Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Nov 10

Leno: early EVs ‘killed’ because they were seen as women’s cars

 

GM may have been castigated once upon a recent time as the evil corporation that killed the electric car, but for their first go-around in history, Jay Leno says EVs were killed off because they were considered women’s cars.

GM_EV1

This was revealed during a brief video where Leno is being interviewed while driving his 1909 Baker Electric around his modestly outfitted garage which houses his little car collection. (That any car aficionado would love to have!)

Baker_ad

Not known to have any discriminatory views against women, and now a definite fan of the Chevy Volt, Jay appears to be speaking of facts. Women in the early 20th century did not constitute the buying power of today, did not drive to the degree that they now do, and EVs were “extremely popular” with them, he said.

Why? Women did not have to crank-start them, Leno observed, gas cars were dirty and smelly, and EVs were smooth, quiet, and avoided all the muss and fuss.

The marketing and the accessorizing of the electric car to appeal to women appears to have been a deal breaker for men, Leno observed.

And as we know, history took a turn toward the internal combustion engine – which also combined with inexpensive and potent gasoline made for powerful, fast, long-legged vehicles.

The electric starter came along on a 1912 Cadillac (does that mean GM helped kill the first electric car too?) and in time handled objection number one.

But now with EVs coming back, the paradigm is entirely different. Men and women buy them, the Volt has helped erase bad feelings from the latest forced EV die-off, and we’re pretty sure the new Volt will not come with a flower holder accessory, or a vanity mirror and face powder dispenser on the door like Leno’s Baker has.

 

Nov 07

Detroit area Volt owner has power cut by HOA

 

If electric cars are going to proliferate it will help not to discriminate against them, as Natalie Forte alleges against her homeowner’s association.

waterford_Volt_HOA
 

The Waterford, Michigan condo resident had her electricity cut in a dispute when her homeowners association charged what she said was four-times the actual electric costs to charge her car. Forte, an investigator for a law firm, says she gave them a $50 check but they left it un-cashed, asking instead $200. She says the DTE electric bill for the garage unit was around what she agreed to pay.

Now instead of using the wall outlet in her garage, she runs a 100-foot extension cord down steps at night while neighbors run appliances like refrigerators 24/7 at no extra cost.

The news reporter says the homeowner association president hung up on him twice, and was none too forthcoming, saying only the association voted 4-1 against the resident.

That’s the angle at this juncture. Have you seen other acts that appear hostile, capricious, ignorant, and downright un-Norwegian (I just made that last descriptor up, how do you like it? … :)


 

What does Forte call it?

“Gouging. Definitely gouging,” she said.

What is the solution?

 

Nov 06

Tesla lost more money Q3, delayed Model X a fourth time, but inspiring investor confidence

 

Not sure if it’s coated with Teflon, but Tesla is getting a pass for all the positive potential it presents.

A delay here, a loss there, but the Model S is well regarded, and Model X is promised, and so is Model 3 later.

Beyond that, a lot positive is happening for the up-and-coming company including a Gigafactory, Superchargers, and plenty more …

Model_X
 

Tesla Model X Delayed To Q3 2015

 

The many thousands of reservation holders for Tesla’s Model X had rumors and an analyst’s conjecture confirmed yesterday as production will be delayed until the third quarter of 2015.

In 2012 we reported Tesla would begin deliveries the end of 2013, but then in March 2013 when Tesla repaid its $465 million loan early it also pushed it to late 2014. After that, it became first quarter of 2015. And as of yesterday’s shareholder disclosure of Q3 2014 earnings Model X was announced as due for Q3 2015

Tesla’s delay was centered around many irons in the fire, to say the least.

“Work continues on the finalization of Model X with the testing of Alpha prototypes and initial builds of the first Beta prototypes, said Tesla’s shareholder letter. “Model X powertrain development is almost complete with the early introduction of Dual Motor drive on Model S. We recently decided to build in significantly more validation testing time to achieve the best Model X possible. This will also allow for a more rapid production ramp compared to Model S in 2012.”

Its Model X delay also prompted an analysis piece in Forbes saying Tesla is falling behind in manufacturing and starting to look like Detroit automakers in this regard.

For its part, Tesla conceded the company could be validly criticized.

“This also is a legitimate criticism of Tesla – we prefer to forgo revenue, rather than bring a product to market that does not delight customers. Doing so negatively affects the short term, but positively affects the long term. There are many other companies that do not follow this philosophy that may be a more attractive home for investor capital. Tesla is not going to change.”

Forbes noted Morgan analyst Adam Jonas had predicted Model X would be delayed until the third quarter last month.

