2015 Chevy City Express Van Good For 25 MPG

2015 Chevrolet City Express

GM’s answer to the Ford Transit Connect is the 2015 Chevy City Express, which netted a combined 25 MPG rating thanks to a particularly high city rating of 24 MPG. GM managed to accomplish this using a 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine matched to a CVT transmission.
That resulted in a 24 MPG city rating and a 26 MPG highway rating for an even 25 MPG combined. This compares favorably to the Ford Transit Connect, which manages up to 30 highway MPG using the 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine, but just 22 MPG around town. Small vans like this tend to do most of their driving in urban environments, acting as delivery or contractor vehicles for local vendors.
The starting price of $22,950, just a little bit cheaper than the Transit Connect’s MSRP of $23,130, and the 20 interior cargo points plus six floor-mounted D-rings allow a wide range of payloads to be safely seccured. The dual rear-sliding doors open up to 122.7 cubic-feet with a maximum payload of 1,500 pounds, and with urban driving in mind GM saw fit to give it a tight turning radius of 36.7 feet, all of which are similar to the Transit Connect. One might say the only difference between the two delivery vans is whether you prefer a blue oval or a bowtie badge on the front of your van.
Or you could just go the New York way and opt for the Nissan NV200 instead, which is smaller, but cheaper as well. Your call, chief.

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Source: Gas 2.

BMW’s i3 is Here, Will it Increase BMW’s Market Share?


BMW i3

BMW has embraced electric cars and hybridization in a big way, launching the hot-selling i3 electric city car and the exciting BMW i8 electric supercar to rave reviews already. BMW isn’t finished yet, though, and has plans to electrify even more of its models, including the German company’s other sub-brand, Mini.
The real question for industry-watchers, then, isn’t “can BMW sell electric cars?” Rather, it seems to be “will BMW’s electric cars increase the company’s overall market share?” That’s the question Zachary Shahan is asking over at our sister site, EV Obsession, and we’ve reproduced his article, below. Enjoy!

Will The BMW i Lineup Boost BMW’s Market Share?


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I’ve discussed it many times: I’m confident that electric vehicles will replace gasmobiles within the next decade or so. There are so many clear benefits that electric cars have over gasmobiles, including convenience, acceleration, and drive quality.
Electric car sales more than tripled from 2010 to 2011, increased 2½ times from 2011 to 2012, and more than doubled again from the end of 2012 to the end of 2013. As some have explained, electric cars may be ~50% of the way toward market domination. Battery costs have come down fast, which is an important driver of that growth, and that trend isn’t likely to stop anytime soon, especially as it is getting boosted by economies of scale.
You would think that industry insiders would see the writing on the wall: electric vehicles are coming, and they are coming to take over the market. However, as we’ve seen many times before, established industries have a lot of inertia and industry insiders have a hard time seeing that they need to transition to a disruptive technology… or be eaten. It has happened in many industries, but I like to call it “the Kodak moment,” in reference to Kodak’s great fall and a slogan that teenagers today have probably never heard (because of Kodak’s great fall).

Industry Inertia & Denial
The automobile industry is one of the largest in the world, and I think that only increases industry inertia and denial. However, a few major auto manufacturers seem to see what’s around the corner. Nissan-Renault is one of them, with strong statements coming from Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn about the future of electric vehicles, and I’d say the other big proponent of the electric vehicle future among major automakers is German giant BMW.

