Top 10 Electric Cars

Top 10 Electric Cars

 

2017 Is Here: Here Are the Top 10 Electric Car Companies

We update this list regularly because the market is changing so quickly. The new models we’ve driven have caused us to rethink the Top 10.

Picking the Top 10 electric car makers now involves making some choices as the number of vehicles available increases. Plug-ins are trending in key markets around the country, although much of the action remains focused in California and other West Coast states. By the end of 2016 the total number of plug-in vehicles (that’s pure battery electrics and plug-in hybrids) sold this year topped 150,000. It’s a year of exponential growth with the expectation this 2017 will be another just like it. We think we’ll see many more miles driven on electrons this year.

This list is subjective and weighted toward functionality with an emphasis on fun, but also factors in sales numbers. Enjoy! Let us know what you think.

  1. Our New Favorites — the Volkswagen e-Golf & Audi A3 e-tron

These little electric rocket ships have now been on the market long enough to establish a good coterie of adherents. While the Golf holds down the 5th spot in pure electric car sales for 2015, we put it at number one for several reasons.

2016,Audi,e-tron,A3,plug-in hybrid

Audi expands its plug-in options

German engineering – das electric

First, it’s a Golf, which is a great small car package. Its cousin, the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) Audi A3, is a similar delight to drive and has been holding its own in that market segment.

The Volkswagen e-Golf is very maneuverable, bringing all of the good suspension work of the seventh generation Golf into an electric car. The packaging of the Golf is another plus. It’s got a decent-size interior with room for five (in a pinch, or four comfortable adults) plus storage behind the hatch in back. While the move to electric drive in an existing platform hasn’t allowed Volkswagen the opportunity to really optimize for the new powertrain, we have no complaints about the standard Golf layout. Then there’s performance: it’s fast, as most electrics are, smart with different regen levels and driving settings, and handles like all the other gas and diesel Golfs, which is to say—great! And the $33,450 e-Golf has been joined by a distant cousin, the Audi A3 e-tron plug-in hybrid, which we recently tested and came away very pleased with what we found. VW has made it clear more plug-ins are coming. We’ve driven recent versions of the e-Golf and everything we said in 2014 still holds true. Road Test: 2014 VW e-Golf. First Drive: 2015 e-Golf. Road Test: 2016 Audi A3 e-tron.

     2.   Tesla – the 4,800-pound Gorilla

Tesla is described as disruptive technology, but in reality the company has done what auto companies have done for a little more than a century—build great cars and match them up with owners who appreciate them. The Model S is the best-selling plug-in car in the U.S. for 2016, followed by the Model X. Almost two-thirds of the battery electric cars sold in the U.S. had Tesla badges on them. We recently spent some time in a brand-new ludicrously loaded Model X P100D and can verify the appeal of the cars.

The roomy Model S luxury sedan starts at about $66,000 with four battery pack configurations, but now offers five all-wheel drive version that feature even faster acceleration, topping out with the P100D model. Production of the Roadster, the company’s initial product, ended after deliveries totaling 2,500. The Model S electric range goes from a nominal 219 miles to 331 miles per charge in its big battery configurations.

Tesla Model X

X marks the spot of Tesla’s expansion

Tesla helped former shareholder Toyota to bring back the Toyota RAV4 EV, an electric SUV and also aided its other OEM shareholder, Daimler (which also has since divested its Tesla shares), with the Smart ED and B-Class Electric.

Now known as simply Tesla (not Tesla Motors since its merger with Elon Musk’s Solar City), has booked more than 350,000 reservations for its upcoming Model 3, its affordable ($35,000) smaller model due to start production in 2017. Tesla continues to battle with auto dealers in many states as it tries to establish a direct-sales model, although founder Musk has admitted his sales plan may not work when they move to the more mass-market Model 3, which he hopes to sell in volumes of up to 500,000 per year. Tesla News, Tesla News & More Tesla News. First Drive: 2017 Tesla Model X P100D.

  1. Chevrolet Bolt/Volt – One-Two Punch in the Electric Gut

General Motors has done something remarkable, enough so that we were tempted to jump them up to the top of this chart. They have done two major things to deserve the attention they’re getting. First was to introduce the second generation Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car (which gets tossed in with plug-in hybrids even though its system really takes a different approach). It followed the new Volt with the all-electric 238-mile range Bolt this year.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt LT

Bolts jolts the market with 200+ miles of range and an affordable price

Beating Tesla to the market with the Bolt was quite a coup, particularly with a car as well-executed as this EV is. And that takes nothing away from the redesigned Volt hatchback that has 50+ miles of electric range and more than 400 miles per gasoline fill-up range in its second generation.

