Archive for the ‘General’ Category

 

Jul 02

GM company sales up; Volt sales sideways

 

Amidst talks of recalls and settlements, General Motors posted its best June earnings since 2007, and of these, sold 1,777 Chevy Volts.

Volt

 

That put the Volt down 34.1 percent compared to June 2013, and contrasts with Nissan’s Leaf being up 5.5 percent for the same period.

There were two fewer selling days in June 2014 compared with June 2013. On a selling-day adjusted basis, GM’s total sales were up 9 percent. Retail deliveries were up 9 percent and fleet sales were up 10 percent.

GM’s seasonally adjusted annual selling rate (SAAR) for light vehicles was an estimated 16.6 million units in June, topping 16 million units for the fourth consecutive month. The estimated SAAR for the first half of the year was 16.1 million, which is within GM’s full-year forecast of 16.0 million to 16.5 million units.

“June was the third very strong month in a row for GM, with every brand up on a selling-day adjusted basis,” said Kurt McNeil, U.S. vice president of Sales Operations. “In fact, the first half of the year was our best retail sales performance since 2008, driven by an outstanding second quarter.”

Despite that, the Volt did what it did also as Chevrolet was offering a $269 lease deal with $2,679.00 due at signing, and other deals like cash back or 0 APR.

The Volt has been holding steady at this lower rate, and the May HybridCars.com Dashboard indicates 1,684 units sold that month.

Other June sales of note are ELR: 97; BMW i3: 358; Model S: estimated 1,500; Prius with a plug: 1,571; Fusion Energi: a whopping 1,939; C-Max Energi: 988; Spark EV: 85.

Calendar year to date, GM has sold 8,615 Volts. Nissan by contrast has sold 12,736 Leafs, and the Prius plug-in is at 9,300, Model S is at 8,300 estimated.

GM June Sales Highlights (vs. 2013 except as noted):

• Buick had its best June since 2006. Deliveries were up 18 percent, driven by an 82 percent increase in Encore deliveries, a 33 percent increase for LaCrosse, a 26 percent increase for Regal and a 5 percent increase for Enclave.

• GMC also had its best June since 2006. Deliveries were up 11 percent driven by strong demand for the redesigned Yukon, up 120 percent, as well as the Yukon XL, up 70 percent; the Terrain, up 8 percent; and the Savana, up 129 percent.

• Deliveries of the Chevrolet Spark and Sonic were up 19 percent and 36 percent, respectively.

• Deliveries of the Chevrolet Tahoe were up 93 percent and Suburban sales were up 73 percent. Traverse was up 3 percent and Silverado was up 1 percent.

• Cadillac sales were up, with Escalade up 57 percent and SRX up 19 percent. It was Cadillac’s best June since 2008, and 57 percent of customers did not trade in a Cadillac.

• GM’s average transaction prices (ATPs) were in line with April and May, with higher pickup, SUV and Cadillac ATPs offsetting declines among cars and crossovers, according to mid-month J.D. Power PIN estimates.

• For the second quarter, ATPs were up about $800 per unit versus the first quarter. Calendar year to date, ATPs are up about $2,700 compared with a year ago.

• Incentive spending as a percentage of ATP was 10.9 percent, up 0.2 points from a year ago, according to J.D. Power PIN estimates. The industry average for June was 9.7 percent, also up 0.2 points from a year ago.

 

Jul 01

Range-extended Mazda2 may see production

 

Someone once said if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything at all.

With that loosely in mind (this time), and given this site is first about about EREVs, we’ll politely skip GM news unless you want to talk about the latest recall news of 8.4 more million vehicles, or its big compensation plan announced yesterday.

Other than that, it’s just another day for GM and its new CEO, Mary Barra.

mazda2-range-extender

 

As for EREVs, GM has no news here either, but rather that powerhouse of hybrid technology Mazda does. OK, skip the descriptor. Mazda does.

And, sticking close to its (actual) roots (borrowed from Germany), the company is talking about producing a plug-in hybrid based around a 330 cc (0.33-liter) single rotor Wankel rotary rear mounted in its Mazda2.

Mazda has long been fond of the rotary and talk of using it as a range extender has been seen on this site before such as here and here.

Revealed last year as an add-on to its Mazda2 EV prototype EV, Mazda said testing shows the rotary is at least 5dBa quieter at the same rpm than an equivalent gasoline or diesel piston engine.

Equipped with a 2.3-gallon (9-liter) tank capable of being fueled with gas, butane, or propane, Mazda said the 28-kilowatt rotary engine/generator almost doubled the driving range to 236 miles (380km) over the 2,821-pound (1,280kg) Mazda2 EV’s 440 pound (200kg), 20kWh lithium-ion battery pack, which powers a 75-kw/150Nm electric motor.