BMW Already Benefiting From BMW i Lineup
BMW hasn’t just introduced a couple of electric cars. It hasn’t simply modified gas versions of vehicles to make them electric, like most auto manufacturers have done. No, it has an entire program focused on developing electric cars. Its BMW i program, as it’s called, was kicked off in 2013 with the launch of the BMW i3 and the BMW i8 plug-in hybrid electric supercar. However, BMW plans to eventually have electric versions of all of its vehicles.
The BMW i3 is very nicely priced between the Tesla Model S and the Nissan Leaf, and its performance fits the pricing. It is a clear performance and comfort level above most electric cars. As I wrote when I reviewed the i3, it’s the nicest car I’ve ever driven (Note: I’ve driven a number of nice gasmobiles, but not a Tesla Model S).
Not surprisingly, the i3 is bringing in a lot of first-time BMW customers. In fact, last I read, 80% of BMW i3 buyers came from other brands. That’s impressive, and a great sign that BMW is moving in the right direction.
BMW is bringing the i3 to the Chinese market later this year. It is supposed to be selling it all around the US, not just in select markets (like many automakers do with the electric options). It is selling the i3 across its home country of Germany, as well as much of Europe. And it already has a nice market of supplementary BMW i3 products.
But it’s not just about where you are selling and to whom you are selling; it’s how much you are selling.
Luckily, the news is good on that front as well. Earlier this year, BMW announced that it would be increasing production to match strong demand.
We don’t know for sure which car companies are going to lead the electric car market once it grows to dominate the overall car market, but history has shown that companies that lead the way into a new market tend to benefit greatly from that leadership. Look at Toyota’s success in the hybrid market. Look at Google’s success in the search engine market. Look at Microsoft’s success in the software market. Look at Apple’s success! BMW is certainly one of the first serious movers in the electric vehicle market. It has an aim of selling 100,000 electric vehicles by 2020, which isn’t a great amount, but for it’s higher-end target market, that may not be a bad target. Furthermore, BMW is one of the only companies I’ve seen announce electric car sales targets.
Also, targets can be raised. In fact, it’s quite good press to say that you are exceeding your targets. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw BMW raise its electric car sales targets before too long. Eventually, I think BMW could see strong market growth from being bullish about electric cars. But we’ll have to see how bullish it ends up being, how innovative, and how much better than the competition.


Source: EV Obsession.

Ford To Build Michigan’s Largest Solar Array

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Ford has teamed up with utility DTE Energy to build the largest solar array in its home state of Michigan, as well as the second-largest carport in the entire Midwest. The solar array will provide 360 covered parking spots and 30 plug-in vehicle charging stations, and is expected to generate 1.13 million kWh annually.
That’s enough energy to power about 158 average-sized American homes for an entire year, tough instead the power will be fed into the Ford World Headquarters, offsetting some 794 metric tons of carbon each year. The project is being funded by DTE Energy, and after a carport at the Cincinnati Zoo, it will be the largest carport in the Midwest. Construction will begin this September and is expected to be completed early next year, after which DTE energy has a 20-year contract to operate and maintain the solar-powered carport.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with DTE Energy to bring a more efficient, renewable energy source to our offices,” said Donna Inch, chairman and CEO, Ford Motor Land Development Corporation. “This is an innovative project that will benefit both DTE Energy and Ford, and is yet another example of our work toward building a more sustainable future.”
The two companies have previously teamed up on other solar projects, including a 500-kilowatt system at the Michigan Assembly Plant. DTE Energy has committed to produce 10% of its energy from renewable sources by the end of next year, and this massive solar array gets them that much closer.
“The SolarCurrents canopy project is another example of how DTE Energy and Ford are working to build a more energy-efficient and sustainable future,” said Irene Dimitry, DTE Energy vice president, marketing and renewables. “At the same time, this project will help us come closer to meeting Michigan’s renewable energy goals and diversify our energy portfolio.”


