Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Jan 27

What Makes More Sense – All-Electric Vehicles or Plug-in Hybrids?

 

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It’s been half a decade since the first major manufacturer plug-in electrified vehicles (PEVs) came to the U.S. market, but what would make more sense – a pure EV or plug-in hybrid?

To ask this question is sort of like shooting at a moving target as the state of technology and products on the market is evolving.

That said, for those of you just starting to mull your options, we’ll cover some of the highlights to kick start your thought processes and hopefully help you toward a more informed decision.

A Solution

First off, why do plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles exist?

Answer: They are a first viable step toward weaning away from petroleum.

2015_Soul_EV_above

To do that, PEVs build on existing automotive technology with the core difference being what makes them go. Their powertrains make use of far-more efficient electric motors to reduce or eliminate petroleum use, as well as curb or eliminate tailpipe emissions.

Electricity is domestically produced, and the grid is getting cleaner year by year.

Two Approaches

In broadest terms a plug-in hybrid is defined as a hybrid electric vehicle with a larger battery and connection to the grid (or renewably sourced electricity). It stores more electric energy so as to be able to run on pure electricity for longer runs. Of course there are different (and better or worse) technological approaches, but the general idea is part time electric range, with gas backup.

SEE ALSO: Why An Electric Car Is Greener Cradle to Grave

A battery electric or “all-electric vehicle” uses a battery and traction motor(s) and no internal combustion. It also has connection to the grid (or renewably sourced electricity).

Choices

There are 26 plug-in electrified cars for sale in the U.S. out of more than 50 globally, but most of these are cars. There are no plug-in trucks (yet) available for retail consumer sale, there are only a couple high-end SUVs and only one minivan due late this year.

Of these vehicles, 15 are plug-in hybrids, 12 are battery electrics, and there have been some that have already come and gone from the market – like the Honda Accord plug-in hybrid, Honda Fit EV, Toyota RAV4 EV.

Approaching Mainstream

Of the plug-in cars, all carry a price premium over comparable conventional cars with the idea that they pay back in other ways – such as reduced operation costs, maintenance, or enhanced environmental benefits.

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The ones that offer a better case for superior economic sense are the ones priced below a $40,000 threshold. As is true of any luxury purchase, there are benefits to high-end plug-in cars like the all-electric Tesla Model S, Mercedes S550 PHEV, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid but we’ll arbitrarily remember here a prime raison d’etre for PEVs.

The vehicles hoped to move the dial away from sole reliance on internal combustion are those intended to have broadest mass appeal. Granted the Model S was the best-selling PEV last year, and quite the exception, but even Tesla wants to build a Model 3 priced from $35,000 as well, and that has been its aim all along.

Core PHEV Benefits

The single biggest reason to go plug-in hybrid versus a regular hybrid is to be able to use it like a part-time all-electric vehicle. As one example, a Ford Fusion Energi is EPA-rated 4 mpg less when run in hybrid mode than a Fusion Hybrid – but if one drives it within its 19-miles EV range daily, gas consumption – and gas price – are not so relevant.

Another benefit of course is no range anxiety.

EV Benefits

All-electric cars have a simpler powertrain instead of two merged together, and offer several benefits.

They cost much less to operate than gas cars, emit nothing at the tailpipe – though upstream emissions as applicable for grid energy should be factored, though it is typically less than what comes from a high-mpg hybrid.

The EPA has a calculator to help determine upstream emissions in your zip code.

LEAF_2015

A bunch of other subjective benefits that more or less may apply to PHEVs also can be weighed. These include that EVs are quiet and convenient to “fuel” from home, and high-tech, novel, and fairly fun to drive.

EVs run off and leave PHEVs however with regard to scheduled maintenance and gone are such things as air filter and oil/filter changes, spark plug changes, exhaust system concerns including emission testing, multi-speed transmission and potential long-term concerns.

This said, any implication that EVs are nearly trouble free just because they lack internal combustion can be over-billed by the zealous. They still have body, chassis, paint, interior components, suspension, tires, HVAC, power equipment, other servo motors, onboard computers, and a host of things that “can go wrong” like any automobile. Those items must be well designed and constructed or gas engine or no, EVs may still wind up in the shop – though so far the record for most has been good.

SEE ALSO: Consumer Reports Downgrades Tesla Model S To ‘Below Average’ Reliability

As for PHEVs, those that run on electricity more also save their engine and thus maintenance intervals may be spaced farther.

All plug-in cars also tend to be easier on brake pads as their regenerative brakes spare them from use as hard as would be seen on conventional vehicles.

