Have you finally decided to switch from a gasoline-powered to a plug-in hybrid or electric car? Over the past few years, green cars have seen an increase in popularity as more people are realizing their numerous benefits. Each model year, car manufacturers have been increasing their offerings of cost-friendly and fun electric and plug-in hybrid cars. While buyers are clearly interested in the new vehicles, the new fuel efficacy regulations set under the leadership of President Obama have had a major impact in the industry. The rules have given automakers a basis for stepping up the production of less consumptive cars that can compete in cost with conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.
Additionally, consumers can save almost $8,000 in tax incentives, and probably a much higher figure from their state. The availability of such incentives has substantially lowered the costs involved in purchasing a plug-in hybrid or electric car. It means that it is extremely easy to opt out of gasoline and go for an electric car. A perfect case is Ford’s revamped C-Max Energi, a popular plug-in hybrid car with a range of about 500 miles and a 19-mile range when driving in a fully electric mode. This car’s retail price doesn’t exceed $28,000.
Not to be left behind, GM’s Chevrolet is also releasing several plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles that will be sold to consumers at reasonable prices. Chevy’s Spark electric has a range exceeding eighty miles per charge and its retail price is $19,000 dollars. The enthusiasts of the Chevrolet brand interested in a ride with more torque and engine power can settle for the Volt with a gasoline driving range of approximately 380 miles and 38 miles on all-electric driving. Its price tag has been estimated to not exceed $27,000.
Meanwhile, German car manufacturers continue to showcase their creativity in the electric vehicle sphere. The fully electric BMW i3 electric vehicle shoots from 0 to 60 within seven seconds, despite its not-so-attractive look. The fully electric i3 version retails for approximately $35,000 and its range is 81 miles per charge. However, owners have the option of adding a small-sized back up engine for an extra cost of $4,000, which would transform the car to a plug-in hybrid and give it a range of 150 miles. Let’s not forget Tesla’s Model 3 that is yet to be launched next year with its impressive range of 215 miles.
Hence, plug-in hybrid and electric cars are the future cars that should be embraced widely.
May 27, 2016
Hyundai plans to make use of a hybrid technology utilized in its new Ioniq in other models in a span of four years. The i30 hatchback has been set to be launched in the year 2017 and Hyundai has claimed that this new generation car will benefit from the electrical powertrains of Ioniq. Other models within this range will also get plug-in hybrid and hybrid models as the carmaker struggles to meet the new emission regulations formulated.
The Ioniq was officially revealed during the Geneva Motor Show that was held in March. The Ioniq set a new trend by having three types of electric powertrains within a single body shell. They will include a hybrid, electric version, and a plug-in version. The new entrant will strongly compete with the Toyota Prius and the Nissan Leaf in terms of range. The Ioniq will most likely steal the sales from Nissan’s Leaf that has a range of 107 miles on a full charge, whereas the Ioniq EV has an estimated 155 mile range.
The three models of Ioniq, as well as it’s the automaker’s hydrogen powered SUV still haven’t managed to meet the average carbon dioxide emission targets set. By the year 2021, all cars will have to meet the 95g/km emission standard. This is one of the key reasons why Hyundai is planning to release new models based on its new hybrid technology.
Additionally, the novel hybrid technology by Hyundai will be offered to more mainstream car models to meet the needs of different customers. One such example is the Toyota Prius, which has a repackaged hybrid powertrain in the form of a modernized Auris Hybrid. According to an interview with Auto Express, Product Marketing Manager at Hyundai, Dennis Elsweier, emphasized the need to have an appropriate powertrain for its car line-up for 2020 to 2021. He further added that with the Ioniq, there are three different electrified powertrains while with the ix35, there is the use of fuel-cell technology. This presents a toolbox that can be used as a reference for future developments.
Beyond the target of 2021, there is a possibility of Hyundai adding a hydrogen fuel-celled technology that was utilized in IX35 to Ioniq to give a 4th powertrain. The carmaker’s future developments will depend on customer acceptance and infrastructure growth. Elsweier said that the infrastructure is vital when looking at fuel-cell technology. A similar technology is applicable to electric cars. Currently, infrastructure is a limiting factor, though we can still consider the customer perspective or the benefits to get from using fuel-cell technology on a wide scale basis. Based on the information, it is clear that Hyundai is on its way to broadening its hybrid car range.
