The Truth About Cars » EVs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 29 Jan 2015 15:13:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » EVs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Nissan Looking Beyond Federal Credits For Leaf http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nissan-looking-beyond-federal-credits-leaf/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/nissan-looking-beyond-federal-credits-leaf/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989562 Though Nissan has sold over 77,000 Leafs since 2010, the automaker has plans for when the federal credits end with the 200,000th unit of the popular EV. According to Ward’s Auto, Nissan North America product planning chief Pierre Loing says the automaker is looking to negotiate increasing the limit, proclaiming that the current 200,000-unit limit […]

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2013-nissan-leaf-7-1

Though Nissan has sold over 77,000 Leafs since 2010, the automaker has plans for when the federal credits end with the 200,000th unit of the popular EV.

According to Ward’s Auto, Nissan North America product planning chief Pierre Loing says the automaker is looking to negotiate increasing the limit, proclaiming that the current 200,000-unit limit harms EV adoption:

Being the first ones on the market, we should be among the first ones to reach 200,000, and you penalize those who’ve tried to be first?

That said, even when the $7,500 credit goes away, Nissan has plans to make the Leaf more attractive, from increasing the range to reducing the cost of the EV’s lithium-ion battery pack. Loing admits that the latter’s cost issue hasn’t improved quickly enough, and worries that falling oil prices aren’t going to help much either.

He was pleased with how well the Leaf fared in 2014, however; 30,200 units left U.S. showrooms that year, an all-time record for Nissan.

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Carlypso: PHEVs To Reach 1 Percent Market Share In Q1 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carlypso-phevs-reach-1-percent-market-share-q1-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/carlypso-phevs-reach-1-percent-market-share-q1-2015/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 11:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988434 By the end of Q1 2015, PHEVs are expected to take 1 percent of the overall U.S. domestic market despite fuel prices continuing their downward spiral. Online used-car resell agent Carlypso reports that while just over 50 percent of U.S. new-car sales are focused on light-duty pickups, falling fuel prices haven’t done much to boost […]

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By the end of Q1 2015, PHEVs are expected to take 1 percent of the overall U.S. domestic market despite fuel prices continuing their downward spiral.

Online used-car resell agent Carlypso reports that while just over 50 percent of U.S. new-car sales are focused on light-duty pickups, falling fuel prices haven’t done much to boost sales during the January 2013 – December 2014 period from whence the report collected its data, based on a sample of 16.3 million units.

The report also looked at over 28 million car sales in the same period, finding that PHEVs and EVs like the Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3 made up 217,217 — or 0.86 percent — of said sales. In December 2014 alone, the Leaf, Volt, i3 and Tesla Model S collectively made up over 70 percent of U.S. PHEV/EV sales, despite the average price at the pump hitting $2.43/gallon that month; the current average is $2.05/gallon, down $1.23 from a year ago.

Carlypso co-founder Nicholas Hinrichsen says the findings show that consumers aren’t changing their behavior with the pump, opting to buy whatever they want as far as features and branding are concerned. He added that a vehicle’s value and demand isn’t going to change with the oil market either, advising consumers to let investors worry about how much West Texas Intermediate will go for per barrel.

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BMW, Volkswagen Team With ChargePoint For Bi-Coastal Network http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-volkswagen-team-chargepoint-bi-coastal-network/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/bmw-volkswagen-team-chargepoint-bi-coastal-network/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 13:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987810 More charging stations are on the way for EV owners, thanks to a new partnership between BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint. The first phase of the partnership will be 100 DC fast chargers running north to south between Portland and San Diego on the West Coast, Boston and the District of Columbia on the East Coast. […]

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BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf DC Charging

More charging stations are on the way for EV owners, thanks to a new partnership between BMW, Volkswagen and ChargePoint.

The first phase of the partnership will be 100 DC fast chargers running north to south between Portland and San Diego on the West Coast, Boston and the District of Columbia on the East Coast. Each station will have up to two 50 kW DC Fast or 24 kW DC Combo Fast chargers for most EVs like the BMW i3 and Volkswagen e-Golf, as well as Level 2 chargers for all EVs. Access to each location is granted by a ChargePoint or ChargeNow membership card.

The new stations will be in metro and intercity locations — such as restaurants, malls and rest stops — spaced up to 50 miles apart for long-distance travel, joining a network of over 20,000 ChargePoint stations throughout the United States. The first location is online now in San Diego County, Calif., with the other 99 expected by the end of 2015.

Express Charging.Infographic.300dpi

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Lower Fuel Prices Mean More Savings On Green Vehicle Purchases http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/lower-fuel-prices-mean-savings-green-vehicle-purchases/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/lower-fuel-prices-mean-savings-green-vehicle-purchases/#comments Mon, 19 Jan 2015 12:00:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985106 Just like when high fuel prices knocked down the sale price of many a truck and SUV, the current drop in price at the pump is pulling down the prices for many a hybrid, PHEV and EV. Per TrueCar, the No. 1 green vehicle in January to leave more money in its buyer’s wallet is […]

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Just like when high fuel prices knocked down the sale price of many a truck and SUV, the current drop in price at the pump is pulling down the prices for many a hybrid, PHEV and EV.

Per TrueCar, the No. 1 green vehicle in January to leave more money in its buyer’s wallet is the Ford Focus Electric, which is leaving the lot with 16 percent off of its $29,995 MSRP. The market average for the EV comes out to $25,168.

Taking silver and bronze on the podium are the Ram 1500 Tradesman 4×2 with regular cab and standard bed, and the Toyota Venza XLE, coming with an average of around 11 percent savings off MSRP. Both vehicles are the only ones in the top five that aren’t green vehicles, though the 1500 can be had in EcoDiesel and EcoDiesel HFE trims.

Rounding out the quintet are the Kia Optima Hybrid and Toyota Prius Two, both saving their fans around 10 percent off MSRP for a total of $29,411 and $22,498, respectively.

