Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Apr 13

Musk hints Tesla might maximize tax credit-eligible Model 3 deliveries after credit expires


Question 1 is whether Tesla will really game the system this much. Question 2 is would GM? (probably not?) Question 3 is what are the odds of an extension being granted? Question 4 is should Congress raise the cap above 200k units? Is it effectively “penalizing” first movers?

By Jon LeSage


Tesla Motors may take a creative approach to address concerns Model 3 buyers have about the federal tax credit disappearing.

While the $7,500 federal tax credit on the Model 3 would potentially bring the $35,000 starting price down to an effective $27,500, it is on course to be phasing out by the time these electric cars show up for delivery starting as soon as late 2017.

This is because Tesla will likely be reaching the federal tax cap of 200,000 cars through its Model S and Model X deliveries by the time the Model 3 is ready to roll out.

SEE ALSO: Tesla To Partially Show Model 3 Next Month – Federal Tax Credits For It Could Be Quite Limited

Tesla owners have been concerned enough about the disappearing incentive to question Tesla CEO Elon Musk on his Twitter page – and to suggest a solution.

A few Tesla customers and analysts have noticed a bit of a loophole in the IRS rules for the credit, The $7,500 credit isn’t cut until the end of the quarter after the one in which a company hits its limit of 200,000 cars delivered in the U.S. Tesla could extend that time period by reaching the limit on the first day of a quarter then deliver Model 3s over the next six months before the credit begins to disappear.

Tesla may be willing to support this solution, Musk tweeted.

“We always try to maximize customer happiness even if that means a revenue shortfall in a quarter,” Musk replied to comments in an April 3 post on Twitter.

When asked whether he thinks Model S and Model X tax incentives will exhaust the remaining credits, Musk posted a vague response. “Our production ramp plan should enable large numbers of [new customers] to receive the credit,” Musk wrote.

Analysts are watching to see whether the federal tax credit will raise the bar on the automaker that has struggled in the past to deliver products on time.

SEE ALSO: How Long Does The 2017 Chevy Bolt Have Before Federal Credits Begin Fading Away?

The federal tax policy has been structured so that once an automaker sells 200,000 qualifying electric vehicles in the U.S. market, a phase-out begins. Once that 200,000 unit sale mark is reached, the IRS cuts the tax credit in half for the next two quarters to a maximum of $3,750. Then the IRS slashes the tax credit in half again for another two quarters – after which the credit goes away. Auto industry analysts expect Tesla to cross the 200,000 threshold as soon as 2018, once deliveries of the Model 3 begin.

Automotive News

This article appears also at


Apr 12

Ford May Have Had Good Reason Not To Have Let Tesla Use the ‘Model E’ Name


Does GM need a “Prius fighter” too, or is that the Volt?

By Tim Healey


Tesla wanted to call the Model 3 the Model E, but Ford, which trademarked the name in 2013 before Tesla did, blocked that, and new reports suggest why this was.

Ford is reportedly working on a hybrid model under that name that is meant to be a Toyota-Prius fighter, and it’s possible this car could spawn plug-in hybrid and EV variants.

SEE ALSO: Will We See a Tesla Model E By 2018?

According to Automotive News, research firm AutoForecast Solutions says the car as yet unconfirmed by Ford could be built in San Luis Potosi, Mexico at a plant that’s being reworked to the tune of $1.6 billion, and which is also expected to build the next Focus.

Construction begins this summer, with production of new vehicles expected to begin in two years. Ford expects the plant to create 2,800 jobs by 2020.

SEE ALSO: Who Else Besides Toyota Will The Hyundai Ioniq Threaten?

The Mexican plant is slated to produce between 300,000 and 350,000 units eventually, and the Model E could make up 50,000 units of that.

Ford has yet to build a truly effective Prius fighter. Ford does offer the C-Max people mover in hybrid and plug-in hybrid flavor, and these are positioned against Toyota, but represent alternatives that have not been successful in the past few years of coming close to its sales volume.

