Green Update–>Cadillac, BMW, SEMA, and Hybrid Sales

Cadillac Converj Concept

The auto writers are crowing about Cadillac’s decision to produce the Converj, the Volt-derived plug-in concept car, though its appearance will be “a few years” down the road. It sounds like a smart move. Cadillac sales are way down (39.2 percent this year), and the sharp-edged Converj will possibly inject some life into the moribund brand. After CTS-V, what?

Luxury buyers will thus be asked to kick in to help GM defray the cost of the lithium-ion battery packs (which may run $10-12,000 for the Volt). My bet is that they will because the Converj—if it looks like the concept (as Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said it would)—will become the first dramatically styled car that GM has produced in a very long time. And the performance, one assumes, will be more than adequate.

2010 BMW ActiveHybrid X6Performance is the name of BMW’s game with the 2010 ActiveHybrid X6. According to John Voelcker of Green Car Reports, the world’s most powerful hybrid doesn’t drive at all like a hybrid. The technical details are kind of amazing, and the car performs, achieving 62 mph in 5.6 seconds (equivalent to the xDrive 50i). Freeway driving produces around 21 mpg, and the ride and handling, says John, are “smooth” and “tenaciously gripping.”

The downside of the vehicle is clearly its dog-eat-dog looks and the fact that it will set you back about $90 large or more. Oh well, that’s what it costs to buy nearly three tons of high-performance hybrid.

eVaro at SEMAAs tgriffith told you, SEMA produced a bunch of weird cars, as it always does. This 3-wheeler is called the eVaro, in development by Future Vehicle Technologies since 2006. Plug it in for up to 90 miles of travel, and do 0-60 in under 5 seconds (probably not both at the same time). The rated mpg is anywhere from 92 to 275. Your mileage may vary. They want to sell 10,000 of these things, which seems a mite ambitious, but it is truly an advanced concept.

Finally, it seems that hybrid sales really stepped out in October, beating the car market as a whole substantially. Details are on Edmunds’ Green Car Advisor:

Sales of Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Toyota hybrids were up 12.1 percent, while sales of conventionally powered cars and trucks were flat. The one-month picture was even rosier, as October hybrid sales jumped 22.5 percent from September’s, versus a 12.1 percent hike in sales of conventional models.

Autoblog Green carried an interesting piece covering “The Business of Plugging In” conference in Detroit. Despite persistent high battery cost and infrastructure problems, the future looks bright, especially for hybrids.

[J.D.] Power’s good-news predictions: the number of hybrid models available in the U.S. will increase from 22 today to more than 100 by 2015, and the number of “pure” (battery only) EV models will swell from one (the Tesla roadster) to at least 13 by 2012. Bad news for pure EV fans: Power says just 0.5 percent of sales (fewer than 100K units) will be pure EVs by 2015.

This doesn’t account, however, for any breakthrough in battery technology which, I’m betting, will happen within two years.

Anyone want to challenge that two-year prediction? Battery technology will improve markedly and relatively soon: Do you agree?

—jgoods

1 Comment

  1. I continue to be amused by the author’s incessant rants dealing with environmentally and politically correct vehicles. Look, all these technologies involve heavily subsidized efforts to get them out of the lab and onto the road. Even with the subsidies, sales of hybrid vehicles don’t make economic sense because of the premium the buyer has to pay to show the world that he/she cares about the environment. Hint, you aren’t going to find middle class Americans buying these technologies. Yes, Lexus and BMW owners are not typically middle class. They are a cut above and want everyone to know that they have “made it” and want to make you jealous of their success. Fair enough but in today’s world of diminishing incomes and resources, don’t look for sales to increase dramatically.

    The battery technology prediction of geometric advances in the next couple years may or may not be true. That technology however, is not focused stateside and having to depend on far eastern suppliers in a politically unstable world is something that I wouldn’t want to depend on. References to the infrastructure that must be present to support and spur sales of EVs are costly at best. The political climate in the country is such that Washington wants to do everything to support everything. The political reality is that Washington is in such a deep hole that once they get off the crack pipe and sober up, they will see that there just isn’t enough money in the world to do much of anything. You, dear author will be paying through the snoot for many, many years for your environmental lust for a greener world. “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” and a free lunch is what we are being fed by those involved in these green technologies.

    Look, lets focus more on what most people agree will work and produce “real” jobs. Roads, bridges, the electrical grid, nuclear energy are being ignored while we dither about global warming, auto emissions, privacy issues and reality shows. Pie in the sky schemes like solar panels, windmills, carbon sequestration, clean coal, etc come at a very steep price to the consumer. What hurts is the population is pretty much ignorant of political, civic, and economic issues and until that changes, all the technology in the world won’t help us out of our mess.

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