Jonas cited four reasons in his note to investors why Model X would be postponed again.

Model_X_garage
 
1) Major launches are often delayed, even if Model X had been delayed more than others; 2) Pre-production prototypes were not being sufficiently seen testing on public roads; 3) Model S with all-wheel-drive was a surpise announcements, and Tesla could want to put a time gap between it and X; 4) Model X will be more special technologically, more complex, and Tesla will want to do it right.

This latter observation especially was confirmed by Tesla’s CEO.

“I do think the X is going to be quite special, but it’s harder to engineer and it’s hard to produce.”

Tesla also updated its website yesterday.

The P60D all-wheel-drive is not yet available, and the P85 was deleted, being substituted for the all-wheel-drive P85D starting at $105,670.

And of course, reservations are still being taken for Model X.

Shareholder letter, Forbes
 

After-Hours Tesla Shares Up On Third Quarter Earnings

 
Tesla delivered 7,785 cars from July-September – close to the 7,800 predicted, and up 41.5 percent year over year.

Tesla said also its Q3 net loss increased from a year prior to $74.7 million, nearly double last year.

Tesla_Store1
 
But the company is experiencing growing pains, including having poured the foundation of its Gigafactory in Nevada, growth in Europe and Asia, and now 81 more Superchargers globally, tallied by 124 in the U.S., 82 in Europe, and 23 in China.

Q3 production was cut by 2,000 units during July-September for a longer than anticipated plant closure to retool for Model X, which is now delayed to Q3 2015.

Next year, Tesla has set its production at 50,000 vehicles, including the Model X.

In all, Tesla beat analysts’ $892.1 million forecast with $932 million in revenue, a year-over-year increase of 55 percent.

In after hours trading Tesla shares jumped more than 7 percent to $247.48. The 52-week range for TSLA has been $116.10 to $291.42.

And it’s onward and upward.

 

Nov 05

GM gives engineers a closer look at its new Volt powertrain

 

GM gave a deep(er) dive for the Society of Automotive Engineers into the gen-2 Volt’s powertrain, and divulged total range and energy efficiency will increase about 12 percent.

That would improve 380 gas plus electric miles to 425 but for Volt owners this is far less important than all-electric range.

2016-Chevrolet-Volt-Teaser

“Greater range (particularly in EV mode), fuel efficiency, and power were the top three requests from owners of 2011-2013 Volt models,” said SAE International

So, is it reasonable to say if it’s 12 percent overall, and better in EV mode than gas mode, that AER was boosted by more than 12 percent? Not sure, but if so, a 12-percent increase to 38 miles is 42.5 miles, so “greater” than this means AER could be greater than 42.5.

Of course everyone already suspects as much, but this is another solid clue, at least.

As for fuel mileage – now regular, not premium – the 2015 Volt was rated at 37 mpg, so a 12-percent increase would boost it to 41.4 mpg, which might mean 41-42 on the sticker, but this too was not disclosed.

GM is withholding specific efficiency numbers until the Detroit reveal, but does say it responded to its driver pool who gave extensive feedback for GM to re-engineer the powertrain.

There is one misreport floating out there saying the SAE was told the 2016 Volt will keep the 2015’s “16″ kilowatt-hour pack capacity for its redesigned pack, but this is certainly incorrect as the 2015 has 17.1 kwh.

The specific capacity of the pack was not disclosed by SAE International’s report, but as reported earlier it’s 30-percent lighter, and has a reduced number of cells from 288 to 192 (still 96 cells in series).

“The larger cells also are positioned .5-in (12.7-mm) lower in the pack which in turn lowers the new Volt’s center of gravity,” said SAE International of the clean sheet design.

Actually the whole Voltec powertrain is a fresh start, and also now 130 pounds lighter with the 1.5-liter’s aluminum block accounting for a good chunk next to the iron block of the outgoing 1.4.

“I can’t think of a powertrain we’ve re-engineered more extensively within a five-year period than this one,” said Larry Nitz, GM’s Executive Director, Transmission and Electrification to SAE International.

A revised TPIM (traction power inverter module) is now direct mounted to the transmission case eliminating the heavy orange 400-A cables. GM said the focus was system integration.

The 1.5 reduces NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) and the 1.0-liter turbo everyone thought was going to be installed was unacceptably noisy at points, especially at start up.

In all, efficiencies were found in re-vamping much of the system which now uses two redesigned motors. The new Volt has 20-percent more low-end power, is lighter, quieter, has more range.