Source: Ford 

Electric Renovo Coupe Is An EV Performance Revolution


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Built in secret for the past four years, the Renovo Coupe has put a revolutionary electric drivetrain in a classic Shelby Daytona Coupe body. It’s the perfect blend of old-meets-new, taking a timeless classic car and installing a cutting-edge electric drivetrain that focuses on spirited performance driving.
The two men behind this electric supercar are Renovo CEO Christopher Heiser and CTO Jason Stinson, and what they’ve done is focus in developing an electric drivetrain that can handle the rigors of performance racing. And that’s what they built, taking an $89,000 Shelby Daytona CSX9000 chassis, and fitting it with a 30 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that is both lightweight, and tolerant to the high temperatures that limit the performance of cars like the Tesla Model S on the race track. Renovo has also fitted its electric coupe with on-the-fly regenerative feedback adjustment, depending on what the situation calls for.
The Renovo Coupe is fitted with a pair of twin sequential electric motors spinning out a combined 500 horsepower and 1,000 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels. At a claimed curb weight of just 3,250 pounds, that’s a whole lotta oomph in a lightweight package, allowing the Renovo to sprint from 0 to 60 MPH in about 3.4 seconds. 14-inch cross-drilled front rotors are matched with six piston calipers, while at the rear are 13.4 inch rotors and four-piston calipers.
The limiting factor here though is range, rated at just 100 miles per charge. That was done intentionally though, as Renovo is emphasizing its enterprising EV as a lightweight track car with a focus on fast-charging. More range would have meant a heftier car, hurting performance more than it helped, so instead the Renovo team focused on fast charging. A standard Level 2 charger will top off the battery pack in about 5 hours, but the Renovo Coupe can also hook up to Level 3 chargers that will fill it up in just 30 minutes, without harming battery life or performance.
Along with patent-pending high heat tolerance, the ability to recharge and discharge rapidly is key to Renovo’s marketing strategy. Limited sales begin in California early next year, and pricing is set at $529,000. With a $90,000 Shelby Daytona Coupe body as the starting point, and custom everything-else throughout, including a modified interior with all new gauges, it certainly isn’t for the average Starbucks-drinking environmentalist. No, this is an electric supercar for the Kopi Luwak crowd.
This could be the battery revolution EVs have been waiting for, and reshape what the industry thinks electric cars are capable of. Or maybe its just another boutique, flash-in-the-pan EV. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Source: Gas 2.

2016 Chevy Volt Will Get New Marketing Campaign

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When Chevrolet unveils the redesigned 2016 Chevy Volt at the Detroit Auto Show next January, it will raise the curtain on an entirely new marketing campaign for it extended range electric vehicle. Chevrolet global marketing chief Tim Mahoney told Automotive News recently that Chevrolet will invite current Volt owners to use their social networks to tell others how satisfied they are with their cars. O
Over 90% of Volt owners say they would buy another one, and many came from brands like Toyota and had never even owned a Chevrolet before. That’s a major bragging point for GM, though the 2016 VOlt’s marketing efforts will go beyond just a few “evangelists” spreading the good word.
Mahoney said marketing efforts for the next generation Volt will be regionally focused, in areas where populations are denser. Previously, the Volt had no customer base, but now sales records will help the company target locations where the Volt is already popular. Mahoney points out that “there are clearly pieces of geography where (the Volt) makes sense. So you’ll see a focus on fishing where the fish are.” 
Volt sales were up 13% over July, 2013 last month and it is outselling the Nissan LEAF in some markets. Clearly Chevrolet hopes the redesigned car and revamped marketing strategy will propel the Volt to even greater sales success.


