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Posts Tagged ‘plug-in hybrid reviews’

First Drive: 2016 Chevrolet Volt

More reasons to plug in as Chevy does a ground-up on its extended-range electric vehicle.

by on Oct.07, 2015

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt gets a new look, a new powertrain, and more range and power.

Few recent product launches have sparked more interest than the debut of the original Chevrolet Volt, the world’s first mass-market plug-in hybrid. But after an initial flurry of sales, demand has sharply slackened off. The question is whether Chevy can charge things back up as it launches an all-new version of what it prefers to call an “extended-range electric vehicle.”

Coming barely a half-decade after the debut of the original model, one might have expected this to be a modest, mid-cycle update. But the 2016 Chevrolet Volt is a ground-up makeover, something that’s apparent from the first quick glance. It becomes even more obvious when you slip inside and hit the Start button. About the only thing carried over is the goofy sound effect sequence that tells you it’s ready to roll.

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By the numbers, there’s more to like: the 2016 Volt not only squeezes in another passenger but also squeezes out 40% more range on battery power alone – now an EPA-estimated 53 miles. By Chevy’s accounting, most owners are now likely to clock as much as 1,000 miles before they have to fill up the gas tank feeding the range-extending I-4 engine – which is also new on the ’16 model.


First Drive: 2015 Cadillac ELR

Caddy hopes to plug into luxury battery-car market.

by on Dec.02, 2013

The Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid.

Even though U.S. motorists haven’t been all that charged up by the nascent battery-car market, there’s a flood of new products heading for showrooms in the coming month. But while most makers are struggling to drive down prices, betting that the cheaper the product the bigger the demand, a handful of manufacturers are targeting the other end of the spectrum.

Among the brands betting that even affluent buyers want to go green are Porsche, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and, of course, Tesla which has been beating even its own optimistic forecasts with the Model S electric vehicle. A few months from now, Cadillac will join the upscale list with the launch of its new ELR plug-in hybrid.

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Think of it as a mix of something old and something new.  The 2015 Cadillac ELR features the latest take on the maker’s distinctive Art & Science design language – as well as the most elegant and high-tech interior Caddy has ever offered. Under that sexy skin, however, is an updated version of the Voltec plug-in hybrid system already in use in the more mainstream Chevrolet Volt – albeit with some welcome improvements.


Fisker Karma Misses Mileage, Battery Range Goals

Luxury plug-in hybrid falls way of claims, says EPA.

by on Oct.20, 2011

The Fisker Karma is fast and sexy - but it doesn't deliver the range or fuel economy initially promised.

It’s hard to argue about its stylish design, but when it comes to range and fuel economy claims the new Fisker Karma falls well short, according to the EPA.

Developed by former Aston Martin designer Henrik Fisker, the Karma is the first in a planned series of offering from California start-up Fisker Motors.  The goal was to develop a striking, high-performance sports car that also could lay claims to being a green machine.

But the official numbers from the EPA don’t quite support that.  Balancing the car’s electric and gasoline performance in a series of simulations the feds came up with a 52 MPGe rating.  And while that’s on a par with what one might expect from the decidedly slower and less stylish Toyota Prius, it’s well short of the maker’s promised 67.2 MPGe, or miles-per-gallon equivalent.

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Range, meanwhile, came in at just 32 miles on battery power alone compared to Fisker’s anticipated 50 miles per charge.

And since that means the vehicle will likely be driven a lot more often on gasoline power alone the EPA’s other figure might be equally disappointing, with the car rated at just 20 miles per gallon in the combined cycle.


A Year Later: A Closer Look at the Chevrolet Volt

A great drive for a Chevy - but a price tag of a Cadillac.

by on Oct.17, 2011

With the Chevrolet Volt on the road nearly a year we decided to give it another close look.

It’s been a year since reported first driving the innovative Chevrolet Volt, the first fully developed gas-electric plug-in hybrid.  In the months since there has been a lot written about the Volt, its rivalry with the pure battery-electric Leaf and the slow market acceptance of battery vehicles.  So, we thought, it might be time to go back and take another look to see if that initial, positive review still held.

In a few words, I liked it. A lot. It neatly solves the problem of range anxiety suffered by pure electrics. The Volt switches back-and-forth effortlessly from stored electric juice to its 1.4-liter
Austrian-made gasoline engine. Altogether, it is a very pleasant, quiet, easily handling, smooth performing and riding car.

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The biggest problem I could discern was the nameplate. At a sticker price of nearly $44,000 as delivered from GM’s media test fleet and quipped with premium options of navigation system and sunroof—but before the federal tax credits — General Motors should have branded it a Cadillac.

Normally, new car buyers would not consider entering a Chevrolet dealership to cough up that kind of money, whereas they’d expect it at a Cadillac store. Still, whatever the brand name, this kind of car does not attract normal buyers, as witness the Toyota’s experience with the Prius. People don’t buy hybrids and electrics to save money on fuel costs. They do it because they like new, high-tech toys, because they want to help the environment, because they want to stick a thumb in the eye of Middle East (or Texas) oil barons, or just because they’re show-offs.