May 27, 2016
Audi has made it clear that it plans to introduce a type of new electrified car each year, and this will start a few years from now. Rupert Stadler, the automaker’s CEO stated that beginning in the year 2018, the company will introduce a different electrified vehicle every year. He said this during an Annual General Meeting of Audi that was held at its Ingolstadt, Germany, headquarters. Aside from minimizing its average carbon output by its fleet, Audi’s plan could be in reaction to the scandal of diesel emissions that revolved around the Volkswagen Group as well as other car manufacturers.
The American president of the automaker, Scott Keogh had previously stated to Autoblog that at least one in every four models of Audi cars will be an electric one by the year 2025. This plan needs to begin with the highly anticipated pure electric car crossover whose basis should be the concept of E-Tron Quattro. This concept was shown for the first time at the 2015’s Frankfurt Motor Show. According to Audi’s expectations, the crossover’s range would be approximately 310 miles, which is a substantially high range in comparison to other models by the automaker.
With the information currently available, it is not yet clear what market niche or classes are to be targeted by the planned electric vehicles. Also, there is no official information on whether the said cars will be pure electric, hybrids, extended-range electric or plug-in hybrid cars. There is a high possibility that these new electric cars will be a blend of the mentioned types. They will most likely differ in terms of class and price to suit the variable market or consumers. This means that there will be something for everyone, both middle and high-price customers.
On a similar note, the major competitor of Audi, BMW, is employing the same strategy. Just like Audi, this automaker has announced its plan to introduce at least one electric car each year beginning in the year 2018. The anticipated iNext electric car is expected to be officially launched in 2021, with a promise of having a semi-autonomous driving mode. BMW has also made predictions that by 2025, it will have a fleet of fully autonomous cars.
Additionally, Audi made an announcement stating that its next A8 flagship is expected to officially debut this coming year. The A8 is expected to have the provision of autonomous driving at high speeds of up to thirty-seven miles per hour. All we can do now is to wait and see whether these two automakers will keep their promises.
May 20, 2016
Automakers have continually increased their offerings with each new release of models. The offerings in question is with respect to price whereby the automakers are producing affordable and fun plug-in hybrids, as well as electric cars. While consumers are obviously interested in these new vehicles, this year has seen legislation of stringent fuel-efficiency standards for cars. For this reason, automakers have been forced to step up in the manufacture of vehicles that consume less fuel and still compete with their diesel and gasoline counterparts. Additionally, purchasers of new green cars can receive up to $7,500 in incentives for federal tax. The incentives are given for the sole purpose of lowering the costs of buying plug-in hybrids and electric cars. This means that a consumer will find it cheaper or easier to give up gasoline.
The new sporty, fully electric model by Tesla, the Model 3, can cover up to 215 miles on a single charge with consumers having to pay a maximum of $30,000 after rebates of federal tax. This new model is expected to exit its California-based production lines in the year 2017. Consumers should be glad since the release of this new car is just around the corner.
Another case example is the redesigned C-Max Energi by Ford, which is a plug-in car that gives drivers a maximum range of 500 miles. This is in addition to an all-electric driving range of 19 miles and a cost of less than $28,000, inclusive of federal tax rebates. General Motors has not been left behind as its Chevrolet brand plans to come up with numerous affordable plug-in hybrid and electric cars. There is the Spark electric car that will have a range of up to 80 miles on a single charge. For this car, consumers will part with less than $19,000. Chevrolet fans searching for a torquier ride and beefier engine can choose the Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid car that has a range of 380 miles and electric range of 38 miles. This car will retail for less than $27,000.
While the mentioned options are great for those who need to purchase a car immediately, the people willing to hold on till next year should wait for the Tesla Model 3. This all-electric sedan will have a range of 215 miles and a retail price of $35,000. This means that a consumer will pay approximately $27,500, factoring in the tax rebates. Tesla hopes the Model 3 will be the “It” electric car considering its sporty and stylish appearance.
