Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Jan 11

Chevrolet Says Bolt EV’s Price Is $37,500

 

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At last week’s introduction of the production-ready Chevy Bolt, GM hedged the specific price but in launching its consumer webpage, the automaker says it will definitely sell for $37,500 including delivery, and before incentives.

This otherwise official info precedes any more formal announcement which may pin on a price of a few dollars less, but the disclosure confirms what had been strongly hinted.

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A $37,500 price furthermore was the goal all along. For that, Chevrolet is offering an electric car with range to be over 200 miles, although its EPA ratings are among other critical numbers yet to announced.

As it is, 200-plus could double the best Nissan has to offer with regards to range per doller. The 2016 Leaf has been boosted this year with 107 miles range, and asking price is $35,050-and-up for the refreshed five-year-old car.

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Thus far, more positive commentary than not has come forth for GM’s first purpose-built nationally marketed EV, and it’s hoped to move the plug-in market into greater relevancy for numerous consumers who’ve held out for more.

SEE ALSO: Pre-Production 2017 Chevy Bolt Revealed

The Bolt is to be on sale by end of this year and with a full $7,500 federal credit will net for just under $30,000 although buyers will need to pay the whole selling price up front.

Just as relevant, in markets like California and others where state subsidies are available, even before dealer discounts the Bolt could net within the mid-high 20s scope people now pay for the world’s best-selling green car, the Toyota Prius.

Obviously a different kind of car, the Prius hybrid does burn gas. For 2016 the fourth-generation midsized Prius offers 52-56 mpg and unlike the compact crossover Bolt, can be filled at any gas pump for zero range anxiety.

But with federal data saying average daily driving needs are under 40 miles for 75 percent of all drivers, even those who double this will have a far-greater cushion with the Bolt’s 200-miles range.

More info is expected on the Bolt today at the Detroit Auto Show.

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 

Jan 08

Tesla Says Model 3 Will Be On Sale 2017 Alongside Chevy Bolt

 

Where’s our favorite reader from Missouri when you need him?

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On Wednesday as GM was making waves with its 200-mile, $37,500 Chevy Bolt compact crossover, a Tesla spokesperson said its similarly-spec’d Model 3 will also go on sale in 2017.

According to Reuters, Tesla said plans are on for its Model 3 to be first shown in March, and sales are to begin next year.

“Tesla said on Wednesday it plans to unveil the design for the Model 3 in March and start selling the car in 2017,” wrote Reuters while offering a fresh Tesla quote to back its assertion.

“‘Model 3 is on schedule,’ Tesla spokeswoman Khobi Brooklyn wrote in an email Wednesday,” said Reuters.

SEE ALSO: Pre-Production 2017 Chevy Bolt Revealed

No doubt many more questions have to be answered including if Tesla means it will be only taking orders and defining that as “selling,” or actually delivering product in 2017 as implied. Also unstated is whether this might be early or later in 2017.

To date, Tesla has been very reluctant to provide more info for its anticipated car “for the masses.”

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Further, in hearing of what sound like aggressive targets, critics have widely said Tesla has never been on time with a promised car, and these critics have expressed disbelief Model 3 could be revealed in 2016 and on sale the next year.

To set the record straight however, Model 3 could already be said to be behind schedule. In December 2013 Tesla’s designer Franz von Holzhausen, while panning the BMW i3 as an “Ikea level design” said its entry level car would likely be shown in Detroit in 2015.

SEE ALSO: von Holzhausen: BMW i3 is ‘IKEA’ level design; Tesla Model E (May) Debut 2015

March 2016 – when the “midsized” car may ultimately be revealed – is a year-and-a-quarter after that, so without contradicting critics, Model 3 is late, and Tesla is actually keeping intact its track record of late product launches!

On another front however is also the perceptive contrast between how GM and Tesla have done things in the public eye.

To date, the Model 3 has never been seen even in official design sketches, let alone as a concept on a stage. GM on the other hand showed Bolt last year, and this year the production car is to go on sale.

But actually, that is not much different from how GM has done things. In January 2015 in Detroit GM basically produced a car out of thin air one year, and is launching it the next.

So, can Tesla do similarly, as Reuters reports Tesla says it will?

Unknown also are the degree of resources Tesla is dedicating to the Model 3 which must be well along its development path if it is to be for sale some time during 2017.

