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Tesla to Complete SolarCity Takeover Despite Concerns

All-stock deal worth $2.6 bil, but critics cite conflicts of interest.

by on Aug.01, 2016

A series of SolarCity solar panel installations.

Despite concerns about potential conflicts of interest, Tesla Motors said Monday morning that it would complete its takeover of the solar power company SolarCity, a move it believes will lead to numerous synergies in its broader green energy strategy.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the all-stock, $2.6 billion deal will almost immediately result in $150 million in cost-savings, describing the deal as a “no-brainer” that “we should have done sooner.” But reaction has been skeptical since the proposed takeover was announced more than a month ago.

Power Up!

Together, Tesla and SolarCity “expect to save customers money by lowering hardware costs, reducing installation costs, improving our manufacturing efficiency and reducing our customer acquisition costs,” Tesla said in a statement.


Chevrolet Volt Plugs into the Battery Car Sales Lead

Nissan Leaf loses momentum despite increased range.

by on Jun.02, 2016

The second-gen Chevy Volt got a new, roomier design, better performance and longer EV-mode range.

After seemingly coming unplugged, the newly redesigned Chevrolet Volt has charged into the U.S. sales lead among plug-based vehicles, overtaking long-time rival Nissan Leaf.

That’s based on the likelihood that at least 10% of the demand for the Tesla Model S has come from abroad through the end of May, a strong likelihood considering the long-range electric sedan now is being marketed in a number of countries, including China and the European Union.

Green Tech!

Even factoring out those overseas sales, and with a number of manufacturers not yet breaking out May battery-car numbers, there’s good reason for EV advocates to celebrate. After taking a tumble last year in the wake of a sharp downturn in gas prices, sales of plug-based vehicles have been recharged in recent month.


Bolt and Volt Will Share Chevy Showrooms, After All

Chevrolet sticking with name for long-range battery-car despite potential confusion.

by on Apr.16, 2015

The Chevy Bolt will deliver significantly longer range than almost any current battery-electric vehicle - for around $30,000. Photo by Len Katz.

It may be a bit confusing, but Chevrolet will be sticking with the name “Bolt” when it launches its 200-mile battery-electric vehicle next year. Following the unexpected debut of the electric model, the maker had been debating whether to come up with an alternative less like the name of its current plug-in hybrid, the Chevrolet Bolt.

Despite sluggish sales of battery cars at a time when gas prices have plunged to lows not seen since before the Great Recession, the General Motors brand is convinced there’s a future for the technology, Chevy officials have stressed.

Charge Ahead!

“Since unveiling the Bolt EV three months ago, the name has quickly become associated with Chevrolet,” the company said in a statement. “Therefore, we will use the name when the vehicle goes into production. The Bolt EV is a significant statement of Chevrolet’s commitment to electrification and the name suits this game-changing electric vehicle designed for attainability, not exclusivity.”


EV Buyers Tend to Be Younger, More Affluent Than Hybrid Owners

One in five battery-car owners has income topping $175,000.

by on Apr.22, 2014

The high cost of the Tesla Model S has raised the average income for all EV buyers.

Motorists who purchase battery-electric vehicles tend to be younger and more affluent than drivers who buy more conventional hybrid vehicles, according to a new study.

That’s in line with other studies that have found the Tesla Model S has become one of the most popular products among motorists in the nation’s wealthiest zip codes.

Data Check!

“At first glance, one would imagine that consumers purchasing either a hybrid or electric vehicle would be nearly identical; both are environmentally conscious, are of similar ages and have higher income levels,” said Melinda Zabritski, senior director for Experian Automotive. But the data tracking firm found surprising differences.


Sales of Plug-Based Vehicles Doubled in 2013

Segment approaches 100,000 sales for first time.

by on Jan.06, 2014

The Chevy Volt was the market's best-selling plug-based vehicle in 2013 - though sales were down from 2012.

For the first time ever, sales of plug-based vehicles came within a hairsbreadth of hitting the 100,000 mark last year, jumping by 84% year-over-year as a flood of new products came to market.

Conventional hybrid vehicles scored a more modest but still strong 15% increase in demand last year, reaching an all-time record of nearly 500,000 sales.  Together, all battery-based vehicles still captured less than 4% of the total U.S. new vehicle market, however, less than the total number of F-Series pickups Ford Motor Co. sold for just the first 11 months of 2013.

Stay Plugged In!

Nonetheless, advocates contend that the numbers show a growing interest in battery-based vehicles, something that’s backed up by several recent surveys showing more American motorists are considering the technology as a viable alternative.

They have a growing list to choose from, a total of 16 different plug-based offerings reaching U.S. showrooms last year.  With yet more new battery-based vehicles coming this year, the consensus is that sales of plug-based vehicles – both plug-in hybrids and pure battery-electric vehicles, or PHEVs and BEVs – will smash through the 100,000 mark in the coming year, though the segment is likely to remain a small niche for the foreseeable future.


Does Tesla Data Log Trip Up NY Times?

Battery car maker’s numbers challenge reporter’s review.

by on Feb.14, 2013

Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk, shown here .with the Tesla Roadster.