A counter example of a much-closer to Prius-spec contender is the Hyundai Ioniq which matches or beats the Prius on several meaningful powertrain efficiency categories. The Fords are larger, and more powerful, but less efficient on gas, and in any case, it may be Ford sees the need for something more.

If Ford builds the Model E, it would mark the first Ford platform dedicated solely to an electrified powertrain.

While the Model E may be a rumor for now, if it does come to fruition and offer the three different powertrains, it would follow in the footsteps of the Hyundai Ioniq, which will be the first vehicle to offer all three powertrains on a car with the same bodystyle. Like the Prius, the Ioniq will be a hatchback, so the Model E likely would be, too.

If it comes to be, that is. Stay tuned.

Digital Trends, Automotive News

This article appears also at


Apr 11

One Way for a Better Plug-in Hybrid


Hint: “one way” is a play on words.

By JeffN


The 2017 Prius Prime was revealed at the New York Auto Show recently and one of its major new features is the ability to use both of its electric motors together when accelerating with the gas engine off.

Several other plug-in hybrid models announced during the past year also have this kind of “dual motor” ability starting with the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica minivan, and the 2017 Cadillac CT6.

Using both motors together seems like an obvious idea and some will wonder why it wasn’t being done by the first generation Prius Plug-in. The key to understanding dual motor use is, oddly enough, not really the motors. It’s about the battery.


The original 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrid had a relatively small battery that could nominally store up to 4.4 kilowatt-hours of energy and put out up to 38 kW (51 horsepower) of instantaneous power. The bigger of the car’s two electric motors was designed to use up to 60 kW (80 horsepower) generated in part by the gas engine together with power taken from the battery during hybrid operation. So, 38 kW just from the battery’s output alone with the gas engine off was not a problem.

The Prius Prime, Toyota’s replacement for the original Prius Plug-in, has twice the nominal battery capacity at 8.8 kWh and almost twice the power output capability at 68 kW (91 horsepower). That’s more power than the big motor on the 2012 Prius Plug-in could have handled but the new Prius Prime actually has a somewhat less powerful motor.


The Prime shares most of its powertrain with the 2016 Prius. When Toyota redesigned the hybrid system for the new Prius its engineers realized they could obtain similar or better overall hybrid performance with improved gas mileage by optimizing the engine and parts of the transaxle and this included downsizing the bigger motor from 60 kW to 53 kW.

Thus, the big motor can no longer handle the full output of the new Prius Prime battery by itself. Toyota could have made a larger motor (and more powerful motor controls) just for the Prime. Instead, it chose to use the existing motors together in order to utilize the full 68 kW (91 horsepower) from the Prime’s larger battery.

The vehicles from GM and Toyota use a somewhat similar electrically variable power-split transmission design that ties these two motors, the gas engine, and the wheels together using one or more planetary gear sets. Chrysler is believed to use a similar design as well.

Due to the way the smaller motor/generator is geared to the gasoline engine, any attempt to use it during electric-only driving would cause the engine to spin backwards rather than drive the wheels of the car forward. This problem has now been fixed by adding a one-way clutch to prevent the gas engine from spinning backwards.


Every Prius has a flywheel and damper assembly which sits between the engine and the hybrid transaxle case which contains the electric motors, planetary gears, and front wheel differential. Normally the damper passes the engine rpm through unchanged but it can also give a little to dampen out vibrations and sudden torque changes.

As shown in the image above, the new one-way clutch in the Prius Prime appears to have been integrated into this assembly. GM locates it’s version of an engine clutch inside of the transaxle case in the Volt and CT6. The exact details of Chrysler’s design have not yet been revealed.

