AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
GM has spent a not-insubstantial sum on Sunlogics, a manufacturer of solar energy systems, in order to supply its Chevrolet dealerships with environmentally-friendly charging stations.
GM’s cash injection will also provide over 300 jobs in Detroit and Ontario for when Sunlogic expands their manufacturing bases. In addition, GM’s facilities will install solar arrays en masse to offset some of its power consumption.
Ultimately, GM aims to double its global solar output by 2015, from 30 to 60 megawatts, “which is equivalent to powering 10,000 homes annually,” said Mike Robinson, GM’s vice president of Energy, Environment and Safety Policy. ”Not only does renewable energy make good business sense, it helps us continue to reduce the impact our facilities have on the environment.”
GM already has three of the world’s largest rooftop solar installations in America, as well as the world’s largest one at its assembly plant in Zaragoza, Spain.
[Source: Silicon Republic]
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg today unveiled the first of what will be a fleet of 50 Chevrolet Volt NYPD police cruisers, which will hit the treacherous and busy streets of Manhattan this year.
“This is the latest and largest-ever addition of electric vehicles to the City’s fleet, which is already the largest municipal clean-air vehicle fleet in the nation,” Bloomberg said in a statement. “We will continue to lead by example, but we also must provide New Yorkers with tools to make environmentally friendly choices in their own lives.
“When provided with the facts, people become far more likely to choose an electric vehicle. Our job is to ensure the public has the facts, ensure they can make their own decisions and ensure that if they want to drive an electric vehicle, we are providing the infrastructure needed. It’s all part of our PlaNYC agenda to create a greener, greater New York City.”
The Volt is the first fully-electric car (if you believe that’s what it is) to join the NYPD’s ranks. In addition, the New York City Police Department will add 10 Ford Transit Connect electric vehicles and 10 Navi-Star trucks to its fleet.
There have been hybrids on our streets for some time, and even a few fully electric vehicles. However, the Chevrolet Volt is the first mass produced plug in hybrid to be offered to the general public.
It can either drive up to 40-miles on just electric power on a full-charge, or when this power source is depleted, it will revert to its on-board gasoline engine. The idea is, the gas engine is there to get you home, just in case you run out of electricity.
The advantages of this system is proving its worth to Volt owners, like Kory Levoy. He says he used to spend up to $200 a month filling up his Audi TT, but ever since he has bought the Volt, he has filled up only three times in 7500-miles of driving.
Levoy uses his 240-volt home charger to energize the car overnight, and also charges his car at work using the portable 120-volt charger. Since his total daily commute is only 50-miles, he has more than enough battery power to make the round trip.
He is not alone, as Carey Bailey, another Volt owner is also seeing the rewards of plug-in motoring. He used to spend roughly $500 a month on gas, and now he spends about $100. Bailey says he will probably see his fuel bills drop even more with time. The Volt roughly costs $1.10 a day to fully charge.
“About two-thirds of the more than 2 million miles driven by Volt owners to date have been powered by domestically produced electricity,” said Cristi Landy, Volt marketing director. “We are hearing from owners like Kory and Carey who are able to charge both at home overnight and at work during the day. These owners are able to maximize driving on electricity alone, seeing real saving at the pump and in their wallets.”
So if you’ve been frustrated by ever rising gas prices, perhaps the Volt really is a real-world answer.
Chevrolet dealers are alleged to be “gaming” the system and stealing government tax credits intended for customers. According to an investigation by conservative watchdog National Legal and Policy Center, dealers are applying for the $7,500 tax credit that was designed to help offset the cost of the new high-tech green machine in order to help create demand for the Volt. Dealers would then sell the Volt as a used car. With most vehicles a “used car” status would mean the price would drop considerably, but with Volt demand still far outweighing supply, that isn’t the case and early adopters are being forced to pay full price for the machines while the dealers benefit from the government subsidy.
Also uncovered is swap system where dealers are trading cars with non Chevy dealers, including one instance of a Southern California Kia dealer, which is selling a Volt with just 30 miles on the odometer.
Mark Modica of the NLPC indicates in an article that there may be more to this story than just the gain to the individual dealer, suggesting a conspiracy. “The practice should be stopped immediately, regardless of the desire of GM and the Obama Administration to do everything in their power to support the appearance of strong Chevy Volt sales,” he says.
