Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Apr 01

GM Announces 2016 Chevrolet Amphibian

 

By Mark Brooks

DETROIT – Today General Motors announced the 2016 Chevrolet Amphibian (abbreviated Amp), a new four door hatch back built specifically for export to oil-producing nations.

Designed to leapfrog all other cars on the road today, the new hatchback from Chevy has truly astonishing performance figures. In the hands of an enlightened commuter, the sleek-looking Amphibian is able do 240 mpg and can travel more than 2,160 miles on a single 9 gallon tank of normal gasoline. This gives the Amp the largest range and lowest cost per mile of any car on the road today!

Ampongrass

As its name suggests, the Amp is not just a city slicker. Built Chevy Tough, the Amphibian can frolic from the frozen mud and snow of a Yukon ice road to the bog roads of Alberta to the searing beaches of Saudi Arabia.

How did GM do it?

After a bit of behind the scene prodding the author uncovered the Amphibians incredible secret. In true over achiever fashion, GM has embraced Oil sands extraction technology by going one step further.

The 2016 Chevy Amphibian has a miniature gasoline refinery packed into the car itself. If plugged into a normal 120-volt household outlet over night, the Amphibian can produce and store a gallon of gasoline. This gas is produced using less than a $1 worth of electricity by sucking the background pollution right out of the air in your garage. This reclaimed gasoline is then stored in a special sealed container in the car separate from its regular nine-gallon gas tank.

AmpandAircraft

That’s right, the Chevy Amphibian produces gasoline for only $1 per gallon using nothing more than electricity and the smog-filled air around you! This cuts the cost of that first gallon to one-quarter normal U.S. and Canadian pump prices and as an added benefit the air in your neighborhood gets cleaner every night the Amp is plugged in!

The EPA doesn’t really seem to know what to do with a car that both produces and consumes gasoline and its MPG rating reflects this confusion.

GM states that on the road the 2016 Amphibian will achieve an estimated EPA rating of 50 miles on the first gallon, 40 mpg after that. This is due to the higher quality gasoline created by the cars mini refinery. The gasoline produced by the onboard mini-refinery is so good it has zero exhaust emissions when burned and even allows the car to run silently! Each day, once the first gallon created by the Amphibian is used, it reverts to burning the gasoline sold at four times the price by the oil industry. To keep its R&D costs down GM has used same layout, body work and parts as its stable mate, the Chevy Volt.

AmpinDetroit

If the driver takes just 10 seconds a day to plug-in the car, the Amphibians MPG rating can soar. Utilizing the Amphibians incredible ability to create high quality gasoline, some early test drivers have reported augmenting a single tank of oil industry produced gasoline to a range of more than 5000 miles.

As for when the car will arrive, GM is only saying that Canadian customers will see the car first in “the second half of 2015″ – which looks like it will be undergoing a traditional product cycle and we will be seeing the car around August.

Pricing as one would expect is also a mystery at the moment. However, GM has strongly hinted at a starting MSRP of less than $35,000 plus destination delivery cost, a price typical of a luxury hatchback of this size.

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The Amp is expected to be a huge sales success in Canada due to the tax incentives available to oil producers. Just like the larger oil companies, Canadian purchasers, who order a new Amphibian through a shell company in Alberta are eligible for a 100% tax deduction. Note: Assumes you follow industry standard accounting principles of back dating the transaction to 2010 and accelerated depreciating of the “production equipment” under the current Alberta well head Tax Incentive program. Similar incentives are available in other oil exporting nations. The Canadian tax deduction expires in 2017, so hurry and order your Amphibian today!

 

Mar 31

10 alternative and fuel efficient cars making their world debut this week in NY

 

Thanks to everyone yesterday who offered questions to ask GM about the Malibu.

Here’s a Whitman’s Sampler of new cars pending …

15_Malibu

It’s that time of the year again – that’s right, the New York International Auto Show is upon us and blooming with spring are 17 world vehicle debuts including at least 10 with a focus on efficiency.