President John Krafcik said that with automakers “heavily discounting their most fuel-efficient cars to clear inventories,” as well as the majority of consumers becoming more focused on the fuel pump over fuel economy, now is the time to buy a hybrid or EV. He added that “when the pendulum swings the other way,” such vehicles would become more attractive, with pricing to match.

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Webster: Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Arriving ‘A Year After’ ICE Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/webster-smart-fortwo-electric-drive-arriving-year-ice-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/webster-smart-fortwo-electric-drive-arriving-year-ice-model/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984241 Though the new Smart Fortwo is coming to showrooms in the United States later this year, the Electric Drive model won’t be available just yet. Autoblog reports that the redesigned EV won’t hit U.S. showrooms for “approximately a year after” the ICE variant arrives, per Smart USA general manager Mark Webster, with the date of […]

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Though the new Smart Fortwo is coming to showrooms in the United States later this year, the Electric Drive model won’t be available just yet.

Autoblog reports that the redesigned EV won’t hit U.S. showrooms for “approximately a year after” the ICE variant arrives, per Smart USA general manager Mark Webster, with the date of arrival set for between late 2016 and early 2017. No explanation for the delay was given when interviewed by AutoblogGreen.

Until then, Smart plans to sell the previous generation Fortwo EV alongside the new ICE model. Webster stated that the brand moved over 2,000 units of the Fortwo ED in 2014, 921 in 2013. He added that parent company Daimler AG was “very committed” to electrification, explaining without going into specifics that other EVs were in the works.

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Tesla Share Price Plummets After Musk’s NAIAS 2015 Visit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/tesla-share-price-plummets-musks-naias-2015-visit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/tesla-share-price-plummets-musks-naias-2015-visit/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 11:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984225 Tesla shareholders felt lighter Wednesday after the automaker’s stock price fell from just over $200/share to $186.09/share after CEO Elon Musk’s announcement at the 2015 Automotive News World Congress in Detroit — held during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show — that his company wouldn’t be profitable until the start of the 2020s. Business Insider adds […]

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Elon Musk

Tesla shareholders felt lighter Wednesday after the automaker’s stock price fell from just over $200/share to $186.09/share after CEO Elon Musk’s announcement at the 2015 Automotive News World Congress in Detroit — held during the 2015 Detroit Auto Show — that his company wouldn’t be profitable until the start of the 2020s.

Business Insider adds that another bombshell dropped at the start of his presentation likely helped to take the wind out of the sails: sales of the automaker’s Model S in China were down in Q4 2014. Musk put the blame on perception among Chinese consumers regarding the charging infrastructure for Tesla’s sole model, explaining that not only had the issue been handled, but that the Supercharger network was expanding; the rate of said expansion, however, is slower than that of Europe or the United States.

Further into the presentation, Musk proclaimed that Tesla would sell “a few million” vehicles by 2025 by going for volume over being a niche luxury player, likely built on the back of the upcoming Model 3. Meanwhile, the Model X due sometime this year is already sold out for the entire year despite the company’s best efforts to manage demand, such as steering would-be X owners into the driver’s seat of the S.

Finally, Musk urged the majors in the audience to continue their investments into electrification, stating that they all need to do more to change the public’s perceptions on EVs and hybrids.

Since the plunge, Tesla shares have recovered some of their lost value, closing $191.87/share Thursday afternoon.

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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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Hybrids Down, PHEVs, EVs Up In US Sales Amid Falling Fuel Prices http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/hybrids-phevs-evs-us-sales-amid-falling-fuel-prices/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/hybrids-phevs-evs-us-sales-amid-falling-fuel-prices/#comments Mon, 05 Jan 2015 13:00:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=971249 With fuel prices continuing their downward spiral, one would think EVs and hybrids would become the new Hummers and Escalades to be left to rust in the backlot of the dealership. Not quite. Detroit Free Press reports standard hybrids saw the biggest drop in sales through November 2014, from 459,375 in 2013, to 418,850. PHEVs […]

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BMW i8

With fuel prices continuing their downward spiral, one would think EVs and hybrids would become the new Hummers and Escalades to be left to rust in the backlot of the dealership. Not quite.

Detroit Free Press reports standard hybrids saw the biggest drop in sales through November 2014, from 459,375 in 2013, to 418,850. PHEVs and EVs like the BMW i8 and Nissan Leaf fared better in comparison: PHEVs rose from 43,988 to 51,490 year-over-year, and EVs jumped from 42,924 to 55,906 in the same period.

Meanwhile, SUV and trucks dominated the scene, whose rise was fueled by the improving economy and new housing starts, with lower fuel prices certainly helping matters. Sales of the former parties took 52 percent of the overall United States domestic market through November, compared 48 percent for passenger cars.

Finally, fuel economy numbers fell from a high of 25.8 mpg in August, to 25.3 mpg months later. As long as fuel prices remain on their downward trajectory, automakers may find it hard to meet the federal government’s tightening fuel standards, which are set for a fleet average of 34.1 mpg by 2016, and 54.5 mpg by 2025. The law mandating the standard is set to undergo a mid-term review in 2017.

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Chinese Internet Company Sets Sights On Tesla In Chinese EV Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chinese-internet-company-sets-sights-tesla-chinese-ev-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/chinese-internet-company-sets-sights-tesla-chinese-ev-market/#comments Wed, 10 Dec 2014 15:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957953 Google may be off pursuing autonomous commuter pods, but another Internet-related company in China as decided to take on Tesla directly in the EV game. Forbes reports Leshi Internet Information and Technology Co., a concern that makes Internet TVs and set-top boxes, will begin building electric vehicles under what chairman and president Jia Yueting calls […]

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Leshi booth

Google may be off pursuing autonomous commuter pods, but another Internet-related company in China as decided to take on Tesla directly in the EV game.

