Archive for the ‘General’ Category


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


Apr 05

Will Ford’s F-150 Beat GM to the Plug-in Hybrid Punch?


And then again, maybe GM has something in the works we don’t know about?


Ford may be well ahead in its plans to produce a hybrid model of its F-150 pickup truck – and a plug-in one, at that.

According to a spy photographer who snapped a number of copyrighted shots of a semi-camouflaged F-150, at 35 mph the engine was heard to shut down while an electrical sound of a hybrid powertrain seemed to take over.

As a further giveaway, on the passenger’s side front fender of a copyrighted (thus not posted) photo, is clearly a filler door – located where a charge port should be, not a gas inlet.

Ford executives have for some time now said plans for an F-150 hybrid are underway for 2020, and as far back as 2011 Ford had entered into partnership with Toyota, but that relationship ended in 2013.

Ford’s hybrid efforts have crossed paths with Toyota before, and the companies mutually patented system architecture each independently developed in the middle 2000s. Ford’s present full hybrids, the Fusion and C-Max, are technically similar to what Toyota does with its Hybrid Synergy Drive.

The Prius is the world’s best-selling hybrid, but the F-150 is America’s best-selling vehicle, bar none, and sells an order of magnitude more than the Prius.

A hybrid variant might be merged with Ford’s 10-speed transmission instead of a CVT, ventures AutoGuide, and the truck would be intended to serve in the half-ton class for towing, and load hauling.

Ford took a chance with aluminum bodies a couple years ago, and if it goes to the trouble of electrifying its incredibly successful truck, the vehicle will need to meet certain minimum criteria for actual work duty.


And this would be most welcome by enthusiasts, assuming it comes to pass. No hybrid pickups are now sold in the U.S., and the only plug-in hybrid pickup is converted by third-party company VIA Motors, which removes new powertrains from GM light-duty trucks and retrofits plug-in powertrains.

These are commercial fleet vehicles, and not sold to the general public. They are claimed to get upward of 100 mpg with electric assist, and up to 40 miles EV range.

The underbody of a truck is ideal for stowing away traction batteries and extra hardware for a PHEV. As such, and because mpg saved on low-mpg vehicles saves more fuel than on compact econocars, electrification advocates have been saying for years what VIA has done is what major manufacturers could and should do.

This said, Ford has not confirmed what its specific plans are, but if the rolling prototype is what it appears to be, the company is ahead of a 2020 F-150 hybridization timeline, with plug-in capability as an extra added bonus.

If we learn more, will let you know.

See spy photos and video at AutoGuide.

This article appears also at HybridCars.


Apr 04

Chevrolet sells 1,865 Volts In March



With the positive turn of the weather in much of the country, so did the Chevy Volt’s sales rebound from lows the first couple of months this year.

General Motors reported 1,865 Volt sales for the car now being offered nationwide as a 2017 model year.

Of course some of those sales are leftover 2016s, but the tally was up 191.9 percent over March 2015 when the sales were in the bottom of a ditch, or just 639 units as buyers sat back in anticipation of future product.

The 1,865 sales from last month also are up from 1,126 in February this year, and a paltry 996 in January – typically one of the slowest if not the slowest months for plug-in cars.

Compared to the last three months of 2015 the Volt is just in league with numbers accomplished in 11 sales states which follow California rules – anchored by California, which itself represented 54 percent of the U.S. PEV market last year.

So, it’s onward and upward, or steady as she goes at least, as the word gets out about the gas electric car that permits 53 miles EV range – far above other plug-in hybrids hovering in the low-to-upper 20-mile neighborhood.


Apr 01

Tesla Model 3 Unveiled


How do you think this will compete with the Chevy Bolt?


As promised, last night Tesla Motors revealed its Model 3 at its Hawthorne Design Studio in Los Angeles.

In fact three of the sleek Model 3 sedans with rounded roofs and myriad other design elements reminiscent of the Model S and Model X were symbolically driven on stage.

The car is to start at $35,000 said CEO and master of ceremonies Elon Musk to a packed house, and even models with no options will be very nice, he promised.

Base models are projected to get at least 215 miles EPA rated range and run from 0-60 mph in under six seconds.

“I want to emphasize these are minimum numbers and we hope to exceed them,” said Musk.

All Model 3s are also to be equipped and ready for Supercharging, and Autopilot semi-autonomous driving capabilities.

Musk said the global total of 3,608 Superchargers and 3,689 destination chargers will balloon by end of 2017 to 7,200 Superchargers and 15,000 destination chargers.


The end of 2017 is important as this is when Musk said the production Model 3 will be launched, after which he paused and qualified the statement.

“I do feel fairly confident that it will be next year,” said Musk with a laugh and smiling.

Launching will be all the easier next year also, as in the same timeframe as the charging spots expand, so will physical Tesla locations – from 215 now to 441.

Musk said also the Model 3 will comfortably seat five adults and be spacious enough to fit a seven-foot surfboard inside, with “more cargo capacity of any gas car of same external dimensions.”

To get the extra space, Musk said what would be the firewall – the EV actually has no “fire” wall between the frunk and cabin – was moved forward to buy extra legroom front and back.