Source: GM

Toyota: Hydrogen Fuel Will Be Costly


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Toyota is one of the most outspoken proponents of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, even ditching its partnership with Tesla Motors to focus on the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle. But even with generous incentives, fueling hydrogen fuel cell vehicles won’t be cheap, with a full tank of the clean-burning fuel costing around $50, reports Ecomento.
That’s what Toyota’s Senior VP of North America Bob Carter said at the recent JP Morgan Auto Conference, claiming that cost estimate comes directly from the Department of Energy. He says the cost will eventually fall to about $30, which is about on par with the cost to fuel many high-mileage compact cars. For example, my 2012 Chevy Sonic 1.4T costs on average about $35 to fill, and gives me 300 miles of driving range, which is what the Toyota Mirai is claiming.
From the onset though, hydrogen fuel will remain nearly twice as expensive as gasoline it seems, though the Department of Energy is funding research to accelerate price parity with gasoline. But from the onset, filling up a hydrogen fuel cell car is going to be costly, moreso than even gasoline.
Then again, you could just buy a car like the Tesla Model S, which can go 265 miles on a full charge which will cost you (depending on where you live) less than $10 to fully charge. If you hook up to a Tesla Supercharger though, that fuel is free. The initial batch of Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell buyers will also get free fuel, though from a limited (though growing) number of hydrogen fueling stations across SoCal.
Toyota’s admission though makes it clear that even if you do buy a hydrogen car, it won’t save you a dime on fuel costs. Meanwhile, electric vehicles continue to increase in range and decrease in cost, and by 2017 the Tesla Model III aims to offer a 200-mile driving range per charge in a $35,000 sedan, half the price of the $70,000 Toyota Mirai, which begins production at the end of this year.
Sounds like yet another advantage goes to EVs, but Toyota doesn’t want to hear it.


Source: Toyota

Chevy Volt Fleet Owners Getting Awful MPG

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The Chevy Volt is as much of an electric car as you want to be, and some Volt enthusiasts have gone more than 2,300 miles on a single gallon of gasoline. Yet a new report suggests that some other Chevy Volts, most notably those owned by private and/or public vehicle fleets, aren’t doing much electric driving.
Green Car Reports recently followed up on a report by InsideEVs to see why a big batch of high-mileage Chevy Volts had such low average MPG numbers. The problem it seems is that fleet managers aren’t incentivizing efficient driving, and until they do, we can only expect more of the same.
Many fleets operate by paying drivers on a per-mile basis. People who drive a lot for a living are then compensated on cumulative gasoline costs…but they aren’t recouped for the much-lower costs incurred by plugging into an outlet or charging station. The result is that many fleets of Chevy Volts are coming in with an average of between 34 and 39 MPG, whereas many non-fleet owners regular achieve over 450 miles to a gallon of gas, as long as they recharge regularly. The savings add up too; to charge a Chevy Volt costs about $1.50 in electricity, and it nominally covers the cost of a gallon of gasoline, which depending on where you live is between $3.00 and $4.00 a gallon.
How can we change this? That’s a sticky question, as people still need to feel fairly compensated for the costs of driving. One suggestion would be to offer a substantial “savings bonus” to whomever used the least amount of fuel in a given time period. The bonus would have to be large enough to incentivize people to go a little bit out of their way to find EV charging stations or other places to plug in, but the cost savings to the parent company could be huge. It’s just a matter of incentivizing employees to do the right thing.


Source: Gas 2.

2015 Acura TLX GT Race Car in Action - Video

Last week, we talked to you about the new, 2015 Acura TLX GT racer that would be competing in IMSA’s World Challenge series against cars like the Ferrari 458, Lamborghini Hurac├ín, Porsche 911 GT3, and more.
Honda’s latest race car is seeing action again this weekend at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, and Racer Magazine was able to get the Acura’s driver, Peter Cunningham, to give us a walk-through of what makes the upcoming 2015 Acura TLX sports sedan capable of keeping up with – and, he hopes, beating! – the sportier-looking alternatives. Enjoy!




Source: Gas2

ProGo 3000 Propane Scooter Goes Anywhere And Everywhere

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ProGo, a Los Angeles based start-up, might have just built the perfect personal mobility/”last mile” commuter vehicle. It’s called the ProGo 3000 scooter, and it weighs a mere 35 lbs, goes up to 20 mph, and has a range of 40 miles on a standard cylinder of propane.
Yes, the ProGo 3000 runs on propane, which means you can safely operate it indoors or other places where gasoline powered vehicles are prohibited.
The ProGo 3000 is pretty neat, I think. Its purpose-built, 25 cc propane engine should be strong enough to whisk you anywhere you want to go around town, and – when it comes time to slow down – there are high-quality disc brakes front and rear. That braking hardware seems more than up to the task of hauling down the scooter’s 275 lbs. carrying capacity, and the handle folds to make it easy to carry or store.
As an added bonus, ProGo claims its new, 3000 model propane-powered scooter is EPA and CARB approved (California Air Resources Board), making it a true, 50 state legal scooter suitable for use indoors, and out.
Sign up now at Kickstarter to get yours for “only” $375, which seems pircey for a kick scooter, but not bad once you consider that “regular” production models will start at $449. There are only a few days left to get yours at the introductory price, then, since the Kickstarter goal of $18,000 has already been met and then some. So far, the campaign has pledges for more than twice that amount. Apparently quite a few people like the idea of an rugged, inexpensive, low emissions scooter. And besides, it is just too cute!

