Porsche Panamera Hybrid Inspires Universal EV Charger

Jessica Matsumoto on

In conjunction with the recent unveiling of its plug-in Panamera S E-Hybrid at the 2013 Shanghai Auto Show, Porsche will also implement their own international electric charger. Most plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles are made for specific markets, due to differing electrical voltages and output types.  Porsche assures that the Panamera Hybrid will be drivable on all continents, without any country-specific modifications.

The main reason for the Panamera’s adaptability is the Porsche Universal Charger (AC), a standard feature on all Panamera Hybrids. The innovative, portable AC charger “produces the connection between the vehicle’s charging interface and many different types of electrical outlets which supply the car with AC electricity at home or on the road.” more

2013 Fiat 500e EV: First Drive

Ryan ZumMallen on

There are electric cars that apologize for being different, and then there is the 2013 Fiat 500e, which quite frankly doesn't care what you think. The new 500e doesn't have quirky styling or flashy gimmicks, it doesn't ask permission and it doesn't hold back. With eye-catching design and whisper quiet ferocity running through its veins, the 2013 500e is a different kind of EV – one that can turn heads on Sunset Boulevard and deliver thrills on Mulholland Drive. Over the weekend, I took to both the flashy and challenging streets of Los Angeles to learn more about the eco-Italian. more

Study Says Americans Are Still Clueless About Electric Cars

Ryan ZumMallen on

Is public awareness about electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf actually increasing, or not? A new study, released this week, says potential buyers still have major misconceptions about the EV segment. more

Range Anxiety Worries Potential EV Buyers, Keeps Electric Cars in Stall Mode

James M. Flammang on

Range is inevitably the Number One question when electric cars come to mind. When people hear about electric vehicles that can go only 60, 80, maybe 100 miles before needing a charge, they get scared.

This happens even if they know that the vast majority of their personal trips are for distances far shorter than these range figures. The average commute in America, for instance, is somewhere around 40 miles round trip, which means even the most limited range would still be satisfactory nearly all the time.

“But what if...?” That’s the typical response from doubtful shoppers. What if I get stuck in bad traffic? What if I need to go somewhere else while I’m out? What if the charging station I planned to use isn’t functioning today? Plus, the big one: what if I’m planning a cross-country trip? Or for that matter, any kind of trip longer than a typical commute. more

Cruise Missile, Herbie Goes F1, $1 Million EV, Soybean Goodyears, and More
Jerry Smith on

Cruise Missile: If you still haven’t gotten over the news that Tom and Katie have split up, you can console yourself with bidding on a Porsche 928 driven by the couch-jumper himself in the 1983 film Risky Business. It’s one of three that appeared in the movie, and is expected to go for about $60,000, way more than you’d have to pay for a mint 928 that was never driven by a slightly unhinged movie star. The car goes on sale July 28 at the Profiles in History’s Hollywood Treasures from the Vault sale.

Herbie Goes F1 Racing?: Rumors are swirling about a Volkswagen entry in Formula 1, the world’s most popular motorsport and the place where fortunes go to die. F1 is a big draw in developing nations where car sales are increasing, and VW thinks getting its name out in front of all those potential customers could be a good business decision. The twist, however, is that VW would likely race the car under the name of one of the other companies it owns, such as Audi or Porsche, both of which have richer racing histories than Volkswagen.

If You Want Economy You Have To Pay For It: Electric cars are supposed to free us from shelling out for ever-more-expensive gasoline, right? So what’s the point of an electric car that costs $1 million? Prestige, apparently. The Rimac Concept One has a claimed range of 373 miles and a 0-60 time of 2.8 seconds. It has an electric motor at each wheel and puts out the equivalent of 1,088 horsepower. Only 88 will be made, and presumably sold to customers who aren’t smart enough to calculate how much gas they can buy for a million bucks. more

Americans Not Giving Up On Hybrids, EVs As Gas Prices Fall
Ryan ZumMallen on

American car buyers have followed an interesting pattern over the last few years – gas prices go up, we buy fuel-efficient vehicles; gas prices go down, and it’s back to the guzzlers. It happened in June, too, as average fuel economy for new cars fell to the second-lowest point this year. But a curious thing came with it.

Even as customers were running right back to the low-MPG vehicles, they also returned to hybrids and electric vehicles. In fact, compared to a year ago, sales of alternative-energy vehicles were up by 164-percent in June, according to a recent report from Kelley Blue Book.

