiday Inn Express parking lots, restaurants, visitor centers, and Macadoodles Fine Wine & Spirits in Springfield, Missouri. In the Midwest, hungry travellers can hop off the Interstate and charge up at Meijer while shopping for juice boxes and potato wedges.

However, logic (and infrastructure) states that the majority of Tesla buyers, current and future, live in large cities and don’t leave town all that often. They’re also more likely live in condos with garages free of any plug-in points. Tesla’s latest round of Supercharger construction takes this into account, dropping the fast-charge stations directly where those urbanites inevitably show up once a week. (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2017

Image: Workhorse W-15, by Corey Lewis

As part of National Drive Electric Week, the Cincinnati-based Workhorse Group displayed their prototype W-15 EV pickup truck at the local Cincinnati event. TTAC got some more information on the future of this pickup, as well as a turn behind the wheel.

Come have a look.

(Read More…)

By on September 11, 2017

2018 Nissan LEAF, Image: Nissan

A week after the unveiling of the second-generation 2018 Nissan Leaf, we know for sure that value, value, value! is the upgraded model’s strongest selling point.

No longer offering a paltry 107 miles of range, the new Leaf sports a just-good-enough 150 miles of driving distance, or so Nissan believes. Of course, knowing that Chevrolet’s Bolt and Tesla’s Model 3 offer significantly better range, the Leaf’s priced to sell. For $29,990 plus delivery, and minus a $7,500 tax credit, Nissan figures the base S model is enough to tempt cost-conscious EV buyers who don’t want it all.

But there’s a longer-ranged Leaf in the works. For 2019, buyers can opt for a stepped-up 60 kWh battery, but just how far a so-equipped Leaf can drive on a single charge differs depending on the Nissan exec doing the talking. (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2017

Image: North America Map, Drive Electric Week Events

Since 2011, National Drive Electric Week has taken place in venues across the United States, some Canadian locations, and at select international venues. This year, it runs from Saturday, September 9th through Sunday, September 17th.

There are 262 event locations for 2017, so there’s probably an event not far away, assuming you’re electrically inclined.

(Read More…)

By on September 8, 2017

2018 Chevrolet Bolt - Image: ChevroletYou can forget the GM EV1 and the Toyota RAV4 EV. The car that truly attempted to bring electric cars into the mainstream was the 2011 Nissan Leaf.

It didn’t. U.S. Leaf sales, never reaching any great heights, plunged after its fourth full model year, falling by more than half between 2014 and 2016.

There’s a thoroughly updated second-gen Nissan Leaf on its way, destined to hit U.S. dealers early in 2018. But during the first-gen Leaf’s tenure, the Nissan was joined by a broad array of electric cars, from a handful of Teslas to the Chevrolet Bolt, Volkswagen e-Golf, Kia Soul EV, BMW i3, and Hyundai Ioniq, and all of these cars together have combined to quintuple U.S. electric vehicle market share over the last half-decade.

Only 0.1 percent of the new vehicles sold in America in 2012 were pure EVs. That figure has risen, very slowly, to 0.5 percent through the first eight months of 2017 while the number of available nameplates has more than doubled.

Perspective? Ford grew its F-Series’ share of the overall U.S. new vehicle market from 4.5 percent to 5.1 percent during the same period. (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2017

2017 Lincoln Continental

It’s getting to the point that if you’re not a premium automaker promising some sort of brand-wide electric propulsion revolution, you’re not a premium automaker. Volvo has announced it’s going all-electrified (not necessarily electric) in short order. Maserati and Aston Martin are headed in a similar direction.

Is Lincoln the next luxury brand to ditch gas-only powertrains?

Not quite, but Ford’s luxury arm is planning on endowing every model in its lineup with an available hybrid powertrain, according to three sources who spoke to Reuters. It’s a plan very similar to the one Jaguar Land Rover announced just yesterday. While the completion date for Lincoln’s lineup electrification is 2022, the brand might not stop at just hybrids and plug-ins. (Read More…)

By on September 7, 2017

Jaguar E-Type Zero

Jaguar Land Rover is buzzing this week with news that every single model introduced after 2020 will be electrified.

