If you thought Norway was the poster child for zero-emission vehicles you’ve just seen the beginning assuming a proposed National Transport Plan for 2018-2029 is fully implemented.
The country already buys nearly one plug-in electrified vehicle (PEV) out of every four sold, has over 3 percent PEVs on the roads now, and its plans far excel even California’s which is considered radical for mandating one-in-seven zero-emission cars by 2025.
In Norway, plans are by 2025 to have seven out of seven – 100 percent – of new passenger cars, buses and light commercial vehicles be the zero emission variety and comprised primarily of battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
The overarching plan that’s subject to parliamentary approval was released Feb. 29 and touches every aspect of transportation including rail, trucks, ships, airplanes, and … bicycles.
Low carbon footprint.
Regarding zero-emission vehicles that one pedals, Norway plans to spend close to $1 billion constructing bicycle highways for safe commuting – and despite mountainous terrain between cities, and cold and dark much of the year.
All told, emissions from transportation in the country of 5.1 million people are to be halved from present levels by 2030.
And, Norway’s planners want net zero growth in car use between now and 2030.
Also by 2030, the plan proposes all new heavier class vans, 75 percent of new long-distance buses, and 50 percent of new trucks be zero emission vehicles.
By 2030, 40 percent of all ships in short sea shipping lanes are to be using biofuels or be low- or zero-emission.
According to Elisabeth Enger, who leads a national transportation steering committee, a rapid shift to zero emission transportation is a priority for the climate in the oil-rich country whose GDP is the highest in Europe next to Luxembourg.
As zero-emission vehicles have been incentivized to date, the plan is to keep these going while over time tapering them off.
Electric vehicles, including fuel cell vehicles, will adjust from no fees to some fees, and from no fares in toll rings around cities to low fares around the same.
Other adjustments include payment by EV drivers on regular toll road projects and ferries. Bus lane access also will increasingly be assessed on the basis of whether the favored cars are an obstacle to public transport.
Similarly, free parking in municipal seats is to be replaced by “environmental differentiated parking fees based on emission levels,” authorities say.
At the same time, plug-in hybrid adaptation is expected to continue to be “light.”
To date, Norwegians have favored pure battery electric cars over plug-in hybrids.
While articles are coming out highlighting Norway’s attempt to fashion itself into a far-more bike-friendly nation, zero-emission cars are the transportion sector’s most important climate initiative, said Christina Bu, General Secretary of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association.
As electrified vehicles are expected to get better, and battery costs are to come down, the value proposition is also hoped to grease the tracks to a zero-emission future.
Norway’s plan specifically proposes to ensure electric cars will be price competitive and cheaper to use than gasoline and diesel cars.
They already in cases are as evidenced by the virtual sea change of buyer preference to plug-in vehicles, but it has only been the past 2-3 years in which rapid growth has been seen.
Norway was ahead of the U.S. in the late 80s, early 90s promoting tiny EVs and it took years and newer vehicles this decade like the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, and others to make a dent.
That dent is now more than 90,000 light-duty vehicles registered according to global sales tracker Mario R. Duran.
Norway’s National Transport Plan is open for public consultation among local governments until July 1. Following feedback and potential revisions, it will need to be finally approved to be made official policy for 2018-2030.
A further look at Norway’s ambitious plan (you may beed to translate) indicates the country is just getting started, and in the next 14 years it could further distance itself as a model of zero-emissions sustainably.
Do you think GM can do this better, and for less than $330k for a 10-year old converted car with 44-kwh pack? (smaller battery possibly to reduce weight for the track)
Or, is the real question, when will it be?
Last month a converted U.S.-built 2006 C6 Corvette designed to provide a couple hot laps at the Nurburgring was let loose on a mile course in Florida and managed to clock a record 186.800 mph.
Certified by the International Mile Racing Association (IMRA), the record for Top Speed Street Legal Electric Car set Feb. 23 at the 3-mile runway at the Johnny Bohmer Proving Grounds/Shuttle Landing Facility topped a former 177-mph benchmark set by a Finnish EV.
