Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

May 09

Karma Automotive Beginning Revero Deliveries With TV Ad

 

By Jon LeSage

Karma Automotive is ready to start releasing the Revero plug-in hybrid luxury performance car later this month.

It’s being promoted through the startup’s TV commercial showing a Revero rolling off the ramp of a delivery truck. “Delivery” shows scenes of the car being delivered in California and Florida to commemorate the first units planned for May.

The one-minute TV spot was shown Sunday during the 2017 U.S. Open Polo Championship on CBS during the championship broadcast. The spot named “Delivery” features beautifully shot scenes of the Revero being delivered in California and Florida in commemoration of first deliveries planned for May.

“This is the car they dream of,” the TV spot’s voiceover says.

The TV commercial will also be shown on social media, digital advertising spots, and on the Karma Automotive website. You can view the TV spot below.

The carmaker’s marketing message taps into the enthusiasm of those who owned the original Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid. The Karma’s appeared on the market in 2012 prior to the startups bankruptcy in 2013. About 2,000 Karmas were sold during that time.

The new company has spent time talking to Fisker Karma owners to shape a plan to revise the sports car for its new identity.

“The spot marks the rebirth of one of the most celebrated silhouettes in automotive history,” said Jim Taylor, Karma Chief Revenue Officer. “We felt this moment in time deserved to be recognized.”

SEE ALSO:  Karma Bounces Back as the $130,000 Revero Plug-in Hybrid Sports Sedan

Revero units will be built at the company’s plant in Moreno, Calif. Despite speculation by other media that Reveros would also be built in China, the company issued a counter statement to correct that it has never said that they’d be built anywhere other than California.

It will start at $130,000 for those interested in making the purchase.

Inside EVs, HybridCars.com

 

May 08

Workhorse Unveils W-15 Electric Work Truck Concept at ACT Expo

 

By Jon LeSage

Fleet buyers checked out the latest in electrified and alternative fuel vehicles, and watched the unveiling of the Workhorse W-15 electric work truck during ACT Expo 2017.

Held this week in Long Beach, Calif., the annual clean transportation conference saw Workhorse Group showcase its W-15 electric concept pickup that can go 80 miles per charge by way of its 60 kWh battery pack. The startup maker of battery-electric vehicles is also offering a variation to fleets with an on-board gasoline generator that extends total miles to 310 using both electricity and gasoline.

SEE ALSO:  Workhorse Bringing 500 Plug-in Hybrid Pickups to California Utilities

Workhorse has been releasing news on the plug-in pickup for several months, including receiving letters of intent for the purchase of 3,000 units from a few utility and government fleets. It’s still in the concept phase, with no word yet on when it will be ready to reach production level. The company said it will have a starting price of $52,000, and will offer 460 horsepower with the ability to carry 2,200 pounds in payload and tow 5,000 pounds.

Workhorse Group said the W-15 light duty platform design is an extension of the E-Gen electric technology used in Workhorse medium-duty delivery trucks. The vehicle maker is also known for testing a drone package delivery system.

As you can see in the photo gallery below, electrified vehicles were a recurring theme in the exhibit hall. Fleets are seeing more battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and hybrid vehicles in all types of vehicles such as buses, shuttles, port drayage trucks, and delivery trucks.

Product offerings on display include BYD electric medium-duty trucks, the Ford Police Responder hybrid sedan, and Mitsubishi Fusi’s Canter electric work truck.

Renewable natural gas has been another hot topic during ACT Expo. Switching over to renewable natural gas could quickly help California achieve its air quality, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change-related goals, the two coalitions say.

“The RNG Jobs Report” was released during the conference, which predicts that with fleets deploying trucks fueled by renewable natural gas, it will create up to 130,000 new jobs and add $14 billion to California’s economy. The study was released jointly by the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas and the California Natural Gas Vehicle Coalition trade groups.

Waste Management, Inc., took the “In It For the Long Haul” achievement award given by ACT Expo, for running nearly 6,000 natural gas powered refuse trucks. About 40 percent of these trash trucks are now powered by renewable natural gas, the company said, with that fuel coming from landfill biogas.

 

May 05

Which Saves More Gasoline? Toyota Prius or Chevrolet Volt?

 

The hybrid Toyota Prius is famous for saving fuel and the extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt is touted in that department as well, but which is a better tool for the job?

