Monday, January 26, 2015

Can I possibly wait two years for an affordable EV and would I drive a Chevy?

An all-electric Tesla Model S on display at the Time Warner Center in midtown Manhattan is usually covered with fingerprints after the curious slam the doors and kick the tires.

Red Multi-Coat Paint is $1,500 extra, but that is one option I have to have.


I can't wait two years for an affordable all-electric car, whether it is from Tesla or Chevrolet.

And if I could, I don't think I'd settle for the Chevy Bolt, a 2017 model GM promises will cost thousands of dollars less than the Volt plug-in hybrid.

Have you seen photos of the Bolt concept, a stubby four door?

It doesn't compare to the elegant Tesla Model 3, another 2017 model with a range of 200 miles and an MSRP of about $35,000.

And the Model 3's big brother, the Model S 4-door luxury hatchback, is available now starting at around $70,000.

Battery guarantee

Originally, I reasoned I'd be happy with the base Model S with a 60 kWh battery and a range of 208 miles.

I'm retired, and can no longer drive that far without stopping to go to the bathroom or grab a cup of coffee to keep me awake.

Then, I looked at the warranty for the 60's battery and drive unit, eight years or 125,000 miles.

A step up is the Model S 85, which is about $10,000 more than the 60, and its battery and drive-unit warranty is eight years and "infinite" miles.

Do I want "infinite," or is 125,000 miles enough? I've only averaged 10,000 miles a year in my 2010 Toyota Prius hybrid.

I've configured a Model S 60 with a few options, but haven't put down a deposit. Teslas ordered now will be delivered in late April, the company Web site says.

From Auto Express, this is what a smaller Tesla Model 3 is supposed to look like when it come out in 2017. The car will have a range of 200 miles and cost about $35,000, the publication reported. Tesla calls the Model 3 image "mock-ups" based on Auto Express "speculation."

Negative press continues

Fifteen years and millions of hybrid and all-electric cars later, the media continue to view the green movement negatively.

Dee-Ann Durbin of The Associated Press is the latest reporter to warn buyers of electric cars it will take them decades to pay off "the premium" they shelled out when compared to a cheaper gas-powered vehicle.

When gas-electric hybrids were introduced, the media reacted with numerous articles on whether the green cars were "practical," given their higher prices.

I can't recall the media focusing on any other car, whether an econobox, gas-guzzling luxury sedan or super car, and warning owners it's unlikely they'll ever recoup their investment.

The environment?

And Durbin also is the latest automobile writer to completely ignore the less tangible environmental benefits of electric cars over those powered by the infernal combustion engine, which is hastening climate change.

What about the billions of gallons of gasoline saved by the drivers of millions of hybrids, and reduced air pollution. Don't they count for anything?

The AP reporter also doesn't calculate the substantial savings from discounts available to owners of green cars who commute daily to jobs in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and other states with toll roads.

Meanwhile, on Jan. 23, Christopher DeMorro, who writes for the Gas2 and CleanTechnica blogs, began a post this way:

"With a starting price of $70,000, the Tesla Model S undoubtedly is a luxury vehicle that only the upper crust of society can afford."

What would DeMorro say of a Mercedes-Benz performance luxury sedan costing nearly three times as much, that only "royalty" could afford it?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Do auto writers really think EV buyers would choose a Bolt over Tesla's Model 3?

The Chevrolet Spark EV, above, and the Bolt EV Concept, below, bear a family resemblance. The Spark is available only in California and Oregon. The Bolt is scheduled to be produced as a 2017 model with a battery that will give it a range of more than 200 miles, General Motors says.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept.

Compare the forthcoming Tesla Model 3 to the Chevy Bolt Concept. This photo is from Auto Express.


If you treat an auto writer to an espresso and pastry before a splashy press conference, he or she will write almost anything.

That must be the explanation for all of those stories out of the Detroit Auto Show, setting up a confrontation between all-electric cars from Chevrolet and Tesla.

Yes. Chevy is the GM division that gave us defective ignition switches, the Nova or "no va" (Spanish for "doesn't go") and the Corvair's dangerous swing-axle rear suspension.

Tesla, the upstart maker of all-electric luxury cars, is working on a smaller, 2017 Model 3 with a range of 200 miles and an expected price of $35,000 -- half of what the base Model S costs now.

So, the media are claiming "General Motors is setting up a showdown with Tesla to sell an electric vehicle to the masses," as The Associated Press reported on Jan. 13.

The day before, GM unveiled the Chevrolet Bolt, a $30,000 concept car that "likely will go on sale in about two years."

Neither the AP or other media questioned how GM could possibly sell the Bolt for $30,000 or thousands of dollars less than its plug-in Chevrolet Volt hybrid.

Both the Bolt and Tesla Model 3 may have about the same range and an MSRP only $5,000 apart, but I seriously doubt they will attract the same buyers.

Just compare photos of the Bolt, which bears a family resemblance to the stubby Spark EV, and the elegant Tesla Model 3.

Here's a link to the article in Auto Express: 

Tesla Model 3 to challenge BMW 3 Series

Monday, January 12, 2015

How can Chevrolet sell an electric car with a 200-mile range for less than the Volt?