The Z06 ‘Vette conversion in question is called the Genovation eXtreme Electric or GXE. It has been developed by Genovation Cars with headquarters in Rockville, Md., and most GXE parts were designed and built in America.
While this run was a little short of max claimed speed, the vehicle has been touted as capable of 0-60 in 3 seconds and 200 mph top speed and may eventually prove those benchmarks with powertrain “in excess of” 700 horsepower, and 600 pounds-feet of torque.
Genovation Cars says the GXE has a state-of-the-art battery management system, inverters, batteries and electric motors, and the run was a test outing where they happened to set the record.
“We are thrilled that the result of our development testing led to the setting of this record,” said Genovation CEO Andrew Saul. “Based on our experience so far, we believe the car to be extremely robust as we set the record on our first day of testing. We fully expect the car to do a lot more.”
Will it in time run 200? That remains to be seen, but do not be surprised to see new EV records. The just-revealed Rimac Concept_S is claimed to have maximum velocity of 220 mph, and other fast street legal EVs are also expected as the industry gains momentum.
As for the GXE, its battery is half the size of the 82-kwh pack in the exotic Rimac being a 44-kwh lithium-ion pack comprised of 18650 cells like Tesla uses.
The vehicle is said to have a 50/50 weight distribution, and to be good for around two laps at race speeds at the Nurburgring or 130 miles at a “normal” pace.
Last September the company told Autoblog it plans a small production run of maybe five or 10 units annually. Cost is $330,000 or $290,000 if you bring your own C6 Z06 Corvette.
If there were ever a post that was an open invite for Noel to chime in, this would probably be it.
One month shy of its fourth year on the road, Erick Belmer’s 2012 Chevrolet Volt has crossed its 300,000th mile.
Of these miles, more than 105,000 have been all-electric for the extended-range EV purchased April 2012, and it is one of the highest mileage Volts in a private customer’s hands having accrued miles at an exceptional rate.
In the 47 months that Belmer has owned it, he’s averaged 6,393 total miles per month, and of these, 2,236 miles have been on battery power alone.
Just the EV miles are close to double the distance an average driver travels, and when we last checked on Belmer mid December 2015, he’d crossed the 100,000 EV-mile mark, and was believed to have been the world’s first to have done so.
To date, the vehicle has been remarkably trouble free, said Belmer yesterday in a phone interview.
“There’s no difference in the battery since the day I bought it,” he said while driving his 110-mile each-way commute in Ohio this afternoon. “I still get the same amount of EV miles I did when it was new.”
A millwright at General Motors’ Lordstown Complex and assembly plant where they build the Chevy Cruze, Belmer said he was faced with the long commute when the local GM plant he was working at closed down a few years ago. In the interest of staying near to aging parents and other community ties, when he was relocated by GM, Belmer and his wife decided the commute, while self-sacrificial, would be in their family’s best interest.
But, they wanted a car that would be economical to run, and the Volt was chosen, said Belmer, after he and his wife – an accountant – determined that of all potential cars to draft into epic commuter duty, the Volt would make the most economic sense.
It so happens it was a good economic decision for him to buy his dream car, especially when looking at energy costs.
General Motors provides free charging at the Lordstown plant where he parks each day, plus he’s planted extra charging equipment at his parents’ home and his church with which he’s involved, enabling him to recharge upwards of three or more times per day
Combined with the fact his Volt still gets 35-40 mpg on gasoline and one-third of the miles are all-electric, and some of them free, he says he’s not at all sorry he bought the Volt.
“This is the only car that I ever purchased that I feel that I got more than I paid for it,” said Belmer.
Beyond the battery, Belmer says the high-mileage Volt is as solidly running as his wife’s 2013 Volt with 96,000 miles on it.
“It rides just like my wife’s Volt,” said Belmer. “We can’t tell them apart.”
The Belmers plan to buy a second-generation Volt when Sparkie needs to be retired, but the need for that is not perceived to be anytime soon.
