Tesla made some serious waves last week when it debuted its Model 3 electric car. These weren’t your “gently lapping the shoreline” waves, either. Think “Laird Hamilton monstrous big-time waves.” We’re a data-driven, internet-focused company, so to demonstrate this point, we ran some basic Google searches. “Chevrolet Bolt” (the Model 3’s most direct competitor, and a car set to beat it to market by almost 2 years) returned 2.3 million results. “Nissan Leaf” (by and large the most popular electric car currently on sale) yields 4.9 million results. “Tesla Model 3?” 90.4 million results. So yeah… tidal waves.
Day Two began with the World Car Awards. Backed by a surprisingly loud, club-ish soundtrack and some odd song choices (maybe intended to help attendees wake up after a very long Day One?), the Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicle got the World Green Car Award, the Audi R8 Coupe took the World Performance Car Award, and the BMW 7 Series won the World Luxury Car Award. Mazda managed to take two trophies, as 2016 World Car Design of the Year and World Car of the Year, with its MX-5 Miata, and having driven the car ourselves, we heartily applaud the WCA jurors’ decision.
The price of electric cars is quickly falling into the $30,000 range. The Nissan Leaf, the upcoming Chevy Bolt, and, presumably, next year’s Tesla Model 3, will all be available for about the price of the average new car.
Infrastructure for charging electric vehicles is becoming more common and people are getting used to their limited range. Part of the reason for less range-anxiety is because cars are going farther on a single charge and taking less time to recharge.
Amidst the looming mass-adaption of EVs by consumers around the country, another type of alternative-fuel vehicle is starting to hit the market.
But is it too late for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles?
Some ideas are destined to never work.
The hoverboard is one. So is the flying car. A peanut-butter-and-sardine sandwich would also make the list of ideas not likely to catch on.
The state of Oregon is about to discover one more: a miles-driven tax in place of a fuel tax.
The slow rise of electric and hybrid vehicles, in addition to improved fuel economy in vehicles powered by fossil fuels, has presented state governments with a new problem: how to fund roads with less money coming in from fuel taxes.
This week we attended the New England Motor Press Association (NEMPA)’s panel discussion on the future of green vehicle technology, California’s Zero Emission Vehicle mandate, and mass-market adoption of these technologies. It was a terrific, fruitful discussion. Two 4-person panels brought together expertise and opinions from automakers, energy research groups, electric utilities, and state politicians as they discussed the industry’s current strategies and what needs to change to increase the desirability and sales of Zero Emission Vehicles (ZEVs).
Synthetic oil has been around for as long as I’ve been doing oil changes. In all that time it never occurred to me that maybe someone could invent synthetic fuel, too.
Fuel made from renewable resources rather than harvested from oil buried deep in the earth can provide clean power to our cars without damaging the atmosphere. That’s a dream scenario, but plenty of technological and logistical problems exist with the concept.
Audi, though, has succeeded in creating a process that results in clean e-diesel, a fully synthetic fuel capable of powering modern diesel engines.
It turns out synthetic fuel has been around since the early 1900s, when it was discovered in Germany. Many processes to make it have been created in the years since, but all of them require some kind of earth-based raw material, such as coal. Audi’s is a little different.
I know, I know. We talk a lot about the fuel that powers our cars on these pages.
We complain about high gas prices, we get cautiously excited about low prices, we wonder if governments should increase taxes on fossil fuels, and we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of alternative-fuel vehicles.
The question always comes back to this: environmental effects. Fossil fuels are damaging to pump out of the earth, and they pollute the atmosphere when burned. Electric-powered cars don’t emit any gasses when driving, but the production of the electricity that charges them can be harmful.
Hydrogen is, theoretically, clean from all angles. A new filling station in California could change the game on how we think about fueling our cars.
You might think that the good people over at General Motors would love to read a news story that begins with this sentence:
General Motors sold a record number of Chevrolet Volt sedans in August.
That’s really good news for the maker of the slow-selling $40,000 electric car, right?
Well, yes, it is, but there’s a huge problem with those increased sales numbers.
We have written about the incredible Porsche 918 hybrid before, with details here and here. Now, 918 Spyder prototypes have been spotted testing, looking a little like the old 917 race cars (see pix here).
The 918 will produce some 770 hp from a V8 and “two independent electric motors, one on the front and one in the drive line, acting on the rear wheels.” All this with decent fuel economy. Production is expected by the end of 2013, so you have time to save up the $850K it will cost.
The new Ferrari F70 is expected to replace the Enzo and may come to market around the same time as the 918, according to Automotive News. The F70 will probably cost more than the Porsche, but has some amazing technology, which we will illustrate below.
Why are these companies building such monster cars?
The 2013 RAV4 EV is a pretty nice car. With Tesla-made battery and powertrain, it gives you good power, a 100-mile range, classy interior and equipment, and plenty of room. Read here a short version of its features.
However, there are a few—let us call them—restrictions. The biggest is price: a whopping $50,610, including destination charge and not including Federal and California tax rebates, which can knock off $10 grand. A very mid-level car with a luxury pricetag.
The second restriction is that it’s available in only four California regions: Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles/Orange County and San Diego. The company expects to sell a mere 2,600 over three years.
The third restriction is that this is clearly a so-called “compliance car,” built to sell only in small numbers to satisfy California’s zero-emissions requirements. The law essentially requires that in order to sell cars in the state, a carmaker has to build at least some few ZEVs.