With its new battery and dual motors the Prius Prime now has stronger EV driving capability. As long as there is usable battery charge the gas engine will stay off even under full acceleration. However, the engine will start if the driver goes above 84 mph. The previous generation Prius Plug-in would start the engine under moderate acceleration or at speeds above 62. Being able to use either motor or both motors together to varying degrees may also allow for some efficiency optimizations.

Similarly, by using a new one-way clutch, GM was able to reduce their bigger motor in the first generation Volt from 111 kW (149 horsepower) to 87 kW (117 horsepower) in the new 2016 model because using both its small and big motors together allows it maintain the same 111 kW of drive power in the new model.

In these cars with a one-way engine clutch the larger motor is still used alone for slowing the car during regenerative braking. Some other car makers use a parallel type of plug-in hybrid powertrain that have just a single electric motor for driving the wheels or regenerative braking.


Apr 08

Five Advantages The Chevy Bolt Has Over The Tesla Model 3



These are unusual times in this new electric car era with second-generation EVs threatening to offer conventional car price-for-performance.

First up will be the 2017 Chevy Bolt meeting the new benchmark of somewhere over 200 miles range and sticker price of around $37,500 before incentives.

Of course anyone who’s not been hibernating has also heard of the similarly specified and sleeker designed $35,000 Tesla Model 3 now with more than 325,000 pre-orders at $1,000 apiece paid by eager intenders.

Somewhere also, Nissan has a new Leaf believed to be competitive and being readied. This follow-up to the world’s best-selling plug-in car will be leveraged by Nissan when it’s good and ready to spool up the media circus presently doting over the two EVs in the limelight.

Of them all, the Bolt has a few advantages, but to balance this a bit, let’s get a couple of its perceptive disadvantages out of the way.

Model 3 concept. Tesla has said the design is subject to evolve to some degree.

Model 3 concept. Tesla has said the design is subject to evolve to some degree.

One is the design. A perfectly fine looking car, the Bolt nevertheless does not hope to put on the air of the Model 3, and here is one alluded-to rather odd state of affairs. The Bolt, frankly, is along the lines of an electric Chevy Sonic with some extra frills whereas the Model 3 is along the lines of an electric BMW 3-Series competitor.

Since when was a BMW 3-Series priced $2,500 less than a compact crossover from America’s Bow Tie brand? But such is life at this stage of the game for the only two players in town.

Another perceived issue is the Bolt, while offering DC fast charging, has no nationwide network of Superchargers to offer. GM says it can replenish up to 90 miles range in 30 minutes, or fully charge its 60-kWh pack in nine hours on 240-volt level 2.


Whether these will be serious issues, however, is open to debate. Regarding the looks and design, beauty is subjective – as is brand loyalty and other intangibles involved with buying from GM instead of Tesla – and some will like the Bolt just fine, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, Bolt owners can charge at home and 200-plus miles range means average daily drives may involve little or no range anxiety. You can’t fill your gas car at home, and that much stands to be an advantage. For local driving, the lack of a network of quicker DC charging stations such as Tesla offers will at least be less of an impediment than presently faced by owners of sub-100 mile EVs.

That said, let’s look at a few advantages for the 2017 Bolt.

Available Sooner

GM, that maker of so many conventional and profitable cars and trucks, fast tracked the Bolt’s development from concept to production ready with 55 test mules and 1,000 engineers.

As such, it took Tesla’s bait a few years ago, and beat it to market with the spec sheet Tesla has wanted for over a decade – if not the exact design and vision Tesla also brings to the table.


The Bolt has been pre-produced already at GM’s Orion facility, and will be green lighted for sales and production later this year, at least a year ahead of the Model 3, assuming Tesla breaks its streak of missing production deadlines, and makes its Q4 2017 projection.

Buyers determined to get a Model 3 may still plan to do so, but could consider leasing a Bolt in the interim. GM in turn will have the advantage of a head start and can get to work, assuming it’s not already, on its next electrified vehicles, as well as the second-generation Bolt.