Greetings EVA’s and EVO’s. This here is Renewable Redneck comin’ at ya from the Great White North.
Now jest so’s ya can get to know me, I used to have a big honkin’ pickup with 6” lift kit, muddin tires, and lot’s of other goodies. But I decided to trade my truck for a new 2016 Volt. Let me tell ya why.
Two of my favorite sports is snowboardin’ and ice fishin’. I ain’t got no chance to do hardly any this winter!! The warm weather ain’t givin’ us hardly no snow, and the snow conditions at the local mountain stinks! Plus, there’s almost no ice on the big lake. Here’s what happened to one fella who tried to put his ice shack on the lake.
Now I hear some blamin’ this on some Drug Lord named El Nino, but I thinks it might have something to do with global warmin’. So I decided to do somethin’ about the problem and bought me a Gen 2 Volt. I used to suck down over two tanks of gas a week in my truck (with its 22 gallon tank), but now I don’t use no gas at all!
Yup, that’s right, no gas at all! I guess it’s like smokin’. No one complains more about the smell of cigarette smoke than a reformed smoker. So just like that, no one complains more about usin’ gas than a reformed gas guzzler. So I don’t use none!
Now drivin’ the Volt is fun and exileratin’ and all, but I had to make some mods so that it was comfortable. Since I don’t want to use no gas, I got really angry when my engine would start in cold weather, even though I got plenty of juice in my battery. I guess this is the ERDTT thingy I’ve been readin’ about. Well, first I thought about puttin’ a grill lighter up by the tempatur sensor, but that didn’t work well, (wind kept blowin’ it out). But then I thought, wait a minute hear, that damn lighter is usin’ a fossil fuel!
So I got me a snowmobile hand warmer and put it on the sensor. It works great! No more ERDTT. But now I don’t know what the outside tempatur is (it can be snowin’ and the DIC still shows 100 degrees), so I installed me a L. L. Bean tempatur gage. It sort of blocks my vizun to the right, but the A pillar already does that anyway, right.
Well, I easily gets 60 miles or more AER. But I had to do more mods to gets 60 miles in the winter. When it gets cold outside, the cabin gets pretty cold two. I can’t drive more than half mile and my windows start foggin’ up. Not to mention the lady folk don’t like freezin’ either.
Once I turn on that heat and defrost, I only gets about 35 miles on my battery pack, which means I have to stay at Walmart for two extra hours to charge. I figured there gots to be a better way.
Then I gets a brainstorm. I ain’t usin’ the ice shack on account of no ice on the lake, so why not use its wood stove. Sometimes, I am jest genyuss.
Well, I gets the wood stove installed in the back seat on the passenger side. Now I can gets 60 miles AER and still have a warm cabin, and use renewable fuel for heatin’. On them cold mornin’s, I just go out about 20 minutes early and start the wood stove, so to pre-condition the cabin. Then when I get in to go to work, the cabin is nice an’ toasty (and no Prius-driving weeny can say I used coal to heat my Volt).
I think we needs to all rite to GM, tho, about the wind buffetin’ problem. As I was goin’ to work the other mornin’, the wood stove was just a crankin’ out the heat, and it was gettin’ powerful hot in that cabin. So I decided to roll down the other back window some, and the air in the cabin started a mean low-hum pulsatin’ sound. Well, not that that wasn’t annoyin’ enuff, but the wood stove started in a chuggin’, almost like the train at Clark’s Trading Post.
In no time the cabin is full of smoke, and I can’t even read the tempatur on my L. L. Bean gage! I had to pull over and vent the cabin, before the Boys in Blue think I’m Shorty from the Scary Movie flik.
GM, when are we goin’ to see the mod kit for rear window buffetin’?
I got to thinkin’ about the Volt design, with its ICE and all, and I thought maybe I could build a better range extender. So I was readin’ some stuff in Wicked Pedia, and I found the perfect range extender, a Breeder Reactor. Here’s what it says. “Adherents claim that with seawater uranium extraction, there would be enough fuel for breeder reactors to satisfy our energy needs for 5 billion years at 1983’s total energy consumption rate, thus making nuclear energy effectively a renewable energy.”
