Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Jul 08

Former Volt engineer to work on Harley-Davidson EV


The former General Motors engineer who oversaw the Chevy Volt and Spark EV will be in charge of Harley-Davidson’s Livewire electric motorcycle project.


Jim Federico, 56, finished up a 36-year career at GM having been among other things, its chief engineer for small cars and electric vehicles, so he knows a thing or two about electric vehicles.

“We’ve been talking to Jim about this position for some time,” Harley-Davidson spokesperson Maripat Blankenheim told Reuters.

For the maker of traditional big V-Twins, he will oversee research and development of the iconoclastic H-D EV from concept to potential production.

Harley Davidson will be going on the road this summer drumming up enthusiasm – where it can – for an electric bike that has a family resemblance, if little else in common for what made the H-D brand what it is today.

Automotive News said also Federico led a team of GM engineers in the fall of 2012 that analyzed a defective ignition switch. This was more than a year before GM recalled 2.6 million cars with the part, and GM said this had nothing to do with his leaving.


Unknown also is if the need arises for a simulated pedestrian warning sound from the e-Hog, whether the music of a booming V-Twin might be called back into action.

If so, this could potentially be welcomed by H-D traditionalists. They could sit at a light, or while cruising in town and repeatedly twist the grip – just like they do now with their fuel-injected bikes as though to clear the carbs.

The sound could be anywhere from OEM muffled to uncorked, intimidating, and even ear splitting.

Music. Perfect for H-D’s pedestrian warning system?

Blatttt! Blatttt! Blattttttttt!

This way pedestrians would remain safe, because as everyone knows, loud pipes save lives.


Sound like a winner?

It’s an idea anyway …


Jul 07

Two Tesla drivers have no cause for celebration July 4th


July 4th was a bad day for two Teslas in California as two Model S accidents resulted in injuries in one incident, with another incident seeing more injuries and three deaths, including of two children.

Following are two separate stories.


Stolen Tesla chased by LA police, splits in half, burns


Model S-crashed_LA

Just in time for the Fourth of July, a man allegedly stole a Tesla Models S from a dealership and led police on an up-to 100-mph chase in downtown LA ending with the car being split in two, and firework-like flames.

Several cars suffered damage, and at least six people were reported injured, including four in a Honda Civic hit by the Tesla, at least one of which was critically injured.

Contrary to reports that the driver is dead, Sgt. Morien of the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department says the driver is still alive; listed in critical condition.

The ordeal took place in the wee-hours of the morning, and began with a phone call to police by Tesla store personnel saying someone was “tampering or messing with” a Model S.


The perpetrator somehow got the car, and police gave chase into the downtown area beginning at around 12:45 a.m., according to Sgt. Campbell with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Pacific Division.

As reported by KTLA 5 news, the pursuit at high speed ended when the Model S hit a pole, was cut in two, and sent bits of its battery pack on the roadway which began to flame and pop with small explosions “just like fireworks,” said one witness.

The front half of the Model S also landed on a white Civic, and the back half went several yards and was wedged against a building in the West Hollywood area.

Model S_back_half

“There were fires after that that broke out,” said a witness. “I saw the firefighters — like 25 firefighters – standing around the white car with the Jaws of Life.”

Injuries include the unidentified driver of the Tesla who was ejected through the windshield, and who was later declared dead according to reports – which were later denied by the Sheriff’s department investigating the incident.

There were five people inside the Civic the Tesla slammed into, four of which had various injuries.


Two Los Angeles Police Department officers also said they were injured after they crashed out of the chase, but later were released from the hospital with no injuries. Others remain in the hospital, and the whole incident is under investigation by the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Department. KTLA 5

Tesla slams into the rear of Toyota


smashed Tesla

Was this man in the Tesla doing a speed show? Was he texting or looking at the 17-inch touchscreen in the Model S?

We don’t know, police said he was not intoxicated, but Ric Garrson, 58, was named as the driver of a 2013 Model S that slammed the rear of a 2004 Corolla on the freeway with five occupants.


Killed were the driver of the Toyota, a 40-year-old man, and a 13-year-old boy and 8-year-old boy’s lives were also ended prematurely. Reports say they were family members and residents of Los Angeles.

The Tesla driver got out with minor injuries. The incident occurred around 10:35 p.m. on the 4th on southbound highway 14 in the Antelope Valley.


Another passenger in the Toyota, age 6, was sent to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with minor injuries.

