Episode 976 – LEAF Batteries Degrade in Heat, EV Subsidies to Cost Billions, 2013 Audi S3

September 21st, 2012 at 12:00pm

Runtime: 10:58

A new study says batteries in the Nissan LEAF degrade faster in hot climates. The Congressional Budget Office says that federal subsidies for manufacturing and purchasing EVs will cost taxpayers around $7.5 billion through 2019. Audi revealed the 2013 S3 which gets a walloping 300 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. All that and more, plus a preview of Autoline This Week about whether using ethanol in gasoline hurts our food supply.

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Welcome to Autoline Daily, wow, do we have a full show today, so let’s get to it.

There’s potential trouble for Nissan LEAF owners who live in hot climates. As reported by Green Car Reports, the EV’s battery degrades in the heat. Researchers tested 12 Leafs in Arizona, with the air conditioning off and traveling at pre-set speeds to make sure the data was as accurate as possible. Half of the cars that indicated they had a full charge could not achieve the EPA rating of 73 miles per charge. The worst one only was able to travel 59 miles. Of course all batteries degrade over time, but Nissan says it’s now going to do its own investigation.

And speaking of electric vehicles, the Congressional Budget Office says that federal subsidies for manufacturing and purchasing EVs will cost taxpayers around $7.5 billion through 2019. The report says that at current vehicle and energy prices, the lifetime costs of EVs are still higher than conventional cars and hybrids, even with the tax credit which is up to $7,500. The average plug-in hybrid would need a tax credit of $12,000 to have the same lifetime costs as a conventional car or even a traditional hybrid. The report also says that in the short term the credits won’t reduce the total amount of gasoline used in the country or greenhouse gas emissions. Ouch!

Buick and GMC are coming out with nine new models in the next year. As we’ve already seen Buick gets a new Enclave, and the Encore. On the passenger-car side, they have a new Regal and a new LaCrosse coming. GMC, meanwhile, gets new versions of the Sierra, including a heavy duty version, and a new full-size Yukon and Yukon XL. So far this year Buick and GMC have collectively lost half a point of market share. It remains to be seen if they can regain that share, but one thing’s for sure, they could not do it without these new models.

Speaking of new models, Acura is redesigning its flagship sedan, the RL but will now call it the RLX, but there’s no explanation of why they added the X. The new model, like the current one, is available in all-wheel drive. More interesting, however, is that the front-wheel-drive version will now offer all-wheel steer. They use actuators to change the toe angle of the rear wheels. Now that should be fun to drive. The RLX also gets a new direct injection 3.5-liter V-6 with 310 horsepower, and LED headlamps.

2013 AUDI S3
Audi is ready to unleash a new pint-sized performance machine. The 2013 S3 gets a walloping 300 horsepower from a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine! That’s good for a zero to 60 sprint of about five seconds! Fuel economy is an impressive 34 miles per U.S. gallon – we’re assuming that’s a highway figure. Engineers were able to trim about 133 pounds off the car’s curb weight thanks to the use of aluminum more high-strength steel. The new Audi S3 arrives at dealers early next year with a sticker price of about 39,000 euros in Germany, about $50,000.

On Autoline This Week the topic is ethanol. Is it good for the country or are we hurting our food supply? I put that question to Candace Wheeler, the Technical Fellow and fuels expert at General Motors.

You can watch that entire ethanol discussion right now on our website.

And don’t forget to join us next week Thursday, September 27 for our special coverage of the 2012 Paris Motor Show. The LIVE webcast starts at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time at Autoline.tv so mark your calendar! And of course we’ve got to give a shout out to our friends at Audi for making it all possible. We do appreciate their help, plus I’ve got to thank LiveU for their amazing backpack-sized broadcast technology.

Rolls-Royce is heading back in time to an era of glitz and glamour, depression and dustbowl. So grab your favorite fedora because you’re invited to relive the 1930s! The super-luxury automaker will unveil a lineup of art deco-inspired cars next week at the Paris Motor Show. To promote these reveals it’s commissioned a series of posters that recall the elegance and majesty of the era. Crisp lines, strong forms and bold colors really make these pieces pop. I think they’re absolutely wonderful and wish we’d see more stuff like this from other companies. As for the vehicles themselves, we have no idea what Rolls-Royce has up its sleeve.

(The Ford Fusion review is only available in the video version of today’s program.)

Boy that Fusion does look good.

Hey, before we cut you free, don’t forget that Roundabout is running tonight. They’ll be taxing your automotive knowledge, mesmerizing you with weird trivia, and playing another game of Enhance where small details make a big difference. Aaron Bragman from IHS joins the fun tonight at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Time on your one-stop automotive video network: Autoline.tv.

So have fun, have a great weekend, and we’ll see you back here on Monday.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog and WardsAuto.com

25 Comments to “Episode 976 – LEAF Batteries Degrade in Heat, EV Subsidies to Cost Billions, 2013 Audi S3”

  1. pedro fernandez Says:

    Re: the Leaf, we’ve been reading here about the problems with heat and battery life, how about a study in deep cold, I’ll bet the same is true, So I guess the Leaf is only fit for the Northwest states? Re: ethanol, import it? really? I thought the whole idea was to have a home grown source, and here we are talking about importing it, Am I going nuts or didn’t Acura mess with 4 wheel steering many years ago? I guess if you fail once, try and try again, to fail.

  2. buzzerd Says:

    I wonder how the EV subsidies compare to what we give the oil and corn industry.