Forbes reports Leshi Internet Information and Technology Co., a concern that makes Internet TVs and set-top boxes, will begin building electric vehicles under what chairman and president Jia Yueting calls the “Super Electric Eco-System.” Jia and his representative in Los Angeles, Luo Qimei, both said the results of the program — which has been in the works since the early days of 2014 — will best those of Tesla and other western companies.

Leshi is entering the game amid weak demand for EVs in China, linked to a lack of sufficient infrastructure and local protectionism barriers. The Chinese government are attempting to build-up demand by providing tax breaks for consumers who buy from local automakers such as BYD, along with ordering government officials to use more EVs. That said, Leshi believes it will stand out among the competition, though Luo won’t say how much her company will invest into making it so.

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Georgia EV Supporters Prepare To Defend State Credit In 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/georgia-ev-supporters-prepare-defend-state-credit-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/georgia-ev-supporters-prepare-defend-state-credit-2015/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=934722 EV supporters in Georgia are gearing up to save the state’s tax credit from the chopping block after nearly losing it earlier this year. According to WABE-FM, the city of Atlanta is second in the EV ownership game in the United States, falling behind the technocratic capital that is San Francisco. The high ranking is […]

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EV supporters in Georgia are gearing up to save the state’s tax credit from the chopping block after nearly losing it earlier this year.

According to WABE-FM, the city of Atlanta is second in the EV ownership game in the United States, falling behind the technocratic capital that is San Francisco. The high ranking is due to the state’s credit of up to $5,000 on EVs, helping to take off $12,500 from the bottom line when the $7,500 federal credit is taken into account.

Were the state credit have been cut, EV sales would fall dramatically. EV Club of the South board member Michael Beinenson says the credit — and not wanting to feel like Ed Begley Jr. — is the main draw for consumers in Georgia. He also hopes that the credit’s terms are merely changed instead of the entire credit being guillotined when the state’s legislature meets again next year, and is preparing to defend it to the bitter end with other like-minded supporters.

The credit was set to be removed from the books in 2014, citing lost revenue in the millions of dollars as the reason; the bill that would have made it so died hours before the 2014 session drew to a close.

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Automakers, Utilities Collaborate On Plug-In Cloud Charging Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/automakers-utilities-collaborate-plug-cloud-charging-technology/#comments Fri, 17 Oct 2014 14:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=932394 A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing. Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along […]

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Ford Focus EV Cloud Charging

A group of eight automakers are collaborating with 15 utility companies in the United States to give PHEVs and EVs the ability to communicate with the latter party and the grid through cloud computing.

Edmunds reports the group of eight — BMW, Ford, General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Mitsubishi — along with the 15 companies, Sumitomo Electric Industries and the Electric Power Research Institute, are developing a platform that would use the cloud to better manage energy usage and grid efficiency “while still meeting the needs” of PHEV and EV owners. The platform is called the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform.

OVGI would operate as follows: an owner would plug their car in as usual, then set a time for when the vehicle would be back on the road. The utility company could then send a message to the car to stop charging during peak power use, or, if doing so would hinder the vehicle’s ability to get back on the road, allow the vehicle to continue charging until it was ready to go.

In turn, the companies could offer their customers incentives to offer their plug-ins to the grid through lower rates on electricity usage. Customers can opt-out, charge elsewhere, or have the vehicle ignore the request.

The first OVGI test is occurring this week at Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s Customer Service Center, where the tech will be demonstrated before federal, state, automotive and utility representatives and officials.

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Cadillac Boss Unveils Portfolio Revitalization Plan For 2020 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cadillac-boss-unveils-portfolio-revitalization-plan-2020/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/cadillac-boss-unveils-portfolio-revitalization-plan-2020/#comments Fri, 10 Oct 2014 15:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=928642 First, there was the move. Then, there was the CT6. Now? Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen unveils a blitzkrieg bop of a product roadmap, all set to be fulfilled by 2020. In an exclusive with Reuters, de Nysschen’s overall plan to revive Cadillac is anchored by a roadmap that will expand the portfolio from five […]

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2015 Cadillac ATS Coupe

First, there was the move. Then, there was the CT6. Now? Cadillac boss Johan de Nysschen unveils a blitzkrieg bop of a product roadmap, all set to be fulfilled by 2020.

In an exclusive with Reuters, de Nysschen’s overall plan to revive Cadillac is anchored by a roadmap that will expand the portfolio from five models at present, to 10 models by 2020.

Aside from the upcoming CT6 — which will come with a PHEV variant when the flagship debuts in showrooms late next year — he says he just received the green light to bring a range-topping vehicle into the fold, likely to be called either the CT8 or CT9. The vehicle would do battle with long-wheelbase variants of the Mercedes S-Class and BMW 7 Series when it enters showrooms at the end of this decade.

On the greener side of the fence, de Nysschen has designs for an EV, and a potential successor to the ELR that may or may not have two extra doors.

Further down the alpha-numeric trail, two new crossovers — which will wear the XT moniker — will sandwich the SRX, including a seven-passenger model set to arrive by 2018 at the latest; the SRX will be redesigned and renamed in 2016.

Meanwhile, a smaller vehicle positioned under the current ATS, along with the smaller crossover, will share its platform with the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze, and go up against the BMW 1 Series and Mercedes CLA-Class. Both will be in showrooms between 2017 and 2018.

Other parts of the plan include building the CT6 and the successor to the SRX in China, where Cadillac is aiming to move 75,000 units by the end of the year, while Europe will remain in the distance until after 2020.

