Filed under: Press & Articles

2017’s Kia Niro’s Starting Price is less than $23,000

2016-03-01_Geneva_Motor_Show_1057The 2017’s Kia Niro will be available in the market before this year’s end of first quarter. Prior to officially going on sale, the manufacturer states that the base price for will be $22,890, which is not inclusive of the destination fee. The automaker, through an email failed to reveal the destination prices and fee for the two trim levels. This crossover has a dedicated hybrid design from the bottom to the top and it will be a stiff competitor to the current established hybrids. Niro is a base crossover, whose combined EPA-rating is 49 mpg comprising of 46 mpg highway and 51 mpg city.

Niro FE is a step up from the base model with a rating of 52 mpg for city driving and 46 mpg for highway driving, which gives 50 mpg as the combined EPA-rating. The fuel economy of the Niro Touring is the lowest of the three. Its combined EPA rating is 43 mpg, with 46 mpg for highway driving and 46 mpg for city driving. While the full pricing details for Niro will be released by Kia at a later date, initial figures indicate that this model will be one of the strongest competitors in the segment. For instance, a comparison between Niro and Toyota’s RAV 4 hybrid shows that the Niro comes out ahead, at least on paper.

The starting price of RAV XLE base hybrid is around $29,970 with a destination charge of $940. Its combined rating is 32 mpg. This car’s city rating is 34 mpg, while the highway rating is 30 mpg, figures that are slightly below those of Niro. However, for those who are looking to buy Toyota’s crossover, it has the advantage of all-wheel drive.

Advertisements have been released to clearly indicate how the car is presented by Kia. The Niro will come with all the latest features of the automaker including Lane Change Assist, Blind Spot Detection, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Smart Cruise Control, and much more.

When Niro finally hits the market, the expectation is that it will be available in five trim levels. These levels are EX, LX, Touring, FE and finally a special edition will also be launched. It has been confirmed that in the near future the automaker is set to release a plug-in hybrid car variant of this model. Rumor has it that a fully-electric version of the car is also under consideration. Niro is clearly one of the models that customers need to look forward to because it has a lot to offer. Moreover, it will be a major competitor to giant automakers such as Toyota.


Leave a Comment January 28, 2017

Oregon Plans to Boost the Adoption of Electric Cars

_13_fiat_500eIt is evident that following numerous years of increasing electric vehicle sales, the utilities of electric cars are gearing toward establishing useful infrastructure. Two weeks ago, a utility in California, PG&E gave the approval for installing more than seven thousand plug-in cars charging stations. Oregon has now followed suit and confirmed its plan to enhance electrified transportation. It will do so by not only setting up new charging sites, but also educating the public on the advantages of electric vehicles, as well as boosting the purchases of electric buses. These plans were jointly filed by the Pacific Power and Portland General Electric (PGE).

Six public, electric-vehicle charging locations will be built by PGE in downtown Portland at the “Electric Avenue” site. Each of the sites will have around four standard charging stations in addition to a Level 2 connector of 240-Volt. PGE will also set up and run charging sites that will be used for electric buses operated by TriMet in Portland. Consequently, capital will be freed to allow boosting of electric bus purchases by the transit agency. Pacific Power will also install charging sites and lower specific electric rates, which will make electricity cheaper for fast-charging site operators.

A plan for Coal Transition and Clean Electricity was passed by Oregon last spring. The plan eliminates the use of coal by PGE and Pacific Power by the year 2030. It also requires the generation of fifty percent of the electricity from sources that are renewable by the year 2040. Both utilities plan to establish pilot programs that will help in conveying information on the best practices for demand response, car to grid technology and fleet electrification. The program will also involve offering financial help to consumers interested in innovative community-based car electrification ideas.

Both utility plans will also be involved in consumer education and outreach efforts to raise awareness on the merits of electric vehicles. According to the Executive Director of Drive Oregon advocacy group, Jeff Allen, the exciting bit is the consumer engagement component of these plans. A majority of Oregon residents are not aware of the fact that there are more than twenty electric car models that can be bought today. They are also unaware of the fact that they can lease six of the models for approximately $200 per month. Oregonians need to be educated on the benefits that they can reap from electric cars, as well as the fact that driving such cars is a fun-filled experience. They are worth purchasing and driving.


