Tesla launched its Roadster a few years earlier, but for all intents and purposes, the United States’ age of electric vehicles (EVs) began with the Nissan Leaf in 2011. The market for electric vehicles has come a long way in 10 years, and now shoppers can buy an EV from any number of companies, from the Kia Soul EV to the BMW i3, and from a Tesla Model X to the Chevrolet Bolt. Continue reading >>>
Concerns about America’s future have run rampant since the night of November 8th, 2016. Suddenly, we’ve come to see our own social-media-driven bubbles, the emergence and impact of fake news, and how easy it is to accept what we already believe while adopting blinders for anything else. Questions have arisen regarding how the American government will amend laws surrounding health care, taxation, and even the auto industry.
What comes to mind when you hear the term “car battery”? Fifteen years ago, the answer would have been quite obvious. But lately the idea of what a car battery entails has shifted away from that essential-but-oft-forgotten black box under the hood to state-of-the-art propulsion systems of the near future. When talking about batteries, we focus less on volts and more on kilowatt-hours and MPGe. We’ve mentioned batteries a lot lately, specifically in regards to the Chevrolet Bolt, GM’s potentially game-changing affordable all-electric vehicle. But when we talk about the Bolt’s 238 miles of battery range, how is that different from talking about the battery at the end of your jumper cables?
Automakers are on the verge of revving up their electric-vehicle production efforts. Global demand is certainly growing: countries around the world are planning markets in which 100% of vehicles sold will be completely emissions-free. Norway is probably the most prominent example, having declared a 2020 deadline for 100% EV and Fuel Cell adoption. Most auto manufacturers are therefore also moving in that direction, though their timetables aren’t quite as aggressive as Norway’s. Hyundai has promised 8 plug-in hybrids and 2 all-electric models in the next 4-5 years, Volkswagen AG has pledged to offer a plug-in version of every model in its lineup by 2025, and Honda wants fully electric cars to account for two-thirds of its total sales by 2030. So within 5, 10, or 15 years, buyers can expect most new cars being produced to be battery-powered.
Earlier this year, Bloomberg published an interesting article on the future of electric vehicles in relation to oil demand. It points out that global EV sales increased 60% in 2015, the same rate of growth seen by the Ford Model T in its early years. Though EVs still only command about 0.1% of the worldwide auto market—and the current glut of cheap oil has kept many people behind the wheels of their favorite crossovers and trucks—more affordable batteries, growing cultural acceptance, and the looming threat of global warming will most likely only improve EV sales from here on out. Bloomberg itself predicts “the 2020s will be the decade of the electric car,” anticipating that at some point EV demand will surpass even demand for oil.
Volkswagen’s emissions scandal may have killed diesel-fueled cars in the U.S. forever.
Prior to September of 2015, cars with diesel engines were on the rise in the United States. Long popular in Europe, the fuel was on the verge of overcoming the stigma of its dirty past and even rivaled hybrid technology as a clean, efficient alternative to gasoline.
Volkswagen led that charge with its Clean Diesel marketing campaign and its promise of efficient, environmentally friendly sedans and SUVs.
Then it all came crashing down when the story broke that VW had cheated on emissions tests and the engines were, in fact, heavy polluters.
The fallout of the scandal is still ongoing and VW hasn’t sold a new diesel automobile in the States in over nine months. The company may not sell one here ever again.
Tesla made some serious waves last week when it debuted its Model 3 electric car. These weren’t your “gently lapping the shoreline” waves, either. Think “Laird Hamilton monstrous big-time waves.” We’re a data-driven, internet-focused company, so to demonstrate this point, we ran some basic Google searches. “Chevrolet Bolt” (the Model 3’s most direct competitor, and a car set to beat it to market by almost 2 years) returned 2.3 million results. “Nissan Leaf” (by and large the most popular electric car currently on sale) yields 4.9 million results. “Tesla Model 3?” 90.4 million results. So yeah… tidal waves.
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.
There’s been quite a bit of debate as to where electric cars will fit into the consumer car market in the next few years. Tesla’s recent announcement of their P85D shows that electric cars are starting to infiltrate even the ranks of performance vehicles. Although there have been a number of additions to the EV category in recent years, a lot of people still question the practicality of transitioning to a purely electric vehicle. Battery charge times and driving range on a single charge certainly leave a lot to be desired. These are legitimate concerns, but automakers are making strides in addressing them. With the addition of home charging stations, charge time drops drastically, and more public charging stations will certainly help extend the EV’s range. And of course Tesla is making waves with its 30-second-swappable batteries.
The jury is still out on the question of how serious Americans are about converting to smaller, greener cars. Still, there is some evidence that the market share for these vehicles is increasing.
In March, small car sales went up, as people reacted to rising gas prices. Honda was the only one of the majors whose sales dropped (by 5 percent). In April, demand for smaller cars went down: sales of the Cruze fell 5 percent; sales of the Fiesta, 44 percent.
One takeaway is that people are confused about what they want and need in an economy that is anything but reassuring and sends out ambiguous, even contradictory, signals.
But what about the real small stuff and the EV-hybrid bunch? We talked about Chrysler yesterday, and the company sold 336 percent more FIAT 500s (3,849 cars) than it did a year ago. Finally, Chrysler brought in new marketing blood.