ProGo Propane Powered Scooter


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Source | ImagesGizmag.

New Electric Car Battery Cuts Weight by 40%


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Electric cars are quickly overcoming the hurdles of cost and range anxiety, but one area that still needs improvement is the added weight of big battery packs. UK-based Cenex has just completed a two-year project to reduce both the weight and cost of EV batteries, succeeding by shaving 99 pounds, or about 41% of the weight off a standard EV battery, reports Green Car Congress.
Cenex also achieved a 63% reduction in the cost of non-cell battery components, and ultimately the company hopes to enable mass production of lower weight and cost battery packs. Cenex made these weight and cost savings by eliminating the need for wires and screws in the power pack, massively reducing the number of battery components; in two similarly-sized 4 kWh modules, the EV-Lite battery project used just 196 separate components, compared to over 800 in a conventional battery pack.
Cenex also developed an innovative safety feature which isolates individual cells in case of a fire, and the team derived five different patents for their efforts. Considering that the average EV battery is complicated, costly, and in the case of the Tesla Model S, can weigh upwards of 1,300 pounds. Reduce that by 40%, and you just shaved over 500 pounds from the curb weight of the Model S, which would mean more range and better driving characteristics.
Lighter batteries have a lot of benefits, and once automakers overcome the bugaboo of weight, we should start seeing some really long range EVs.

Source:  Cleantechnica

New Tesla Roadster Coming in 2017 … Maybe

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Tesla launched its brand with a simply styled, brutally fast convertible called the Tesla Roadster. It was based heavily on the featherweight Lotus Elise roadster, which may or may not become the car you see, above: the on-again, off-again 2015 Lotus Elise concept.
Now, rumors are starting to circulate about an all-new Tesla Roadster coming in 2017. All of which begs the question, “Will Tesla’s next Roadster, then, be based on Lotus’ next Elise?”
All the same, an updated Tesla Roadster is expected to be one of four – four! – all-new Tesla models that (the usually reliable) Autobild magazine claims will be released by 2017, just in time to carry a “2018″ model year designation. We already know about the hot-selling Model X SUV/crossover and Model 3 “mainstream” sedan made to take on the Chevy Volt PHEV and Nissan Leaf, but Autobild is claiming that, along with the new Tesla Roadster, a new compact city car – similar in size and concept to the BMW i3 – will be joining the lineup, as well.
With a compact, a pair of sedans, an SUV, and – now – an updated sports car, Tesla could become the first full-line, all-electric carmaker in … maybe 100 years? Something like that.
Let us know what you think of Tesla’s big plans, and whether or not you think they’d be better off with a Lotus-tuned chassis (my take: they would be) in the comments, below.

Source: Autobild, via World Car Fans.

