General Motors unveiled the long-awaited 2014 Cadillac ELR this week, the first plug-in extended range EV hybrid for the brand. For all intents and purposes, the ELR is a Chevy Volt that's been souped up with Cadillac luxury touches. Originally revealed as the Cadillac Converj, the ELR will feature a redesigned interior cabin that will supposedly define future Cadillac models, with features like Regen on Demand buttons on the steering wheel that let the driver capture the energy generated by the vehicle's momentum, conserving it for a bit more battery juice. The ELR also packs in the awesome Cadillac CUE infotainment dashboard system. The vehicle puts out 207hp, more than 25% more than the Chevy Volt. No final word yet on EV range, though, but the Volt gets about 35 miles before gasoline kicks in, and the ELR is a bit heavier. GM says that production on the ELR is set to begin later this year in preparation for a 2014 North American launch.
Read More | GM
Remember our 2012 Chevy Volt that failed while driving and almost got me in an accident? We updated the story with the details about trying to work with Chevy and GM to get a replacement Volt since we no longer felt safe driving the one we had. After all, it had been in the shop for repairs every two weeks since we had picked it up the first time. Well, we are please to report that Chevrolet and General Motors did right by us, and agreed to replace our 2012 Volt with a newer, similarly-equipped 2013 model. Since this was a lease, it was a bit more complicated than a simple trade. Instead, we did what's called a VIN swap. The result? We keep the same lease terms and paperwork, with the VIN being the only change on the documents. It took a while since the 2013 Chevy Volt wasn't available until very recently, and once it arrived, we needed to wait for all the paperwork to be completed. Still, it was worth the wait. Stay tuned for our 2013 Chevy Volt review.
In case you missed it, earlier this week we detailed how the Chevy Volt malfunctioned and nearly caused a high-speed collission while we were driving it. We've had plenty of readers writing in to ask for an update on the Chevy Volt fisaco that we've found ourselves embroiled in. We definitely planned on hitting you guys with an update on how Chevrolet and General Motors address the situation that we're facing once all was said and done, but since it's taking a bit longer than we'd hoped, and since there have been a couple of new developments, we figured we'd do an interim report.
Before we get into some of the good, we've gotta say right up front that dealing with Chevy/GM as a corporate entity has been frustrating. It seems that it's goal is to tell us that there is nothing they can do, with the hope that this will just go away, rather than doing whatever it can to ease the concerns of a customer who's done nothing but praise it's flagship product all the way up until it put us in harms way. More on that later.
Update 1: We're trying to deal with Chevy to get resolution that both us and the dealer believes to be the best option. GM would rather us forget about everything, it seems.
We've been keeping tabs on the Chevy Volt ever since the electric vehicle was unveiled in September 2008. We covered the 230 MPG announcement, and were on-hand for the introduction of the OnStar Mobile Integration announcement which showed how you would be able to send commands from your smartphone directly to your Volt (and other OnStar-equipped vehicles) remotely. While there were other pure EVs out there, the maximum range would leave some stranded without any other option but getting towed while the Volt had a gas tank that could run a generator to continue creating electric power even when the pure electric battery ran out. The Volt, in our minds, was the car of the near-future. Until EV range is bumped high enough to never cause charge anxiety, Chevy's flagship EV provided the best trade-off. So we leased one. That's where things started to go very wrong.
See that guy up there? His name is Noble, and the last time he filled up his gas tank was 4,000 miles ago. How can that be? He drives a Chevy Volt, which he calls "the best vehicle he's ever driven." A fully charged Volt can drive for about 35-40 miles before switching over to a gas-powered electric engine (similar to a hybrid vehicle.) So if you rarely (or never) run out of electric power, you'll never touch the gas in the tank. Check out the video below for more from Noble himself.
