Archive for the ‘General’ Category


Sep 01

Volt spy shot photoshopped for better viewing


As some of you already knowm, the biggest Volt news in recent days is a publication took it upon itself to color in a spy shot of the Volt with Photoshop.

As usual with copyrighted photos, we can’t actually take it and re-publish it but I’ve already seen re-postings by individuals including the GM-Volt forum which is not such a big issue – hint, hint.


The gray colored Volt is on Carscoops. I’d actually thought of doing the same thing, but not sure how to do it with Photoshop. (If any of you do, and want to volunteer more angles of the car, please let me know).

And, if this is indeed what the new Volt will look like, it has slimmer A-pillars, updated design language, and the article is chock full of wish-list rumors – smaller 1.0 genset, more-efficient electric motor, “at least” 60 miles AER, room for five, more trunk space.

(No word on whether it serves you fresh coffee and donuts in the morning, but if someone wanted that, maybe a writer would speculate it is possible on first reference, then carry through the speculative thought as though it’s a fact, and explain what it “will” do …)

Seriously, all those upgrades and more may be pending (less the coffee and donut feature, maybe the ELR will get that, assuming it’s updated (has anyone seen one hint it will be?).

If the Volt does go beyond everyone’s wildest dreams, and they price it at $35,000 to start, it ought to sell faster than you can say “leftover clearance sale” for remaining units …

(Or will GM get greedy?)

Fact is, we don’t know what the new Volt will have spec-wise, or what it will sell for, GM has not said. Other rumors have been that the details under the skin are not all that radical.

The writer speculated it is “vastly more aerodynamic” but that cannot be proven by looking a picture. The Volt’s coefficient of drag is respectable at 0.28. Maybe the new car is sleeker.

How do you like it (those who’ve seen it) and assuming someone re-posts it here (and if you do, try and grab a similar angle of the camouflaged one to see whether it is the same …)

Happy Labor Day.



Aug 29

Is America’s ‘energy independence’ upon us, and is it creating some inertia for EVs?


As I mentioned to you all the other day, I was talking to a retired banker, a pretty smart guy with investments, and when I told him about electrification creating energy security and Tesla he said the U.S. has 100 years of oil at least, so what’s the issue?

Several things, actually, but I began to wonder if this person represents a mindset, so I went digging. If there is truth to U.S. energy companies declaring “energy independence” based on fracked oil, avoiding it won’t help. Naturally MUCH more could be said, but this article is already long, so I’ll let it make its points, and you all can tell me what else there is to consider.

Next I may look at issues surrounding climate change and fracking – i.e., the other side to those putting up 30-second patriotic videos with the flag waving, and saying America has always been self reliant, and thanks to horizontal drilling it will yet be …

2017-2025 CAFE rules are written to allow automakers to produce only 1-3 percent all-electric cars, if they choose though California ZEV rules are stricter. Photo: Chevy Spark EV, sold in California and Oregon. And actually, 2022-2025 are only tentative, and have yet to be finalized in 2018.

With the United States on the verge of producing oil in quantities not seen since 1970, is one of the core reasons behind electrifying transportation eroding before our eyes?

Since the October 1973 Arab oil embargo, getting off foreign oil has been the sober yet unfulfilled promise of presidents and the subject of comic mockery.

“Energy independence” – a kissing cousin to “energy security” and “national security” – has had across-the-aisle appeal and reports are predicting this could become reality by the 2020s or 2030s, albeit in a way not commonly thought of last decade.

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling into previously inaccessible U.S. deposits have opened what estimates say could be from several decades to more than a century’s worth of oil and natural gas.

Though issues and data are vehemently opposed by others, energy companies are rushing to extract the profitable stuff out of the ground and this may have reduced the sense of urgency to develop sustainable renewable alternatives.

While the electrification of transportation continues with hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles (EVs), some automakers have dragged their heels citing limitations to battery tech, costs, lack of mass-market appeal, and infrastructure.

Every automaker touts its green cred, and none say they’re against electrification. But as reasons come up to only meet Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules, are some waiting to see how it will go for fuel prices, availability, and politically influenced factors?