Press days begin April 1, and we’ll have more on each, but here in descending order are vehicles of varying degrees of interest to those watching the inexorable move toward higher mpg and lower emissions.

10. Cadillac CT6

cadillac-ct6

Who cares about a 420-horsepower big luxury Cadillac? A lot of people actually, as the brand continues its saga of wanting to compete with the Germans even on its home turf.

This one will be a no-compromise engineering thesis intended to do just that, says Cadillac, but unclear as of yet is whether a reported plug-in hybrid variant will be included.

A far cry from a compact Chevy Volt-based ELR, the PHEV CT6 – whether or not mentioned this week – is to be based on the new flagship model.

9. Mercedes-Benz GLEe

2016-Mercedes-Benz-GLE-550e

Whatever GM is up to in the upscale electrification space, Mercedes-Benz is playing its hand much less close to its chest.

In fact, as true of all the Germans, Mercedes has discovered the wonderful benefits of PHEVs to allow it to pass emission regulations and still deliver big powerful gas engines paired with an electrified side, and the GLE550e is one of 10 plug-in models to be launched by 2017.

This will be its first plug-in hybrid SUV, it joins other battery electric and plug-in hybrids just coming along, and looks to be quite the opulent people hauler.

8. Scion iA

2015_NYIAS_Scion_iA_Teaser_001

Not known to be a hybrid, the first sedan from Toyota’s Scion division is instead expected to be filed under the economical small car segment, and – like the iM also being launched – aimed at younger buyers or anyone on a budget.

The iA is based on the Mazda2 with SkyActiv motive power from the same. The vehicle will also share elements with the revised Toyota Yaris.

7. Scion iM

2015_NYIAS_Scion_iM_Teaser_001

The iM, although gussied up like a hot hatch last year in Los Angeles, will be toned down and essentially a Toyota Auris hatchback variant with appropriate Scion badging.

It too will not likely be a hybrid but will fill a needed gap in the brand’s lineup among relatively fuel-efficient cars.

6. Lexus RX

2016-lexus-rx-teaser

Along with the long-anticipated RX lineup’s revision for 2016 should be mention of the new hybrid version.

The RX crossover from Toyota’s upscale division is the brand’s top seller. The hybrid is a relatively popular alternative for the car line that accounts for one in three of every Lexus vehicles sold.

Lexus has also just launched the NX compact crossover line with hybrid variant making the need for the RX to be updated all the more glaring. Hopefully we won’t be disappointed.

5. Mitsubishi Outlander

2016-mitsubishi-outlander

One more revised gas-powered SUV may not be that exciting, but when the plug-in hybrid variant gets to the U.S. after long delay, that ought to be.

Mitsubishi has sold over 50,000 plug-in Outlanders in Japan and Europe while announcing and then postponing the plug-in hybrid that reportedly gets more electric range than Ford Energi products – high 20s or even low 30s has been reported for the Mitsubishi.

For 2016, styling elements will be updated, possibly from the Concept-S shown last year in Paris, and Mitsubishi says it’s the first to debut the brand’s new design language and features over 100 engineering and design improvements inside, and out.

The PHEV may be here by next year, potentially as a 2017 model.

4. Chevrolet Spark

2016_Chevrolet_Spark-668

The gas-powered Spark subcompact is growing up – at least design-wise if not in dimensions so much – and rightly so being this has been a relative huge global success with 1.1 million variants sold in 71 markets since 2009.

Its global debut will be mirrored by one in Seoul April 2 but for alternative energy fans, the electric “compliance” version sold in Oregon, California and now Maryland may not be revised.

Instead, Chevrolet is preparing the Bolt EV, but officially, it has not said this will be the case.

As for the gas version, the economical Spark will be less “youthful” oriented with more upscale feel here and there inside and out.

Power will be by GM’s Ecotec family of small engines for various markets in three- and four-cylinder versions from 1.0-1.5 liters.

3. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

2015_Toyota_RAV4_Hybrid_teaser

Gone is the Tesla-co-built RAV4 EV built for California, and back to its roots, Toyota is transplanting a hybrid powertrain into the new RAV and this one will be made available nationwide.