Read More | Chevrolet Voltage
In the world of EVs, the quicker you can charge your vehicle when on the go, the better. That's one stark difference between the electric cars and their gas counterparts--while you're saving money from not having to visit the pump, you're certainly losing out on time. Well, that's about to change, as several EV manufacturers have agreed on a new 20-minute fast-charging standard that'll take you from empty to full within 20 minutes. It's called DC Fast Charging with a Combined Charging System, and the folks over at Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, GM, Porsche, and Volkswagen has all agreed that this is the future.
Oh, and to be clear, this really is the future. As in, don't expect to see vehicles that support the stndard for another year or so. Heck, over in Europe, the ACEA isn't even guaranteeing that you'll see charging stations adopting the standard over there until 2017. Hopefully things pick up a little quicker than that here in the US.
Fisker has issued a recall for the battery pack fitted in the Karma. The issue lies within the battery pack cell, produced by A123 Systems, which could result in “battery underperformance and decreased durability.” This has been identified as a plausible cause of Consumer Report’s Fisker Karma malfunction.
Fisker says that the issue could affect about 670 Karmas, and only a “handful” of Karmas actually manifest the issue. Roger Ormisher, Fisker’s director of global communications, told Wired that it would be installing new packs into affected Karmas as soon as a fault-free pack can be produced. The recall is setting Fisker back by $55 million, and the replacement will be free for customers.
Fisker is also extending warranties to consumers in the United States and Europe. In the States, the warranty is extended by 10 months/10,000 miles on top of the existing 50 month/50,000 mile warranty. European owner will also experience the same extension from 48 months/100,000 km to 60 months/100,000 km.
Fisker will be notifying affected customers with updates to their vehicles in the days to come.
Read More | Wired
The biggest turn off in buying an electric vehicle for most is the sticker price. Some, like the Fisker Karma, hover at six figures, and other like the Tesla cars range from $50,000 onward to $100,000, which is priced well above most pocketbooks. That leaves room for only a few EVs to choose from in the $30,000 neighborhood, primarily the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi I. If these two don’t float your boat, there is a new contender entering the market outta California.
The company is called Coda Automotive, and it's set to roll out a new 5-passenger EV. The company is based out of Los Angeles, California, and its EV plant is in Benicia. The car is priced reasonably at $35,200.
Buyers will have the option of choosing five exterior colors, two wheel designs, and those lucky enough to be within the first 500 customers will get cars that feature limited-edition accents, signifying they’re on of the first Coda vehicles to hit the road.
Read More | CNet
The Fisker Karma was one the electric cars we hoped would have led the pack in design. Instead, it seems to be an example of what not to do. The guys over at Consumer Reports bought the EV for testing and they weren't able to get very far.
The Karma only made it 2,000 miles before breaking down. With a little more research, they found out that other owners had similar, if not more horrific experiences. There have been reports of differentials going out at 1,000 miles, cars stalling out while doing 35 MPH, and trouble with shifting. Obviously, these are issues a new car should not have, let alone a car that cost over six figures.
But, hey, these are our words--if you wanna get the story from the horse's mouth, check out the video above!
GM went on the record opposing Governor Christine Gregoire on Senate Bill 5251. For those of you not familiar with the bill, it would impose a $100 annual tax on electric vehicle owners to make up for lost revenue not paid in gas taxes.
GM’s Regional Director Howard Lenox, Jr. wrote "A fee which singles out electric vehicles will be a disincentive to the growth of the electric vehicle market in Washington State. As a practical matter, there are so few vehicles on Washington's roads today that their impact in replacing fuel tax revenues will, for now, be negligible."
Now, we understand where the Lenox is coming from, but has he sat through 405 traffic in the morning? Seattle area traffic is some of the worst in the nation. The bill is supposed to generate $1.9 million dollars in lost revenue by 2017. However, it's still subject to approval by Washington state voters. It’s reported that Arizona, Oregon, and Kansas are among other states to pass similar bills.
How about you? Would you oppose or support Senate Bill 5251? Leave your answers in the comments letting us know!