Road Test: 2015 Chevrolet City Express LT

Road Test: 2015 Chevrolet City Express LT

Chevy’s Versatile, Light-Duty Delivery Van Hits the Mark

In July 2014 Clean Fleet Report reviewed Nissan’s 2013 NV200 Compact Cargo van noting that this smaller sized commercial segment of high-roof, slab sided utility, very versatile and fuel efficient vans will undoubtedly become a very common sight on US roads. The Ford Transit Connect and the Ram ProMaster City are now joined on the road by the Chevrolet City Express. If the City Express looks familiar, you aren’t mistaken—it’s a rebadged Nissan NV200. We wanted to take a look at the 2015 City Express not only to review this model, but to provide an update of the 2013 NV200 version we covered earlier.

Drivetrain

2015,Chevy, City Express,mpg,small van,flexible work space

A bowtie lands on a compact van

The front-wheel drive, 3,252 lb. 2015 Chevrolet City Express is powered by a 2.0-liter, 16-valve four-cylinder gasoline engine rated at 131 hp, delivering 139 lb-ft of torque. The Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) gets you around without ever feeling a shifting gear. While there are varying opinions about owning a vehicle with a CVT, I like them for their smooth operation and fuel economy boost. In the case of the City Express, I drove it empty and loaded with about 300 lbs. in the cargo area, and it pulled hills and negotiated stops and freeway entrances without issues—and never felt a shift.

The Chevrolet City Express can haul 1,500+ lbs. while getting the best-in-class city fuel economy of 24 mpg. In 518 miles of 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving we averaged 27.9 mpg, which means we were able to exceed the EPA highway rating with our combined fuel economy. If the 14.5 gallon fuel tank was run dry, it would have taken us more than 400 miles down the road. Here in Southern California our 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving pattern is far more real world and is why we report it to you. Note: The EPA’s gas mileage formula is 45-percent highway and 55-percent city.

The Driving Experience: On the Road

The Chevrolet City Express is nimble on city streets and the smooth operation of the CVT makes zipping around town a breeze. There are excellent sightlines out the front windshield as the driver’s

2015 Chevrolet,City Express,functional,work van,mpg, fuel economy, storage

The Expressway to a working person’s heart

seating position is high, aided by an eight-way manually adjusted seat. A significant concern are no widows on the right side of the van (in the model we tested; an optional window in the passenger-side sliding door is available), which makes for some very interesting – challenging – backing maneuvers. The rearview camera, Rear Park Assist (you know, a progressively faster beeping as you get closer to objects) and large outside, power and heated mirrors with integrated convex spotter mirrors helped considerably when backing the City Express, but it takes extra care to make sure nothing is in your blind spot.

Being a tall vehicle at 73.7 inches with a comparatively short 60-inch wheelbase and small 15-inch wheels with all-season tires, the City Express turned without effort due to the electric power steering, but had a bit of body roll if pushed too hard around corners. Many of the Southern California freeways have grooved concrete surfaces for traction and water dispersion (yes, it does rain in SoCal), which could lead to the small tires tracking in the direction of the grooves. This was somewhat noticeable when the City Express was empty but non-existent when hauling a load. The targeted buyer of this van will be small business owners that, for the most part, will primarily be driving city streets and not 70+ mph empty on the freeway, making a grooved road surface a non-factor for driving stability, comfort and confidence.

Stopping was consistent with front vented discs and rear drums with stability control, brake assist and electronic brake force distribution that are all part of the four-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS).

The Driving Experience: Interior

The 2015 Chevrolet City Express comes with a nice list of features that we have become accustomed to seeing on passenger cars and SUVs. Some of these include power windows (with driver side

2015,Chevy City, Express,work van,interior

Car-like work space

one-touch auto-down), power door locks, cruise control, driver information center, steering wheel audio controls, A/C, dual overhead map lights, remote keyless entry, intermittent wipers and plenty of cubbies, storage bins and cup holders and the previously mentioned power, heated outside mirrors.

The City Express comes with cargo-area insulation on the side panels and rubber mats on the floor so road noise is low. Once the interior is built-out this would be a quiet riding van. The seats (front only) were comfortable with cloth inserts and vinyl on the bolsters where the most in-and-out wear will take place. Nice touch.

The driver-focused cockpit has all the controls and gauges within easy reach of the driver. Designed for commercial use, the City Express comes with what Chevrolet calls their “mobile office” with conveniences including power outlets, a center console that can accommodate a laptop and hanging file folder storage and storage areas on the upper instrument panel for folders. The passenger seatback folds down to serve as a worktop or lunch table and there’s a slide-out tray under the passenger seat. Another benefit of the passenger seat folding flat is that it extends the cargo space for hauling longer items, such as pipe, lumber or a surfboard.