Obviously there are many considerations that go into buying a car, but since saving fuel is a prime reason for these models’ existence, can it be said their fuel-saving effectiveness is reflected in their popularity?

Last year both cars were all-new revised models, and although inexpensive gasoline has led many consumers to trucks and SUVs, among buyers of this class of vehicle who still care, the Prius soundly trounces the Volt.

Even though Prius sales disappointed last year and were 13 percent down, Toyota sold four of its Liftback hybrids for every Volt delivered in its best year ever, and this was despite the Volt being a better gas miser.

In 2016 Toyota reported 98,863 Prius Liftback sales and it was the best-selling electrified car by a large margin. The Volt sold 24,739 and was the best-selling plug-in hybrid. Source: HybridCars.com December 2016 Dashboard.

How is it better? The Volt does what no non-plug-in hybrid can do and that’s run on electricity for a large portion of miles of emissions and gas-free driving.

Among full-range/power plug-in hybrids, the Volt has the biggest battery available enabling an EPA-rated 53 miles of electric range making it a part-time EV and a 42 mpg hybrid the rest of the time.

As of last July – the latest report Chevrolet supplied citing GM OnStar telematics data – 90 percent of Volt trips were gas free, and of all miles traveled, 60 percent were gas free. In other words, among Volt drivers monitored by GM in the real world, they traveled 40 percent of their miles burning gas, and 60 percent on the battery gas free.

The Volt’s 18.4-kWh lithium-ion battery is capable of delivering an EPA-estimated 53 all-electric miles. Studies show average daily trips are under 40 miles for 75 percent of all drivers.

What’s more, the vast majority of those Volts were first-generation with range of 35 or 38 miles rather than the 53 miles of the 2016/17 Volt.

So, even though the Prius is rated 52 mpg – 56 mpg for the Two Eco trim, which comprises 5.5 percent of sales – it winds up using more gas and emitting more greenhouse gases in many cases than the Volt – new style and even first-generation style.

Actually, this a complex question we’re trying to simplify based on averaged assumptions and your actual results may vary. Any way you slice it, however, including when considering the EPA’s “utility factor” which calculates an effective 77 MPGe, odds are good for the Volt.

Putting A Finer Point on Things

One elemental way of looking at the question of gas usage is by nationally averaged EPA figures folded in with GM data.

Based on 15,000 miles per year which the EPA anticipates, a Chevy Volt that averages 40 percent fuel usage actually only burns gas for 6,000 of those 15,000 miles.

At 42 mpg, that’s 143 gallons of gas used annually. Assuming the $2.39 national average price today of regular gasoline, that’s $342 per year on fuel.

As for a 52 mpg Prius, it burns gas for all 15,000 of those 15,000 miles, consuming 288 gallons, or $688 worth per year.

What about greenhouse emissions? The Prius emits 171 g/mile while the Volt puffs out a scant 51g/mile. Further, this 51 g/mile is by the EPA using the Utility Factor to calculate this number. Without upstream emissions, the Volt would emit 0g per mile so the 51g is based on the per-mile UF gasoline used and it’s non-upstream CO2 emissions. This said, the Volt’s advantage is reduced if factoring upstream emissions. Assuming grid energy, the EPA figures the national average at 200 g/mile for Volt, and the Prius is at 205 g/mile. The EPA provides an online calculator to narrow down by zip code emissions by car model for your local grid. Source: fueleconomy.gov.

Of course the Volt owner would need to use electricity for the EV miles, and unless “free” charging was available – such as at an employer’s or as excess from solar – the electric bill would need to also be factored.

The EPA figures .12 cents per kWh as the national average. No doubt your cost may be higher or lower, but going with that, 9,000 EV miles at 31 kWh per 100 miles equals 2,790 kWh. At .12 cents per kWh, that’s $335 electricity plus $342 gas for $677 total Volt energy costs versus the Prius’ $688 for gas.

So, at today’s low gas prices, the Volt may make a negligible difference in dollars, but it does save more in gasoline volume.

This article focuses on the Prius Liftback because it is by far the best-selling electrified car, but the plug-in Prius Prime should be mentioned. Its 25-miles range and pricing within the Liftback’s realm make it a strong alternative. Its sales actually lag the Volt’s, but are still improving as the new car rolls out this year.

Meanwhile, on the big picture level, the Prius does actually save more gas.