The Bolt is priced at $37,495 before various rebates and incentives kick in while the Volt has a starting price of about $34,490, but also is eligible for federal and state incentives. Sales of the Bolt just started in December, but we predict it will likely be the best-selling in 2017. If the Volt continues it reign atop the PHEV group that would be quite a two-fer for Chevy and GM.

We’ve spent quite a bit of time in this car and think it’s a keeper. It’s won more than a few accolades. The versatility to drive around town and potentially commute as an electric car (Chevy has documented that most drivers will go more than 1,000 miles between fill-ups), coupled with the ability to take longer trips relying on the gasoline “range extender” makes it a great choice for a one-car household.

Also at GM, but phasing out are the all-electric Chevrolet Spark EV; it’s a fun city car with 80-mile range between charges. Sales are tapering off for the Cadillac ELR, which uses a plug-in hybrid drive system similar to the Volt, as it goes out of production.

With all of its Bolt/Volt news, rumors keep circulating that GM may expand its offering to include other brands. It will introduce a Cadillac CT6 PHEV in spring 2017, but more models may be in the offing.

Here are some of our road tests/news stories on GM plug-ins—First Drive: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt; News: First Bolt Owner; Road Tests: 2017 Chevy Volt2016 Chevy Volt; News: 2017 Cadillac CT6 PHEV; 2014 Chevy Spark EVCadillac ELR.

  1. Nissan Leaf – the Standard Bearer

Nissan is the sales leader of affordable pure electric cars and is staying the course in its commitment to this technology. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn reiterated recently that his company will support electric drive while also offering plug-in hybrids and fuel cell electric cars and hybrid-electric models.

2016 Nissan Leaf

Leaf led the way and promises more changes soon

The company’s flagship car is the Leaf, a five-door, five-seat hatchback that is the right size and range for many who drive around 100 miles daily. Nissan makes the Leaf and its batteries in Tennessee for the U.S. market and bumped up the range this last year. It is promising a 200+ mile range version soon. Used Leafs are now coming off lease and onto the market, presenting another option for eco-buyers.

The Leaf was refreshed in 2016 with a larger (30 kWh) battery pack and longer range. We tested it twice and liked the extra miles. Road Test: 2016 Nissan Leaf; Test #2.

     5.  BMW – the Ultimate Electric Driving Machine?

2016 BMW X5 xDrive40e

BMW starts adding plugs throughout its lineup

BMW has charged into the electric car space with two strong contenders—the hot-selling i3 and the i8 plug-in hybrid supercar. We’ve driven both and are impressed by both, as are many others.

The i3 (which actually comes in two versions—a pure battery electric and a ranged-extended EV) is the fourth best-selling plug-in car in the U.S. in 2016, behind only the two Teslas and the Leaf.  The i8 is no slouch, either, sitting solidly in the Top 10 plug-in hybrids. Not bad for a car that lists for $136,500. The i3 starts at $42,400. Like most manufacturers, BMW has begun to launch more plug-in models, including the 2016 X5 xDrive40e that we tested, and plug-in versions of the 3-Series and 7-Series. Road Test: 2014 BMW i3. First Drive: 2015 BMW i8.

     6.  Ford – Variety Is Their Spice of Life

Ford has made a commitment to fuel efficiency that starts with their widely used EcoBoost engines (basically smaller turbocharged direct-injection engines that can replace larger non-turbo port-injection powerplants). Ford has a trio of plug-in vehicles that are the tip of the spear for its environmental efforts. They start with the full-electric Ford Focus and two plug-in hybrids, the Fusion Energi and C-Max Energi (both of which also come in a plain-Jane hybrid version).

2016 Ford Focus Electric, EV

Ford offers and expansive range of plug-ins, including the Focus Electric

Sales have been steady, but the Fusion Energi in particular had a great year and the pair were the second and third best-selling models in the PHEV sales behind the Volt. They sacrifice some trunk space for the added batteries (compared to the hybrid models), but deliver solid performance and enough for 21 miles of electric-only driving (which is being bumped up slightly in 2017). Ford is adding a hybrid version of the best-selling vehicle in the U.S., the F-150 pickup as well.