Well Sorted

The practice run at the factory and massive pool of engineers mentioned speaks to GM’s long years of product development and manufacturing processes.

In the plug-in field, GM has established itself with more than 100,000 plug-in electrified vehicles sold over the past five years and all with a stellar track record. Lessons learned are being applied to the Bolt, GM has said.


This week in a tech dissertation at the Global Battery Systems Lab in the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, its engineers in understated tones were brimming with pride over their EV.

SEE ALSO: GM Engineers Discuss the 2017 Chevy Bolt’s Powertrain

The LG Chem cells in the in-floor battery are the best GM has brought to this application. And, the proprietary 200-horsepower motor attached to the in-house-developed drive unit (electric transaxle) has as high as 97-percent efficiency.

All other systems and design elements were incorporated into a holistically designed car conceived from the ground up as an EV.

Good Utility

The roomy five-passenger Bolt with flat floor and tall ceiling has been touted as making such good use of interior space that it’s like a vehicle two size grades up from what it is on the outside.


Not quite Dr. Who’s Tardis, the vehicle does cater to a desire for crossovers and while not a fashion statement, it is brimming with technology, including a 10.2-inch touch screen with the latest Chevy MyLink, a surround view monitor system, and more.

While the Model 3 will have a frunk and trunk, and Musk said a seven-foot surfboard can be squeezed in, the utilitarian value of a hatchback with seats that fold down to make a larger cargo space may work better for people who place an emphasis on hauling stuff.

Front Wheel Drive

An arguable, if not unequivocal advantage the Bolt has over a base Model 3 is it follows the path many vehicles have with all-around capable front-wheel drive. All things being equal, this is often considered preferable in very slippery conditions.

Musk has tweeted the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 “will have great traction on ice due to fast torque response of Tesla drivetrain.”

Unstated is whether this assumes with winter tires installed which always help, and the rear-wheel-drive Model 3 won’t perform as well in those conditions as all-wheel-drive versions, which will cost more.

This said, some of this comes down to driver preference, and to be sure, the two cars are dissimilar in intent.

Further, the Model 3 may be a better driver’s car, but GM also has said the Bolt will be no slouch.

With a low center of gravity, GM said it built the Bolt to offer a fun-to-drive quotient of its own. Its torquey single-speed motor drive is good for 0-30 in 2.9 seconds, and says GM 0-60 is to be less than 7 seconds, with exact number to be announced.

That’s slower than the Model 3 which will run sub-six seconds or better to 60, but the Bolt ought to be engaging enough to entertain within legal limits and then some.


Unique features like regen braking paddle, and one-pedal driving also may make it novel, while GM promises it to be a well-balance package.

Better Odds To Collect Federal Tax Credit

Unless the U.S. Congress grants an extension, the three biggest plug-in electrified vehicle (PEV) sellers in the U.S. – GM, Nissan, and Tesla – are approaching a 200,000 unit cap per manufacturer in the next couple of years or so. After that, the $7,500 potential benefit starts to fade, being cut to $3,750 for two quarters, then $1,875 for two quarters, then zero.

Between Tesla and GM, the Bolt will benefit by being first on sale.

SEE ALSO: How Long Does The 2017 Chevy Bolt Have Before Federal Credits Begin Fading Away?

By the beginning of 2017 when Bolt sales are beginning, it’s estimated GM may have used about 123,000-130,000 federal credits, based on PEV sales projections by analyst Alan Baum plus known sales to date.

There's no question the Model 3 is an attractive car.

There’s no question the Model 3 is an attractive car.

This could mean GM – splitting sales with Volt and Bolt and possibly other PEVs – may be able to sell only 30,000-50,000 Bolts eligible for the full $7,500 federal credit, depending on how things actually go – but Tesla buyers may be no better off.

Through March, Tesla has sold an estimated 71,610 units out of its 200,000. With Tesla’s 2016 guidance seeing an aggressive stretch goal of Model X and Model S sales, the company wants to increase global deliveries from under 52,000 last year to 80,000-90,000 or so this year.

