Archive for January, 2012

NHTSA closes book on Chevrolet Volt fires

There’s good news on the electric car develoment front as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that it had closed the investigation into the recent fires that erupted from Volt test models after severe crash tests.

The NHTSA cloncluded that the fires were the results of leaks in the Volt’s batteries well after being subjected to severe impacts. Chevrolet has already come up with a fix to help ensure that the problem will not occur in regular vehicle use.

In a story by Jerry Hirsch of the Los Angeles Times, the NHTSA statement was clearly supportive of electric power as a mode of transportation.

The agency said it “remains unaware of any real-world crashes that have resulted in a battery-related fire involving the Chevy Volt or any other electric vehicle. NHTSA continues to believe that electric vehicles show great promise as a safe and fuel-efficient option for American drivers.”

The NHTSA also detailed proper guidelines for handling battery issues in electric and gas-electric hybrid vehicles.

Read the full story here.

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Low on gas? You’ll be green with envy over the Nissan Leaf

I was sitting at a stop light yesterday when I spotted a pure white Nissan Leaf cruise past us in the left turn lane.

2011 Nissan Leaf

The Leaf’s “Glacier Pearl” finish and stylish, vertical tail lights helped it stand out in the intersection crowded with all sorts of makes, models and designs of vehicles.

But it wasn’t the design or color of the Leaf that made it look so special in my eyes.  It’s what’s under the hood that really matters.

“There goes a Nissan Leaf,” I said to my girlfriend. “It’s an electric vehicle.”

“All electric?” she asked.

“Yep. Never has to stop at a gas station,” I replied.

“Never?”

“Never ever.”

The conversation continued to include many if the same questions that are coming up in families all across the country regarding electric vehicles:

How far can it travel on a charge? According to Nissan, the Leaf has a range of up to 100 miles on one full charge to satisfy real-world consumer requirements.

How long does it take to charge? The Leaf can be charged up to 80 percent of its full capacity in 30 minutes when equipped with a quick charge port and using a DC fast charger. Charging at home through a 220 volt outlet is estimated to take approximately seven hours. The advanced lithium-ion battery pack carries an industry-competitive warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles.

Where do you charge it? Anywhere there is an electric charging station available. Typically that would be at your home, charging  overnight in your garage with a standard, 220V outlet.  Also, charging stations are beginning to pop up at other locations, such as business parking lots, airports and shopping malls.

To find available charging stations along your route, there are websites such as ChargePoint that provide updated information about locations and availability of electric charging stations. Here’s a story from the Washington Post that we found interesting about how electric car charging stations are growing in numbers in the Washington, D.C. region.

The LEAF SL features a photovoltaic solar panel spoiler that supports charging of the 12-volt battery for some car accessories.

How much does it cost? The 2012 Nissan Leaf SV has an MSRP of $35,200, but after taking advantage of federal tax savings of up to $7,500, the net price of the Leaf is about $27,700. The Leaf SL version, which includes a new photovoltaic solar panel spoiler, will cost $29,750 after tax breaks. See pricing and leasing details here.

Let’s see, no gasoline costs, little to no emissions, fun to drive and a good price . . . it seems that electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Coda sedan and the gas-electric Chevrolet Volt are no a brainer for people who want to save money and help the environment.

Oh, and there’s one more advantage to driving an electric vehicle — access to carpool lanes!

It’s time to start driving green!

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NAIAS: Automakers say all systems “Go” for a green 2012

There was an optimistic feel to the media preview days at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) last week in Detroit, Michigan, as automakers from around the globe rolled out their new and improved models for the upcoming year.

Acura's NSX hybrid concept is introduced by Honda Motor Company CEO Takanobu Ito at the North American International Auto Show

Everywhere you went across Cobo Hall’s vast showroom floor, automakers were talking about how 2012 signifies a resurgence for the auto industry following a tremendously trying past couple of years. The plummeting economies of the U.S. and Europe combined with the devastating tsunami in Japan to deal a near-deadly knockout punch for nearly all automakers.