Obviously GM and the Feds want to see GM prosper and the Volt succeed, although a far reaching conspiracy definitely seems like a step too far, especially considering how high big the incentive is for dealers to rip off customers by stealing tax credits intended for them.
Aiming to build hype behind its all-electric Leaf, Nissan has released a new ad, imagining a world where tiny internal combustion engines power everything that currently runs on electricity. The bleak and dirty existence portrayed in the new ad spot then steps to a new level to prove Nissan’s point, showing the sullen protagonist gassing up his Chevrolet Volt. Subtle it is not.
Understandably the folks at General Motors are none-too impressed and while in most cases silent indignation would be the correct course of action, GM product and brand communications chief Jason Laird chose a 140 character or less medium with which to toss back a cleverly worded barb.
“A carmaker poking gentle fun at our product ignores towtrucks they need and rental cars they recommend as backup to their product,” tweeted Laird, hinting at the Leaf’s limited range and reports that owners would be given free rental car days to help eschew concerns over range anxiety. Ouch!
In a brief online exchange Laird cited plausible deniability, commenting that he made no reference to anyone or anything, including the commercial, Nissan, or the Leaf. True, but we think you’ll forgive us for thinking we can make the assumption and hold on to our journalistic integrity.
“The commercial is cute, but its misleading and damaging to the EV movement,” says Rob Peterson, the man in charge of public relations for the Volt. His main issue with the ad, however, is in even comparing the two cars, which he sees as two very different vehicles based on their range capability.
“Many people are intrigued by electric cars but they don’t have the financial flexibility to own a second or even a third car. The Volt can be you only car.”
Ultimately, Peterson dismissed the spot, commenting that its, “long term effect will be relatively minimal.”
This isn’t the first such exchange between Chevy and Nissan either, with Chevrolet showing an ad at the Volt’s official world premiere at the LA Auto Show in which it’s referred to as more than just a “leaf blower”. The subtlety of that spot seems to have been replaced with a more explicit message and we have to wonder if it will continue to escalate as both Chevrolet and Nissan are vying to be recognized as the leader in new green automotive technology.
There’s a lot more at stake here than just hurt feelings or even the future of a single type of car. Both Nissan and Chevrolet have made commitments to the technologies used in their respective electrically-motivated vehicles, with the future of each automaker closely tied to the success of their flagship green product.
If you haven’t already, watch the Nissan spot after the jump:
An updated U.S fuel economy label was unveiled today aimed at reducing gasoline consumption and exhaust emissions. These new stickers will be required on all 2013 models, allowing consumers to quickly glance at fuel consumption.
Lisa Jackson, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), says the reason for the redesigned labels is to give consumers, “the best possible information about which cars on the lot offer the greatest fuel economy and the best environmental performance.” The EPA developed the updated labels with assistance from the Department of Transportation.
Check out the video after the jump!
Chevrolet‘s popular Volt is getting a production boost—GM is increasing annual production from 15,000 to 16,000 per year.
GM is gearing up to build the European version of the Volt: of this new 16,000-vehicle figure, approximately 3,500 will be sold in Europe as the Opel Ampera. About 2,500 jobs are expected to be added to the Detroit-Hamtramck plant as a bonus. But by next year, however, GM hopes to skyrocket Volt’s production figures: 60,000 vehicles annually, with 45,000 remaining in the country.
The production increases are lofty, but still short of GM’s expectations. CEO Dan Akerson said last week that GM hopes to pump out even more Volts: 25,000 this year, and eventually more than 100,000 per year. With supply shortages still raging in Japan, this might be more challenging than GM expects; as such, they are monitoring demand for the Volt and other electric cars closely.
[Source: Auto Observer]
A 2011 Chevrolet Volt will be worth just over $17,000 after 36 months, the length of a typical lease, says Kelley Blue Book. That’s a 42 percent drop in price from the car’s $41,000 sticker price.
Eric Ibara, director of residual value consulting at Kelley Blue Book, says the residual value projection seems low. But the first 200,000 Volts sold will qualify for a $7,500 federal tax credit, effectively dropping the sticker to $33,500. With this KBB number, the Volt will hold 51 percent of its value, better than some of its rivals. The Toyota Prius, the industry’s best known hybrid, is projected to drop 46 percent after 36 months. Kelley’s projection assumes gasoline will sell for around $4 per gallon three years from now.
[Source: Car Tech Blog]
The Volt is helping to rebrand GM as a progressive automaker and it’s also helping to grow the Chevrolet marque, bringing in customers who haven’t (and possibly never would have) considered buying a Chevy.