But that’s not all. Ford is also pushing strongly into the mobility space while also using its electrified vehicles like the Fusion as the test-bed for its autonomous vehicle projects. It’s recent smart mobility projects included adding a crowd-sourced shuttle service, Chariot, and an e-bike sharing program.

Road Test: 2016 Ford Focus Electric. Road Test: 2016 Ford Fusion Energi. First Drive: Ford C-Max.

  1. Toyota – Big in Hybrids; Betting on Fuel Cells & Electrics

Toyota, passing nine million hybrid sales worldwide at mid-2016, has dabbled in both plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars, but then seemed focused on fuel cell electric cars, which uses hydrogen to produce electricity on board and power the electric motors.

2017 Prius Prime

The Prius Prime becomes Toyota’s leader with a plug

Toyota’s Prius Plug-In Hybrid has been renamed the Prius Prime and is more distinguished from the standard Prius than in the past. The new model has a longer EV range than its predecessor. Toyota has had some sales success, and has noe promised a new push into electric vehicles. Clean Fleet Report tested the original model, comparing it with the better-known non-plug-in version.

Toyota also offered a limited model in California: the only all-electric SUV, the RAV4 EV, with an advertised 150-mile electric range (produced with some help from Tesla, in which Toyota was a shareholder) and earlier did a limited EV run of its minicar, the iQ. Now on the market is the Mirai, a fuel-cell sedan with a 350-mile range and a $57,000 price tag (it delivered more than 1,000 Mirais in 2016). Toyota offers 12 hybrid models (Toyota & Lexus) with similar electric motors and advanced battery packs, sometimes shared with its electric cars. We’ve tested most of those. First Drive: 2013 RAV4 EV. Road Test: Plug-In Prius and Prius Liftback.  First Drive: 2016 Toyota Mirai Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle. First Drive: Toyota iQ

 

  1. Kia/Hyundai – Coming on Strong

Don’t forget the Korean plug-ins

2017 Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid

There’s a new badge in town

Kia has its Soul EV on the market and its making its presence know. We’ve had a chance to test it. Along with its parent company Hyundai, Kia is scheduled to launch two plug-in hybrids (the Hyundai Sonata and Kia Optima)  and a Hyundai Ioniq sub-brand that, like the Ford Fusion, will have a hybrid and plug-in hybrid, but also will add a pure electric model. We covered the introduction. In addition, the ambitious company already has launched the Kia Niro dedicated hybrid, which impressed us as well. Hyundai has been leasing its Tucson fuel cell electric vehicles in Southern California for several years now. Road Test: 2015 Kia Soul EV; Road Test: 2017 Hyundai Sonata PHEV.

 

  1. Daimler Begins an Electric Onslaught

In America only with electric motors

Daimler is the automotive giant that owns Mercedes-Benz and Smart and also was a Tesla stockholder. While it has had two pure EVs on the market for a while, this year it added three plug-in hybrids—the C350We, GLE 550e and S550 Plug-in.

2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e

Daimler leads with a B250e, but promises many more electrics

The two-seat Smart ED has been selling in small numbers (many to the company’s Car2Go car-sharing subsidiary). The Smart ED minicar went through three generations and we’ve driven the latest version, but only with the gas engine. Mercedes has two versions of its subcompact B-Class, a pure electric with 87 miles of range that we recently had a chance to drive and a fuel cell electric vehicle with a more than 300 miles of range, the only versions of that car available in the U.S. The electric B-Class and Smart ED are at the bottom of the sales list for 2016, selling less than 1,300 units between the two models. The company has announced a massive investment in electric drive vehicles so the expectation is that every year more plug-ins will be coming to the market. The next generation fuel cell car also should surface soon. First Drive: First Drive: 2016 Mercedes-Benz B250e; Smart Fortwo ED.

  1. Fiat – Small, But a Mighty Fine, Fun EV

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is selling the Fiat 500e somewhat reluctantly, but don’t let that turn you away. Even though FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne famously claims the company

2016 Fiat 500e, safety

The Fiat 500e is full of fun

loses $14,000 on every $32,780 500e it sells, they do need to sell quite a few of them to meet California’s ZEV (zero emission vehicle) mandate so take advantage while you can.