Our City Express was equipped with Chevrolet’s optional Technology Package, which came with a 5.8-inch color touch screen, Bluetooth with hands-free voice recognition for streaming audio, Pandora radio, telephone and text messaging assistant. Also in the technology package was SiriusXM with the navigation system that includes NavTraffic, NavWeather and Google Points Of Interest.

The Driving Experience: Exterior

With large, sliding doors on each side that open and close with ease and tall dual rear 60/40 doors, the city Express has exceptional loading convenience. The 60-percent right, or curb, side provides for easy access from a sidewalk and since the 40-percent left side door is shorter, it reduces the potential intrusion into the street when open, helping lower the risk of accidents from passing vehicles. Both rear doors have a very convenient feature — two opening positions: 90 degrees and 180 degrees. Therefore, the doors can fold flat against the van sides and not hinder loading and unloading.

2015, Chevrolet,City Express, work van,

A major opening, ready to be adapted for work

The City Express is considered a commercial vehicle, so, when visiting your Chevrolet dealer, make sure to ask for a sales person conversant in the truck and van needs of business owners, including how this completely empty van can be outfitted. The City Express comes standard with six floor-mounted cargo D-rings and integrated mounting points, which allow installation of racks and shelves without drilling into the sidewalls.

The City Express is spacious with 82.8 inches of cargo length, 54.8 inches of width, 48 inches between the wheelwells and a 53-inch height for the cargo area resulting in a capacity of 122.7 cubic feet. The cargo floor liftover height is a very low 21.1 inches, which makes loading and unloading a breeze. However, to have such a low floor height also means having an even lower rear bumper, leaving the back of the van susceptible to damage in a rear end collision.

Standard safety features include six air bags, vehicle stability control and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS).

Pricing & Warranties

The 2015 Chevrolet City Express LS base model begins at $21,955 and the LT model, which Clean Fleet Report was driving, had an MSRP of $25,355, both prices do not include the $995 Destination Charge. Our LT also had the back door glass ($190), Exterior Appearance Package ($355), 15-inch aluminum wheels ($350) and the Technology Packages ($945) for a total of $23,250, including the Destination Charge.

The 2015 City Express comes with these warranties:

Basic:          Three-years/36,000-miles

Powertrain:  Five-years/60,000-miles

Drivetrain:   Five-years/60,000-miles

Corrosion:   Five-years/Unlimited miles

Emissions:   Two-years/24,000-miles (3 year/50,000 miles for California)

Observations: 2015 Chevrolet City Express LT

When Clean Fleet Report reviewed the 2013 Nissan NV200, we said that if you need a light-duty delivery van to haul cargo in-town and short distances on the freeway, then it should be on your

2015,Chevrolet,City,Express,compact van,mpg,fuel economy

A well-executed joint venture

consideration list. We now can say that you should also stop by your Chevrolet dealer and test drive the City Express.

This very versatile van is easy to drive, park and maneuver, and gets good fuel economy with the CVT making for a smooth driving experience, plus its convenient low lift-over floor height and tall, wide doors reduce the difficulty of loading and unloading cargo.

Chevrolet is to be recognized for teaming with Nissan to bring you a commercial vehicle that carries the famous Bowtie logo and is not more van – either size or price – than you need to run your business.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

Related Stories You Might Enjoy:

Road Test: Nissan NV200

Can Electricity Help Deliver the Mail?

Ford Uses Aluminum As a Path to MPG

 

Toyota U2 Concept Unveiled

Toyota U2 Concept Unveiled

Toyota Dips Its Toes into “Urban Utility”

One of the questions that keeps automotive CEOs up at night these days is a pretty basic one—if all the young people move to the cities, will they still buy cars? It’s a valid one with plenty of data driving it. The rural-to-urban migration trend is happening worldwide. It’s so well-established it has a Wikipedia entry. We’re already there in the U.S. with more than 75 percent of the country urbanized.

toyota,U2 concept,urban utility,

Driving home urban utility

Then there’s the concern about the younger generation of car buyers overall. Do they even like cars? Will they buy them if they don’t have to? Again, there’s data on this front.

