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 October 2, 2019

Nissan plans to unveil a new concept at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month. Suitable for the locale, the model is to be a fashionable EV aimed at urban commuters.

According to the manufacturer, the IMk Concept will be the best tool imaginable for that particular job. While it looks like a glitzy version of your typical Tokyo eco-box, the all-electric IMk is meant to serve as the template for the best city car ever built — likely trying its hand in markets around the world with a production version.

That said, the dimensions of the IMk will probably torpedo any ships heading to North America. At 135.2 inches long, 59.5 inches wide, and 64.7 inches tall, the model is slimmer than a Smart ForTwo and shorter/narrower than a Fiat 500. While the additional headroom will be a blessing, it’s still too small for our Rubenesque frames.  (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2019

BMW’s i3 has reached the end of its road. The manufacturer recently stated that the model will not be updated, adding that there’s no plan for a successor. Despite the oddball Bimmer serving as the technological basis for the Mini Electric slated to launch next year, the i3 is going to stick around in its current form until the company has no further use for it.

Released in 2013, the i3 was Bavaria’s first stab at a mass-market EV. While this author sees them routinely parked in coastal cities, they’re an anomaly elsewhere. Overt success has eluded the model in the United States, with annual sales dropping from a high of 11,024 units in 2015 to just 6,117 deliveries in 2018. This year’s U.S. sales look to be even weaker for the model.

Fortunately for BMW Group, European sales have been on the rise every year since the car’s introduction. Last year, that resulted in 24,252 deliveries for the region — with 2019 already positioned to surpass that figure easily.  (Read More…)

By on September 11, 2019

With electric-vehicle owners eligible for sizable tax breaks, and ineligible for federal fuel taxes, it often feels like they’re not pulling their weight when it comes to maintaining this great nation’s transportation infrastructure. However, feelings are sometimes wrong — when it feels like an Arby’s night, for example.

There are actually 26 states that presently impose fees upon EV owners and, according to Consumer Reports, 11 charge more than the amount drivers of similar, gas-powered cars pay in gas taxes, with 3 charging more than twice the average amount. Another dozen states are considering adding fees, with CR’s own research stipulating that 10 would require electrics to pay more than they would if they were powered by gasoline.  (Read More…)

By on September 9, 2019

Volkswagen revealed the first of many upcoming EVs based on its modular MEB platform at the Frankfurt Motor Show this week. While the ID.3 resembles a Golf in both form and function, VW claims this is not business as usual. According to the manufacturer, the new hatchback “reflects the realignment of the Volkswagen brand” by offering full connectivity, maximum efficiency, and no local emissions.

While it’s not coming to America, other ID models will be. Taking a long look at the ID.3 could provide us with a better understanding of what those vehicles might be like and help us examine the general direction the German manufacturer appears to be heading these days.  (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 May 10, 2019

Volkswagen seems to be feeling pretty good about itself today. After announcing pre-orders for the ID.3 hatchback, the first vehicle from VW’s new electric sub-brand, the company reported it was already having issues coping with demand. Within 24 hours, the automaker said it had received more than 10,000 reservations throughout Europe, creating some extra work for its IT department.

“Sometimes, the IT systems are unable to handle the large number of users accessing the system at the same time,” VW said in a release. “This leads to long waiting times and interruptions in the registration process in some markets. Volkswagen is working hard to eliminate the hitches. Nevertheless, more than 10,000 registrations were received throughout Europe during the first 24 hours.”

While it sounds phenomenal, as the company repeatedly noted ID.3 demand is already exceeding expectations,  it’s nowhere near Tesla territory. But the American firm is somewhat of an outlier with an almost miraculous ability to get the public excited about new product and a longer history of EV manufacturing. By comparison, VW is still testing the waters — even though it has already agreed to preform a cannonball by 2025 and sell 1 million connected, zero-emission vehicles every year. (Read More…)

By on May 9, 2019

Image: Nissan

Pick your jaw up off the floor. As automakers struggle to offer electric vehicles deemed “affordable” by the motoring public, those buyers aren’t exactly swamping dealers with requests for EVs.

Even in the Europe Union, members of which punish drivers of fossil fuel-powered vehicles with high taxes, EVs amounted to just 2 percent of new vehicles registered last year. And yet the EU plans to drastically cut down on greenhouse gas emissions in the coming years.

New data from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) shows that the EU’s green dreams will be hard to realize without some sort of massive incentive for the purchase of electric vehicles, as right now those vehicles are only marginally popular in extremely wealthy countries. The EV “people’s car” is still a dream. (Read More…)

By on May 8, 2019

Months before its planned debut at Germany’s International Motor Show, Volkswagen has announced the first model of its ID electric sub-brand — the ID.3 — and wants the world to know it’s already accepting pre-orders. While the U.S. is unlikely to see the model for some time, if ever, the vehicle provides a glimpse into VW’s much-touted electrification strategy.

Volkswagen’s corporate release claims the ID.3’s MSRP starts below 30,000 euros (about $33,500 USD), with a “1st special edition” beginning at 40,000 euros (roughly $44,750 USD). Pretty steep for a people’s car.  (Read More…)

By on April 16, 2019

Over the past several years, the Chinese government embarked on an aggressive electric vehicle push, hoping to mitigate the nation’s severe air pollution, reduce its reliance on oil imports, and foster a high-tech manufacturing sector that could put the rest of the world to shame. The result of these efforts? Hundreds of new EV companies, propped up by Chinese subsidies and investors, with no real future.

While it was known that most of these startups would never make it to the finish line, estimates of their survivability rate has grown increasingly bleak. For a time, it was assumed that most would die out — leaving anywhere between 5 and 10 percent to reach the assembly phase. However, NIO Capital’s Ian Zhu posited that the number was likely closer to 1 percent last August.

China is now pulling back its support, with many believing the industrial bubble is about to pop. And they have the math to back it up.  (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2019

Even with affordable electric vehicles cropping up on the global market, their budgetary nature is relative. While the industry promises that EVs will offer the world an affordable, mechanically simple and green alternative to traditional internal combustion models, they’ve yet to deliver. That’s not to suggest e-cars are failures, just that the technologies involved are still maturing.

Battery prices will continue to decline and eventually governments won’t always need to incentivize EV purchases through tax credits. But we’ve yet to reach the point where it makes just as much financial sense to buy a small EV as it would a gasoline-powered econobox. That could soon change. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2019

With many concerned that the public’s modest adoption of electric vehicles could backslide without a federal tax incentive, U.S. lawmakers introduced legislation on Wednesday to expand the EV tax credit by 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer.

This would help companies that have already exhausted their quota, like Tesla and General Motors, but even automakers that are nowhere near their current allowance would have something to gain — a wider window in which to sell alternative-energy vehicles with governmental help.

Called the “Driving America Forward Act,” the legislation would grant automakers a $7,000 tax credit for an additional 400,000 vehicles and shorten the depletion/phase-out schedule to nine months. However, the existing deal of 200,000 vehicles per automaker eligible for $7,500 tax credit would also remain intact, resulting in a pretty big allowance for government incentives.  (Read More…)

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