Contenders

Among close-to-mainstream priced vehicles in the plug-in hybrid segment, there are several.

SEE ALSO: Idaho National Lab Shows Chevy Volts Go Nearly As Far on Electricity As Pure EVs

These are the “extended-range electric” Chevy Volt with 53-mile EV range, and the 19-mile Fusion Energi and its C-Max Energi sibling sharing the same powertrain. Also, there’s the 27-mile-range Hyundai Sonata PHEV and later this year Kia will have an Optima PHEV with the same powertrain.

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For good measure, we might include the BMW i3 REx which is more a range-extended EV than pure PHEV, and Audi A3 PHEV.

Among pure battery electric cars, there’s the 240-270-mile range Tesla S and now X crossover, 81-mile BMW i3 BEV, 84-107-mile Nissan Leaf, 83-mile VW e-Golf, up-to-over 100-mile Mercedes B-Class Electric, Kia Soul EV, Chevy Spark EV, and Fiat 500e.

Some of these are not 50-state available.

Pros/Cons

There is no silver bullet in terms of function and performance. In an ideal world, people have expressed the desire for an EV with range of a typical gas car that fills up in 3 minutes and priced about the same also. People who insist on this will find no cars that meet their criteria.

The closest thing to that yet known will be the 2017 Chevy Bolt due to cost just below $30,000 with federal tax credit factored in, and with range of 200-plus miles. That’s less range than a Toyota Corolla, VW Golf, Chevy Cruze, or nearly any other gas car, but it’s double the range of other EVs in that price segment. And, what EVs offer in other benefits offsets range objections for those who buy them.

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In favor of all pure EVs today is they are eligible for a larger $7,500 federal tax credit, and most PHEVs get less than $5,000 with the exception of the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica PHEV minivan which with 16-kilowatt-hour battery will be eligible for $7,500 as well.

The main benefit of PHEVs is the aforementioned zero range anxiety compared to any internal combustion car. They fill up at a gas pump if desired, and the idea is just this – to give the best of both worlds – EV and gas – within limits. One drawback – and worth checking into further for snowbelters – is the degree to which the cabin heat may induce the gas engine to come on just to provide said heat. This can vary from model to model.

With EVs charging from home is usually considered a convenience when possible – but if home situations don’t permit, this can be a deal breaker for them next to PHEVs or simply regular hybrids.

Also, it does take more resourcefulness to compensate for less public infrastructure as well as charges that can take hours instead of minutes.

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On the flip side, the main drawback to pure EVs in today’s sub-$40,000 or so level is potential for range anxiety, though this can be overblown and early adopters have been known to vociferously say what they have is enough. Indeed, daily driving is under 40 miles for 75 percent of people, so an EV with double that or more can easily work day in and day out.

Cost of Ownership

A comprehensive cost of ownership analysis for all models is beyond this article’s scope, but before anyone gets sticker shock at loftier prices, this question may prove surprising results.

For example, in southern California, Edmunds True Cost to Own calculator says a 2014 (latest year available) Chevy Volt bought for $35,063 has a five-year total ownership cost of $36,417 – a paltry $1,354 over what it cost over five years! Compare that to a Chevy Cruze Eco bought for $22,456 and with TCO of $38,090. Considering Volt owners may drive 80-percent or more in pure EV mode, they may beat this, especially with renewable or free charging available, as the case may be.

A 2016 Volt likely will do better.

A 2016 Volt likely will do better.

Another EV example is the Nissan Leaf driven 15,000 miles annually. A base S model bought in Ohio for $28,832 has a TCO that seriously pays back of $25,788 after five years. This too can be beaten under certain circumstances by resourceful owners and it is about the same as a Versa Note bought for $18,061 with TCO of $25,798.

Leasing deals may also be available that are more attractive, and leases eliminate some of the liability with owning a vehicle that may be surpassed by more-evolved products sooner than would be a conventional car.

Looking Ahead

In the next year and beyond more plug-in hybrids are due, as are more battery electric cars. More range is in the offing so as mentioned, this question is a moving target.

Obviously more variables would be in play, everyone’s unique circumstances ultimately dictate what car is most ideal, but with caveat emptor in place, the main takeaway here is first-gen cars of either type can make sense.

This article appears also on HybridCars.com.

 

Jan 26

GM Launches ‘Maven’ Car-Sharing Service

 

By Jason Siu

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General Motors has launched its own car-sharing service called Maven.