2015 Nissan_Leaf_1
The original and best-selling non-compliance car priced within the average new car price.

Since late last decade none but Nissan and Tesla have produced 50-state-available pure electric cars selling in respectable volume, although BMW’s i3 and Mercedes’ B-Class may also in time. Most automakers, if they have EVs at all, offer “compliance cars” in markets where California rules make them a worthwhile sacrifice, if not major revenue source.

Lots of Oil

According to Tancred Lidderdale, an analyst for the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. crude oil production “has been growing rapidly.”

It peaked in 1970 at 9.6 million barrels per day, then began a relatively steady decline to 5.0 million barrels per day in 2008.

“With new technology, crude oil production has resurged and is expected to average 8.5 million barrels per day this year and the EIA projects a further increase to 9.3 million barrels per day in 2015,” said Lidderdale.


At the time of the Arab oil embargo, the U.S. was importing 35 percent of its oil and after a spike in imports and resultant energy insecurity, it is now below those levels.

“The share of total U.S. liquid fuels consumption met by net imports fell from 60 percent in 2005 to an average of 33 percent in 2013,” said Lidderdale. “EIA expects the net import share to decline to 22 percent in 2015, which would be the lowest level since 1970.”

Costs Keep Rising


The U.S. still spends a fortune importing oil and buying fuel at the pump. This isn’t because of record import quantities, but because petroleum prices have quadrupled to record highs, presently around $100 per barrel (42 U.S. gallons).

Thus the U.S. spent about $300 billion last year on imported oil according to a BBC report, or almost two-thirds of America’s entire annual trade deficit.

Source: United States Energy Security Council.

Source: United States Energy Security Council.


Despite that, the EIA forecasts gasoline prices will be “slightly lower” next year, but they are not controllable even if the U.S. was 100-percent self-reliant – something the EIA says is not likely.

Americans pay less than many other markets, but there’s no promise prices couldn’t double in a few years or even triple. Threats therefore remain according to the U.S. Energy Security Council (USESC).

“Oil is a fungible commodity with a global price, and thus even the theoretical elimination of foreign imports through increased U.S. production is not likely to bring long-term price relief to the consumer,” it says in a 2013 position paper. “Over the next decade, demand in China, India, and other emerging markets will continue to grow. Unmatched by substantial growth in supply from the regions where conventional oil is most prevalent and cheapest to discover and lift, this will drive the price of gasoline and diesel to higher and higher levels …”

“Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is not heavily dependent on the Persian Gulf for oil nor has it ever been,” says the USESC. “The region currently supplies under 10 percent of U.S. oil demand, and … never in history has the number surpassed 15 percent. Most U.S. oil imports originate in the Western Hemisphere.”

“Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is not heavily dependent on the Persian Gulf for oil nor has it ever been,” says the USESC. “The region currently supplies under 10 percent of U.S. oil demand, and … never in history has the number surpassed 15 percent. Most U.S. oil imports originate in the Western Hemisphere.”


The issue yet remaining is pricing controlled by others, most notably OPEC, says the Washington-based non-profit organization co-founded by former Reagan administration National Security Advisor Robert C. McFarlane, and former CIA Director, R. James Woolsey.

OPEC still holds three quarters of the world’s economically recoverable reserves, but has manipulated prices by curtailing supply since it played hardball with the 1973 embargo.

“A key driver of oil price, and thus price at the pump, is the price of oil required to balance the national budgets of OPEC member regimes such as Saudi Arabia,” said Anne Korin, a senior advisor to the U.S. Energy Security Council. “As described in our book "Petropoly: the Collapse of America's Energy Security Paradigm," in reaction to the Arab Spring, the budgetary expenditures of Persian Gulf regimes skyrocketed as they increased subsidies, grants, and government employee salaries in an effort to prevent their subjects from storming the palaces.”

“A key driver of oil price, and thus price at the pump, is the price of oil required to balance the national budgets of OPEC member regimes such as Saudi Arabia,” said Anne Korin, a senior advisor to the U.S. Energy Security Council, adding the details are explained in her book, “Petropoly: the Collapse of America’s Energy Security Paradigm“.


“Over the past four decades, world GDP grew fourteen-fold; the number of cars quadrupled; global crude consumption doubled,” writes the USESC. “Yet OPEC today produces about 30 million barrels of oil a day (mbd) – the same as it produced 40 years ago.”

