Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Nov 23

New 2017 Chevy Bolt EV Details Emerge As First Deliveries Approach


By Jeff N


With the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV now on the final home stretch and due in California and Oregon dealers within the next several weeks, a few final mysteries surrounding the car are now being resolved.

As the first electric car with over 200 miles range for under $30,000 after a federal subsidy, the Bolt – to be rolled out to the rest of the country next year – promises much, and following are some updates for the front-wheel-drive compact crossover.

Enhanced Navigation System


One question is in regards to the EV-enhanced navigation system that CEO Mary Barra promised at the Bolt’s introduction at CES in Las Vegas in Jan. 2016.

“Another way we are looking to save everyone’s time is by offering navigation with EV-specific routing. With EV Navigation mapping, Bolt EV gives options — like routes that maximize your range or provide access to charging stations,” said Barra.

Yet, dealer ordering documentation and pre-production cars used for testing did not include a navigation system. According to Chevrolet spokesman Fred Ligouri, the 2017 Bolt EV will not have traditional built-in navigation.

Last week during a media event prior to the Los Angeles Auto Show, Ligouri said the Bolt EV’s enhanced navigation will be provided by an updated version of the MyChevrolet smartphone application. He said GM expects to provide further information about these new capabilities before the first customer Bolt delivery later this year.

The current version of the app includes destination routing and EV charging locations but then transfers the final routing destination to either OnStar’s subscription-based turn-by-turn functionality or to the phone’s standard map-based navigation app. The phone’s navigation app can then be displayed on the car’s center screen by using the Apple CarPlay or Android Auto phone integration support. OnStar’s subscription-based navigation gives voice and on-screen text-based directions but without mapping.

Improved Brake Pedal


Another mystery involves the Bolt EV’s brake pedal system. Does it use the somewhat awkward-feeling blended system from the first generation of the brand’s Volt plug-in hybrid or Spark EV where brake pedal pressure slows the car by increasing electrical regeneration into the battery pack together with traditional friction braking? Or, does the pedal use a traditional friction-only brake pedal system as used on the original Tesla Roadster and Model S?

The answer, according to Ligouri, is that the Bolt EV uses a new and better-feeling brake pedal system that continues to include both enhanced regenerative and friction braking.

According to one usually reliable source, the Bolt EV and the second-generation 2016/17 Volt both use a new brake pedal actuator known as the iBooster from the automotive parts supplier Bosch. This new system provides better brake pedal feel while still allowing the car’s electric motors to capture up to 60 kilowatts of regenerative power into the battery during moderate braking.

Initial pressure on the pedal slows the car by enhancing regeneration levels while stronger pressure on the brake pedal seamlessly transitions to hydraulic friction braking.

Battery Charging


Another question concerns the Bolt EV’s battery charging strategy. All EV batteries gradually lose their energy storage capacity over the years due to time, temperature, average state of charge, the number and depth of recharge cycles, and other factors. EVs driven in hot climate states like Arizona tend to lose their storage abilities faster.

Will the Bolt EV always give the battery a complete 100 percent charge? Knowledgeable observers have noted that lithium-ion batteries degrade or lose their long-term storage capacity faster if they sit at a very high state of charge for long periods, especially while at high temperatures.

While the Bolt EV does fully charge the battery by default, Chevrolet has answers to address this concern. First, while the car is plugged in it will use its liquid active thermal management system to keep the battery at a reasonable temperature even in very hot climates. In fact, it will even cool and protect the battery if necessary when the car is not plugged in if it is above a certain very high state of charge.

SEE ALSO 5 Cool Things About the 2017 Chevy Bolt EV

In addition, the Bolt EV has a “Hill Reserve” option that can be enabled to limit battery charging to the 90 percent level. As the name implies, this reserves some room in the battery when charging in the mountains or on hilltops so that regenerative braking can capture and store energy on the drive back down. In addition, Hill Reserve can also be used for regular daily charging for drivers wanting to avoid having the battery at a full charge for extended periods of time.


Nov 22

Just-Revealed Chinese Buick Velite Concept May Have Something in Common With Chevy Volt



General Motors of China has rolled out its Buick Velite Concept plug-in hybrid with flowing lines, and technology potentially borrowed from the Chevy Volt.