“Maven’s mission is to give customers access to highly personalized, on-demand mobility services,” according to the American automaker. The new company’s team will have more than 40 dedicated employees from the connected car technology industry as well as ride- and car-sharing professionals from notable companies such as Google, Zipcar and Sidecar.

Services offered by Maven will be expanded starting this week in multiple cities and communities across the U.S. Its services are customized to regional customer needs and will include city, residential, peer-to-peer and campus programs.

Starting today, Maven is offering its car-sharing program to more than 100,000 people in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with an initial focus on serving faculty and students at the University of Michigan. The company’s vehicles will be available at 21 parking spots across the city to start.

Customers can use the Maven app to search for and reserve a vehicle by location or car type and can unlock the vehicle with their smartphone. The app will also enable remote functions such as starting, heating or cooling and more. The service’s pricing is simple and transparent and includes insurance and fuel.

In the first quarter of 2016, Maven will expand to Chicago residents in partnership with Magellan Development Group. It will also expand its existing residential program in New York City, previously known as Let’s Drive NYC, with Stonehenge Partners. Existing global initiatives for peer-to-peer char sharing include the CarUnity market place in Germany, with nearly 10,000 users signed up in Frankfurt and Berlin since mid-2015. Various programs are also running on GM campuses in the U.S., Germany and China that will continue to test future Maven commercial campaigns.

“GM is at the forefront of redefining the future of personal mobility,” said GM President Dan Ammann. “With the launch of our car-sharing service through Maven, the strategic alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft, and building on our decades of leadership in vehicle connectivity through OnStar, we are uniquely positioned to provide the high level of personalized mobility services our customers expect today and in the future.”

This article originally appeared at AutoGuide.com

 

Jan 25

Hyundai Ioniq Hybrid Gets Better Fuel Economy Than A 2015 Toyota Prius – In Korea

 

While EV range is not announced, this three-in-one car will also be presented as an alternative to the Bolt.

It may even be competitive too, as it appears they’ve benchmarked the vaunted Prius and may do alright against the world’s best-selling green car. How it will fare in PHEV and EV form is to be determined. On sale by end of this year.

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While news is pending for the U.S. market, Hyundai says its Korean-market Ioniq surpasses fuel economy for a 2015 Prius, while the jury is out in comparison to the new 2016 Prius.

The ioniq – its name a combination of ion and unique – is to come in three varieties: a plug-in hybrid, an all-electric version, and a hybrid-electric version.

It’s the regular hybrid that Hyundai says gets 22.4km/liter combined when equipped with 15-inch wheels and this edges out a Korean-market 2015 Toyota Prius Liftback’s 21.7km/liter.

The Ioniq’ figure works out to 52.7 mpg combined, the 2015 Toyota Prius’ fuel economy works out to 49.4 mpg. Astute readers may notice this Prius figure is remarkably near the Prius’ 50 mpg in the U.S., indicating how close Korean fuel economy test results are to U.S.

Unknown at this point, said Hyundai of Korea in response to questions submitted by HybridCars.com today, is whether the Korean-market Ioniq will do better than the Korean-market 2016 Prius which is still undergoing homologation testing there.

Ioniq_interior

We emphasize Korean market because Hyundai’s U.S. arm adamantly stated these figures are for Korea, and U.S. EPA fuel economy info and other relevant data has yet to be disclosed, said spokesperson Derek Joyce.

Because Hyundai posted info on its Korean website today however, that much was fair game and why we got cooperation on mpg questions which are to be answered for U.S. market cars at a later date.

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That said, other Ioniq-with-15-inch-wheel numbers of interest in Korea are 22.5km/l city, 22.2km/l highway; 22.4km/l combined (as mentioned).

An Ioniq with larger 17-inch wheels is rated a bit less than the third-generation Prius at 20.4km/l city, 19.9km/l highway, 20.2km/l combined, says Hyundai of Korea.

The 2016 Prius is not for sale yet in Korea and the answer from Hyundai to the question “does Ioniq equal or beat 2016 Toyota Prius in mpg in Korea?” is unknown to Hyundai also.

“We don’t know yet,” said a Hyundai representative.

2016 Prius.

2016 Prius.

A Jan. 4 Automotive News report however said the Ioniq will have better highway fuel economy than a Prius, according to Yang Woong-chul, Hyundai’s global R&D chief.

This report highlighted Hyundai’s hybrid system architecture with one-motor, one-clutch system paired to a 1.6-liter GDi engine with 40-percent thermal efficiency – a number Toyota boasts of its 2016 Prius as well.