So how do automakers respond? That’s never a rhetorical question as the response has to be a youth-oriented urban vehicle. Not that the streets of San Francisco and New York aren’t already littered with Kia Souls and Scions along with a cache of used BMWs. Toyota has stepped up to the challenge with a concept car it has no intention of ever building. In fact, they say they never intended to show it outside the company.

Somewhere along the line they changed their collective minds and the U2 (not to be confused with the Irish band) showed up in San Francisco at the opening of the Maker Faire, which not coincidently numbered Toyota as one of its sponsors.

U2 Design — Function Over Form

So does it hit the mark? The Toyota U2 (for Urban  Utility, of course) looks like a slightly bloated version of a Ford Transit or one of the other Euro-derived truck/vans, so it has the utility nailed pretty well. It’s somewhere between that

toyota,u2 concept,urban utility,functionality

An interior designed for fun & function

commercial vehicle paradigm and a car-based SUV like the Nissan Juke.

The utility aspect is augmented by a trick tailgate that folds down to become a ramp and an interior designed to swallow bikes and kayaks alike.

The short wheelbase definitely extends the urban theme as parking and maneuvering in the city calls for tight turning circles and the ability to squeeze into small spaces. As one of the Toyota presenters summed it up

toyota,u2 concept,concept car,urban utility

Some urban attitude coming at ya

Then there’s an aggressive grille and wheels that look good but can still take punishment from curbs because they have mini composite skid plates to protect the metallic portion of the wheels. It’s probably the most memorable Toyota front end since the FJ Cruiser, which not coincidently was also designed at Toyota’s Southern California Calty Studio.

Calty’s president, Kevin Hunter, said the goal with the U2 was “minimum size; maximum use” and a “tool-like” vehicle. It’s roughly the same size as a Scion xB, but while he characterized it as a “design exercise,” he quickly added that it was not a “frivolous idea.”

Personal/Commercial Use

The Toyota U2 concept takes on a phenomenon that is evident in the real automotive world—vehicles being used for functions other than that which they were intended to be used for. It could function as a four-passenger around-town car but quickly transform into a utility vehicle complete with sliding roof that could accommodate tall items. Hunter said it was intended to straddle the personal space and functional uses of a car, that it was supposed to be “purposeful yet playful.” Throughout the interior are highly functional touches such as sliding bars that could be used to secure items in back, but

toyota,u2 concept,urban utility,dashboard

An interior you can take with you

have a polished design look that takes them well-beyond a simple tie-down. Next to the driver is a removable tablet that can function both as the car’s nav system and your personal iPad when you exit.

Good Fuel Economy Key

It’s only a concept, but Toyota made it clear that this exercise would have to have good fuel economy to be a contender in any future urban car contest. So the question was asked—what kind of powertrain does the U2 contain? Well, maybe with a little embarrassment, the Toyota representative admitted the concept didn’t really have an engine. Well, I guess that would make it a zero emission vehicle, so it would probably be welcomed in San Francisco. Of course, Toyota doesn’t appear currently to be inclined toward battery electric vehicles, favoring its tried-and-true hybrids or fuel cells as the future more fuel efficient direction.

Innovation Showcase

The Maker Faire did seem an appropriate showcase for the U2 since it is an event marked by entrepreneurs seeking their own approach to a hobby or business. The Toyota U2 concept is a car built of fiberglass that incorporated several parts created using a 3D printer. It may not be a prototype for how cars will be made, but it’s a good example of how to get ideas into a three-dimensional form very quickly. Like most concept cars, it presents a variety of ideas and, if nothing else, should engage its target audience in a healthy debate about what constitutes urban utility in a vehicle.

Related stories you might enjoy:

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Road Test: 2013 Nissan NV200 Cargo SV

Road Test: 2013 Nissan NV200 Cargo SV

Perfect For Around Town Light Duty Delivery

Nissan’s 2013 NV200 Compact Cargo van was designed for light-duty delivery and hauling, and it does it quite well. Competing directly against the Ford Transit Connect and the coming Ram ProMaster City and Chevy City Express, this segment of high-roof, slab sided utility vans will undoubtedly become a very common sight on US roads.

Drivetrain

The front-wheel drive, 3,255 lb., 2013 Nissan NV200 Cargo SV is powered by a 2.0L, 16-valve 4-cylinder gasoline engine, rated at 131 hp delivering 139 lb-ft of torque. The engine mates to Nissan’s Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT), which gets you around without ever feeling a shifting gear. There are varying opinions about owning a car with a CVT, but I like them for their smooth operation and fuel economy. Having driven

Nissan,NV200,cargo van,mpg,fuel economy

You can see through Nissan’s plan–best MPG=sales

several Nissans with a CVT, it is obvious that they pretty much have them figured-out.

