As noted on HybridCars.com, its monthly Dashboard tracks all clean-tech car sales including plug-ins, hybrids, clean diesels, and even Honda’s lone CNG car – all told around 75 models give or take.
This year alone there are going to be somewhere around 25 new clean-tech cars added to the roster, including these plug-in cars.
As the song says, “these are the good old days,” for – call them what you wish: clean tech, alternative tech, advanced tech, green cars – anything but straight gas burners.
In case anyone is wondering, Toyota is not on the list because its new Prii will come along in 2015, but said no new electrified models are pending for 2014. McLaren P1 is not here because while a 2014 model, it was released in October and sold out in November 2013. Mitsu Outlander is not here because the company said it’s not launching U.S. models until 2015.
So without further ado, here are some plug-in cars expected in 2014 with links to each for your perusal.
This being GM-Volt.com we confess: This model gets pushed to the top of the list in a blatant act of editorial bias.
Is it the most important plug-in car in America? Probbaly not, but perhaps a case could be made, and ultimately this does remain to be seen.
And actually, we hear the 2014 ELR has been already received at dealers since Cadillac began shipping last week, but its official launch date is January.
What needs to be said about the ELR? It’s one of the more publicized and anticipated plug-in vehicles – and is a bit of a lightning rod as well – with some questioning the rationale for a Volt-based Cadillac that costs more than double the Volt without much more performance.
Nonetheless, General Motors is being credited for having the chutzpah to produce the ELR, as some have questioned whether the company that once canceled the EV1 would even continue the Volt.
Sales volume – or competitiveness against Tesla Model S – is not expected to be so high, not even by GM’s own forecast, but who knows, it could surprise us.
The ELR is just as effective as the Volt, and more opulently appointed. It promises a nice ride as a coupe with kid-sized back seat and all-electric range high enough to stay in the e-zone for most daily driving needs.
The BMW i3 will first introduced in west and east coast markets as well as Austin, Texas this spring, and it is significant as a frontrunner for BMW’s new i brand, having already launched in European markets.
BMW has trademarked the names i1 through i9 and the first sustainable solution from this lineup is positioned as a city car.
The all-electric car will be made optionally available with a small scooter-derived range extender that essentially gives enough extra range to get home, but is not meant for long-range travel like a Chevy Volt.
Automotive analyst Alan Baum noted demand appears strong for the innovative ground-up developed EV that makes extensive use of carbon fiber reinforced plastic.
However, the i3 has received mixed reviews by the automotive press. Some praise it, others say it does OK for what it is, and others have said it falls short of the cars that gave birth to the bragging rights of the maker of Ultimate Driving Machines.
Tesla’s executives have been among those who’ve questioned what BMW was thinking, but to its credit, the i3 is a first step, built from the ground up as an electric vehicle, and promises quality, innovation, and attention to detail throughout.
Tesla Model X
This is probably a more important car than the i3, but because Elon Musk has laughed at the i3, we gave the underdog award with a place above the vaunted but delayed Tesla.
The encore to the amazingly well-received Model S will come replete with “falcon-wing” doors and even more family friendly design, and is due late in 2014.
In March this year Tesla pushed back the Model X’s projected production date from what would have been right about now for early 2014 deliveries. Its reason? Tesla said it needed to focus on the global Model S launch now still underway, and just taking root in Europe, Asia, and including China.
On ths latter score, Tesla is trying to overcome a trademark issue over the “Tesla” name, so it’s calling it Tuosule for now.
Back in the U.S., Tesla’s Web site says “estimated delivery in 2015 for new reservations” implying it has a long list of intenders who’ve plunked down either $5,000 or $40,000 reservations and should be getting their electric SUVs at the end of 2014 with production ramping up into 2015.
Based on the same “skateboard chassis” design used by the Model S, the Model X ought to be one sleek and quick SUV – blended with the “benefits of a minivan.”
“The Model X is critical in Tesla’s development by expanding its range to the popular utility segment – and it will therefore bring in new customers – while providing additional revenue to Tesla,” said Baum. “This will enable the development of the entry level Model E and provide growth as the demand for the Model S matures slightly.”
Battery sizes for the Model X are the same as Model S – 60 and 85 kwh – and the vehicle promises 0-60 times of under 5 seconds for the most powerful versions.
Going a step beyond the Model S, the Model X will utilize dual-motor all-wheel-drive, a sure improvement for snow belt drivers. Originally AWD was to be optional, but in November Tesla said all models will be so equipped.
VIA trucks are based on converted full-sized GM models. The pickup and van are first, and a Suburban based SUV is to follow.
On a a 100-mile drive, it should get 30 mpg, and on a typical 50-mile day with full battery charge, the trucks should average around 100 mpg. This is an astonishing achievement for a 402 horsepower work vehicle, and helps to offset the $79,000 per-unit starting price for volume orders.
A terrific use for the real estate afforded by a full-size bed is a solar tonneau cover that uses the same kind of solar cells as a house would.
