Yesterday, we posted a review of the 2012 Chevrolet Volt, a car that is controversial for a number of reasons, from GM’s bailout, to the huge expectations heaped on the car, to the giant pre-release hype that GM built for it. I thought it might be interesting to look at what the Volt might need in order to be more successful in the marketplace. Continue Reading →
GM CEO Dan Akerson was told Congress this past January that the Chevrolet Volt is a “political punching bag.” He’s right, of course. The car has not come close to meeting GM’s previously-stated sales targets (which have since been unceremoniously dropped), and part of the blame does lie at the feet of the fact that GM accepted a taxpayer-funded bailout. But could there be other reasons the Volt isn’t selling well? We borrowed a 2012 model for a week to find out. Continue Reading →
By Chris Haak
There is more than a little chatter over the past week or two in the autoblogosphere about the Chevy Volt. Normally, in these media frenzied times, that would be good news for GM’s environmental halo vehicle, but perhaps there *is* a such thing as bad publicity.
You see, the Volt seems to have a bit of a problem with catching fire following crash tests.
By Kevin Miller
From an engineering perspective, Chevrolet’s Volt is a technological tour de force that both highlights GM’s commitment to technology, and their engineering muscle as a global organization. It is able to travel around 35 miles on full charge, and nearly 300 more using its onboard ICE “range extender” to make electricity. While our Editor-in-Chief separately spent five days in another Chevrolet Volt, I had two days in one in which I was able to experience some of the ups and downs of EV ownership.
By Chris Haak
Back in the sixties – a decade which, scary enough, began more than a half century ago – the creators of the cartoon The Jetsons imagined a future world in which robots served humans, there were pushbutton conveniences that automated mundane tasks, and the cars could fly (and fold into a space the size of a briefcase).
We’re now halfway to 2062 when The Jetsons was allegedly taking shape, and we certainly do have many automated conveniences, but we seem to be barely any closer to all having flying cars. People living in 2062 also only have to work three hours per day; it seems that we’re trending in the opposite direction from that. However, I really do believe that the Chevrolet Volt is about as close as you can get to driving (ahem, *not* flying) the car of the future.
By Roger Boylan
Press the Prius’s ignition button and the info screen on the dashboard reads “Welcome to PRIUS,” as if flinging open the gates to a mythical kingdom–which in some ways it is. The Toyota Prius has acquired an almost mythical status, worshipped as a lifestyle statement by preening greenies and scorned for the same reason by the diehard SUV- and pickup-driving class. I fall into neither category. Although I have owned, and enjoyed, gas-guzzling SUVs and pickups, I was impressed by my previous exposure to the Prius (the Plug-In version), and I have no greater affection than any other citizen of the West for the Saudi oil sheikhs who hold us hostage to their whims.
By Kevin Miller
December saw the first consumer deliveries of the Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt in the US, and Cobo Hall in Detroit was literally overrun with plug-in vehicles earlier this month for NAIAS. While the vehicles will primarily be charged at home (especially by early adopters of the vehicles), much public money is being invested in building a public, pay-per-use charging infrastructure. While the charging apparatus for use in a vehicle owner’s garage must be designed with user safety in mind, such equipment for use by the general public must be even more so.
With the Volt and Leaf now on the road, and additional manufacturers preparing to launch electric and plug-in-hybrid vehicles, many companies are designing charging and supply equipment for the vehicles. Some of the equipment being designed is for use by vehicle owners in their own garages, and some is being designed for public use, whether for free use from utilities, or pay-per-use by private companies setting up their own network of charging locations. As required by the National Electric Code in the US, virtually all electrical equipment must be certified for electrical safety by an OSHA-accredited Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory. This requirement includes stuff like cord-connected appliances in your home, the espresso machine at your local coffee shop, and even EV charging stations. Continue Reading →
Odds and ends about cars and the car business
By Chris Haak
On the eve of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, there are a few news items that may not necessarily warrant a full article. However, they’re probably still worth mentioning.
FORD’S new Focus Electric, slated to hit the market in late 2011, made its worldwide debut not at the Detroit show, but at Las Vegas’ CES show. In the keynote address in which he revealed the car, Ford CEO Alan Mulally called his company as much of a technology company as a car company, and he may be right. Ford has been on the leading edge of infotainment with its SYNC and MyFord Touch system, and has done a great job of pushing high tech features such as self-parking down from luxury cars into more mainstream offerings.
By Chris Haak
The conventional wisdom is that green cars such as hybrids and EVs have to look like something a little different from the standard three-box sedan if they hope to enjoy sales success. Accordingly, it explains why the Prius outsells the Camry Hybrid.
Well, the Mitsubishi i-MiEV certainly fits the bill of looking different. Technically, I suppose that it’s a one-box car, though in reality, it is far more ovoid and organically shaped to call it a box. It’s smaller than nearly everything on the road today, and will certainly attract attention wherever it goes. Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to drive an i-MiEV (Japan spec, right hand drive) at a media event, and I found the car to be a curious blend of the normal and abnormal as I tallied a few miles in the little EV.
By Charles Krome
The Chevrolet Volt and Nissan LEAF continue to rack up the awards, with the propulsion systems from both being named to the annual “10 Best Engines” list put together by Ward’s.
Per the editor’s, the former’s “‘Voltec’ propulsion system is brilliant—a technological masterpiece,” with editor-in-chief Drew Winter adding that “General Motors engineers have changed the course of history by creating an electric vehicle with true mass appeal.” But is it really an EV? Well, Ward’s says “Some consider it a glorified hybrid while others just don’t understand it.” Make of that what you will.
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