GM put out a press release June 2015 saying it had 55 Bolt development mules, and 1,000 engineers tasked to fast-tracking Bolt to production ready status.

Similar to – or actually in response to Tesla –  GM first gave word of a planned 200-mile EV in 2013.

Similar to – or actually in response to Tesla –  GM first gave word of a planned 200-mile EV in 2013.

Tesla on the other hand merely saw its CEO tweet the Model 3 will probably be shown in March for the first time.

A further perceptive contrast also needing amending is – assuming Tesla does what it has said – Model 3 is being presented as a volume car. GM has not spelled out if Bolt would see more than 30,000 produced its first year.

But whether this poke at GM periodically offered by Tesla supporters will remain valid is not likely.

SEE ALSO: Chevy Bolt is Sharp End of the Spear For GM’s Push Toward Electrification

On Monday Jan. 11 GM will reveal more about the Bolt but spokesman Kevin Kelly said yesterday there would be no constraint to filling Bolt orders if demand increased.

Bolt has also been presented as a mass market car, and with supply agreements between it and LG Chem, GM is gearing up for more.

In the meantime, mark your calendar for March when Tesla says Model 3 will be shown prior to 2017 sales.

Reuters

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 

Jan 07

GM reveals 2017 Chevy Bolt

 

By Jeff N

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Today General Motors introduced its much-anticipated 2017 Chevrolet Bolt at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas

There, in a keynote address by Chairman and CEO Mary Barra, the 200-plus-mile range EV was presented as the first in a new era of cheaper longer-range electric cars.

Barra

“Lots of companies are talking about building electric vehicles,” said Barra, “but the Chevrolet Bolt EV actually delivers on the promise of long range at an affordable price.”

GM has said the production will begin before the end of this year at a suggested price of about $37,500 before available federal tax credits and other incentives as applicable.

Barra did not specify how much more than 200 miles the driving range would be, and this is expected to be revealed later.

The car’s in-floor battery, she said, can be charged to 80-percent capacity within as quick as 60 minutes.

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Also not specified are battery capacity or the Bolt’s estimated EPA electrical efficiency rating. Additional specifications may be disclosed later this month at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. The sales strategy for the Bolt is likely to target local commuting or regional driving.

The Bolt was first introduced as a surprise concept car just a year ago at NAIAS. When hints emerged that it might be approved for production many observers initially assumed it would be a 2018 model year that would not arrive for at least two years. Others doubted it could achieve its price target or thought that the targeted 200-mile range would be under perfect conditions rather than a more conservative EPA window sticker estimate.

SEE ALSO: GM Shows Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept In Detroit

Cars are usually developed with parts from a broad array of suppliers but GM struck an unusual deal to source many of the Bolt’s primary components from subsidiaries of the car’s battery pack supplier, the LG conglomerate of South Korea. This it did in return for an agreement to drive down battery cell costs.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

GM disclosed last year that it is paying LG only $145 per kilowatt-hour with prices expected to drop to $100 by 2022. This cost savings is critical, and is substantially less than several hundred dollars per kwh such cells would have cost just a few years ago.

With the Bolt’s likely 50-60 kWh pack, the cost of the cells alone is probably close to $8,000 which should help the car toward being profitable at a price close to half of a 70-kwh Tesla Model S large luxury performance car with similar range.

The Bolt’s battery pack is hidden under the floor of the car so it does not intrude on interior space, unlike the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

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Recharging an empty battery can be done overnight at 240 volts (likely at 6.6 kw AC) at home, work, or local shopping areas. It can also charge faster at a DC charger. Existing DC chargers support a peak rate of anywhere from 25 to 50 kw. GM did not disclose the Bolt’s peak DC charging rate. It can presumably also be charged slowly using an ordinary 120-volt outlet for customers who usually drive shorter distances. A overnight 120-volt charge could add up to 40-50 miles of range, for example.

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The partnership with LG also brings that company’s expertise with state-of-the-art consumer electronics. LCD displays are used for both the driver and a 10.2 inch center infotainment console. The center display supports phone integration using either ApplePlay or Android Auto. Previously paired Bluetooth phones are detected when they are near the car so that phone calls can be quickly transferred to the car’s speaker system after entering the vehicle.