“Our hybrid is a better fit for American driving situations,” Yang told Automotive News near Hyundai’s R&D center. “When it is announced, the whole world will be surprised.”

The 2016 Prius is EPA-rated 54 mpg city, 50 highway, 52 combined, and a new lighter Eco version available in mid-grade Prius level two trim boasts 58 city, 53 highway, 56 combined.

Hyundai was not willing to discuss further, but as mentioned, Korean fuel economy tests are very close in results to U.S. tests, and may even err ever-so slightly more conservatively.

2016 Toyota Prius First Drive Review – Video

So, discussing what fuel economy figures cars get there is more relevant than, say, mentioning how they fare in wildly optimistic tests in Japan, or even Europe, for example.

Facts known to date are the U.S. market non-Eco Prius in the majority of trim levels gets 52 mpg under EPA rules, and the Korean market Ioniq with 15-in wheels gets 52.7 (22.4km/l).

The comparison appears close, but Hyundai says it is not otherwise commenting on U.S. numbers.

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Tip of the hat to Jeff N.

HybridCars.com

 

Jan 22

President Obama Says He Saved US Car Industry; Checks Out Chevy Bolt in Detroit

 

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Yesterday after taking credit for bailing out the U.S. auto industry, President Barack Obama spent time observing high points of the Detroit Auto Show including the new Chevy Bolt.

“Fantastic. That’s a nice-looking car,” Obama said as he approached the 200-mile-range EV.

Obama’s photo op was not unlike one taken with the 2011 Chevy Volt when that car was just being introduced, and he also checked the Ford Escape Hybrid, and a display by Chrysler and others.

The show tour was the fun part, but perhaps as satisfying the president took credit for a rescue package he endorsed in his first year in office which he says resuscitated the U.S. car industry.

“The beating heart of American manufacturing was flatlining,”the president told an assembly of United Auto Workers. “We had a choice to make, I placed my bet on you.”

Financial assistance went to Chrysler and General Motors, and it’s been widely said Ford inadvertently benefitted too as suppliers that serve the industry were indirectly benefitted, and thus so was Ford though it received no bailout package.

The White House has since said the car industry rebounded from 2009’s 27-year low water mark to a record high in 2015.

Obama has been a staunch supporter of alternative energy, and vehicles since that time have formed the first start of electrified vehicles intended to wean off of gasoline.

Consumer tax credits and incentives to manufacturers have – as was true of the bailout – attracted praise and ire from various points of view.

For his part, the president said he did the right thing and pointed to the record high as proof.

The Bolt builds on technology spurred during his presidency, and in response to EPA rules but Obama also spied a new Corvette and expressed enthusiasm for it as well.

“That one is juiced up a little more. That looks all right,” said the president.

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In his speech also, Obama talked about having to give up his massive armored limo called “the Beast” and he joked about having to browse for a new car at the show.

Actually, Obama is on record for saying in 2012 he would buy a Volt when he leaves office.

If he decides to keep his promise, the second-generation is now available.

VOA

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 

Jan 21

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

 

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The company that invented the minivan over 30 years ago knows its customers, so when it overhauled its outgoing Town & Country and renamed it, Chrysler called its fuel-sipping plug-in variant simply the 2017 Pacifica Hybrid.

The “Hybrid” name that’s meant not to confuse mainstream buyers may on the other hand be slightly confusing to those who follow electrified vehicles because the 30-mile electric range, 80 mile-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) “Hybrid” is indeed a plug-in hybrid.

Whatever they call it, it breaks important ground in the large family hauler segment that until now got 20-some mpg, and though Fiat-Chrysler (FCA) ceded what on another day might be bragging rights, it has beaten all competitors to a very important market.

What it Is

The Pacifica is a reimagining and repositioning of Chrysler’s brand image for the venerable genre of vehicle that’s become a staple for those with lots of people and things to carry.

Its name was borrowed from a groundbreaking crossover from recent Chrysler history, said spokesperson Rick Deneau, and the much-anticipated Pacifica Hybrid minivan is to be released fourth quarter this year.

A 248-horsepower total system with V6 was chosen and not a four-cylinder as this vehicle has long-since required that much power, says Chrysler.

A 248-horsepower total system with V6 was chosen and not a four-cylinder as this vehicle has long-since required that much power, says Chrysler.

For those of you new to this, the Hybrid’s advertised “80 MPGe” in the city is a virtual number to approximate efficiency of electrified powertrains. Its efficiency is about the same on electric usage as a vehicle would be if it got a true 80 mpg on gas.