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Ian James Corlett’s ElectroPorsche: From Beater To Electrifying Showstopper http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ian-james-corletts-electroporsche-from-beater-to-electrifying-showstopper/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ian-james-corletts-electroporsche-from-beater-to-electrifying-showstopper/#comments Sat, 20 Sep 2014 13:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909898 [AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story is one I’ve been pursuing since a couple of days before returning to TTAC on the back of the Bumpasaurus Rex last October. As today is my 36th birthday, this is my gift to you, dearest B&B. – CA] Meet Ian James Corlett and his 1966 Porsche 912. Corlett calls Vancouver, […]

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1966 Porsche 912 EV 16

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: This story is one I’ve been pursuing since a couple of days before returning to TTAC on the back of the Bumpasaurus Rex last October. As today is my 36th birthday, this is my gift to you, dearest B&B. – CA]

Meet Ian James Corlett and his 1966 Porsche 912. Corlett calls Vancouver, B.C. his home, where he works in the entertainment industry as a voice actor, director, producer, author and musician; his son and daughter, Phillip and Claire, also work in the industry as voice actors in their own right.

As for his 912, it may appear to be no more than a beautifully restored vintage Porsche, but as you’ll soon discover, there’s more than meets the eye with this particular sports car.

All photos provided by Ian James Corlett, Brendan McAleer and Wikipedia.

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“I didn’t start with the notion of electrifying a Porsche,” said Corlett. “I was gonna do an old VW Beetle, mostly because I love Beetles, and it was one of the first cars I ever had. But the electric kits and the conversions were relatively available, and lots of people had done them. So, I thought, ‘Well, that’s good, because the geometry works and it’s easy to bolt in an electric motor onto the existing transmission. So, that’s what I’ll do!'”

Corlett’s interest in all things electric began years ago during one of his “reverse midlife crisis” phases, when he happened upon a Vespa scooter whose engine lived up to its Italian heritage. Preferring to ride over working on the Vespa during the few sunny days Vancouver received in a given year, he turned to a since-defunct scooter shop in Seattle for help. There, Corlett obtained a 10-inch hub motor and custom components for the Vespa, then made the switch to electric power back home.

Another reason for going electric: To escape the leasing cycle, and to reconnect with the idea of ownership. Corlett grew up interested in European and Japanese vehicles, finding U.S.-made models of the 1970s and 1980s too big, heavy and brutal to his liking. His first cars included the aforementioned Beetle, his mother’s 1969 Datsun, a Honda Accord — his first new car — two Volkswagen Cabriolets with a Jetta in between, and ultimately, the first of many Porsche 911s.

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Though he owned his vehicles through his first 911 — a 1994 993 model — outright, the leasing bug would soon sting him and his wallet:

Somebody introduced me to this wizard of leasing, and they said, ‘No. Actually, people just don’t realize that leasing is all about the differential between what a car is going to be worth in a couple of years, and what you paid for it. You’re only really paying for that difference.’

With the then-low depreciation rates of Porsche’s offering in mind, and the leasing guru’s flexibility in setting up the contract, Corlett found leasing was less expensive than regular car payments at the time. However, the first lease was like “the drug dealer offering [a new customer] the first one for free,” with the second and third leases as easy as the first.

Alas, the rates would soon climb, Porsche began expanding its lineup, and residual values were falling hard. After the sixth 911, Corlett was quitting leasing for good, preferring to own his cars again, as well as use the money that would have gone into a new lease toward his children’s private school tuition and other fiscal responsibilities.

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Though his search began with numerous old Beetles, Corlett took to the idea of converting a 912 to electric power after his attempt to buy a converted 912 from an aerospace engineer in the Phoenix area on eBay ended with a last-second loss to a higher bidder; converting a 911 of similar vintage was a bridge too far in his mind. This new journey would end outside of the desert city, where Corlett snagged a 1966 beater with rust galore — thanks to its previous life outside of Arizona — instead of a hoped-for “very dry, desert car.”

“It was really a two-step process,” he explained. “We needed to restore the car, and then fit it and measure it for the electric components.”

The restoration proved to be daunting for Corlett’s electric dream. Opting to perform both steps in Phoenix — the labor costs were lower than in Canada — he left the 912 with a restorer who turned out to be as nightmarish as the vehicle itself upon media-blasting by the following restorer, Arizona Street Customs, months later.

The project ultimately took three years, though Corlett admitted that “it shouldn’t have taken three years,” citing a change in focus toward a move to a new house in Vancouver, as well as project-related issues:

One of the huge delays, as an example, was the batteries. We ordered $15,000 worth of batteries, and they had to come from China. We just made a wrong choice on who the supplier was. That was eight months of waiting, because the guy would sell large amounts of batteries in containers. He waited for a container to be full before he would fulfill his order from China and ship to the U.S. That’s just big, long delay for no good reason.

1966 Porsche 912 EV 15

Since coming home to Vancouver late last year, the 912 has been making the rounds at events throughout the area, such as the Luxury Supercar Weekend at VanDusen Botanical Garden, and the Key West Ford Shine & Show in New Westminster, B.C., where Corlett took home trophies in the best special interest and unfinished categories. He says he enjoys being able to take part in any event that allows him to show off his masterpiece in the brief window of sunny days between June and October.

The reaction to such a conversion? “I have had nothing but jaw-drops and great comments,” he proclaimed. “Now, that’s to my face. I’m sure there are people that feel differently. I’ve been really surprised by some of the Porsche people — and I know a lot of them in town — some of them that are just hardcore, real Porsche fanatics.”

One in particular, his mechanic — a “very abrasive guy of German heritage” who’s “not too fond of electric cars, period” — enthusiastically approved of the 912 during a shakedown following a suspension adjustment, allaying Corlett’s fears of taking a classic Porsche and transforming it into a vintage EV. Nonetheless, he’s very happy with the overall response his car is receiving.

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Registration and insurance for a unique vehicle like this was easier to obtain than one might imagine. The most difficult part was importation from the U.S. to Canada, though this was waved away by declaring the 912 as just a restored vintage vehicle. Once at home, registration was simply a matter of switching the “G” — for gasoline — to “E” — for electric — on the paperwork.