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The Bolt’s rear camera can feed live video to a display built into the rear view mirror allowing the driver to see a wider viewing angle behind the car than with a conventional mirror. Another camera system provides a “surround vision” providing a “bird’s eye view” during low speed driving and parking. The navigation system has been modified to suggest driving routes that improve EV range and known charging stations can be listed on the screen. In addition, various configuration settings are tied to the driver identity rather than having to be reset manually if the car is shared with other members of a family.

The Bolt body underpinnings are believed to be uniquely modified for its flat battery pack based on a version of a common suspension platform shared with the similarly sized Chevrolet Trax, which the EPA classifies as a small SUV. The higher ceiling height and relatively ample rear leg room in common between the Trax and Bolt may appeal to some customers who find the Volt too cramped. The rear storage is tall but relatively shallow and provides 16.9 square feet of space.

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It isn’t clear how many Bolts can be manufactured during the first full year of sales. Car makers have to estimate parts orders in advance and there may be a limited initial supply of the new high energy density battery cells, for example.

The Bolt will be built at GM’s Orion Assembly plant in Michigan.

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 

Jan 06

Volt sales up to respectable levels in December

 

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Chevrolet is back in the saddle again with a relatively healthy 2,114 Volt sales in December.

The number is not far above November 2015’s 1,980 sales but a significant 41-percent rise above December 2014’s 1,490 Volt sales.

What’s more, these sales are primarily in 11 states out of 50 operating under California rules. It is in these markets that GM has the Volt holed up until this spring when it plans to release the 2017 Volt to the rest of the country.

“Volt retail deliveries, which are nearly all 2016 models, were up 41 percent and the retail days’ supply is only 10 days,” notes GM in its monthly sales report

Two-thousand-plus sales are about the level the former generation Volt would do on an average month in all 50 states, but questions on the rest of this year remain.

It’s been reported this is a relatively good December too, but the Volt’s best December (in 50 states) was 2,633 in 2012. In 2013, it sold 2,392.

GM has not definitively said what volumes it expects after Volt sales open in the 39 other states this spring, and the first states getting the 2016 model do constitute markets where the least proactive marketing is required.

Chevrolet has in the past not even advertised the Volt outside of core markets but says it aims to do more this time. It also has had a spotty history with its independent dealers not all on board with the Volt, which needs to be properly explained by sales people motivated to do so.

SEE ALSO: 2016 Chevrolet Volt Review – First Drive

The compact 2016 Volt offers 53 miles EV range and is in a class by itself with regards to its powertrain’s ability to run like a pure EV for that distance.

But cheap gas and continually evolving electrified offerings including the pending 200-mile-range 2017 Bolt EV may have an erosive effect on the Volt’s appeal unless the Volt does manage to transcend this.

That there is untapped potential is taken as a truism by Volt fans and supporters. The gap however between what people want to see happen/think should happen with the Volt has been a source of consternation in light of how things actually have gone so far.

Will 2016 be the year the Volt breaks free of former limitations?

This article appears also at HybridCars.com

 

Jan 05

Faraday Future Reveals 1000-hp FFZERO1 Concept

 

by Sami Haj-Assaad

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Faraday Future is a new electric visionary that’s hoping to make a big splash in the automotive world, starting with its first concept, the FFZERO1 revealed yesterday at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show.

The company, which is based in the U.S. but backed by a Chinese billionaire, claims the car outputs 1,000 horsepower and can get from zero to 60 mph in under three seconds. Faraday has been closely watched recently after it sealed a huge deal to build a new plant and went on a hiring spree.

SEE ALSO: Faraday Future Picks Nevada For $1 Billion EV Factory

This concept was made with a completely digital design process using virtual and augmented reality, in addition to 3D printing. The result is that the FFZERO1 uses the brand’s new Variable Platform Architecture (VPA) that will underpin all the company’s upcoming vehicles. This modular architecture will help Faraday Future get vehicles to market quickly and cost-effectively. As seen with this concept, it’s extremely versatile, at least enough for a fast-looking prototype like this.

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In order to make headlines at the Consumer Electronics Show, a car has to have some high-tech features, and the FFZERO1 delivers, with its steering wheel with smartphone integrated into it. Faraday Future also notes that the car will feature adaptive personalization, seamless transfer of custom vehicle configurations, access to live images and real-time data visualization. The company also plays with the idea of autonomous driving, saying this concept could drive itself to the track to meet its owner, and maybe set a few baseline laps of its own, although these bold claims can’t really be substantiated at this time.

