Electric Cars: Thriving in an Artificial Market?

2017 Chevrolet Bolt

Are electric cars being force-fed to an unwilling American public?

Through the first 11 months of 2016, Americans have purchased about 130,000 electric vehicles. That sounds pretty impressive, until you compare that to the nearly 16 million cars sold in the U.S. so far this year.

While it feels like electric cars are gaining traction here, the truth is that they account for only a tiny fraction of total sales and hold a minuscule portion of market share.

So why are automakers continually announcing plans for new electric cars and touting them as the future of American transportation?

Because California says so.

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Ford Unveils New EcoSport Subcompact SUV

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Just this weekend my wife asked about the word ‘nomenclature.’ I explained it by giving the example of Ford’s naming strategy, or nomenclature, for its line of SUVs.

There’s the Excursion, Expedition, Explorer, Edge, and Escape.

Ford likes the letter ‘E’ for its SUVs, with the one exception being the Flex, which could be classified more as a wagon than an SUV. It should be no surprise, then, that Ford’s newest SUV, unveiled over the weekend via Snapchat, will conform to that nomenclature and carry the name EcoSport.

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Tesla Faces Growing Pains While Planning European Expansion

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There are some perks to Tesla ownership that customers believe are vital to the experience of owning one of the premium electric vehicles.

One of those perks is free access to the company’s network of superchargers. Another is quick and responsive maintenance and repairs.

Both of those perks seem to be fading away as Tesla grows. Customers are beginning to complain of long wait times for service and, at the same time, Tesla has announced that unlimited free charging access will soon be a thing of the past.

Is the novelty of Tesla ownership wearing off?

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Faraday’s Financial Future Already Bleak

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Faraday Future mysteriously stormed into the U.S. market promising a new breed of electric car that would upend Tesla.

It unveiled a supercar concept and has teased a coming crossover. It has broken ground on a $1 billion factory in Nevada. Curiously, the company has never sold, or even produced, a single production-worthy automobile.

Now its parent company, China-based LeEco, has sent a dire warning to employees that it’s having financial troubles and needs to cut costs.

Could Faraday’s Future be over before it even begins?

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GM Defies the Odds and Sells Plenty of Tahoes, Yukons, and Suburbans

2017 Chevrolet Tahoe LT Midnight Edition

Perhaps the last third of 2016 will be remembered for the theme, “Expect the Unexpected.”

Tuesday night’s election results shocked the world as President-elect Trump overcame astronomical odds to secure the nation’s highest office. That’s as far as our political commentary will go on this blog, but rest assured the significance of the election isn’t lost on us. We’ll be sure to keep a close eye on the election’s effects on the auto industry.

Slightly less significant, October’s car sales report had a few unexpected twists too. In a time of slowing sales, when we might expect passenger cars and full-size trucks to maintain the status quo, something else has happened.

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BlackBerry and Ford Team Up. Surprised?

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BlackBerry isn’t a company with a great track record of staying ahead of the market.

The company was once a leader in the fledgling smartphone business, but quickly faded into irrelevance with the advent of Apple and Android devices. Not only has BlackBerry failed to compete in the new landscape of smartphones, it has become something of a punchline in the industry. Most of us don’t even notice it exist anymore.

This is why my first reaction to news of a Ford/BlackBerry partnership was laden with consternation and full of questions, such as: Will future Fords only work with BlackBerry phones?

A little bit of research cleared up any questions and even proved that this deal could be a very good thing for both Ford and BlackBerry. But what about for you, the consumer?

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GM and Toyota Dive Deeper Into Car Sharing

MAVEN

How would you like to rent a car in less than a second?

The idea of instant access to a vehicle could be appealing, especially for people who don’t own a car and live in a big city. General Motors and Toyota are the latest major automakers to get on board the car-sharing trend and could help turn it into a new normal for urban-dwelling commuters.

The idea of a car company venturing into the by-the-hour car rental business might seem to fly in the face of their desire to sell cars meant for individual ownership, but the younger generation seems to be demanding a change in how they transport themselves.

They don’t want to own cars, but they want convenient, inexpensive access to them.

Cue Maven.

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The Changing Purpose SUVs

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Sport utility vehicles entered the automotive scene as 4×4 alternatives to station wagons, sedans, and minivans. They quickly became the go-anywhere, haul-anything preference for families across the United States. These were the vehicles that allowed drivers to skip the Holiday Inn and venture deep into the woods if they so desired.

They were large, heavy, and capable rigs that rode high and gave drivers a commanding view and comforting presence in the midst of the surrounding Civics and Corollas. The fact that early V8-powered SUVs sucked gas fast enough to watch the fuel gauge drop didn’t matter, because gasoline was cheap and the economy was strong.

Then the bottom fell out in 2007 and the game completely changed. Large SUVs became symbols of excess and waste. Filling their gas tanks required a second mortgage. Falling sales inspired a new breed of SUVs, one that could still haul up to 8 people, but compromised some off-road ability for more civilized fuel economy numbers.

It’s an evolution that continues into this day and is embodied by the new Audi Q7.

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Midlife Crisis: Corvette or Cayenne?

2016-cayenne

The midlife crisis car may have switched from the Corvette to the Cayenne.

The Baby Boomer generation is arguably responsible for more Corvette sales than any other generation of Americans, but the aging demographic now appears to prefer more comfortable and practical luxury SUVs to low-slung sports cars.

Will the changing desires of Boomers impact the production of the world’s greatest sports cars?

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Tesla Goes Full “Level 5,” But What Exactly Does That Mean?

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Tesla is becoming the Apple of the car industry.

Well, the Apple of five years ago, at least. We have to go back to when the tech giant routinely innovated with new hardware and then challenged the rest of the industry to catch up. (Apple’s recent diss of the audio jack doesn’t count.)

Tesla has almost singlehandedly made electric cars cool and has forced other automakers to invest in building luxurious and sleek electron-powered vehicles.

Wednesday night, Tesla made another bold move and announced that all of its cars, including its least expensive Model 3, will come capable of full, Level 5, self-driving autonomy.

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