Posts from ‘Electric Vehicles’
Despite being an electric car, the 2013 Fiat 500e looks very much like the conventional Fiat 500 upon which it is based. Your average citizen will likely never guess it runs on electricity instead of gasoline.
For model-year 2013, Nissan has made some noteworthy upgrades to the all-electric Leaf. With reduced charging times, increased range, and a drastically lower starting price, this car is starting to look like a pretty good deal.
For 2013, Nissan is moving production of the Leaf and its battery from Japan to the United States. The move lowers the cost of doing business, allowing for a lower sticker price. Moreover, the introduction of a new entry-level model, which removes some standard features, also improves affordability. Those two changes allow Nissan to drop the base MSRP from $35,200 to $28,800. By taking advantage of the $7,500 federal tax credit, a shopper is effectively buying the car for $21,300. Other state and local incentives may be available as well.
Then there’s the fuel-cost savings. For every 10,000 miles of driving, the Leaf will add $400 to your electric bill but save you about $1,400 in gasoline costs (compared to a car that gets 28 mpg and with gas prices at $4/gallon). If you plan to drive the Leaf for 80,000 miles, you would save $8,000 in gas. Thus, that $28,800 price is starting to look like $13,300.
In a previous post, we discussed the meaning behind MPGe ratings—which, essentially, are given to any vehicle that plugs into an outlet to recharge its battery. These vehicles are either all electric, such as the Nissan Leaf, or have both electric and gasoline powertrains, such as the Chevrolet Volt. In both cases, the cars can be driven a fair distance on just electric power.
One element brought up in the last post was that the “e” in MPGe stands for “equivalent,” and it’s based on the equivalent energy content of gasoline compared to electricity. The ratio that has been determined is that a gallon of gas contains the same amount of energy as 33.7 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity. Keep that 33.7 number in mind.
The Nissan Leaf has a 24 kWh battery and can go about 73 miles on a full charge. According to the comparison above, that 24 kWh battery contains the energy of only about three-quarters of a gallon of gas. If we were looking at that in terms of a conventional EPA rating, it would equate to roughly 99 mpg. And that’s exactly the combined MPGe figure that’s on the Leaf’s window sticker.
Would they or wouldn’t they? That was the question regarding whether or not General Motors would give the green light to producing a car based on the seductive Cadillac Converj concept. As you can probably guess, that answer is a resounding “Yes.”
Enter the 2014 Cadillac ELR. The production-ready model you see here doesn’t actually look that much different than the Converj show car, which debuted at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show. Even what’s under the sloping hood isn’t changed much.
Its underpinnings are basically those of a Chevrolet Volt. It has the same 1.4-liter 4-cylinder internal-combustion engine that serves as a generator for the 16.5 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Power gets to the ground via the Volt’s single-speed transmission. GM projects the ELR will offer 35 miles of all-electric driving range and more than 300 miles of total range when you factor in the gas engine. Owners can charge the battery from a standard household outlet or a 240-volt charging station. Using the latter, Cadillac claims a charging time of about 4.5 hours for a fully depleted battery. The included OnStar RemoteLink app for smartphones allows owners near-complete control over the charging process.
We’re heading into the home stretch of our yearlong evaluation of a 2012 Mitsubishi i electric car. It’s arguably the most challenging time because it now has to survive a Chicago winter.
As of this writing, this area has largely been spared of any major snowfall, but frigid temperatures are becoming the norm. Since December 20, the i has been in my care. While it stayed garaged for two road trips to central Illinois, I used the car rather extensively for going back and forth to the office and running errands around my northwest suburban home.
During this comparatively extended test drive, I came to learn a lot about how the i deals with freezing temperatures. Based on that experience, here are some “top tips” that current and potential buyers of this little electric car might want to keep in mind.
1) Prepare for Low Range
Cold temperatures and the use of the car’s heater noticeably reduces the car’s driving range. While I’ve been able to push the i to a range of up to 80 miles in the spring and summer, I was lucky to see 50 in December. And that was with very conservative use of the heater.
Following on the heels of the new-for-2013 Ford C-MAX Hybrid comes its plug-in brother, the C-MAX Energi. Moving from a traditional hybrid to the plug-in variety allows for a certain amount of electric-only driving, but the transformation both giveth and taketh away.