So why is Clean Fleet Report reviewing a gasoline-powered van as we primarily feature alternatives to gas-only vehicles? Because we’re focused on telling you about the best car or truck for the job. The Nissan NV200 Cargo can haul 1,500+ lbs. while claiming the Best-In-Class city fuel economy of 24 mpg. The freeway economy is listed at 25 mpg with an overall average of 24 mpg. I was able on a 250-mile freeway run, with no load, to get close to 30 mpg. That claim may not last long as you can see in the competitive stats at the end of this test.

We are not the promoters of any one technology because there are no silver bullets. We want to give you the information you need to make the best decision when it comes to fuel efficiency. Therefore, we felt the NV200 was newsworthy if you are looking for a cargo utility vehicle that gets excellent fuel economy for its size category. Clean Fleet Report will feature more gasoline-powered vehicles when they merit the attention and recognition.

The Driving Experience: Interior

The 2013 Nissan NV200 Cargo SV comes with a nice list of features that we have become accustomed to seeing on passenger cars and SUVs. Some of these include power windows (with driver side one-touch auto-down), power heated outside mirrors, power door locks, cruise control, steering wheel audio controls, A/C, dual overhead map lights, remote keyless entry, intermittent wipers and plenty of

Nissan,NV200,storage,cargo van,mpg

The NV200 is a rolling workplace

cubbies, storage bins and cup holders.

The seats were comfortable and have cloth inserts with vinyl on the bolsters where the most in-and-out wear will take place. Nice touch.

The driver-focused cockpit has all the controls and gauges within easy reach of the driver. The NV200 Cargo, designed for commercial use, offers mobile office conveniences including a center console with laptop/hanging file folder storage and storage areas on the upper instrument panel for folders. Another convenient feature offers two benefits: the passenger seatback folds down to serve as a worktop or lunch table and it extends the cargo space for hauling longer items, such as pipe, lumber or a surfboard. The tray built into the passenger-side seatback can fit most laptops and includes a penholder for use as desk.

Our NV200 Cargo SV was equipped with Nissan’s optional Technology Package which came with a 5.8-inch color touch screen, Bluetooth with hands-free Nissan Voice Recognition for streaming audio (Pandora radio capable, iPhone only), telephone, navigation and their text messaging assistant. Also in the technology package was SiriusXM, NissanConnect with a navigation system that includes NavTraffic, NavWeather and Google Points Of Interest.

One note on the sound system: because the test NV200 Cargo had no built-out interior sides past the cockpit (more on this later) and there is little insulation or noise deadening as a result, it comes with only two speakers

Nissan,NV200,storage,cargo van,mpg

Places for work things abound

mounted on the dash. At freeway speeds, with the windows open, you pretty much lose any possibility of a high-quality listening experience. With the A/C on and windows closed, it’s just a bit better.

The NV200 Cargo comes standard with large outside mirrors with integrated convex spotter mirrors and, as an option in the Technology Package, a rear view camera. These are good things as the windowless sliding doors on each side make for difficult, if not dangerous, backing situations. Sliding door windows are an option, which Clean Fleet Report strongly recommends you get, as whatever advertising space you forgo on the slab-sided door will be rewarded by your not bumping into stationary and moving objects.

Visibility aside, the large, side sliding doors open and close with ease and can accommodate loading most tall items. This loading convenience goes for the rear doors which are also tall and have a 40/60 split design. The 60 percent right, or curb, side provides for easy access from a sidewalk and the 40 percent left side door is shorter in width, reducing its potential intrusion into the street when open, helping lower the risk of accidents due to passing vehicles. A very convenient feature is that both rear doors have two opening positions: 90º and 180º; they can fold flat against the van sides and not hinder loading and unloading.

Nissan,NV200,cargo van,mpg

No surprise-it swallows cargo

The NV200 Cargo is considered a commercial vehicle and is only sold through select Nissan dealers. This makes sense as a dealer conversant in the truck and van needs of business owners will be knowledgeable of how this completely empty van can be outfitted. It comes standard with six floor-mounted cargo rings and integrated mounting points, which allow installation of racks and shelves without drilling into the sidewalls.

The NV200 Cargo is spacious: 82.8-inch cargo length, 54.8-inch cargo width, 48-inch between the wheel wells and a 53-inch cargo area height, resulting in a capacity of 122.7 cubic feet. It’s rated to take up to a 1,500-pound payload. The cargo floor liftover height is a very low 21.1 inches, which makes loading and unloading a breeze. However, to have such a low floor height also means having an even lower rear bumper, leaving the back of the van susceptible to damage in a rear end collision.