To be revealed April 2, the RAV4 Hybrid makes good also on the brand’s promise to roll out hybridized versions of all its Lexus and Toyota models this decade.

Despite a weakened conventional hybrid market – plug-ins have beaten a downward trend and did increase in share last year – and now Toyota is adding this hybrid to its growing stable.

The company already owns about 69 percent of the U.S. hybrid market, and while having revealed very little except some styling differences, it is speculated the RAV4 will get the 2.5-liter Lexus NX Hybrid’s powertrain.

2. Kia Optima

2016_Kia_Optima

To be revealed April 1, the midsized Optima has been revised and follows its overhauled not-so-distant cousin, the Hyundai Sonata which also comes in conventional, hybrid and now plug-in hybrid variants.

Could Kia surprise us with a plug-in? This it has not said, but a new hybrid ought to be at least expected, and new gasoline powertrains are otherwise promised as is updated but still-recognizable styling, more room inside, and more.

The car will also have a few more upscale cues to help fortify it as a mainstay for the Korean automaker being its top seller in the U.S.

1. Chevy Malibu Hybrid

2015-Chevrolet-Malibu

The big news from GM which had industry observers wondering how much it really cares about electrification and hybrids is its Malibu is being revised in a big way with a full hybrid version.

Until now only a mild hybrid version was available that did not hold a candle to offerings by several competitors such as Toyota, Honda, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen – nearly anyone –  but the new Malibu is borrowing system architecture from none other than the Chevy Volt.

Unlike the Volt, it won’t be a plug-in, but like the competitors, it does promise respectable mpg – around 45 mpg from a direct-injection 1.8-liter four-cylinder merged with hardware borrowed from the Volt.

2016-Malibu-Hybrid-Powertrain-3

Total output will be 182 horsepower, many questions remain, but perhaps most promising is the commitment to a full hybrid and validation of the Volt’s system as seed stock for more electrified models hoped to follow.

 

Mar 30

Miscellaneous Alt-E legislative news

 

Following is a roundup of random stories with one thing in common: they involve legislation and automotive-related environmental issues.

Obama: Half Of Federal Fleets Must Be PHEV Or ZEV By 2025

By Sarah Shelton

As part of a 10-year plan to increase sustainability at US-POLITICS-OBAMA-ENERGYthe federal level, President Barack Obama is calling for more plug-in and zero emission vehicles in government fleets.

Under the Executive Order, which was signed last week, Obama said zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and plug-in hybrid (PHEVs) must make up at least 20-percent of federal fleets by the end of 2020. By December 31, 2025, half of fleet vehicles must be ZEVs or PHEVs.

Infrastructure planning to support these vehicles, including charging and refueling stations, is also called for in the decree.

The ratio of alternatively fueled vehicles in all government fleets is currently far below this, according to the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers (Auto Alliance). The organization represents automakers such as General Motors, Ford and Toyota.

The Auto Alliance estimated that only 3.9-percent of 2013 government fleet purchases were hybrid or electric vehicles. Last year, this percentage rose slightly.

SEE ALSO: White House Seeking Expanded $10,000 Alternative Vehicle Rebate

“Government purchases of alternative powertrain vehicles still comprise only a small fraction of their overall automotive acquisitions, based on data from the first 10 months of 2014,” stated that Auto Alliance.

“Federal, state and local government entities registered 175,122 new vehicles, of which 512 were electric cars – or less than one-third of 1-percent.

“Hybrids represented-4 percent (7,048) of new government vehicles.”

For the overall federal fleet, the Executive Order doesn’t call for a specific type of ZEV (such as fuel cell or battery electric) and doesn’t detail a ratio of zero emission to plug-in vehicles.

By 2025, Obama said federal agencies must also cut their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 30-percent from 2014 levels.

“White House senior adviser Brian Deese estimated the new measures will save $18 billion,” reported The Washington Post. “The federal government has already cut its overall emissions 17-percent since Obama took office, saving $1.8 billion.”