Also, Tyree Lavon Nash, a 31-year-old male passenger in the Toyota suffered major injuries and was transported to Antelope Valley Hospital.

All passengers in the Toyota were wearing seatbelts.

The Tesla did not catch fire. The Toyota did.


NBC Los Angeles


Jul 04

Seven cars contributing the most to energy independence … on Independence Day


This is in descending order from No. 7 to No. 1.

Hope everyone has a great weekend! Enjoy the barbecue and fireworks or what ever else you do.

A Chevy Volt paused in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence was signed July 4, 1776.

Happy Independence Day America!

Now, how would you like freedom from petroleum dependence, less concern about geopolitical instability, while enjoying positive environmental and economic effects that could follow?

For four decades since a wake-up call known as the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973, we’ve been chasing an elusive goal called “energy independence.”

Some who point to now-accessible petroleum and natural gas via fracking and horizontal drilling have already declared energy independence, saying America is on its way to becoming self sufficient.

Be this as it may, that energy is not without environmental consequences, and we still spend close to $1 billion per day importing 40 percent our oil – around the 35 percent we did in 1973 when OPEC punished the U.S. for its support of the Yom Kippur War.

Today, nearly 70 percent of petroleum in the U.S. is used for transportation, and of this 65 percent is for our personal vehicles.

Without wading into a morass of political, economic, and technological discussion, we’ll declare a simple truism: Using less oil means we’d need less.

This sentiment has been widely shared, including by Nobel physicist and former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.

“The most direct way to reduce our dependency on foreign oil is to simply use less of it, starting with the cars and trucks we drive,” he said. “Energy independence means changing how we power our cars and trucks from foreign oil to new American-made fuels and batteries.”

SEE ALSO: Is Electricity a Clean Energy Source?


To highlight some of the best antidotes for an America “addicted to oil” as former President G.W Bush once ironically said, we’ve compiled a top-7 list of cars.

These are ranked as those which most contribute or stand to contribute – without detracting from quality of life or personal mobility.

Most are either produced by U.S. automakers, or produced in the U.S., adding to their independence quotient, if you will.

As of 2014, the average new car gets around 23 mpg combined, and federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy targets ramping up through 2025 set a bar of close to 45 mpg for the average car and 32 mpg for the average truck.

The cars on our list would all pass that 2025 level today, and if everyone who could in America were to switch to these, do you think we’d be as worried about what is happening in the Middle East? And, how could they contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions?

Granted sales for most of them are still a drop in the bucket against the overall market, so consider this as forward looking, with vehicles considered for their outsized potential influence today and in years to come.

No. 7. Toyota Prius Liftback


The Prius Liftback, as it’s now called has given rise to a “family” of three variant Prius models, and the Prius began as a minor revolution in America in 2000 alongside the Honda Insight hybrid.

Today the market of alternative energy cars and trucks tracked by the sales Dashboard consists of dozens of vehicles, but the 50-mpg Prius is by far the top seller by no less than a ratio of 3:1 over any other next-best-selling green car.

Compared to the most squeaky-clean plug-in hybrids operating in electric mode and pure electric vehicles, the Prius is a gas guzzler needing $1,100 worth of fuel per 15,000 miles.

However, its fuel economy is still better than twice the $2,400 in fuel needed by an average car sold today, and one-third what an SUV or pickup needs.

Toyota’s mid-sized hybrid hatch furthermore has shown what successful branding can do to make an environmentally sensible car acceptable to a mainstream audience.

Because of the Prius, by 2013 Toyota had sold five million hybrid variants across its global lines which all use the “Hybrid Synergy Drive” architecture pioneered in the Prius.

Now in its third generation, with a fourth pending for 2015, the Prius is a grandfather of a new market segment, has directly and indirectly saved a lot of oil, and this is something anyone wanting to one day see “energy independence” can appreciate.

No. 6. BMW i3



Of all cars on this list, BMW’s just-released-in-the-U.S. i3 is the most debatable, but it’s here because, 1) the pure EV version is the most energy efficient car sold in the U.S., and 2) it represents a bold commitment by BMW as the first of a new sub brand.

Mindful of conditions in Europe, other emerging markets, and North America, BMW is committing itself to a sustainable upscale city car with optional gas-burning range extender adding to its potential flexibility and usefulness.

So far it’s only been on the U.S. market for a couple months and is not taking the country by storm with 300-some units per month.