But the new year brings new hope and optimism across the auto industry, with many companies announcing the opening of new plants, or expanded production at facilities that had previously experienced major cutbacks in manufacturing-related jobs. And along with this positive economic outlook is a renewed focus on environmentally friendly models that put a greater emphasis on alternative fuels or high-mileage, gas-electric hybrids.

This is evidenced by a recent report by J.D.  Power and Associates that states 23 new hybrid or electric models are anticipated to hit dealerships in 2012. And there’s at least one new company that is putting pedal to the metal to produce consumer-friendly “electrified” trucks and sport utility vehicles for heavy duty users. Via, a start-up company that includes former General Motors Chairman Bob Lutz on its board, launched three extended-range vehicles at NAIAS — a utility van, a pickup truck and a sport utility vehicle — that can run up to 40 miles in all-electric mode and a gas-electric range of up to 500 miles.

There’s no doubt that today’s automakers are optimistic about the growth possibilities for the next 12 months. And as long as they keep seeing green, everyone will benefit.

Here’s a quick look at some of the activities at this year’s North American International Auto Show.

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GM working on a fix for leaks that caused Volt fires

According to today’s Los Angeles Times, General Motors has determined the cause of recent fires in its gas-electric Chevrolet Volt vehicles and is working a fix to the problem.
Read it here.

Also of note in the article is the statement that sales have been slow for the Volt as well as for the Nissan Leaf, the all-electric vehicle with up to 100 mile range.

The car (Volt), as well as other electric vehicles, have not been brisk seller. GM has sold about 8,000 Volts, which can travel about 40 miles just on battery power before a gas engine kicks in and functions as a generator to extend the range an additional 300 miles. Nissan, by comparison, has sold just about 10,000 of its Leaf electric vehicle.

Perhaps that slow start in electric vehicle sales is the basis for sentiment among the world’s automotive executives that was relayed in a survey by KMPG:

Global Auto Execs Don’t See Spark in Electric Vehicle Sales for More Than Decade

DETROIT, Jan. 5, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Despite continued heavy investment by auto makers in electric propulsion technologies, global automotive executives don’t expect e-car sales to exceed 15 percent of annual global auto sales before 2025, according to the 13th annual global automotive survey conducted by KPMG LLP, the U.S. audit, tax, and advisory firm.

In polling 200 C-level executives in the global automotive industry for the 2012 automotive survey, KPMG found that nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of executives don’t expect electrified vehicles (meaning all e-vehicles, from full hybrids to FCEVs) to exceed 15 percent of global annual auto sales before 2025. Executives in the U.S. and Western Europe expect even less adoption, projecting e-vehicles will only account for 6-10 percent of global annual auto sales.

“Electric vehicles are still in their infancy, and while we’ve seen some recent model introductions, consumer demand has so far been modest,” said Gary Silberg, National Automotive Industry leader for KPMG LLP. “While we can expect no more than modest demand in the foreseeable future, we can also expect OEMs to intensify investment, fully appreciating what is at stake in a very competitive industry.”

Here’s the full story.

We’d like to see the future prove these stats wrong. With the proper funding for technology and infrastructure, there’s no reason why electrified vehicles can’t become the roadway norm in the next 4-5 years.

Go green!

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Hybrid news: We can see the future . . . and it is beautiful

In preparation for next week’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), luxury automaker Lexus provides a sneak peek at one sleek-looking hybrid concept it will be debuting in Detroit.

Lexus LF-LC 2+2 Hybrid Sport Coupe Concept Vehicle to Debut at Detroit Auto Show
TORRANCE, Calif., Jan. 4, 2012 – Lexus is set to introduce the LF-LC 2+2 hybrid sport coupe concept vehicle, created at the company’s Calty design studio in Newport Beach, Calif., at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit on January 9, 2012.

Conceived as a design exercise, the LF-LC is envisioned as offering Advanced Lexus Hybrid Drive
to deliver both driving performance and fuel efficiency.

Green Family Car will be at NAIAS to bring all the news about what’s coming out in the near future for green-friendly vehicles.

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