Leave a Comment January 6, 2017

Lucid Reveals a New Luxury Sedan

Lucid Air - CNET

Lucid Air – CNET

Lucid Motors unveiled its much anticipated electric vehicle with a projected range of more than 400 miles. The car’s acceleration is also high, and it intends to exceed any model that Tesla plans to offer. The luxury sedan in question will give the experience of a luxury jet. Additionally, it will ooze an air of sophistication and elegance, considering its state-of-the-art self-driving capabilities, aircraft-style seating, and high-resolution computer displays. The company hopes that production will start in 2018 at Arizona’s $700 million factory. The pricing will be comparable to that of Tesla Model S. Its 1000 horsepower electric car variant will have a starting price of about $100,000. Next in line will be an electric vehicle with a retail price of $65,000.

Lucid comprises of 300 employees, as the core team aims to improve on the key features present in Tesla’s Model X or S. It also plans to emphasize on creating an interior that is more traditionally luxurious compared to Tesla’s minimalist style. Chief Technical Officer of Lucid, Peter Rawlinson, was previously the lead engineer in Tesla’s Model S development. Derek Jenkins, the design’s vice president was formerly the leader of Mazda’s design center in North America. We are yet to see how this automaker will keep up with the strong competition from Tesla, which is better-established. It will also be forced to battle electric cars having a range of 200-300 miles from major automakers.

The Lucid Air will set a new standard on the performance of the luxury electric vehicles. For instance, it will have a unique two-seat design that allows the seats to recline up to fifty-five degrees. It will also have air suspension design allowing the inversion of the normal engineering to bring the springs nearer to the wheels. Many design themes will also incorporate natural materials, such as textured woven and leather fabrics. Other notable features are 29-speaker audio systems, optional glass and active noise cancellation. The car will also have focused microphones for passengers to use the car’s language voice system. This feature will improve the accuracy of infotainment and navigation requests in the same way as Apple’s Siri.

Recently, the company made an announcement of its collaboration with Samsung’s SDI to produce battery cells with high-power density and energy. The Director of Lucid’s battery technology, Albert Liu, said that Lucid Air will utilize battery cells that offer resilience when charging at high-speeds so as to reduce loss of energy capacity over the car’s lifetime.

Leave a Comment December 23, 2016

General Motors’ Plan to Produce Autonomous Chevrolet Bolt

chevrolet-boltGeneral Motors has a plan of taking advantage of the new self-driving auto law implemented in Michigan. With the production of Chevy Bolt, GM will be the first car manufacturer to produce autonomous cars. According to Mary Barra, the CEO of GM, the automaker is set to immediately start conducting tests for the self-driving Chevy Bolts within the Detroit area. The testing in question is expected to begin as early as January 2017. Doug Parks, the vice president of General Motors said that the automaker has already started testing around 40 autonomous Bolts in Scottsdale, Arizona, and San Francisco. The test runs in Michigan will be on a larger scale compared to the ones currently going on.

The automaker is set to utilize Michigan’s self-driving vehicle policy, as well as current severe weather conditions that take place in Michigan. Mary Barra said that the main objective is to make sure that the autonomous cars produced can be driven safely in all roads and weather conditions. A few days ago, Rick Snyder, the Michigan governor, signed legislation that gave automakers, as well as technology partners, a go-ahead to implement, test, and market autonomous cars in the state. The policy covers more than what has been enacted in other states. It allows for the removal of brake pedals and steering wheels. It also gives companies the permission to provide ride-hailing options with their autonomous cars.

Assembling of the autonomous Bolts will be held at the General Motors plant situated in Orion Township. Non-autonomous fully-electric Chevy Bolts are produced within the same plant along with Chevrolet Sonic subcompact vehicle. The workers of GM will incorporate some of the Chevy Bolt’s sensors, Lidar (radar that uses light rather than sound), and cameras, as well as test out other autonomous technology. So far, testing has been been done only on private roads located a mile from the General Motors technical center. Barra stated that the automaker will open up testing to nearby roads followed by expansion throughout Detroit.

Chevrolet dealers started selling non-autonomous Bolts in Oregon and California this week. The market will be expanded to Virginia, Massachusetts, and New York in early next year. Around mid next year, the Bolt will have spread nationwide. General Motors has been conducting road testing for self-driving cars for many years, and now it has become a significant push by car manufacturers, technology companies, and auto suppliers to increase the popularity of autonomous cars on the United States roads. Tesla Model X and Model S equipped with full autonomy hardware are under production. The anticipated Model 3 will also have it.