Not All Bad


Natural-gas-powered electrical generation and other factors are reducing domestic energy costs and America’s newfound oil and gas deposits have tremendous promise even if they can’t bring down the price of gasoline in the long run.

In a 2013 piece for Politico, titled, “Congratulations America. You’re (Almost) Energy Independent,” prize-winning energy author Daniel Yergin outlined economic benefits to the U.S.

A typical drill pad in the Marcellus Shale gas play of southwestern Pennsylvania. Pictured here are pumps, generators, fuel, chemicals, sand, pipes, service trucks, and other infrastructure required for the involved process of hydraulic fracturing. Photo Credit: Doug Duncan, USGS

Not all good either: A typical drill pad in the Marcellus Shale gas play of southwestern Pennsylvania. Pictured here are pumps, generators, fuel, chemicals, sand, pipes, service trucks, and other infrastructure required for the involved process of hydraulic fracturing. Photo Credit: Doug Duncan, USGS.


“A recent study by IHS, the energy consulting firm where I work, estimates that 2.1 million jobs were supported by this energy boom in 2012, and we project that to rise to 3.3 million jobs by 2020,” he wrote. “It meant an additional $74 billion in federal and state revenues in 2012, and, owing to lower energy costs, an increase of $1,200 in average household disposable income across the United States.”

Similarly, the BBC’s business reporter Richard Anderson documented yet-lingering effects of not being fully free, but overall said things look enviable.

“If the U.S. achieved energy independence, not only would the country spend far less on cheaper, domestically generated power, but the money would be going primarily to US-owned energy producers,” wrote the BBC of shale deposit energy. “The U.S.’s oil import bill also constitutes about 2 percent of the country’s annual economic growth. As the U.S. economy averages about 2 percent growth a year, the country would, in effect, be getting a year’s growth for free.”

Anderson observed a resurgence in U.S manufacturing and companies “reshoring” and committing billions because energy costs are now lower which could spur a new “golden age for U.S. manufacturing.”

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. Articles written to investors are saying between "53 and 250" years of U.S. oil could remain.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration. Articles written to investors are saying between “53 and 250″ years of U.S. oil could remain.

But not all is rosy even if the International Energy Agency (IEA) and oil companies like BP predict U.S. “energy independence” due to domestic oil and gas by 2035.

Citing U.S. Department of Energy data, the USESC reports price shocks due to OPEC price manipulation are estimated to have cost Americans nearly $2 trillion from 2004 to 2008.

Further, the RAND Corporation estimated the U.S. Department of Defense spends between $68 billion to $83 billion annually securing global oil tanker passage.

Further still, past armed conflicts and yet-threatened U.S. interests add to an inestimable amount in military spending, destroyed property, wounded bodies, and lost lives.

Consumer Choices

Undoubtedly reducing or eliminating major economic drags and concerns about unstable geopolitical hotbeds remains appealing.

To get there, the U.S. Energy Security Council advocates fuel-neutral policies promoting oil price competition by domestic energy choices, only one of which being electricity.

The USESC notes that for $100 at the assembly line, vehicles could be made compatible with gasoline, methanol, and ethanol.


Its report suggests opening vehicles to fuel competition is the key to reducing the strategic importance of oil. This would mean natural-gas derived fuels as well – not a savory topic for environmentalists but natural gas is already coming in through the back door via fuel cell vehicles, and otherwise politics present challenges. The USESC bluntly declares the last four decades of Washington policies have wrongly focused on reducing oil imports (whether by drilling or by increased mpg) rather than on breaking oil’s virtual monopoly over transportation fuel, and have thus failed to reduce the price at the pump.

Among recommendations to policymakers, a 46-page USESC document outlines ways to a level playing field between transportation energy sources. It advocates fuels be equally taxed, relative energy value accounted for, devaluing “mpg” as an EPA standard for reward, factoring for difference in emissions, and more – all to spur fair competition acceptable to Democrats, Republicans, and anyone else.

“Competing technologies and fuels to the internal combustion engine and to gasoline and diesel have often been viewed as political pet projects by the opposing party, resulting in a swift death when control of the Congress or White House shifted,” notes the USESC. “What is needed is an integrated, multi-pronged approach that cuts across Administrations and covers transportation fuels and vehicles. It is unlikely we will achieve true and lasting energy security without it.”