May 20, 2016
Tesla introduced its Powerwall product for energy storage, Tesla Energy, which has already started working on the first phase of United States’ home installations. This unit of 6.4 kilowatt hours functions in storing electricity derived from a solar system, as well as providing backup in cases of power outages. It comprises of a lithium-ion battery, stands at 4-feet tall and weighs about 214 pounds, with a single unit retailing for approximately $3,000. Tesla started the installation process focusing only on specific pilot customers then gradually advanced to regular home installations. It also ramped up its production volume as the general reception increased. North America was one of the initial markets to get the Powerwalls alongside Germany and Australia.
The Powerwalls and Powerpacks that Tesla applies in utilities and businesses are manufactured at the Gigafactory used for battery production. This factory is located close to Reno, Nevada. These two products are a part of the energy production unit of Tesla. In this year’s first quarter, Powerwalls exceeding 2,500 were delivered by Tesla Energy. About 100 Powerpacks were produced in Asia, North America, Africa, and Europe, according to a letter that Tesla addressed to its shareholders. The Chief Technology Officer, JB Straubel said that things are beginning to ramp up during an interview conducted at the Gigafactory. He further added that the installations are gradually spreading to different regions across the globe.
It is essential for Powerwalls to be hooked up and installed by trained and qualified technicians. This is to ensure that all the regulations set by the municipal councils are met. It is possible for the costs to quickly add up, which has led to fueling of a certain degree of skepticism regarding the viability of clients that buy these Powerwalls. A trend that has played a huge role in enhancing Powerwalls’ economic appeal is the fact that some states are starting to phase out net metering. This act of phasing out increases the attractiveness of energy storage. On the other hand, the appeal in many other states has gone down because of net-metering policies. Such policies allow solar customers from the residential areas to market the extra solar energy back to the utilities.
According to Bloomberg New Energy analyst, Yayoi Sekine, the picture is gradually changing across numerous markets. Changes are slowly being made to net-metering regulations, as well as implementation of the time-of-use rates. Such changes will result in improvement of energy storage systems among residents not only now, but also in the future.
May 13, 2016
Bentley, a British luxury automaker is planning to add electric cars in its future lineup. The company is set to launch a plug-in hybrid car model of the Bentayga later this year or early next year. This automaker is seriously considering producing a package of a fully electric drivetrain. The driving force includes mileage standards as well as compliance with stringent global emissions. There is also the pressure to include a novel zero-emission models in its fleet.
There has been stiff competition in the market of luxury sports car as more and more carmakers are opting to go green. A recent addition is Aston Martin, which has plans to produce a battery-powered model of the Rapide. This is a clear demonstration of the growing level of competitiveness in the luxury electric vehicle market.
The electric car anticipated to be launched by Bentley is the EXP10 Speed Six production version, whose concept was displayed at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show. The car’s design was an invention of Luc Donckerwolke, the styling chief. It is smaller in size compared to Bentley’s Continental FT. Its production will also be higher in level compared to other Bentley models. This means that the audience reached will be larger than the current market served by Bentley.
CEO Wolfgang Durheimer made it clear that he is interested in producing a second sports utility car as an addition to the current line-up, after the Bentayga. In the case whereby a second, smaller SUV gets to be produced after corporate approval, it is likely to have a downsized building base. It will also be grounded on the modular architecture that was designed for Bentayga. A similar platform will be applicable also for the Porsche Cayenne’s next-generation. This will be along with an alternative to the Audi Q7 from Volkswagen family’s sister companies.
As mentioned above, the current emission standard is the key driving force, as well as subsidies and regulations in the markets. Bentley’s CEO in the United States sales arm, Michael Winkler, the standards are high across all global markets. Some places such as London are thinking of coming up with regulations that may not allow people to enter the city in a vehicle that is not electrified. In China, hefty incentives are given to electric cars. In major cities such as Bangkok and Shanghai, electric cars are not required to comply with restrictions regarding the vehicle numbers allowed to be registered. This clearly shows that electric cars are the trend that all automakers should adopt.