It’s a fun all-electric city car. We thought it was the most fun car of the EV bunch until the e-Golf came out and trumped it both in functionality and fun.  Very affordable (sub-$100/month) lease deals have been available for this spunky EV in California (its main market). It manages to carry through the Italian charm and personality found in its gas models. The major drawback, which could be an advantage in an urban location, is the small size of the vehicle. As a two-door with a small back seat, its capability of carrying four adults is limited. Road Test: Fiat 500e.

The Rest

That’s the Top 10, but the good news is there are even more models on the market and some have come and gone already. Coda Automotive, with its warmed-over Chinese sedan, has departed, but Fisker (now Karma) Automotive has revived its high-end plug-in hybrid under new Chinese ownership.

Honda sold a limited number of its Fit EVs and similarly stopped selling the Accord Plug-in Hybrid. Like Toyota and Hyundai, it is focusing on Clarity fuel cell electrics as its main EV strategy going forward, but could return to a pure EV and PHEV depending on market trends.  It continues to promote ideas like an integrated car and home energy system that would depend on a plug-in car.

Volvo has just started selling its plug-in hybrid version of the XC90 SUV, though numbers are expected to remain low. We tested it recently and came away very impressed. Volvo has indicated more plug-in models will follow.

Mitsubishi still offers the i (formerly i-MiEV), though the company skipped the 2015 model year, but the 2016 we tested wasn’t much different than earlier models. The i fits into tight parking spaces and tight electric car buyer budgets, starting at about $29,000. It’s a very Japanese model five-door, four-passenger hatchback. The i has an electric range of 62 miles (EPA adjusted) with a 16kWh lithium battery. Although it’s been modified for the US market it still feels very much like the Japanese-market original, which is to say, less substantial than many of its competitors. Mitsubishi also reiterated its intent to bring a plug-in version of its popular Outlander SUV to the U.S. this coming year (as has been promised for several years).

Then there’s Porsche (another VW affiliate) with its plug-in Panamera sedan, Cayenne SUV and 918 sports car also in the market. Other companies have teased plug-ins, but we’ll wait until we see hardware before

A plug-in Porsche

adding them to any list.

California and seven other states reaffirmed their goal to have 3.3 million electric cars (including plug-in hybrids and fuel cells) on the road by 2025. The numbers are basically accounted for in the ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle) mandate that the states have in place, but rely on a steep ramp up of sales after 2020. Based on sales reports, more than 500,000 plug-in vehicles have been sold in the U.S. since the Tesla roadster was introduced in 2008. More than half of them were in California.

There is a lot of innovation from around the world that did not make this Top 10 List, which focuses on the current U.S. market. Please bookmark this Top 10 List and check back as we update. Exciting new electric cars are being driven on the U.S. streets and freeways. Nissan is an early mover with battery-electric cars, now eclipsed by Tesla and General Motors has led the way with plug-in hybrids, but competition is heating up and new models due during the next year or two could dramatically alter the field. The winner will be the customer.

Related stories you might enjoy:

How Long Will It Take To Convert The U.S. Fleet To Electric?

Road Test: 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf

First Drive: 2017 Chevrolet Bolt

Road Test: 2014 Chevy Volt

Road Test: 2016 Nissan Leaf

Road Test: 2016 Fiat 500e

The Top 10 Electric Cars You Can Buy

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 2016 Best-Selling High-MPG Cars & Trucks

Top 10 2016 Best-Selling High-MPG Cars & Trucks

Record Sales in 2016 Didn’t Translate to Hybrids

Clean Fleet Report occasionally takes a look at how the vehicles we focus on—electric cars, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, clean diesels and high-mpg gasoline cars—are doing in the marketplace. The end of the calendar year is always a good time to take stock. Let’s look back at 2016 and see how they treated our favorite vehicles.  In this case we’ll leave out the pure gas cars since they don’t have similar charts.

  1. Toyota Prius – Still number one, but sliding. Toyota redesigned the Prius this year to give it a little more personality—and even improved the fuel economy, which already stands at the top of non-plug-in cars. The market response has not been overwhelming. Prius sales dropped 13 percent year-over-year and failed to cracked 100,000 units. But Prius sales of 98,863 still dwarf anything else on this list, outselling the entire category of battery electric vehicles. Two Clean Fleet Report staff took a spin in the new Prius and left their opinions here and here.
  2. Ram 1500 EcoDiesel – With Volkswagen out of the diesel picture, a new sales leader has emerged—the Ram pickup. Probably reflecting the market shift to trucks, the Ram outsells what the VW sedans did in their heyday. In 2016 55,209 Rams were sold, down slightly from 2015 (3.2 percent). Word in the industry is that production capacity of the 3.0-liter V6 is the only thing limiting Ram diesel sales. We drove a model recently and were impressed.