First Automaker To Build A 30 MPG Pickup “Wins”


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American automakers know that pickup trucks are their bread-and-butter money-making machines, but increasing fuel economy standards are forcing a level of innovation not seen in decades. An executive for the Ram truck brand recently acknowledged that the first automaker to sell a legitimate, 30 MPG truck essentially “wins” the pickup wars.
That’s what Ram’s brand director Bob Hegbloom told to Automotive News in a recent interview. When asked if “30 MPG is attainable without re-engineering the truck”, Hegbloom responded by saying:
The first manufacturer that gets to 30 mpg wins. We are seeing that with our 28 mpg EcoDiesel as well as the 25 mpg on the Pentastar V-6 model that fuel economy is so important. We are seeing it in the share gains and the growth for the brand. That’s a number that is out there, but I don’t think you can stop there.
Earlier in the interview he claims that drivers of the new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel are regularly achieving in the low 30 MPG range with their oil-burning trucks. But there’s still the 2015 Ford F150 with its lightweight aluminum body and new small-displacement EcoBoost V6 to contend with, and it could match or exceed the 28 MPG rating of the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel. There’s little doubt that soon, possibly very soon, one of America’s Big Three automakers will sell a truck with a 30+ MPG fuel economy rating.
Whoever gets there first may indeed win some new customers, but there’s still brand loyalty and skepticism to contend with. Not every pickup owner is ready to embrace diesel engines or aluminum bodies…and for them there’s always the Chevy Silverado. This bold statement by Hegbloom makes you wonder just how close automakers are to a 30 MPG truck.
Which automaker do you think will be the first to build a 30 MPG pickup?


Source: Gas2

Tesla And Toyota Clashed Over RAV4 EV

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Earlier this year one of Silicon Valley’s most-celebrated technology partnerships came to an end when Tesla and Toyota announced the end of their EV partnership. A new Bloomberg piece reveals just what went wrong in a clash of cultures and proprietary technologies.
Announced in 2010, the $50 million partnership promised to deliver at least 2,600 RAV4 EVs with batteries and drivetrains developed by Tesla. The electric automaker also bought into the NUMMI factory for the low cost of just $42 million, giving it a much-needed manufacturing hub. Yet almost immediately the wheels began to fall off the wagon.
One of the main points of contention concerned the parking pawl, or lack-thereof, in the Tesla-supplied design proposals. The electric automaker had done away with the device in favor of an electric parking brake backup, but Toyota engineers stood their ground, and it makes me wonder if they weren’t being too set-in-their ways. The RAV4 EV did get the pawl, and Toyota also got its way when it came to designing the battery enclosure as well. Considering the concerns with protecting the battery pack of the Model S, maybe Toyota was in the right on that one.
The regenerative braking feature was another area of contention, and neither the Toyota nor the Tesla engineering teams would share their proprietary software data with each other. That made making adjustments to the system unnecessarily difficult. Customers haven’t been too thrilled with the RAV4 EV’s performance either, and with sales and service limited to only California, just over 1,900 have been sold since going on sale in 2012. The $50,000 price tag was a big turnoff too, though the EPA-rated range of more than 100 miles per charge is the most you can get in an EV that isn’t the Tesla Model S.
The issues go beyond engineering spats though; Toyota has decided to invest heavily into hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, a technology that Elon Musk has publicly called “bullshit”. One can’t help but wonder if Musk’s bravado factored into the decision as well?
I can tell you it certainly didn’t help things. With these two former friends now standing in opposite corners of the boxing ring, it’s only a matter of time before they come to blows again. In the battle of Tesla vs. Toyota, we may be seeing the future of alternative fuels decided once and for all.



Source: Gas 2.