The report comes to us via Australia where they say the market is too small to justify such a creation from its sort-of ambivalent-sounding maker.

“The only markets in which you can justify bringing something like that out, to get at least a reasonable amount of volume to justify setting it up as a saleable model, are ones where there’s government support for those types of models,” Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders told motoring.com.au.

In Japan, the Mazda2 is called the Demio, and is likely to be made available with – among other conventional engines – a rotary engine-assisted plug-in hybrid powertrain.

“In Japan hybrids sort of took over as the brand of choice, but only for people who want the easy route to being green – [people who say] ‘I’ll buy a hybrid so that makes me green’ – not people who actually think about whether it’s viable technology or not.”

If it’s about CO2 reduction, Benders said Mazda’s new more-affordable conventional engine tech is where it’s at.

“As the best possible fuel economy at an affordable price hybrid doesn’t make sense, because the fuel economy gain isn’t that great unless half of all sales are hybrid, which won’t happen without big tax breaks like in the Netherlands,” he said.

And then you have the U.S., driven by California.

Could it come here with the requisite subsidies and potential volume in place Benders said would be needed?

Looks like maybe assuming it does OK in Japan. We’ll see.

Motoring.au

P.S., And, in unrelated but not irrelevant news, Toyota is delaying production launch of its fourth-gen Prius to December 2015 and the PHEV to October 2016.

 

Jun 30

Tesla approved for first full-service location in New Jersey

 

Side note – Last week also a deal with NJ’s neighboring state, Pennsylvania, has limited the EV maker to five stores there.

It was a compromise between Tesla and a move by the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents 12 automakers but not Tesla.

Meanwhile, in China, a known protestor of Tesla took a wrench to his own Model S’ windshield. Had Tesla racked up miles on it prior to delivery? Unclear is why he said “I feel like I just married a woman who has been married before” in his protest of Tesla’s “arrogance” in damaging his own car.

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And as for the Garden State, Tesla is still awaiting what is hoped to be a favorable ruling by the New Jersey State Senate to resume unfettered sales, but for now it’s been OK’d for New Jersey’s first all-in-one sales, service, and Supercharging location in Paramus, N.J.

On Thursday, the Paramus Zoning Board of Adjustment gave the green light to the electric car maker to open a 27,000-square-foot service center and new Tesla store with Supercharging and other charging infrastructure.

The approval flies in the face of a March Motor Vehicle Commission ruling barring such facilities, and the law against it is still on the books, but on June 16 the state’s assembly voted 77-0 in favor of a bill now needing approval by the senate and governor.

SEE ALSO: Tesla Appeals New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Regulations

 

Since April Tesla Motors has had its two stores – Garden State Plaza and Short Hills – relegated to “gallery” status to show and educate but with strict rules against selling cars. It also has a Supercharger facility in Hamilton Township.

Tesla says it has 807 Tesla owners now within a 25-mile radius of the proposed North Jersey site on Route 17 where it intends to convert the former Sixth Avenue Electronics Store.

Design Manager for Tesla, Christy Ortins told NorthJersey.com that Paramus was chosen as Tesla’s nearby Garden State Plaza location proves there are a lot more customers waiting to be found in the region.

“There seems to be quite a market here where there are people who are forward-looking” she said of the relatively affluent area which serves in part as a bedroom community for New York.

The location along Route 17 is already “becoming a magnet for luxury car brands” as North Jersey household incomes include some that top the charts nationwide.

Tesla’s Route 17 facility aims to have three Superchargers, seven conventional chargers open seven days a week, and the sales and service facility are to be open all days except Sunday.

 

Jun 27

2015 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric is range extended, sort of

 

It is a pure EV but the German automaker has a new twist on what it means to have a range extender.

This alternative to the BMW i3, with battery pack and drive train engineered by Tesla, is available with ICE powertrains in Europe and Canada, but is EV in the U.S. only …

mercedes-benz-b-class-ed

 

Get this: Mercedes-Benz’s online configurator offers a $600 option to boost efficiency, thus range, and one of these is 8 kilowatt-hours of battery power held as reserve.

In other words, found Autoblog Green, the electric drive B-class actually has a 36 kwh battery, and the company’s option lets the owner charge up and use more than a nominal 28 kwh, for about 17 miles worth of more range, or 104 total.

“A suite of options to further increase your driving range includes added insulation of the doors and roof for to increase climate-control efficiency, along with an electrically heated windshield and a range-extending charge function,” says the company.

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Standard EPA-rated range is 87 miles, which the company thinks is enough for most day to day needs, but owners wanting more may via the “range-extending charge function” opt for another charging mode which fills up the remaining 8-kwh for the total of 36 kwh.