    2016 Ford Transit

    Ford Transit buyers are taking the diesel option

  3. Ford Transit – Ford claims the number three spot with the diesel models of its European-based passenger/cargo van. Three engine options are offered, two gas V6s and the five-cylinder inline turbodiesel featured here. The 3.2-liter diesel’s more than holding its own, selling 50,127 units last year. Its sales were a 22 percent boost from 2015. We’ve been in the Transit, but haven’t had a chance to fully test one yet.
  4. Toyota RAV4 Hybrid – The RAV4 Hybrid is a newcomer to this list, confirming three things—Toyota’s continuing expansion of its hybrid offerings, buyers’ shift to crossovers and SUVs and the popularity of Toyota compact crossover. The fact that the RAV4 Hybrid outsold the established Camry Hybrid may be one of the biggest news stories of the year in out part of the market. Toyota moved 45,070 RAV4 Hybrids in 2016. We tested the model recently.
  5. Ford Fusion Hybrid – Ford’s leader in the hybrid market had a good year in 2016, posting a 36 percent sales gain and ending with 33,648 sales. The midsize car, which Ford offers in regular, hybrid and plug-in hybrid versions, is Ford’s best-selling car model. We’ve spent plenty of time in both the hybrid and plug-in hybrid models and understand their popularity.
  6. Tesla Model S – Here’s where this chart gets interesting. This is the high-water mark for all-electric cars to this point. And it is happening with a car that retails for twice what any of the others on the list cost. There’s no question the Model S has made an impression, even while it is not on sale in every state. We’ve ridden in the car, but haven’t had the chance to put the car to a full test. Its owners love them, Consumer Reports and Motor Trend both raved about them, and the company has great plans to continue to expand its model lineup. Model S sales of 29,156 in 2016 were up 16 percent compared to the previous year.
  7. Chevrolet Volt – The second generation Volt has been a big success for GM, boosting sales by 60 percent compared to 2015 to 24,739. We’ve had a chance to spend some time with the new
    2016 Chevrolet Volt

    The Chevy Volt plug-in gets a big boost in 2016

    model and like the upgrade from the previous edition in both looks and performance. We aren’t surprised at the sales jump, but wonder what happens when the all-electric Bolt joins the showroom.

  8. Toyota Camry Hybrid – The best-selling midsize car (actually the best-selling car–#4 again this year outsold only by the top three pickups from Ford, Chevrolet and Ram) dropped 9.5 percent in sales in 2016 from 2015. The Hybrid model dropped more than 27 percent, ending up with 22,227 sales. The sales drop is even harder to take as the car received some solid upgrades this year, as we noted in our road test.
  9. Toyota Prius c – The “baby” Prius, like its Prius siblings, suffered a big drop in sales in 2016, ending up selling only 20,452 units. That’s a drop of 47 percent from last year for the little economy car, probably a clear commentary of the low price of gasoline and a move away from sedans. We tested the c awhile ago.
  10. Hyundai Sonata Hybrid – Hyundai joined this hit parade by selling 18,961 of its hybrid Sonatas. Like the Fusion, the Sonata now comes in three flavors—regular, hybrid and plug-in hybrid—and is edging up in sales, though it had a slight dip in 2016. Unlike the Camry, though the Sonata Hybrid’s drop was on par with the regular gasoline version’s sales drop. We think we know why, this version of the Sonata Hybrid fixes many issues we found in earlier models. We also liked the plug-in hybrid version.