Unanswered is anything about a fifth seat, and of course a breakdown of the range and efficiency numbers. The actual details will be announced in January unless some other leak happens sooner.

SAE International

 

Nov 04

October: 1,439 Volts sold in up month for GM

 

General Motors posted a number of records for its vehicle sales in October, but the Volt is just cruising along with 1,439 units delivered.

This is consistent with September’s 1,394 sales, but compared to October 2013’s sales, the Volt was down 28.8 percent.

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Calendar year to date GM has delivered 15,979 Volts compared to 18,782 CYTD in 2013.

So what carried the day for GM? Bread and butter vehicles, including the Cruze with 24,289 sold, and up 51 percent over the 16,087 unts in October 2013. And then you have SUVs and trucks led by the Silverado, which topped every model by far with 46,966 units delivered, a 10.1 percent increase over 2013’s 42,660.

Beyond these, Buick had its best October since 2003, GMC Sierra had its best October since 2001, and as a company, GM had its best October since 2007.

“The U.S. economy has steadily improved all year and now we are poised for a stronger expansion backed by an improved job market, higher consumer confidence and lower fuel prices,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations. “We have a strong hand to play, with the industry’s newest and most complete line-up of pickups and SUVs, class-leading crossovers like the Buick Encore and a wealth of new products in the pipeline.”

Plug-ins

One of those new products in the pipeline is the 2016 Volt, due for deliveries second half of 2015. Given that the existing Volt is not advertised well if at all, and folks still do not know how it works, and it may be in lame duck status somewhat now, it may be considered doing alright.

By comparison the Nissan Leaf reported its 21st straight month of sales records of one form or another. October witnessed 2,589 units sold, and with 24,411 units delivered calendar year to date, and Nissan’s EV achieved the most U.S. sales in a year by an electric car, and this is with two months to go.

Other plug-in sales of note include Cadillac ELR, 152; Spark EV, 58; BMW i3, 1,159; i8, 204 – up from 58 September and 9 in August when it was launched.

Then you have Tesla, guesstimated at 1,650 by Autodata. By the way, Tesla’s earnings will be reported tomorrow where we get to see who wins the PR spat between Elon and the WSJ which said Tesla sales are down for the last nine months.

Ford’s Energi cars are on par with the month prior with 644 for C-Max, and 686 for Fusion.

The Ford Focus Electric still has not risen higher in sales though it is a 50-state car now, and just had its entry price clipped a second time, to $29,995 in line with the Leaf. It delivered 186 October, and that’s close to the 176 from September, and less than 254 in August.

Want more plug-in sales? Fiat 500e, 140; Accord PHEV, 34; Fit EV, 23; new M-B B-Class Electric Drive, 98 – up from 65 in Sept., 51 in August. Mitsu i-MiEV, 17; Panamera S E-Hybrid, 97 (NOt BMW i8 eclipsed it); Smart ForTwo 150; RAV4 EV, 97, e-Golf, 1.

And Toyota PiP sold 479.

Miscellaneous Commentary

As readers here know, average consumer memories seem short, and buying decisions appear rather reactive. Americans like larger vehicles, and gas just last week crested below a national average of $3 per gallon, making feeding less-efficient vehicles comparatively less painful.

Nissan knows consumers care about gas prices, and even if the stuff is cheaper than Perrier, it gave gas for free to consumers for its latest ad to hammer home the point that EVs can be cheaper still.

Speaking of Nissan also, it has escaped as much of a lame duck status even if it will eventually be replaced and is as long in the tooth as the Volt – assuming either really are, actually, they both remain relatively stellar.

But Nissan’s 84-mle range EV has had no official next-gen announcements as the Chevy has. It by contrast is being advertised, and Nissan puts out special press releases touting its latest records in the nascent industry.

GM’s effective Volt advertising is the Volt is on its way out, and a new one is around the corner. That message is hitting the national media more than the existing Volt’s still-valid advantages, which GM gave up on trying to push as hard.

Here’s hoping Gen 2 is as super duper as everyone suspects, and then some. We may see some serious catching up at that point – assuming GM can properly support it and this is not just a bone thrown to the fan club it has developed.

Where is that Voltec CUV? If Americans love trucks and SUVs, could a plug-in sell, or not? VIA seems to think so, but with sales growth of the existing 17-20 mpg Silverado, who needs a plug, in perhaps?

What Americans bought most last month.

What Americans bought most last month.

What ever the case, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon, and progress is on its way.

Every plug-in car out there is potentially advertisement for the others. Once people’s eyes are opened to any plug-in car, they may think to cross-shop. If GM is fortunate, it might get a few inadvertent conquest sales from people for whom the light bulb goes off after hearing about Tesla or Nissan, then look for alternatives.

