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GM May Have Just Changed the Game for Electric Cars (from SLATE)

The following post was written by Daniel Gross and published by Slate (Moneybox) – January 11, 2016

Here’s an excerpt and a link to the original article:

GM CEO Mary Barra shows the Chevrolet Bolt EV to the news media at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit (photo credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images)

GM CEO Mary Barra shows the Chevrolet Bolt EV to the news media at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit (photo credit: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images)

<< General Motors, America’s largest carmaker, has been slow on the uptake when it comes to the most significant trend in mobility: using more electricity to power automobiles. It famously killed a promising electric vehicle in the 1990s, and invested in the gas-guzzling Hummer as Toyota rolled out the Prius. The Chevrolet Volt, unveiled in 2010, wasn’t an electric car—it was a plug-in hybrid whose high sticker price and weak battery (it could go only about 35 miles on the all-electric charge) made it an ineffectual demonstration project.

But the Chevrolet Bolt, which GM is showing off this week at the Detroit Auto Show, represents both a quantum leap and a leap of faith by the company. It has a battery that can propel a car for 200 miles—six times more than the original Volt could travel on electricity. After federal tax rebates, it costs about $30,000—substantially less than the Volt, and a price point at which millions of cars sell each year. Unlike the Volt, which seemed to have lukewarm backing from GM’s top brass, the Bolt seems to have enthusiastic support at headquarters. “First of all, with 200 miles plus, you really take away range anxiety,” GM CEO Mary Barra told me Monday. And she quickly pivoted to point out the Bolt’s driver-friendly technology—connectivity, upgradability—that has nothing to do with mileage. “When we look at the Bolt EV, it’s a great car to drive,” Barra said. >>…

The article continues —> HERE.

2016 Chevrolet Volt Priced From $33,995, Or $1,195 Lower Than 2015 Volt

From Green Car Reports (May 3, 2015):

2016 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid - details of Voltec drivetrain from SAE presentations, Feb 2015

2016 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid – details of Voltec drivetrain from SAE presentations, Feb 2015

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid will be priced from $33,995 when it goes on sale sometime this fall, a GM executive said this morning. The price, which includes delivery, is $1,175 lower than that of the outgoing 2015 Volt. The old Volt lacks the 50-mile range, 41-mpg fuel efficiency, and fifth “seating position” of the 2016 version. But the price may nonetheless disappoint Volt fans who had hoped the price would fall to a level closer to $30,000.

The $34,000 price puts the Volt very close to the average price of a new vehicle: According to KBB, last month the estimated average transaction price for a light vehicle sold in the U.S. was $33,560. The 2016 Chevy Volt qualifies for the full $7,500 Federal income-tax credit for purchase of an electric car, as well as a $1,500 purchase rebate from the state of California. Numerous additional state, regional, local, and corporate incentives are also available for the car.

In its release, Chevrolet says, “Pricing will be as low as $26,495 after the full federal tax credit of $7,500.” This is the practice of so-called “net pricing,” in which a carmaker cites an effective price after the buyer receives the tax credit–which can take up to 15 months if the car is purchased. The buyer must also finance the full purchase price, not the net price, unless the car is leased–when the leasing company rolls the tax credit into the lease price to lower the cost.

GM uses net pricing at a state level as well, when it notes in its release, “In California, the [Volt]’s largest market, residents of the state will be able to purchase the all-new Volt for as low as $24,995 after state and Federal incentives.”

The actual manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the 2016 Volt starts at $33,170, to which a mandatory $825 delivery fee is added. Tax, title, license, and additional dealer fees will raise that price, as will optional equipment.

The 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-In Hybrid (with 11 miles of electric range), which receives only a $2,500 Federal income-tax credit, carries a base price of $30,815, which includes a mandatory $825 delivery fee. With 20 miles of electric range, the 2015 Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid starts at $32,595. It receives a $4,007 Federal income-tax credit.

GM data suggests that owners of the 2016 Volt will be able to make nine out of 10 trips solely under electric power, without burning gasoline, and drive 1,000 miles or more between fill-ups.

