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.
Electric cars solve a lot of problems. They don’t pollute, they can be recharged at home overnight, and they save owners money by eliminating the need for gasoline.
The trouble is, electric cars could end up being remembered as the right cars that happened at the wrong time.
The quality, reliability, comfort, and driving range of electric vehicles are better than ever before. They offer a gas-free way to commute to work and the peace-of-mind of driving on clean energy.
What EVs don’t have is the right timing. Gas prices are still hovering around $2 per gallon, so it’s hard for car buyers to justify the added cost and limited range when compared to a gas-powered car.
For an electric car to succeed in an era of cheap gas, it needs to have something special. Keep reading for the electric cars that should thrive regardless of gas prices.
The odds are pretty good that you’ll purchase a plug-in electric or hybrid vehicle within the next four years.
Why am I so confident?
Here’s a short rundown of companies that have announced major plans for electric cars by 2020:
- Tesla will be in production with the Model S, Model X, and Model 3
- Porsche will be in production of the Mission E Concept
- Volvo expects to add plug-in hybrid vehicles to its entire range
- Audi says 25 percent of its range will eventually be electric
- Nissan wants to rule the EV mass market
And now, Ford is investing $4.5 billion into electric vehicles so it’ll have 13 EV models by, you guessed it, 2020.
As soon as a brand new car leaves the dealer’s lot, the depreciation phenomenon commences. There are plenty of reasons to spring for a new car with an empty odometer, of course. They come with great warranties, include the latest technologies, offer the buyer peace of mind with regard to the vehicle’s history, and, naturally, they come with that wonderful new car smell. However, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and your new car depreciating as soon as the rubber rolls of the lot.” We took a look at the data and found that although some cars quickly lose value for good reason (looking at you, Mitsubishi Galant), there are others that actually become pretty great deals. If the smell of organic materials off-gassing is of paramount importance, feel free to pay the premium for your brand new car. If you don’t mind waiting a few years, however, we’ve picked 10 vehicles that offer incredible value on the used market.
So, as most people know, the automotive world has been shaken by the announcement that Volkswagen has massively cheated on emissions testing for 11 million of its diesel-engine vehicles across the globe—482,000 in the United States. That scandal will effectively kill the market for Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars for months, if not years, to come.
What should you do, though, if you had your heart set on a diesel-engine car? It’s time to consider alternatives to the affected 2.0-liter turbodiesel models. Let’s look at the models included in the emissions scandal and suggest another good option. One important thing to point out, though, is that you can find all of these VW models with gasoline engines that were not subject to the illegal tampering. However, their fuel economy will be much lower.
The 2016 Toyota Prius had its global debut Tuesday in Las Vegas. The main message at the premiere was not fuel economy. It was looks and handling.
Sure, almost every car in the world is sold on looks and handling, but that’s a huge change in direction for the most fuel-efficient car on the market that doesn’t have a plug. Toyota didn’t totally step away from that message. After all, it expects the Prius, when it goes on sale early in 2016, to get a combined 55 mpg.
It’s not a problem unique to the Prius, either. Fuel efficiency is an almost impossible selling point when the national price for gas is $2.39, according to AAA, which predicts prices could fall below $2. That’s great for us as consumers, but lousy for Toyota as it introduces its latest and greatest hybrid vehicle.
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.
Let’s talk fuel efficiency.
Gas prices keep going up, people keep complaining, blah blah blah. Nothing new to report there.
It’s the cars that people choose to buy as prices rise that remains an interesting, though somewhat predictable, topic. One new highly efficient car has outsold the February totals of both the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf.
In just three days.
GM is temporarily laying off some 1,300 workers as it suspends production of the Volt at its Detroit Hamtramck plant. There are simply too many Volts in dealer inventory waiting to be sold: five months versus the normal two-month supply of cars.
The car had a good jump in sales last month, however, as GM sold 1,023 Volts—420 more than in January. Of course these numbers are peanuts compared to the stupid predictions GM and the USDOE have claimed over time. But it was good news for the Volt!
Edward Niedermeyer is ventilating (and also making some good points) about “The Twilight of the Volt” in the above-referenced article. Indeed, the history of this car is not only a testament to GM’s grand failure in marketing it but to the Obama administration’s continual promotion of the Volt, which made it a symbol of partisan politics. Niedermeyer is right about this.
After the phony fire scare, the company attempted to fight fire with ads, which campaign by itself isn’t going to light any fire under potential buyers. The campaign was aimed at creating an image of patriotic green: “It’s the car America had to build.”
*UPDATE: Some House Republicans charged in a Wednesday hearing that NHTSA delayed investigating the Volt’s battery fire, basically to protect General Motors, the Volt’s reputation, and President Obama’s reelection campaign. Dan Akerson, GM’s chief, and David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator, bore the brunt of the contemptuous assertions of Darrell Issa, R-Cal., who typically holds hearings where there is always smoke but no fire. Akerson called the Volt entirely “safe, a marvelous machine,” and drove one to the hearing. He also said the car was not designed “to be a political punching bag, and, sadly, that is what it has become.”
We might as well say it out loud: The Chevy Volt has been a fiasco for GM.
Now dealers are refusing to take on more Volts, even though NHTSA has given the car a clean bill of health after investigating battery fires supposedly caused in side-impact crashes. Volts are no more prone to such fires than other cars.
Just as Volt sales were beginning to improve (slightly), somebody cried “Fire!” in a crowded theater, and that has really put the kibosh on sales. Once again, GM has had to backwater on its sales targets, now saying it will simply build as many cars as customers will buy.
The pace and frequency of anti-Volt stories has been picking up, as some find it a timely excuse to bash the Obama administration for backing the car in the first place. But the political problems with the Volt are fleabites; the real wounds were caused by GM’s complete failure in marketing the car.