Revealed at the 2016 Guangzhou auto show on Friday, and positioned for now as a design sketch on what to expect in future Buicks, in September Chinese media snapped photos of a rebadged Chevy Volt, conjecturing it was the Velite.

What was revealed today is not the same vehicle outwardly, and the automaker has not specified powertrain details, but has let on it is an advanced plug-in hybrid.

“The Velite Concept is characterized by its high-performance plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) powertrain with GM’s new-generation modular intelligent electric drive system at its core. It incorporates a high-performance modular lithium-ion battery pack,” said the automaker. “An enhanced electric drive unit and intelligent controls help maximize performance and fuel savings under different driving conditions. The sophisticated technology will be applied in Buick’s upcoming PHEV model.”

Other details include several options for connectivity, including networks that are cloud-based, a low-speed 360-degree intelligent traffic induction system, and other future tech driving aids.

This Buick-badged Chevy Volt was reported in September as potentially the Buick Velite. Whatever it was, that report appears incorrect, but questions remain.

This Buick-badged Chevy Volt was reported in September as potentially the Buick Velite. Whatever it was, that report appears incorrect, but questions remain.

Whether GM of China will also release a rebadged Volt, or Chevy Volt in China – potentially manufactured in China – has not been announced, but remains a possibility in the largest plug-in market, and GM’s largest market.

As for the Velite Concept, its design is inspired by flowing water, with organic curves and shapes led off by Buick’s waterfall grille and LED headlights.

Reminiscent of a hatchback, Buick is using the marketing term of choice – crossover – to describe the type of vehicle the Velite represents.

The design, says Buick, has “an innovative crossover body that combines a sporty design with practical space.”

Says GM: The Velite Concept serves as a mobile network. Users can enjoy an interactive human-machine experience thanks to its efficient and convenient connection with their intelligent devices as well as the application of innovative technologies such as cloud-based connection and storage, customized service and remote operation.

Says GM: The Velite Concept serves as a mobile network. Users can enjoy an interactive human-machine experience thanks to its efficient and convenient connection with their intelligent devices as well as the application of innovative technologies such as cloud-based connection and storage, customized service and remote operation.

The car’s development was led by the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), GM’s engineering and design joint venture with SAIC, “leveraging GM’s global resources.”

No photos of its interior or under hood have been released. What it means for GM’s further forays into China is unclear, but that market is heating up, and GM may bring the first Buick plug-in there, before Americans see one in their home market.


Nov 21

Want a Chevy Bolt Outside of California and Oregon? Thanks For Your Patience



General Motors has made public relations hay with its 238-mile Chevy Bolt EV priced under $30,000 after federal credit, but buyers outside of Oregon and California will need patience.

According to GM media rep Michelle Malcho, the car will see a “slow flow” to the rest of the country in 2017, and the Wall Street Journal reports it will not be widely available before next spring.

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet To Delay Volt Production To Next Spring as 2017 Model Year For 39 States

As GM did with the Chevy Volt – which was made in part with an eye to satisfying regulators in California and states that follow its zero-emission rules – the Bolt is given priority in those markets, and for now it’s just the two states mentioned.

“We are focusing on this year getting the cars ready for customers … and doing it the right way,” said Malcho to the Wall Street Journal.

This refrain is a near echo of what was said of the 2016 Chevy Volt last October.

For that car Malcho cited customer satisfaction concerns for the Volt after some stumbling the first time around in 2011. Back then, cars were delayed, and dealers also were less than thrilled with limited or spotty allocations.

Also true, as GM winds down a finite supply of federal tax credits, that perk stands to stay intact longer as plug-in vehicles are sold at a less-than frenetic pace.

What’s more, getting the Bolt out the door this year to California and Oregon lets GM claim it beat Tesla’s Model 3 to market by as much as a year and a half. And, it qualified the car for product awards which it is now garnering.

Meanwhile buyers are sold on the idea of the yet-unvailable Bolt in other states. In California and Oregon, Darin Gesse, marketing product manager, has said they may get their cars “before Christmas” but no promises are made for any other markets.