 

Chevy Releases Details And Specs for 2016 Volt

Information from HybridCars.com:

Full details on the 2016 Chevrolet Volt – including specifications, standard equipment and optional upgrades – have just been released by General Motors. The only tidbit missing now is the price.

Full details on the 2016 Chevrolet Volt – including specifications, standard equipment and optional upgrades – have just been released by General Motors. The only tidbit missing now is the price.

Full details on the 2016 Chevrolet Volt – including specifications, standard equipment and optional upgrades – have just been released by General Motors. The only tidbit missing now is the price.

GM listed all of the information in its 25-page ordering guide online. The carmaker isn’t accepting orders quite yet for the next generation Volt, however, and a representative didn’t have a released date available.

For 2016, the Volt comes in two different trim levels. As the base model, the 2LT Hatchback has fewer color and trim options. And though it doesn’t include perks like wireless charging for devices, automatic parking assist (which are automatically added with the upgrade to 2LZ Premier trim), the basic Volt is far from meager.

Chevy has upgraded much of the Volt in a move to position the hatchback as more of a premium vehicle. Standard equipment now includes a Wi-Fi Hotspot and two air bags have been added. A rear vision camera, previously an upgrade on the 2015 Volt, is now included in the base model, and the touch-screen console grew to an 8-inch display.

Regen on Demand, a new standard for 2016, gives drivers more control over energy regeneration, with a paddle-style switch mounted on the steering wheel. The charging system also includes a new feature that links to car’s GPS for smarter charging, as explained by Volt Chief Engineer Andrew Farah.

“Owners will now be able to set their charging preferences exclusively for ‘home’ charging and the vehicle will automatically adjust to that setting when it is at ‘home’ based on GPS data,” said Farah. “The new Volt will give owners greater flexibility for charging on their terms and make public charging easier.”

In addition to the automatic parking assist and wireless charging for devices listed above, the upgraded 2LZ trim also gains a set of eight Bose speakers for premium sound. Heated front seats, a heated steering wheel and heated mirrors are all included as part of the comfort package.

Many of these are available as options on the 2LT package, but a few options can only be checked if you are ordering the 2LZ trim. Several driver assist features can be added upgraded Volt, such as side blind zone alert, forward collision alert, automatic high beam headlights and a sensor to keep the car centered in the lane.

The specs sheet shows that the new Volt has grown all around, adding almost half an inch to the wheelbase, 0.8 inches to the sides and 3.3 inches to the length. The extra inches don’t transfer inside to create more space for the passengers, though.

Not every aspect of the Volt grew. The new generation will be 243 pounds lighter, with a curb weight of 3,543 pounds. The fuel tank also shrank slightly from 9.3 gallons to 8.9 gallons.

GM hasn’t released pricing yet on the car or its options – that announcement will come later this year before deliveries begin in the fall. MSRP for the 2015 Volt starts at $34,345 (without dealer fees or potential rebates). Many are predicting that the base 2016 Volt will be priced at, or possibly even under, this in order to remain competitive.

Elon Musk Is Right: Hydrogen Is ‘An Incredibly Dumb’ Car Fuel

from ClimateProgress, by Joe Romm – Posted February 12, 2015 at 9:20 AM

Cars that use hydrogen as fuel have been in the news a lot recently.

Last month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk explained at length why hydrogen fuel cell cars “are extremely silly” and why “hydrogen is an incredibly dumb” alternative fuel.

CEO Elon Musk speaks at 2009 unveiling of Tesla Model S all-electric car.

CEO Elon Musk speaks at 2009 unveiling of Tesla Model S all-electric car.

Musk also said, “there’s no need for us to have this debate. I’ve said my peace on this, it will be super obvious as time goes by.” Indeed, it is super obvious already, as I’ve written many times — see my 2014 series, “Tesla Trumps Toyota,” which explains why hydrogen cars can’t compete with pure electric cars. A key reason Musk calls hydrogen “incredibly dumb” — its untenably inefficient use of carbon-free power compared to electric vehicles (EVs) — is detailed below.

In the meantime, Musk — whose Tesla bio lists him as “Co-Founder, CEO, and Product Architect” — has been amping up his efforts to be the next Steve Jobs and to make his electric car company, Tesla, the next Apple. Bloomberg reported last week that the 6000-worker company “has hired at least 150 former Apple employees, more than from any other company, even carmakers.”