Standard safety features include roof-mounted curtain, side impact air bags and front seat-mounted driver and passenger side impact air bags, Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC), and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System, TPMS.

The Driving Experience: On The Road

The NV200 Cargo is nimble on city streets and the smooth operation of the CVT makes zipping around town a breeze. There are excellent sightlines out the front windshield as the driver’s seating position is high, aided by a six-way manually adjusted seat. As mentioned earlier a big area of concern was no standard widow on the right side sliding door making for some very interesting – challenging – backing maneuvers. I found that parking the NV200 Cargo was easy and the 36.7’ curb-to-curb turning radius very helpful in tight spots.

My test NV200 Cargo came with no cargo-area insulation, so once on the freeway, road noise is noticeable. Being a tall vehicle (73.7 inches) with a short 115.2-inch wheelbase and 60-inch width, coupled with small 15-inch wheels and all-season tires, it had significant body roll if pushed too hard around corners. Out on the freeways here in Southern California, I felt it did not track well as our concrete freeway surfaces are grooved for traction and water dispersion and can also get a bit like a washboard. I felt the combination of a slab-sided van being buffeted by the windwash from big rigs, the small wheels and grooved freeway surfaces left me with an occasional uneasy feeling at freeway speeds. Possibly with a loaded NV200 Cargo the ride would be more stable, but even then, I would suggest Nissan’s cargo van be used primarily for in-town deliveries.

Pricing

The 2013 NV200 Compact Cargo begins at $21,085 and the SV base model starts at $22,075, both including the $845 Destination Charge. Our SV also had the Back Door Glass ($190), Exterior Appearance ($190), All Season Floor Mats ($95) and the Technology Packages ($950) for a total of $23,250, including the Destination Charge.

The 2013 NV200 Compact Cargo comes with these warranties:

Bumper-to-bumper:        5 year/100,000 miles

Powertrain:                     5 year/60,000 miles

Drivetrain:                      5 year/60,000 miles

Corrosion:                       5 year/Unlimited miles

Emissions:                      2 year/24,000 miles (3 year/50,000 miles for California)

Observations: 2013 Nissan NV200 Compact Cargo SV

If you need a light-duty delivery vehicle to haul cargo in-town and short distances on the freeway, then you should be considering the Nissan NV200 Cargo. This very versatile van is easy to drive, park and maneuver in

Nissan,NV200,mpg,cargo van

Nissan NV200-coming at you

the city, and with its low lift-over floor height and tall, wide doors, reduces the difficulty of loading and unloading cargo.

The fuel economy is excellent, maybe even better than advertised. The CVT makes for a smooth driving experience. Nissan’s understanding that NV200 Cargo owners will be doing business has led to a nicely outfitted vehicle that can serve as a mobile office.

You can find a Nissan commercial dealer here www.nissancommercialvehicles.com. Have them let you take it out for a combination city and freeway test drive to see for yourself how it will help your business grow.

Whatever you buy, Happy Driving!

The EV Cargo-Hauling Option – e-NV200

By Michael Coates/Senior Editor

Given Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s new passion for pure electric vehicles, it’s not surprising that an electric version of the NV200 is going to be arriving soon after the gas model hits the roads of the U.S.

Nissan,NV200,e-NV200,electric truck,electric vehicle,EV

Nissan also has a zero emissions version

The e-NV200’s concept is simple – all of the functionality of the NV200 with none of the tailpipe emissions. Like the Leaf, the e-NV200 has a charging port under the Nissan logo at the front. In fact, it features a transplant of the Leaf’s electric drivetrain, which includes an 80KW AC synchronous electric motor that generates 207 lb-ft of torque. That should deliver off-the-line performance even better than the gas version, except that you’re also hauling around a 48-module lithium-ion battery (also from the Leaf) that will add a few pounds to the NV200’s

Nissan,e-NV200,electric truck,EV,electric vehicle, interior

Inside the e-NV200 has Leaf-like gadgets

normal weight. In gas-engine trim, the NV200 is roughly the same weight as a Leaf. Since it has the same charging system as the Leaf, the e-NV200 should be capable of DC (480-volt) fast-charging, which would allow it to charge to 80-percent capacity in about 30 minutes and extend its capability for local deliveries or short-range commercial work.