California Could Limit EV Incentives Based On Income


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The Golden State is the golden child of the electric car movement, serving as the home base of Tesla Motors and the fast-selling Model S. California also offers EV buyers a $2,500 rebate, which in addition to the $7,500 Federal tax credit, takes up to $10,000 off the price of an electric car.
But one state lawmaker wants to stop giving away state money to EV buyers who are overwhelmingly wealthy. A new plan would limit the size of the state incentive based on income, and offer additional perks to lower income individuals who want to buy an electric car, reports the LA Times.
The bill was introduced by Democrat Kevin de Leon, who says that well-off EV buyers shouldn’t get free money to buy a car they’d probably buy anyways. He may have a point; 50% of Tesla Model S buyers make over $300,000 a year, and while in California that merely makes one “upper middle class”, it’s worth asking whether these wealthy buyers really need any sort of financial incentive to buy an electric car.
de Leon instead proposes a progressive incentive program, which would offer lower income EV buyers an additional $1,500 for trading in a “high pollution vehicle” in addition to the $2,500 rebate. Poorer families could also get an additional $3,000 for the purchase of a clean air car, which if you’re keeping track, would add up to a total of $7,000 in incentives. Apply the $7,500 Federal tax rebate, and that’s $14,500 off the cost of an electric car, which would mean the Nissan LEAF could be had for around $15,000. As it is though, about 80% of the state tax rebates are claimed by people with an income over $100,000 a year, but just 48% of Tesla buyers ranked the incentives as “important” to their buying decision.
Personally, I feel like if you’re going to incentivize a car purchase, it should necessarily be based in income. The $7,500 Federal tax credit for the Tesla Model S represents about 10% of the cost of the car, and about 20% of the cost of the Nissan LEAF. I always saw the incentives as a way to level the playing field against gas-powered vehicles, as wealthy people tend to be the early adopters of new technology regardless of whether it’s an iPhone or Google Glass or the Tesla Model S. A recent study found that the most attractive incentive wasn’t cash, but rather access to HOV lanes on California’s congested roads.
But I also think giving people a reason to trade in their gas guzzler for an EV, especially aimed at the lower income brackets, could help nudge a few fence sitters into going electric. If I could have bought the Nissan LEAF for the price of my Chevy Sonic (about $18,000) I probably would have; but even with a price cut and a chunky tax credit, the LEAF is just beyond my fiancial reach right now. If the state of Connecticut had chipped in, I probably would be the proud owner of an electric car right now.
How do you think EV incentives should be doled out?

2016 Ford Ranger Spotted Testing In US, Again

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The Ford Ranger was, by far, the most popular small truck in America…right up to the moment Ford killed it. Many people have loudly decried this move as a mistake, and Ford may be coming around to our way of seeing things.
For the second time in a month, the 2016 Ford Ranger has been caught testing in America, this time completely uncovered in pictures sent to Jalopnik. But that doesn’t mean a new Ranger is a sure thing for the US.
Of course, it would be a great addition to Ford’s lineup, especially if it came with the 3.2 liter diesel engine capable of towing a train locomotive. The “global Ranger” as it is colloquially called, is about 10% smaller than the best-selling Ford F150, but it is capable of much better fuel economy, sometimes even managing above 30 MPG. Of course the new aluminum body structure and 2.7 liter EcoBoost V6 mean the 2015 F150 could deliver incredible fuel economy as well, but it’s still more truck than many people need, your humble writer included. A smaller, cheaper Ranger aimed at entry level truck buyers could find wider appeal in a market where fuel economy is now a primary factor when it comes to new car buying decisions.
Even if the global Ranger does come to America though, there’s no garauntee the diesel engine will come with it. More likely, we’d see an EcoBoost four-cylinder and V6 engine offered, whereas GM is bringing a four-cylinder Duramax diesel with its new compact trucks, the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. Which drivetrain would buyers prefer? Until we have some official MPG numbers/confirmation on the Ranger coming to America, it’s hard to make any sort of fair comparison. At the very least though, Ford seems to be considering re-entry into the small truck market.
Count me as a fan of this move.

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Source: Gas 2.