If you’re interested, Gesse said the majority of orders to date in California and Oregon are for the upper Premier trim, and 90-percent have selected the $750 fast charging option. This option may not be retrofitted after the car has been configured and built. And, incidentally, an illuminated charge port is not yet available, but may be added by the dealer later.

All well and good, and notable also buyers before Dec. 31 may quickly recoup the federal tax credit. Meanwhile dealers in other states are taking lists of names on the car that has not been allocated yet.

SEE ALSO: ‘Not a compliance car,’ GM says 2017 Chevy Bolt can meet demand of over 50,000 per year

We know of at least one reader who is having a Bolt shipped from California to the east coast just because he does not want to wait.

The Bolt bolts from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, 0-30 in 2.9, and top speed is 93 mph for the 200-horsepower EV.

The Bolt bolts from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, 0-30 in 2.9, and top speed is 93 mph for the 200-horsepower EV.

For those not so inclined, the carmaker knows demand is there, at least for first buyers, and plans are to continue getting them out the door into the next year.


Hat tip to Brian Ro.

This article appears also at


Nov 18

Half A Dozen Plug-in Cars On Display At The 2016 LA Auto Show


Photo: Jeff N.

Photo: Jeff N.

This year the LA Auto Show has updated its name to AutoMobility LA, and as you’d expect from the traditionally tech-intensive venue, plug-in cars are in attendance.

Regulations are driving the global market, some carmakers have made huge forward-looking statements about product assortments to be as high as 25 percent plug-in by 2025, and this year’s LA show is just a taste of more to come.

Of course the Bolt EV is at LA, but it's not in our list as it's been seen at several shows already. Significant nonetheless, the 238-mile-range EV for $37,495 is now nabbing “best of” and “car of the year” awards, and has gone on sale in California and Oregon with 50-state rollout beginning early next year.

Of course the Bolt EV is at LA, but it’s not in our list as it’s been seen at several shows already. Significant nonetheless, the 238-mile-range EV for $37,495 is now nabbing “best of” and “car of the year” awards, and has gone on sale in California and Oregon with 50-state rollout beginning early next year. Photo: Jeff N.

Following are highlights of mostly new models – be they concepts, or models planned, or pre-production examples with new details disclosed.

Mitsubishi eX Concept


We can hear what you think: Woo-hoo! Another all-electic technological showcase from the company that’s delayed its production Outlander plug-in hybrid SUV something like six times to the U.S.

Granted, and the now-updated eX Concept has actually been shown before, but its maker says it “hints to the future,” and that future is much brighter now that Nissan has made Mitsubishi a member of the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

The eX Concept meanwhile dazzles with avante garde technology including artificial intelligence, and an advertised cruising range of “248 miles.”

The vehicle is rated for 94 horsepower (70 kW) to both front and rear wheels for a total output of 188 horsepower (140 kW) of power is otherwise a good portent.

Mini Cooper Countryman S E ALL4


Is a large Mini an oxymoron? Not if you are BMW’s English brand of cute rolling lifestyle statements, and given Americans’ desires for bigger vehicles, the Countryman is its biggest ute to date.

Boasting increased dimensions throughout, and 30-perent more cargo space from the second-generation vehicle, it also has the distinction of being Mini’s first plug-in hybrid.

A 1.5-liter turbo thee-cylinder engine is merged with electric propulsion, a 7.6-kWh battery, and a six-speed auto transmission.

The gasoline engine powers the front wheels, and the electric motor serves the rear wheels. Propulsion energy for the “through the road” all-wheel-drive capability totals to 221 horses and 284 pounds-feet of twisting force – torque.

A top speed of 137 mph sees 0-60 mph along the way at 6.8 seconds.

Yes, but how far can it go in all-electric mode, you may ask? Oh, about 24 miles at up to 77 mph* – with asterisk attached. That estimate is believed to be from Europe where miles (or kilometers) are shorter – or, more accurately, where test procedures are easier going, and thus produce higher range calculations.

Figure maybe 17-20 miles in the U.S.? We shall see.

Jaguar I-Pace All-Electric Crossover SUV

Photo: Jeff N.

Photo: Jeff N.