At the same time, the car is touted to be super safe, and this is a priority at Tesla, he said. Expect five stars out of five in all categories, said Musk.

Secret Master Plan

The unveiling had been preceded by a walk-though of Tesla’s production car history from the Roadster to the Model S then Model X launched last year, and now the 3.

Musk said the company is making good on his first blog post from August 2006 which outlined the goal to radically put a dent in global CO2 and other emissions from oil-dependent transportation.


The Roadster, observed Musk, had inspired former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz to build the Chevy Volt, and Nissan’s Leaf also came along in response to Tesla’s first car and the Volt.

That first proof of concept had of been of necessity high cost and low volume, yet it by itself kicked off the beginning of the mainstream plug-in electrified vehicle market.

The Model S and Model X were to be lower priced and though a sub-$50,000 Model S iteration (after $7,500 federal credit) was canceled, it was a bit lower priced from the lower 70s than the first Roadster.

Be that as it may, the Model 3 is working toward a goal of as many as 500,000 Tesla cars in total being produced as soon as 2020.

The former GM/Toyota NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif. has produced that much before, observed Musk, and the Gigafactory battery plant and other support are also coming into place to make it all feasible.

What’s Next?

The half-hour presentation and overview ended so those in attendance could drive prototypes of the new 3.

Notably absent were specifications and other details and Musk has said a second presentation much closer to launch will reveal much more for the car he said would actually “evolve” between now and production time.


Higher-power, quicker versions will also be made available, and the company has reserved for itself the right of future surprises.

An at any rate, the car by all accounts looks to be exceeding expectations already.

Musk said as he spoke more than 115,000 reservations worldwide had been placed, and no doubt that number will increase.


Mar 31

Tesla Model 3 Details Reportedly Emerge


By Tim Healey


The Tesla Model 3 is set to be shown to the public tonight, and some of the details have reportedly been dug up, while an illuminating chat with Tesla’s chief designer sheds further light.

According to Electrek, the car starting at $35,000 will look like a blend of the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, with a front end that’s more reminiscent of the latter. It will be shorter and narrower than either vehicle.

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

Other details include a 0-60 time of under four seconds (it’s unclear which trim level that will be on), available all-wheel drive, available autonomous driving modes, and an available battery pack that will have an output of around 80 kilowatt hours, allowing for a range of up to 300 miles. Electrek reports that a fully optioned out Model 3 could run into the $50-$60,000 price range.

Meanwhile, Wired’s German edition spoke with Tesla Chief Designer Franz Von Holzhausen to try and wring some details out, but he remained pretty tight-lipped. Still, there’s at least a sense of what may happen with the car’s design. We’ve culled some of his statements and lightly edited them to remove some awkward German-to-English translations, in order to get a sense of what the Model 3 may look like when the cover comes off tonight.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Model 3 Conjectured To Garner Over 100,000 Reservations Almost Immediately

“Some people think that because the driving of a car is different, everything has to be different,” von Holzhausen told Wired. “The opposite is true: We at Tesla want to create a brand that is growing for decades. With sci-fi design you might reach the early adopters. If you want to advance the global transition to the electric car as we did, then you can do that only when you [create a car liked by the masses]. But it is also important to create a car whose shape in the long run … is timeless. The car feels best if relevant.”

Holzhausen also said the purpose of the Model 3 is to grow the brand – and he added that when the Model S was introduced, electric cars were a much smaller market niche than now, and with a growing market, especially in price ranges that are considered affordable, the Model 3 is intended to appeal to a much larger potential customer base.

He also sees the competing Chevrolet Bolt as healthy competition. From his perspective, the more electric cars on the road, the better.

All the secrecy ends tonight, around 8:30 Pacific Time.



Mar 30

Tesla Model 3 Conjectured To Garner Over 100,000 Reservations Almost Immediately


Just one day to go …

By Tim Healey


Tesla is set to unveil the Model 3 on Thursday, March 31 in Los Angeles, and some are expecting that from the time Tesla stores open that day until the time they open on Friday, over 100,000 reservations will have been made.

Actually, if this happens, the reservations have already begun for Tesla employees who have been invited to reserve the Model 3 – sight unseen. With 15,000 people working for the company, that’s another strong potential reservation base.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Model 3 Release Date Set

As for the 100,000 in 24 hour speculation, Teslarati is basing this on a combination of math and what it says is feedback from Tesla store employees. The outlet figures that with 221 Tesla stores worldwide, and with employees suggesting that customers will be camping out to guarantee their place in line, there will be at least 100,000 reservations during the first 24 hours.

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

That’s not just physical reservations taken at the stores, but also online reservations – Tesla will open up online reservations during the launch event, which begins at 8:30 PM PST on March 31. Current Tesla owners will be given priority.

Reservations are $1,000 apiece and can be refunded, so that relatively low cost of entry plus the promise of a refund could make a reservation appealing even to a non-Tesla owner who is interested in the buzz around the Model 3.

While Tesla is expected to bring working, drivable prototypes to the launch event, the first deliveries of the car itself aren’t projected by Tesla to begin until late 2017, a year and a half from now.

Teslarati, Electrek