Leave a Comment December 23, 2016

Supercapacitor Breakthrough to Allow Electric Cars to Charge within Seconds

BMW i3 Electric

BMW i3 Electric

Augmented Optics, a technological firm, has manufactured a supercapacitor material that allows electric cars to be charged as fast as refueling a normal car. This innovation threatens to make lithium-ion batteries useless. The new material that is set to serve as a replacement for conventional batteries comes as a polymer utilizing the soft contact-lens technology. This technology may increase the performance of the electronic components of the supercapacitors, which play the role of storing and distributing high power volumes. Polymers are composed of organic molecules that have repeated sub-units bonded together into a three-dimensional system.

Tests have been done on the new material by researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of Surrey in Great Britain. Their test findings reveal that the material’s effectiveness is a thousand to ten thousand times more compared to current supercapacitors. Augmented Optics’ technical director, Dr. Donald Highgate said the technology has a high potential. Hughes added that if the material is as good as it is thought to be, it may entirely replace battery technology. It will be shocking to vehicle manufacturers if this new technology turns out to be disruptive. However, cars could still be manufactured on similar factory lines. This project has been kept a secret until this point, with global patents having been filed last week.

A key advantage of supercapacitors is their capability of charging and discharging quickly through numerous cycles. Unfortunately, the efficiency that the current supercapacitors have on holding charges is not as high as that of batteries. For example, some supercapacitors utilized by buses in China need recharging every three to four miles. With the new material, supercapacitors now have a storage capacity that is closer to that of lithium-ion batteries. They have the additional benefit of cheaper costs of production and immediate recharging.

Dr. Ian Hamerton , one of the project’s scientists from the University of Bristol said that they initially did not consider the automotive industry. However, as the findings were revealed, it was evident that this technology would be adopted by the car industry. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Motors said that he was sure the supercapacitors were a breakthrough for the auto industry, especially for electric cars. According to Augmented Optics’ Chief Executive, Jim Heathcote, the group is in search of partners to whom it can offer assistance in building these storage devices and supplying the polymers. Auto Express reported that the team plans to produce a prototype electric vehicle by the year 2017. Owners of this car will be able to charge it in a few seconds with a driving range of about 150 miles.



Leave a Comment December 16, 2016

Motor Trend Awards Chevrolet Bolt the Car of the Year Title

chevrolet_bolt_concept_front_naias_2015Despite the fact that there are a few weeks remaining before Chevrolet Bolt enters dealerships, Motor Trend announced that it was the ultimate winner for the Vehicle of the Year Award. This is the first time a fully electric car has won the prestigious award. The ceremony marked the beginning of the yearly LA Auto Show held in Los Angeles. The award was received by the Electric Vehicle Chief of General Motors, Pam Fletcher, and Alan Batey, the North American Toyota president. Other finalists acknowledged during the 2017 awards include Cadillac CT6, Audi A4, Jaguar XE, Genesis G90, Chrysler Pacifica, Tesla’s Model S 60/75, Volvo S90 and Porsche 91.

Motor Trend recognized the Bolt because of a number of features offered by the model. One of the key aspects is the car’s EPA rating that has been confirmed to be 238 miles/charge. This is close to triple the range offered by the majority of pure electric cars currently on the market, with the exception of Tesla’s Model X and Model S. These two models have longer ranges, however, Model 3, which isn’t set to hit the market for a year, and will be considerably more expensive than the Bolt. The Bolt was also recognized because of its low retail price, considering its good range. Its base price is $37,495 excluding a federal tax credit of $7,500, as well as the numerous state incentives available, bringing the drive off cost to an affordable $30,000 or less.

Even if the Bolt did not have a battery propulsion system giving a long range, it would still be a great contender for the award. This is according to the jury of Motor Trend, which claims that this world-class small vehicle offers quietness, smoothness, and an electric motor that offers an instant-on torque. The ride is not only sporty and firm, but the road noise transmitted is well damped.

In other categories of the award, the new model of Mercedes-Benz, GLC, was named as the sports utility vehicle of the year. The winning truck per Motor Trend was the newly revamped Ford’s Super Duty.  Motor Trend has also acknowledged plug-in car winners in the past, with Tesla’s Model S taking the vehicle of the year trophy three years ago (2013). The top honor was given to Chevrolet Volt in the year 2011.

Similar awards to be held in North America named the Bolt as one of the three finalists. Trophies for the award in question will be given in January. An award organized by Green Car Journal named 2017 Bolt Green Car of the Year. Hence, Chevy Bolt is clearly a new winning entrant.