The key component in the Energi is—as might be expected—a bigger battery: 7.6 kWh versus just 1.4 for the Hybrid. That power allows the Energi to travel about 20 miles on a full charge using just electric power before the battery is depleted and the gas engine starts up to help power the vehicle. However, the electric-only travel needs to be done with fairly leisurely acceleration (keeping up with commuter traffic is about the max). Anything more will force the gas engine to kick on to help, as the electric motor isn’t powerful enough on its own. Ford claims the Energi can travel at speeds up to 85 mph on electric power, but you have to be patient in getting there.
Once the battery charge is depleted and the gas engine starts, the Energi gets the same EPA fuel economy as its Hybrid sibling: 47 city/47 highway. Yet the biggest number on the car’s EPA window sticker reads “100 MPGe.” Why?
Mitsubishi is celebrating 30 years in the U.S. auto market. To help mark the occasion, the Japanese automaker introduced a limited-edition version of the 2013 Outlander Sport compact SUV—along with an all-new 2014 Outlander compact SUV—at the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show.
The big news is the redesigned 2014 Outlander that goes on sale in July 2013. It remains a 7-passenger crossover, and the new version is about 200 pounds lighter than the model it replaces. Three powertrains will be offered. Two are conventional gasoline engines: a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder mated to a continuously variable transmission (CVT), and a 3.0-liter V6 with a 6-speed automatic.
The third powertrain option is a plug-in hybrid electric system that’s offered in the Outlander PHEV. It joins front- and rear-mounted electric motors with a conventional gasoline engine, and it offers all-wheel drive. Mitsubishi says the Outlander PHEV can function in an electric-only mode or in parallel- or series-hybrid modes depending on several factors related to battery charge level and vehicle speed. More details on the Outlander PHEV will be released closer to its calendar 2014 on-sale date.
At the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, BMW showed the latest iterations of its i8 Concept plug-in hybrid sports car and the i3 Concept electric city car.
BMW has shown off several examples of these two electric cars at past auto shows. This time, the company insists that the two vehicles on display here are very close to the final designs of the upcoming production versions.
The i8 is a plug-in hybrid. It initially runs on electricity, but it has a gasoline engine that turns on when the battery is depleted. The gas engine also provides performance when the driver demands it. The engine is good for 354 horsepower, and BMW says the i8 will perform as well as its M3. Fuel economy is estimated to be about 78 mpg. The i8 is said to go about 20 miles on electric power alone, and it will take less than 2 hours to charge with a 220-volt socket. BMW states that the i8 will go on sale in 2014.
The 2014 Spark EV trades the “regular” Spark’s 1.25-liter 4-cylinder engine for a 130-horsepower electric motor. Chevy says the Spark EV will accelerate from 0-60 in less than 8 seconds. Power comes from a lithium-ion battery pack that will have “more than” 20-kWh of capacity. Chevy did not announce the Spark EV’s range.
The company claims Spark EV will be the first electric vehicle to be available with SAE Combo DC Fast Charging capability, which allows the car to get a 80-percent battery charge in 20 minutes. The car can also be charged on AC 240V and AC 120V electricity. It is possible to charge the car in about 7 hours using a dedicated 240V outlet.
Full pricing was not announced, but GM says Spark EV will sell for less than $25,000 after all available tax incentives. The Spark EV will be sold in California, Oregon, Canada, and other selected markets globally.
At the 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show, Fiat unveiled the new 500L 4-door compact car and two variations on its existing 500: the high-performance 500c Abarth convertible and the electric-powered 500e.
The new vehicle, representing the second nameplate in Fiat’s lineup, is the 500L. It is a 4-door crossover-like wagon that uses the same engine as the Abarth, a high-performance variant of the company’s 500 minicar. That powerplant is paired with either a 6-speed manual or 6-speed dual-clutch transmission that behaves much like an automatic. With seating for 5 passengers, it is 26 inches longer and 6 inches taller and wider than a standard 500. It is available in base Easy and top-end Trekking models. The off-road themed Trekking model includes 17-inch wheels, unique front and rear bumpers, flared fenders, and a two-tone interior—though somewhat curiously, all-wheel drive is not offered. Chrysler’s optional Uconnect 5.0 infotainment system features a 5-inch touchscreen, a wireless cell-phone link, streaming audio capability, and voice control. Uconnect 6.5 is an upgraded version, and it boasts a larger, 6.5-inch screen with navigation and a media hub with an SD card reader. The 500L will be available in mid-2013.