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).
“What’s the best car I can buy?”
The question pops up quite often at family gatherings, social events, in random Facebook messages, and anywhere people find out I write for a car blog.
The answer is always the same.
“The one that makes you happy.”
Of course, people want more information than that. They want to be told which car offers the best value, best performance, best fuel economy, best reliability, and so on. Needless to say, there is no “best car money can buy.” There is a “best car for you.”
Today we’ll look at the best car to buy if you want an inexpensive used car with great gas mileage.
A few years ago the idea of buying an $80,000+ electric car that had limited range, few places to refuel, and no dealer network was a laughable proposition. To top it all off, the company that wanted to sell the car had very little automotive design or manufacturing experience.
Around the same time, one of the world’s top automakers had plans for a new electric car that promised to be affordable, good looking, and easy to take on a road trip anywhere roads exist without worrying about running out of range.
Like we even have to say it.
What you see above could be an early glimpse into what the 2065 Chevy Malibu might look like. True, it’s rare for an automaker to tease us with product that’s 50 years away, but I think Chevrolet has done just that.
For now, this is just a design concept that Chevy has dubbed the FNR and unveiled at the Shanghai Auto Show. I could try to describe its looks, but I think it’s best to let the pictures do the talking, because there’s just no good way to describe what is going on here visually.
How is it powered? I’ll let Gizmag explain:
The electric car is powered by magnetic hubless wheel motors and charged wirelessly. The driver starts the motor with an iris recognition system and can opt between manual and autonomous modes. A combination of sensors and a roof-mounted radar system analyzes the surroundings during autonomous driving, and a set of crystal laser head and tail lamps light the way.
Don’t jump back into an SUV just yet!
If you drive an electric car or a hybrid, you might be tempted by low gas prices to make the leap back into an SUV or crossover. It happens every time there’s a fluctuation in fuel prices; they rise, and people flock to hybrids. They sink, and people migrate back to the big rigs.
Americans are a fickle breed, and we have a hard time looking at the long-term picture. With gas prices currently well under $3 per gallon in most of the country, the great transition back to SUVs is already in place.
According to CNN, so far this year only 45 percent of people who traded in an environmentally friendly hybrid car purchased another. That means 55 percent of folks went back to gas, and many of those were SUV purchases.
The logic makes sense, but whatever happened to the days when someone made a decision and stuck with it for a while?
So the term “twin engine” has officially become a thing, and now the world is just a little more bonkers.
Cars have been using two engines, or perhaps motors would be a better word, since the advent of the hybrid vehicle. One motor runs on gas, and the other runs on electricity, both working together to provide fuel efficiency and power.
Volvo will sell its new XC90 with a similar setup, except it’ll market its flagship SUV as the XC90 T8 Twin Engine.
It sounds impressive, and it is. The two engines, though, are just the beginning.
The 2015 New York International Auto Show will come to a close this weekend, and as usual, automakers packed the Javits Center with beautiful new vehicles in hopes of making as big a splash as they could during the crowded hypefest. We attended last week’s 2-day press preview, and we have to say it was a very fun but exhausting trip; the automakers like to keep the press moving around the venue. But we moved quickly and made it to nearly all the press conferences with help from plenty of free coffee and some life-saving free chairs.
Some of the biggest names in the business were there to show off what the next year of production has to offer the market. Automakers all more or less stressed the same common themes throughout the preview, but some of the more unexpected themes included fuel cells, semi-autonomous-driving features, and affordable luxury (with the exception of Land Rover and Jaguar, who touted their models’ steep price tags). Dozens of reveals took place at the press conferences, and we thought we’d share our impressions on some of the biggest.
Toyota teamed up with Subaru to build a sports car, and it ended up with the FT-86, known here in the States as the Scion FR-S.
The car is significant because it’s the first time in many years that Toyota has injected some rear-wheel-drive fun into its lineup. The only problem is that the car is a bit underpowered. The FR-S is fun to drive because it’s perfectly balanced and handles beautifully. It won’t, however, win a lot of speed races and isn’t very refined or comfortable.
The other mistake I think Toyota made was badging this car as a Scion. It would have been better for the car’s image had it worn a Toyota badge.
Toyota’s next partnership, now confirmed, will result in something just a little faster and, we hope, all Toyota.
Buckle up, friends, because BMW and Toyota have announced that they are moving forward with the joint development of a sports car.
There’s been quite a bit of debate as to where electric cars will fit into the consumer car market in the next few years. Tesla’s recent announcement of their P85D shows that electric cars are starting to infiltrate even the ranks of performance vehicles. Although there have been a number of additions to the EV category in recent years, a lot of people still question the practicality of transitioning to a purely electric vehicle. Battery charge times and driving range on a single charge certainly leave a lot to be desired. These are legitimate concerns, but automakers are making strides in addressing them. With the addition of home charging stations, charge time drops drastically, and more public charging stations will certainly help extend the EV’s range. And of course Tesla is making waves with its 30-second-swappable batteries.
The Paris Motor Show is known to inflict shock on unprepared auto journalists. It’s here that automakers like to unleash their inner crazy and debut concepts designed to capture the world’s attention.
Yesterday was when most automakers unveiled their wares, and while there were a few surprises, there wasn’t anything that left the world speechless.
Honda showed some chops with its most extreme hot hatch ever, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz debuted exactly what was expected, but Lamborghini seems to have stolen the show with a surprising new direction.