Cadillac Throws in Free EV Charger with 2014 ELR

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Cadillac announced Monday it will offer a free 240-volt charger — otherwise called Level 2 charging — on the new 2014 ELR, a pricey two-door coupe based on the Chevrolet Volt from parent automaker GM. The company says that depending on outside temperature, the ELR can get a full Level 2 charge in just 4.5 hours. That should enable 35 miles of all-electric range before a gasoline engine generator kicks in for another 300 or so miles.

2014 Cadillac ELR: First Drive

The ELR starts at $75,995 including the destination charge but before any tax credits. That's more than double the Volt's price of entry ($34,995, same conditions), on which the Level 2 charger is optional. (A household-outlet charger, called Level 1, comes standard.) How much does GM's charging freebie close the gap? It's hard to say. GM's supplier, Bosch, offers wired 240-volt (Level 2) charging stations from $490 to $1,195 plus installation — which can add hundreds or even thousands more, depending on complexity — but the federal Alternative Fuel Infrastructure Tax Credit refunds a chunk of that in tax credits. The AFITC for electric vehicle stations expired on Dec. 31, 2013, but additional incentives exist in certain states.

By Kelsey Mays | January 28, 2014 | Comments (1)

Report: Plug-in Sales Increased 84% in 2013

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In January 2013, Nissan cut the starting price of its Leaf EV by $6,400. Shoppers responded and Leaf sales more than doubled by year's end. For the segment, 2013 sales for plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles increased 84 percent, according to Ward's Automotive data reported by the Detroit News.

Shoppers bought more than 96,000 plug-in cars in 2013 — 47,600 EVs and nearly 49,000 plug-in hybrids, the Detroit News reports. Meanwhile, traditional non-plug-in hybrid sales increased by 15.3 percent, reaching nearly 490,000 new-car sales in 2013.

Automakers cut prices on "nearly all" plug-in hybrids and EVs to jump-start low demand, the newspaper said. Still, it didn't work for all players. In August, GM slashed $5,000 off the starting price of its Chevrolet Volt, but sales ended the year down 1.6 percent, which iswell below former GM CEO Dan Akerson's 2011 annual production goal of 60,000 Volts.

By Kelsey Mays | January 6, 2014 | Comments (0)

Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show

Front

Looks like: An accessorized C-Max Energi
Defining characteristics: Solar panels atop the roof
Ridiculous features: A solar-magnifying canopy the car has to sit under
Chances of being mass-produced: There's potential; Ford plans real-world feasibility testing

What's a petawatt? It's a unit of energy equivalent to 1 billion megawatts or 1 million gigawatts (yes, Doc Brown used real units). And Mike Tinskey, Ford's director of vehicle electrification, says 174 of them hit the Earth each day in the form of solar energy. Toward that end, Ford wants to collect some of that energy with 1.5 square meters of solar photovoltaic panels atop the C-Max Energi. Witness the solar-powered adaptation of the plug-in hybrid that went on sale in fall 2012: the C-Max Solar Energi Concept.

The concept's flexible, high-density silicone solar panels come courtesy of San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower Corp. — and those panels harvest 50 percent more density than conventional solar cells, Ford claims. Still, the cells alone won't charge the C-Max Energi to its full battery, which enables up to 21 miles of the electric vehicle's driving range.

By Kelsey Mays | January 2, 2014 | Comments (3)

2013 Toyota Prius v: Family Review Checklist

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There are four members of Toyota's Prius lineup, but the 2013 Toyota Prius v is the most utilitarian by far. This hybrid wagon is 5.3 inches longer than the Prius and more than an inch wider, making it a good fit for family duty.

While the smaller Prius embraces its funky, future-car status, the Prius v's monochromatic, minimalist interior paired with its under-the-radar exterior feels less distinctive. The Prius v is super functional when it comes to family life, but I missed having some ambiance.

The Prius v uses the same engine setup as the Prius: a 98-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder paired with an 80-hp electric motor. Gas mileage is what really counts with hybrids. The Prius v gets an EPA-estimated 44/40/42 mpg city/highway/combined. In my weeklong test drive, I averaged 40.9 mpg. The smaller Prius gets 51/48/50 mpg.

By Sara Lacey | November 13, 2013 | Comments (0)

What is Hyundai's Blue Link 'Community Average'?