The Chevrolet Bolt EV Concept has an ambiguous name to go along with an ambiguous production date. Many auto writers are reporting it will be available as a 2017 model with a 200-mile range, but haven't you seen many concepts that never lived up to the splash they made at the auto show? 


A bolt is a fastener.

Now, Chevrolet is calling an all-electric concept with a 200-mile range a Bolt, which rhymes with Volt, the plug-in hybrid with a limited EV range it has been selling since December 2010.

A new Volt is to be unveiled today at the auto show in Detroit.

The official press release calls the 4-door Bolt "a vision for an affordable, long-range all-electric vehicle designed to offer more than 200 mile of range starting around $30,000."

Chevrolet officials haven't explained how the Bolt can be sold in two years for thousands of dollars less than the current Volt, which has an MSRP of $34,345.

In what appears to be a shot at Tesla's Model S, a 4-door luxury hatchback that starts at $69,900, General Motors CEO Mary Barra said the Bolt EV is "designed for attainability, not exclusivity."

The Bolt concept reminds some viewers of the more expensive BMW i3, which is available both as an EV and as a plug-in hybrid.

The i3, in turn, seems to have several styling cues that recall the Honda Passport.

200-mile range?

If the 2017 Bolt does achieve a range of 200 miles or more, it would be the first production car to come near the 208-mile range of the base Tesla Model S 60.

Now, several EVs claim to have a range of about 85 miles, including the Nissan Leaf, Mercedes-Benz B-Class and BMW's i3.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Hybrid owners know low gasoline prices are already hurting the environment

A price sign at a gasoline station in Teaneck, N.J.


In more than a decade of driving three Toyota Prius hybrids, I've never bothered looking for the cheapest gasoline.

When you are getting more than 40 mpg around town and more than 50 mpg on the highway, 10 cents a gallon one way or another doesn't really matter.

Now, with a gallon of regular below $2, SUV owners are driving more and not even thinking of trading in their gas guzzlers on something more efficient, aggravating air pollution.

All the gains in cleaner air from millions of hybrid cars are being eroded.

"Low emissions, high hopes" were the words that appeared on a Prius showroom catalog in 2004.

57 mpg in a Prius

I brought home my first Prius in March 2004, when regular was selling for $1.63.9 a gallon at a Mobil station on Route 4 in Englewood.

In July 2004, I got 57.1 mpg on a highway trip to Lorain, Ohio.

I tried many brands of gasoline, but always from the majors, and settled on Citgo and then Shell as giving me the best mileage.

By February 2007, I was paying $2.09.9 a gallon for regular from a Citgo station in Bogota, and in June of that year, a gallon of regular at a Teaneck Shell station had shot up to $3.98.9.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Taxis in Holland, incentives in China, future models and other green-car trivia

A Tesla Model S demonstrator at the electric automaker's new Showroom-Service Center on Route 17 north in Paramus.


I don't envy all of those full-time auto writers and bloggers who have to scramble for green-car news.

Many of them write for sponsored sites, and range far and wide, even years into the future, in search of stories.

Look at all of the copy about the Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle, which isn't scheduled to come out until late in 2015.

But with a first-year production of only 2,100, it's unclear how many will be available in the United States.

What is clear is that Toyota dealers are sure to squeeze anyone who wants to buy one of the few available for a lot of added profit over the $57,500 base price, if past practice is any guide.

Junket to Japan

One of the blogs that wrote about the Mirai acknowledged Toyota provided airfare to Japan, lodging and meals to enable the writer "to bring you this first-person report."

Another blog, Gas2, even compared the Mirai to Tesla's Model S, which has been sold since 2012.

The writer did note there are only a "couple of dozen" public hydrogen fueling stations in the U.S.

China and Holland

I just read about air pollution in China, and how one city plans to limit registrations of new cars while the government weighs adding incentives for the purchase of plug-in hybrids and EVs.

In Holland, there is a fleet of Tesla Model S taxis at the airport serving Amsterdam, according to Gas2.

None of that is of any interest to me.

I've read that incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles are far higher in Europe than in the U.S., but I haven't seen anything on whether the new Congress will attempt to get rid of the $7,500 federal tax credit for the purchase of a green car.

From hybrid to electric

I live in northern New Jersey and have driven Toyota Prius hybrids since 2004.

Now, I plan to make the transition to an all-electric car, and I want to know all I can about my choices.

The Tesla Model S has twice the range of any other all-electric vehicle sold in New Jersey.

But I just read real breaking news in Automobile magazine, quoted in Green Car Reports, which says Audi, BMW and Porsche plan to attack Tesla with new green-car models due in 2018 to 2021.

Is Automobile magazine suggesting I wait?

Best Cars of 2014 

The Tesla Model S just finished first in Consumer Reports' Best Cars of 2014.

The only other green car on the list, the Mercedes-Benz E250 diesel, finished fifth.

More news I can't use

The annoying Gas 2 blog, which claims to report on "Green Cars that Don't Suck," carries a ton of news that is of little use to anyone planning to buy an all-electric car:

Only one of the 15 is all-electric -- Tesla's Model X crossover with gull-wing doors -- unless you want to count a Croatian super-car concept with an MSRP of $1 million. 

The rest are plug-in hybrids from BMW, Mercedes, Volvo, Audi and Chevy, but the BYD Tang will be sold only in China.