The e-NV200 is reported to have a range of 73 miles and has been used in trials with the Japan Post Service and FedEx in Europe. More are due on the roads here this year for further testing. Of course at this early stage there is no talk of price.

Competition

Some comparative statistics (since two models are not yet on the market some info is a little sketchy):

2014 Ford Transit Connect /$22,000 / 22-30-25 w/1.6L EcoBoost engine 178 hp/184 lb-ft torque & 6-sp trans/ 103.9 cu ft (long wheelbase=128.6) / 1,710 lb payload / CNG option

 2015 Ram ProMaster City (due on in early 2015) / no price announced / 178 hp/174 lb-ft torque w/2.4L Tigershark engine / 132 cu ft / 1,883 lb payload

2015 Chevy City Express (due soon) / $21,955 / 2.0L engine / 131 hp & CVT / 122.7 cu ft / 1,500 lb payload

2015 Model Year Updates Announced

No sooner did we get this road test published than Nissan announced some changes coming the NV200 in the next model year. Topping the list is a fuel economy boost, which will be accompanied by a variety of new optional equipment. Here’s the laundry list of updates:

The NV full-size cargo van will get the new SL trim level (along with the S and SV models) that includes chrome bumpers, grille, door handles, and mirror caps. The NV SL will also offer an eight-way driver’s seat, vehicle security system, and first-row side and roof-mounted curtain side air bags.

The 2015 NV also gets the updated NissanConnect infotainment system with navigation and mobile apps paired with a 5.8-inch touch screen display. The NV passenger van also gets the upgraded NissanConnect system. Both NV versions will be available in early 2015.

The 2015 NV200 compact cargo van gets several upgrades, including a new next-gen Xtronic transmission, revised HD alternator, and 1 mpg improvement in fuel economy to 24/26/25 mpg for city/highway/combined cycles. Additionally, new options include rear sonar and a sliding door glass package. The 2015 NV200 will be available in September.

The 2015 NV200 Taxi will also get the NissanConnect system with navigation and mobile apps paired with a 5.8-inch display. It will be available in early 2015.

Related articles you might find interesting:

Hundreds of Electric Delivery Trucks Today; Millions Tomorrow

Ford Has Confidence In Its Aluminum Path To MPG

2014 Ram 1500 HFE With Start-Stop System

 

Super Mileage Four-Door Sedans

Super Mileage Four-Door Sedans

Fuel economy was on display at the Detroit Auto Show. Starting Saturday, even more exciting vehicles will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show, also in Detroit. $100 per barrel oil and new CAFÉ standards have made improved fuel economy mandatory for auto makers.

Most popular with individuals and fleets is the four-door sedan. Over the next three years, there will be a number of affordable offerings with fuel economy from 40 miles per gallon, to infinite miles per gallon.

General Motors continues to draw considerable attention with its Chevy Volt, which will offer 40 mile range in electric mode before its small 1L engine is engaged. 40 miles accommodates the daily range requirements of 78% of all U.S. drivers. The Volt uses an electric drive system with a small ICE in series that is only used to generate added electricity, not give power to the wheels. GM hopes to take orders for the Volt at the end of 2010.

World hybrid leader, Toyota, is likely to beat GM to market with a new plug-in hybrid also using lithium batteries. Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe discussed Toyota’s vision, “Sustainable Mobility addresses four key priorities. First, we must address the vehicles themselves and the advanced technologies. Highly advanced conventional engines, plug-in hybrids, fuel cells and clean diesels, as well as many other innovative new technologies, will all play a part. Second, we must address the urban environment, where these new technologies will live. In the future, we foresee ‘mixed mobility,’ combining intelligent highways and mass-transit, bike paths and short-cut walking routes, recharging kiosks and hydrogen fuel stations…. By 2010, we will accelerate our global plug-in hybrid R&D program. As part of this plan, we will deliver a significant fleet of PHEVs powered by lithium-ion batteries to a wide variety of global commercial customers, with many coming to the U.S.” President Watanabe’s Remarks

A new offering from China’s leading battery manufacturer, BYD, will bring a plug-in hybrid to market sooner than Toyota and GM and at a lower price. BYD executive Mr. Lin said BYD Auto plans to launch the plug-in hybrid during the Beijing Olympics at a price of less than $30,000 (200,000 Yuan). The company sold about 100,000 cars in China in 2007, he said. The F6DM (Dual Mode, for EV and HEV), is a variant of the front-wheel drive F6 sedan that BYD introduced into the China market earlier this year, actually offers three modes of operation: full battery-powered EV mode driving its 75 kW, 400 Nm motor; series-hybrid mode, in which a 50 kW, 1.0-liter engine drives a generator as a range-extender; and parallel hybrid mode, in which the engine and motor both provide propulsive power. Expect the BYD F6DM to be selling in the U.S. by early 2010. Green Car Congress

