Audi Confirms Production of E-Tron GT and Quattro SUV, More EVs to Come

Established automakers have finally decided they have the stones to challenge Tesla. Over the last few months, premium manufacturers have issued a glut of product announcements on vehicles targeting the premium EV segment. Audi dabbled in electrification earlier than most before scaling back a bit. However, it’s now positioning three new battery-electric models for production — the E-Tron Gran Turismo, Quattro SUV, and Sportback crossover.

The “e-tron” branding (obnoxiously styled by the automaker in all lower case) has been affixed to countless concept hybrid and battery-electric vehicles. But with the R8 e-tron killed off (in 2016), the only production model currently wearing the badge is the A3 Sportback. Audi claims this will change when its first round of fully electric vehicles arrive later this year. Unfortunately, the E-Tron GT isn’t supposed to commence production until “early next decade.” At that point, Tesla’s Model S will be nearly a decade old.

Read more
Junkyard Find: 2007 ZENN Electric

Between the release of Who Killed the Electric Car and the availability of real-world-capable full-electric vehicles for reasonable prices, golf-cart-esque electric LSVs (Low Speed Vehicles) sold in sufficient quantities that you might spot one humming down your street on a short journey.

Now that electric cars have become, you know, cars, machines like the ZENN Electric seem like amusing relics of a distant past. Here’s an ’07 ZENN, spotted in a Northern California pull-it-yourself yard last month.

Read more
Its Eyes Are Just Coming In: Kia Niro EV Concept Bows at CES

Earlier this year, Tim tested the new Kia Niro, finding it to be a perfectly non-offensive crossover, one that goes about its business with little fuss – which, let’s be honest, is what a good slice of the buying public looks for in a new car.

At the Consumer Electronic Show in Vegas this week, Kia added to the Niro’s lineage with an all-electric version of the compact machine, saying it will offer a range of 238 miles. If that number sounds familiar, it should. It is the exact figure Chevrolet promises for the Bolt.

Read more
Place Your Bets: Another Chinese-backed Startup 'Ready' to Challenge Tesla

On Sunday at CES, Chinese-backed car startup Byton officially unveiled its first drivable prototype. The all-electric crossover, dubbed the SIV, arrived with its dashboard-encompassing touchscreen intact. Byton says the car will be available near the end of 2019 with the 49-inch “shared-experience” display, touchscreen steering wheel, Amazon’s Alexa, and Level 3 autonomy.

Despite a demo video featuring some cringe-worthy acting, Byton’s unveiling went off without a hitch. The company even released footage of the SIV putting around a parking lot a day early to prove that it had, in fact, build a functional prototype. But it’s promising quite a bit on a relatively narrow timeline, and we’ve seen how poorly that can play out for a Chinese-backed EV startup.

Read more
Chinese Startup Byton Teases Electric 'SIV' Ahead of CES Debut

Even though automotive trade shows are becoming more tech-focused, its still a difficult environment for a fledgling carmaker to break into. That’s one reason the Consumer Electronics Show, now just called “CES,” has hosted so many Chinese startups these last few years. One of the newest is the e-car manufacturer Byton, formerly known as Future Mobility.

While Byton sounds more like the name of a vehicle than a brand — especially since it was, two months earlier — it’s infinitely better than mashing two of the auto industry’s most-popular buzzwords together and pretending it means something. The company was also wise to get away from any moniker that might allow the public to confuse it with Faraday Future.

However, adopting the name of its singular model means Byton had to come up with something new for the vehicle scheduled to make its world debut at CES next week. Now dubbed the SIV (smart intuitive vehicle), the Chinese-brand is promising a “next generation smart device” that is “uniquely built for the coming era of truly shared, smart mobility and autonomous driving.”

Read more
2018 Nissan Leaf SL First Drive - Powering Back From Obsolescence

The previous-generation all-electric Nissan Leaf (technically “LEAF,” but that acronym sends my MacBook Air into a snit befitting Peter Frampton), with toenail clippings for headlights and a face only a mother could slug, has historically done very well for itself, selling well over 100,000 units in America since its introduction eight long model years ago.

For 2018, the Japanese automaker set out to prove an all-electric car doesn’t have to look like a science experiment. In the past, new models were denoted by the holy trinity of longer, lower, and wider. In the EV sphere, that trio takes the form of longer (range), lower (charge times), and wider (infotainment screens).

Read more
Rare Rides: A 2002 RAV4 Has a Dark Story to Tell

The first-generation Toyota RAV4 arrived on the market at the beginning of the compact crossover boom. While almost all first-generation models had four cylinders under the hood, there were exceptions. If you were fortunate enough to live in the People’s Republic of California, you could pony up for the electric version and show all your neighbors how conscientious you were. But that’s only part of the story.

The rise and fall of the RAV4 EV is an interesting historical aside, because it shows you exactly what corporate treachery can do.

Read more
The Honda Urban EV Concept Is What We All Want Honda to Be

“This is not some vision of the distant future,” Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo says of the Honda Urban EV Concept that debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “A production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019.”

Be a skeptic if you like. Honda’s recent history is full of pie-in-the-sky small car concepts that never came to production fruition: Remix, Step Bus, IMAS, Puyo, P-Nut, Gear. But there are also Honda concepts that ended up in the real world. The Model X Concept became the Element, the CR-Z Concept became the CR-Z, the SUT Concept arrived as the Ridgeline.