Holy guano, Batman, think of the resale value on this car if I gots a 5 billion year energy supply onboard! So obviously, I needs to have fuel for my Breeder Reactor, so I drives down to a nearby nuclear plant to see about buyin’ some spent fuel.
Well, the guy at the guard shack was a real bonehead, and wouldn’t let me in the plant to see no spent fuel (hey, how do I know if they gots some, right). Finally, some guy from inside the plant comes out to talk to me and tells me I can’t have any spent fuel, because of some television or radio activity thingy, and a bunch of other stuff about the NRC rules (what’s that, National Rifle Commission?).
Well, he agrees to take my name and telephone number, just in case somethin’ changes.
Now some of you probably don’t believe in conspiracy theories, but I am here to tell you I have proof positive that they exist. Wouldn’t ya know, the next day after visitin’ the nuclear plant, I gets a visit from the FBI! Now I’ve always said that the big oil companies don’t want no one findin’ a way to get us off oil. And here it is, the big oil companies control the government and are threatnin’ people like me to make sure we all keep usin’ oil. If this ain’t proof positive that there is a conspiracy, I don’t know what is!
So the other day, I was drivin’ in the fancy part of town, and I sees some slickly dressed dude getting out of his ELR. So I drive over and start talkin’ to my EV buddy, but he didn’t seem two friendly.
I said to him we were like cousins, since the ELR is really just a gussied up Volt (and a Gen 1 at that)! Well, he got pretty indignant, and started tellin’ me why the ELR wasn’t a Volt, and all the things he had that the Volt didn’t, like a hyper active front strut, real good time damping, and big azz wheels and tires.
On the interior, he had power seats with memory foam, active noise reverberation, and no nonsense rain wipers. But I didn’t see no need for all of this fancy who ha. My Volt gets me where I’m goin’ just as good as his ELR.
But he did have 2 things that we need as standard equipment in the Volt. I will rite GM to tell them. First, this guy’s ELR had a power cup holder cover. Like Wow! Just think, some night yer out with some hot babe, as she says, “What kind of car is this, it don’t have no cup holders”. Then you jest push the little cover and Vwala (that’s French for “looky here”), there’s them cup holders. Now that’s how you make an impression.
The final thing that really made me envious was this ELR guy said he had a Chick Magnet. Well, I went back and looked at my orderin’ guide, and there ain’t no option for Chick Magnet on the Volt. Why not? He’s only got a 17.1 kWh battery pack, and we have a 18.4 kWh one! If he can have a Chick Magnet, then I want one two!
Looks like Renewable Redneck knows what his next mod will be.
Until then, Rock On EV’ers!
P.S: A big hat tip to Jeff Cobb for doin’ some fine editin’.
Having started sales last October in just 11 states as a 2016 model, the second-generation Chevy Volt last month transitioned to a 2017 model and all 50 states are able to get the car.
One of the original plug-in electrified cars of this present li-ion battery based era, pent up demand last fall saw sales of leftovers plus 2016s double from September’s 949 units, to 2,035 in October, 1,980 in November, and 2,114 in December.
Two-thousand-units per month was a good start and closer to peak levels achieved by the first-generation Volt launched as a 2011 model and carried through to the 2015 model year.
Given that 2016 Volt sales were only in 11 states which follow California zero emission rules – and despite slower sales for the first two months of this year – supporters have been hopeful the Volt will break out to new highs when the rest of the country comes online.
That time has now come, says Chevrolet.
“The 2017 started shipping last month and switched over just prior to that,” said Chevrolet Communications representative Michelle Malcho about the assembly line at the Detroit-Hamtramck plant which builds the Volt.
While reports of folks getting 2017 models have come forth on enthusiast sites like GM-Volt.com, even GM was vague on how soon the entire country will get new 2017 Volts.
