To touch on a subject not normally covered by CarGurus, Audi has announced its expanded involvement in the all-electric Formula E racing series, furthering its support of Team ABT Schaeffler before fielding a full-works team in 2017. Motor racing is an exceptionally expensive business, and with perhaps the exception of Ferrari’s involvement in Formula 1, no manufacturer can simply dabble in the game—there has to be some sort of return on the investment.
As we noted Wednesday, muscle cars sold very well in 2014 and 2015, which we took as a sign the car business was healthy. But the first 7 months of 2016 saw Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger sales drop by 5.5% year over year while the redesigned Chevrolet Camaro’s sales dropped by 15.4%. What’s the problem?
We are in the midst of a technological revolution in the auto industry. The amount of change in the last five years has probably outpaced what we’ve seen in the last 50. The next five years could change it all again.
Remember when seat belts and air conditioning were considered big developments in the car world? Then came cruise control and heated seats. I, for one, lost my marbles when I finally owned a car that could unlock with the push of a button.
Now I don’t even need keys to unlock, or start, my car. Heck, I don’t even need gasoline any more. My Nissan Leaf, though, hasn’t even begun to crack the surface of what’s coming.
Believe it or not, you can still buy a new car in the United States for under $14,000. The least expensive option on the market is the $11,990 Nissan Versa, a car that Car and Driver says, “has insultingly flimsy materials” along with a 109-hp 1.6-liter engine that makes for slow acceleration but gives reasonably good fuel efficiency.
Most of us opt to buy more car than what the Versa has to offer, but that ultra-low price is appealing to budget-conscious shoppers. If the Versa is too “flimsy,” buyers can step up to something like the $14,000 Ford Fiesta.
Once the car is purchased, it can be driven for many years with no further finance costs, which is one of the benefits of buying a car outright.
A 24-month finance term on a $14,000 car, at 3.11 percent interest, is about $600. For the same price you could drive one of the most desirable luxury cars on the market: An all-electric Tesla.
Earlier this year, Bloomberg published an interesting article on the future of electric vehicles in relation to oil demand. It points out that global EV sales increased 60% in 2015, the same rate of growth seen by the Ford Model T in its early years. Though EVs still only command about 0.1% of the worldwide auto market—and the current glut of cheap oil has kept many people behind the wheels of their favorite crossovers and trucks—more affordable batteries, growing cultural acceptance, and the looming threat of global warming will most likely only improve EV sales from here on out. Bloomberg itself predicts “the 2020s will be the decade of the electric car,” anticipating that at some point EV demand will surpass even demand for oil.
Electric cars shouldn’t look like electric cars if they are to go mainstream.
Tesla figured that out early, while other automakers, especially BMW and Nissan, made their electric cars look more and more… electric.
The BMW i3 and Nissan Leaf are perhaps the “most electric” looking of today’s electric cars.m BMW shows no signs of easing up on its polarizing styling, while Nissan, known for pushing the limits of good design taste, will soon unveil all-new looks for the Leaf and a slightly tamed-down design for the soon-to-be-hybrid Juke.
Last week, Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, unveiled his Master Plan, Part Deux, on his website. It lays out his plans for where his futuristic company will go in the next decade.
Now there are those of you out there who are wondering about his Master Plan, Part One, which included the following goals:
- Create a low-volume car, which would necessarily be expensive;
- Use that money to develop a medium-volume car at a lower price;
- Use that money to create an affordable, high-volume car; and
- Provide solar power.
It appears that, contrary to some rumors and speculation, Faraday Future is not Apple in disguise.
In recent weeks Faraday has hired a former Toyota executive to lead exterior design, while the Nevada treasurer began to question how the upstart electric carmaker will finance a $1 billion factory and deliver on its promise to help turn Nevada into an electric-vehicle production hub. (Tesla, of course, is building its Gigafactory there.)
Nevada has reason to be concerned, because the state has promised tax benefits and infrastructure improvements. Faraday’s failure would be a giant gambling loss for Nevada, a possibility that would seem less likely if Apple had control of the reins.
The Apple plan, meanwhile, seems to be delayed.
From the first press release outlining Tesla’s Autopilot technology, potential customers have wondered how the system works, what its limitations are, and whether it will be welcomed or shunned. Since Joshua Brown’s fatal crash while using Autopilot in a Tesla Model S, these questions have grown larger and more pointed. Without a doubt, popular opinion has shifted toward negativity. But should it?
Ten years ago, Tesla CEO Elon Musk showed the world his plan to grow his electric car company into an international powerhouse. In his original master plan, posted in 2006, Musk summarized his ambitions by saying Tesla would:
- Build a sports car
- Use that money to build an affordable car
- Use that money to build an even more affordable car
- While doing the above, also provide zero-emission electric-power generation options
With 2016 upon us, Musk has published his new master plan. It’s equally ambitious, if not more so, and includes some bombshells that give clues to Mr. Musk’s intentions to change our world for the better.
Perhaps the best idea in Musk’s “Master Plan, Part Deux,” is for an electric semi truck. Shocking, right?