Ford announced EcoBoost – this new 4-cylinder and 6-cylinder engine family features turbocharging and gasoline direct injection technology. The EcoBoost technology will deliver approximately 20% better fuel economy and 15% fewer CO2 emissions. The company will introduce EcoBoost on the new Lincoln MKS in 2009. Eventually the technology will be integrated into a range of flex fuel vehicles, which currently suffer from poor gasoline mileage, and 27% worse mileage with E85 ethanol.

Europeans are already enjoying 25% mileage improvements with new turbo diesels with direct injection. Exciting models will be available in the U.S. this year. Daimler, Audi and Volkswagen, all partners in the BLUETEC clean diesel marketing initiative showed a new Tier 2 Bin 5 compliant (i.e., able to be sold in all 50 states) BLUETEC model at the North American International Autoshow in Detroit

VW is the diesel passenger car sales leader. The Tier 2 Bin 5-compliant 2009 model year Jetta TDI, equipped with the clean diesel engine option, will be on sale later this year. Some drivers may experience over 40 miles per gallon with the Jetta’s efficient 2L four-cylinder engine.

Will we see the combined efficiency of diesel and hybrids? Yes. The Mercedes S 300 BLUETEC HYBRID is a 4-cylinder diesel a with hybrid module that gives it the performance of a V-8. The luxury saloon delivers 44 miles per gallon (5.4L/100km).

The Detroit shows unveiled a dazzling array of muscle trucks, loaded SUVs, hot sport cars, concept electric vehicles, and many model improvements.

Over the next three years, the biggest impact on reduced fuel use and lowered emissions will be in the every popular four-door sedan. Toyota has a commanding lead with over one million four-door Priuses on the road. Soon, Toyota will be selling one million hybrids per year.

Fuel economy improvements in the new vehicles are the result of using lighter materials, better aerodynamic design, lighter and more efficient engines, replacement of more mechanical components with electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid designs.

While some auto executives still think that the key to financial success is yesterday’s big heavy and low-mileage cash cow, others recognize the path to sustained profitability is to deliver great fuel economy in popular full-featured cars. The global race is on. The sure winner is the customer.

John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report.

Flexible Work

Flexible Work

Flexible Work

Great organizations are improving employee productivity, increasing retention of key people, and often saving millions of dollars annually. We admire corporations that contribute to the triple bottom line: people, profits, and planet. Flexible work and flexible transportation programs are enabling great employers to achieve all three.

In the Oil and Coal Age, everyone drove solo during gridlock hours to their one work location to toil over their designated machine. Now people are most effective working some days at one location, other times at home, others at a customer or supplier location. We are becoming increasingly flexible and mobile. We can take advantage of the new flexible workplace solutions to annually save hundreds of wasted hours, thousands of gallons of wasted gas, and pocket thousands of dollars.

Currently, over 2,500 Applied Materials employees participate in Applied Anywhere, a comprehensive flexible work location program.

The semiconductor chips in your computers, electronic games, solar panels, and mobile devices are likely to be made with equipment from Applied Materials. Their flexible work location program, Applied Anywhere, addresses their global business environment and provides agility to be closer to the customer as well as supporting the needs of many employees who perform some or their entire job outside the traditional office place. Applied Anywhere supports eligible employees that at different times may need to work from one of several corporate offices, at home, at an airport, or at a customer site.

Ann Zis, a Senior Program Manager for Applied, explained that the program has made global teams more effective, reduced commute hours, increased productivity, and saved gas miles.

The new workforce is mobile; at times working at their office, other times at home, other times at a customer site. Effective mobile working often requires wireless services, Internet services, IP telephony, security, laptops, and a variety of mobile devices. Hundreds of technology companies are benefiting from mobile work include Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, Nokia, Google, Yahoo, and Symantec.

Flexible work allows millions to travel less. Flexible transportation can enable most employees to save money and fuel when they do travel. 93% of all U.S. car trips are with only one person in the vehicle. The picture is better with work related travel. 12% share rides and 5% use public transit.

Your employer may pay you $1,380 per year, tax free, to use flexible transportation. The IRS allows ridesharing, public transit, and other creative commute options to be reimbursed up to $115 per month tax free in 2008, increased from $110 in 2007. Check-out the commute programs offered by your employer. Investigate regional transit and ridesharing programs. You could save a bundle.