2016 Chevy Volt To Debut In January

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Today GM released the first teaser image of the 2016 Chevy Volt, which will bring a litany of changes to the popular plug-in hybrid. GM also set the debut date for the Detroit Auto Show in January, with the new Volt to go on sale sometime in 2015.
Since it went on sale at the end of 2010, GM says it has sold more than 65,000 Chevy Volts in the US alone…though its European cousin, the Opel Ampera, has seen sales plummet, and will soon be discontinued. As for the teaser shot itself, it doesn’t reveal much about the new Volt, except that it will have a more-rounded rear decklid.
But the Volt will live on, and rumor has it that it will bring with it many improvements and asked-for features. Among the most-requested features among Volt owners was more range, more room, (five seats instead of the current four), and a lower price. GM could offer a Volt with as much as 200 miles of electric range if certain rumors are true, though more likely GM will offer different battery pack sizes to placate the masses who want to either pay less, or go farther between charges.
Not that the current Volt is all that bad, as 92% of current owners say they’d buy another one given the chance. It’s also one of the highest-scoring cars on the Consumer Reports customer satisfaction survey. Another key point GM likes to drive home is that more than 70% of Volt buyers are new to the Chevy brand, making it a powerful “conquest” car. Hopefully the 2016 model proves just as successful for GM, a company plagued by recall woes and questions about its corporate structure the past few months.
Perhaps the 2016 Chevy VOlt can change the conversation towards more positive vibes.


Source: GM

Japan Could Offer Free Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles

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Japanese automakers are betting big on hydrogen fuel vehicles, and they’ve convinced government officials to stack the deck in their favor. While the Japanese government has already signed on to offer at least $20,000 in incentives to cover the cost of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, some officials are reportedly calling for free hydrogen cars and fuel to early adopters.
Automotive News reports that in addition to the $20,000 from the Tokyo-based national government, Toyota’s home district of Aichi will offer an additional $10,000, bringing the cost of the Toyota FCV/Mirai down from $70,000 to just $40,000. As though that’s not enough, the Japanese government also plans to invest in some 100 hydrogen fueling stations to give drivers a place to fill up.
That’s pretty generous, but apparently there’s even a plan to offer some buyers a free, without any cost at all, hydrogen car. While these reports are tenous at best, perhaps a national lottery to give away the first 100 or so hydrogen cars to interested individuals might be a way to drum up interest amongst the general public. Who wouldn’t want a cutting-edge, free car, in exchange for taking part in an extensive driving study?
Considering all the challenges hydrogen cars have to overcome compared to battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, maybe giving a few away is a way to drum up some interest in a technology most people still don’t quite “get.”


Source: Gas 2.

Edmunds: Tesla Model S Is “Hard To Recommend”

tesla-test-7

The scuttlebutt around the automotive blogosphere has been Edmunds recent 17-month review of the Tesla Model S. After more than 30,000 miles, Edmunds had a lot to say about their time with the Tesla Model S, but ultimately the conclusion they came to was that the electric sedan was “hard to recommend.” Ouch.
The writers and editors of Edmunds found that the Tesla Model S was as powerful and attractive as everybody continues to report, but over time they came to feel that it lacked some features found on competitor’s luxury sedans. More damning was a long list of repairs required of Edmund’s admittedly early-production Model S. The worst of it included three instances where the car died along the road, with the drive unit requiring replacement three times, along with the main battery and center console touchscreen.
However, none of these issues came at any cost to Edmunds it’s important to note, and only two of the visits even required an overnight stay. That’s impressive, considering the entire drivetrain was basically swapped three times, along with that massive battery pack. If nothing else, this shows just how much simpler electric cars are to work with and on. That said, it’s hardly the first report of Tesla drive units failing either.
Another important metric Edmunds measured was resale value, and the Model S shined in this area in particular. After laying out about $105,000 to buy their Model S, Edmunds was able to sell it for $83,000, marking about 20% depreciation. That’s better than many luxury cars, which lose about 25% of their value after the same period of time.
Despite that though, Edmunds comes to the conclusion that;
The Model S is a fast, comfortable and technologically brilliant luxury sedan, but numerous problems with its touchscreen, tires and drivetrain make it hard to recommend.
Are these just the issues to be expected from a car bought so early on in the production cycle? Or is it indicative of bigger issues? To its credit, Tesla claims to have resolved many of these issues in later vehicles, but as the company gets ready to ramp up production, it’s important to have all of these problems ironed out.
Nobody ever said building an electric car company would be easy, after all.


Source: Edmunds
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