Sunday, January 31, 2016

Has tide turned on the media's negative coverage of EVs and other green cars?

A Tesla Model S tucked in and plugged in for the night. 


Bill Vlasic's report on "as raft of electric and hybrid models" at the annual Detroit auto show stood out for a number of reasons.

Vlasic, who was writing for The New York Times, is one of the few reporters to focus on the showing of green cars instead of the latest, gas-guzzling performance model.

He also doesn't indulge in the usual negatives, such as higher prices for EVs, limited range and other perceived weaknesses.

"With increases in federal fuel-economy standards looming in 2017, car companies are hustling to bring out hybrid and electric models to help them meet the new rules -- even though electrified vehicles make up only 2 percent of overall sales," Vlasic wrote on Jan. 11 from the North American International Auto Show.

The 2017 standard is a corporate average fleet economy of 37 mpg and in 2025, that average will go up to 54.5 mpg.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles introduced "a plug-in hybrid-electric version" of its new minivan model with an old name, the Pacifica.

The Pacifica joined new electrified models introduced by Ford, General Motors and Toyota.

However, Vlasic, like many other reporters, doesn't discuss the environmental benefits of EVs, plug-in and other green cars, and their role in slowing climate change.

The all-electric 2017 Chevrolet Bolt was shown at the Detroit auto show.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Warming my tootsies by the fire as my Model S gulps electricity for trip home

Returning from a trip to Pennsylvania on Sunday afternoon, I enjoyed a cup of coffee in front of a fireplace at Panera Bread in a Hamilton, N.J., shopping center while my Tesla Model S was hooked up to a Supercharger, below.

As I was relaxing in front of the fireplace, my phone's Tesla app said I was ready to resume the trip to my North Jersey home after only 15 minutes, but I waited another 10 minutes or so before disconnecting my car from the free charger.

Heading north in the truck lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike, I took this photo from behind the wheel of my Model S after enabling Autopilot and Autosteer, cruising hands free at 79 mph.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Even with limited range, EVs are perfect for lifestyle of a group the media ignore

An all-electric car with a range of about 85 miles like the Nissan Leaf or BMW i3 is ideal for many senior citizens, whose driving is limited to food shopping, visits to doctors, volunteering, and driving to senior centers or the gym.


A huge group of well-to-do Americans greeted the "reveal" of the 2017 Chevrolet Bolt with a yawn on Wednesday.

Retired seniors already have a nice choice of affordable all-electric cars that fit their lifestyle and the limited driving they do, including the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3.

The Bolt, with a range of 200 miles and a starting price of $37,500 before options, will be a little late to the game when it goes on sale at the end of this year or early next year.

And if an affluent senior wants to reward himself or herself for a lifetime of hard work, they certainly would pick a jazzy red Tesla Model S over the pedestrian-looking Bolt.

That way they could take advantage of a network of free and fast Tesla Superchargers, which Chevrolet hasn't addressed.

The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt four-door hatchback can be mistaken for a lot of economy cars on the road today.

Tax-credit myth

The news media often repeat the claim of General Motors and other automakers that the cost of their plug-in EVs will be reduced by a federal tax credit of up to $7,500.

What they don't say is that you still have to lay out the 40 grand or more before you can apply for the credit in the following tax year.

The minimum tax credit is $2,500 plus $417 for a battery with at least 5 kilowatt hours of capacity, and it goes up $417 for each additional kilowatt hour, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

The Tesla Model S I bought last April has a 60 kilowatt-hour battery, and would qualify for the full $7,500 credit this year.

But if I don't owe the IRS the full $7,500 in taxes, than I'd get a lower credit or none at all.

Many retired seniors don't pay federal taxes so the tax credit is useless to them, and it may prove to be useless to me, too.

Jersey payoff

There is an immediate payoff, if you buy an all-electric car in New Jersey -- you don't have to pay the 7% sales tax.

That's a nice piece of change in your pocket -- $2,800 for an EV that costs $40,000 with options and about $5,600 for a Tesla Model S.

Limited driving

I'm retired and live in northern New Jersey.

On Tuesday, I drove my Model S about 50 miles, including a visit to the gym and supermarket in the morning, lunch at a Japanese restaurant in the afternoon and on an errand in the evening.

On Wednesday, I drove even less, making two stops in Englewood before returning home.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Chevy pulls out phallic symbol in hopes 2016 Volt doesn't flop like earlier model

This image from a Chevrolet Web site shows a male model holding the end of the charging cable for the 2016 Volt, a second-generation plug-in hybrid. The blatant phallic symbol seems to be a desperate move by parent General Motors, and it might make you wonder what the model is doing with his other hand.
With a 240-volt outlet installed at home, the 2016 Volt's battery recharges at a glacial pace -- only 11.7 miles per hour -- compared to more than 30 miles per hour in an all-electric Tesla Model S. What would a Volt owner do on the road, stay in a hotel overnight?


The first-generation Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid had the longest battery range in the industry, yet only 100,000 units were sold worldwide in 2010-15.

Chevrolet is hoping to avoid a similar debacle with the 2016 Volt, displaying a phallic symbol on its official site, and exaggerating improvements in the second-generation gas-electric car.

Now, the Volt has an all-electric range of 53 miles, but after that you'll have to rely on fossil fuel, aggravating air pollution and climate change.

Still, General Motors says "Chevy expects owners to go more than 1,000 miles between fill-ups by charging regularly."

How much that electricity costs isn't mentioned, though Chevy says the car can be programmed to take advantage of off-peak electric rates.

This smells

No such off-peak rates are available to homeowners in New Jersey, and I would expect the same is the case in many other states.

Referring to its 1.5-liter gasoline engine, Chevy calls the Volt "an electric car with a back-up plan."

Chevy's seeming desperation leads some observers to wonder whether the new Volt's high price will result in as big of a flop as the old model.

The 2016 Volt is available in LT trim at an MSRP of $33,170 and the Premier is $37,520 (before tax, title, license and dealer fees).

Bolt price rises

The automaker's all-electric Bolt still is nearly a year away from going on sale, yet Chevy already has revised the expected price to "under $40,000" from a starting price of $30,000.

Nissan is the sales leader when it comes to all-electric cars, and even BMW, a relatively small carmaker, started selling a purely electric car last year.

See: An electric car in name only