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Posts Tagged ‘electric cars’

Cadillac ELR: Biggest Car Flop Ever?

May 15th, 2014

2014 Cadillac ELR

Ahhhh, karma.

It’s proving to me that maybe Americans can hope not to go down in history as the arrogant materialistic egomaniacs for which we are gaining a reputation.

Even American advertisers advertising to American consumers seem to believe all we care about is working every day of our life and ignoring our families so we can buy expensive cars.

Okay, maybe that’s a generalization, but at least one car company took that approach to sell a new model, and wouldn’t you know it, that model now looks to be on track to go down in history as one of the biggest automotive flops of all time.

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Here Comes Tesla’s Competition

March 28th, 2014

Commuter Cars Tango and George Clooney

When you think of electric cars, the first maker to come to mind is probably Tesla. The company has done an amazing job branding itself as the leader in vehicles powered by electrons. With sexy car designs, lots of media coverage and a personable-yet-eccentric CEO, Tesla has become the gold standard in electric vehicles.

That doesn’t mean Tesla is alone, though.

Other carmakers build and sell vehicles that use alternative fuels, and there’s no way the legacy automakers are going to sit down and watch Tesla silently drive into the sunset with all the cash.

From the big boys to some small guys with big ideas, it seems EVs are here to stay. Keep reading for some interesting competitors Tesla may face.

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Tesla’s “Gigafactory” Could Change the Future

February 27th, 2014

Tesla Gigafactory

Today we will discuss an important theme: the future.

In the film Back to the Future 2, Marty McFly travels from 1985 to 2015 and encounters a future he didn’t expect, only to return to a present he never knew.

That’s on my mind today, because I’m watching the antics of crazy old scientist Doc Brown with my family while reading about a young brilliant entrepreneur and his plans for the future. Doc Brown needed 1.21 gigawatts to power his DeLorean, while this modern-day man plans a “Gigafactory” that could change the auto industry as we know it.

What is a Gigafactory? Read on, with no worry that you’ll learn too much about the future and cause a chain reaction that could unravel the very fabric of the space-time continuum and destroy the entire universe! This time, the future seems set.

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This Is How to Get an Electric Car

January 29th, 2014

Tangos sharing freeway lane

Did you ever think you could drive an electric car for about $25 a day?

That probably sounds like a cheesy ad for a low-priced rental-car company, and I guess there’s some truth to that. When compared with the costs of buying or leasing a new EV, this brilliant little plan seems like the way to go.

Selling electric cars in the traditional manner will take decades before enough are on the road to make a real difference in air quality. Speeding that process up will require some thinking that challenges conventional wisdom. We all know that nothing changes when things are done the way they always have been.

So what’s the most economical, efficient and accessible way to get electric vehicles on the road? For that answer, we should look to China.

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How to Go Electric for the First Time

December 5th, 2013

2013 Nissan Leaf

What’ll it be:

A new Nissan Leaf for less than $25,000, a new Chevy Volt for around $37,000, a new Cadillac ELR for $76,000, a new Tesla Model S for upwards of $80,000 or maybe the new BMW i3 or i8 or Mercedes-Benz B-Class electric?

A growing number of used electrics are also hitting the market. Prices for those range from the high teens to $400,000. (More on that later.)

How’s a car shopper supposed to decide the best course of action to go electric for the first time?

Read on, friends, for the answer awaits.

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Small, Safe, Narrow and Harrowingly Fast: It’s Time to Tango

May 22nd, 2013

TangosSharingFwyLaneCropped

Before shoes were invented, two guys were walking through the mountains of Tibet. One man turned to the other and said, “I sure wish we could cover the world with leather.”

The other guy paused, looked at his friend, and said, “Or we could just cover our feet.”

It’s a common story, with many variations, but you get the idea.

Rick Woodbury, founder of Commuter Cars and maker of the Tango electric car, wants to apply that logic that to automobiles and change the way the world drives.

I had an opportunity to meet with Rick yesterday and ask him a few questions about the fastest urban car in the world. His company has been around for many years and has seen some success, but a potential deal looms that could catapult his company into the mainstream.

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Should Electric Vehicles Make Noise at Low Speeds?

January 9th, 2013

2012 Nissan Leaf

Imagine walking toward the entrance of your local grocery store when, as you pass the row of parked cars, you hear the clip-clop of an approaching horse.

Surprised, you stand still and wait, not wanting to get run over by a Clydesdale.

But instead of a majestic animal, a diminutive Nissan Leaf glides by, emanating the sound of hooves on pavement.

It seems ridiculous, but something similar could soon become law.

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Cars Coming Soon: Ford C-Max Energi

December 20th, 2012

2013 Ford C-MAX Energi

I’ve never been excited about an electric car. Ever.

I don’t even like electric golf carts or those little shuttles that sneak up on unsuspecting travelers in airports. Put a gas engine in those things and watch folks get out of the way!

As I’ve said here many times, my problems with electric vehicles stem from their limited range, outrageous cost and, most of all, the misguided notion that fueling a car with coal-produced electricity is any better than efficiently using gasoline. Not to mention the toxicity of making, and disposing of, the battery packs.

With all that said, the 2013 Ford C-Max Energi could be a car that begins to change the minds of people like me.

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Most Satisfying New Car In All the Land: Chevy Volt!

December 3rd, 2012
2013 Chevrolet Volt

The very satisfying Chevy Volt

The Chevrolet Volt: Electric without the anxiety.

If I sat on the marketing team for the Volt, that’s a slogan I might throw out there for consideration. While it’s possible to drive the Volt for months on end on electric power only, thus never needing to stop at a gas station, the car provides the option of driving from Boston to Seattle if the owner so chooses. That’s because the Volt’s genius powertrain allows for all-electric trips of roughly 40 miles or can use its small gas engine to extend range all the way to… well… Seattle.

While the car costs way too much (in my humble opinion), has suffered from a terrible marketing campaign and has been at the center of a heated political debate, owners seem to love the experience of the Volt and would buy one all over again. Which is more than Nissan can claim about its fuel-efficient Versa.

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An Engine in a Suitcase, Or an Electric Car?

November 19th, 2012
2013 Ford Fiesta

2013 Ford Fiesta

In my book, many interesting conversations can be had using the words “turbochargers” and “superchargers.”

In a conversation with a friend this weekend, though, my mention of the words were met with a blank stare. I guess not everyone is into cars or even terribly knowledgeable about what makes them tick.

Our talk began with a question. My friend asked, “What do you think of electric cars?”

Well, that’s quite the can o’ worms in my world, and talking through the answer took the better part of the next 30 minutes. We discussed everything from the environmental impact of battery manufacturing to electricity production to supporting infrastructure to the mechanics of how superchargers and turbochargers work in gas and diesel engines. Of course, my bottom-line answer to her question was this: Electrics have the right idea in saving fuel, I’m just not convinced of their execution. I’d prefer to go with an economical turbo gas or diesel vehicle.

Like maybe the 2014 Ford Fiesta, with a 1.0-liter EcoBoost 3-cylinder.

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