There are no falcon doors, there is no Ludicrous Mode, and the company isn’t run by a man fashioning himself after Tony Stark. The center console isn’t comprised of a mega-iPad, and there are no rear-facing jump seats in the trunk. The Nissan Leaf is no Tesla Model S—a brilliant car, made by a fascinating company, and the first image to come to mind when one thinks of electric cars. But in the end, the Leaf may be more likely to succeed.
“Why do electric cars have to look like that?” she asked.
My wife referenced a parked BMW i3, a vehicle that certainly qualifies as eye-catching if not attractive.
I answered her question with some pre-programmed babble that included a perceived need by automakers to make their EVs stand out from the crowd, and a desire by EV owners to tell the world what they are driving.
Why DO electric cars look like that? If we want them to be incorporated into the mainstream, they need to look like mainstream cars. Tesla understands that, but will other automakers evolve their EVs to suite the tastes of a mass audience?
Kimbal Musk is the brother of Elon, the billionaire founder and CEO of Tesla Motors. He serves on the board of Tesla and is an advocate for finding new ways of powering, and feeding, our world.
My wife and I had the opportunity this weekend to meet with Kimbal in Las Vegas along with Bill Nye, the famous science guy.
Both were adamant that the time has come to change the world and move away from fossil fuels. I’ve been slow to get on board with that idea, but I finally think that they are correct. Automakers and consumers are starting to realize it, too.
Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors have been building cars in this country for over 100 years. During that time they have produced vehicles deserving of tremendous praise as well as vehicles that are better off forgotten.
Consumer Reports, the American magazine that reviews everything from cars to stereo equipment, has been doing its thing since 1936.
In all that time, never has an American automaker produced a vehicle CR found to be perfect.
Tesla, the American maker of electric cars, sold its first Model S in 2012. That’s just three short years ago and about 100 years after the Big Three automakers got their starts.
You’ve probably heard the news by now, but the newest Model S just scored a 103 on the CR scale that, until now, only went to 100. The 80-year-old magazine has called the vehicle the best car it has ever tested.
This is quite the embarrassment to every other automaker on the planet and will undoubtedly be a major source of pride for Tesla.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of electric-car owners getting stranded after venturing too far from home.
Sometimes they simply misjudge how much power they have, and sometimes the gauge on the car provides inaccurate information.
Whatever the reason, many new owners of electric cars have found themselves on the side of the road with a car that’s as useful to drive as a cantaloupe.
The car club AAA even got into mobile charging to help stranded motorists and provide some peace of mind for EV owners.
Our post on that topic said,
AAA’s new mobile charging trucks will be able to provide 15 minutes of charge, which should give EVs 3 to 15 miles of range, which, in all honesty, will probably just leave motorists stranded 3 to 15 miles farther down the road.
Now that electric cars have been on the market for a few years, has anything changed?
According to 9 out of 10 drivers, the answer is “Yes.”
A few years ago we discussed the idea that V8 engines should be outlawed. Of course that never happened, and the idea itself is just a symbol of the direction the auto industry could go.
However, that 2009 article foreshadowed the rise of turbocharged engines and the declining need for a V8. Why get a fuel-thirsty 8-cylinder when a boosted V6 can provide better fuel economy and similar hauling capability?
The idea of outright banning V8 motors is ridiculous. It is possible that the market will slowly erode demand for the V8, but certain groups of buyers will always keep at least a small demand going.
Even the most fuel-efficient gas motors cause pollution, though, and at least one decision-maker in an influential state wants to push things even further.
Would anyone have guessed in 2005 that auto headlines midway through 2015 would focus so heavily on electric vehicles? From Tesla to Porsche and from upstarts to downfalls, electric cars are succeeding, failing, creating controversy, and setting records everywhere we look.
We’ve also seen the fall of Fisker, Coda, Aptera, and many more hopeful EV makers that never sold more than a handful of vehicles before going belly-up.
Here are some of the more interesting headlines from the last week or so regarding the best (and worst) in the EV world. If there’s any doubt that electric cars are here to stay, these stories might change some minds.
Sometimes the beginning of major change happens with one simple “a-ha” moment.
I had one over the weekend, which I’ll describe a little later. But first, here’s what led to my moment of clarity.
While in San Francisco I had the opportunity to drive a Commuter Cars Tango T600 through heavy traffic into the city and back to the suburbs. The entire trip was about 50 miles.
The T600 is about as wide as a Honda Goldwing motorcycle, weighs as much as a Subaru Outback, has the rollover threshold of a Porsche 911, has four times as many side impact protection bars in its doors as a Volvo, and has quicker acceleration to 60-mph than most stock Ferraris.
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.
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?