“All 50 states are eligible for shipping based on dealer allocation The allocation and orders will determine what locations the Volts are distributed to certified dealers,” said Malcho adding that dealer allocation will determine stock.
Dealers are clearing 2016s and some may not yet have 2017s in stock, but the short answer is 2017s are now rolling, said GM media rep Kevin Kelly.
So, it’s off to the races.
All New, But Delayed
The 2016 Volt had been postponed last year after initially Chevrolet told its dealers in all 50 states that it would be fully rolled out by December.
This change of plans to begin sales in the 11 top states and hold back in 39 states until this year made some enthusiasts take pause, as though they were witnessing a vote of less than full confidence.
Officially, Chevrolet said it wanted not to repeat mistakes from 2011 which included spotty allocations and disappointed customers and dealers left waiting. Wanting to do it right the second time, it said it would focus on its 11 strongest states.
Some enthusiasts expressed skepticism over this explanation, but that’s the story and Chevrolet has stuck with it.
The story today is the Volt starts at just below $35,000, is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit and state incentives where they are offered.
Today’s average gas price is $1.79, whereas one year ago it was $2.41. GM however has resisted the cheap-gas objection saying the extended-range Volt is not just about saving gas.
Basing this on reams of customer feedback from “gas-averse” Volt owners, GM said the Volt is not just about saving bucks at the pump because owners frequently told Chevrolet the goal was to stay off gas, so price was less a factor when they did not need much at all.
Hard data has added weight to this assertion. Even when the former Volt was good for 35-38 miles EPA-rated electric range, Chevy OnStar data reported drivers averaging over 900 miles between fill-ups to its roughly 9-gallon tank.
That works out to roughly 100 mpg plus cost of typically cheaper – and domestically sourced and cleaner – electricity use. The new Volt is projected conservatively to go over 1,000 miles between fill-ups or around 125 mpg plus electricity costs.
These boasting points however are just conservative estimates, and anecdotes are numerous of Volt owners who go several months and well over 1,000 miles between fill-ups by staying within the daily electric range the car provides.
With 53 miles range now from the all-new 2016/2017 Volt, the prospects of having an effectively pure electric car experience for daily trips is now much greater. Studies have shown three-quarters of drivers travel less than 40 miles in their daily trips, so 53 miles on tap puts many more people over the top.
When the electricity in the T-shaped 18.4-kwh GM/LG Chem battery is used up, a 1.5-liter all-aluminum new Ecotec engine kicks on to extend range
This is true even though to this year Americans still hold vague notions of Chevrolet’s plug-in car to the point that some have thought the Volt was a 40-mile pure EV that could leave one stranded after only 40 miles, as some dismayed Volt drivers have relayed from their conversations.
Getting out the balanced message of all the Volt’s pros and cons thus has been a challenge for Chevrolet, as well as owners who have been known to take it upon themselves to cheerlead for the Volt, and tout the benefits to anyone who will hear them.
The benefits are real, but America has choices, many do see the Volt mainly as a gas-saver in a land of cheap gas even if there are other reasons for it – like energy security, zero emissions, keeping dollars on U.S. soil, quiet-smooth, fun driving experience, and more.
In the Volt’s favor could also be that it has graduated to elder statesman status in the plug-in world. It is the only plug-in car to receive a full redesign and is thus evolved, and it is still standing after passing a gauntlet of politically minded detractors faced in 2011 and 2012 and even to this day.
Despite pundits who’ve predicted Chevrolet would kill it, GM’s Pam Fletcher, executive chief engineer for electrified vehicles, observed last year in Detroit the company brought it back, and that means something.
It means GM still believes in the product, they made it better, she said, and since then scores of reviews testify this is largely the case.
The compact car is still tight in the back seat for those to whom that matters. GM did make a middle rear “seating position” with seat belts to technically classify it as a five-passenger car, but it’s size class below some of its closest competitors.
Compared to all midsized blended plug-in hybrids from Ford, Hyundai, formerly Honda, and soon Kia, the compact Volt is smaller.
