In the past three years, the thought of companies like Chevrolet and Nissan selling lithium-ion-powered cars has gone from laughable to old news. Late this year, the plug-in Chevy Volt and pure-electric Nissan Leaf arrive. Carmakers from Ford to Toyota will follow in 2011 and 2012 with new electrified models of their own. In the beginning, the electric-car revolution probably won't seem so revolutionary: a few thousand cars here and there.
The New York International Auto Show is always a smaller affair than the bigger annual confabs in Detroit and Los Angeles. Still, this year's show brought with it several interesting unveilings, a fair number of hot cars, and yet more evidence that the hybridization and gradual electrification of the automotive scene continues apace. Here are a few highlights.
By Lawrence UlrichPosted 10.14.2009 at 1:11 am 0 Comments
We the people already own 61 percent of General Motors. Now GM has to convince us to buy another stake in it: a new car. Fresh from bankruptcy, the company’s survival hinges on cranking out appealing designs that Americans want today. That means fewer supersized pickups and SUVs and more efficient cars and crossovers—a fleet for an age of volatile gas prices and a federal requirement that cars get 35 miles per gallon by 2016. Here are the key models GM will offer in the next few years.
An electric Humvee may still sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to environmentalists, but the company developing a plug-in Hummer H3e claims its green version can get 100 mpg on average. And what's a little boasting without taking a shot at the competition?
With GM having spent a reported $1 billion bringing the Chevrolet Volt to fruition, spreading out the risk among several models could be the key to paying down the R&D tab on its gas-electric engine. And tapping into the family-mover market wouldn't hurt either. Enter the Chevrolet Orlando. GM unveiled the attractive minivan concept at the Detroit auto show this past January, with a target release date of 2011. The Orlando may also come with an option other than juice-box holders and Band-Aid cubbies: The Chevrolet Volt's Voltec (formerly E-Flex) powertrain.
Like many, I prefer my cars with few adornments -- aside from an air-freshener tree if the dog's on board. Most often, cosmetic packages cost too much for what you get -- a couple stripes here, a few shiny dashboard panels there -- and tend to revel in the kind of lily-gilding enjoyed by Housewives of Insert-Name-of-Well-Heeled-American-Suburb-Here. But fans of the Transformers movies may think differently about Chevrolet's new package, which will turn a stock Camaro into the heroic Autobot called Bumblebee. Of course, the Transformers edition Camaro won't do much to ward off evil Decepticons stalking your garage, nor will it add much to the stock Camaro's performance.
Suddenly electric-car prototypes are everywhere. We’re not talking about the dubious concept cars that have long been a staple of the big international auto shows. These are actual, drivable electric vehicles (EVs) built by major automakers and assigned honest-to-God production dates as early as late next year. Their arrival suggests that this latest, much-hyped electric-car revival might just happen after all. Here’s a look at what’s coming.
Reporting on a test drive of a new car is generally pretty simple. How does the car look? How does it feel? Does it hang with its competitive set? How many parking-garage attendants told you it was awesome?
Assessing a pre-prototype version of the Chevy Volt is, um, different. To start, it's not a production car. Then there's the context. The Volt lies at the intersection of some of the most contentious issues of the day—electric cars vs. next-generation gas or diesel engines, CAFE standards, greenhouse-gas restrictions, the federal bailout of the American auto industry. Some people still refuse to believe that the Volt is actually a production-intent project. But after driving the car earlier this week, I can testify that the Volt is definitely real.
After months of anticipation, Chevy releases its final Volt design
By Seth FletcherPosted 09.16.2008 at 12:41 pm 33 Comments
Today, after a nearly two-year tease, General Motors unveiled the final design for the car that it hopes will save the company: the 2011 Chevrolet Volt, the world's first production plug-in hybrid. The Volt is designed to drive 40 miles on a single charge of its giant lithium-ion battery; after that, an onboard 1.4-liter four-cylinder flex-fuel engine kicks in to power the electric motors that drive the car. GM will most likely make 10,000 of the cars in the first year of production; it's expected to go on sale in November 2010.