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Like many telematics systems, Hyundai's Blue Link is chock-full of features. One of them, dubbed Eco Coach, is sure to interest efficiency-conscious drivers. It shows recent mileage and uses a point system dubbed Eco Rewards to incentivize efficient driving. Automakers from Ford to Toyota have similar systems (including Ford's dashboard shrubbery), but Blue Link also reports something called a Community Average of mpg.

We noticed it in an Equus sedan and Santa Fe SUV in the press fleet, so we asked Hyundai to explain. Is it some sort of average based on owners of the same Hyundai model? It's plausible, given the automaker could collect mileage data via telematics.

By Kelsey Mays | November 11, 2013 | Comments (0)

2013 Tesla Model S: More Photos

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It's been a few months since we've tested the Tesla Model S, but the electric car continues to grab headlines. Fires, recalls and controversy aside, Tesla's electric sedan is gorgeous, impressively quick and full of innovative features. However, a few big issues crept up during our test, causing Cars.com reviewer Joe Wiesenfelder to call the Model S a "work in progress."

Click here for the full review and continue below for the Cars.com photos by Evan Sears.

By Jennifer Geiger | October 17, 2013 | Comments (3)

Mazda6 Diesel Delayed, but More Diesels Could Follow

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Mazda officials told us at this month's Mazda3 preview that more Mazda diesels could be on the way if shoppers snap up the Mazda6 diesel. But we won't know that until next year — the automaker pushed back the oil-burning version of its redesigned family sedan from late 2013 to a spring 2014 launch.

"Based on the reception that [the Mazda6] receives, we will determine whether we add [diesels] to other vehicle lines," Mazda spokesman Jeremy Barnes told us Sept. 18.

That would make Mazda the latest automaker to board the small but growing affordable-diesel bandwagon. Up until recently, the only small non-luxury diesel sedan was Volkswagen's Jetta TDI. Volkswagen doesn't regularly break out Jetta TDI sales, and two spokesmen did not immediately provide figures. But 38.5% of new Jetta inventory on Cars.com are TDIs, which suggests the diesel is a popular choice for Jetta shoppers. VW added a TDI version to its U.S. Beetle for 2013, and GM threw its hat in the ring with the 2014 Chevrolet Cruze Diesel, which went on sale earlier this year.

By Kelsey Mays | September 23, 2013 | Comments (11)

What's the Least-Expensive Car With an Electric-Only Mode?

What's the least-expensive car with an electric-only mode?

Anonymous


By Rick Popely | September 14, 2013 | Comments (0)

2014 Honda Accord Hybrid Rated at 50 MPG

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Honda initially expected the hybrid version of its midsize sedan to get an EPA rating of 49 mpg on the highway. Turns out, the Accord Hybrid can eke out a bit more mileage: The 2014 sedan is rated at 50/45/47 mpg city/highway/combined, besting the Ford Fusion Hybrid (47/47/47) and the Toyota Camry Hybrid (43/39/41).

The sedan's powertrain combines a 124-kilowatt electric motor and lithium-ion battery with a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. It can operate in fully electric mode, gasoline only or mixed power. Honda says it's good for a driving range of 673 miles.

Production of the sedan starts today at the automaker's Marysville, Ohio, assembly line; it'll go on sale this fall, but Honda has yet to release pricing. Expect it to slot between the top-line 2014 Accord Touring's $34,270 price and the Accord Plug-in Hybrid's $40,570 sticker (both prices include destination).

Related
Research the 2014 Honda Accord
2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrid Priced at $40,570
2014 Honda Accord: What's Changed

By Jennifer Geiger | September 6, 2013 | Comments (13)

Detroit Electric Delays Production Plans

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When Detroit Electric unveiled the Lotus Exige-based SP:01 electric roader, the automaker promised production would begin in August at an unspecified location in Wayne County, Mich. — home to now-bankrupt city of Detroit. The automaker said it would build and sell 999 of the cars at $135,000 apiece to fund a more affordable family sedan down the road. Sound a lot like nearly defunct Fisker Automotive's plan? Yeah; that's what we said.

Don't count on Detroit Electric to make good on its promise in the next five days. The Detroit News reports that the automaker has pushed back its plans to start production in the Detroit suburb of Plymouth, Mich. It cites ongoing negotiations "with other parties that have the potential to impact our business strategy and timing," North American President Don Graunstadt said in an email.

By Kelsey Mays | August 26, 2013 | Comments (1)

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