Leave a Comment November 25, 2016

Toyota Creates a Sub-Company to Boost Electric Car Production

toyota_coms_single-person_electric_car_10470066394Toyota made an official announcement confirming its plans to set up a sub-company to be responsible for the development of electric cars. This startup is will commence work next month. The new venture isn’t a major reassignment of assets as the team has only four people, with each person drawn from a different Toyota group branch. The automaker believes that this simple manpower should lead to development of fast-selling products. The group will make use of the technical knowledge of the whole Toyota group. According to Akio Toyoda, Toyota’s president, the speed will be embraced by the sub-company in its work approach. Toyota is currently focused on fuel-cell cars but has created this team to focus on electric vehicles. It is following the steps of Mira, since EVs are currently as viable as other mainstream vehicles.

While fuel-cell vehicles have a competitive advantage in terms of fuelling and the range offered, limited hydrogen infrastructure implies that electric cars are still better in terms of the rates of adoption. For instance, the United Kingdom has less than ten hydrogen filling stations. On the contrary, there are thousands of charging points for electric vehicles. Toyota has maintained that it will continue supporting the production of fuel-cell cars alongside electric car development. The official details concerning platforms, timeline or powertrains have not yet been given. However, according to a last week’s report by Nikkei, Toyota plans to produce an electric vehicle with a range of 186 miles by 2020. The report further claimed that the first Toyota EV is likely to borrow Prius’ platform in order to save time and lower development costs.

Toyota has hinted that its next Aygo car could have an electric powertrain. This will be part of the automaker’s swing towards fully electric Toyotas. From 2020, Toyota will be producing new pure electric car models. The current Aygo model is manufactured alongside the Citroen C1 and Peugeot 108 at the same factory. A majority of mechanical components are shared by the three models. By doing so, the manufacturer hopes to generate cash in a market area with extremely tight margins. Johan van Zyl, the CEO and president of the European Toyota branch said that while hybrid cars are being targeted in every market sector, the A-segment may need a different strategy. The automaker has always maintained that powertrain technologies utilized should not necessarily compete with each other. Instead, the automaker focuses on the use of the technology best suited for each application. There is an anticipated evolution of plug-in hybrid, pure electric, fuel-cell and hybrid vehicles. The future will clearly have electric cars as part of the technological spectrum offered by Toyota.


Leave a Comment November 25, 2016

Porsche’s New Panamera 4 E-Hybrid Car Revealed at Paris Motor Show

640px-porsche_panamera_hybrid_4During the recently held Paris Motor Show, Porsche unveiled its new Panamera hybrid with a high performance level. The new model also proved to have a superior drivetrain with minimal carbon dioxide emissions. According to Porsche, its hybrid lineup that is inclusive of the 919 Le Mans and 918 Spyder is clear proof that there is more meaning to the term hybrid than just environmental and economical sustainability. The term can also mean enhanced performance. Another faster hybrid version is under production, though the official details haven’t been revealed.

The new Porsche Panamera functions in the same way as the 918 whereby the electric motor kicks in once the driver pushes the accelerator. The electric motor generates a total power of 134 bhp, while the V6 engine generates 321 bhp. The previous model of the Panamera hybrid required depression of the pedal to at least eighty percent for maximum thrust to be provided by the powertrain. Contrary to the majority of hybrid cars that have continuously variable gearboxes, this new version of the Panamera hybrid has a dual-clutch (PDK) with eight-speeds. This serves as a replacement to the torque converter to give better efficiency and faster response time. The 2018 version is reported to do 0 to 60 in 4.6 seconds and reach a maximum speed of 87 mph using just electric mode.

There will be many driving modes for this new hybrid model. The Panamera hybrid will begin in the fully electric mode, though drivers can opt for the E-hold, which is beneficial in maintaining the current battery charge level. The E-Charge mode is used for recharging the batteries and the Hybrid Auto mode allows the vehicle to select a power source independently. The new Panamera hybrid can cover up to 31 miles solely on electric power. This means that electric power alone is sufficient to traverse numerous cities with no exhaust emissions released. There is the normal complement of Sport Plus and Sport driving options, which give ultimate performance instead of efficiency.