So that’s the Top 10, an eclectic mix of six hybrids, two diesels, one plug-in hybrid and one pure electric model. Also of note is the inclusion of three trucks in the mix. It wasn’t the strongest year for our favorite cars:

  • The biggest category, hybrids, dropped almost 10 percent from last year, ending at just over 347,000 units.
  • The second biggest category, diesels, continued to suffer from the absence of VW, Audi and Porsche from the market, dropping30 percent to just over 137,000 vehicles.
  • Plug-in hybrids were the stars of 2016, boosting sales by 69 percent compared to 2015 and ending up selling more than 72,000 vehicles.
  • Battery electric cars also had a good year, up 18 percent from last year and selling more than 84,000 cars.
  • Besides low gas prices, the increased fuel economy from gas models makes picking an alternative with a different powertrain a more difficult choice. We’re seeing more and more 40 mpg sedans and 30 mpg AWD models that don’t need electrification or diesel engines.
  • In spite of that, more electric, plug-in hybrid, hybrid and diesel models will be hitting the market during the coming years.

Five More Bubbling Under

2016 Nissan Leaf SL,EV, electric car,mpg,fuel efficiency

The Nissan Leaf continues to sell the EV life

Some interesting cars are bubbling right below the Top 10 and could punch into the top rung next year. The next five in sales are the Ford Fusion Energi, a plug-in hybrid, the Tesla Model X, a battery-electric SUV, the hybrid Toyota Prius V, the all-electric Nissan Leaf (which we took an additional look at) and the hybrid Ford C-Max. We’ve linked to our tests of these models, which are all worth a look.

Other new models to look out for in 2017 are the previously mentioned Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid. We’ll have more news on them when they hit the market. The Chevrolet Cruze diesel also should return to the market with a new edition.

As always, we tip a hat to Hybridcars.com and Baum and Associates for digging into the numbers, which are not always readily available from the manufacturers.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: 2016 Toyota Prius

Road Test: 2016 Toyota Prius (Second Look)

Road Test: 2016 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel

Road Test: 2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Road Test: 2014 Ford Fusion Energi

Road Test: 2016 Chevrolet Volt

Road Test: 2016 Chevrolet Volt (Second Look)

Road Test: 2016 Toyota Camry Hybrid

Road Test: 2014 Toyota Prius c

Road Test: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Disclosure:

Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.

Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class. We also feature those that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at publisher@cleanfleetreport.com.

News: Utility Creates One-Stop EV Shopping for its Employees

News: Utility Creates One-Stop EV Shopping for its Employees

Electric Vehicle Day brings out 15 different models for test drives

Electric Vehicle Day,EVs,plug-in vehicles

PG&E employees got a chance to try out pure EVs and plug-in hybrids

If one of the 20,000 employees of the giant Northern California utility, PG&E, was interested in taking advantage of the federal, state and company incentives to buy a plug-in vehicle, a recent program gave them a chance to have some hands-on experience to figure out which vehicle they might want. A recent Electric Vehicle Day program drew representatives from almost all of the companies with pure electrics and plug-in hybrids on the market, giving employees a chance to test drive vehicles and learn more about how they work.

A PG&E spokesman said more than 1,000 employees had already taken advantage of the company’s vehicle purchase incentive program and 315 had booked appointments midday on a Friday to take a look at the more than a dozen different vehicles, either as a new buy or replacement.

Almost all EVs where there

At the Fair, in alphabetical order, were the:

Tesla was out in force, bringing eight vehicles, while other manufacturers brought one to four models to drive or display. The program was busy for its duration of almost four hours. PG&E holds several similar events each year as it encourages its employees to “walk the walk” of automotive energy consciousness.

PG&E has a plug-in truck

Electric Vehicle Day,plug-in truck,hybrid,PG&E

PG&E brought its own portable charger

PG&E also brought out one of their own electric vehicles, a modified Ford F-550 heavy-duty work truck that had been converted into a plug-in hybrid by Efficient Drivetrains Incorporated (EDI) of Dixon, CA. PG&E has added 10 of those trucks to its fleet, using them most recently when supporting communities affected by forest fires, where it was used to power evacuation camps.

The truck, which retains its powerful diesel engine to keep things charged up, is capable of supplying enough electrical power to keep the lights on in 100 homes. In addition, it has charge ports so electric vehicles can use it for Level II (240-volt) charging and also has ports to charge personal electronics. The truck itself can also plug in to recharge its battery, which is capable of exporting 120 kW of power to the grid. It’s also capable of running more than 30 miles on EV power only. The company also has deployed similar hybrids that use electric power to run auxiliary operations like buckets and booms.

