By on October 11, 2019

Lexus issued a teaser this week and it took a few passes before we could identify it as a vehicle. Initially, your dim-witted author presumed it was some kind of at-home charging solution or wildly modern vacuum cleaner design. Lexus’ tagline wasn’t much help, either. “The Future is Electrified” is boilerplate content for the automotive industry right now — or perhaps some highly contagious corporate tic.

This time it’s being used to preview a new battery electric vehicle Toyota’s luxury arm intends on debuting at the Tokyo Motor Show this month… at least that’s what we’ve been told.

Honestly, it’s still a little difficult to tell. While it seems as though we’re getting a close-up glimpse of the portion surrounding the model’s headlight, there are factors at play that make it hard to feel certain of anything. Is that giant opening supposed to be an air inlet? Where does it lead on this purely electric vehicle? Is this even the car’s front?  (Read More…)

By on October 7, 2019

Last week we reported on the headway electric vehicles are making in the Netherlands, framing the situation as idyllic for EVs. Less picturesque for plug-in sales is India — a nation that has similarly attempted to encourage the proliferation of electric cars, but with unimpressive results. As it turns out, India makes a stellar counterpoint for worldwide electrification.

Based on the success EVs have seen over the last few years, you’d think the government was asking everyone to start eating hamburgers. Despite having a population of 1.34 billion people, with more of them becoming drivers every day, just 8,000 EVs have been sold in the nation over the last six years.  (Read More…)

By on September 9, 2019

nissan imx concept

Despite bringing the electric Leaf to market while the rest of the industry was still scratching its head over how to handle EVs, Nissan has since lost its lead. Eager to get back into the race, the automaker is putting together what it hopes will be a market-friendly model utilizing battery power. It previewed a pre-production concept to U.S. dealers last month.

While the clandestine nature of its debut leaves a lot up in the air, it’s clearly aimed at besting the latest and greatest coming from rival manufacturers. Range will be in the neighborhood of 300 miles, with room for five and sprightly acceleration. The shape? Crossover, obviously.  (Read More…)

By on August 5, 2019

After a few years, most of us begin to notice our smartphones have developed an inability to hold a charge like they used to. The fix used to be pretty simple, no worse than swapping a couple of AAs into the remote. Order a new battery online, pop off the back of the device, and replace the run-down cell with a fresh one. Unfortunately, this simple act grew more difficult as manufacturers gradually decided to seal off access to your phone’s internals — mimicking the plight facing EV owners whose energy source is losing capacity.

A number of electric vehicles in the United States are about to celebrate their 10th birthday. A bunch of them are Nissan Leafs, the first mainstream BEV made widely available in the U.S. market. At the same time, customers have begun complaining about diminished range, with some asking for a battery refurbishment program like the one enjoyed by customers living in Japan.

So far, the best they’ve received is a confident “maybe” from the manufacturer. It might behoove them to expedite things and pull the trigger. Automakers are running behind in terms of establishing a global solution to aging EV batteries, and they’re risking a lot by not already having one in place.  (Read More…)

By on June 18, 2019

China is currently the largest proponent of electric vehicles on the entire planet. The nation has even incorporated BEVs as a significant part of its complex strategy to overtake the United States the dominant global superpower. However a sudden influx of battery related fires has caused it some trepidation, even though there hasn’t been much evidence to suggest they are actually more prone to catching fire than gas-powered vehicles.

Regardless, the People’s Republic is now demanding that manufacturers conduct routine inspections on electric cars. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology says all companies must conduct checks on BEVs, focusing on battery waterproofing, battery boxes, charging points, high-voltage wiring harnesses, and even the wear of mechanical components. They will also be required to report on repairs and any incidents that might indicate a problem. According to the ministry’s press release, they have until October to submit their findings.  (Read More…)

By on June 9, 2019

Following announcements that Toyota would be working on a shared electric vehicle platform with Subaru, as well as a jointly developed crossover, the brand conducted a press conference on Friday regarding its decision to “popularize BEVs.” While the announcement didn’t deal with the specifics of cutting-edge tech, auxiliary business opportunities, or even a total shift toward battery electric vehicles, it did represent a major commitment from a manufacturer that’s notoriously cautious in its decision making.

