Study: Most Clueless About Electric Vehicle Subsidies

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Similar to the old "if-a-tree-falls-in-the-woods" question, if government incentives to encourage the purchase of plug-in vehicles are offered, but no one knows about them, do they make a difference? A research team at Indiana University conducted a survey that shows not only are consumers unaware of available subsidies, rebates and other benefits — financial and otherwise — to owning a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle, that disconnect could be keeping sales of the zero-emissions electric vehicles from reaching White House goals.

By Matt Schmitz | November 19, 2013 | Comments (3)

Chevrolet Eyes Summer 2014 for Natural-Gas Impala

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In the ongoing trend toward vehicles that get better mileage on cleaner fuels, GM thinks natural gas is a natural progression. The automaker today announced plans for a bi-fuel-powered car that can run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas. First reported by cnbc.com, GM later released a statement about the plans.

A Chevrolet Impala will house the bi-fuel system but no price was announced. The company says the vehicle is slated to go on sale next summer to both fleet customers and regular consumers. The car has a compressed-natural-gas, or CNG, range of 150 miles and a gasoline range of an additional 350 miles, with the ability to switch between the two while driving, according to cnbc.com.

By Matt Schmitz | October 16, 2013 | Comments (4)

GM Reduces Price of 2014 Chevrolet Volt

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A price cut on the 2014 Chevrolet Volt will save buyers of the gas-electric hatchback $5,000 compared with the 2013 version, GM announced today. Prices for the 2014 model will start at $34,995, including an $810 destination charge; the previous year's starting price was $39,995, including an $850 destination charge. Factoring in federal tax credits of as much as $7,500 (depending on individual tax liability), Chevrolet customers could ultimately drive their Volt home for $27,495 when it hits dealerships later this summer.

"We have made great strides in reducing costs as we gain experience with electric vehicles and their components," Don Johnson, a spokesman for Chevrolet, said in a statement. "In fact, the Volt has seen an increase in battery range and the addition of creature comforts, such as a leather-wrapped steering wheel and MyLink, since its launch in 2010."

By Matt Schmitz | August 6, 2013 | Comments (0)

Ford Hopes Focus EV Price Cut Sparks Sales

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If you've noticed automakers like Nissan, Honda and GM reducing the prices of their electric vehicles in recent months, then Ford's plan to slash the 2014 Focus EV's price won't come as a shock. Despite Ford's insistence that it would not follow suit, the Detroit automaker is now wooing mainstream buyers with a $4,000 discount on the EV for 2014, according to the Detroit News.

The new base price for the Focus EV is $35,995, including a $795 destination charge. That's down more than 10% from the previous base price, though still more than $6,000 costlier than the Nissan Leaf, the newspaper noted. A $7,500 federal tax credit knocks the price down to $28,495, including destination; in California, an additional state tax credit takes the price down another $2,500.

By Matt Schmitz | July 11, 2013 | Comments (0)

EV Range Info on EPA's Website is Tough to Find

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Finding the EPA's official combined city/highway range ratings for electric cars is not as easy as it should be. The EPA's website, FuelEconomy.gov, lists the rating in a comparison tool within its electric-car section, but not on the vehicle's main page alongside the prominently displayed miles per gallon equivalent rating. MPGe is not an estimate of how far a car can drive until it runs out of juice, like the EPA's estimated range.

The EPA defines combined range as "When the vehicle is fully charged, this value represents the approximate number of miles that can be traveled in combined city and highway driving before the vehicle must be recharged." In our testing, the EPA's estimated range has proved accurate with our long-term 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevrolet Volt. When driven until it was intentionally drained of power, our Leaf traveled 72 miles before calling it quits; that's a mile short of its 73-mile combined range rating.

By Joe Bruzek | January 23, 2013 | Comments (2)

2014 Cadillac ELR: Photo Gallery

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The Chevy Volt has company: Cadillac unveiled its version of the extended-range electric vehicle, the ELR, at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

More 2013 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

Like the Volt, the ELR will have an approximate 35-mile EV range before the 1.4-liter four-cylinder range-extending motor kicks in. Cadillac says it'll offer more than 300 miles of total range. The coupe, however, will have a more upscale interior than the Volt as well as a more sophisticated suspension, 20-inch wheels and Cadillac's CUE multimedia system. Check out the gallery below.