In conjunction with the release of Obama’s sustainability goals, some of the federal government’s largest suppliers met at a roundtable to discuss their part in reducing greenhouse gases.

“The companies attending this roundtable each do more than $1 billion a year in business with the U.S. Government and together account for about $45 billion in federal contract spending,” said a White House press release.

“Combined, they bring a total GHG reduction commitment of 5 million metric tons between 2008 and 2020.”

IBM, GE, Honeywell and Northrop Grumman are a few of the companies that attended the roundtable, with each lining out specific commitments to reduce their output of GHG.

Other sustainability requirements laid out in the Executive Order include mandates for federal government buildings to reduce energy, reduce water and employ clean energy sources.

Photo credit: JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Illinois Halts Its Plug-In Vehicle Rebate Program

By Estlin Link

BMW_Concept_X5_eDrive_Plug-668

In Illinois last week, Green Fleets announced that it has suspended its Alternative Fuel Rebate program.

Those who purchased alternative-fuel vehicles during or after 2014 will not receive a $4,000 rebate from the state that they might otherwise have expected.

Under the rebate program which begun in 1998, plug-in hybrid car buyers were able to attain rebates up to 80 percent of the incremental cost of the vehicle versus its fossil fuel powered confidante. The stipulation being, there was a $4,000 limit.

SEE ALSO: No Charge To Charge A Leaf Now In Chicago

Over the past 15 years this plan has been in place, Illinois has dealt out over $14 million in rebates for upwards of 13,000 vehicles. Some of these vehicles included the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, and Ford Focus EV to name a few, with the full list being posted over on the Illinois Green Fleet website.

According to representatives from the Illinois EPA there are no plans to to renew this rebate program, but there others similar. For instance, the Illinois Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Rebate Program is still divvying out up to 50 percent of the installment amount for a domestically created electric vehicle charging station of up to $3,000.

While this particular plan may have been phased out, Illinois still has plans to continue pushing a green energy focused agenda. Just last week, the Illinois General Assembly came forth with a bi-partisan backed piece of legislation in regards to green energy.

This legislation would allow the local utility company ComEd to invest $400 million in plug-in vehicle charging stations, as well as other community solar ventures.

Transport Evolved

New Bill Proposes $5,000 Fine For Diesels ‘Rolling Coal’

By Jeff Cobb
pickup-truck-rolling-coal_

A proposed law against diesel drivers who are caught “rolling coal” would fine them up to $5,000 for this increasingly popular practice of tampering with emission controls.

While some in the world are trying to go zero or partial zero emissions, others are finding it a new pass time to modify their trucks to spew heavy black soot and smoke in this practice reminiscent of an old time freight train.

Sponsored by Rep. Will Guzzardi of Illinois, the bill would give further reinforcement to preexisting U.S. EPA law against tampering with a vehicle’s emissions controls.

The proposal to change the EPA’s law says, “no person shall retrofit any diesel-powered vehicle with any device, smoke stack, or other equipment that enhances the vehicle’s capacity to emit soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions, or shall purposely release significant quantities of soot, smoke, or other particulate emissions into the air and onto roadways and other vehicles while operating the vehicle.”

The really perverse part of this practice that gained popularity last summer is being highlighted by certain individuals who deliberately time their blast of sooty smoke at pedestrians, cyclists, and other passersby.

 

Mar 27

Is the oil industry subsidized much more than the electrified vehicle industry?

 

Here’s some food for thought …

Volt_by_water

Critics of plug-in vehicle subsidization observe consumers and manufacturers get favorable treatment over the conventional vehicle space and while arguably true, one might also ask how things compare to what the oil industry receives year after year.

More pointedly, one could also ask whether accusations against alternative energy subsidization are a byproduct of vitriolic politics in a country without a unified energy policy yet with a long history of subsidizing all sorts of industries and special interests.