Along with hydrogen, natural-gas derived energy is still being touted, and it’s a realty that must be faced by plug-in advocates.


Some environmentalists cynically say it’s like America hit the oil lottery, albeit from questionable sources, and greedy interests today don’t mind taking risks with future generations.

Despite those allegations and more, the world is already set up for a fossil fuel paradigm. If – as some have said – Americans only make significant changes when a crisis hits, it appears petroleum proponents are making headway and those who stood to profit before yet do.

Nor do automakers appear especially eager to break the love affair with gasoline and diesel, so smarter policies than today could help with motivation, says the USESC.

Electrification End Game


In its favor, electricity from batteries remains 100-percent U.S. derived, spews zero tailpipe emissions, though production remains coal-dependent in some regions with the grid becoming cleaner year over year.

Plug-in car advocates say the only long-term solution is not relying more than necessary on the crutch of newfound natural gas and attendant real and potential consequences, and pushing for true sustainable solutions.

Eventually, even if the U.S. has decades worth of oil or more it will eventually run out as energy producers take arguably unnecessary fracking risks. Further, petroleum has other industrial uses more valuable than burning and polluting the atmosphere.


“We absolutely still need to electrify our cars,” said Luke Tonachel, Senior Analyst and Director, Clean Vehicles and Fuels for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

And while energy security has been equated with national security, Tonachel noted the U.S. Department of Defense says climate change is a national security issue also.

The DoD wrote climate change effects will be “threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence” on page 8 of its Quadrennial Defense Review 2014.

No Easy Answers


Issues remain beyond this overview. Industry observers admit more needs to be done to accelerate plug-in car acceptance, including reducing costs, increasing energy storage, and appealing to the hearts and minds of consumers.

The move is still underway, things have started slower than some hoped, but justification for a shift toward electrification is still very much present, say supporters.

“We need to electrify our cars to protect public health and avoid the worst impacts of climate change,” reiterated Tonachel. “To reduce carbon pollution levels sufficiently to address climate change and air quality issues, the car fleet needs to be predominantly electrified and charged with clean energy by 2050. Getting there means adopting standards that clean up power plants and accelerating the pace of electric vehicle adoption today.”

Politico, BBC, USESC, U.S. Energy Outlook 2014.


Aug 28

GM introduces sub-1-hp ZEVs with pedals for its employees


No offense intended with the kind of misleading title… :)

How long before they are using electric bikes?

Could they make an EREV bike? If so, and Toyota makes a plug-in hybrid bike, will GM’s bike have triple the AER? These are just idle rumination here at 1:45 a.m. after I wrote my big long energy independence draft I can’t show you yet …

In all seriousness, what with hiring the first female CEO, and now hippy friendly bikes, GM is sure looking kind of progressive despite all the rancor it’s faced in other quarters … – Jeff

By Phillippe Crowe


General Motors is rolling out zero-emissions vehicles with less than one horsepower each. That is, it’s using bicycles.

More specifically, the automaker will be promoting employee bike sharing in and around its expansive Warren Technical Center campus.

This is not the first time GM has used bikes. Another time was during WWII because of fuel rationing. This time, it’s because of greenness, efficiency and health reasons.

As things stand, GM says it’s the first of its kind by any U.S. automaker, and it will enable its 19,000 employees to commute more easily both on and off campus.

To get it all accomplished, GM is working with Zagster, a private bike sharing company that has developed similar programs for other businesses. GM said its employees can use Zagster bikes stationed throughout the Tech Center to travel between its 61 buildings covering the 330-acre campus.

“GM is investing not only in the long-term health and productivity of its workforce, but sending a strong message to other employers around the country that bike sharing is a mainstream transportation option for employees,” said Timothy Ericson, co-founder and CEO of Zagster.

Posting on GM’s internal Web site OverDrive, GM said its engineers and designers expressed enthusiasm for riding bikes at a car company, where walking, driving and timed shuttle buses are the typical ways employees get from one part of campus to another.

“This is an awesome idea,” said John Waechter, designing engineer at the Tech Center. “I can’t wait to quickly get to meetings without walking to a car and finding parking. This is good for exercise, good for on-campus mobility and a nice way to actually learn more about non-auto transportation.”

