September 25th, 2012 at 11:53am
Toyota doesn’t see much chance of success for EV’s in the short term because of limited range and long recharging times. Tesla just launched a network of solar power charging stations to allow Model S owners to power up for free. Chrysler announced that it is suspending testing for its plug-in hybrid program. All that and more, plus John answers your questions and comments in “You Said It!”
Hello and welcome to Autoline Daily for September 25th. I’m John McElroy and man do we have a lot of news about hybrids and electrics today!
TOYOTA POOH-POOHS EV’S
As we reported yesterday, Toyota is going to come out with 21 models that can be ordered as hybrids. That’s because Toyota doesn’t see much chance of success for EV’s in the short term. It says limited range and long recharging times are to blame, and that a plug-in hybrid is a better solution.
CONSUMER REPORTS TRASHES FISKER
Meanwhile, Consumer Reports finished its test drive of a Fisker Karma extended range-EV and it trashes the car in its report. CR liked the ride and handling and interior materials, but they ran into problems with the car, hated its touch screen, found it cramped despite its huge proportions, and it only got 22 miles per gallon when running on its noisy gasoline engine.
TESLA OFFERS FREE LEVEL III CHARGING
Tesla just launched a network of solar power charging stations to allow Model S owners to power up for free. The superchargers, as they call them, were developed by Tesla and a company called SolarCity. The company says a half hour of charging gives you 3 hours of driving at 60 MPH. And Tesla says the system will create more energy than customers will use which means electricity will be put back in the grid. The stations are located in California, Nevada and Arizona. By next year the company plans to open them throughout the U.S. as well as in Europe and Asia.
CHRYSLER SUSPENDS PHEV TESTING
Chrysler announced that it is suspending testing for its plug-in hybrid program. Three of the 109 pick-ups in its fleet equipped with 12.9-kWh lithium-ion batteries overheated. In the meantime, the company is upgrading its plug-in fleet with new batteries, including 23 minivans. The program, which started last year, is scheduled to end in 2014.
FORD EXPECTS 3X FUSION HYBRID SALES
Ford expects sales of the new Fusion hybrid could triple in the U.S. According to the Detroit Free Press, the company is aiming for Fusion hybrids to make-up 15% of all Fusion sales. And of that Ford expects a quarter of them to be plug-ins. Last year, hybrids made up 4.5% of Fusion sales. But the new one is much closer in price to the gas models. The 2013 Fusion hybrid is only $1,600 more than one equipped with a 1.6 liter EcoBoost engine with start/stop. The previous hybrid was up to $8,000 more than its gasoline counterpart.
AUTOLINE LIVE FROM PARIS
Don’t forget to join us Thursday morning at 10AM Eastern Time for our live coverage of the Paris Auto Show. We’ve got some great interviews with top executives, and some great cars to look at so join us right here at Autoline.tv for the first reports coming out of Paris.
Coming up next, it’s time for You Said It!
YOU SAID IT!
And now it’s time for some of your feedback.
Kit Gerhart is impressed with the fuel economy numbers for the Ford Fusion hybrid. “Why does the Fusion (and C-Max) get such good EPA numbers? Do Lithium batteries have that much more efficient charge-discharge cycles, does Ford have more efficient motors or controllers?”
Kit, good question. Ford seems to trust the longevity of its batteries more than other automakers and seems to work them harder. But you can only do that with a good overall hybrid system. In any case, Ford has a lot of patents on its system and it really seems to have done its homework well.
XA351GT watched our Autoline This Week show on ethanol but doesn’t seem sold on this fuel. “Hmmm, so the drought won’t affect the ethanol supply too much. So why then is the price of gas screaming towards $4 a gallon again? Also if we import ethanol isn’t that defeating the purpose of a home based fuel source?”
Well, XA, the price of gas spiked recently for two reasons. Major maintenance on refineries and the fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was beating the war drums about launching an attack on Iran. All that has blown over for the moment and gas prices are starting to subside. As for importing some ethanol from Brazil, you need competitive pressure on American ethanol refiners to prevent them from charging exorbitant prices.
Lawrence watched my review of the Coda EV and says, “Very nice and comprehensive report about this enigmatic EV with China origins. John, I am assuming they fixed the high frequency flashing of those tacky LED turn signal lights because you didn’t mention them.”
Lawrence, the funny thing is, in all the driving I did in the car I never noticed the front turn signals, until afterwards when I was watching some of the video I shot during the event. Maybe that jerkiness had more to do with the capture rate of the video than what you see with the naked eye.
JB is interested in the report we carried yesterday on GM’s new manufacturing process for spot welding aluminum. Will this new spot welding of aluminum be used for the C7 Corvette and upcoming truck lineup? Thanks in advance for your best guess.”
JB, we don’t need to guess. GM has been secretly testing it out on the hood of the Cadillac CTS-V, and the liftgate of the hybrid versions of the GMC Yukon and Chevy Tahoe. GM says it will start using the process extensively next year, and my guess is if you see any aluminum parts on any GM car going forward, it will use this new spot welding technique.
Thanks for all your questions and comments, we get a kick out of reading them and besides, it forces us to think!
Anyway, that wraps up today’s report. Thanks for watching, and join us again tomorrow.