If Tesla’s U.S. sales this year grow commensurately, that could mean somewhere in the low 40,000 range give or take a few thousand. Assuming continued growth for 2017, by end of that year when the Model 3 is projected, Tesla could have 40,000 more or less credits to split between the Model S, X and Model 3. Assuming Tesla is not late to production, odds are that fewer than 25,000 Model 3 buyers will get the full $7,500 credit before it tapers to half and half again for four quarters after the 200,000 is hit.


We’ve seen no headlines of GM’s “Tesla killer” as were written prior to the Model 3 reveal, and odds are slim anyone would call it one at this stage, as the Model 3 offers much.

Be this as it may, the Bolt has noteworthy advantages, and is on track to take its place in history.

Another consideration is GM dealers will eventually discount the car, and the manufacturer will offer special deals.

Another consideration is GM dealers will eventually discount the car, and the manufacturer will offer special deals. Tesla has so far resisted this through its factory owned stores.

Today Tesla posted to its blog that with 325,000 orders in hand for its Model 3 – which Musk has said will probably sell for an average of $42,000 with options – the past seven days was “the week that electric vehicles went mainstream.”

That could be so, but the Bolt overlaps on several of the same goals and there is more to see over the next few years how this budding drama unfolds.

This article appears also at


Apr 07

GM Engineers Discuss the 2017 Chevy Bolt’s Powertrain



To date Chevrolet has accepted zero pre-orders for its 2017 Bolt EV, it makes no attempt to one-up fashionable German sedans, but it does have a few things going for it.

One is the purpose-built electric car will be for sale and in production at the end of this year – a year-and-a-half or more ahead of Tesla’s Model 3 – and will thus be the first 200-plus-mile EV priced from the mid 30s.

While the public and press are still dazzled after last Thursday’s Tesla reveal and nearly 300,000 paid reservations that piled in within a couple days after the event, on Tuesday General Motors in more quiet fashion spoke of the merits of its EV’s powertrain.

Greg Smith, Engineering Group Manager, Electrification, left, Tim Grewe, General Director, Electrification, center, and Stephen Poulos, Global Chief Engineer, Electrification, right, pose with a Chevrolet Bolt EV battery pack and drive unit in General Motors Global Battery Systems Laboratory at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)

Greg Smith, Engineering Group Manager, Electrification, left, Tim Grewe, General Director, Electrification, center, and Stephen Poulos, Global Chief Engineer, Electrification, right, pose with a Chevrolet Bolt EV battery pack and drive unit in General Motors Global Battery Systems Laboratory at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, Tuesday, April 5, 2016. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)

The occasion was a tech talk led by the automaker’s chief engineers at its Global Battery Systems Laboratory in the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan.

Although a couple journalists tried to lure them into comparing the Chevy compact crossover to the Model 3, they deftly ducked those and stayed on point.

Be that as it may be, it is long a matter of record that GM did build the Bolt at least in partial response to Tesla’s proposed $35,000 EV now known to have at least 215 miles range.

Headlines since last year also have included the term “Tesla killer” describing the Bolt to provoke reader clicks online, but GM this week was not going there, and let the facts speak for themselves.


GM said independent market research had shown that 70 percent of would-be EV buyers indicated they would be sufficiently content with 200-miles range to the point that they could live with it in their one and only car.


The mission to build a 200-mile EV was spilled in 2013 by then-CEO Dan Akerson. At the time the news received an approving tweet from Elon Musk.

GM has since said it has built on lessons learned with the Chevy Volt, Spark EV and other experience garnered along the way.

The track record with the Volt’s powertrain has been especially stellar as noted last year by Larry Nitz, General Motors’ vice president of electrification.

Erick and daughter Erin Belmer with his super-high mileage 2012 Volt.

Erick and daughter Erin Belmer with his super-high mileage 2012 Volt.