To its credit, the Volt is also now rated 42 mpg on regular gas, not 37 on premium, and its powertrain is what makes it a superstar among plug-in hybrids. It does what these kinds of cars are supposed to do better than any other and that is stay off of gas for the longest range.
Really, the Volt was and is the standard, and others have yet to catch up. Five years after the 35-mile electric range 2011 Volt came along, the best the competition has mustered is 27 miles range. And, unlike the Volt which runs all-electricaly under full throttle, a heavy foot will kick on the gas for all the others which are really just modified hybrids with bigger batteries.
The Volt on the other hand is unique, and was designed as a dedicated plug-in gas-electric car GM calls an “EREV” or extended-range electric vehicle.
A such, GM says it underscores its dedication to electrification, including with the all-electric 2017 Chevy Bolt due for production at the end of this year, and expected to more than double Nissan’s aging Leaf with 200-plus mile range.
Whether this plus new competitors and a history of off-key marketing saps Volt sales, as Michigan analyst Alan Baum projects in 2017 and 2018 will remain to be seen.
The best annual U.S. sales the Volt has ever made have been 23,461 units in 2012, and 23,094 sales in 2013. In 2014, Volt sales dropped to 18,805 and last year as the new one was pending most of the year 15,393 were reported sold.
Though poked at times for fewer sales than some would like to see, the Volt’s sales also clearly dominate the record of plug-in hybrids, including the Ford C-Max and Fusion Energi siblings combined.
Baum projects this year we’ll see around 18,000 units sold having reduced his former 24,300-unit estimate following a slow start this year of 996 sales in January, and 1,126 in February.
In 2017 Baum’s estimate is 22,500, up a bit from a previous estimate of 21,500, and by 2018, the Volt may be cruising at 20,800 units per year having peaked, and settled within the range of the first generation.
“The Bolt will not have a huge impact as I think they serve different markets,” offers Baum, citing instead a broadening product assortment. “The new Volt is better than the old, but so is the competition. I do not believe the Volt will get much marketing, as the Bolt will get more. That said, it does serve a specific market so there is a level of demand.”
Plug-in advocates we’ve spoken to however have said they are hoping the Volt will break out of former limits and for all anyone knows, and as Baum concedes, it could.
Chevrolet says it is sharpening its marketing message, and observers say the responsibility lies most heavily on the automaker to sell it like it means it, and show it wants to sell in higher volume.
Meanwhile, the positively reviewed new car remains a stand-out with powertrain offering more gas-free driving than other automakers have been able to match, and 2017s are now for sale everywhere in the U.S.
As Chevrolet is in process of an early changeover to model-year 2017, the Volt last month sold 1,126 units.
Its sales were up 62.5 percent over February 2015’s 693, and also a notch over January 2016’s 996.
Even with 29 days in a leap year, February is the shortest month of the year, but aside from that, the Volt is selling at a modest rate.
The last three months of 2015 saw sales closer to the 2,000 neighborhood as the new car was rolled out to just 11 top market states following California rules.
As the car becomes available nationwide, eyes will be on how it does the rest of this year.
Now — the headline story.
Tesla Lobbies – and So Does GM
If anyone hasn’t noticed yet, General Motors means business competing against Tesla.
The Detroit automaker has not just beaten Tesla to market with its first mass-market 200-mile EV product, it’s also lobbied when opportunities came along to influence how Tesla gets to sell its products.
To date, the maker of the 2017 Chevy Bolt has been a behind-the-scenes opponent to Tesla’s factory direct sales model in states including Ohio, Michigan, Maryland, Indiana, and Connecticut.
Last week in Indiana, legislation that threatened to force Tesla to go the franchised dealer route – and that which Tesla accused GM of helping to craft – was shelved after legislators cited national press attention, and vocal Tesla supporters putting on the heat.
This week, as Connecticut lawmakers look to a public hearing Wednesday March 2 on proposed legislation that could carve out an exception to franchise laws for the Palo Alto company, GM again finds itself on the front lines standing against Tesla’s ambitions.
