Nissan first revealed its 100-mile range Leaf pure electric car in August 2009, well into the four year Volt public birthing process.
The Japanese company took a different tactic than GM announcing pricing earlier (and lower) and opening up online reservations for the car for a $99 down payment.
At that time, GM was frequently criticized for being slow to announce price and for not having an online reservation process.
However, since the cars have started rolling out, GM is already well in the lead in numbers of deliveries.
Nissan capped it total reservations at 20,000, declaring that as the sales goal of Leafs in the US in 2011. At that early stage GM had only committed to building 10,000 Volts in the same timeframe, so it appeared that Nissan might take the sales lead.
Demand for the award-winning extremely flexible extended range electric Volt has been skyrocketing though, and GM has now upped its commitment to building 25,000 Volts in 2011.
Nissan at the same time is now starting to backpedal.
For every one Leaf so far delivered in the US, GM has delivered 6 Volts. Nissan says it will shortly ramp up sales making sure everyone who wants one will be able to have it by the end of the summer. “We’re going to make sure that customers get their cars well before the end of summer,” said Brian Carolin, Nissa VP of sales and marketing. “I’m confident during April, May you’re going to see (a) significant number of deliveries.”
Carolin said buyers should expect “a few hundred” deliveries in March.
He did admit however, for the first time, that it is unlikely Nissan will achieve its goal of 20,000 deliveries in 2011.
“Not every one of those reservations is going to turn into a firm order,” he said. “I think 20,000 will be too high.”
[ad#post_ad]The Chevrolet Volt is an elegant solution. It is a brilliant car that is a masterpiece both of design and engineering. Understandably GM has focused its PR and marketing efforts on this nascent vehicle which is expected to reach high volumes as price comes down in the following years.
Other companies such as Nissan have focused instead on the less utilitarian pure electric car, filling the niche for would-be owners who are willing to make some sacrifices in order to be able to drive only on electricity at all times.
Ford for its part has announced it will offer both a pure electric Focus and a plugin hybrid C-MAX
Many pure-EV advocates have pushed for GM to offer a pure electric car in addition to the Volt. Though there have been reports of global development of EVs for markets outside the US, there has never been any direct proof or quotes such a car would be built for the US.
Until now that is.
GM’s CEO Dan Akerson told reporters at the Detroit Auto Show, that indeed such a car was in the works. Akerson said this car would be aimed primarily at drivers in big cities and would be a niche vehicle, with the Volt filling the more mainstream role.
“It’s more of a metro car or an urban car, where the extended-range electric vehicle, the Volt technology offers much more flexibility,” Akerson said.
It is not clear the timeline as to when this car will arrive. GM did announce it will begin selling a pure electric car in China within two years.
It seems likely the US electric car will be subcompact in size, similar to the new Chevy Sonic gas-powered vehicle the automaker just debuted.
Along with other comments from Akerson indicating GM will be building two additional EREVs and a PHEV, this car will complete a comprehensive suite of electrified vehicle offerings from the company for the US market over the next several years.
[ad#post_ad]The third mainstream electric car being developed for the US market, and the second made by a US company has now been revealed.
Three years in the making, Ford CEO Alan Mullaly unveiled the Ford Focus Electric car on Friday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
The vehicle is a sleek good-looking aerodynamically tweaked Ford Focus hatchback that powered by an all electric drivetrain, and will go on sale in selected US markets by the end of this year. Ford reports the car will have a better miles-per-gallon equivalent efficiency that the Chevy Volt. Charging is expected to take between 3 and 4 hours at 240-V, half the time the Nissan LEAF takes to recharge.
The vehicle comes equipped with special MyFordTouch connected dashboard technology, Ford MySync connected feature and can be interacted with via the MyFord Mobile app.
The car will be built in the USA at Ford’s Wayne Michigan assembly plant.
The all electric powertrain is designed for reliability and smooth instant responsiveness. Top speed is electronically limited to 84 PMPH. It will have “agile and sporty” acceleration and ride and handling with a more silent though very similar performance to its gas powered Focus sister.
“More than any other electric vehicle on the market, Focus Electric loses none of the dynamics and quality of driving a traditional car,” said Sherif Marakby, director of Ford’s electrification programs and engineering. “It shares many of the same premium components and features as its gasoline-powered counterpart, while delivering distinct efficiencies and a uniquely exciting driving experience.”
Obligatory eco-friendly materials include biofoam seat cushions and recycled fabric for the upholstery.
The battery, like the Volt, is supplied by LG Chem and the pack, unlike the LEAF, will be thermally managed with a liquid cooling/heating system. It holds 23 kwh of energy.