We acknowledge BMW however for offering it in all 50 states when domestic automakers have more affordable EVs like the Chevy Spark EV and Ford Focus Electric that could sell in higher volume, but have not yet offered them outside limited markets.

As we’ve seen by EV makers Tesla and Nissan, buyers reward those who are all in, so while BMW is still only just getting started, it gets honorable mention here.

No. 5. Ford C-Max Energi


The C-Max Energi is a plug-in hybrid rated at 88 miles per gallon equivalent, or 38 mpg combined.

That “38 mpg” itself would place it in the No. 2 best spot on the list of non-hybrid fuel sippers, and it’s a five-passenger family car that’s as quick to 60 mph or the quarter mile (low 15s) as some 5.0 Mustangs from the early 90s.

Annual fuel costs are around the same as a Prius by the way the government figures things, but drivers who stay in the 19-miles of all-electric power – or double this by charging at their destination – can do far better.

Priced in the mid-30s, the C-Max Energi is a part-time EV with no range anxiety, thus it could serve the needs of anyone who does not need a truck or larger vehicle.

If used as intended, this vehicle could save lots of fuel with no real downside perceived.

No. 4. Ford Fusion Energi


Everything just said about the C-Max Energi’s efficiency is true of the Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, and it is a stylish car that is essentially indistinguishable from other Fusions on the road.

The five-passenger mid-sized sedan and the C-Max Energi were demoted in their EPA rating recently, but that did not stop Ford from crushing its previous best sales of 1,342 units in May by 45 percent, or 1,939 in June.

Priced from the mid-30s, it’s not cheap, but it’s not in an elite category by any stretch either.

Given that it, like the C-Max Energi, resorts to regular parallel hybrid mode much like a Prius or Camry Hybrid when the battery is exhausted, it hits a lot of high spots, including no range anxiety and efficiency everywhere.

No 3. Tesla Model S


The all-electric sedan available in 60-kwh and 85-kwh versions, and starting at around $70,000 is double the average new car price, but still selling in significant numbers and making waves.

We listed the Model S, 1) because it burns no petroleum, but also, 2) because it represents a whole disruptive move within the transportation sector.

Its range is from 208 to 265 miles according to the EPA and this is easily double or more than most other EVs sold.

As mentioned, the boldness of the gambit of this car sold by a company that only sells EVs, and wants to sell them anywhere it can globally, is creating momentum and people are paying attention to its audaciousness.

Yes, the jury is still out, but since around this time in 2012, Tesla has nabbed every award conceivable – an amazing feat for a start-up – and it’s outselling many established luxury cars, challenging their makers to think – and possibly innovate – differently.

Tesla Motors’s next car will be a similarly powered Model X SUV, and after that a car close to half the Model S’ entry point that would not likely ever be in the works if not for the Model S.

No. 2. Nissan Leaf


Manufactured now in Tennessee – and closer to local point of consumption for Europe and Japan at two other plants – Nissan’s Leaf is the global best seller among EVs, and presently the top-selling plug-in car in the U.S.

Priced from the high 20s, it is rated at 84 miles range, but cost per mile on gas-free driving is around 3.6 cents at the nationally average electricity rate of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The vehicle is being marketed as aggressively as possible by a company – and CEO Carlos Ghosn with pride and reputation on the line.

It has been on the U.S. market since December 2010 and is the first of the new wave of EVs and still a benchmark.

No. 1. Chevrolet Volt



Launched also in December 2010, the Volt has had a turbulent ride in the public’s eye even if it has topped Consumer Reports’ owner satisfaction ratings in 2011 and 2012, and still enjoys high marks from raving fans.

The “extended-range electric” car offers the highest all-electric range of 38 miles of any plug-in gas-electric car, and its 37 mpg – albeit on premium gas – would rank it tied for second on the list of most fuel efficient non-hybrids sold in America.

The Volt is a solution that was engineered to meet the needs of 74 percent of average consumer’s daily driving of under 40 miles per day in electric power only.

Its battery pack has proven durable due to liquid cooling and active thermal management in all weather, and GM conservatively set the car up to last while topping safety ratings as well.

It was released the same month as the Leaf and while sales are flattening out as a new generation is being promised next year, it is yet the highest selling plug-in car in the U.S. since launch.

After the original Volt Team of ace engineers built this “moonshot” that has won a laundry list of awards, General Motors keeps it going, unfortunately marketing it mostly in California.