According to GM, to participate, an employee registers online, then reserves a bike through text message or a smart phone app that provides an access code to unlock the lock box mounted on the bike. Zagster’s geofencing technology installed at each bike station, is powered by solar energy panels – an energy feature comparable to the large public bike share systems, and unique to the GM/Zagster partnership. It is also said to be the first private bikeshare system to employ this technology.

Zagster added each bike comes equipped with a basket to safely transport a laptop, notebook and other small belongings. Riders must wear helmets and use bells to alert pedestrians when they are approaching.

“GM is transforming transportation with our products, plants, people, and partnerships,” said GM Director of Sustainability David Tulauskas. “This bike sharing program is a great example of engaging our employees through this first-of-its kind partnership and also helps them look at transportation in a different way than we traditionally have.”

GM’s program expands Zagster’s existing service in Detroit – which has been used by more than 2,750 users in the last year.

GM said it began a pilot program of the bike share for 50 Tech Center employees at the end of July. After the successful trial and mounting enthusiasm from employees, everyone on campus can now participate.


Aug 27

PUMP Documentary advocates fuel choice, exposes Big Oil’s manipulation of America


I’d really like to see this pending documentary. The trailer appears to be right out of the playbook from the United States Energy Security Council, but I could be mistaken.

This Washington-based group advocates increased reliance on electrification, but is not wedded to electrified technologies, citing political problems the Volt has been blissfully immune from.

“Competing technologies and fuels to the internal combustion engine and to gasoline and diesel have often been viewed as political pet projects by the opposing party, resulting in a swift death when control of the Congress or White House shifted,” said United States Energy Security Council. “What is needed is an integrated, multi-pronged approach that cuts across administrations and covers transportation fuels and vehicles. It is unlikely we will achieve true and lasting energy security without it.”

Right. Now we have “PUMP” …

That America is “addicted” to petroleum may involve conspiracy theory about “Big Oil,” but wrapped up in it may also be conspiracy fact – and this PUMP aims to explore.

The documentary, “starring” industry movers and shakers including Tesla CEO Elon Musk, opens in Los Angeles and New York theaters Sept. 19 and in Utah the following week, and examines the history of petroleum as the life blood of America.

A deeper look will be given to hidden costs to the present American way of life, and alternatives will be considered. The film aims to show holdbacks to now-ready alternative fuels it asserts have been deliberately suppressed by monied interests from the very beginnning.

“PUMP is an inspiring, eye-opening documentary that tells the story of America’s addiction to oil, from its corporate conspiracy beginnings to its current monopoly today, and explains clearly and simply how we can end it – and finally win choice at the pump,” say its promoters.

Among alternatives, the film examines biofuels, flex fuel vehicles, natural gas, battery electric powertrains, and more. Elon Musk is actually the second name in the list of stars. The first is John Hofmeister, founder and CEO at Citizens for Affordable Energy, and former president of Shell Oil. Also starring are Luiz Inácio da Silva, Brazil’s president from 2003-2011.

“Today oil is our only option of transportation fuel at the pump. Our exclusive use of it has drained our wallets, increased air pollution and sent our sons and daughters to war in faraway lands,” says its promoters. “PUMP shows us how through the use of a variety of replacement fuels, we will be able to fill up our cars – cheaper, cleaner and American made – and in the process, create more jobs for a stronger, healthier economy.“

More info can be seen at the film’s Web site.
P.S., Coming back to the U.S. Energy Security Council’s fuel-neutral observations, here are some in its recipe for true and effective bi-partison support leading U.S. Energy Independence.

Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is not heavily dependent on the Persian Gulf for oil nor has it ever been. The region currently supplies under 10 percent of U.S. oil demand, and … never in history has the number surpassed 15 percent. Most U.S. oil imports originate in the Western Hemisphere. …

Driving down the price paid at the pump in a sustained way will require opening the transportation fueL market to commodity arbitrage by opening cars to fueL competition. …


The reality is that there are fuels that are cheaper than gasoline. Electricity, natural gas, and methanol are less expensive than gasoline per energy unit– and in some cases, vastly cheaper. For some of these fuels, payback time when taking into account vehicle cost premiums is very short. This is particularly true for natural gas-based methanol, which enjoys a substantial price advantage over gasoline on a per-mile-basis and can be used in flexible fuel vehicles, whose marginal manufacturing cost as compared to gasoline-only cars is on the order of $100 a vehicle.