Honda has every intention to introduce the delightfully retro-modern Urban EV, albeit most assuredly without suicide doors, gigantic wheels, a front bench, or the unusually minimalistic interior. Yet if Honda can maintain the silhouette, a blend of early Civic and Mk1 Golf GTI, we’ll begin to wonder whether Honda’s lost decade – in which mistakes were made and costs were cut — is about to produce evidence of a reinvigorated Honda.

Read more
Up Close With the Workhorse W-15, an EV Truck Headed to U.S. Driveways

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
National Drive Electric Week Events, Free and Probably Near You

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
Seemingly Every Automotive Headline Includes Electric This or That, but What's the State of Electric Vehicle Market Share in America?

You 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
Daimler, BAIC Investing $735 Million Into Chinese EV Production Pretty Much Out of Necessity

Daimler AG is dumping half of a 5 billion yuan sum, or 735 million dollars, into China as part of a joint venture with BAIC Motor Corp. Together, the companies plan to establish the groundwork for competent EV production in the region — meaning a good ol’ fashioned battery factory.

The bill is split between the two firms, as China requires every foreign automaker to partner with a domestic one to do business within the country. The new factory will be a product of Beijing Benz Automotive, a blandly named limited liability company created to further Mercedes’ interest within the country and bolster its EV production capabilities globally.

Read more
Volvo's First Electric Model Will Roll Out With a Minimum 250-mile Range

Though its debut will lag that of Chevrolet’s Bolt and the Tesla Model 3, Volvo’s first entry into the world of all-electric vehicles looks to be right on par with the current generation’s maximum range and requisite financial investment. Starting between $35,000 and $40,000 when it debuts in 2019, the Swedish EV should be capable of at least 250 miles between charges.

Away from the main stage of the Geneva International Motor Show, CEO of Volvo America Lex Kerssemakers indicated to journalists that the standards set by the Bolt would be the benchmark. “That’s what I put in as the prerequisite for the United States,” Kerssemakers said. “If I want to make a point in the United States, if I want to make volumes, that’s what I believe I need.”

Read more
Geneva 2017: Bentley Motors Seeks EV Approval With EXP 12 Speed 6e Concept

The mounting pressure of tightening fuel economy and emissions standards is causing even the most extravagant luxury brands to re-evaluate their bias toward hulking internal combustion engines. No less subject to the laws of the land than any other automaker, Bentley returned to the Geneva International Motor Show with an electric convertible version of its 2015 Speed 6 concept, dubbed — and this is a mouthful — the EXP 12 Speed 6e.

While there is no accounting for taste, the flipped and wandering 1994 Toyota Celica headlamps aren’t my cup of tea. To be frank, it’s a gaping fish-eyed mess from the front. It’s as if the car saw its own lavish interior and couldn’t believe something so glorious could be associated with its own ghastly visage. While I understand that the headlights are signature Bentley and the EXP 10 Speed 6 possesses a nearly identical face, it just isn’t working for me in this instance. The rest of the car, however, is irrefutably gorgeous — especially that aforementioned interior.

Not that you shouldn’t take a moment to bask, but the EXP 12 concept wasn’t designed to show off its interior. It was built to gauge the public interest in an all-electric luxury tourer and potentially shape Bentley’s future luxury strategy.

Read more
The Fiat 500e is North America's New Cheapest Car

Almost a month ago, I wrote that the Ford Focus Electric was the cheapest car in North America. Because federal, state, and local incentives are rolled into the price of a lease, along with the sizable discounts applied by the manufacturer, a $30,000 dollar EV can easily be priced below a $16,000 internal combustion model. Those piling discounts on other models have dethroned the Focus as America’s cheapest car.

Fiat’s 500e can currently be had for roughly the same price as a decent pair of sneakers, continuing the trend of bargain basement pricing on small electric cars. At $69 per month for 36 months with no money down, it’s also a better deal than the shoes — which can typically only manage a few hundred miles before becoming a tattered mess. With some evening reprieves to recharge, the Fiat can top that in a week with only the slightest hint of tread-wear. However, this incredibly low leasing rate for the $33,00 EV isn’t even the best deal of the last few months.

Read more
  • 28-Cars-Later "I was thinking that service shops were the real cash magnets for the dealers not car sales."You are correct, service and used cars made the majority of dealer profit.
  • ToolGuy Secret: Large automakers have some dealers which they really really like, and some dealers they would love to get rid of.
  • 28-Cars-Later There is no and will be no "EV transition". The "transition" will be to a smaller auto industry with less production and higher prices.
  • 28-Cars-Later $300 and its only because its a 5 speed.
  • Bobby D'Oppo I'm a huge fan of Honda's legendary (no pun intended) golden era 90's products, but I'm troubled by Acura's inability to keep pace with the competition through the past few generations when it comes to performance drivetrain and chassis tech. They so rarely deliver anything that properly challenges the best from zee Germans or even Lexus. It's great that their volume models still tend to stand among the strongest in their categories, but the way Honda/Acura continuously fails to deliver anything remotely exceptional for the the premium buyer is incredibly disappointing. The sports/luxury market drives innovation and also happens to be where the margins are. That the millions of people who grew up with Honda cars have been left with so few options when they're ready to graduate to something beyond a Civic with a hot motor, or a warmed-over CR-V with a few extra bells and whistles seems absolutely tragic.