But it’s clear that producers – automakers, battery companies, others – and consumers alike are eligible for federal and in cases state and local incentives, tax breaks, subsidies, and more. What’s been elusive is quantifying or qualifying actual costs for plug-in vehicles versus the incumbent petroleum-based industry.

With U.S. gas prices now relatively lower, and new oil and gas sources having decreased petroleum imports to 33 percent according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, some consumers pay little heed to these and related details.

Elon_Musk_UK_Supercharger_RHD_Tesla-668

But if this is the case, they are afforded this luxury in part because the paradigm in this society based on oil is heavily underwritten and has been for decades.

Meanwhile others question whether taxpayer dollars spent on hopeful alternatives – or even sacrificed on bets like Solyndra and Fisker – are worth it for the U.S. to transition away from near-exclusive reliance on petroleum.

During the last presidential election opponents to Barack Obama chided him as not just picking winners and losers, but that he really was adept at picking losers.

Today we still hear echoes from 2012 repeated on what a taxpayer boondoggle alternative-energy transportation is, so let’s highlight just some of the issues surrounding money thrown at preferred industries and what society stands to gain or lose.

While of necessity touching on politicized issues, this article takes no position on specific policy, nor does it side with any party. The focus will instead be an attempt to raise some salient issues within practical space limitations.

Subsidy Briefly Defined

Investopedia defines “subsidy” as:

A benefit given by the government to groups or individuals usually in the form of a cash payment or tax reduction. The subsidy is usually given to remove some type of burden and is often considered to be in the interest of the public.

 
Further, subsidies can come in many direct and indirect forms but they amount to savings or compensation for a certain group – such as oil companies, or electric car buyers or start-up companies, and so forth.

Definitions can vary as to what clearly constitutes a subsidy and the broadest defining scope simply asks whether a group or entity gains or loses due to policies in place. This is particularly true of the oil industry, and estimates range broadly depending on who is counting what benefits.

Reasons For Plug-ins

The U.S. consumes two-thirds of its oil presently on transportation. Reasons for weaning away from an energy source President George W. Bush once said America is “addicted to” are varied and include something for everyone.

Environmental – Battery powered vehicles like Nissan’s Leaf or Tesla’s Model S emit no greenhouse gas and rely on electricity that can be renewably sourced and generally cleaner.

2013_Leaf_grass_frontview

Among others, the International Energy Agency said last fall globally fossil fuels are being subsidized more than renewables and a shift in policy is yet needed in light of climate change.

It said by century’s end the world’s temperature could rise 3.6 degrees Celsius increasing risk of serious storms, drought, rising sea levels and dire consequences beyond.

“The huge subsidies fossil fuels enjoy worldwide gives incentives to their consumption, which means that I’m paying you to pollute the world and use energy inefficiently,” said Fatih Birol, IEA chief economist November 12.

Energy Security – Battery electric cars are powered by domestically sourced energy. Gasoline and diesel vehicles use a commodity whose price is set on world markets, outside of U.S. control, and which costs billions in military protection annually to help keep supply and prices relatively stable.

Even if the U.S. did produce 100-percent of its own oil the world market price could still mean it is not cheap. Presently prices are dropping because the OPEC cartel is reportedly driving down petroleum’s market rate to try and hurt the U.S. oil and gas industry, not because the U.S. is oversupplied.

Anne Korin, co-director of the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security (IAGS) who advocates fuel choice – plug-ins being just one type – says dependence on strategically important oil is like when nations once needed salt for the preservation of food. Before improved preservation techniques and eventually refrigeration came along, salt was of strategic importance and nations dictated policy around this vital commodity and even went to war over it or decided where to colonize based on its availability.

Korin attributes the salt dependence solution to Napoleon who recognized his army’s vulnerability. The emperor offered a prize and within 10 years a French chef devised canning that made salt far less a matter of a national security risk.

Today, Korin observes, the U.S. and other nations so dependent on petroleum’s monopoly are just as vulnerable as nations of old that lacked salt. One might see significant irony in this: For all the sophistication represented by today’s internal combustion vehicles and the society that is so proud of them, their fuel represents an Achilles’ heel and effectively backward state of affairs likened to a geopolitical dilemma from the 18th century.