How so? On a fleet basis, as some enthusiasts are quick to observe, Toyota’s resounding popularity, lower up-front cost, time on the market and other factors mean far more are sold, and each one displaces a 26 mpg average car.

The 98,863 “Prii” sold during 2016, assuming each travels 15,000 annual miles, would use approximately 28.5 million gallons per year.

This also assumes 52 mpg – and considering 5.5 percent are the 56 mpg Two Eco, this number would be less but since 94.5 percent are the 52 mpg variety, we’ll assume 100 percent in the interest of simplicity for what is already a hypothetical scenario.

So, if one imagines 98,863 average 26 mpg cars – with half the mpg of the Prius, these would burn 57 million gallons of gas, and the Prius theoretically saves at least 28.5 million gallons.

Of course these numbers are hypothetical, and not all Prius models sold in 2016 were the new fourth-generation 2016 variety. Some were the 50 mpg leftover generation-three model, but this is a gauge just for comparison’s sake.

With stiffer TNGA global platform and independent rear suspension, the new Prius actually corners flatter and with greater poise. Toyota took journalists to an autocross course and pitted the former Prius against the new one. There is a noticeable difference. The Volt is quicker though – 8.4 seconds est. to 60, and 2.6 seconds to 30. Prius gets to 60 in about 10 secs.

And the same truth would apply for the Volt, as it also was in a transition year to generation two, so older 37-mpg leftovers would have skewed the numbers. This year however far more of the new vehicles will be sold, and assumptions should otherwise carry forward.

So, of the 24,739 Volts sold last year, assuming 6,000 miles (out of 15,000) of gas-burning hybrid mode at 42 mpg, they would use just 3.5 million gallons of gas.

Compared to 24,739 conventional 26 mpg cars, which would use 14.3 million gallons, the Volt would save 10.8 million gallons. If four times as many Volts had been sold to match the Prius’ sales volume, they would have saved 43.2 million theoretical gallons to the Prius’ 28.5 million gallons.

Therefore the Volt only saves less gas on an overall basis because it sells less, but per car it saves much more.

Another Way to Slice it

If you think that was at all complicated, the EPA is from the government, and they are here to help.

The feds calculate a formula called Utility Factor which is not commonly published at the EPA’s fueleconomy.gov comparison site and this can provide another perspective.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Toyota Prius Review – Video

The Utility Factor for the 2016/17 Volt is 0.76 and its overall MPGe when that Utility Factor is used to calculate a mix of gas and electricity use is 77 MPGe.

In short, the Utility Factor for the 2016/2017 Volt projects that 24 percent (1.0 – 0.76) of miles use gas so out of 100 miles, 24 would use gas at 42 mpg.

This in turn means 24 divided by 42 is .57 gallons per 100 miles, whereas a 52-mpg Prius would always use gas, and come to 1.92 gallons in 100 miles.

SEE ALSO: 2017 Chevy Volt Review – Video

Of course, the Utility Factor is a general-purpose projection of long term overall gas versus electric use for a PHEV with a certain EV range and is not really making predictions for a one-way 100 mile trip segment.

It makes for an interesting number though: not counting the electricity used, the Volt would need .57 gallons to drive 100 miles and achieve an effective 175 mpg.

Thousands of “MPG”

Another fringe source of data are the fun folks who try to outdo each other over at Voltstats.net. That’s a site that tracks Volt owners who register their cars and submit their OnStar data on EV miles, gas miles, total miles, etc.

The present mpg leader, brownvolt in British Columbia, is showing 88,516 “mpg” for a 2014 Volt. Below that superlative number is LaMesa Volt with 15,689 mpg.

If you are a little fuzzy on math, 15,689 mpg is better than 52 mpg for the Prius, but before you retort, we’ll do it for you and say these are skewed numbers.

These outliers on the fringes of fuelmiserhood essentially are using their Volts as pure EVs and avoiding the engine coming on at all costs.

That is, if a Volt has 38 or 53 mile range, they’re using them like EVs with 38-53 miles range most of the time. Intraday charging becomes a familiar practice for people in this category, among other tricks including draining the gas tank or tricking the computer before it forces the engine to burn gas to prevent it from going stale.

Other Considerations

If all you care about is saving gas, buy a Volt.

As noted however, there are other reasons why the Prius outsells it four-to-one.