“We’ve seen what I would call pharmaceutical levels of quality in cell production,” he said during a Volt ride and drive event. “Of the more than 20 million cells that have been produced for the first generation Chevy Volt, we’ve seen less than two problems per million cells produced.”

Volt batteries and drive units have been reported as durable. The highest-mileage Volt known now with over 300,000 total road miles and 105,000 EV miles and belonging to Erick Belmer of Ohio holds about as much energy in its T-shaped battery as it did when new.

As for the Spark EV, it is sold just in California, Oregon and Maryland but GM shoehorned an over-powered electric motor in it, and it too was a source of data and some hardware also for GM to build the Bolt.

Enter Bolt


The Bolt EV at 164 inches long, 70 inches wide, and 63 inches high is still smallish, but larger than the tiny Spark EV and boasts outsized interior space utilization.


Its 0-60 mph time may be in the six-second range, though GM is only saying below seven seconds at this point. Zero to 30 comes in a right-quick 2.9 seconds from the front-wheel driver.

Its range is to be more than 200 miles from its nominally 60-kilowatt-hour in-floor battery assembly. Propelling the EV is a single-motor drive unit developed in-house by GM.


The Spark EV uses an existing GM motor design which has a lower maximum speed of 4,500 rpm but higher torque output of 327 pounds-feet (444 Nm).

Horsepower for the Spark EV’s motor is 105 kilowatts (140 horsepower) and the new Bolt EV has 150 kilowatts (200 horsepower).

Chevrolet Bolt EV drive unit. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)

Chevrolet Bolt EV drive unit. (Photo by Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors)

Stephen Poulos, global chief engineer, Chevrolet Bolt EV propulsion system, said the Bolt’s new motor design has a higher max speed of 8,810 rpm, but lower torque at the motor of 273 pounds-feet (370 Nm).

It also has a higher fixed gear ratio of 7.05 versus 3.87 which allows higher final torque at the axle – approximately 1,844 pounds-feet (2,500 Nm) versus 1,261 pounds-feet (1,710 Nm).

The Bolt’s new motor uses bar-wound copper with “lots of copper fill” and end turns, and “takes a lot of experience and skill” to produce, but the automaker has become “pretty good at it” he said with deliberate understatement.


That said, the design is not otherwise exotic or unusual but the motor did receive a lot of computer optimization. This followed proprietary GM software to yield weight efficiency versus motor cost across multiple typical motor operation rpm and torque load regions.

The Bolt’s motor reaches a peak efficiency of 97 percent under some conditions – very high.


The Bolt’s large in-floor battery uses LG Chem cells that have evolved beyond what the Volt gets with a chemistry providing a higher balance of energy than power in the power-to-energy ratio, and best suited for EVs, says GM.

 Warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles. Actually, said GM, it's designed to last for the life of the car – though they did not specify the precise mileage defining a car's lifespan.

Volumetrically, the Bolt battery is nearly double the size (2.05 times the size) as the Spark EV’s but has more than triple the capacity (60 kilowatt-hours versus 18.4 kwh for the Spark). This is because the pack energy density is 60-percent greater. Warranty: 8 years or 100,000 miles. Actually, said GM, it’s designed to last for the life of the car – though they did not specify the precise mileage defining a car’s lifespan.

Almost all of the energy is used in a full discharge cycle, and very little is left as a “buffer” as in the case of the Volt extended-range EV.

GM’s Greg Smith, engineering group manager, global EV battery packs avoided calling the battery “better” but said it is bleeding edge, he is “proud” of the total result, and it’s the best they have for the application.

The LG Chem cells are of NMC chemistry with extra nickel for improved heat tolerance, said Smith.

Further, the pack will be allowed to run a bit warmer than in the Volt. Temperatures in the pack change slowly, he said, due to the entire assembly’s 960 pound mass.