This “MPGe” figure is in effect while the 16-kilowatt-hour battery stowed under the second row seats is charged. Afterwards the Hybrid seamlessly resorts to regular hybrid operation and has 530 miles estimated total range.

What this also means is the Pacifica Hybrid can run gas-free for 30 miles as would a pure electric vehicle to seriously augment its average gas usage. Its 30-miles range stands to make it America’s second-highest range plug-in hybrid next to the Chevy Volt – or third highest if you count the upscale Volt-based Cadillac ELR.

Hyundai is just releasing a 27-mile midsized 2016 Sonata Plug-in Hybrid sedan which out-does the 19-mile e-range Ford Fusion Energi. These vehicles have batteries sized 9.8 kwh and 7.6 kwh respectively, and the bigger 16-kwh battery in the Chrysler matches that of the 2011-2012 Chevy Volt. It also qualifies for the full $7,500 federal tax credit which is based on battery size – something the Ford and Hyundai cannot claim.

EPA fuel efficiency numbers are not in yet, but Deneau said the numbers Chrysler has provided are expected to be attained, and another number is highway mpg in hybrid mode estimated at a range-topping 28.

Charge time for the battery is a couple hours using 240-volt current, though really, the vehicle can work regardless if one charges it or not. That said, obviously the goal is to recharge and rely on the battery as often as possible. If this is done, its 30 miles all electric travel means this vehicle need never use gas for many ordinary daily driving scenarios.

Government studies have shown three quarters of all drivers travel less than 40 miles daily and Chrysler says the large minivan riding on new global architecture was an ideal vehicle to make into a plug-in hybrid.

Why it’s Important

Until now larger vehicles capable of running all electrically as full or part-time EVs have been exceedingly rare. A few high-end SUVs that plug in are out there, but nothing is available that’s mainstream-demographic-family focused.

And among the slim plug-in pickins, none are minivans; in fact no available minivans in America are even regular hybrids.

Although Toyota has for years sold fuel-sipping regular hybrids abroad, and other automakers including Ford, GM, Honda and more could just as well have introduced them also, they have let those opportunities go un-met. Instead they’ve focused more intently on making smaller cars that were already relatively efficient even more efficient.

 Minivans have room for people, room for stuff, and their mpg scores have lots of room for improvement. In regular hybrid mode, the Pacifica won't be earth shattering, but the electric drive mode will spike the numbers upwards while slashing emissions.

Minivans have room for people, room for stuff, and their mpg scores have lots of room for improvement. In regular hybrid mode, the Pacifica won’t be earth shattering, but the electric drive mode will spike the numbers upwards while slashing emissions.

This is true although it’s well known big, relatively thirsty vehicles stand to save much more fuel for every mile per gallon improvement, and the Pacifica Hybrid’s capabilities mean it could save lots of fuel under ordinary uses.

The vehicle also now raises the bar in fuel efficiency in a new vehicle segment, and Chrysler has come from behind with no hybrids now for sale, and only the California-market Fiat 500e EV to now challenge everyone else to follow it.

Its press launch expressed the intent to be “disruptive,” and given electrification advocates have decried for years a big gaping hole left unfilled by other major automakers, the term may indeed be fitting.

What’s With the Name?

Deneau said demographic studies indicated the kinds of people who buy minivans may be put off by verbiage like “plug-in” pasted on.

While he did not say so, vehicles like the Chevy Volt have suffered because of misconceptions persisting about its powertrain, and the Volt has endured life under a veritable invisibility cloak to the broader public.

Vehicles badged with “plug” might also be confused with all-electric vehicles, Deneau said, and in turn might induce “range anxiety.”

2016 Chevy Volt. The Chrysler has a lot in common with the Volt, albeit technically different, and in a different segment. In common are no range anxiety and enough electric range for many – if not all – daily drivers.

2016 Chevy Volt. The Chrysler has a lot in common with the Volt, albeit technically different, and in a different segment. In common are no range anxiety and enough electric range for many – if not all – daily drivers.


Squeamish would-be buyers who would otherwise benefit are the last thing Chrysler’s marketers want, so the expedient thing to do was to call its new plug-in hybrid the “Pacifica Hybrid.”

Whether that’s an indictment also on marketing efforts to date or a tacit commentary on the mentality of the American general public, you decide, but these are the facts.

It was easier to just call it a hybrid because hybrids do not have range anxiety, and that type of vehicle has had longer on the market to sink in as unintimidating and green.