And, experts note, the stakes may even be higher today. In a 2006 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee – recommended to us by Korin – Milton R. Copulous, president of the National Defense Fund Council observed nations will go to war over oil. Even in peacetime petrodollars wind up in the hands of terrorists and drug cartels.

However, oil is needed and Copulous said a supply disruption could tally into the trillions showing another irony: For anyone who is pro plug-in and detests oil, you may want to call it evil, but it is a necessary evil if so. The world runs on the stuff, and there is no getting around it yet, but plug-ins and other alternatives do pose a latent solution at least in potential.

Economic Leadership – The U.S. also once signed off on bipartisan-sponsored bills allowing for the limited $7,500 federal consumer tax credit for PEV purchases on the theory that this would prop up a global technological advantage.

SEE ALSO: Does The $7,500 Plug-In Car Tax Credit Need Reform?

Other first-world nations are working on electrification of transportation, and it was recognized the industry needed a jump start in the face of the entrenched oil industry.

Oil Industry Subsidies

Believed-reliable estimates on what the oil industry receives annually in the U.S. vary from $10 billion to $52 billion.

Discrepancies can depend on what is counted as a subsidy and there is disagreement obviously on what to count.

The bulk of these incentives amount to tax breaks and giveaways according to Oil Change International, an advocacy “exposing the true costs of fossil fuels.”

oil_rig_Long_Beach

Five major producers counted are BP, Exxon, Chevron, Shell and ConocoPhillips. Beyond these a host of smaller but still substantial “independent oil companies” which round out a significant production volume in the neighborhood of 50 percent.

Counting the financing of overseas projects by the U.S., Oil Change International estimates $37.5 billion per year in subsidies go toward highly profitable companies that others would call “corporate welfare” to enable them to continue producing carbon.

One NGO, Earth Track, run by Harvard-educated Doug Koplow who was interviewed for this story figures $52 billion per year goes to the fossil fuel industry. This estimate counts costs of defending pipelines and Persian Gulf shipping lanes.

Ironically again, while Obama has been blamed for subsidizing the PEV industry, another consequence of his policies have sent more dollars per year to the oil industry.

Since Obama took office, the federal government under the “All of the Above” policy has increased subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and production from $12.7 billion in 2009 to $18.5 billion last year – a 45-percent increase.

The U.S. oil and gas boom has been the recipient and Oil Change International says this “amounts to nothing less than climate change denial.” Obama has tried every year to cut oil industry subsidies but Congress allegedly influenced by campaign financiers and lobbyists has never entertained ending these perks to the oil industry.

Hidden Costs of Oil

As touched on above, associated costs with staying reliant upon one fuel type is a far more complex equation than today’s price of gas at the pump. Extra costs are known by economists as “externalities.”

An negative externality is cost born by others because of a benefit received by someone else.

asthma

Taxpayers and citizens also bear costs annually to the climate, local and global environment, and to physical health, among other concerns.

Most subsidy estimates do not factor these indirect costs which can vary between billions of dollars to potentially the end of civilization as we know it and the loss of millions of lives.

That sounds extreme, but depending on whose viewpoint you listen to, climate change is either a “scam” and a “hoax” or humans are doing untold damage to the environment that no actuary could reasonably tie a dollar amount to.

"ISIS is largely financed by private donations from the Gulf states Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Other sources of funding include the oil fields in northern Syria, as well as systematic extortion," says dw.de.

“ISIS is largely financed by private donations from the Gulf states Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Other sources of funding include the oil fields in northern Syria, as well as systematic extortion,” says dw.de.

Less controversial are aforementioned military costs around the world, occasional wars, as well as human health disorders including respiratory illnesses like asthma and major diseases like cancer.

In 2009 The New York Times reported the National Academy of Science pinned health related costs at $120 billion per year worldwide from burning fossil fuels.

For the U.S., military costs run many times this depending on estimates.