Now here’s a crossover to be taken a bit more seriously – by you, by us, and even by Tesla.

The all-electric I-Pace is a complete rethinking of what a Jaguar-Land Rover SUV can be, and it boasts a substantial 90-kWh battery for 220 miles range.

Jaguar promises to focus on performance from the all-wheel drive vehicle propelled by dual electric motors – one on each axle – with combined output of 400 horsepower and 516 pound-feet of torque.

As such, 0-60 mph is estimated in four seconds, along with fetching good looks.

Sans problematic “falcon wing” doors, the vehicle with English pedigree is said to closely resemble what consumers will see in the brand’s first all-electric crossover.

Jaguar says a 50 kW DC fast charger can zap the I-Pace Concept to fully charged in two hours.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric

Hyundai benchmarked the Ioniq three-in-one car against the Toyota Prius – which comes in hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, but does not have an all-electric version. Shown is a special autonomous version. Photo: Jeff N.

Hyundai benchmarked the Ioniq three-in-one car against the Toyota Prius – which comes in hybrid and plug-in hybrid models, but does not have an all-electric version. Shown is a special autonomous version. Photo: Jeff N.

Not a new debut, Hyundai has however quietly upped the pre-production EV’s range to 124 miles instead of 110 previously announced, and this one goes on sale late this year.

First consumers to get it will be in Oklahoma – just kidding! Make that California, the Mecca of the electric car universe, where some regions buy from 5 to almost 10 percent plug-in market share – compare that to 0.8 percent nationwide.

Meaningful stats include a 28-kWh lithium-ion-polymer battery pack, 118 horsepower and 217 pounds-feet of torque for a top speed of 102 mph.

Inside – as true of the Ioniq Hybrid also being launched, and Ioniq Plug-in Hybrid due next year – is contemporary styling and amenities.

Included is a seven-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and wireless charging for a cellphone. A whole suite of safety systems, including autonomous emergency braking, blind spot detection, rear cross traffic alert, adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist will all be available.

Hyundai plans to make the Ioniq Electric available in all 50 states, though not all dealers are expected to stock it. Any dealer may take an order – a progressive policy by Hyundai – thus Midwesterners, and all others can get it not long after those in the Sunshine state.

Cadillac CT6 PHEV


Also not a first-time showing, the news this year for the flaghship rear-wheel-drive power plug-in hybrid centers around range, price, and availability.

As a beneficiary of technology developed for the Chevy Volt and other electrified vehicles, the CT6 promises a decent 30-miles EV range, goes on sale early next year, and stickers for $76,090 before a $7,500 federal tax credit and potential state incentives.

Two motors propel the new rear-wheel drive electric variable transmission (EVT), which takes power also from a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine.

Total output us estimated at 335 horsepower and 432 pounds-feet of torque.

Acceleration is an estimated 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds.

Aside from what’s under the hood, the vehicle comes with the latest in GM’s upscale brand design, resplendent with features and technology and comfort.

It also happens to be targeted for the Chinese market, was first unveiled in Shanghai last year, and is one of the first GM cars being exported back to the U.S.

The non-plug-in CT6 is actually built at the same plant that produces the Chevy Volt – Detroit Hamtramck – and GM is otherwise catering first to the Chinese market with this.

Of course, if one wants another alternative, and one made in GM’s actual home country, one may always opt for a Tesla Model S.

Those start $10,000 less, and are pure electric, but the new Caddy hopes its balance of attributes will win some new fans.

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid

Photo: Jeff N.

Photo: Jeff N.

You can call it a useful and large vehicle, you can call it a hybrid, you can call it energy efficient and a first of its type, but just don’t call it a plug-in hybrid.

Actually, despite the name “Pacifica Hybrid,” that is exactly what the 30-mile-range plug-in hybrid pending U.S. sale is.

SEE ALSO: Chrysler Introduces America’s Most Fuel-Efficient Minivan – Just Don’t Call The Pacifica A Plug in Hybrid

Not meant to compromise what conventional siblings in the Pacifica family line offer, the vehicle boasts a powerful hybrid 3.6-liter powertrain. Doing them one better, it merges electric power and a 16-kWh battery in the floor under the middle row seats, for an estimated 80 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) in city driving.