“It’s almost an unfair advantage,” according to Morgan Stanley auto industry analyst Adam Jonas. He told Bloomberg, “As software goes from 10 percent of the value of the car to 60 over 10 years, that disadvantage [for traditional carmakers] will intensify.”

But will Tesla be the next Apple … or will Apple be the next Tesla? Apple has itself poached 50 Tesla employees, supposedly “offering $250,000 signing bonuses and 60 percent salary increases” — a heck of an incentive to work at a company so successful, its market capitalization just hit the all-time record of $700 billion! Business Insider reports that an email from an Apple employee says its still-secret effort, “will change the landscape and give Tesla a run for its money.”

We are strictly in rumor-mill territory here. But there is a camera-equipped van registered to Apple that is rumored to be a self-driving car, but is more likely a mapping vehicle, according to CNBC and Wired. I digress.

Returning to hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, EV-maker Musk has, unsurprisingly, long been critical of the only other plausible zero emission vehicle. He called them “bullshit” in 2013, briefly noting their relative high cost and infrastructure issues. In 2014 Musk said, “They’re mind-bogglingly stupid” and “Success is simply not possible.” Why?

“Consider the whole fuel cell system against a Model S. It’s far worse in volume and mass terms, and far, far, worse in cost. And I haven’t even talked about hydrogen being so hard to handle.”

Then, last month, at a press conference in Detroit, Musk offered his most detailed explanation for why hydrogen fuel cell vehicles make no sense. He was asked “You’ve been very vocal about the need for companies to reduce their emissions. Why are you so critical of hydrogen fuel cells, which are another pathway to zero emission vehicles. Do you stand by those comments?”

The entire post from ClimateProgress is — > HERE.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt 200-Mile Electric Car To Start Production In Oct 2016

Green Car Reports, 6 Feb 2015 – By John Voelcker

The Chevrolet Bolt, a subcompact electric car with 200 miles of range, is to go into production earlier than expected, just 20 months from now.  According to a breaking news story early this morning, the Bolt will start production in October 2016–possibly as a 2017 model.

Chevrolet Bolt EV concept, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

Chevrolet Bolt EV concept, 2015 Detroit Auto Show

According to a Reuters exclusive this morning, the Bolt–or whatever it is finally named–will go into production at the Orion Township assembly plant in Michigan, where the Chevy Sonic subcompact is also built.  Both cars will use underpinnings from GM’s so-called Gamma architecture, but the Bolt will have a flat battery pack under the floor, while the Sonic will use a conventional gasoline engine.  According to the report, the production target for the longer-range electric car is 25,000 to 30,000 cars per year.

The price, as announced by GM CEO Mary Barra at last month’s Detroit Auto Show, will be $37,500–although she touted the price as a nice round $30,000, which nets out the Federal income-tax credit of $7,500 for purchase of a plug-in electric vehicle..

With production beginning late next year, the Bolt electric car would go on sale early in 2017–either as a 2017 or 2018 model.  A companion model to be sold by GM’s German brand, Opel, will also be assembled at Orion Township and exported to Europe for sale there.  The Orion Township plant now assembles both the current-generation Chevy Sonic, in hatchbackand sedan models, and the Buick Verano compact sedan.

The Sonic was launched as a 2012 model, and will be replaced by a new model during 2017.

Green Car Reports reached out to General Motors, whose spokesperson Annalisa Bluhm provided the following statement:

“Bolt EV Concept is just that – a concept. We’re currently evaluating the vehicle program, but do not have any production announcements to make at this time.”

Many commentators have suggested the Bolt will compete with the promised Tesla Model 3, also a 200-mile electric car with an expected price of $35,000, that is targeted for production sometime between late 2017 and 2019.  But it is more likely to compete with the next generation Nissan Leaf, expected to be unveiled late this year or early next, which will go on sale as a 2017 model.

