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Hybrids Outpace Conventional Vehicle Sales 7
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Electric, EVs, hybrid, Hybrids, New Car Sales, News on 04 7th, 2011

The Toyota Prius just crossed the 1 million sold mark in the US. Image: Toyota

For years, Americans have ignored hybrid vehicles in favor of trucks, SUVs, minivans and sports cars. Even the occasional bump in gasoline prices wasn’t enough to make buyers warm up to hybrids, with the possible exception of Toyota’s Prius (which just exceeded 1,000,000 sold in the United States). That behavior may be changing, at least according to Edmunds: the website is reporting that sales of electric vehicles and hybrids increased by 37% in the first quarter of 2011. That compares against sales of conventional vehicles, which increased by 20% in the same time period; in other words, hybrid and EV sales are growing at nearly double the rate of conventional vehicle sales.

As you’d expect, Toyota is still the market leader with their Prius hybrid, which increased in sales by some 50% last quarter. Of the 78,523 “green” vehicles sold during Q1 2011, 54,609 (nearly 70%) were Toyotas. Honda was another big winner in the green vehicle sales wars, as their hybrid sales rose 84% (to 11,354 units) in the first quarter. Ford, who offers a variety of hybrids and will soon bring the Focus EV to market, moved 7,704 hybrids in Q1 to take the third spot.

I’d be the first to say that I’m just not a hybrid guy, and I’d much rather ride a 45 MPG bike than drive a 45 MPG car (yes, even in the rain). I’ve never driven a hybrid that thrilled me, and Honda’s CR-Z with the six speed manual has the distinction of being the hybrid that I least dislike. Here’s my question of the day: how expensive would gas have to get before you’d consider buying a hybrid?

Source: Left Lane News

Tesla Updates Us On The Model S 8
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, electric cars, EVs, News, Tesla, Tesla Model S on 03 8th, 2011

Remember the Tesla Model S? The uber-sexy sedan that was going to be the first four door EV we all lusted after? Tesla wants to remind us that the project is moving along, even if it isn’t front and center in the news on a daily basis. The car is currently in Alpha testing, which means that engineers are flogging the snot out of prototypes to see what breaks and what doesn’t. Later this year, Tesla will move to Beta testing, where more Tesla employees and industry insiders are tossed a set of Model S keys, with the instructions to “tell us what works and what doesn’t”. If everything progresses as planned (which almost never happens), Tesla Model S deliveries in the United States will begin mid-year 2012.

The first 1,000 cars produced will be Model S Signature Series variants, complete with a 300 mile battery range and a price tag of $77,400 before the $7,500 EV tax credit. Expect these cars to come fully loaded, including unique badging identifying the car as a Signature Series limited edition model. Tesla will also offer less expensive Model S sedans, with varying ranges. Mid-pack is the 230 mile range Model S, with an expected price tag (excluding tax credit) of $67,400; if that’s still too rich for your blood, the base Model S, with a 160 mile battery range, will start at $57,400 before you factor in the tax credit. Full pricing (and a list of options) is expected to be released this summer.

The Models S will launch in the United States first, but sales will expand to left-hand drive EU countries by the end of 2012. A right-hand drive version is planned, with deliveries projected to begin mid-2013 if all goes well with the other Model S launches. Tesla claims that their 2012 production capacity is 5,000 units, but they expect to ramp this up to 20,000 units per year by 2013. Let’s hope so, since the Tesla Model S could very well be the world’s first aspirational electric car. Speaking for myself, I can’t wait to drive one.

Source: Tesla

Mitsubishi To Focus On EVs, Kill Off Evo 2
Posted by Kurt Ernst in Automotive, Electric, EVs, hybrid, Hybrids, Lancer Evolution, Mitsubishi, News on 03 2nd, 2011

Where, I wonder, did Mitsubishi go wrong as an automaker? The brand that once had such promise has fallen on hard times, and finds themselves forced to create a new global identity. Instead of focusing on performance and racing (a natural, since the three-diamond brand dominated both Paris Dakar and WRC for years), Mitsubishi is trying to be a kinder, gentler car company. Jumping on the Green bandwagon, their new focus will be on establishing themselves as an “environmentally sensitive” automaker. To that end, Mitsubishi will launch eight new EV or hybrid vehicles by 2015, with their primary focus being the reduction of CO2 emissions from their vehicles.

The first casualty of this change in direction will be the Lancer Evolution, which, according to Autocar magazine, dies with the current generation. In an interview with Mitsubishi’s global product director, Gayu Eusegi, Autocar learned that there are no plans for an Evo XI, even one with hybrid power. Perhaps most concerning to enthusiasts was Eusegi’s dismissal of performance variants of any model. As quoted by Autocar, Eusegi said, “Maybe the world can change, and maybe someday we can do a motor race by electric vehicles. Maybe then we can enter the (performance) market again.”

That maybe sounds like a cold day in hell to me, and I’m not sure the world needs more boring hybrids and limited range EVs. I hate to see Mitsubishi disappear from the market, but I certainly don’t think their current direction is the right one.

Source: Autoblog