Tech Cred

Low-key name notwithstanding, the Pacifica Hybrid uses a a proprietary new electrically variable transmission (EVT) utilizing two electric motors which can both drive the front wheels.

It makes use of a one-way clutch allowing the motor that’s normally only used as a generator to send torque to the front wheels, depending on driving conditions.

Chrysler says the result is increased efficiency, refinement and improved component packaging.

Concerns have existed over quality control issues for certain FCA products, and comments have gone forth raising questions about future vehicles. Unknowns do exist, the Pacifica Hybrid may do well and this will remain to be seen  as is true of any car, but that it opens a new vehicle segment that may provoke competitors to follow is more certain.

Concerns have existed over quality control issues for certain FCA products, and comments have gone forth raising
questions about future vehicles. Unknowns do exist, the Pacifica Hybrid may do well and this will remain to be seen
as is true of any car, but that it opens a new vehicle segment that may provoke competitors to follow is more certain.


MPG should be improved in any case as the Atkinson cycle engine gets features like “handed” pistons enabling increased 12.5:1 compression ratio for improved thermodynamic efficiency.

By eliminating the alternator and power steering pump, the engine’s front cover and accessory drive system were able to be re-worked.

Chrysler promises also reduced internal friction along with ignition and fuel injection improvements as also found on the upgraded Pentastar V6 while 2-step valve lift and cooled EGR have been removed with the addition of Atkinson cycle combustion system.

Better Minivan

The company also promises a host of upgrades with a sturdy yet lightened chassis architecture meant to substantially reduce noise inside the vehicle.

Interior space is class leading and it’s of course loaded with all sorts of amenities to make time away from the family living room as tolerable as possible.

The plug-in hybrid’s battery is hidden where the “Stow ‘n Go” seats would normally be in the second row so that feature is not available for the Hybrid. The seats are removable, Deneau said, and true to one of Chrysler’s design parameters, the Hybrid can fit a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood.

Early rumors also were that the new plug-in would be all-wheel drive but that was chosen against for this newly launched vehicle, Deneau said. The company has however said this could one day be implemented, but for now it is front-wheel only.

Its release later this year will follow the launch in the second quarter this year of the regular Pacifica variants.

Pricing has not been announced. A premium Town and Country could be in the upper 40s, and the Pacifica Hybrid is to be nicely equipped, but a definitive price won’t be revealed until much closer to launch.

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 

Jan 20

Chevy Bolt Not Promised For Dealer Delivery Before 2017

 

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To correct some ambiguity about plans for the 2017 Chevy Bolt to be “available” late this year, GM clarified last week it has not promised cars in driveways before the end of the year.

The ambiguity over potential delivery timelines started in earnest with an e-mail Chevrolet marketing put out early this year with a single sentence “The all-electric 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will be available late 2016.”

Without contradicting this statement, GM has observed the definition of “available” could mean deliveries at dealers, or it could mean simply the car will be open to place orders.

“We plan to have the vehicle in production by the end of this year, that’s our commitment; so we plan to have vehicles rolling off the line by the end of the year,” said Kevin Kelly, manager, Electrification and Fuel Cell Technology Communications commenting on the marketing e-mail sent to targeted consumers. “They said it would be ‘available.’ Now that could be placing orders. It will be available.”

If this sounds at all like a doubling back on any implication, that perception upon closer examination would not be justified. The e-mail did not say buyers would be driving a new Bolt in time for Christmas, or any such thing. It did say only “available.”

On the flip side, Kelly also did not say the Bolt would not be available for dealer deliveries by late 2016, so those hopeful that it might can still hope, but they will have to wait until further official announcements.

An actual launch 2017 Bolt EV date along with further details are still pending, and the Bolt was only just revealed in production form a couple weeks ago.

It is early in the product launch cycle even for this car which GM says it fast tracked from concept to production ready.

That however has not stopped Chevrolet dealers from perhaps also jumping the gun, if anecdotal reports are correct.

“When’s the earliest this thing will be available?,” asked a member of the GM-Volt.com forum today. “I subscribed for info on the GM site and already have a dealer contacting me about ‘working up an order’ and getting on their list. Is this just shenanigans?”

Dealers are independent franchises and have been known to be out of step with the automaker before, although nothing more is known on specifics of this particular anecdote.

What is more certain however is even if anyone wanted to place an order today on a 2016 Bolt, GM officially says it is not promising more than cars in production by year’s end.

How the word “available” may further be defined is to be determined.

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 
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