Aug 26

VW e-Golf starts selling for $36,265 in November


There’s a new EV coming to town (assuming you live in a ZEV state). What do you think of the car from the automaker that now sells more cars (in total) in China than GM, and which aspires to be global #1 across its divisions by 2018?

It’s a lot bigger than the Spark EV but not likely as quick or efficient – though VW does invoke the fun-to-drive factor when describing it. …

Will GM start selling its head-start car in more states like we’ve been hearing from dealers it could?


Yesterday Volkswagen announced its first U.S.-market all-electric car will start at $36,265 including $820 destination when it goes on sale in November.

The e-Golf SEL Premium is being positoned as a “fully equipped” competitor to Nissan’s Leaf albeit sold in selected U.S. markets for now. Volkswagen hasn’t published the specific states, but company spokesman Mark Gillies said yesterday it will be the states that follow California’s Zero Emissions Vehicle rules with an eye for market expansion in time.

We’ve seen early reports stating range at 115 miles positioning it as the highest next to a Tesla Model S, but Volkswagen says the car is capable of 70-90 miles “depending on driving style and charging behavior.” Gillies said he has under normal driving seen 105 miles himself, but VW is stating 70-90. Otherwise EPA data including MPGe is not yet ready for publishing, he said.

Power to the front-wheel-drive compact built on the Modular Transverse Matrix (MQB) platform is from a 115-horsepower, 199 pounds-feet electric motor and routed via 1-speed transmission. Top speed is 87 mph and three energy usage modes are Normal, Eco, and Eco+.


Battery pack size at 24.2 kwh is very close to the Leaf’s 24 kwh. It’s built in-house at VW’s Braunschweig facility and includes a 7.2-kw onboard charger as standard.

It’s also equipped to handle DC quick charging by way of a “Combined Charging System” (CCS) that puts 80-percent charge back in under 30 minutes.

The battery, like the Leaf’s, is not liquid cooled. When asked whether VW was setting itself up for issues as Nissan had experienced a couple years ago, Gillies said the li-ion battery is engineered to be gently charged and discharged, and sent a statement from the comapny’s German engineers.

To keep operating temperatures at ideal levels, VW has developed a Battery Management Unit with intelligent thermal control that allows the pack to remain within an optimal temperature range, helping to maintain performance and range in a variety of temperatures. This innovative system allows the e-Golf to operate in its intended manner, even in more extreme temperatures, without the need of a cooling system.


With a primary focus on efficiency rather than charge-time or capacity (like some of our competitors), VW was able to design a battery pack and utilize battery chemistry for the lithium ion cells (provided by Panasonic), that make the e-Golf one of the most efficient EVs on the market. As the battery system is so efficient, minimal waste heat is created during operation (i.e. during fast charging), which is quickly directed by the battery metal structure into the chassis, away from the battery, preventing extreme temperature conditions inside the pack. The lithium-ion cells being used, referred to as “marathon cells” by our engineers, are designed for gentle charge and de-charge thereby reducing heat and excessive energy consumption often associated with cells designed for rapid charging and de-charging. The elimination of the cooling system also allows VW to keep the weight of the battery pack down, which aides in overall efficiency of the vehicle.

The set up employed for the e-Golf has passed various long-term engineering evaluation milestones in desert temperatures and cold weather climates without the necessity of a cooling system.


Interior volume is close to the Leaf also. VW says the e-Golf will match the regular Golf line with 93.5 cubic feet of total interior volume. The Leaf has 92.4 cubic feet. Cargo volume for the e-Golf is listed at 22.8 cubic feet. Leaf has 23.6 cubic feet.

The entry level Leaf S also starts at a lower price point in the $30,000 range. The Golf is relatively better equipped and positioned above this, and a closer match for the upper level Leaf’s.

Gillies said he has already been explicitly asked whether the e-Golf is a compliance car, and he said it’s really not. Volkswagen has designed the e-golf on a global platform as a global seller. For now, it is selling where compliance cars are selling, but the plan is not to stay only there forever.