“By pressing a button on the console prior to charging, the maximum charge level for battery will increased for the next charge cycle. The higher-capacity charge can provide up to 17 additional miles of range,” says the company.

Mercedes-Benz USA product and technology communications rep Terry Wei told Autoblog Green it will take an extra 1.5 to 2 hours to charge at between 24-40 amps to a higher “full” level.

The plan is reminiscent of Tesla’s “Range Mode” which lets the owner charge to a higher state than default.

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“Basically what you are doing is using, early in life, any excess capacity in the battery,” Wei said, so this practice’s effectiveness may decrease over time as the battery ages and loses capacity.

Doing it this way contrasts also with the Nissan Leaf which has a 24-kwh battery and lets you use a certain percentage and then it’s all over.

Then again it is similar in that a Leaf lets you charge to 80 percent or 100 percent. Thus, if you’re in the habit of charging the Leaf to 80 percent, and then one day put in 100 percent, it is like you found an extra 20 percent.

Both are the same car. Note arbitrary difference in EPA rated range.

Both are the same car. Note arbitrary difference in EPA rated range.

In theory at least, the M-B maybe able to retain its conservatively advertised 87 miles EPA range for more years of use than the Leaf which says 84.

Last year the EPA listed the Leaf range at an odd 90-percent level, but this year it and the company are back up to range with 100-percent charge.

Also, for $600, a “suite of options to further increase your driving range” includes increased door and roof insulation to improve climate-control efficiency, as well as an electrically heated windshield and a range-extending charge function.

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And, says Mercedes-Benz, the B-Class is the first EV that optionally uses radar to maximize its range.

“When braking or coasting, a radar sensor watches traffic ahead and adapts the brakes to recapture the optimal amount of energy,” says the company. “Seamless and silent, it helps the driver get more miles from every charge. Steering wheel-mounted paddles offer manual control of recuperation, too.”

Mercedes-Benz claims 7.9 seconds for 0-60 acceleration, and horsepower at 177, and torque at 251 pounds-feet.

If customers decide they need more, they can use another 8 kwh but this can reduce the battery’s lifespan of done often enough, so it’s recommended for use only now and then, not regularly.

MSRP starts at $41,450 plus $825 destination and options from its online configurator will add to it if a customer wants.

How do you think this vehicle will do?

Autoblog Green

 

Jun 26

Toyota shows its production-ready FCV

 

When will we see GM roll out its FCV? They tell me they are not done working on it, as in, the project has a purpose …

The top story I put together, and below that, Phil followed up with another …

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People who are still saying they’ll believe fuel cells will become mainstream when they see it are one step closer to this much-delayed “future” as evidenced by Toyota’s plans.

This week the maker of the Prius revealed the exterior design and Japan-market pricing for its production four-passenger fuel cell sedan it first showed last year at the Tokyo Motor Show, and which is pending global launch.

Toyota said the FCV will go on sale in Japan before April 2015, and in the U.S. and Europe in summer 2015. Price in Japan is 7 million yen (approx. $68,700) excluding consumption tax, and no lease price was divulged. As for EU and U.S. versions, pricing and lease details and other specifications are not divulged yet.

DSC_0029_S

This year also Hyundai began offering its Tucson-based fuel cell vehicle in the U.S., and Honda says it will have a follow-up to its FCX Clarity to compete with Toyota, although it has revealed only a design concept at this point.

Toyota reiterated that hydrogen emits nothing and when compressed has greater energy density than lithium-ion batteries.

It said also it’s a “particularly promising alternative fuel” as it can be produced with a wide variety of energy sources, including solar and wind.

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“Toyota’s commitment to environment-friendly vehicles is based on three basic principles: embracing diverse energy sources; developing efficient, low-emission vehicles; and driving real and positive environmental change by popularizing these vehicles,” said the company in a statement.

The fuel cell vehicle is said to benefit from 95 percent reduction in costs, and Toyota has been developing them in-house for over 20 years.

Toyota began leasing the “Toyota FCHV” SUV on a limited basis in Japan and the U.S. in 2002.

“Significant improvements have been made to the FC system since 2002,” said the company. “The fuel cell sedan Toyota revealed today, for example, features performance similar to a gasoline engine vehicle, with a cruising range of approximately 700 km (according to Toyota measurements taken under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s JC08 test cycle) and a refueling time of roughly three minutes.”

The company is also developing fuel cells for stationary power in buildings and homes, fork lifts and buses.

 

Toyota Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle In Aspen June 27

By Phillippe Crowe

Toyota announced its first commercial zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle (FCV) is coming to the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival.