Volt fans still lament on the GM-Volt forum that many people they talk to still do not know what a remarkable car it is. It starts at $35,000 and can qualify for up $7,500 in federal tax credits and state credits where applicable.

The Volt is built in Detroit, has inspired imitators, while still being in several respects a top act to follow as it nears the end of its product life cycle.

On Independence Day, underappreciated as it has been, it is our pick for the car contributing most to energy security, having sent the most ripples into a growing pond.


Jul 03

GM looking greener as white Volt saves the day


Thanks to the forum, I got the second story – and hope this person is OK!

The top story is by way of GM.


Chevrolet is No. 32 Among Top Global Green Brands

Chevrolet is greener than in the past and this year the automaker found its way onto Interbrand’s 2014 Best Global Green Brands report for the first time, ranking No. 32.

The report gauges the gap between public perception of a brand’s environmental performance – its “green image” – and its actual environmental practices, using publicly available data and information.


“What was most compelling about Chevrolet’s data was the very small gap between public perception and environmental performance,” said Jez Frampton, Interbrand’s global CEO. “The company is not only actively demonstrating its environmental commitment; it’s communicating those efforts in an authentic way that resonates with customers.”

The maker of the extended-range Volt and Spark EV that’s sold only in California and Oregon however named its Cruze first in a press release in touting its improved footprint.

It did name the electrified vehicles also, but the Cruze is a reasonably efficient car that sells in far greater volume.

But GM is not the only automaker to make the cut. Actually Ford was number one, Toyota number two, Honda number three, and Nissan number four.

Interbrand’s list of most green companies saw a host of other big corporate names.

For its part, GM’s press release documented its 32nd position, noting Chevrolet’s “most aggressive product transformation in its history resulted in record global sales in 2013, with nearly 5 million units.”

“Beyond reducing the environmental impact of its manufacturing facilities through increased renewable energy or landfill-free initiatives, the brand is impacting communities across the U.S. with its voluntary carbon-reduction initiative,” said GM’s statement. “Chevrolet has supported many projects such as enabling colleges to reinvest in clean-energy technologies to helping truckers avoid idling their engines at rest stops.”

Chevy Volt Driver Survives 100-Foot Ravine Drop


On Sunday a driver of a white Chevy Volt in Santa Clarita Valley, Calif. survived a 100-foot plunge down a ravine.

At the bottom of the ravine below a precipice near the intersection of Davenport Road and Summit Knoll Road, firefighters found an unidentified motorist OK, and the car – we have no photo – likely damaged, but intact.

The firefighters had been dispatched at 2:30 p.m., the patient was extricated by paramedics some time not long after this, and no serious injuries were reported.

“The car was still on its wheels,” a California Highway Patrol officer said at 5 p.m. “The motorist was not transported to the hospital.”

How the incident happened and whether drugs, alcohol or excess speed were involved was not reported.

No word either on the actual condition of the Volt, but it did apparently hold up relatively well.


Jul 02

GM company sales up; Volt sales sideways


Amidst talks of recalls and settlements, General Motors posted its best June earnings since 2007, and of these, sold 1,777 Chevy Volts.



That put the Volt down 34.1 percent compared to June 2013, and contrasts with Nissan’s Leaf being up 5.5 percent for the same period.

There were two fewer selling days in June 2014 compared with June 2013. On a selling-day adjusted basis, GM’s total sales were up 9 percent. Retail deliveries were up 9 percent and fleet sales were up 10 percent.

GM’s seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) for light vehicles was an estimated 16.6 million units in June, topping 16 million units for the fourth consecutive month. The estimated SAAR for the first half of the year was 16.1 million, which is within GM’s full-year forecast of 16.0 million to 16.5 million units.

“June was the third very strong month in a row for GM, with every brand up on a selling-day adjusted basis,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations. “In fact, the first half of the year was our best retail sales performance since 2008, driven by an outstanding second quarter.”

Despite that, the Volt did what it did also as Chevrolet was offering a $269 lease deal with $2,679.00 due at signing, and other deals like cash back or 0 APR.

The Volt has been holding steady at this lower rate, and the May Dashboard indicates 1,684 units sold that month.

Other June sales of note are ELR: 97; BMW i3: 358; Model S: estimated 1,500; Prius with a plug: 1,571; Fusion Energi: a whopping 1,939; C-Max Energi: 988; Spark EV: 85.

