No one should doubt that 2013 was a breakthrough year for advanced technology vehicles, whether running on electricity, gasoline, diesel or some combination of the three. The choices expanded, prices dropped and infrastructure exploded (for plug-ins). This year presents an abundance of riches; as I wrote earlier, we (at least we in California) now have 10 pure electric vehicles to choose from–and 2014 promises and expanded roster of choices. I had the opportunity this year to sample more than half of those available. Add in plug-in hybrids and the list of EV choices almost doubles, while traditional hybrids, clean diesels and high-MPG gasoline vehicles ranks keep growing both in number and popularity.
The year 2013 is almost over and the auto industry is moving toward the best sales year in half a decade. High mileage electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and clean diesels are drafting along with the positive sales year and going beyond, with each segment besting the overall market as new models enter and draw attention. The expectation is for aggressive selling to continue through the rest of the year, but it’s a good time to regroup and declare the Top 10 winners for the year.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency spends a good portion of its time and manpower compiling a guide that compares like vehicles’ fuel economy, spaciousness (interior space) and engine technology. The result for 2014 vehicles (cars and trucks) is now available on www.fueleconomy.gov and has a new benchmark – the Top 10 cars in fuel economy all feature a plug. Some are pure electrics and others are plug-in hybrids. The fuel economy numbers are astronomical by historical standards, but are setting the new benchmark for what a modern automobile needs to achieve to be considering a state-of-the-art environmental leader.
Tesla has spurred more serious activity in the high-end of electric cars than has ever been seen. Its success has other automakers bringing new models onto the market and promises to boost attention on EVs the same way high-end sports cars highlight attention on some of their lesser companion models. At any rate, it looks like we’re in for some fun, high-performance, luxury electric cars in the near future.
To sum up the day-long program and paraphrase the philosopher Heraclitus, the only thing constant about the future will be change. The 100-plus year-old auto industry is heading into uncharted territory as it grapples with change inside and out of the vehicle. Electronic technology promises to radically alter the interaction of the driver and vehicle, even as the propulsion technology and fuel shifts to new ground and, in some cases, necessitating new lifestyles. One thing is clear, “Future Cars, Future Technology” will be an ever-changing topic for years to come.
Consumers interested in plug-in cars got more good news this month as the Mercedes-built Smart and Chevy Volt both joined the recent moves to drop prices on their models. The Smart dropped lease prices to $139/month, substantially below much of the competition, and GM lowered the 2014 Chevy Volt price by $5,000.
Cut-throat price wars are common enough in the auto industry, but ones that include green cars are pretty rare. Remember, these are the cars that several auto makers have been quick to say they would lose money on and, on top of that, were not sure consumers would buy at any price.
The enthusiast group Plug In America noted that, for the first time, U.S. sales of plug-in electric cars (either pure electrics or plug-in hybrids) market will pass a significant milestone this month (May). The 100,000th mark was reached just past two years after their introduction to the market.
MPG is still on consumers’ minds as car and truck sales of hybrids, plug-in cars and clean diesels continued to outpace the overall market in February 2012. High mileage hybrids, plug-ins and diesels had their second good month to begin the year, bettering the high bar set by the overall market. Hybrids continued to be above 3 percent of the market and both hybrids and diesels accelerated sales beyond a strong overall market (up 16.1% and 23.3% respectively compared to the overall market rise of 14.3%).
A pair of environmentalists dismiss some of the common misconceptions that prevent the eco-conscious from buying electric cars.
First Honda, then Hyundai, now Ford, is in the crosshairs of criticism over inflated fuel economy numbers. It’s not that an average driver can’t get the mpg numbers found on the window sticker when you buy the car, but can you get them – or even close – in normal driving? Hypermilers can routinely max […]
The past decade has been a pretty incredible time for advances in sustainable transportation. All over the globe, scientists and engineers have worked harder than ever to create greener ways to get around. In looking back, three developments stand out in particular.
There are over 40,000 electric vehicles in the United States, with more being made and sold every day. In most situations, the limited range and speed of light electric vehicles are acceptable. Several automakers are targeting 2010 to sell electric vehicles in the United States that you can charge in your garage and other places. If you live in a household with more than one car, the EV may be perfect for one of your cars.
There is no one correct answer for the best vehicle, or even type of vehicle, to best save gas and save the planet. People have different needs at different times of their life, and different driving conditions. Michael enjoyed living car-free when he went to the university but love, marriage, and parenthood meant getting a car. When the children are grown, Michael and Beth plan to return to one vehicle.
Many Americans are interested in ending the ridiculous amounts of money they spend at the pump. If all the vehicles are gas guzzlers, this is a great time to replace one. In the United States, there is tremendous innovation in plug-in hybrid technology, electric drive systems, advanced batteries, and fuel cells. Fortunately, there are many solutions.