Subsidies for PEVs

Plug-in car buyers are eligible to apply for a $7,500 federal tax credit. It’s been estimated that if 100 percent of this were captured and maxed out for every manufacturer eligible for 200,000 PEVs each, it could cost $15 billion over several years in federal tax revenues.

Since many PEV buyers are not eligible because of their tax situation to claim the full credit, the actual dollar amount will be less.

BMW-i3_Main

Beyond this, various states offer incentives of up to a third of the federal tax credit, but pinning a dollar amount on this has been elusive.

On the local level, various consumer perks amounting up to the hundreds or low thousands of dollars exist, such as credits to residents in certain California regions, as well as by utilities there and in other states such as Georgia and elsewhere.

SEE ALSO: Which States Offer The Best EV Incentives?

To manufacturers, Obama offered $2.4 billion in federal grants and up to $400 million for PEV infrastructure. Monies have also been allocated for charging stations partially or wholly subsidized for consumers.

Critics could make the case that the plug-in industry is taking more than the hybrid industry once did such as a $3,400 tax credit from the Bush administration in 2005 for the most efficient hybrid cars that expired end of 2010.

But all told, year after year, the total dollar amount toward the yet-tiny PEV industry is far less than the lowest $10 billion annual estimate toward the oil industry.

Externalities to the environment, climate, and health are less. And, military expenditures to defend U.S. electricity supply and pricing overseas, of course, are not an issue.

To be sure coal does pollute and emit greenhouse gases but the Union of Concerned Scientists figures the dirtiest grids powering EVs says these net less emissions than average gas cars and most grids are far cleaner.

SEE ALSO: Is Electricity a Clean Energy Source?

By 2040 the IEA estimates almost half the world’s energy will be by renewable sources.

Payoff So Far

Since December 2010 when the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt were launched and only a handful of PEVs had been sold, the U.S. purchase tally has been brought to over 320,000.

The standard $30,000-some battery electric car with 80-some miles range is due to be replaced by similarly priced second-generation EVs with 200-plus mile EPA-rated range.

Bolt_1
These are the Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model 3. Automobile magazine also reported Ford may introduce a similarly priced and specified dedicated EV for that same timeframe as well, but this is not confirmed.

This progress of more than doubling range happened inside of six years. Cars powered by batteries have not seen year-over-year increases as Moore’s Law dictates for the computer chip, but progress and momentum have been significant.

So government investments – not to mention efficiency mandates and corporate will – do appear to be paying off.

Further, there has been a spillover effect cascading benefits into the world of conventional internal combustion vehicles.

Tricks like regenerative braking and on-board batteries used for simply powering accessories and saving gas engines are a byproduct of the move toward electrification.

Meanwhile battery labs around the world are working on the next big leap.

In sum, there are always costs in shifting society. Yes the nascent PEV industry is being subsidized, but so is the mature oil industry – far more, and then you have the extra costs born.

 

Mar 26

2016 Malibu gets an infusion of Volt technology

 

This is promising, is it not?

2015-Chevrolet-Malibu

By Sarah Shelton

Chevrolet announced that it is creating a hybrid version of the Malibu sedan for next year, borrowing technology from the Volt to build the hybrid’s powertrain.

The Malibu Hybrid takes technology from the Volt, but its overall powertrain will be brand new. For the base drive unit, engineers are using a slightly modified system from the Volt. Components such as the regenerative braking system and power electronics will also carry over.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Lithium-Ion Battery System, 1.8L Engine and Drive Unit. Photo courtesy of General Motors.

Chevrolet is introducing new technology as well. The Malibu Hybrid will house the brand’s first engine fitted with Exhaust Gas Heat Recovery and Exhaust Gas Recirculation. These systems extract heat from the exhaust to warm the engine for better fuel economy. It also warms the cabin area in cold weather.

SEE ALSO: How Much Better Is The 2016 Volt?