First unveiled in Japan on Wednesday afternoon, June 25, the vehicle will make its North American debut at the annual conference on Friday, June 27.

Toyota_FCV

In a press conference in Japan, company officials revealed the exterior design of the FCV pre-production prototype.

Interior features, along with the vehicle’s name, volume, and full specifications will be released at a later date.

Toyota also announced that the FCV will go on sale in the Japan domestic market before April 2015, and then summer 2015 in Europe and the state of California.

Toyota stated the sedan will be priced in the Japan domestic market at approximately 7 million yen, or at more than $68,000 based on current exchange rates. Pricing in other markets has not yet been set.

“This is a zero-emission electric-drive, mid-size four-door sedan” said Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. “It produces sufficient electrical power to spin the electric motor for about 300 miles on a single fill-up which takes three to five minutes.  This is going to be a very special vehicle. And we believe we can bring it in at a very reasonable price for a lot of people.”

The company also stated today’s announcement builds on Toyota’s existing efforts to provide customers with access to hydrogen refueling stations when the vehicle arrives in California. In May, the company announced a financial relationship with First Element Fuels to support the long-term operation and maintenance of 19 new hydrogen refueling stations across the state.

“The success of fuel cell technology will depend less on the genius of the car, than on the ownership experience,” said Carter. “Stay tuned, because this infrastructure thing is going to happen.”

Related Reading:

Toyota Defends Its Plans For Fuel Cells

Toyota Further Explains Fuel Cell Viability

Toyota Preparing For ‘The Next 100 Years’ With Fuel Cell Vehicles

Toyota’s Fuel Cell Vehicles Can Handle The Cold

 

Jun 25

GM adding 3 acres of solar in Michigan

 

By Phillippe Crowe

General Motors announced it is increasing its renewable energy use with 3 acres of new solar arrays at two Michigan facilities.

The company’s processing center in Swartz Creek and engine plant in Flint will each feature 150 kilowatt ground-mount solar arrays. These are expected by General Motors (GM) to generate a combined 400,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year to the facilities’ grids. That is equivalent to the annual energy use of 25 homes.

GM_TimberRock_Solar-668

The company stated after the projects are complete this fall, GM will house more than 38 megawatts of solar power at 13 facilities around the world and more than 60 megawatts of renewable energy globally when combined with its landfill gas and biomass energy use.

GM said the new installations bring the company closer to reaching its goal to increase renewable energy use globally to 125 megawatts by 2020.

“Ever since our first solar array in 2006, GM has realized the benefits of renewable energy,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM global renewable energy manager. “Not only does it reduce our emissions and lessen our dependence on petroleum, it makes a statement about the role businesses can play in securing a cleaner energy future.”

GM announced its plans for the installations this week in Boston at the annual PV America East Expo, a conference bringing together professionals, manufacturers and service providers in the photovoltaic energy industry.

During the event, conference organizers Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Solar Electric Power Association recognized GM with a Project of Distinction Award – the highest achievement for a photovoltaic solar energy project – for the integrated solar microgrid system at the company’s plant in Baltimore.

GM explained OnStar and energy service company TimberRock Energy Solutions, Inc. partnered to use aggregation software and solar charging canopies with integrated storage to manage the flow of solar power to benefit the electric grid, operated by PJM Interconnection. The site also is home to a 1.237 megawatt rooftop solar array – one of the largest in Maryland – that generates nearly 6 percent of the facility’s electric consumption.

“Through collaboration and innovation, GM, OnStar, PJM and TimberRock have teamed up to give Americans a peek into the future,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch.  “The advanced, solar microgrid at GM’s Baltimore site is a state-of-the-art union of electric vehicle, solar power and battery storage technologies. This project’s unique vehicle-to-grid integration, utilizing a solar microgrid, makes it a worthy recipient of the 2014 Project of Distinction Award.”

According to SEIA, GM leads all automakers in the number of solar installations in the U.S. and ranks among the top U.S. corporate solar users in 2013 and 2012. It named GM a “Solar Champion” for the company’s significant impact on establishing a strong solar industry.

GM’s other U.S. solar installations include:

  • A 1.8 megawatt installation at Toledo Transmission, Ohio’s largest rooftop array.
  • A 1 megawatt array at its Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. distribution center, the nation’s first 1 megawatt public solar project.
  • A 516 kilowatt installation at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, Michigan’s largest ground-mount solar array.
  • A 900 kilowatt rooftop array on its Fontana, Calif. parts distribution warehouse.
  • A 350 kilowatt ground-mount array at Orion Assembly in Lake Orion, Mich.
  • A 49 kilowatt ground-mount array at GM’s Technical Center in Warren, Mich.