This vehicle also is not being shown for the first time, but deserves mention because it is groundbreaking, due soon, and the price has just been announced.

Its $43,090 starting price is a significant jump above the base conventional Pacifica LX’s $29,590 and thus it’s not the cheapest way to transport families of seven hungry mouths to feed, but its subsidized price is otherwise in line.

The base Pacifica Hybrid Premium, and $46,090 Pacifica Hybrid Platinum specs are roughly comparable to the Pacifica Touring-L and Touring L Plus trim which sell in the mid to upper 30s.

Factoring a $7,500 federal credit, the front-wheel-drive Pacifica Hybrid is thus priced closely on a bottom line basis. What’s more, if buyers qualify for state incentives, they might even drive one home for below the net outlay of conventional nicely equipped stablemates which are already on sale.

And regardless whether the vehicle sells super well, or not, it is important in opening up the plug-in minivan segment.

Plug-in fans have long lamented the lack of larger vehicles, including mainstream priced SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans – and now at last that latter type is represented by the Pacifica Hybrid.

This article appears also at


Nov 17

Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid Starts At $35,590 After Federal Tax Credit



Chrysler has introduced the world’s first plug-in hybrid minivan and its $43,090 starting price including destination nets to $35,590 once a $7,500 federal tax credit is factored.

Two trims – the Premium and $46,090 Platinum – promise part-time all-electric operation of 30 miles from a 16-kWh battery stored under the middle row seats.

Officially the new family haulers’ name is “Pacifica Hybrid” – not plug-in hybrid which is what they really are – because Chrysler did not want to complicate things for the uninitiated among its buyer demographic. The operations of plugging in, and its relation to an all-electric vehicle were believed potentially intimidating to some, and the friendly old term “hybrid” has perceptibly better connotations from a marketing perspective.


As a word to any leery customers Chrysler may be concerned not to fluster, once the 30 more-or-less miles of EV driving run out, the vehicle has a gas engine ready to propel it for up to 530 total miles total range. And, although the vehicle is a “plug-in” type, it can operate as a regular hybrid even without plugging in, though that of course would defeat a big part of the point.

And importantly for those already in the know, the pricing for two relatively well-equipped Pacifica Hybrids means potentially greater attainability for families needing a capacious minivan – a type of vehicle originated by the automaker over 30 years ago.

So while this is Chrysler’s relatively late entry to the plug-in market, it comes bearing gifts that plug-in advocates have repeatedly asked other manufacturers for, but until now their requests have gone unmet.

What’s more, the 30-mile range beats upscale European luxury SUVs that might strain to do more than 14 miles on the U.S. EPA cycle, and even tops established plug-in hybrids closer to the mainstream price level.

The battery occupies the place under the middle rear seat in the floor where conventional Pacificas "Stow-n-Go" space may store their seat. The trade-off is the Hybrids get better padded seats that are not intended to be folded and tucked in the floor.

The battery occupies the place under the middle rear seat in the floor where conventional Pacificas with “Stow ‘N Go” may store their seat. The trade-off is the Hybrids get better padded seats that are not intended to be folded and tucked in the floor.

Specifically, it beats the 21-22 mile Ford Fusion and C-Max Energis, 27-mile Hyundai Sonata PHEV and Kia Optima PHEV, 25-mile Toyota Prius Prime, and pending 25-29 mile estimated Ioniq PHEV.

The 53-mile electric range Chevy Volt remains unchallenged as the highest range full-range and power plug-in gas-electric car, but the Pacifica – built on a revised platform – otherwise does well on this critical point as it opens a new segment.

Two Trims

Based on the conventional non-hybrid Pacifica – which is the name that retired the former Town and Country – the Pacifica Hybrids are equipped at better and best levels akin to the Pacifica Touring L and Touring L Plus.

Baked in are hybrid-exclusive features such as a smartphone app relaying vehicle information like charge status and scheduling, and charging station locations. An “efficiency coach” helps fine tune more efficient driving.