Americans bought 23,778 hybrid and electric cars last month, the fifth straight month of more than 20,000 even though gas prices fell to their lowest point since January. But it's not all good news. more

Spied: U.S. Spec (Pre-Production) Chevrolet Spark EV Spy Photos
Brenda Priddy on

Chevrolet is finishing testing and gearing up for production of the long-awaited subcompact Spark EV (electric vehicle)—and we caught the very first photos of a U.S. spec Spark at a local car wash.

The ultra-clean Spark, as seen here, has a new front fascia, including a new grille and freshened fog lamps. It also sports a charging port in front of the driver's door.

We're guessing an on-sale date of early 2013, and a model year designation of 2014.

Photo: Eugene Sergienko for Brenda Priddy & Company

Chevrolet New Car Buyer’s Guide

Electric Vehicle Buying Guide

2013 Chevrolet Spark more

President Obama Announces New Challenge, Proposes More Support For Green Vehicle Initiatives
Jeff Prescott on

President Obama today visited the Daimler Trucks North America plant in Mt. Holly, N.C., where he announced a new $1 billion National Community Deployment Challenge to spur deployment of clean, advanced vehicles in communities around the country. This latest announcement supports the administration’s goal to ramp up the average fuel efficiency requirement to 54.5 mpg by 2025. In doing so, the administration estimates that national oil consumption would be reduced by 2.2 million barrels a day, compared to today’s rate. Further, it would significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. more

2012 Ford Focus EV Claims Most Fuel-Efficient Title at 105 MPGe
Jeff Prescott on

The most fuel-efficient, five-passenger vehicle sold in the United States is the 2012 Ford Focus EV, according to the official EPA ratings. It is certified at 110 miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) city and 99 MPGe highway, for a combined MPGe rating of 105.

In fairness, the Focus EV runs on electrons, not gasoline, so the MPGe is purely a means of comparison based on one gallon of gasoline equaling 33.7 kWh. And as we have seen with other electric vehicles, your results may vary, especially dependent on driving style, driving conditions, and weather—the need to run the heater and defroster can take a toll on range. more

Volkswagen Goes Electric with E-Bugster Concept - 2012 Detroit Auto Show
James M. Flammang on

Now that Volkswagen has dramatically reworked its Beetle as a 2012 model, bearing greater resemblance to the original of the 1950s-70s, what could be next? Battery power, of course. Plenty of auto companies have taken an interest in electric cars, but few have such a conspicuous vehicle to blend with battery operation.

Taking an initial step in the electric direction, Volkswagen is unveiling an E-Bugster concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. As the German automaker describes it, this two-passenger concept “blends iconic Beetle styling with zero-emissions motoring.”

Logically enough, the “E” in E-Bugster stands for Electric, “Bug” has long been the American nickname for the Beetle, and “speedster” typically signifies an open-top two-seater. Though the E-Bugster concept is not a convertible, its profile–shallow windows and a low roofline–calls speedsters to mind.

Propulsion is provided by a 114-horsepower (85-kilowatt) electric motor, energized by a lithium-ion battery pack. Volkswagen claims the E-Bugster concept can travel more than a hundred miles before recharging is needed, yielding zero emissions all the way. Weighing 176 pounds, the battery pack sits beneath the trunk floor and the rear bench. Charging is accomplished via a plug interface under the hood’s VW logo. Three types of charging are possible: Level 1 (120-volt); Level 2 (240-volt); and where available, Level 3 (quick-charging). Using the latter mode, the battery can get an 80-percent charge in just half an hour. more

Volvo Debuts XC60 Plug-In Hybrid Concept SUV at 2012 Detroit Auto Show
James M. Flammang on

Volvo, the Swedish automaker that’s now owned by a Chinese organization, hasn’t focused much on hybrid or electric cars. Now, the company is making a move in that direction. At Detroit’s North American International Auto Show, Volvo is unveiling a concept version of its XC60 crossover SUV––the Volvo XC60 Plug-In Hybrid Concept––with plug-in hybrid gasoline technology.

Volvo claims that its XC60 Concept is the first electrically-powered automobile that can be plugged into a conventional wall outlet without a special adapter. As described by Volvo, the XC60 Concept is a “pure electric” car, a thrifty hybrid, and “a powerful high-performance car all rolled into one.”

