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Posts Tagged ‘electric cars’

Could Narrow Cars Solve Our Transportation Problems?

February 2nd, 2016

toyota_i-road

You’ll laugh the first time you see a narrow car on the road.

There aren’t many just yet, so unless you’re driving the streets of Japan, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Seattle, your odds of seeing a narrow car are about the same as stumbling across a traveling fleet of motorized La-Z-Boys.

Narrow cars do exist, however, and it seems they might be starting to pick up steam, at least judging by media coverage for the last month or so.

The most famous narrow car in the news right now is the Toyota i-Road, a 3-wheel tandem 2-seater that is testing in Japan. It’s funny looking, but the i-Road, and cars like it, could shape the future of mobility.

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Have Electric Cars Already Beat Fuel Cell Vehicles?

January 29th, 2016

2017-Honda-Clarity-Fuel-Cell

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?

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Tesla Model 3 or Chevy Bolt? No Contest!

January 25th, 2016

Tesla Model 3

Soon a $37,000, 200-mile electric vehicle will arrive on the market. The car could be the one that finally ushers in the era of the affordable, high-range, mass-produced electric car.

This car is well along in its development and will be available to purchase in the coming year.

The car’s designers made aerodynamics a top priority, so it slips effortlessly through the air. When in motion, wind flows around the vehicle from the headlamps to the rear wheels. The aluminum body and smooth proportions cut down on weight and drag to increase both range and acceleration. Plus, the bottom of the car is completely flat, since there aren’t any exhaust bits that need to be kept cool.

Yes, this car could be a game changer.

Oh, and Tesla is building one, too.

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Will Gas-Powered Cars Rule for Another 25 Years?

December 28th, 2015
With electrics like this, how can they fail?

With electrics like this, how can they fail?

Electric cars are the transportation solution of the future, but that future might be farther away than we think.

There’s so much talk about automakers increasing the number of EVs in their fleets by 2020 that we might start believing an all-EV future is right around the corner. California has toyed with the idea of banning the sale of new gas-powered vehicles by 2030 and Norway has proposed eliminating new internal-combustion car sales by 2025.

Green Car Reports says,

If laws were passed tomorrow to limit the number of new internal-combustion cars, it would likely take almost two decades to bring half the overall fleet in that jurisdiction to electric propulsion.

No law outright banning operation of any vehicle with a tailpipe has been proposed anywhere, as far as we know, even in Norway.

Like it or not, we can be sure that gas-powered cars will account for our transportation needs for many decades to come.

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Nissan Could Rule the EV Mass Market

December 3rd, 2015
Does the NIssan IDS concept preview the next Leaf?

Does the Nissan IDS concept preview the next Leaf?

Conversation tends to drift toward Tesla and its competitors when the topic of discussion turns to electric cars.

That happens because Tesla is a sexy topic. Its cars are fast, beautiful, expensive, and represent some of the most advanced technology in the auto business. Both mainstream and upstart automakers want to compete with Tesla.

Audi and Porsche are scrambling to field a competitor to the Model S, while Karma Automotive teases us with the rebirth of an early EV. But these are all cars that will require an executive salary to afford.

The real money, though, is probably found where very few are currently looking: the mass market.

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A Quarter of All Audis to Be Electric Within 10 Years

December 1st, 2015

audi_a3_e-tron_sportback

The electric revolution got another dose of support late last week.

Considering how much media coverage electric cars get, a person would be forgiven for thinking EVs constitute a somewhat hefty portion of car sales. The truth, however, is that the market for plug-in electric cars in the United States is ridiculously small.

Through the first nine months of 2015, EVs accounted for only .62 percent of new car sales. Yes, the market share for electric cars is currently well below one percent.

That number should rise as more automakers provide more options and as the logistical issues of limited range and a lack of charging stations are addressed.

But who will step up and cater to such a small market?

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A Smart Alternative to Boring Cars: Our 2016 Nissan Leaf Impressions

November 13th, 2015

2016 Nissan Leaf SL

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.

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Electric Cars That Don’t Look Like Electric Cars

October 27th, 2015

2014_bmw-i3

“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.

Electric vehicles like the i3, i8, and Nissan Leaf are designed to invoke immediate recognition, but I questioned the logic as I spoke.

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?

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When Should We Declare Fossil Fuels Dead?

September 29th, 2015

Tesla Supercharger

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.

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Tesla Model S Turns Dial to Eleven, Breaks Consumer Reports’ Scale

September 1st, 2015

Tesla-Model-S-P85D

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.

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