The dashboard is packed with technology and connected features to educate drivers on the available range and the impact of driving style on it. It includes the MyFord Touch display which illustrates battery state of charge, remaining range and distance to the nearest charing station. “Until there are more recharging stations in public places, trip planning will be an important part of operating an electric vehicle,” syas Ford in a press release.
The dash displays are customizable from basic to information rich. The information is intended to allow drivers to carefully budget their energy for the trip they need to take.
Ford is expected to build up to 10,000 Focus Electrics in 2012, and the car will be one of five electrified vehicles the company produces, another of which will be a plugin hybrid.
Pricing hasn’t been announced and real-world range will be 70 miles.
[ad#post_ad]On this date of 12/11/10 Nissan begins to make good on its visionary CEO Carlos Ghosn’s promise to mass-produce electric cars on a large global scale.
First announced in March of last year, the LEAF electric car program has been moving fast and furious. The company stopped taking orders in the Fall when they reached 20,000 US consumers who had put a $99 deposit down to reserve their car. The company shocked the world when they announced the surprisingly low price of $25,280 after tax credits for the car ($20,280 in California), and have gotten many rave automotive reviews for the vehicle.
Indeed Ghosn plans to produce up to 500,000 EVs per year shortly, and a US-based assembly plant for the car and a separate one for the batteries are being developed in Smyrna Tenessee that will go online in 2012.
Today the very first consumer in the US will pick up his brand new LEAF in the San Fransciso Bay area of California.
The man is named Olivier Chalouhi and is a 31-year old tech entrepreneur who is credited as the first person to order a LEAF in one of the US launch markets. Those initial markets include Southern California, Arizona, Oregon, Tennessee and Seattle.
The eyes of the world will be watching as Chalouhi picks up his black Nissan LEAF SL at North Bay Nissan of Petaluma. The delivery will be followed by a press conference at San Francisco City Hall Plaza.
Perhaps nowhere else in the country are EVs more popular and important than in California, when too the initial Volts will be sold.
To commemorate this occasion, Carlos Ghosn has written the following memo which was paced on the Nissan LEAF Facebook page:
For more than 100 years of car manufacturing, we have been tethered to the same gasoline engine concept. That is, until now.
On the eve of the market debut of the Nissan LEAF electric car in the United States and Japan, a date that the Renault-Nissan Alliance has been working toward for many years, some are watching our efforts with great skepticism. That does not come as a surprise. If necessity is the mother of innovation, then skepticism is its father. From the two, solutions come to life.
Advances we have achieved in technology now allow us to move forward with the affordable, mass-marketed 100% electric cars – Nissan LEAF being the first.
This drive toward new, sustainable mobility is born from one simple premise: Electricity is the new fuel for cars. The electric car has the potential to transform the industry, and it has already begun to change the way we think about cars and fuel.
Recently, a reporter asked me how the Environmental Protection Agency should indicate miles per gallon on the fuel economy sticker that goes in the window of each new Nissan LEAF. My response: Miles per gallon? Infinite. There is no gallon. Though the EPA rates Nissan LEAF at 99 miles per gallon, it is a measurement as outdated in the new mobility age as the idea of tailpipe emissions. An electric car has neither a tailpipe nor emissions.
As the global community thinks more and more about sustainability, more is at stake than simply seeking ways to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. There is a need to shift away from a total dependence on this finite resource – oil – as we continue to meet the transportation needs of people all over the world. If the car is sustainable, then so will be the industry.
Skeptics point to concerns about the lack of infrastructure for electric vehicles. We share this concern. That is why our approach extends beyond the car itself. We are engaged every step of the way – from car and battery development to battery-recycling and charging stations.
We realize that public and private cooperation is essential to the success of the electric car, and we have more than 80 partnerships with governments and organizations worldwide to develop the infrastructure to support EVs and widespread marketplace acceptance. In the United States, these partnerships reach from Hawaii to Connecticut, from Washington State to Florida, and every day more partnerships are being negotiated.
There are moments in life when you can feel that you are on the verge of something truly significant. It is a feeling of optimism and potential, the result of preparation and the right timing.
Little by little, the skeptics are becoming believers. Governments, industries and a growing number of consumers are overwhelmingly embracing a car that many have not yet driven. Soon, more and more people will have an opportunity to see, drive or own their own electric car. In Nissan LEAF, they will fully understand all the benefits we have been talking about: the quiet ride, quick acceleration, smooth handling and – best of all – zero emissions.
This is the future of mobility, and the future is starting now.
# # #
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Congratulations Nissan and Mr. Ghosn, we applaud your effort, and wish you well. As with the Volt, buyer in the rest of the country will have to wait up to 18 months before they can pick up their cars.