Finally, though the 912 has standard insurance at present, it may soon have coverage better suited for its unique features, which would provide the benefit of being insured and appraised properly.

Range testing is ongoing as far as long drives are concerned, having gone as far south as Corlett’s P.O. Box in nearby Blaine, Wash., as well some handling issues that need to be resolved before taking it 9/10ths. In the meantime, he switches between the 912 and his 2011 BMW 135i, the latter his daily driver. His reasoning for the BMW is the same as the 911s before: the ability to go from the school and the studio during the week, to the track during the weekends when not piloting or showing the 912 EV.

As far as future electrification is concerned, an experience with the Tesla Model S has Corlett thinking of an EV suitable for his family’s needs. As the premium sedan is too large, he says the Kia Soul EV will likely fulfill the role, if only because the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive won’t be in Canada anytime soon.

By the way, he still has the electric Vespa, and he aims to have both it and the 912 out on the road to praise the sun next year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1966 Porsche 912 EV 02 1966 Porsche 912 EV 03 1966 Porsche 912 EV 04 1966 Porsche 912 EV 05 1966 Porsche 912 EV 06 1966 Porsche 912 EV 07 1966 Porsche 912 EV 08 1966 Porsche 912 EV 09 1966 Porsche 912 EV 10 1966 Porsche 912 EV 11 1966 Porsche 912 EV 12 1966 Porsche 912 EV 13 1966 Porsche 912 EV 14 1966 Porsche 912 EV 15 1966 Porsche 912 EV 16 1966 Porsche 912 EV 17 1966 Porsche 912 EV 18 1966 Porsche 912 EV 20 1966 Porsche 912 EV 21 1966 Porsche 912 EV 22 1966 Porsche 912 EV 23 1966 Porsche 912 EV Spec Sheet

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Dongfeng Nissan Launches Leaf-Based Venucia e30 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/dongfeng-nissan-launches-leaf-based-venucia-e30/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/dongfeng-nissan-launches-leaf-based-venucia-e30/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 10:00:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=912650 After 3.1 million miles of pilot testing, Dongfeng Nissan last week launched its version of the Leaf for the Chinese EV market, the Venucia e30. Prior to the official launch, around 300 of the ¥267,800 ($43,460 USD) e30s went through a quality and safety pilot program in Guangzhou, Xiangyang and Dalian, logging 3.1 million “failure-free” […]

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After 3.1 million miles of pilot testing, Dongfeng Nissan last week launched its version of the Leaf for the Chinese EV market, the Venucia e30.

Prior to the official launch, around 300 of the ¥267,800 ($43,460 USD) e30s went through a quality and safety pilot program in Guangzhou, Xiangyang and Dalian, logging 3.1 million “failure-free” miles in so doing. Six more cities — Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Tianjin and Hangzhou — join the original three locations as part of the initial launch before sales go nationwide next year.

As for what consumers will get out of the reworked original EV for the masses, the e30 is expected to deliver up to 35 miles in range after using the quick-charge option, with normal charging also available. In addition, the EV comes with government subsidies, as well as lower running costs of 85 percent compared to similar gasoline models.

Though it remains to be seen how well the e30 hits it off with the Chinese public, the Leaf is doing well for itself as of late, with Nissan selling 3,186 units in the United States last month, and year-to-year U.S. sales jumping 34 percent to 18,841 units.

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Tesla Model X Has 20,000 Reservations, More To Come http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/tesla-model-x-20000-reservations-come/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/tesla-model-x-20000-reservations-come/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 11:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=911057 Despite attempts to discourage would-be owners from reserving a copy of the upcoming Model X, Tesla has some 20,000 customers on its waiting list for the gullwinged SUEV. Gas 2 reports a total of 20,159 reservations have been made thus far since 2012, 12,000 of which were made through March of this year. Out of […]

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Despite attempts to discourage would-be owners from reserving a copy of the upcoming Model X, Tesla has some 20,000 customers on its waiting list for the gullwinged SUEV.

Gas 2 reports a total of 20,159 reservations have been made thus far since 2012, 12,000 of which were made through March of this year. Out of those figures, around 14,000 belong to customers in the United States, while Europe and the Asia Pacific hold just 25 percent.

That said, it may be a long wait. The assembly line, currently going through upgrades to assemble 3,000 vehicles per week, must be shared with the Model S. The publication says that if the split were 50/50, it would take Tesla over a year to clear the backlog that could hit 25,000 by the time production begins early next year.

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2015 Kia Soul EV Coming To US With $33K Price Tag http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-kia-soul-ev-coming-us-33k-price-tag/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/2015-kia-soul-ev-coming-us-33k-price-tag/#comments Fri, 12 Sep 2014 10:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=911033 Looking for an EV that doesn’t cost Tesla money or resemble a jelly bean? Then Kia might just have what you need with its electrified version of the Soul when it arrives in showrooms later this year. AutoblogGreen reports the compact EV — the South Korean automaker’s first such mass-market offering — will enter showrooms […]

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2015 Kia Soul EV

Looking for an EV that doesn’t cost Tesla money or resemble a jelly bean? Then Kia might just have what you need with its electrified version of the Soul when it arrives in showrooms later this year.

AutoblogGreen reports the compact EV — the South Korean automaker’s first such mass-market offering — will enter showrooms with a base MSRP of $33,700 before the $7,500 federal tax rebate is applied. The price of admission places the Soul EV above the Nissan Leaf ($28,980), but just below the Volkswagen e-Golf ($35,445).

The base model — dubbed Base — brings a 6.6kW on-board charger and an “exclusive” HVAC system designed to maintain the vehicle’s 93-mile range “by minimizing energy draw.” The UVO eServices system, which provides in-car and — via the UVO app — smartphone info on range and were to pull over for a charge, comes standard. Other amenities available include Bluetooth, rear-camera display, cruise control and power windows.