Powering Chevy’s new hybrid is a direct-injection 1.8-liter 4-cylinder engine with an overall output of 182 horsepower. This is somewhat beefier than the 2015 Volt’s 1.4-liter engine and its total output of 149 horsepower.

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Lithium-Ion Battery System. Courtesy of General Motors.

Rounding out the Malibu’s electric setup is an 80-cell, 1.5 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack. When running in all-electric mode, the Malibu Hybrid can reach up to 55 miles per hour.

Fuel economy is pretty even in both cars, with a slight edge for the new powertrain. The Malibu Hybrid’s predicted 45 mpg tops the 2016 Volt’s EPA-rated 41 mpg. Chevrolet didn’t post an all-electric range for the Malibu Hybrid (the Volt, for reference, has an emission-free range of 50 miles).

Courtesy of General Motors.

“The 2016 Malibu Hybrid will offer impressive fuel economy, exceptional driving characteristics and gorgeous styling,” said Jesse Ortega, Chevrolet Malibu chief engineer.

“Besides leveraging innovation from the Chevrolet Volt, the Malibu Hybrid also has unique features that help improve aerodynamics, like upper and lower grille air shutters to improve airflow and a reduced ride height, all of which help reduce fuel consumption,” Ortega said.

Chevrolet hasn’t released pictures of the design for the new Malibu Hybrid yet (pictured above is the 2015 Malibu), but said it plans to deliver the sedans to dealers starting in the spring of 2016.

 

Mar 25

Can Tesla surf the wave with Model X through to Model 3 and beyond?

 

Another video confirms Tesla is out and about driving the Model X, and will this car once launched be enough to propel the company to beyond Gigafactory and Model 3?

Model_X_Palo_Alto
Just a few months ago, at least one analyst noted the Model X was not being viewed road testing but with recent spy photos, and other videos of a white and a black one, that seems no longer a worry.

The vehicle is well delayed though. It was originally supposed to be in production end of 2013, then late 2014, now they’re hoping later this year.

That’s the so-so news, but depending on perspective, one could spin that positively saying they want it perfect, so it’s worth the wait. And, Tesla has reservations booked quite far out.

Has anyone seen Cadillac announce a model and have all the cars it can build for 24 months straight sold in advance?

However while Tesla may be cruising in scenic Palo Alto, others say it is not out of the woods yet.

It has yet to start turning solid profits quarter after quarter, is in growth mode, while Elon Musk did say by 2025 there was an outside chance Tesla would be worth as much as Apple.

To its further credit, among many (actual) credits, the company has managed without advertising to play the media like a maestro plays a Stradivarius.

At least usually it’s pretty well in tune, and the music comes often and for free to Tesla as its stock first let it pay off its $465M loan early, then leverage influence beyond its balance sheet.

Why, Tesla is so bloomin’ successful, it even inspires trolls to come to GM-Volt.com to say hateful things about it and its leader. Or, maybe they would have regardless?

Anyway, where Tesla has acually been a goad is with GM itself. This has been documented and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said Nissan would in turn see its Leaf right there with the Bolt. Further, an insider report by Automobile magazine said Ford could follow – although BMW has not indicated it will yet with any 200-mile, mainstreamish-priced BEVs (so will BMW soon be playing second fiddle?).

Unknown that, but it will potentially be Tesla’s cheapest car that tests it the most if and when we get to see the Model 3.

Handling mass customers as it says it wants to will be something else, and already it’s seemingly challenged as unlike with the Model S and X – which were revealed in various stages of pre-production several years before launch – no one yet has seen a Model 3.

It is supposed to be here 2017 – and is really late too. In July 2012 Tesla designer Franz von Holzhausen told UK’s Autocar the entry level BMW fighter would be “on sale by 2015.”

Does Tesla still have its work cut out for it? Will it fold like disgruntled commenters have said? Will it be sold out?

Or will it run the ball for a 90-yard touchdown?

We shall see. Next up is Model X. The video shows 20 seconds and since posting last Thursday it has around 80,000 views, 200 thumbs up and two thumbs down.

Gotta love being a populist cause.

 
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