The base Pacifica Hybrid Premium comes standard with perforated leather seats – heated in the first-row – remote start with cabin pre-conditioning, three-zone automatic temperature control, projector headlamps, fog lamps, chrome trim accents and power liftgate.

It also offers as standard the SafetyTec Group, which includes ParkSense rear park assist with stop, Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection.

For an additional $3,000 above the Premium’s MSRP, the $44,995 (plus ($1,095 destination) Pacifica Hybrid Platinum adds Nappa leather seats – ventilated first-row – and heated two-tone steering wheel, 13-speaker Alpine premium sound system, 3-D navigation, handsfree sliding doors and liftgate and 18-inch aluminum wheels.


Also included is the brand’s Uconnect Theater rear seat entertainment system and KeySense programmable key fob.

Both models compare otherwise to the gasoline Pacifica model upon which they are based. In common are offered tri-pane panoramic sunroof, 10-inch seatback touchscreens, ParkSense Parallel/Perpendicular Park Assist, 360-degree Surround View camera, ventilated seats, rotary e-shifter, capless fuel filler, handsfree sliding doors and liftgate.

Priced Within Reach

The absolute base-level non-hybrid Pacifica LX starts at $28,595 plus $995 destination, so the Pacifica Hybrids, while priced relatively in line with competitors, are a premium offering.

Other Pacificas do come closer in price however, including the Pacifica Touring-L, at $34,495, plus $995 destination, and Pacifica Touring-L Plus, at $37,895, plus $995 destination. The premo Pacifica Limited starts at $42,495, plus $995 destination – $400 more than the Pacifica Hybrid and $2,100 less than the Pacifica Hybrid Platinum.


With the $7,500 federal credit – and $1,500 in California or as the case may be with other state incentive programs – the Pacifica Hybrids actually come inline with the upper trim levels closest to their equipment level.

It would thus appear a closer look would be warranted, and meanwhile the advocates out there – you know who you are – may hope this move by Fiat-Chrysler might provoke other automakers to follow with larger plug-in vehicles of their own.


Nov 16

2017 Cadillac CT6 PHEV Arrives This Spring With 30 Mile Electric Range


By Larry E. Hall

Cadillac announced yesterday that its 2017 CT6 Plug-in Hybrid will arrive this spring with an estimated 30 miles of electric only driving range, and a total range of more than 400 miles.

The CT6 Plug-In Hybrid is expected to have fuel economy estimated at 65 MPGe — miles per gallon equivalent.

“The CT6 is a technological showcase throughout, and by far the lightest car in its class, making it an ideal platform for electrification,” said Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen. “In the CT6, Cadillac presents a new formula for prestige luxury. The advanced Plug-In Hybrid system is a key addition, providing a combination of exceptional fuel economy, crisp acceleration and strong electric-driving range.”

The hybrid, with a starting price of $76,090 before incentives, will only be built in China, unlike the flagship gasoline-powered CT6, which is produced at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

The CT6 Plug-In includes a new rear-wheel drive electric variable transmission (EVT), allowing the car to provide smooth, powerful acceleration, Cadillac said.

The CT6 borrows parts from the Chevrolet Volt and adapts them to the CT6’s rear-wheel drive chassis.

SEE ALSO: GM Highlights Tech Details For Its Quick, Efficient Cadillac CT6 PHEV

Like the Volt, the CT6 features two electric motors, each producing 100 horsepower.

The two-motor EVT combines with a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine to produce an estimated combined 335 horsepower and 432 pounds-feet of torque.

The output is good for an estimated 0 to 60 mph in 5.2 seconds, or the same time as V6 competitors, the company said.

Electric top speed is 78 mph, and with the additional engine power, it has a top speed of 150 mph.


The lithium-ion battery pack will have 18.4 kilowatt-hours, just like that of the Chevy Volt, but won’t use the same T-shaped battery-pack layout as the Volt.

Instead, the battery will be integrated into the floor, which according to Cadillac, helps increase vehicle stiffness.

Cadillac says the CT6 Plug-In will be available as a package within the CT6 product line, with pricing and equipment similar to its premium luxury model.

Many optional features come standard on the plug-in model such as rear seat infotainment, enhanced night vision technology and a rear camera mirror.

This article appears also at

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