May 13, 2016
Volkswagen’s boss gave a detailed sketch on how the automaker plans to transform and focus more on the production of electric cars. It also plans to shift its focus to provision of services such as vehicle-sharing as it aims at getting past the recent scandal on emission tests cheating. Matthias Mueller said during a recent annual conference that the company’s primary task will be to recall and fix all vehicles that were implicated in the cheating scandal. It will ensure that this is done until all the vehicles are back in order. He further emphasized that the car business of Volkswagen is still fundamentally sound and gave a detailed plan that emphasizes on creation of zero-emission cars and provision of digital services.
The company’s plan also includes the formation of a legally autonomous firm that will play the role of promoting the business in terms of its mobility services. This will be inclusive of things such as car-sharing and ride-sharing applications. Mueller also said that this automaker will have electric vehicles as one of its novel hallmarks with a target of producing twenty new models by the year 2020. In the past, Volkswagen focused on promoting diesel technology that has since suffered a major blow. This blow came about when it became evident that the engines of Volkswagen car models could not meet the standards governing the U.S. emissions without cheating.
The company admitted to the use of an engine application that made the emissions control inactive when the cars were not under test. Although the disabling of these controls led to improved mileage and performance, it implied that the cars spewed much more than the legally acceptable levels of pollutants. Mr. Mueller once again gave his heartfelt apology for the scandal during a yearly news conference that was recently held in Germany. He acknowledged the fact that they had betrayed the trust that many people had in Volkswagen.
The company incurred a net loss in the year 2015 after setting aside a sum of money for the scandal costs. According to analysts, there will be significantly higher final costs. Part of the funds reserved for the scandal will be used for fixing or purchasing back diesels that had rigged software. Currently, the company is trying to work out an agreement with the United States authorities at a San Francisco-based federal court. If a settlement is reached, up to half a million out of about 600,000 defective cars will be bought back by Volkswagen.
May 6, 2016
Hundred thousands of potential buyers have already signed up to pre-order Tesla’s Model 3, a highly anticipated electric car. This car’s tag price has been estimated to be $35,000 and intends to deliver at least 200 miles per single charge. However, before rushing out to buy an electric car or reserve your Tesla Model 3, there are some considerations that you should weigh carefully.
Firstly, you need to decide whether you want a hybrid or an electric car. Sometimes, these terms have been used interchangeably, overlooking the fact they are completely different with different powertrains. Typically, electric cars solely use electric motors for powering the wheels without the need for a petrol engine. Hybrid cars and plug-in hybrids use a combination of both electric motor and engine to give power. Electric cars are also referred to as all-electric or battery electric cars. A major limitation of owning an electric car is the difficulty in finding a charging spot on the road. Plug-ins and hybrids are an excellent way of lessening carbon dioxide emission without worrying about charge exhaustion because these cars have gas engines as backups if the battery is exhausted.
You also need to have clear information concerning the battery of an electric car. The energy used to run an electric car is usually contained in batteries, which require regular charging. These batteries have the tendency of substantially adding to the overall weight and cost of the car. The term battery size when referred to with electric cars means the power of the battery and not its physical measurements. This battery power is expressed in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and has a significant impact on the range. A car that has a high kWh can go a long distance.
With respect to battery type, most hybrid and electric cars currently sold in the market utilize lithium ion batteries. This form of battery is popular for providing an appropriate weight-energy balance. Battery warranty is also a vital aspect to consider and this is usually presented in the form of a powertrain warranty, inclusive of a rechargeable battery. With the cost of replacement batteries increasing to about $6,000, it is necessary for a potential buyer to have knowledge of the battery warranty length.
Finally, it is important for you to know how you are planning to charge your electric car both at home and at your workplace. Note that there are pre-installed battery chargers in an electric car. You should find out the electric service capabilities currently installed at your workplace or for your home before making the commitment to an all-electric car.