Also unveiled this week is the movie trailer for the upcoming film Revenge of the Electric Car. The film is written and directed by Chris Paine who also created the 2006 film called Who Killed the Electric Car, the story of the EV-1 that played a role in jump starting the electric car revolution of which we are bearing witness. A little known fact is I started GM-Volt.com without having known about the EV-1 story at all, and having never heard of or seen the original film. Of note Paine declined to interview me for the film despite GM’s strong suggestions that he do, due to the role of this site in the car’s development. See the video below:
[ad#post_ad]I have to admit when I first saw this press release I was taken aback with the paradox of an electric car being rated in miles per gallon. But on careful inspection I realized they are of course not talking about miles per gallon, but miles per gallon equivalent.
The EPA has produced the final fuel economy label for the LEAF and gave it a “best in class” 99 MPGe. The 99 MPGe is the combined city and highway cycles.
MPGe measures energy use of an electric car based on how many miles it could travel on the same amount of energy found in a gallon of gasoline. Gasoline holds 33.7 kwh of energy per gallon.
Specifically the LEAF was rated at 106 MPGe city and 92 MPGe highway.
To determine these numbers the EPA completed 5 cycles of testing.
The label also shows that the LEAF can be fully charged at 240-v in 7 hours. Of particular note was that based on their testing, the EPA gave the car an official driving range of just 73 miles in real-world conditions, 27% lower than the 100 miles of range Nissan has been promoting. Annual electricy costs was estimared at $561.
“We’re pleased the label clearly demonstrates the Nissan LEAF to be a best-in-class option, reflecting that it’s a pure electric vehicle, uses no gas, has no tailpipe and has zero emissions,” said Scott Becker, senior vice president, Finance and Administration, Nissan Americas. “The label provides consumers with a tool to compare alternative-fuel vehicles to those with a traditional internal combustion engine and allows them to make an informed purchase decision.”
The final label is shown above.
We expect the Volt’s more complex but reassuring label shortly. “Their calculation is a little bit more straightforward than ours, so I suspect they may have gotten through the process a little faster,” GM spokesperson Rob Peterson told the New York Times. “At this time we don’t have a definitive number.”
Asked when GM anticipates the Volt’s label Peterson told GM-Volt, “we’re like expecting grandparents waiting for the call!”
[ad#post_ad]Honda has finally jumped into the ring with its very own pure EV production offering.
At the LA Autoshow, the Japanese automaker unveiled the Honda Fit EV concept. The electric version of the popular car will have lithium ion batteries and a 100 mile driving range. More importantly, Honda is committed to bring the vehicle to market. It will go into production in 2012 for both the US and Japanese markets.
Styling will be based on the current Honda Fit and likewise has room for 5 passengers and cargo. The production model will differ in appearance to the concept shown this week.
The vehicle’s high density coaxial motor is the same one that’s used in the Honda Clarity fuel cell vehicle and will offer a top speed of 90 mph. Honda say the 100 mile EV range is based in the US LA4 cycle and will actually be reduced to 70 miles after EPA adjustment.
The Fit EV has three driving modes; normal, sport and economy which were derived from the settings of the current CR-Z hybrid. Economy mode will increase range by 17% compared to normal mode, and 25% compared to sport mode. In sport mode the car will accelerate similarly to an ICE Fit with a 2.0 L engine.
Like other EVs the Fit EV will have a driving efficiency coaching gauge on the dash and an alert telling the driver to turn off accessory loads like AC for when range become critically low. The Fit EV will also offer connected features like satellite navigation and a charging station finder as well as mobile apps for remote charge monitoring, notification alerts, and remote cabin conditioning.
Charging from depleted to full is expected to take 12 hours at 120-v and 6 hours at 240-v.
In addition to demonstrating the pure EV, Honda also announced it would begin producing a plugin hybrid as well in 2012. Though no vehicle was displayed, the drivetrain was outlined.
It will consist of two electric motors, a gas engine, and a 6 kwh lithium-ion battery. Three driving states are utilized; electric only, combined gas-electric and gas engine only. The vehicle will be capable of from 10-15 miles electric only, with a top pure electric speed of 62 mph. The engine is a 4-cylinder 2.0 L Atkinson with CVT.
To support these electrification efforts Honda will begin an advanced technology demonstration program later this year in which Google will be a partner.
Though a little late to the party Honda has finally admitted electric cars are a good idea, a long cry from the CEOs denouncement of GMs plans for the Volt back in 2007. Now all the top five US market automakers have officially announced production electric car programs, and a world without oil moves closer still.