Speaking also of the assembly, it is an integral member of the chassis. Smith said the tray – or bottom of the battery pack – is “extraordinarily stiff” and adds a substantial 28 percent to the body’s torsional rigidity.

Overall, the pack is “ridiculously rigid” and is made up of multiple layers.

Any crash forces during an accident shouldn’t get into the pack due to carefully positioned structural cross bars.

More to Come

Obviously the Bolt is more than an optimized and well-sorted powertrain.

From the outset the mission was to make a “super functional” vehicle, said Tim Grewe, general director, electrification.

The Bolt is also a marvel of space utilization with flat floor, good ingress and egress, and room for five people plus cargo.

Features include a 10.2 inch touchscreen with Chevy MyLink, gads of safety tech, and it represents an integrated holistic approach as General Motors’ first purpose-built EV since the EV1.

Beyond “regen on demand” and a paddle to control this, GM built in “one pedal drive” where the regen can bring the Bolt to a stop with no creep, so the driver may use just the accelerator in this mode.

Chevy Bolt is being readied for consumer orders starting at the end of this year. Tesla and Nissan are also due to have 200-mile EVs.

Chevy Bolt is being readied for consumer orders starting at the end of this year. Tesla and Nissan are also due to have 200-mile EVs.

Total range should be within the ballpark of the Model 3, but GM’s Kevin Kelly said the EPA certifications are a “couple months” away and for now it’s only saying over 200 miles.

So stay tuned for that and other news GM will release as Chevrolet prepares to begin selling the 2017 Bolt EV through its nationwide dealer network late this year.


Apr 06

Chevrolet Volt named one of IEEE Spectrum’s Top Ten Tech Cars


The redesigned Volt is a smart gas-saving car, says IEEE Spectrum, at “one third the price of a Tesla Model S.”

And, it was one of only a few plug-in cars for the publications’ list of 10 top tech cars, another being the Tesla Model X crossover, and another being a future car – the Porche Mission E.


“This second-generation Volt is a green sweetheart to drive, and improved in nearly every way over the original: sleeker, lighter, faster, quieter, and more efficient,” wrote Lawrence Ulrich.

On his test drive north of San Francisco he managed to beat the 53 miles e-range estimated under EPA rules and get exactly 60 miles before the genset kicked on.

And the vehicle, even in a time of $2.00 (more or less) gas is cheap to operate.

“As we crossed the 106-mile mark on this trip, we’d burned exactly one gallon of gasoline—3.8 liters—along with $1.50 worth of wall electricity,” said Ulrich. “In other words, we spent $3.50 to cover 106 miles. Go ahead and try to do that in a Mini Cooper. There’s not a gasoline, diesel, or conventional hybrid on the road that can match that efficiency, which equated to 2.0 L/100 km (120 mpge) over the electric portion and better than 70 mpg overall.”

Also appreciated for the 2016 Volt (now shipping as a 2017 model year) was performance, more than 200-pounds less curb weight, ability to run on regular gas, and more.

“And at $26,495 after a $7,500 federal tax giveaway (er, credit) in the United States, the Volt is a bargain,” wrote Ulrich. “The Chevy is not only two-fifths the cost of a Tesla and one-fifth the cost of a BMW i8, it’s actually less than the $33,500 price of the average new car in America—and $1,200 less than its lower-performing predecessor.”

Of course the Chevy Bolt 200-plus-mile range EV is also on its way which may throw a monkey wrench into things to some degree as will the fact that inexpensive gas is making the fuel savings less of a reason to buy – not that this is the only reason!

Other top cars picked by IEEE Spectrum are all vehicles positioned above the humble Bow Tie brand.

These are the Audi autonomous RS7, Ford GT, Ferrari 488 Spyder, Mercedes-Benz F 015 (technically another plug-in, but not known to be due for production), Hyundai Tucson FCV, BMW 7-Series, and Volvo XC90 (available also as a PHEV).

IEEE Spectrum

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