Volkswagen is taking a wait and see approach, and did not state a specific roll-out plan beyond ZEV states, but that it is preparing for more growth in the electrification of the automobile is more certain. The e-Golf is the first, and assuming market acceptance, it’s implied the vehicle will eventually be made more widely available in the U.S. Gillies said also VW will in time offer more than just the fully packed version as now being launched.

He also emphasized the driving experience and utility will compare favorably with a regular Golf.

Upper level features standard with the e-Golf include:

• Three driver-selectable regenerative braking levels
• 5.8-inch touchscreen navigation system and infotainment center
• Bluetooth® technology
• SiriusXM® Satellite Radio
• Automatic Post-Collision Braking system
• Leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel
• Dual-zone automatic climate control
• LED headlights
• Bespoke 16-inch aluminum-alloy wheels
• Keyless access
• Heatable front seats
• Rearview camera; and front and rear Park Distance Control

Volkswagen has also announced a “holistic” approach to offset carbon emissions in an effort to let e-Golf claim carbon neutrality.


Aug 25

Is ‘MPGe’ a ‘bogus’ metric confusing consumers and hurting plug-in sales?


Some readers here have said “MPGe” (mile per gallon equivalent) is not the best way to represent efficiency for EREVs, EVs, or PHEVs. Actual operating costs or cost per mile is another way, and there are alternatives besides these.

But regarding MPGe, a writer says this is hurting sales. Could an equally valid counterpoint be that shoppers need to put on their thinking caps? Is all the info they need already available if they will just be proactive? The government has all sorts of data down to an efficiency calculator to measure real costs.

Shall we blame the government when it’s already subsidizing the industry and forcing CAFE on automakers, and more?

Not sure what the actual truth is. That plug-in sales have been less than some hoped for is apparent. Others say we’re off to a decent start. There are lots of angles to this. The writer in the summarized story following talked more about the PiP because he has one, but similar observations – to a degree – could be made about the Volt…
- Jeff

Story By Mark Atkinson


Even at the best of times, introducing new technology can be painful. Teething problems, false starts and high initial costs are all part of the deal.

The same holds true for the gradual electrification of vehicles, which despite billions of dollars in investment still only makes up a fraction of the cars, trucks and SUVs sold every year.

Dylan Tweney, a writer at Venture Beat and owner of a plug-in Toyota Prius, takes aim at what he believes are the real culprits in EVs slow popularity crawl: the EPA and its miles-per-gallon-equivalent (MPGe) ratings.

“Sometimes, the advantages of a new technology are unclear because people are evaluating it with an outdated metric,” he says. “We’re saving an enormous amount of money by driving on electricity instead of gas, but none of that savings was obvious before we bought the car.”

Tweney says the MPGe ratings, introduced in 2011 and mandatory on Monroney (window) stickers ever since, isn’t very clear when comparing EVs to gas-powered models.


“What does it mean that an electric car like the Nissan Leaf has an MPGe of 126 city/101 highway or that the Tesla Model S gets 95? These cars never consume gasoline at all, so those figures are purely imaginary. It’s hard to translate these numbers into a measure of what the economics of these cars really are.

He says other information on the stickers — in much smaller print, mind you — discussing how many kwh per 100 miles on electricity and gallons of gas per 100 miles on the gas engine are easier to grasp.

Despite the Prius plug-in only having an EV-only range of 10 or 11 miles, the 3 kwh required to fill the battery only costs about 25 cents at night, meaning 2.5 cents per mile. In “regular” gas-burning mode, the Prius still delivers excellent economy relative to rivals at 10 cents a miles. It has saved his family significant money — “over $100 per month, or almost half the cost of the car’s lease.” — especially compared with the family’s old Mazda minivan, which Tweney says averages about 21 cents a mile, or nearly 10 times as much as the EV-mode Prius.


However, the uncertainty about variable electricity prices adds just as much confusion to the mix.

“Electricity prices are not only variable, they are not at all transparent. You can’t look them up on PG&E’s Web site. So it is almost impossible to make this calculation until you actually drive the car home and try it out for a while and then look at your utility bill.”

The combination of “outdated means of measurement” and “the market for electricity [remaining] opaque, few people will be able to figure out whether they’re worth it.”