Meanwhile, the top-of-the-line + — or Plus — model adds heated leather-trimmed seats, fog lights and power-folding mirrors, all for a starting price of $35,700 MSRP pre-rebate.

For those who would rather lease, Kia is offering an introductory $249/month rate for 36 months on the Soul EV Base with $1,999 down. Either way, the crossover will only be available in a few California markets, with expansion planned down the road.

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Daimler, BMW Collaborate On Wireless Charging http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-bmw-collaborate-on-wireless-charging/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-bmw-collaborate-on-wireless-charging/#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 11:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866826 Daimler and BMW just announced a collaboration to help speed up development for wireless charging of both EVs and PHEVs, with the former’s Mercedes S500 PHEV as the test subject. Autoblog Green reports the system in question will use coils in both the vehicle and charging platform, the latter installed in a garage floor or […]

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Mercedes S 500 PHEV

Daimler and BMW just announced a collaboration to help speed up development for wireless charging of both EVs and PHEVs, with the former’s Mercedes S500 PHEV as the test subject.

Autoblog Green reports the system in question will use coils in both the vehicle and charging platform, the latter installed in a garage floor or other stationary point. The system will charge an EV or PHEV at a rate of 3.6 kW, with an efficiency rating of 90 percent.

As for the guinea pig, the S500 PHEV will come with 436 horsepower and around 480 lb-ft of torque between its twin-turbo V6 and hybrid powertrain. In turn, the sedan can travel up to 20 miles on electric-only power, and net the chauffeur 84 mpg on the way to and from his employer’s private resort. The S500 PHEV is due in showrooms this September.

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Kato: EVs Need Nobel Prize-Quality Battery Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kato-evs-need-nobel-prize-quality-battery-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/kato-evs-need-nobel-prize-quality-battery-technology/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 12:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861553 Toyota’s global R&D head Mitsuhisa Kato has little regard for the current crop of EVs, proclaiming the technology to make them viable in his eyes has yet to be invented. Automotive News reports that although his team will still do R&D work on EVs, Kato believes there are few customers seeking a vehicle with short […]

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Mitsuhisa Kato + Toyota FCV

Toyota’s global R&D head Mitsuhisa Kato has little regard for the current crop of EVs, proclaiming the technology to make them viable in his eyes has yet to be invented.

Automotive News reports that although his team will still do R&D work on EVs, Kato believes there are few customers seeking a vehicle with short cruising ranges:

The cruising distance is so short for EVs, and the charging time is so long. At the current level of technology, somebody needs to invent a Nobel Prize-winning type battery.

He added that while EVs could be brought to parity with ICE vehicles, doing so using current technology would establish “a vicious circle” over costs and charging times.

Toyota itself is moving away from EVs into hydrogen with the upcoming 2015 FCV; the outgoing RAV4 EV and eQ will be gone from the global lineup by the time the FCV arrives in January of next year.

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Renault, LG Chem Sign MOU To Develop Long-Range Battery Technology http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/renault-lg-chem-sign-mou-to-develop-long-range-battery-technology/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/renault-lg-chem-sign-mou-to-develop-long-range-battery-technology/#comments Wed, 28 May 2014 11:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=833473 With most EVs getting around 100 miles on a single charge from their battery packs, such vehicles are more suited for the downtown core than a trip to the mountains. However, Renault and LG Chem are looking toward boosting range toward Tesla-like levels, together. Autoblog Green reports Renault’s CCO Thierry Bolloré and LG Chem’s battery […]

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Renault LG Signing Ceremony

With most EVs getting around 100 miles on a single charge from their battery packs, such vehicles are more suited for the downtown core than a trip to the mountains. However, Renault and LG Chem are looking toward boosting range toward Tesla-like levels, together.

Autoblog Green reports Renault’s CCO Thierry Bolloré and LG Chem’s battery chief Kwon Young-soo signed a memorandum of understanding to develop battery range technology through the use of the latter company’s high-energy-density batteries. LG makes the batteries for EVs and PHEVs, including the Chevrolet Volt, and will supply packs to 20 automakers in 2015, double the business it does currently.

Meanwhile, Renault may use the results of its joint-venture with LG Chem to improve the range — and therefore, potential sales — of its Twingo and other Z.E. EVs. The Twingo was recently shelved in part to less-than-expected demand for the city car, with no word on when the EV will go back on sale.

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Senate Committee Approves Move To Bar Hybrids From Further Solo HOV Access http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/senate-committee-approves-move-to-bar-hybrids-from-further-solo-hov-access/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/05/senate-committee-approves-move-to-bar-hybrids-from-further-solo-hov-access/#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 13:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=828642 Hybrid owners may soon need a co-pilot and a couple of backseat drivers to use HOV lanes, as the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a six-year highway spending bill with an amendment that would redefine for states what vehicles can and cannot use such lanes for solo driving. The Detroit News reports […]

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Prius Capitol Hill - Picture courtesy Flickr.com

Hybrid owners may soon need a co-pilot and a couple of backseat drivers to use HOV lanes, as the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a six-year highway spending bill with an amendment that would redefine for states what vehicles can and cannot use such lanes for solo driving.

The Detroit News reports Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma sponsored the approved amendment, which would continue to allow EVs, PHEVs, CNG vehicles and hydrogen vehicles to use HOV lanes with a only the driver inside, but would prohibit states from allowing hybrids to use such lanes in new access programs. That said, most states have already ended single-occupant hybrid access.

In the meantime, California — which phased out hybrid access in 2011 — has run out of access permits for PHEVs, hitting its 40,000 cap earlier this year. The state’s legislators have introduced legislation that would boost the total cap to 85,000, with the permits set to expire on New Year’s Day 2019. EV owners will still have solo HOV access, as there is no cap set for those permits.