In recognition of its far-flung service territory (PG&E’s area of service covers 70,000 square miles, a land area larger than all but 16 states), PG&E is in the process of changing out its CNG-

Electric Vehicle Day,Tesla,Model X,EV,

The Tesla Model X continues to draw a crowd

powered light-duty vehicles for plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt and Ford C-Max Energi. The company also offers charging at most of its facilities (it has installed 451 charging points at company sites according to its spokesman) for what it says is the equivalent of $1/gallon gasoline.

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Clean Fleet Report has driven and tested most of the vehicles mentioned in this article and will be updating many of those tests soon.

Road Test: Audi A3 e-tron

Road Test: BMW i3

Road Test: Cadillac ELR

Road Test: Chevrolet Volt

Road Test: Fiat 500e

Road Test: Ford Focus Electric

Road Test: Ford Fusion Energi

First Drive: Kia Soul

Road Test: Nissan Leaf

Road Test: Volkswagen e-Golf

Clean Fleet Report – Year in Review

Clean Fleet Report – Year in Review

Clean Fleet Report Looks Back at 2015 and Look Forward to This Coming Year

In the automotive industry artificial milestones like January 1 don’t mean much, but the end of a calendar year does beg for a quick look back and look ahead to the coming year. Clean Fleet Report has had a good, fun year, full of great cars, significant news and technological progress. We’ve posted 72 stories this past year, more than any previous one. We’ve driven and reported on all of the technologies available, including fuel cell cars, electric cars, plug-in hybrids, conventional hybrids, clean diesels and the gas-miser cars and trucks with the best fuel economy in their segment. We can say with confidence that cars have never been better bargains, offering cost-effective paths to a “greener” transportation.

For all of the positive news and great progress during 2015, the year also presented some challenges. Two big challenges hit environmentally friendly vehicles where it hurts—the Volkswagen emissions-cheating scandal and low gas prices.

Vollkswagen Scandal

015,VW,Volkswagen,clean diesel,diesel

How much damage to VW and how much to clean diesel

Clean Fleet Report addressed the VW story at its outset and has watched as it has unfolded during the intervening months. The story has still not played out completely as of the new year; our intent is to revisit it once some definitive answers and solutions are forthcoming. In the meantime, VW’s admitted cheating on diesel and other emissions has cast a black eye on what has been demonstrated by other manufacturers (BMW, Mercedes and General Motors, to name three) to be a viable, creative way of delivering not only environmental benefits, but a great driving experience. Those manufacturers have shown clean diesel is not an oxymoron, but we’ll see what happens down the road.

Low gas Prices

Low gas prices are another deal completely. They may be the most challenging thing electric cars and other high fuel economy vehicles face. Or they may not because people remember the high gas prices of recent years and know they could return. Or it may be a moot point since the auto industry is on track to produce higher fuel economy vehicles to meet U.S. CAFE standards and European CO2 standards.

It’s a tough call. While we’ve seen a spike in sales of pickups and SUVs that are on the lower end of mpg scale, that could be attributed to pent-up demand from years of a stagnant economy as

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Sales of smaller crossovers spurt

much as a reaction to low pump prices. What is a fact is that while SUV or crossover sales are up, the hottest segment is the subcompact models that offer the best fuel economy. While hybrid and plug-in hybrid sales are down, pure electric vehicles are due to hit another record year. Due to the push for better fuel economy, the number of pure electric, hybrid, plug-in hybrid and clean diesel vehicles continues to climb. Choices are better than ever, and smart consumers are taking advantage of them.

Self-Driving Cars

Now legal to drive itself

Now legal to drive itself

One trend we can comfortably predict we’ll be covering in 2016 is self-driving cars. The autonomous vehicle (as it is way beyond just cars with heavy-duty trucks and off-road equipment also ready to head into this space) is happening. How it fits with the ongoing electrification of the automotive fleet and how new players like Google and Apple will be one of the big stories of 2016. Don’t expect it to be resolved this year, though. This is a part of a longer game. Clean Fleet Report will be there throughout the year, reporting on the development, driving the cars and listening to your feedback on it all. We’d love to hear about your expectations for the year.

In the meantime, Happy 2016!

Top News Stories of 2015:

News: The Legacy of Volkswagen Clean Diesel

Ford’s Silicon Valley Lab Leads the Way to New Mobility

Toyota Invests in Artificial Intelligence on the Road to Autonomous Cars

Safer and Self-Driving Cars Now on the Road

Elon Musk and the Near Future of the Autonomous Car