Of course the best alternative will be Gen 2 Volt which will come soon enough – or, which is it? Maybe it can’t come soon enough?

Our vote is the former, and note the due-to-be-replaced old Volt was the third-best selling out of 20 cars.

 

Nov 03

Simple reason why Toyota is not building EVs: “No one” wants one, says manager

 

There will be more news from many outlets this month on Toyota’s FCV.

Toyota will have five pre-production FCVs lined up and will be funneling 75 journalists through on a test drive complete with fill-up at an H2 station. This will be its own separate media event before the LA Auto Show.

Anyone who wants me to ask some pointed questions this month, please post them in comments or e-mail me.

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Having long basked in an enviro-reputation for its hybrids, Toyota has been saying battery electric cars don’t make sense, and as it prepares to show its fuel cell car to the U.S. next month, it’s said more.

“Today, Toyota actually favors fuel cells over other zero-emission vehicles, like pure battery electric vehicles,” said Craig Scott, the company’s national manager of advanced technologies. “We would like to be still selling cars when there’s no more gas. And no one is coming to our door asking us to build a new electric car.”

In response, EV advocates have viewed this “no one” wants a Toyota EV statement with feelings ranging from dismay to disgust to finding it humorous. The quote was originally given to the LA Times as Toyota amps up for its FCV preview.

But do people really not want Toyota to engineer and produce a battery electric car?

SEE ALSO: Is Toyota’s No-EV Vision Brilliant Or Missing The Boat?
It’s being said customers would ask Toyota to build an EV, but marketers tend to focus on their corporate strategy, and the negative outlook on lithium-ion battery cars has been the view from Japan for a few years now.

At the same time it’s been reported Toyota is at work in Japan on more-advanced batteries for use in EVs that would provide better energy storage, more convenient charging, better cold weather durability, and all around make for a superior electric car.

So while it seems to some Toyota is quitting early, characteristic of Japanese manufacturers, Toyota is a long-range planning company. It yet considers its options open, and is at work on technologies including solid state chemistry even if its U.S. arm is playing out of the Japanese corporate playbook it’s been handed.

And for now, Toyota is focused mostly on fuel cells.

As noted, the fuel cell vehicle is getting a big boost as the the company prepares for corporate big wigs to show the media their company’s first FCV in Newport Beach, Calif. This will happen Nov. 16-18, a couple days in advance of the LA Auto Show in Long Beach to air the point-counterpoint, and make Toyota’s case.

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The company also is at work on an improved plug-in Prius hybrid – a car now rated for 11 miles EV range, and the lowest of plug-in hybrids sold stateside. Unknown is Toyota’s range goal, but it will use li-ion batteries, and Toyota is at least dedicated to this model.

But Toyota has exhibited a habit of saying things negatively against EVs, and this may not be helping it. To us in New York early this year, it for the record spoke only benignly of EVs, and made a point of not stepping on toes, even if since someone at the company did again.

And as a result, EV fans have been saying things like Toyota is “painting itself into a corner” with its outspoken support for FCVs, and sidestepping EVs.

It has become a bit of a “zero sum game,” an either/or proposition in the minds of some. Perhaps most outspoken for the notion that the time of the EV is now have been Tesla and Nissan, with other automakers following in development of electric cars.

What’s more, California’s Air Resources Board award nine Zero Emissions Vehicle credits to an FCV, while even EVs like Tesla’s Model S get four.

You can see how that’s a regulatory carrot on a stick for Toyota, Hyundai, Daimler, Honda, and we’ll see who’s next. And yes, natural gas will be used for now as the feed stock to make hydrogen, so that keeps that fossil fuel in business as well.

All this and many more details that could make for a long debate are true enough, but the jury is out on Toyota’s ultimate game.

SEE ALSO: Toyota Preparing For ‘The Next 100 Years’ With Fuel Cell Vehicles
Toyota has said it has not ruled out EVs forever into perpetuity. That’s merely its position now. If it or another company devises a better battery, it could rethink EVs later this decade or next decade.

It may have alienated some of the faithful in the mean time, but this is where things are.

So, unknown is how this will shake out in the long run. Memories may be long in the public for the company that gave the world the Prius and now says “no one is coming to our door asking us to build a new electric car.”

Or, as has happened before, people may forget about it if later Toyota comes up with a new whiz-bang EV and it meets peoples’ needs, wants, and desires – when ever that may be.

LA Times via Autoblog Green

 
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