Speaking of EVs, another amendment in the spending bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to “develop a plan and map of a potential national network of electric vehicle corridors and recharging infrastructure” in collaboration with the automotive industry and outside parties according to its sponsor, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

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Beijing 2014: Daimler and BYD Introduce Denza EV With 300KM Range http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-daimler-and-byd-introduce-denza-ev-with-300km-range/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/2014-beijing-auto-show-daimler-and-byd-introduce-denza-ev-with-300km-range/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:41:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806674 The first fruits of Daimler and BYD’s Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. joint venture is on display at the Beijing auto show this week. The partnership intends to blend BYD’s latest battery technology with more than a century of manufacturing experience at the maker of Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Schedule to launch on the Chinese market in […]

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DENZA_at_Auto_China_2012_11 (1)

The first fruits of Daimler and BYD’s Shenzhen BYD Daimler New Technology Co. joint venture is on display at the Beijing auto show this week. The partnership intends to blend BYD’s latest battery technology with more than a century of manufacturing experience at the maker of Mercedes-Benz automobiles. Schedule to launch on the Chinese market in September of this year, the Denza is a five passenger car with a 115 hp (86 kW) electric motor that has a top speed of 93 mph and a range of up to 186 miles (300 km). Produced at a factory in Shenzhen, the Denza was jointly designed in China, reflecting the Chinese government’s policy requiring foreign automakers to establish joint technical centers in China and to share technology with their Chinese partners.

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Recharging times are stated as 7 hours with conventional mains voltage and less than an hour with high speed chargers. The lithium ion phosphate battery pack is rated at 47.5 kWh and apparently in response to some Teslas catching fire, Denza publicity stresses how the battery pack is located underneath the body for safety and that it will automatically disconnect and quickly discharge safely in the event of an accident. Since the average driver in China travels 50 to 80 kilometers a day, with a 300 km range, most customers will only have to recharge a couple of times a week.

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One feature that I look forward to see if it makes it to production is the fact that the show car has suicide doors in the back and no B-pillar.

The Denza will have a starting price of RMB 369,000, about $60K at current rates, though there are subsidies from the Chinese national and local governments that reduce that price by about 1/3. In addition to those subsidies, the Denza will benefit by being exempted from many of the policies that Chinese cities have implemented to reduce congestion and pollution. Owners will be able to get a license plate in Beijing without participating in the mandatory lottery, and Shanghai and Shenzhen wave registration fees for Denza owners’ plates.

DENZA_at_Auto_China_2012_11 (1) denza02 BYDDenzaVoorkant-630x350 ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? denza-logo_100386966_m denza03

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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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Fewer Than 4,000 Green Calif. HOV Stickers Remain http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/less-than-4000-green-calif-hov-stickers-remain/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/less-than-4000-green-calif-hov-stickers-remain/#comments Thu, 20 Mar 2014 12:56:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=776521 For potential California PHEV owners, time may soon run out to obtain the Green Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued by the California Environmental Protection Agency for HOV lane use, as only 3,770 of the 40,000 stickers remain available. Inside EVs reports a huge spike in applications for the green stickers since the start of 2013, […]

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2012-Chevrolet-Volt-HOV-052_610x407

For potential California PHEV owners, time may soon run out to obtain the Green Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued by the California Environmental Protection Agency for HOV lane use, as only 3,770 of the 40,000 stickers remain available.

Inside EVs reports a huge spike in applications for the green stickers since the start of 2013, with 12,000 issued last year, and 8,000 more since January. This is in contrast to 2012, when around 500 stickers per month were issued in the first seven months of the year.

The stickers, meant for AT PZEVs such as the Toyota Prius and Chevrolet Volt, will likely be gone by the time BMW brings the i3 extended-range model to the United States this summer, and in spite of the automaker’s best efforts, only the pure-electric i3 will be eligible for the White Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued to as many approved EVs, fuel-cell- and CNG-powered vehicles — like the Tesla Model S, Ram 2500 and Honda FCX Clarity — as can be registered.

Both green and white HOV stickers are set to expire New Year’s Day 2019, extended from the same date in 2015.

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Does Dan Akerson Know GM’s 200 Mile Range Battery is Vaporware? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/does-dan-akerson-know-gms-200-mile-range-battery-is-vaporware/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/does-dan-akerson-know-gms-200-mile-range-battery-is-vaporware/#comments Mon, 23 Dec 2013 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=685642 The hagiographic article by Bloomberg/Business Week on outgoing General Motors CEO Dan Akerson did exactly what Selim Bingol and the other PR honchos in the RenCen towers wanted it to do. With other news agencies and blogs amplifying the puffery and pulling quotes, the article got GM and Akerson a lot of good press. One […]

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Envia-400whk-battery_1

The hagiographic article by Bloomberg/Business Week on outgoing General Motors CEO Dan Akerson did exactly what Selim Bingol and the other PR honchos in the RenCen towers wanted it to do. With other news agencies and blogs amplifying the puffery and pulling quotes, the article got GM and Akerson a lot of good press. One of the quotes that got pulled the most was Akerson’s reference to a “moon shot” project giving GM’s next generation extended range electric vehicle a 200 mile range on battery power, based on breakthroughs in battery technology. It may be more of a moon shot than Akerson let on, since GM has cancelled its contract with that battery’s likely supplier, accusing it of “material misrepresentation”.

In the Business Week article, it says:

Although GM has hinted that it’s working on a next generation of electric vehicle, Akerson says it’s aiming for a compact car that can go 200 miles on a charge and carry a generator, too. While it will be similar to the Volt, engineers are working on generators that could run on gas, diesel, or natural gas. The increased electric range is coming, in part, from advances in battery chemistry. GM is planning to bring the model out in 2016, for about $30,000, according to a person familiar with the idea who asked not to be named because the plans aren’t public. It’s a project that the company doesn’t want to say much about but signifies how it’s been trying to move past inventing things to putting inventions into showrooms. “We want it to be a moon shot so we can surprise the competition,” Akerson says.