Among these are the Prius is a midsized car with bigger rear seat and true five-passenger space compared to the Volt’s more-cramped rear seat and middle rear “seating position” good for children and good-natured adults who don’t mind. One of the better uses for the second-gen Volt’s middle seat position is for child booster or infant car seats where the middle position gives it the best protection during a collision.

Other pro-Prius factors include better resale value and a perceived-excellent reliability record (though the Volt also achieves relatively high marks), and other factors that go into a purchase.

Looks come into the equation too and while Toyota blames cheap gas, this may be one reason why the fourth-generation Prius, despite being a superior-handling car to the Prius it replaced, with better efficiency and more space as well, is down in sales.

Exterior styling is actually the top consideration for average consumer purchases – but these are both vehicles to appeal to your inner Mr. Spock.

Further, in some regions like the upper mid-west, coal-intensive grids make the “upstream emissions” worse for the Volt per mile than a Prius, so if that’s a consideration, an environmentalist would think twice.

Another variable in the equation is simply respect for brand recognition, and the Prius, frankly, has more of that among the progressive demographic being targeted by it and the Volt. It also starts in the mid 20s with no subsidies available, and may seem like an easier proposition to get into than a Volt starting in the mid 30s, and with up to $7,500 in federal tax credit plus potential state incentives.

Reports have it the Volt with incentives and possible discounting may be had within realm of the Prius, but realities are what they are.

In Sum

People often love to think of themselves as objective and logical, but many a car salesperson knows buyers often make emotional decisions with enough rational justification stirred in to make the part of their brain that likes to feel logical feel better.

Bottom line is either car can make sense and both the Prius and Volt have their fans, but the Prius has more.

Four-times more, in fact, if sales are an indicator, but if you’re buying a car to save gas, or in consideration of national security or CO2 emissions, perhaps a closer look at the Volt would be in order?

 

May 04

Toyota Prius Prime Outsells the Chevy Volt In April

 

Last month the Toyota Prius Prime mildly outsold the Chevrolet Volt for the first time, and eyes will be on whether this becomes a new trend.

The Toyota’s 1,819 sales in April eclipsed the Volt’s 1,807 April sales, and it has been trailing the Volt’s cumulative best-seller status this year as well.

Through April, Chevrolet reported 7,370 sales for the 53-mile e-range Volt, and the 25-mile e-range Prius with a plug has 6,165.

The gap between the two is separated by 1,205 sales which if one were to look at the mere 12 sales more the Prime did last month, they might think that closing the distance would be a long time coming.

However, variances between the two of 300-500 sales in a month are not uncommon. To date the Volt has led the Prime by that much each month, so it is the Volt’s game to lose, but lose it could.

“I think the Prime will sell more than the Volt on a monthly basis going forward,” said Michigan-based automotive analyst Alan Baum who assists with the HybridCars.com monthly sales Dashboard.

Whether that means the Prime will be the best-selling PHEV in 2017 is still too early to conjecture overly much, but Baum says “without conviction,” he suspects it might.

As has been observed before the Prius Prime hits a sweet spot that helps it overshadow the fact it offers only 25 miles EV range next to the Volt’s 53.

Until now its sales have been blamed on it just rolling out, but according to Toyota media rep Sam Butto, the Prime is now available for delivery in all 50 states, as has been true of the Volt.

Toyota’s plug-in is also on the rise because it’s priced midway within the Prius Liftback’s mid-20s-low 30s pricing scheme, offers actually slightly better mpg in hybrid mode than most Liftbacks – 54 mpg vs 52, and may look better too.

The unofficial consensus is the Prius Liftback hybrid is not easy on the eyes, but the Prime plug-in hybrid, the ostensible range topper, got slightly better styling for the same basic body for an overall more flattering look.

Exterior appearance is the top consideration among consumers in general, and the spec sheet for the Prime is alright too.

Baum also notes pent-up demand for the Prime remains among Toyota loyalists, and those who otherwise are bypassing the Chevy Volt. The former Prius Plug-in Hybrid, which had half the Prime’s 8.8-kWh battery size and effective range, was off the market a year and a half as Toyota developed the Prime.

So, it is riding that wave of demand for the Toyota-branded symbol of efficiency.

As for the Volt, there remains no question its powertrain does what people want from a plug-in hybrid better – it serves up twice the range and then some, and a foot to the floor won’t kick on the gas engine as it can in the Prius Prime.