Calendar year to date, GM has sold 8,615 Volts. Nissan by contrast has sold 12,736 Leafs, and the Prius plug-in is at 9,300, Model S is at 8,300 estimated.

GM June Sales Highlights (vs. 2013 except as noted):

• Buick had its best June since 2006. Deliveries were up 18 percent, driven by an 82 percent increase in Encore deliveries, a 33 percent increase for LaCrosse, a 26 percent increase for Regal and a 5 percent increase for Enclave.

• GMC also had its best June since 2006. Deliveries were up 11 percent driven by strong demand for the redesigned Yukon, up 120 percent, as well as the Yukon XL, up 70 percent; the Terrain, up 8 percent; and the Savana, up 129 percent.

• Deliveries of the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic were up 19 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

• Deliveries of the Chevrolet Tahoe were up 93 percent and Suburban sales were up 73 percent. Traverse was up 3 percent and Silverado was up 1 percent.

• Cadillac sales were up, with Escalade up 57 percent and SRX up 19 percent. It was Cadillac’s best June since 2008, and 57 percent of customers did not trade in a Cadillac.

• GM’s average transaction prices (ATPs) were in line with April and May, with higher pickup, SUV and Cadillac ATPs offsetting declines among cars and crossovers, according to mid-month J.D. Power PIN estimates.

• For the second quarter, ATPs were up about $800 per unit versus the first quarter. Calendar year to date, ATPs are up about $2,700 compared with a year ago.

• Incentive spending as a percentage of ATP was 10.9 percent, up 0.2 points from a year ago, according to J.D. Power PIN estimates. The industry average for June was 9.7 percent, also up 0.2 points from a year ago.


Jul 01

Range-extended Mazda2 may see production


Someone once said if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.

With that loosely in mind (this time), and given this site is first about about EREVs, we’ll politely skip GM news unless you want to talk about the latest recall news of 8.4 more million vehicles, or its big compensation plan announced yesterday.

Other than that, it’s just another day for GM and its new CEO, Mary Barra.



As for EREVs, GM has no news here either, but rather that powerhouse of hybrid technology Mazda does. OK, skip the descriptor. Mazda does.

And, sticking close to its (actual) roots (borrowed from Germany), the company is talking about producing a plug-in hybrid based around a 330 cc (0.33-liter) single rotor Wankel rotary rear mounted in its Mazda2.

Mazda has long been fond of the rotary and talk of using it as a range extender has been seen on this site before such as here and here.

Revealed last year as an add-on to its Mazda2 EV prototype EV, Mazda said testing shows the rotary is at least 5dBa quieter at the same rpm than an equivalent gasoline or diesel piston engine.

Equipped with a 2.3-gallon (9-liter) tank capable of being fueled with gas, butane, or propane, Mazda said the 28-kilowatt rotary engine/generator almost doubled the driving range to 236 miles (380km) over the 2,821-pound (1,280kg) Mazda2 EV’s 440 pound (200kg), 20kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which powers a 75-kw/150Nm electric motor.

The report comes to us via Australia where they say the market is too small to justify such a creation from its sort-of ambivalent-sounding maker.

“The only markets in which you can justify bringing something like that out, to get at least a reasonable amount of volume to justify setting it up as a saleable model, are ones where there’s government support for those types of models,” Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders told

In Japan, the Mazda2 is called the Demio, and is likely to be made available with – among other conventional engines – a rotary engine-assisted plug-in hybrid powertrain.

“In Japan hybrids sort of took over as the brand of choice, but only for people who want the easy route to being green – [people who say] ‘I’ll buy a hybrid so that makes me green’ – not people who actually think about whether it’s viable technology or not.”

If it’s about CO2 reduction, Benders said Mazda’s new more-affordable conventional engine tech is where it’s at.

“As the best possible fuel economy at an affordable price hybrid doesn’t make sense, because the fuel economy gain isn’t that great unless half of all sales are hybrid, which won’t happen without big tax breaks like in the Netherlands,” he said.

And then you have the U.S., driven by California.

Could it come here with the requisite subsidies and potential volume in place Benders said would be needed?

Looks like maybe assuming it does OK in Japan. We’ll see.

P.S., And, in unrelated but not irrelevant news, Toyota is delaying production launch of its fourth-gen Prius to December 2015 and the PHEV to October 2016.

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