  3. C-Tech Says:

    Not too hot, not too cold, the Leaf is the little red riding hood of cars.

    EV subsidies are still less than the tax breaks to the oil companies, and probably less than to tobacco farmers.

    I hope Acura does better with all-wheel steering this time. If not, the tire companies should send them a thank-you note for the increase in sales.

    Perhaps if I save up enough, I can afford a Rolls-Royce poster!

  4. C-Tech Says:

    Audi S3, perhaps the ultimate hot hatch.

  5. Brett Says:

    I agree, buzzerd. They are trivial in comparison.

    Trying to move the ball down the field to a more sustainable future for the automobile at such a price is tsk, tsk’d, but a billion dollars a week for war the past decade gets a pass.

  6. HtG Says:

    1 Some Mazdas in the late 80s had rear wheel steering. When you changed lanes, the rear would jog over. I wonder if this is an oversteer issue in the RLX, as I see plenty of SUVs with lots of negative camber dialed in. X5s used to look like Donald Trump walking away.(ask me how I know)

  7. jesse Says:

    Ethanol may or may not be bad for the food supply but it sure as hell is useless for cars!It does nothing but line peoples pockets with cash,DECREASE GAS MILEAGE and hurt cars not equipped to use it thereby INCREASING repair costs!TOTAL WASTE AND YET ANOTHER FLEECING OF THE AMERICAN PUBLIC…excluding farmers of course who make out like fat rats with that crap.

  8. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Didn’t chevy try the 4 wheel steering on certain models of the silverado? As for the batteries in the leaf,something else most of us knew….and talked about for years so it ain’t any surprise here on this forum.Maybe the oem’s should hire us as advisors.

  9. Chuck Grenci Says:

    #7 jesse
    Check out “Autoline This Week”: while I still have some reservations on ethanol (especially nautical and yard equipment), view the show, you might learn something; I did. Cellulotic (sp?) is on the way as well as other alternative fuels.

  10. Kit Gerhart Says:

    What is the point of 4 wheel steering, except maybe on fire trucks. Talk about technology for technology’s sake.

  11. Chuck @ GM Says:

    @8 Chevy did try 4 wheel steering on Full Size Pickups 10 or 15 years ago. Testing showed it improved a lot of things, like turn radius, parking, changing lanes on the freeways, all without giving up much if anything in terms of capacity.

  12. M360 Says:

    I read in the Detroit News today that of the 4 GM brands, GMC has the customers with the youngest average age – which is 55! It makes me wonder about the future of their brands: GMC, Buick, Cadillac and Chevrolet.

  13. Phoenix Mark Says:

    #9 Chuck,
    I will check out the “Autoline This Week” show too.
    Pig and cattle ranchers are being hit with a problem relating to ethanol producers shutting down. Seems that they use the byproduct of ethanol production as feed.
    Every time I here that corn going to ethanol production somehow takes away from food production you never hear that the byproduct is better for pigs and cattle as a feed than the “untreated” corn.

  14. C-Tech Says:

    @ #11 and #12
    GM did offer 4 wheel steering on trucks. It actually made more sense than on a car because it does make a truck easier to park and manuever. The problem was with extra expense and maint. Costs more to buy, align, repair, and wheel alignment became more critical.

  15. gary susie Says:

    John Making ethanol from corn does not take corn value away. They just take the ethanol out and whats left is feed for livestock and it is better than just plain corn.

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    Take away all high fructose corn syrups from all drinks and foods and you’ll have more corn for fuel and Americans will be healthier as well, win-win situation

  17. pedro fernandez Says:

    I’m no mechanic but this 4 wheel steering sounds like a nightmare to upkeep, repair with little benefit, I don’t see Porsche or any other super handling car resorting to this.

  18. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I remember the ads for 4ws on the Chevy trucks. It had some benefit for maneuvering in tight places, and for backing trailers, but it sure added a lot of complexity.

  19. pedro fernandez Says:

    Kit: I thought it was GMC who had the 4 wheel steering, one way to differentiate the brands and make GMC more “professional”

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Actually, I figured it was both Chevy and GMC, but maybe it was only CMC. I’ll try to look it up.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    From what I found, wiki and another article, both Chevy and GMC used the 4ws system from ’02-’05 model years. They used it in both pickups and Suburbans.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    Ok thanks!

  23. XA351GT Says:

    So the drought won’t affect the ethanol supply too much. So why then is the price of gas screaming towards $4 @ gallon again. Also if we import ethanol isn’t that defeating the purpose of a home based fuel source? Just sayin’. A couple weeks back there was aguy saying that with out 10% Ethanol that gas would be $5 @ gallon. Uh is this that fuzzy math that i’ve heard about ? By his calculation s 10% = $1 @ gallon or more . I’m just glad I no longer have to bend over to get boned by the fuel companies and the government that allows this raping of the consumer.

  24. john 878 Says:

    I don’t think we should give tax credits to the foreign car companies, not when we are so in debt. Consider how Japanese treat foreign car companies and I would never blink an eye about doing so. I would treat trade with Japan or with any other nation, the way they treat us.

  25. XA351GT Says:

    John 878, I couldn’t agree more. I have said this for a while that instaed of a free trade policy we should have a mirror trade policy. We deal with foriegn countries as they deal with us. Close your country to our cars as Japan does we respond the same. You’d see the Japanese car market seriously take a pounding. Funny isn’t it that In the US we have 3 companies (if you still count Chrysler) with total of 9 brands. Japan has about 7 major companies and 11 brands that I can think of off the top of my head.