Opening the conference, Executive Vice President Shigeki Terashi focused largely on the challenges of electrification. Terashi said Toyota’s intent has always been to support “social progress” and curb CO2 emissions while acknowledging that it had only made formal commitments to electrification within the last couple of years. However, he showed that the automaker has been busy within that time, and had several initiatives in the works aimed at repositioning Toyota as a mobility brand, by outlining the company’s extremely complex EV strategy.

Buckle up, because there is a lot to this — including some new cars.  (Read More…)

By on May 23, 2018

While the electric revival of the Microbus is the star of Volkswagen’s ID sub-brand, we shouldn’t ignore the importance of the upcoming ID hatchback. On track to enter production next year, the Golf-sized hatchback boasts pretty impressive specs for an battery electric vehicle. It won’t be the fastest or most-exciting EV on the market, but VW claims it will be capable of 250 to 375 miles of electric range and offered at an attractive price.

It’s an EV for the masses and should serve as the tip of the spear for Volkswagen’s electric offensive, along with the Crozz crossover. However, the automaker says mass-market appeal doesn’t have to include mass-market styling. The production version of the ID Hatchback should look like the futuristic concept.  (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2018

electrify-america-ev-charging-station, Electrify America

While fuel-cell technology is progressing in places like California and Japan, the rest of the world shrugged it off after the initial hype subsided. Since then, practically every automaker in existence has invested in battery technology and electrification. However, according to a recent survey, most auto executives secretly do not believe batteries will be the real breakthrough in electric mobility. Dealers feel the same way, but they’ve been less cagey on the matter.

Uh, what? Then why is everyone and their mother talking up plug-in cars and sweeping the fuel cell under the carpet?

Well, in addition to hydrogen having an abysmal fueling infrastructure almost everywhere, governments simply aren’t pushing it like battery power. Incentivizing plug-in cars has gone a long way to bolster the segment’s popularity and, with China mandating that a growing portion of all auto sales be battery-related, companies have to lean into what they already have. That said, many executives still seem to feel that hydrogen-powered cars have more to give the industry.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Its time to talk about why auto dealers are so unhappy about the electric revolution.  (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2018

nissan imx concept

Automakers perpetually talk about the future. They have to. As manufacturers, their entire business model revolves around bringing newer, better, and more desirable products to the market. Over the past few years, that has meant championing electric and autonomous vehicles — regardless of whether their consumer base (or the technology) is ready or not.

Nissan is no different in this regard, though it does appear to be taking a comparatively measured approach. Mercedes-Benz says it’ll have an electrified version of all of its models by 2022, Volvo promises to start doing the same by 2019, and Volkswagen Group wants 80 new electric vehicles across all of its brands by 2025. Meanwhile, Nissan is only shooting for eight new EVs by 2022.

That’s not to suggest the company won’t still blaze a trail for new powertrains, though. The strategy may just be a simple matter of not wanting to over-promise. As the company behind the the Leaf, Nissan is well aware of the benefits and pitfalls of a globally marketed electric car. However, its overall sales goal of 1 million electrified vehicles per year by 2022 remains ambitious and hinges on a market more eager for plug-in vehicles than it is today.  (Read More…)

By on March 11, 2018

Micro Mobility Systems recently strayed from producing electric scooters to build what is essentially a modern-take on the Isetta microcar called the Microlino. The Swiss firm has been bringing its enclosed quadricycle to the Geneva Motor Show since 2016, although this was the first year we’ve bothered to mention it. However, they haven’t abandoned the platform. Instead they’ve persisted, gradually approaching a point where they actually might grace public roads with the Microlino’s dainty carbon footprint.