That part about the company not wanting to say much about the project and citing an unnamed source is rather cute in the context of a high profile article that was based on weeks of exclusive insider access given to the Business Week writers. What’s also kind of curious is that GM’s “200 mile battery” was not really news, so citing an unnamed source seemed superfluous. In September, at an event at GM’s Tech Center battery lab, GM’s vice president of global product programs, Doug Parks told the Wall Street Journal that the company was developing a next generation electric vehicle that has a 200 mile range and would cost about $30,000, though the cost of the batteries today would make meeting that price point impossible. Last March, Akerson himself told an energy conference about the project. “There will be breakthroughs in battery technology, they’re on the horizon,” Akerson told a session at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference which was broadcast on CNBC.com. “We’re actually developing a car today which is really anathema to the way the auto industry works: We’re running a dual play on the technology to see which one will succeed. One will result in” a 100-mile range, “the other will be a 200-mile range.”

Just like his comments in the recent Business Week article, Akerson’s remarks last spring about a 200 mile battery sparked a flurry of news reports about a potential GM EV with such a range. Many of those reports speculated that the battery in question was a lithium ion cell being developed by Envia, a battery startup claiming to use a special cathode and unique silicon carbon nanocomposite anode to produce a battery with a remarkable energy density of 400 watt-hours per kilogram. The level of energy density would indeed make a 200 mile range EV possible. The speculation was founded on the fact that in 2011 General Motors had invested $17 million through its GM Ventures arm to take an equity stake in Envia, resulting in GM Ventures president and GM chief technology officer Jon Lauckner having a seat on the Envia board. In late 2012 the automaker and Envia signed a contract for the battery company to start supplying GM in 2016. Because of the long lead time and validation needed in the auto industry, the contract had very tight deadlines, needing a final design for the battery by 2014.

However, the fact is that by the time Akerson, Parks and Bloomberg’s unnamed source went public with the 200 mile battery project, GM already had doubts about the Envia battery and was in the process of canceling the contract. In an extensive investigative article on the Quartz website, Steve LeVine outlines the history of Envia, how it touted the breakthrough performance of its battery design, based on research at the U.S. Dept of Energy’s Arpa-E program, though it had never manufactured any batteries. GM embraced the company, signing a multi-million dollar contract as well as investing in the company only to find their potential supplier unable to meet deadlines specified in the contract. It turns out that their battery’s outstanding performance only lasted for the first few charge/discharge cycles and then fell off, continuing to decline.

Levine shows that by March of 2013, right around the time that Akerson started touting the 200 mile battery, at their first quarterly meeting specified in the supply contract, GM expressed concern that their own testing showed the Envia battery not meeting claimed performance specs. Envia asked for patience saying that the tight deadlines in the contract weren’t giving them enough time to properly develop the battery. By July, GM’s representative was accusing Envia’s founder, Sujeet Kumar, of making “material misrepresentations during contract negotiations”. GM could not reproduce the Arpa-E results and the automaker was not happy that Envia had claimed a proprietary anode composition when in fact “the anode material is not Envia’s.” GM gave Envia “a failed grade for this quarter.”

In early August, Envia received the following in a letter from General Motors:

Envia has failed to move the project forward or replicate the results on a timetable that could conceivably support the vehicle development process. In fact, Envia was unable even to replicate prior reported test results even when utilizing the third-party anode that had purportedly been utilized in the Arpa-E test battery.

The letter continued that GM was “well within its rights to terminate the December 2012 agreement.” By late August, the contract was cancelled. Envia is currently mired in litigation with former CEO Atul Kapadia, who negotiated the contract with GM, over his firing and with Kapur’s previous employer over intellectual property issues related to battery technology.

While all of this was going on, GM was still talking about a 200 mile battery. To be fair, Akerson did say they were working on two tracks, with more than one battery supplier, and LeVine points out that it’s not likely that GM would have committed to the idea of a 200 mile range EV without having additional battery suppliers under consideration. Still Akerson’s most recent comments to Business Week seem odd in light of the backstory on Envia, almost as though he’s been out of the loop. Akerson’s subordinates recognized Envia’s shortcomings fairly early on, while he continued to reference the project as though there were no problems.

For more information on the topic, Steve LeVine examines the chemistry and physics of Envia’s battery chemistry here, and Gigaom’s Katie Fehrenbacher does her usual thorough job looking at the litigation that surrounds the company here.

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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EVs Too Pricey For Most Consumers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/evs-too-pricey-for-most-consumers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/12/evs-too-pricey-for-most-consumers/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 13:20:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=668634 Based upon a survey of 1,084 conducted by Boulder, Colo. firm Navigant Research, it would appear most won’t be in the market for EVs anytime soon due to the price of admission being too rich for their blood… for any EV. According the survey, 71 percent plan to spend less than $25,000 on their next […]

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2012 Nissan Leaf, Exterior, side 3/4, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

Based upon a survey of 1,084 conducted by Boulder, Colo. firm Navigant Research, it would appear most won’t be in the market for EVs anytime soon due to the price of admission being too rich for their blood… for any EV.

According the survey, 71 percent plan to spend less than $25,000 on their next car with 43 percent of the 71 aiming for under $20,000; thus, the only EV or plug-in available within their range (after price cuts and credits) is the 2013 Nissan Leaf at $22,150.

Aside from price, familiarity is another obstacle for EV and plug-in adoption rates. The most familiar to the masses? The Chevrolet Volt, though only 6 percent are intimately familiar with the $26,685 (after credits) plug-in. However, the survey said that 67 percent of consumers loved the idea of hybrids, while 61 percent also loved the idea of EVs.

Finally, 40 percent of the populace sampled would be interested in charging stations in the vein of Tesla’s Supercharger, so long as they paid next to nothing (if at all) for the privilege; only 16 percent surveyed would pay more than $2 for a 15-minute recharge.

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