 

A Volt, a Bolt and juicy jolt of electricity

Chicago Tribune, online edition: January 19, 2015

By Editorial Board

Chevrolet’s Bolt, an all-electric car expected in showrooms as soon as 2017, will be able to travel 200 miles between charges and cost around $30,000 after government incentives, General Motors says.

Chevrolet’s Bolt, an all-electric car expected in showrooms as soon as 2017, will be able to travel 200 miles between charges and cost around $30,000 after government incentives, General Motors says.

Drivers, if we could change the subject from the low price of gasoline for a second, let’s talk about electric cars. Two announcements by General Motors at the Detroit Auto Show demonstrate that automakers remain intensely committed to the future of electric vehicles. That’s part of a wild, industrywide race for new energy platforms. Road warriors, rejoice:

  • A new version of the Chevrolet Volt will travel 50 miles on electric power before its gasoline engine kicks in and recharges the battery. The previous Volt, introduced in 2010, went 35 miles on a charge.
  • Going quite a step further, Chevy also unveiled a concept version of the Bolt, an all-electric vehicle expected in showrooms as soon as 2017. GM says it will travel 200 miles between charges.

If you don’t feel the same thrill about the Bolt that you get from admiring a new Porsche or Camaro, we know: The burden is on the automotive industry to prove electric vehicles are more than rolling science experiments, environmental statements… or toys for the wealthy.

The Tesla Model S has shown how electric cars can satisfy luxury auto buyers. It has sports car performance and a 265-mile range. Amazing what $80,000 buys you.

To attract mainstream consumers, though, electric vehicles will have to meet everyday needs: an affordable price, ease of recharging and the roominess, safety and reliability of anything else on the road. Avoiding the gas pump isn’t enough.

The Bolt gets closer to that goal. It would cost around $30,000 after government incentives and travel far enough on its juice to alleviate the fear of conking out — a phobia known in the industry as range anxiety. Analysts told the Los Angeles Times that the Bolt’s price and performance make it potentially the first mass-market electric car.

Others are following. Tesla plans a $35,000 all-electric that would go 200 miles on a charge, which is more than twice the current maximum for the Nissan Leaf. Yet Nissan expects its next-generation electric to go 200 miles. Look for Volkswagen and BMW, among other competitors, to join them. More gas-and-electric vehicles, known as plug-in hybrids, are coming as well.

It’s a good sign that auto executives remain interested in electric vehicles even with gas prices in a free fall and sales of traditional cars and trucks strong again. We might have expected automakers to get distracted by the fat profit margins attached to big gas-burning trucks and SUVs.

Certainly there’s reason for car companies to keep their foot on the, um, gas. Oil prices are volatile and supplies are finite. Internal combustion engines are fun but filthy. New technologies hold out the eternal promise of being smarter, better, cheaper.

What clouds an analysis of the auto industry’s intentions is the strong hand of government. Automakers are being coerced into adding more electric cars to their fleets to meet stricter 2025 fuel efficiency requirements, while sales get a boost from tax incentives. Eventually, the product will have to stand on its own.

So what do you get with an electric car? Solid road performance with the unexpected perk of dynamite acceleration from a standing start because there’s no lag time before the juice flows. Obviously, never purchasing gas or emitting carbons into the air is a big part of the allure.

The trade-off is the darned battery: Even a 200-mile range means driving as if you are always in danger of running out of gas — especially in extreme weather when batteries drain more quickly. That makes the electric car an in-town or commuting vehicle. Oh, and you’d better have a garage. Buy a $1,000 home charger and you can power up in a few hours each evening. Don’t count on finding many roadside charging stations; few exist.

Still, it’s early. Electric cars account for a tiny sales niche today. Zachary Shahan of cleantechnica.com sees mass adoption of electric cars within 10 years, as prices fall and technology improves. He tells us “gasmobiles” are destined for obsolescence. Think of them as landline phones or film cameras, “or something even worse, since gasmobiles are actually harmful, not just inconvenient and clunky.”

That’s an evangelist’s view. There’s a lot that needs to be sorted out before electric cars go mainstream. Who knows if that technology even ends up winning the race? Maybe hydrogen cars eventually prove smarter. Maybe at some distant point people don’t buy cars; they just buy subscriptions to self-driving-car services.

