Sunday, March 29, 2015

Many green-car buyers will find federal tax credit of $7,500 not such a big lure

In New Jersey, buyers of Tesla Motors' Model S can save about $5,000 or more, because they won't have to pay the 7% sales tax on their zero-emission vehicle.


If you've bought a hybrid or fully electric car or are still kicking the tires, you've probably heard how a federal tax credit of up to $7,500 will "reduce" the price of the car.

But buyers of many popular hybrids and EVs no longer qualify for the tax credit, which ends for each carmaker when they sell 200,000 cars.

The full $7,500 tax credit is still available for Tesla's Model S, a four-door luxury hatchback with an MSRP of about $70,000 for the base model.

Still, you can't claim the credit until you are filing your federal tax return, and then, you'll only be able to use it to reduce the federal taxes you owe.

If you don't owe the government $7,500 in taxes, you can't use the full credit.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Free lunch for auto writers comes with hard sell on so-called clean diesel engines

Volkswagen executive Marcel Zirwes addressing the monthly meeting of the International Motor Press Association in Manhattan. An executive from Bosch, which paid for lunch, was a no-show.


Members of the International Motor Press Association heard thousands of words praising "clean diesel" at their monthly meeting today in Manhattan.

But none of the executives who spoke claimed a new generation of diesel engines are cleaner than such gas-electric hybrids as the Toyota Prius.

Bosch paid for cocktails and a lunch of farmed salmon, oysters on the half shell, salad and fruit, but a representative was said to be unable to attend because of illness.

Executives of Diesel Technology Forum, Volkswagen and General Motors spoke to the automobile writers and public relations people.

In answer to questions, executives indicated hybrids with diesel engines would cost too much to produce.

And the appeal of diesel engines over hybrid technology is that the former is more profitable to automakers while yielding comparable mileage.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Consumer Reports Auto Issue: Prius is best Green Car, Tesla Model S Best Overall

Tesla Motors' Model S on display at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.

The Model S plugged in at the Tesla Showroom and Service Center on Route 17 north in Paramus, N.J.


Consumer Reports has anointed the Toyota Prius as the magazine's top pick for Green Car nearly 15 years after the gas-electric hybrid was introduced in the United States.

"The purity of the Prius' functional excellence dictates that -- although almost at the end of its model cycle -- it remains atop our list as the best green car," the editors wrote in the April 2015 Annual Auto Issue.

And Tesla Motors' Model S was crowned Best Overall:

"For all of the impressive new vehicles released in 2014, none was able to eclipse the innovation, magnificence, and sheer technological arrogance of the Tesla.

"That's why it's our best overall pick for the second consecutive year.... The Model S is a ... high-performance electric vehicle with usable real-world range, wrapped in a luxury package."

Does the opinion of anyone else matter? Consumer Reports is the only publication evaluating cars that does not accept advertising.

Consumer Reports praises the Prius for "affordability, stellar fuel economy, smart packaging, and blue-chip reliability."

I'd agree, but point out the four Priuses we've owned have been the subject of more service campaigns and recalls than any of our previous cars.

And my Toyota dealer could never find the source of some annoying squeaks and rattles from the dashboard and cargo area of my 2010 Prius.

The 2010 Toyota Prius I drive has an engine-braking gear.

The Prius is the best-selling hybrid in the world.

From Prius to Model S

After driving a Prius for more than 10 years, I expect to take delivery of a Tesla Model S in May.

I put down a $2,500 deposit on the base model, with a 60 kWh battery and an EPA range of 208 miles, plenty for my retired lifestyle.

I've received emails from Tesla Motors staff on financing options, service packages and the need to have a 240-volt outlet installed in my garage, allowing a recharge of 29 miles per hour.

The Model S is bigger and more luxurious than my 2010 Prius, but they are both hatchbacks.

And the Model S' quiet operation is similar to when my gas-electric hybrid operates only on the battery and electric motor or when the gasoline engine goes off when stopped at lights.