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The interior of the car is very minimalist. Clad in all white with a seat inspired by NASA, the car features a propeller-shaped instrument cluster. Faraday Future says that the panel runs with a unique Halo Safety System that integrates head and neck support while supplying oxygen and water to the driver through a prototype helmet. The system can also gather biometric data about its driver.

Looking at the concept, there’s no denying its driver-focused exterior design, as the whole car wraps around the cockpit and sports an aerodynamic teardrop design. The concept’s unique LED lighting is the brand’s signature design, called a UFO-line.

But enough about design, let’s talk performance. This concept is powered by four electric motors, one for each wheel, giving this car approximately 1,000 horsepower and the ability to hit 60 mph in under three seconds. The company says this vehicle is designed with the track in mind and is capable of reaching more than 200 mph. Tesla is clearly in Faraday’s scope.

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Faraday Future says the power source will use a string of batteries, which can be more easily replaced or changed than a single battery. This also allows for easier creation of new vehicles that need more power or greater range by adding or subtracting strings of batteries.

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The reveal of the FFZERO1 comes on the heels of an announcement by Faraday Future that it plans to invest $1 billion in the creation of a 3 million square foot, state-of-the-art, environmentally conscious manufacturing facility in North Las Vegas. The company will break ground on this phase one investment in the next few weeks, and ultimately employ 4,500 people.

This article originally appeared at AutoGuide.com

P.S.

Chevy Bolt confirmed for end of 2016

Bolt

It had been strongly hinted but yesterday General Motors officially confirmed its 200-plus-mile range Chevy Bolt EV will be available before the end of this year.

“The all-electric 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV will be available late 2016” said the only bit of detail in an e-mail prior to this week’s pre-production Bolt revelation at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

SEE ALSO: GM President Hints Chevy Bolt EV Deliveries Could Be By Early December 2016

Prior to this definitive statement, suggestions had been that the Bolt could be in dealers by December 2016, and this promotional e-mail sent by Chevrolet to those who’d opted in for info and copyrighted by General Motors seals the deal.

First though, plans are on Wednesday at 1 p.m. Pacific time for GM CEO Mary Barra to make the Bolt the focal point of tech advancements the company is globally developing.

Whether the Bolt will get a staged roll-out as the Volt has in California and other states following its emissions rules, or nationwide has not been said. The Bolt is however to be a 50-state car.

GM says based on its internal testing, the Bolt will have “more than 200 miles range at an affordable price” – believed around $37,500 before available incentives.

This article appears also at HybridCars.com.

 

Jan 04

What to look for at this week’s Chevy Bolt reveal

 

By George S. Bower

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We are a couple days away from Chevrolet’s production Bolt reveal at the Consumer Electronics Show on Jan. 6.

HybridCars.com will have a correspondent at the show and while all specifications may not be revealed we should at least be able to answer one first question: Will the interior room in the production Bolt live up to the concept?

SEE ALSO: What We Know About The Chevy Bolt

The new Chevy Bolt with 200-mile range will be the first EV offered with such a long traveling distance on a single battery charge at this price point. First-generation EVs “mass market” oriented including the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, and Chevy Spark and others all have less than 100-mile range.

With 200 miles range the vehicle will meet the needs of many more buyers. It’s not as much range as the top-shelf Tesla Model S trim levels, but close, and it’s not bad for a promised price of slightly less than $30,000 after federal tax credit – one-third the price of the up-line Model S. Chevrolet will beat Tesla to market with the Bolt as the Tesla Model 3 could still be years in the future. Although talk has been of pushing Model 3 to production in 2017, Tesla has never revealed a car one year and produced it the next. On the contrary, it has a history of delayed production.

How much interior room will it have?

Not a subcompact like the Chevy Spark EV, the Bolt is believed nonetheless to be a compact with the same wheelbase as the Chevy Sonic conventional car and BMW i3. Its wheelbase is shorter than the Nissan Leaf which is classified as mid-sized.

Comparison of wheelbases of the Chevy Sonic, BMW i3 and the Nissan Leaf.

Comparison of wheelbases of the Chevy Sonic, BMW i3 and the Nissan Leaf.

The Bolt concept that was shown one year ago in Detroit had exemplary interior room for a compact. The production Bolt as was true of the concept will see interior space maximized by placing the battery pack in the floor a la Tesla Models S and X, and the BMW i3. Also in the concept, the body shape is somewhat ballooned out like the i3 to maximize room inside the cabin-very important in such a small wheelbase vehicle.