However, in hybrid mode it gets just 42 mpg which affects its efficiency any time it’s not leaning on its superior EV range.

In the Volt’s favor is a middle back third “seating position” whereas Toyota chose to retrogress back to what the first-generation Volt was criticized for: a four passenger layout.

People also tend to like the looks of the Volt better, but alas, it is a compact car, and rear seating space is otherwise less than in the midsized Prius Prime.

The Volt is also more expensive: priced around $34,000 and up – about $6,000 more than the $28,000 and up Prime. A higher $7,500 federal tax credit helps the Volt close the gap between it and the Prime which gets a $4,500 federal credit.

Both cars have their benefits and drawbacks, the next eight months of the year will show what the market decides.

HybridCars.com

 

May 03

General Motors Says It Will Be First To Make Electric Cars Profitably

 

Nearly every automaker has electric cars in the works, but a top General Motors executive said yesterday it will be the first to sell them profitably.

“We know the customers would like to drive electric cars but are unwilling to pay any more for them,” said Mark Reuss, GM executive vice president for product development. “That’s why we’re going to be the first company to sell electric vehicles that people can afford at a profit.”

Reuss’ remarks followed similar sentiment from CEO Mary Barra to reporters in Flint, Mich., but they did not specify how soon the profitability would happen.

The key all-electric product GM now has is the 238-mile-range Chevy Bolt EV priced from $37,495. It is still rolling out across the entire U.S. through this summer, but as a global company, GM is planning more, including 10 plug-in vehicles in its biggest market in China.

According to the Detroit Bureau, Reuss said its plan to cut costs is relatively comprehensive and includes the components that have set back automakers until now from turning plug-in cars into a profit center.

“What we’ve been working to do is taking mass out. What that sets us up to do is have more efficient batteries because it doesn’t take as much power to [move] the vehicle,” Reuss said. “We own our own battery chemistry. We integrate the pack and we have our own electric motors. We own all that design.

“The integration piece of that is something no one else has,” he added, “You have to integrate the whole car. We feel really good about that.”

 

Another way in which battery costs would come down is by expansion of all-electric autonomous vehicles.

“if you can increase [usage] drive the operating cost you can open the door to ride sharing,” said Reuss.

Last month Chevrolet sold 1,229 Bolt EVs; a healthy number above March’s 978 that yet lags the sales rate of its extended-range electric Volt which is thoroughly rolled out to the U.S. The Volt sold 1,807, itself down from 2,132 in March.

Calendar year to date, the Bolt has sold 4,384 units, and the Volt has sold 7,370.

The Detroit Bureau, HybridCars.com

 

May 02

Elon Musk Is At It Again With Another Wild Transportation Idea – Video

 

By Jason Siu

Sooner or later we’re going to have to take Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s wild ideas seriously.

In the automotive world, Musk is most known for running Tesla, an American automaker that has defied expectations to produce some of the most popular electric vehicles in the world. But Musk has several other ventures as well, with SpaceX being his most notable one. With that company, Musk seemingly defied all odds by not only landing a rocket at sea, but relaunching it and having it land successfully again. Some say that at the time Musk proposed the idea of reusing a rocket, it was very ambitious – but SpaceX has made it real.

For a while now, Musk has complained about how terrible traffic is in Los Angeles. At first, it seemed like he was joking about the idea of digging a tunnel just to make his commute easier because he was so sick of traffic. But then he posted pictures of a boring machine digging in the SpaceX parking lot and revealed his plans of creating a network with up to 30 levels of tunnels that could accommodate cars and trains. Cars would enter at street level, be transported down to the tunnels via an elevator and slide around on platforms to their destinations. It looks like a giant slot car track, and the whole process would be automated and would require minimal driver intervention.

That sounds like science fiction, but now The Boring Company has shared a video of the vision and what it hopes it can one day successfully execute. Essentially, it would be a network of tunnels underneath Los Angeles that cars could use to avoid traffic on the surface. Like his other ideas, it may seem far-fetched, but if this becomes reality, it could change some lives forever. Sure, re-using a rocket doesn’t exactly impact normal people on a daily basis, but for those that live in Los Angeles, the idea of traveling up to 124 mph (200 km/h) underground without having to pay attention to the road would be a dream come true. Check out the video above.

This article originally appeared at AutoGuide.com

 
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