May 6, 2016
Regardless of their superior engineering, Honda’s hybrid cars have never been seen as serious competitors to Toyota’s Prius. However, the very first Honda hybrid, the Insight, outdid the Prius in the year 1999 in terms of sales in the United States. However, Toyota has continued to be the kind in hybrid sales. The original Honda hybrid car had a three-cylinder gas engine and a small-sized motor-generator. In 2014 and 2015, the Accord hybrids entered the U.S. market and had a cylinder engine of 2-liter capacity. They also had two motor-generators that could provide gas-only, electric-only, or electric propulsion and mixed gas.
The new 2017’s Honda Accord will be launched this spring and will be available in all the 50 states of the U.S. This mid-sized four-door car has numerous driveline changes aimed at improving performance and mileage. While the starting price has not yet been stated, hints indicate that there will be a slight increase from 2015’s Accord’s base price of $30,140. Contrary to previous times, there will not be any plug-in version since Honda has a plan of offering a special, dedicated plug-in vehicle.
Honda says the new car will have a dual hybrid system with a four-cylinder engine with a capacity of 2 liters. The system is linked to the first motor generator through a computer-monitored clutch while the second generator is connected directly to the car’s differential. Fully electric mode through the second motor is enabled by disengaging the clutch. When the charge of the battery is finished, the engine is cranked by the first motor, which then generates the electric power to be used by the second motor.
While only limited engineering details have been released by Honda, it has been stated that the new Accord will incorporate a battery pack made from lithium ion as well as an improved version of the two-motor driveline. Changes have also been made to the Atkinson-cycle cylinder engine to increase the total system output to 212 horsepower. These details were revealed by Ryan Hary, Honda’s project manager. The mileage ratings have shown a slight improvement to 45 mpg highway drive, 48 mpg city drive and combined mileage of 47 mpg. Honda plans to deliver up to 28,000 Accord hybrid cars per year, which is twice the number achieved by the previous edition. Some of its direct competitors will be the hybrid versions of Ford Fusion, the Camry, Kia Optima, Chevrolet Malibu, and the Hyundai Sonata. Some facelifts were done to Accord for 2016 and this entails different upgrades to the new hybrid. It is clear that this is a car to watch out for this spring.
April 29, 2016
By now, virtually everyone knows that hybrid cars achieve exemplary gas mileage using electric energy. However, only a few understand how the advanced powertrains of these cars work and whether they save costs. Well, it is important to know that hybrids differ from standard cars in that they utilize two powertrains; one is a gasoline engine and one is an electric motor. The power of the electric motor is provided by a battery pack. For several decades, cars powered by electricity have been the future’s vision. In the 1990s, the development of electrically powered vehicles stopped and then hybrid cars emerged. The hybrid cars promised a compromise between the pros and cons of both gasoline and electric powertrains.
Electric motors have a high efficiency when it comes to acceleration, contrary to the internal-combustion engine cars, and contrary to popular belief. Hence, they produce maximum power. However, batteries that have sufficient energy to provide power for long-distance driving are heavy, bulky and expensive. Recent advancements in battery technology have led to the introduction of new electric vehicles to the market. Unfortunately, electric products are of limited range, and currently, hybrid cars are the best deal for both electric and gasoline cars.
Regarding the hybrid technologies, there is a blend of the power originating from the gas engine and that of the batteries and the electric motor. The two powertrains are combined in various ways to determine the car’s efficiency. Full hybrids tend to be the best in terms of gas mileage. The newer plug-in cars allow the driver to use even less gas by driving solely as electric vehicles for a limited distance.
A majority of the full hybrids make use of parallel designs whereby either an electric motor or gas engine alone is used for driving the wheels. Alternatively, the two can work together. Hybrids can also be associated with series configurations, which mean that the wheels are solely driven by the electric motor with the gas engine serving simply as the generator to give electric power when the battery is exhausted. Examples of hybrid cars that use this system include the Chevrolet Volt and BMW i3.
Another type of hybrid car is the plug-in hybrid, which can easily be recharged to operate as an electric car for a while. They usually have an initial electric range of 10-35 before they can switch to standard hybrid operation. These cars are either series or full hybrid versions, with some parallel versions acting as series versions under specific conditions or when it is beneficial.
April 29, 2016