Will the production Bolt be as roomy as the concept?

What 0-60 acceleration time will it have?

The BMW i3 and Chevy Spark EV are fun to drive, zippy little cars. Both sport 0-60 times in the low 7-second range. With powertrain based on the Chevy Spark, it is a safe bet that the Bolt will be a spirited ride also with acceleration times equivalent to or slightly higher than the Spark EV.

How fast will it charge?

DC quick charging

Some prior statements by GM hinted at 45 minutes to 80-percent charge, This equates to 160 miles range in 45 minutes. If one needed to pick up a few extra miles in a pinch, a 15 minute stop would net 53 miles of range- pretty decent. That implies charging powers higher than the typical Chademo DC charger of 50- 60 kw. More like 80 kw- easily achievable on the vehicle side. The problem will be to find an SAE combination charger that will put out 80 kw as most USA DC fast chargers are closer to 50 kw and most have Chademo plugs and not SAE combination plugs.

SAE combination charging plug.

SAE combination charging plug.

Expect the Bolt to accept DC charging powers of around 80-90 kw.

AC charging

GM got a lot of criticism for limiting the gen-two Chevy Volt to 3.3 kw charging on the AC side. The Nissan Leaf has a 6.6 kw AC onboard charger.

SEE ALSO: GM Says Li-ion Battery Cells Down To $145/kWh and Still Falling

While level 2 AC charging per the spec will allow powers as high as 19.2 kw, we expect GM to offer only 6.6 kw. Why? Cost is the answer. GM’s approximately $37,500 price target is a challenge and bigger on board chargers cost more.

What gearbox configuration will it have?

Spark EV's coaxial gearbox is compact.

Spark EV coaxial gearbox.

The Chevy Spark EV has a very unique and compact gear reduction set called a coaxial gearbox. Like most EVs it is a single-speed reduction set. However the Spark uses a planetary reduction set breaking tradition with most other manufacturers. The coaxial gearbox set up results in a very compact power system.

On the other hand, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, BMW i3 all use simple helical-parallel gear reducer sets. Also the EV1 used parallel gear set reductions. Parallel gears are lower cost.

We are inclined to think that GM will stick with the Spark coaxial gear box configuration.

What cabin heating scheme will the Bolt have?

The Chevy Volt uses resistive heating. Resistive heating is the most inefficient way to heat the cabin. Newer Nissan Leafs use a heat pump to heat the cabin which reduces the deleterious effect that resistive cabin heating has on EV range.

Tesla uses a very practical approach to cabin heating not used by any other manufacturer. Its system uses the waste heat from the electronics and the drive motor to supplement battery power reducing the hit on EV range for cabin heating.

Will the Bolt have purely resistive heating, a heat pump, or perhaps some version of Tesla’s approach?

Will the Bolt’s battery cooling use liquid cooling or will it use refrigerant directly in the pack?

Of all the EV manufacturers, BMW is the only one that uses refrigerant directly in the pack. As discussed in this article direct cooling-DX- offers many advantages: the first being that liquid is completely eliminated in the pack and instead refrigerant from the car’s air conditioning system is used directly in the pack. Other potential advantages of direct cooling-DX- are lower weight and lower cost.

We think there is a very good chance that the Chevy Bolt will adopt DX. Why? Because LG Chem also makes refrigeration systems, LG Chem has a patent on just such a system and LG makes the battery pack and many other components in the Bolt.

Game Changer?

An oft-used phrase EV fans use with hope to see is “game changer,” and while clichéd, the phrase persists because more is perceived as needed to change the present paradigm. First-generation EVs have had more than five years in the U.S. to catch on and for 2015 constitute just 0.41 percent market share – an OK start, but otherwise there’s plenty of room to grow.

SEE ALSO: Is a 200-Mile EV the Next Automotive Benchmark?

On paper, the Bolt does offer twice the all-important range of competitive, and this – using another oft-repeated phrase – has been a deal breaker for many fence sitting would-be EV buyers.

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As it is, the “200-mile” benchmark for a high-20s price factoring credits, eventual discounting, and potential state incentives is what Tesla is aiming for with Model 3, as has said Nissan for its next-gen Leaf, but Chevrolet will be first.

Indicators are it may be in production before the end of this year. We’ll have more when we know more. Stay tuned.

This article appears also at HybridCars.com,