Pike Research’s John Gartner forecasts that global sales of hybrid and electric cars will grow from 995,000 in 2011 to 2,870,000 in 2017. Half the hybrid cars and all of the EVs will use lithium battery packs by 2017. In fact, the latest hybrid cars from Ford, Buick, Honda, Hyundai and Kai use lithium batteries. In six years, cars with advanced batteries will triple and lithium automotive battery packs will grow over 100 fold.
2012 will see the introduction of a myriad of plug-in electric vehicles: sports cars, an SUV, compacts, hatchbacks, sub-compacts, and sedans. Over the next several years, up to 40 plug-in models will be introduced. Later this week, the California Air Resources Board will vote on improvements to strengthen the state’s Zero Emission Vehicle program that will provide automakers with the long-term certainty necessary to ensure this proliferation of vehicle choice continues. Soon, there will be a zero emission vehicle to fit every lifestyle, budget, need, and desire.
Gartner, the largest technology market research firm, presented a scenario for 100,000 electric car sales in 2012 in the United States. Yesterday, I took in the presentation at the SV Forum and then talked with Thilo Koslowski, Vice President of Gartner’s Automotive and Vehicle Practice. He acknowledged that 100,000 is quite a jump from the 18,000 sold in 2011.
Volkswagen’s “Think Small” is ranked as the most successful campaign in advertising history. Electric city cars are a great match for small car lovers. Most city drivers need far less than the range of smaller electric cars which may be limited to 50 miles on highways but double that cruising city streets and benefitting from regenerative braking. The electric city car sales leader is the Mitsubishi i. It can be purchased for $29,125, which is about $6,000 less than the larger Nissan LEAF.
The Renault-Nissan Alliance and Better Place have signed an agreement to create a mass market for electric vehicles in Israel, an excellent target market for 5 reasons: (1) sales tax exceeds 60 percent for gasoline vehicles, (2) gasoline costs over $6 per gallon, (3) most driving distances fit the range of electric vehicles, (4) the nation does not want to be dependent on foreign oil, and (5) electric vehicles have strong government support.
Martin Eberhard, then CEO and founder of Tesla Motors, arrived in a Tesla Roadster, a zero-emission vehicle that can accelerate from zero to 60 in 4 seconds. As I talked with him, it was easy to see why he was smiling. When I rode in the Tesla, I held on as it accelerated, then held on to my wallet as I left this dream sports car. Tenacity paid-off. Tesla brought its exciting Roadster to market. The breakthrough 300-mile range Tesla Model-S Sedan is being ordered by the thousands. You can now drive the Roadster zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds.
Environmentally concerned car buyers worry that that switching to an electric vehicle does not help. They are concerned that instead of using one fossil fuel, petroleum, another will be used, coal. Many electric vehicles are three times more efficient than vehicles that run on gasoline. Mitsubishi Motors, an early leader in electric vehicles, estimates EV efficiency at 67 percent instead of 30 percent for a hybrid-electric and 15 percent for a normal gasoline vehicle.
Electric vehicles use electric motors not internal combustion engines. You can probably find a number of smaller electric motors in your house running everything from the washing machine to the garbage disposal. You might also have a cordless power tool that you charge and then run with power from the internal battery. Electric cars use the same approach. Plug in to charge the batteries and then drive away.
All-wheel drivers may soon get record fuel economy. Mitsubishi is showing a crossover SUV with AWD in Tokyo which is likely to go on sale U.S. in 2012 or 2013. The MITSUBISHI PX-MiEVⅡ is a midsized plug-in hybrid (PHEV) with a 500-mile cruising range. The PX-MiEV is a 5-door, 7-passenger SUV with all-wheel drive.
Here at the LA Auto Show, car buyers are paying a lot of attention to midsized and compact sedans and crossover SUVs. For years, Toyota Motor Corporation has dominated with car buyers that want “all of the above,” first with its classic Prius, and now with over a dozen hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars. Toyota Prius V challenged by Ford C-MAX Hybrid for crossover SUV mpg leadership. 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid now gets better mileage than Ford Fusion Hybrid. New plug-in hybrids include Prius Plug-in, C-MAX Energi, and rumors of Camry Plug-in Hybrid and Fusion Plug-in Hybrid.
CODA is $39,995 for an electric car with a 50% larger lithium battery than offered by Nissan and Ford. My test drive of the new CODA showed that this new electric car is similar in handling and performance to the Nissan LEAF and Ford Focus Electric which I have also driven. CODA has at least 40 percent more electric range than the LEAF and Focus Electric which each have 24 kW lithium batteries in comparison to CODA’s 36 kW lithium iron phosphate battery. Battery size isn’t everything, but it’s a lot when driving an electric car 80 miles on the freeway and wondering if you will get home.
The Audi e-tron Spyder is a convertible sports coupe with dramatic styling and is likely to be the first diesel plug-in hybrid car to be sold in the United States. With two electric motors and a 3 liter turbodiesel engine, this car has the power to race past the popular Chevy Volt. This Audi e-tron goes zero to 60 in 4.4 seconds. The Audi performance and styling will provide serious competition to Fisker.
I drive this electric smart fortwo to Balboa Park, a popular destination with its vast acres, museums, and famous San Diego zoo. We park the car, sign-off and walk away. If we were paying members, this trip would have cost us only $3 or $4. We got there in minutes without the hassle of car rental or bus transfers. Car2go is a point-to-point car sharing service. You pay 35 cents a minute. If you use lots of minutes your automatically lowered $12.99 per hour. Keep the electric car overnight and pay $65.99 per day.
In the future, we will have the tools to reduce massive power outages and use energy stored in homes and buildings for emergency backup power. With distributed generation and energy storage, the 24×7 demand for electricity will be more balanced. Dynamic pricing signals to smarter homes and buildings will be used by systems that match our preferences for heating, cooling, lighting, and charging electric cars.
I just drove two electric cars on the same route that included demanding freeway acceleration, cruising along a beautiful ocean highway, serious hill climbing, and maneuvering through street traffic. Let’s compare the Mitsubishi i with a starting price of $29,125 with the Nissan LEAF with a starting price over $6,000 higher. The Mitsubishi i is a 5-door, 4-seat, microcompact with more room inside than a MiniCooper and friendly outside looks similar to a VW bug. The Nissan LEAF is a 5-door 5-seat, compact hatchback with stylish yet conventional looks.