Additionally, the new hybrid car enjoys similar merits obtained from the upgrades incorporated in the standard car. It implies that there is an improved interior integrating touch-sensitive buttons, minimal divisive styling, and substantially improved comfort and refinement. Following its official reveal during the recent motor show, orders have already been received. Initial deliveries are anticipated to begin next year in April. The automaker is yet to offer official information regarding the car’s pricing. The key question is whether the hybrid Panamera as gas great and efficient as the traditional engine-powered vehicles. Consumers are yet to get a feel of the vehicle and only time will tell.

Leave a Comment October 7, 2016

Electric Car Owners Promised Free Charging

nissan_leaf_got_thirstyAt least one hundred cities across the United States will participate in the Drive Electric Week that is held nationally on a yearly basis. The event will take place between the 10th and 18th September and will comprise of several local gatherings celebrating and promoting electric vehicles. The charging network of EVgo has the plan of being part of the festivities and playing a major role. All the members attending Electric Week will have the opportunity to charge their electric cars free of charge. It will be essential to have a legal EVgo charging card in order to charge your vehicle at any given network. There will be approximately one thousand charging sites that will be available across more than fifty metropolitan markets.

The tally is inclusive of roughly seven hundred sites offering DC fast charging. They will also include charging stations that comply to both Combined Charging Standard and CHAdeMO standard. EVgo separated from its mother company, NRG, earlier this year. NRG was under the ownership of the charging network. In May, the autonomous EVgo secured a major investment from Vision Ridge Partners while continuing to get some funds from NRG. The major reason for spinning off EVgo as a major effort by NRG was to lower costs, as well as shift the focus to generation of electricity.

As an independent entity, EVgo is still committed to expanding the infrastructure of electric vehicle charging and courting new customers. The best way to achieve this mission is participating in the Drive Electric Week to be held nationally. This event officially began in the year 2011 and was then dubbed as National Plug-in Day. It is still run by Electric Auto Association, the Sierra Club and many more local groups. Organizers hope to have about two hundred and twenty three events spanning across Denmark, United States, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Italy, Croatia and Canada. Some of the events to be highlighted include test drives, electric vehicle rallies, as well as information sessions that cover important topics.

The website for the Drive Electric Week contains the entire list of all the events to be covered. You can search specific events for your city or region using ZIP codes. If you own a charging card as well as an electric car, you should consider making the trip to attend one of the events within your region. It will give you a platform for chatting with other electric car enthusiasts, as well as getting a free charge.



Leave a Comment September 16, 2016

The Electric Division of BMW Plans to Focus on Autonomous Vehicles

2014_BMW_i3_PortugalBMW has taken a bold step of changing its division “I” into a center for developing self-driving cars. This unit was previously famed for the production of lightweight electric cars. The automaker’s next all-electric vehicle will be released in the year 2021, which will be a significantly later period compared to competitors like Tesla. Tesla is set to release the much awaited Model 3 next year, while Audi and Porsche are currently working to release fully electric cars in 2019. BMW changed the trend following the low sales of its battery-powered vehicle, the i3. This is in contrast to Tesla whose Model 3 already has at least 370,000 pre-orders.

The lackluster sales prompted the automaker to change the focus of the “I” division to autonomous driving from the development of electric vehicles. This project has been dubbed as the i Next project. The revamp also comes following the defections of several high level staff members. A Chinese car start-up poached BMW’s “I” Powertrain Team Manager, Dirk Abendroth, the Engineering Division Vice President, Carsten Breitfeld, and the “I” Product Management Vice President, Henrik Wenders.

As a component of the self-driving push, the automaker is employing people with expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning. It is also trying to integrate the roles of the current computer-driven aid systems such as emergency braking, cruise control, automatic parking, and lane-keeping support.

The sales of self-driving cars, where the driver doesn’t need to make an active input, are expected to gain momentum in 2020. This figure could increase to about 9 million by the year 2025. This information was given by analysts from the Exane BNP Paribas. China is the largest vehicle market in the world and this is where self-driving vehicles are likely to emerge and be adopted on a large-scale basis. The country is also fast at technology implementation. Last year alone, China sold more electric vehicles compared to a combination of all the global markets.

BMW also has a plan of expanding the reserving parking space areas for charging stations and electric cars using a mobile application. This market is still not consistent within different countries. The automaker already has Parkmobile and ParkNow, which are digital payment and parking services. Although Apple hasn’t made an official announcement regarding its plan to produce electric cars, there are still rumors regarding the issue. For instance, rumor has it that the company was conducting research on electric car changing last week. There have also been speculations that the company plans to begin developing autonomous vehicles.


Leave a Comment June 10, 2016

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