By Jennifer Geiger | January 15, 2013 | Comments (4)

Cadillac to Unveil 2014 ELR at 2013 Detroit Auto Show

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Although Cadillac still hasn't released specifics on the 2014 ELR, the automaker announced today that the production version of the extended-range electric coupe will debut Jan. 15 at the 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Kicking Tires reported earlier that the four-seat ELR will borrow powertrain components from the Chevrolet Volt and will also be produced at the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. Cadillac said that the ELR will feature a T-shaped lithium battery, electric power and four-cylinder engine generator. Like the Volt, the coupe's engine will kick in when the car reaches the end of its electric-only range.

While its powertrain is similar to that of the Volt, GM expects that one of ELR's strong selling points will be its exterior design. "Based on the Converj concept, ELR combines dramatic design with industry-leading extended-range electric vehicle technology in a luxury coupe," the automaker said in a news release.

The Converj concept, which we last saw at the 2009 Detroit auto show, shared the Volt's 40-mile electric-only range but differentiated itself with its luxury styling, which harkened the Cadillac CTS coupe.

Related
Cadillac Converj Concept at 2009 Detroit Auto Show
More Chevrolet Volt News
Check out More Detroit Auto Show News
By Matt Schmitz | December 18, 2012 | Comments (0)

GM Aims for 500,000 Vehicles With Electrification by 2017

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Call it a power play in the electric-car market: GM projects that by 2017 it will have as many as half a million vehicles on the road with some form of electrification. Its next plug-in vehicle will be the Chevrolet Spark EV.

The focus will be on plug-in technology; GM's introduction of the extended-range Chevrolet Volt has energized the automaker to focus on the electric-vehicle market.

"What started out as a technology proof point … has turned into a real-world starting point to push EV technology further and faster than we thought possible five years ago," Mary Barra, GM's senior vice president of Global Product Development, said in a statement. "The unique propulsion technology pioneered in the Volt … will be a core piece of our electrification strategy going forward."

Not all of that experience has been positive, though. A report released by Reuters in September alleged that GM loses tens of thousands of dollars on every Volt due to development costs. Although the automaker disputed that figure, it acknowledged that Volt profits would not be immediate, but insisted that startup costs would be spread over future models.

By Matt Schmitz | November 16, 2012 | Comments (9)

GM Replacing Volt Cords

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GM is issuing another "customer satisfaction initiative" for the Chevrolet Volt, the automaker said Thursday. It plans to replace the 120-volt charging cords on all model-year 2011 and certain 2012 versions of the hybrid electric car; 240-volt cords are not affected.

GM spokesman Randal Fox told Reuters that the new cord will be larger and more durable and that charging time will not change. "It's just an effort to offer a more consistent charging experience. It's not a safety recall. It's more of a customer-satisfaction program," Fox said.

This update comes on the heels of the battery enhancement program announced earlier this year. In that case, GM decided to strengthen the structural elements that protect the battery in a side collision, as well as add a new sensor to the coolant system reservoir and install a tamper-resistant bracket to prevent overfilling.

Volt owners will be notified of the cord exchange in the next few weeks.

GM to replace Chevy Volt 120-volt chargers (Reuters)

By Jennifer Geiger | March 23, 2012 | Comments (1)

California's Carpool Lane Reopens to Solo Volt Drivers

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Chevy Volt buyers in California get a few perks this year: They can again drive solo in the state's high-occupancy vehicle lanes, thanks to a new low-emissions version of GM's extended-range electric vehicle. Residents of the state also can get a $1,500 rebate after buying the new 2012 model.

Cars carrying two or more people are allowed to use California's HOV lanes, and driving solo in them used to be a privilege reserved for hybrid car owners. New rules that took effect last July, however, allow only drivers of electric and compressed-natural-gas vehicles to use the lanes without a passenger. Volts with the Low Emissions Package, which is standard for the California market, are now eligible thanks to modifications that make the vehicle meet California's strict low-emissions standards.

By Jennifer Geiger | February 24, 2012 | Comments (1)

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