GM Cuts Price Of The Volt To Stay Competitive

At least GM isn’t cutting functionality out of the Chevy Volt, despite cutting $5,000 from its price. It’s somewhat disappointing that it took this long for GM to realize that the $40,000 price tag was a bit more costly than other electric vehicles on the road.  The Volt isn’t all-electric, despite being billed as such, it has an internal combustion engine that can be used to recharge the batteries.  But it is still possible to drive the Volt as all-electric, and some people have done just that, never using the gasoline engine.

Nissan cut $6,400 from the price of the 2013 Leaf in December 2012, knocking the price down to just under $29,000.  Although the Volt is still not sub-$30k, it might stand to reason that it be a slight bit more expensive if for nothing more than because of the on-board generator.  The Volt is a large sedan, likely capable of running on gasoline alone, but it’s still $6,300 more than the starting price of the Nissan Leaf.

Unlike the ideals of EP Tender and eBuggy that would allow a pure electric vehicle to travel longer distances, the trailer is incorporated into the Volt. It may not be merely the opinion of the automobile engineers that an external add-on trailer is not as desirable for a vehicle.   The added weight of the internal combustion engine only detracts from the potential efficiency of the electric driving mode.

For now the Chevy Volt is still a decent compromise between an EV and an internal combustion-only vehicle. And maybe still good enough at $35,000 to lure some of the skeptics and range-anxietists away from oil.

Chrysler PHEV Town and Country Minivan

Well hello there, hybrid, electric, plug-in minivan, fancy meeting you (at all?).  With all the electrification of vehicles, why are most of them sedans and hatchbacks, but so few larger vehicles? If you don’t count the Ford C-max or Rav4 EV redux, the only other option is the Chrysler PHEV Town and Country Minivan.

Who knew, right?  After all, if you are aware of any hybrid plug-ins they’re most likely made by Toyota or Ford.  Actually, considering Ford’s record in the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, it’s surprising that they’ve jumped on-board the alternative fuels bandwagon.  If anyone is going to make a comeback with a large plug-in hybrid, it is likely to be Chrysler?  Well it is Chrysler, so settle down.

This baby will allow you do most of your daily around-town travel on electricity, but can still go the distance, upwards of 700 miles on gas.  And because it’s a plug-in, you need only connect it to a charger at home to continue the clean, cheap electric miles.  The on-board battery isn’t huge at 12 kWh.  And as it is a hybrid you can expect the impressive MPG rating which Chrysler is listing in the range of 30 to 40.

If there’s one vehicle that families may actually consider, with its spacious capacity and car-like driving, the PHEV T&C may actually be it.  It’s no SUV, but we still do not have an SUV that’s yet affordable and in mass production (Via Motors).

Hail the possible return of the Minivan!

News Release from Chrysler

The Biggest Plug-in vehicle on the block: X-Truck

Biggest Plug-in vehicle

This is no Prius, but the concept is nearly identical.  Via has been cooperating with GM for many years now offering the Suburban, Tahoe, Silverado, and Hummer H3 vehicles as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.  No doubt the price is steep, but no more so than you might expect from emerging technologies.  If these vehicles were in normal production like their predecessors, they too would be comparably priced.

There is a stark advantage to purchasing one of these monster trucks, presuming of course that you have a need for a large vehicle.  Many people use SUVs and Trucks daily for work and play, but the majority of that daily travel does not exceed 35 miles.  In such cases the truck will never use gasoline.  But in the situations where longer distance is required, the on-board V8 generator will take over.

Diesel locomotives have a very similar format, a large Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) generates electricity which is transferred to an electric motor at the wheels.  The ICE is most efficient at the optimum Revolutions Per Minute (RPM).  Electric motors are efficient at all speeds, from zero up. If it can work for trains, why not for cars and trucks?

Large trucks like locomotives use and need massive amounts of low-speed torque.  Electric motors have just that, massive amounts of torque at all speeds (this is also why electric vehicles often beat ICE vehicles off the line in races).

Over a long haul, the owner of the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) will see many advantages over the traditional ICE. Examples include…

  • Reduced wear on brakes … due to recharging while braking.
  • Less frequent oil changes … (for the generator) due to very efficient use.
  • Gross reduction in fuel consumption … due to infrequent use of the gasoline generator.
  • Added torque … for accelerating onto freeways and passing at speed.
  • Quiet operation … while driving in electric-only mode.
  • Peace of mind … in knowing that it is possible to reduce dependency on petroleum products, while simultaneously not incurring range-anxiety

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Even more reasons to buy a Prius (Plug-in)

Prius Plug-in

As if you needed another reason to buy a Prius Plug-in…

Toyota is offering even more reasons; 5,000 of them to be exact.  On top of the Federal Tax Rebate of $7,500 an additional $5,000 will be taken off the new 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-in.  And if you’re fortunate enough to live in the San Joaquin Valley of California, an additional $2,500 from the state and $3,000 more. A grand total of $18,000 from the $32,000 base price, knocking it down to a mere $14,000 ($17,000 elsewhere in CA).

Alas, why would anyone want to purchase such a vehicle?  As it is, Toyota seems pretty desperate to get these vehicles into people’s hands.   In the simplest terms the ideal is that to use the battery only while driving short distances, could lessen the dependence on gasoline even further.  If you travel no more than 30 miles in a day, then it could be months before you use even a gallon of gasoline.  And at these prices it might finally seem practical.