Excited to showcase its “commitment to the future,” JLR even provided a converted E-Type for its mobility-themed Tech Fest. Dubbed the E-Type Zero, the car is a 1968 Series 1.5 Roadster with its traditional powertrain swapped in favor of a 220 kW electric motor. While the old EV switcharoo provides instantaneous torque, an increase in horsepower, and ought to make fans of the cars in Gattaca very happy, Jag purists will probably hate it.

However, the company’s decision isn’t about a high-profile one-off. This is a sea change for JLR, echoing Volvo’s recent decision to march headlong into electrification. (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2017

2018 Nissan LEAF, Image: Nissan

Back in December of 2010, if anyone can remember that hazy, long-ago time, an oddly shaped five-door rolled out of the minds of Japanese executives and onto U.S. dealer lots. Unlike its fledgling electric forebears, the 2011 Nissan Leaf promised practical gas-free transportation for the whole family, bolstered by a warranty from an established automaker and 73 miles of EPA-approved driving range.

The industry had just taken a big step. However, the Leaf, despite racking up an impressive model-life sales total, soon found itself leapfrogged by competitors with greater range and more conventional styling. By the time 2017 rolled around, the Leaf’s 107-mile range and now-dated body stood in stark contrast to sleeker models delivering 200 miles of driving from every turn at the plug.

Nissan wants to change that. For 2018, the second-generation Leaf arrives with greater — but not class-leading — range, a new body (with a familiar profile), and a lower entry price. The automaker clearly feels there’s thrifty EV buyers capable of saying “no” to the Tesla Model 3 and Chevrolet Bolt. (Read More…)

By on September 5, 2017

2010 Toyota RAV4 EV Demo - Image: ToyotaMazda is planning for the internal combustion engine of 2050. Toyota is applying the Dynamic Force improvements that worked wonders on the 2018 Camry’s fuel economy ratings to V6 and V8 engines.

And electric cars?

“We’re skeptical there would be a rapid shift to pure electric vehicles, given questions over user convenience,” Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada tells CNBC.

There is a Toyota electric car in your future, Uchiyamada believes. But more likely than not, it’s not in your near future. (Read More…)

By on September 5, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt, Image: General Motors

The full-scale rollout of Chevrolet’s Bolt to all U.S. markets saw its sales reach new heights in August 2017. Not dizzying heights, mind you — with 2,107 vehicles sold last month, the all-electric Bolt’s popularity is about 34,000 units shy of the Honda Civic’s.

Still, many mainstream, gas-powered models would kill for 2,000-plus buyers per month. The Jaguar XE, XF, and XJ, for example. The Toyota 86. Oh, and the Cadillac ATS, CTS, and CT6, along with gobs of other models from various brands. It’s a grim time for cars, but certain electric vehicles find buyers solely because there isn’t much choice when it comes to ditching your fuel tank for good.

The emergence of lower-priced EVs with ranges capable of reaching another city has made the electric car, once an oddity, into something approaching mainstream status. But are you tempted by their gas-free siren song? (Read More…)

By on August 25, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

General Motors has informed a small number of owners of its Chevrolet Bolt EV about a battery issue that could cause a sudden loss of propulsion. Some of the early Bolt models may incorrectly report the estimated remaining range at lower states of charge due to potentially faulty cells, resulting in the car stopping abruptly.

The automaker says less than 1 percent of Bolts sold to date are likely to face the problem, and GM is currently arranging repairs for the affected cars. Ideally, the faulty cells are the result of an isolated manufacturing defect and not the result of some widespread wonky battery chemistry.  (Read More…)

By on August 25, 2017

tesla-semi-teaser

Tesla Motors will be dabbling in the commercial freight industry when it unveils its electric semi-trailer next month. But, with news of it only possessing a 200- to 300-mile range between charges, dabbling may be a best-case-scenario. Diesel-powered rigs traditionally run in excess of 1,300 miles between stops, even though they also go through hundreds of gallons of fuel in the process. And it’s all that burned fuel that makes the concept of an electric tractor-trailer so appetizing to the trucking industry.

However, the EV prototype “long-hauler” won’t be fit for cross-country trips due to its limited range — meaning the inevitable Smokey and the Bandit remake probably isn’t going to have the Bandit or Snowman driving Teslas.  (Read More…)

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