Exciting times on the road ahead. So stay plugged in.

Copyright © 2015, Chicago Tribune

Yesterday was a day for new records, including 5,595 miles on a single tank

My VOLT - soaking up a solar charge at the South Coast Air Quality Management District charging station in Diamond Bar, California

My VOLT – soaking up a solar charge at the South Coast Air Quality Management District charging station in Diamond Bar, California

Yesterday, I took a road trip to northern San Diego County, and because of the distance, I burned a significant amount of gasoline. In Carlsbad, I topped off the tank for the first time in almost two and a half months (since Nov 11). VOLT stats, which keeps a running tally of miles traveled per tank, calculated that in the time it took to consume the last tank (9.3 gallons), I had traveled 5,595 miles. It took from Sep 15 to Jan 23 to burn the full tank (130 days). Also, on Jan 22-23, I set a record for miles traveled on electric power in a 24-hour period: 105.6 miles.  The current record for consecutive electric-powered miles without using ANY gasoline is 596 between October 13-26, 2014.

At the time I’m writing this post, I have 9,559 total miles on the odometer, and only 997 miles were powered by the gasoline engine.  Clean solar & power grid electricity have powered almost 90% of my VOLT miles, with much of that power captured by solar panels on the roof of my home.  Those solar/electric-powered miles translate into 259 gallons of gasoline saved – that’s $1,001 saved on gasoline, based on the average price in Southern California during the period of $3.86/gallon.  Prices are lower today (I paid $3.099 in Carlsbad for premium yesterday), but even if gas prices drop significantly, I’ll still come out way ahead.  Electric prices are tricky to compare, because people pay vastly different rates depending on where they live, how much they use and when they use it, but based on $0.11/kwh (typical for SCE utility customers in Southern California with normal residential usage), my electric-powered miles would cost only $382.  That a net savings of $619 in   less than 7 months!

 

Mountain Mode

2011 Chevrolet VoltHere’s an explanation of “Mountain Mode” from Member “Elnar” on the gm-volt.com website – http://gm-volt.com/forum/showthread.php?112890 (reply #5):

Mountain mode (MM) is very simple (mostly). If you anticipate driving up any long steep grades (like a significant mountain pass) switching to Mountain Mode will increase your acceleration/hill climbing buffer from about 1KWhr to about 5 KWhr. This allows sustained hill climbing with minimal chance of exhausting the buffer and being subjected to the trials and tribulations of “Propulsion Power Reduced”. MM acomplishes this by setting aside ~40% of your drive battery’s charge for the expanded buffer. This has the immediate effect of “reducing” your displayed battery range by ~40% and, should you exhaust the remaining displayed charge, having the ICE come on sooner than you would normally expect. The good news is that once you return to “normal” mode whatever is left of the buffered charge that was previously blocked off now becomes immediately available. Simple in concept – but here’s where things get fun – if you enter MM with less than 40% charge remaining on the drive battery then the ICE comes on immediately and 1) provide the charge to drive the car while 2) recharging the battery up to the 40% buffer level. In order to do this, the ICE works harder than it does just driving the car and you end up getting correspondingly less economy that the EPA projected 37mpg (more like about 22mpg). This extra drain only lasts as long as the buffer is below the +40% level – once it reaches that level the engine revs cut back and the car behaves just as it would have upon exhausting the drive battery charge in “normal” – with the exception that you have a 40% charge on the battery available for use as an enhanced driving buffer. Oh, and once you’re done with the mountain climbing – you can put the car back into “normal” and have 14-16 miles of battery range remaining to get you to your destination.

Another article: “Chevy Volt’s ‘Mountain Mode’ is Vastly Underrated, Yields New Driving Strategies

1st Fill-Up

Yesterday, 49 days into my VOLT ownership experience, I recorded my first fill-up for the VOLT. After 2,145 miles, I added 7.68 gallons of premium fuel at a cost of $31.79. Of those miles, 87% (278 miles) were gas powered, resulting in 36.3 MPG in charge-sustaining mode (i.e., when the car is running on gasoline power). Overall, I’ve averaged 279 MPG with a combination of gasoline and electicity from the power grid – much of it solar.