With gasoline prices over $4 per gallon in many states, Ford is rolling out a variety of exciting hybrid cars and electric cars. In April, consumers will start buying the new Ford Focus Electric. Yesterday, I rode in this beautiful compact hatchback. This year, Ford will also offer other exciting hybrids and plug-in hybrids all using lithium batteries: C-MAX Energi, C-MAX Hybrid, Fusion Energi, and Fusion Hybrid.
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.
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.
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.
On November 17 the 2012 Green Car of the Year® will be announced by Green Car Journal at the LA Auto Show. This year’s five finalists include the 2012 Ford Focus Electric, 2012 Mitsubishi i, 2012 Toyota Prius v, 2012 Honda Civic Natural Gas, and 2012 Volkswagen Passat TDI. I have been impressed with my test drives of these cars. All will be available for dealer sales by January 2, 2012.
Sitting behind the wheel of this new Toyota Prius Plug-in (PHV), I wonder how the driving experience will compare with the Chevrolet Volt, my Nissan LEAF, and other members of the Prius family. Next month, Toyota starts the online order process for the Prius PHV with a starting price of $32,000 for dealer deliveries in early 2012. Online, buyers can configure their Prius PHV, start the order, and then select a Toyota dealer to continue the process.
As electric and hybrid car competition intensifies, Nissan, GM, Toyota, and Ford are in a race to sell the most vehicles with lithium batteries. I have driven cars from each of these automakers that use lithium batteries. The cars performed beautifully and delivered great fuel economy. Nissan will be the first to sell 100,000 battery electric cars. GM will be the first to sell 100,000 plug-in hybrids. Ford is switching all hybrid models to lithium batteries. Toyota, with 3 million hybrids sold, is bringing out three new cars with lithium batteries.
Ford and SunPower offer a rooftop solar system that will allow Focus Electric owners and other electric car drivers to “Drive Green for Life” by providing customers with enough clean, renewable energy to offset the electricity used to charge the vehicle. The SunPower rooftop solar system will be compatible with the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid electric vehicle Ford is rolling out in 2012. This pre-configured solution makes solar charging easy for new customers.
Ford is ready to give U.S. buyers of crossover SUVs record fuel-economy. Active families want more cargo flexibility and space. With high gas prices they also want over 40 MPG. The new 5-seat C-MAX Hybrid delivers. In 2012 it will compete head-to-head with the new larger Prius V crossover SUV. The Ford C-MAX Energi will challenge the Chevrolet Volt by supporting 5 passengers to the Volt’s 4 and by offering much more cargo flexibility.
The new Mitsubishi I, bigger and with more zip for the U.S. market, can now be reserved at a low price of $29,195 that will challenge the Nissan LEAF, Ford Focus Electric, and Honda Fit Electric. Reservations can now be made, with different models and options now priced. My 15-mile test drive of the Mitsubishi demonstrated that it can handle freeways, steep roads, and tight parking spots.
San Diego Gas and Electric may be the world’s first utility to smart charge 1,000 electric cars through a smart grid. This electric utility, which services 3.4 million people, has been installing an extensive electric vehicle charging infrastructure, expanding its electricity generation to 33 percent renewable, and implementing a smart grid. In many ways, the three initiatives support each other. Over 200 Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts are charging by using the utilities smart grid.
Tesla recent quarterly financial results show progress on several fronts. Over 1,650 customers are now driving the Tesla Roadster, the impressive electric car with a 240-mile range per charge. Customers have driven these 100-percent electric cars more than 11 million miles. The Model S Sedan is on track for completion and customer deliveries mid-2012. A much bigger market is expected for this premium sedan that starts at $57,400 and has an optional battery pack with that gives the car a 300-mile range. When Tesla begins delivery of the Model S, over 100,000 electric car customers will be driving their Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, Ford Focus Electric and other electric sedan competitors.
In this test drive of the new Toyota RAV4 EV, this electric SUV beat a V8 gasoline pickup going up hill. Combine a mature Toyota RAV4 chassis and interior with a maturing Tesla electric drive and you have a premium electric vehicle in months not years. 31 of these prototype all-electric SUVs are now on the road and demonstrating 80 to 120 mile electric range.
One Million Toyota Prius have now been sold in U.S. Over 2 million Prii have been delivered globally. Over 3 million Toyota hybrids have been sold globally. By the end of 2012, Toyota Motors will offer at least eleven Toyota and Lexus hybrid and electric cars.