The story of Tesla’s bucking the status quo is not a new one, but of all automakers, GM may be the most vocal in making its views known to legislators at pivotal moments.
A rundown of GM’s lobbying interventions shows that while specific issues and laws varied state to state, a common denominator was GM has advocated a “level playing field” for Tesla and competitive auto dealers.
Tesla is unique in that it chooses to be the sole line of manufacturing, distribution, sales, and service for its electric cars made in Fremont, Calif. It has defended this approach saying alternately it must in order to survive, or it simply chooses to citing “free-market principles,” and it’s named other reasons besides.
Most states do have laws on the books enforced by state regulators mandating a third-party owner must be the sales and service side of the distribution channel.
Tesla has won some and lost some, managing in cases to get around rules in certain markets, while in others it has been barred or limited in its operations.
Many implications for the future of the auto business, and billions of dollars, are on the line. GM has stepped in at least five times, each time making headlines as it released quotes taking a stand.
One example was in March 2014, in which Selim Bingol, GM’s senior vice president of global communications and public policy wrote Ohio Gov. John Kasich. GM’s concern was whether Ohio would allow Tesla to expand beyond two Ohio existing storefronts.
Click to expand.
Another intervention came in October 2014 when GM wrote Gov. Rick Snyder saying it supported legislation denying Tesla the right to sell in state.
“We believe that House Bill 5606 will help ensure that all automotive manufacturers follow the same rules to operate in the State of Michigan; therefore, we encourage Governor Snyder to sign it,” GM said.
“While not specific to just Maryland, we also believe all industry participants should operate under the same rules and requirements on fundamental issues that govern how we sell, service and market our products,” wrote GM spokeswoman Laura Toole in an email to AutoblogGreen. “GM plans to compete in the all-electric vehicle market. By enacting HB 235, multiple manufacturers may compete with similarly capable vehicles and similar price points, yet they would operate under a distinctly different set of rules, which is why we opposed HB 235.”
Last week also, in Indiana, House Bill 1254 – called the “kill Tesla” bill by certain lawmakers – was being proposed, and Tesla accused GM of crafting some of the wording of the for-now shelved bill.
“GM is very pleased that we were able to elevate the issue of disparity impacting our dealer partners in Indiana, that this received as much attention as it did, and that this issue advanced as far as it did,” said GM in a statement. “We appreciate the Indiana legislature for taking this on, debating, and helping raise the profile of this important issue, which demonstrates the inequity of different competitors having different rules in the marketplace.”
This week the same refrain continues in Connecticut, the proposed law in question in this case is Senate Bill 3.
This proposed legislation is a renewed push to permit Tesla and other manufacturers to expand their footprint.
Tesla is not specifically named, but the bill championed by legislators including Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff is being widely viewed as pro-Tesla and would permit any electric car company without a physical presence in Connecticut to open up to three dealerships.
According to Westfair Communications, Tesla has already “found ways to circumvent state franchise laws” in Connecticut as it hopes this legislation will go through.
Tesla’s website lists a showroom in Greenwich and reportedly Tesla is in process of requiring permits from the town’s planning and zoning commission.
History of Reacting to Tesla
General Motors former Vice Chairman Bob Lutz once cited the Toyota Prius and the Tesla Roadster as goading him in 2006 to push GM engineers to come up with the extended-range Chevy Volt.
In 2013, GM’s former CEO Dan Akerson tasked a Tesla “watch team” and the same year let on that GM would build a mid-$30,000, 200-mile EV – and it was presumed this was in response to Tesla’s plans for a mid-$30,000, 200-mile “Model E.”
The Chevy Bolt concept revealed January 2015 in Detroit – a date and place Tesla had once suggested it’s entry level EV would first be shown – was the result of that effort. The “Model E” is late, and to be revealed as the Model 3 at the end of March.
When present GM CEO Mary Barra announced the production Bolt this year at CES in Las Vegas, she made a veiled remark poking Tesla as she touted the new EV presented as a mass-market solution.