Tesla CEO Musk shown here with an earlier Roadster model. He sued the BBC over a review on Top Gear.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk just might get in the last word as he battles with the New York Times over a potentially damaging review of the start-up carmaker’s Model S battery-electric vehicle.

The South African-born musk launched what some initially thought a quixotic fight with the hugely influential paper earlier this week after it published a report by veteran journalist John Broder that noted he’d run out of power during a test drive and had to have one of the Tesla Model S battery cars delivered by flatbed to its destination.

Though he reportedly offered an initial apology to Broder, Musk subsequently turned around and went on the offensive, accusing the paper of running a “fake” story, and the journalist of doing a number of things that assured he would run out of power during his test drive.


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And early today, Musk and his public relations team followed up by releasing the data logs from the Model S Broder drove. The chart shows what they claim to be clear evidence that the details of the story don’t match up with the way the reporter actually drove.

“When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts,” wrote Musk.


Chinese Battery Car Maker BYD Launching Electric Buses in Ontario

Maker still promising to deliver first cars to U.S. “soon.”

by on May.07, 2012

BYD could produce its electric bus in Ontario, as well.

After years of repeated delays, Chinese battery-car maker BYD still hasn’t been able to plug into the U.S. market – but it’s getting closer.

The City of Windsor, Ontario has signed a letter of intent to purchase up to 10 BYD 40-foot electric buses for the community’s transit services in 2012 It will become the first City in North America to launch long-range, all-electric buses.

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The agreement also opens talks to bring manufacturing of BYD buses to the Ontario region in the near future. Transit Windsor has the unique distinction of running in Canada as well as in Detroit, making this launch one that serves on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border.


Revenge of the Electric Nerd?

Filmmaker Chris Paine admits reports of the death of the electric car were premature.

by on Oct.21, 2011

Documentarian Chris Paine's sequel opens today.

It’s not quite a mea culpa.  Anything but.  When filmmaker Chris Paine’s earlier documentary hit the screens five years ago it served to focus his outrage that the era of the electric car had come and gone.  But as Paine’s latest film reveals reports of the death of the battery-electric vehicle were greatly exaggerated.

The 2006 documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” pointed plenty of fingers, mostly at General Motors for pulling the plug on its original EV1 battery car.  With the release of “Revenge of the Electric Car,” which opens today, Paine is once again pointing his hectoring lens.  But this time he has plenty of positive things to say – notably about GM.

The Final Word!

It’s clear things have changed since the original film came out.  “Who Killed…” was written in the wake of California’s decision to abandon a noble but flawed experiment aimed at forcing manufacturers to create a new generation of so-called zero-emissions vehicles.  With no other technology even close to ready for market that meant battery cars like the EV1.


GM Developing New EN-V

Rickshaw-like battery vehicle targets inner-city commuters.

by on Oct.13, 2011

The 2nd-generation Chevrolet EN-V could appeal to entry-level commuters, the maker believes.

It looks like a self-propelled rickshaw, with more in common with the quirky Segway personal mobility device than a conventional automobile, but General Motors is convinced its EN-V concept vehicle could play a major role in the future of transportation.

So, the U.S. maker says it will develop a second-generation EN-V to not only test out the idea of operating on only two wheels but also to explore concepts that include autonomous mobility – the sci-fi fantasy of cars that can operate entirely on their own.

“We someday anticipate connecting all vehicles through a mobility network that could include autonomous driving,” said Jim Federico, a senior product executive with GM, which showed off a prototype of the EN-V gen-two during a news conference celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Chevrolet brand.

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The original concept, first shown at the 2009 New York Auto Show, carried a generic GM badge. The switch to Chevrolet reflects that brand’s role as the primary provider of basic transportation within the General Motors family, explained Chip Perry, GM’s vice president of global marketing.

“By 2030, more than 60% of the world’s 8 billion people will live in urban areas,” he noted.  “The Chevrolet EN-V represents a possible solution for global customers living in markets where alternative transportations solutions are needed.”


GM Will Introduce Battery Version of Next-Gen Chevrolet Spark

Spark also to debut new global family of small gas engines.

by on Oct.12, 2011

Chevrolet will offer both a battery version of the new spark and a conventional gas model using an all-new engine family.

General Motors will introduce its first pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, sometime in 2013, basing it off the next-generation Chevrolet Spark platform.

The Spark EV initially will be sold in “select” urban markets around the world, including Southern California.  It will then roll out to other parts of the world, with GM officials anticipating a slow ramp-up of demand for the vehicle – and for electric vehicles in general.

The Spark minicar will also be among the first GM models to make use of an all-new line of 3- and 4-cylinder Ecotec engines GM plans to bring to market in an effort to both improve fuel-efficiency and expand its own economies of scale,

In the Know!

Demand for the new Spark battery car “will be slow,” acknowledged Jim Federico, GM’s small car engineering chief, as “Customers need to get comfortable and used to” the new technology.  Nonetheless, GM officials said they recognize that the global push for cleaner, higher-mileage products will require the expanded use of “electrification” in all its various forms.