37% of Yahoo! headquarters employees get to work without driving solo, reported Danielle Bricker with Yahoo during my interview with her. Yahoo’s Commute Alternatives Program is comprehensive, popular, and getting results.

As one of two dedicated Commute Coordinators at Yahoo, Danielle practices what she preaches. For four years, she has commuted 90-miles daily without owning a car. She commutes by train, walking to the station at one end, and boarding a Yahoo shuttle for the last mile to work. Living in San Francisco, Daniel will occasionally use CityCarShare to travel a distance at night, or when shopping at multiple locations requires carrying heavier loads.

Yahoo provides employees with free Eco-Passes for bus and light rail on VTA, the area’s rapid transit provider. Employees may also order online discounted passes for other public transit providers. Yahoo has achieved high ridership on public buses, light rail and trains by providing shuttle buses to take its employees to and from major transit stops such as Caltrain and Amtrak. Several full-size contracted buses transport employees to and from their homes in San Francisco.

These buses run on B20 biodiesel. Yahoo further reduces its carbon foot print by using locally grown food for 40% of its cafeteria meals. Cafeteria waste is used for biodiesel production.

Yahoo makes it easy for people to ride together. Yahoo has an intranet site where people can locate other employees near their homes for carpooling. There are special events, education, lunch-and-learns, and weekly education to encourage the growing use of Yahoo’s Commute Alternatives Program. These people use Yahoo!Groups to communicate and stay informed. Some car pools, such as those in Santa Cruz, merged into van pools with one van carrying 15 people. The Santa Cruz van provided by Enterprise includes wi-fi, allowing people to email, Yahoo Message, and create when crawling in stop-and-go traffic.

A number of highways used by ride sharers have high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, allowing car and van poolers to fly by solo drivers stuck in traffic.

Yahoo encourages the use of a zero-emission vehicle owned by one billion people on this planet – the bicycle. Yahoo provides bicyclers with secure storage of their bikes. Free lockers and showers are available. To help people quickly navigate Yahoo’s campus of buildings, loaner bikes are also available.
Many of the Yahoo commuters are able to get extra work done using laptops and other mobile devices while commuting on transit.

Yahoo’s results are impressive, considering that Silicon Valley workers live widely dispersed; many are forced to live miles from Silicon Valley so that they can live in affordable housing. Technologists work long and irregular hours, which makes ridesharing more challenging. Many Silicon Valley locations provide a long and uncomfortable walk in the dark to public transit.

Yahoo addresses these problems in a number of ways. One is that it provides a guaranteed ride home. Yahoo will pay for a late worker’s taxi or rental car. Commute program managers agree that a guaranteed ride home is critical to a commute program’s success. All agreed that employees rarely use the guarantee, making the cost minimal.

Yahoo rewards – employees who come to work without driving alone are rewarded with free lunches, movie tickets and massages. For her tireless work in making the program a success, Danielle Bricker was nominated by fellow employees for one of Yahoo’s most prestigious awards. Out of 14,000 employees, she was recognized with the Super Star Award.

Yahoo’s flexible transportation programs reflect the organization’s commitment to make a difference. Yahoo! is carbon neutral by offsetting its 250,000 metric ton carbon footprint (from 2006) through hydropower in rural Brazil and wind turbines in India.

Each month, a growing wealth of information and solutions to the global warming problem are available to Yahoo’s 500 million users at Yahoo Green.

By taking a carbon neutral approach, Yahoo goes beyond a simple commute program. Yahoo looks for ways to eliminate unnecessary employee trips. Yahoo’s high-tech flexible work allows people to work at home and other locations when appropriate. Employees manage their own work hours, allowing them to avoid the crawl of gridlock hours. When at Yahoo headquarters, employees can take advantage of on-site services to avoid running errands and traveling off-site for meals. Yahoo succeeds in the triple bottom line of people, profits, and planet.

Effective organizations have gone far beyond having a few employees telecommute. Flexible work is created so that all unnecessary travel is eliminated. Global teams of employees, partners, and customers use the new Internet to effectively work together without always being together in the same building. Solo gridlock commutes are replaced with more healthy and productive travel where mobile work can be done while ride sharing and using public transportation.

Flexible work and flexible travel are greatly helping people to be more productive, save money, and help us achieve energy independence.

Copyright © 2007 John Addison. This article is part of John Addison’s upcoming book, Save Gas, Save the Planet. John Addison publishes the Clean Fleet Report