GM announced this week that the Chevy Volt is still on schedule for a November 2010 release. The new plug in hybrid (PHEV) is expected to sell for between $30,000 to $40,000. However, GM only expects to be able to ramp production to 100,000 a year by 2012. As a comparison, the Toyota Prius is selling at a rate of almost a quarter a million per year.
While GM works hard to solve battery delays, cooling issues, and other unexpected issues, other companies are also speeding up their own PHEV development. Toyota has announced a follow-on Prius PHEV that will be released in 2009 using standard NiMh battery packs, but will follow-up with Li-ion packs in 2010. Ford has basically given up and said that they hope to have a PHEV available in 5 years.
We watched Who Killed the Electric Car last night on the Tivo. I am surprised that I have not watched before, but I guess I figured it would just be a rant. Surprisingly, I felt they had a very balanced message, rightfully placing the blame on pretty much everyone.
- Consumers – wanting huge SUV’s instead of smaller efficient vehicles
- Car Companies – Too addicted to ICE (Internal Combustion Engine)
- Gas Companies – wanting to preserve current profits $$$
- Government – Not mandating change
- CARB – Switching from a mandate for electric to hydrogen at the last minute
The funny part is that if Toyota, GM, and Ford all had continued production of their EV’s, they would be selling like hot cakes today. Toyota had a very usable RAV EV, GM had the EV1, and Ford had the Th!nk, which they have since sold to a European firm. All of these cars were in production, and could be sold today. And, with the advances in battery technology (imagine a EV1 with LiON batteries!), they would be even better, and cheaper.
Let’s hope the car companies can get their EV’s back into production, and start getting practical PHEV’s into production.
I recently stumbled across Lion Electric Vehicles. These guys have some great new technology that enables you to hop-up your existing hybrid by swapping out your existing batteries with new batteries can greatly increase your range.
And even more incredible is that they are selling Ford Escape Hybrids that have already been modified with their new technology. Changes to the battery pack and the sensor program allow it to run on EV entirely within city speed ranges. On the highway it operates as an ICE vehicle with electric boost.
These guys are based out of VA, but have facilities all over the world. It is nice to see a US company developing new technology that will help power the new energy-independence economy. I am hopeful that our current energy crisis well help pour capital into companies like Lion which will help develop the new technologies required to achieve our goal of energy independence.
I recently noticed the press release for this nifty little new electric car that is produced by the Norwegian firm Th!nk Global. Ironically, Ford Motors actually developed this vehicle but sold it to Norwegian investors back in 2003. Ford Motor Company owned the TH!NK brand from 1999-2004.
While the four-seater has a 110 mile range and a top speed of 65 mph, studies have show that this type of performance is adaquate for almost all city drivers, as well commuters that have less than 20 mile commutes.
Th!nk Global also claims that the car is made from 95% recyclable materials, will cost less than $25,000, and become available in the U.S. in 2009. Recently Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, the leading venture firm that is investing in and accelerating Green technology solutions and policy innovations, has pumped additional funding into Th!nk so that they can expand into North America.
While I am certainly excited about the prospects of more and more companies getting into the electric car market, it is a shame that our Big Three are not leading the charge. The technology innovations required for these new cars should be coming from our own companies, and the manufactoring jobs would certainly be welcome in the Detroit area.
http://www.21stcentury.co.uk/cars/ford_th!nk.asp – Old Press Release from Ford on the Th!nk!
Again, at a time when electric car makers were praying for good news, Th!nk City came along and got laughed out of the industry with its lackluster product. The automaker went bankrupt not once, not twice, but three times before it was all said and done. In retrospect, the “cute” exclamation point in the name didn’t help, either
One of the interesting aspects of the Internet is the ability for car enthusiasts to share information about their vehicles. I am always amazed how many people have similar issues with their car, however when discussing with a dealer, the dealer acts as if no one else has an issue.
Recently the folks on LotusTalk.com have identified a potentially serious issue with the overhead oil feeds in the camshaft cover. This is believed to be causing a failure of the camshaft, which ultimately results in a broken rocker arm. Multiple people have now confirmed that their car also shows evidence of a problem. So far, Lotus, and Toyota who manufacturer the 2ZZ-GE engine are silent…. You can read more here.
What other cars have similar issues? I would love to hear other folks experience, I have included a few well known issues that I currently know of.
Ford Spark Plug Issue
Toyota Oil Sludge Issue
BMW Engine Failure
These are some of the cars I have owned in the past, starting with the first car I ever owned.
1976 Datsun 710
1970 Datsun 240Z
1987 Toyota MR2
1988 Toyota Celica All-Trac
1972 Datsun 240Z
1991 Eagle Talon
1992 Mazda Miata
1991 Toyota MR2 Turbo
1994 Mazda RX-7
1968 Datsun Roadster
1970 Datsun 240Z
1976 Datsun 260Z
1998 BMW M3
1997 Mazda Miata
1993 Mazda RX-7 CYM
2003 Mazda Miata
1987 Toyota SDK8
2005 Lotus Elise
2006 Infiniti G35x
1997 Ford F150
2011 Infiniti M37x
1994 Mazda Miata
I have also owned a couple Tundra’s, T100, and Troopers mixed in there as well. What was my favorite car? I love my current Lotus Elise, however my 1993 RX-7 CYM was probably my all time favorite. The Talon was most reliable, it went over 150K miles, very few of them were what you would call “easy” miles. My 2006 Infiniti cleared 170K miles before finally giving up one of its cylinders.