“We believe strongly in the dealer model,” Barra said. “Unlike some EV customers, Bolt EV customers never have to worry about driving to another state to buy, service or support their vehicle.”
Barra did not name Tesla, but it was clear to hearers to whom she referred, and indeed, at other times Tesla, portraying itself as victimized and needing a break, says the same thing.
“Right now, even test-driving a Tesla requires Connecticut citizens to cross state lines.” said Jim Chen, Tesla’s VP of Regulatory Affairs & Associate General Counsel concerning the penindg Connecticut legislation. “It shouldn’t be so difficult for customers to try, and buy, an eco-friendly car that continues to set the forward-moving trends of the transportation industry.”
In an interview today, General Motors spokesman Chris Meagher reiterated the automaker’s position is not against competition or Tesla, but it does want one set of rules for all car sellers, not special rules made for the California EV maker.
“We are in opposition to the idea of two different sets of laws governing how vehicle manufacturers operate,” said Meagher. “We believe in robust competition in the emerging electric vehicle marketplace. We welcome competition, we just believe that all interests participating should operate under the same rules and requirements on issues that determine how we sell, service and market our products.”
Tesla, it has been reported, could enjoy an unfair advantage, which Meagher also commented upon.
“It creates an uneven playing field,” he said, adding franchise laws stand to provide a measure of consumer protection.
“I think that these franchise laws were created to provide protection for the consumer, and auto dealers provide a vital function for consumers so this is a benefit for consumers as well.”
As a video by the National Auto Dealer Association’s getthefacts.org website shows, Meagher’s comments are not unique to GM, and it is a fact regulators have insisted on accountability as a public safety issue. Dealers who are invested locally to the tune of millions of dollars have been seen as having a financial interest in providing service if they wish to remain competitive.
The notion also of dealers being available to back products over and above the manufacturer – even one that may go out of business as is a risk for Tesla – has also been a talking point.
One of Tesla’s objections has been that dealers have an “inherent conflict of interest” to sell EVs when they have other conventional products they may steer them to.
This was answered by Texas auto dealer association president Bill Wolters a couple years ago. Tesla is locked out in that state, but Wolters said several very successful dealers have offered to build a Tesla-only showroom, as palatial as Tesla would wish with a hand-picked owner of Elon Musk’s choosing to eliminate the conflict against selling Tesla.
Upon hearing this, Meagher acknowledged Tesla does have options.
“The fact of the matter is Tesla could open up a franchised dealership in Connecticut today if they wanted to,” he said in response to this scenario, “but they insist on the state first providing them with unique rules and exceptions to suit their business interest.”
Not GM Only
Sources not willing to be quoted have said other automakers are at least sympathetic if not as outspoken as GM. The automaker’s views are otherwise in line with those who’ve more-clearly stood against Tesla – state and national auto dealer associations.
In Connecticut this week, one off-the-record source said to keep an eye open to what vested interests also comes out in opposition to rules that would benefit Tesla.
Requests for comment by Tesla and Ford on these issues were not answered before deadline.
Immensely Complex Issues
Other stakeholders, including those of state dealer associations, have also said concerns over dealer franchise laws are not just about Tesla, but worries have been voiced over Chinese or other interests riding in on precedents that may be set.
While EV advocates and those sympathetic to the storyline as they understand it have been known to get hot under the collar on Tesla’s behalf, it should be noted beyond what has been written here, the issues are deep and broad.
The nuanced complexity underlying state dealer franchise laws is beyond the scope of this article, and although reports have boiled it down to allegations of “greed” and “hypocrisy,” although there may be truth in this, there is more to it than that.
Often sound-bite journalism repeats talking points, which may be all that can be done in limited time, and to an audience of potentially limited attention span, but readers would be encouraged to delve deeper.
So, while it may be easy for some to point an accusing finger at GM, it is certainly not alone in what it is doing.
It just so happens as mass-market EVs are poised to expand the market, it may be the most outspoken among automakers, as it looks to compete now and in the years ahead on a “level playing field.”