The ability to plug into any 110-volt electrical outlet makes this “a viable option at home or on the move,” Volvo asserts. Charging might take place just about anywhere, though some patience would be required. Charging at 110 volts takes a claimed 7.5 hours. Find a 220-volt outlet and the charge time for the lithium-ion battery pack dips to 3.5 hours.

Unlike current hybrid and electric cars, the XC60 Plug-in Hybrid Concept lets the driver decide how to make the best use of available power. Three buttons on the center stack allow selection from three Modes: Pure, Hybrid, or Power. more

Cell Phone Ban, Safest Cars, EV Focus, and More in Car News
Jerry Smith on

 

Hang up and drive! The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) is calling for all states to ban calling and texting while driving. The five-member board unanimously approved a recommendation that would cover hand-held and hands-free devices.

It’s the first month that’ll get you. A new study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that teen drivers are 50 percent more likely to crash in the first month of driving than they are after a full year of experience driving on their own, and are nearly twice as likely to crash as they are after they’ve had two full years of experience.

No more accidents? The IIHS’s Top Safety Picks list contains a record 115 models, including the redesigned 2012 Honda Civic sedan. If this keeps up it’ll be easier to list the cars that didn’t make the list.

Ford will roll out a gasoline-free 2012 Focus, expected to be the first five-passenger electric vehicle with 100 miles per gallon equivalent. The Focus Electric also is the first of its kind to feature faster charging, which will halve Nissan Leaf’s time to fully recharge the battery and help drivers to more than double the expected single-charge range in a busy day of driving and recharging.

What worldwide economic downturn? Mercedes-Benz announced it’s on track to make more than 1.25 million vehicles in 2011, the most in its 125-year history.

Half of every dollar spent on advertising is wasted––the trick is knowing which half. If you’re selling luxury cars, don’t waste your money on ads touting sales, or ads that suggest you buy a car for someone else. Instead, according to Ace Metrix, which evaluates the effectiveness of advertising, tell a story like Chevy’s “First Hundred Years” spots, which apparently provoked emotional responses that translated into sales.

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Dodge Win, Race Wine, a Corvette Crash, and More in Car News This Week (Video)
Jerry Smith on

It comes as no surprise that drivers, many of whom can’t figure out what turn signals are for, are having a hard time coping with the navigation systems that come in their cars. Consumer Reports called one such system a “complicated distraction.” But according to another study done by J. D. Power, the nav system in the Dodge Charger ranked highest in customer satisfaction.

Drivers in California spend more to get their cars fixed than drivers in other states, according to the Los Angeles Times. Citing a study done by CarMD.com, the Times reported that labor costs Golden State drivers on average 20 percent more, and parts 7 percent, making California the fourth most expensive state for car repairs. The worst state? Arizona.

The next-generation Dodge Viper is said to appeal to a wider range of buyers. Dodge admitted the old Viper was a bit crude, and says the new one will offer more creature comforts and fewer terrifying moments when the back end comes around under full throttle. more

Auto News: Weekly Auto News Roundup 10/14/11
Jerry Smith on

On the heels of the announcement of the Thailand-built Chevrolet Colorado pickup comes the news that GM will also build a new global midsize SUV in Thailand. The all-new 2013 Chevrolet TrailBlazer will combine the hauling and towing capability of an SUV with the ride comfort and efficiency of a crossover, and will be unveiled at Dubai International Motor Show, November 10-14. The above image doesn't reveal much, but that's all GM's giving up at the moment, folks.

Speed TV is tooling up a show called Whipped, in which contestants compete on an automotive obstacle course. The catch? The contestants have to use their own cars.

General Motors and Segway are teaming up to produce the EN-V city car. EN-V stands for Electric Networked Vehicle, because the car is designed to communicate with other cars and with the city’s infrastructure to reduce traffic congestion. Below is a photo of the Concept.

Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche and Volkswagen have agreed to a standardized fast-charging system for electric vehicles in order to reduce development costs and make electric vehicles more attractive to consumers. Read more about fast-charging stations.

BMW is the top-selling luxury brand in the U.S., and to make sure it stays that way, the company will add electric models and a range of smaller, less expensive cars to its lineup.

Curious about the sport of drifting but don’t have a lot of time to learn about it? Here’s a video that covers all the bases of Formula Drift in two and a half minutes. Plus there’s classical music. Happy Friday!

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