We – and Jay Leno – think the trucks are great because we see long-term potential. Americans have a love affair with big vehicles, and this company is pioneering with more audacity than the maker of the donor trucks – though who knows whether they’ll be bought out in time?
As volume from its Mexico assembly plant increases, and supply costs go down, the clock has started ticking for a paradigm change in bigger passenger vehicle mpg, even if these are primarily commercial for now.
The 2015 e-Golf is an all-electric version of the venerable VW hatchback and one of many new electrified vehicle pending from the Volkswagen Group.
It will be the first EV from the automaker, and was announced in November as due in the U.S. at the end of 2014.
Since it launch a few decades ago, VW has sold more than 30 million Golfs globally, and the 115 horsepower e-version will be another shorter-range EV in the U.S. market, but with driving characteristics of the base car.
Range is estimated at 70-90 miles, VW says, top speed is 87 mph, so this will be a city car.
Some have said VW is late to the game, and this is arguably true, but really, the game has only just begun, and there is room for more to jump in and begin an evolutionary process toward improvements yet to come.
Mercedes-Benz B-Class Full Electric
Just as Tesla did with Toyota’s limited-market RAV4 EV, it has collaborated on the powertrain development with the first EV to be launched in the U.S. by the brand with the silver star.
Based on a small SUV available with conventional powertrains in Europe, the B-Class will be only available as an all-electric in the U.S.
“This vehicle will be low-volume, but creates a new niche for small crossovers which are strong globally and may increase their presence in the U.S. with this product,” said Baum.
Range for the 134-horsepower EV is estimated at around 115 miles, and top speed is 100 mph. Mercedes-Benz promises the full M-B driving experience with gads of safety innovation and convenience features.
Like the BMW i3, this is a significant first from a premier German automaker, and a positive portent for more to follow.
The second of the BMW i-Series, this one being a plug-in hybrid with 1.5-liter, three-cylinder twin turbo, the i8 promises to be a high-zoot sports car when launched around summer, 2014.
It will be a showcase for technology and advanced design, and BMW says it is the “world’s most forward-looking sports car.”
For a starting price near double what a Tesla Model S 60-kwh base model costs, BMW promises a light 3,285 pound curb weight – more than 1,100 pounds lighter than Tesla – along with 362 horsepower, 420 pounds feet torque, and 0-62 in somewhere around 4.4 seconds.
Cars like this are not measured with typical “total cost of ownership” mentalities however, as exclusivity and cool factor are hard to pin an exact price that Consumer Reports could approve of.
The car will be able to about match a Ford Fusion Hybrid in all-electric range, at 22 miles estimated, and promises 94 MPGe.
It makes the list because it is ostensibly chic enough for James Bond, being made available for closer to regular (albeit upper demographic) buyers, and is a first of more to come.
If there were any doubts about the i3, the i8 ought to live up to the moniker Ultimate Driving Machine alright.
And to that this holiday season, we raise our glass in a toast to “trickle down technology,” and raising the bar at the high end, which will inevitably improve ordinary cars in years to come.
Porsche Panamera Plug-in S E-Hybrid
The Porsche Panamera Plug-in S E-Hybrid comes as part of a mid-cycle refresh for the Panamera lineup, and replaces the non-plug-in hybrid.
Its claim to fame is significant all-electric range of up to 20 miles or so, assuming conservative driving.
“This vehicle is a statement for the brand, just as the brand is a statement within the auto industry,” said Baum.
Combining the first miles that consume zero fuel, average daily trips ought to average to pretty stellar mile per gallon figures.
Does this matter to consumers of 416 horsepower Porsche sedans that start at $99,000 and quickly go up from there with options?
Maybe psychologically, plus the car is a neat tech car for those who like that aspect, and it will flat-out attract buyers who simply want the Porsche crest on the hood.
The power and weight stats are rather close to a Tesla Model S P85+ but the Tesla is quicker with instant torque although the Porsche will hit a higher top speed.
More significant to the broader market it Porsche aims to make hybrid versions of all its cars, and this is the first pioneer of that effort.
Lessons learned here can be applied to other electrified Porsches, so squabbling aside over what makes sense or not, this plug-in tech is all going somewhere, and carving out room with yet one more elite German maker jumping into the waters.
Kia Soul EV
Kia’s limited-market Soul EV is actually a follow-up to another square box EV in the Korean automakers’ home market, the Ray EV.
The automaker promises 27 kwh and more AER than the Leaf at 120 when it’s launched in 2014.
This it says as it is settling a class action law suit on conventional car’s EPA numbers being overstated, which apologized for and said was a mistake in its calculations.
Whether the EV based on the youth-friendly Soul gas car that’s calculated to go 35 miles farther than a Leaf can or not, its a positive thing for the plug-in car world.
Sooner or later these compliance cars will escape their CARB state borders, or they’ll be followed up by cars that do sell better for average Americans.
Rome was not built in a day.
This entry was posted on Friday, December 27th, 2013 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.