It’s really tempting to root for little autos like this one. In addition to being adorable, they seem like the perfect solution for city dwellers who sometimes find the very idea of the traditional automobile mildly contemptible. Claims that they take up too much space or are energy inefficient can be countered with vehicles like the Microlino. Unfortunately, the odds of us ever seeing it in North America are slim. (Read More…)

By on March 6, 2018

Porsche appears to have it out for Tesla Motors. Having already shown its Mission E sedan as a potential rival for the Model S, the German automaker just spawned the Mission E Cross Turismo electric crossover concept for the Geneva Motor Show. Unveiled just a days after Jaguar’s I-Pace, it looks like Europe’s premium brands want a piece of the Model X’s reasonably small — but growing — hunk of the market.

In the United States, Tesla moved 18,028 Model X crossovers in 2016. That number climbed to 24,400 for 2017 and could be higher in 2018, thanks to increased output.

Unlike Jaguar’s I-Pace and Tesla’s Model X, the Mission E Cross Turismo is only a concept vehicle. However, Porsche has already made clear its intent to dive headfirst into the realm of battery-electric vehicles, claiming the crossover will eventually reach production.  (Read More…)

By on February 28, 2018

Hyundai Kona EV

Range anxiety remains the primary reason why most people don’t want to purchase an electric car. However, the overall recipe for today’s battery electric vehicles feels counter to what consumers are demanding. In the United States, all the top-selling electrics are whatever sedan or hatchback has a superior range. But, excluding the pricy Model X, there isn’t a single SUV or crossover among them (the Soul EV doesn’t count). Odd, considering that’s the body style most people are clamoring for right now.

That’s what makes Hyundai’s decision not to send the all-electric Kona immediately to North America a bit perplexing. We understand the brand probably feels some trepidation over sending another green car to the U.S. After all, the Ioniq could have performed better in its rookie year — despite being a totally serviceable alternative to Toyota’s Prius (as a hybrid) or Nissan’s Leaf (as a battery electric).

But the Kona EV has the potential to take the niche EV market by storm. Not only would it be the only electrified crossover that doesn’t require a lofty financial investment, it would also have an enviable range. More than enough to best the Chevrolet Bolt on a lengthy road trip, in fact. (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2018

Ferrari portofino 2018

Despite referring to the mere notion of an electric Ferrari as “obscene” in 2016, chief executive officer Sergio Marchionne is now saying the brand is obligated to build one. The situation is familiar to what happened with the brand’s upcoming sport utility vehicle — Sergio claimed it would never happen and, roughly a year later, flipped the script.

The SUV is supposed to reach the public by late 2019 or early 2020. However the battery-electric Ferrari won’t come until the brand has established a few hybridized powertrains first. Marchionne claimed that “going from there to an electric is easy,” prefacing the plan with “We do it because we have to do it.” (Read More…)

By on January 3, 2018

The automotive industry frames electric vehicles as the future of motoring, but despite a large number of plug-in options already available, the entire idea of owning an electric car is still rather futuristic. Leasing one, however, is far more contemporary.

Growing in popularity, automotive leasing hit a record high in 2016, accounting for 31 percent of all new vehicle sales in the United States. But that’s nothing when you isolate the number of electric cars. U.S. drivers now lease nearly 80 percent of battery-electric vehicles and 55 percent of all plug-in hybrids. Accounting for this trend is a consumer perception that EVs will only get better over time — which isn’t all that different from saying the current fleet isn’t all that impressive. (Read More…)

By on December 7, 2017

tesla semi

When you’re selling the self-professed “King of Beers,” you’re going to want to transport them in a style befitting of royalty. Either that, or you’re interested in keeping your shipping costs to a minimum and have the capital necessary to invest in new technologies like an electric semi.

Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser and over a dozen other beer brands, has decided to purchase 40 of Tesla’s battery-electric trucks. The company said it made the move in hopes of reducing fuel costs and cutting vehicle emissions. We’d also gamble that the adult beverage purveyor is interested in the vehicle’s claimed autonomous driving capabilities. (Read More…)

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