According to new numbers released by General Motors, nine out of 10 Volt customers are new to Chevrolet. With that in mind, Chevy has earmarked several hundred Volt models as dealer demos. The plan is to use these extra Volts as a way to introduce more people to the Chevy brand, but whether those customers would be interested in anything else in the Chevy lineup has yet to be seen.
Currently 550 dealers have Volt demo cars and by year’s end Chevy plans for a total of 2,500 dealers to have the cars available for viewing and test drives.
The down side of this experiment is that Volt production is limited and every Volt used as a demo is one that isn’t being delivered to a customer, often extending the wait-time for orders.
“It’s tough to limit the number of Volts for sale to potential customers when demand is so strong, but the Volt has value to the Chevrolet portfolio well beyond incremental sales,” said Cristi Landy, Chevrolet marketing director. “Our Chevy dealers will keep their Volt demo units for six months and then they sell these units at the conclusion of the demo period.”
Improved sales in the first quarter of 2011 in the subcompact and compact segments has accounted for better average fuel economy among light vehicles. The average fuel consumption of light vehicles in the United States is 22.7 mpg, representing a 1.9 percent jump over the average fuel economy of light vehicles in the first quarter of 2010. The first quarter figure also is a 2.8 percent increase over last year’s third- quarter results.
The small car segment comprised 19.4 percent of total vehicle sales in the US in the first quarter of 2011. The rising cost of fuel has propelled and boosted vehicles such as the redesigned Hyundai Elantra, Volkswagen Jetta and Chevrolet Cruze.
[Source: Autoblog Green]
Thinking of buying one of the greenest vehicles on the market, but not sure if safe for the environment also translates into safety for you and yours? That’s no longer an issue and the latest Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) tests have just come in for the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf with both electrified cars achieving a Top Safety Pick award.
What that means is that the cars earned a ‘Good’ rating in front, side, rear and rollover crashes – undergoing the same rigorous tests that regular cars do.
The Leaf and Volt now join a list of 80 other Top Safety Pick vehicles for the 2011 model year.
The Chevrolet Volt has been named “Best Engineered Vehicle of 2011″ by SAE International’s Automotive Engineering International (AEI) magazine.
SAE International is a global association of more than 128,000 engineers and related technical experts in the aerospace, automotive and commercial-vehicle industries. For a group of engineers to name a car the “best engineered” is prestigious indeed.
The announcement was made during the SAE 2011 World Congress, which ran from April 12-14 in Detroit, Mich.
“The selection of the Volt as the 2011 Best Engineered Vehicle by our peers is an honor,” said Doug Parks, vehicle line executive for the Chevrolet Volt. “This award validates the hard work and effort of the engineering team to deliver a truly transformational vehicle.”
This is the eleventh year of the AEI “Best Engineered Vehicle” award. The SAE said it gave the Volt its top honor based on the Volt’s innovative engineering that resulted in it becoming the world’s first electric vehicle with extended range capability.
Further, GM’s aerodynamicists were credited with wind tunnel work that shaped the Volt’s design as the most aerodynamic vehicle in Chevrolet’s history.
The Volt won over the Nissan Leaf, BMW 5 Series, Kia Optima and Volkswagen Jetta, among others.
The Chevrolet Volt has been reported as averaging fuel economy high enough to see 1,000 miles between trips to the gas station.
“A sample of our early Volt customers suggest that they drive 1,000 miles before they fill up the gas tank,” said vehicle line director for the Chevrolet Volt, Tony Posawatz, at a conference yesterday in New York.
This news was reported by Bloomberg, but comes as no surprise to those who already know the gasoline-electric powered car. The Volt is capable of running on its 16kW lithium-ion battery indefinitely, as long as miles between recharges are below the 35-50 mile threshold, at which point the 1.4-liter generator kicks on.
General Motors had to design a pressure-sealed steel gasoline tank for the Volt just to keep its fuel from going stale. The Volt’s computer monitors the age of the gas, and if a Volt driver never taps into the fuel supply, it will periodically start the generator to use the gas before it gets too old.
In this light, it is clear that Posawatz’ reported revelation is only one conservative estimate. Volt drivers may not just get 1,000 miles between fill-ups – some have reported several hundred miles to nearly 1,000 miles before burning even one gallon of gasoline. It’s all a matter of using the energy budget wisely. Since electricity is cheaper, the idea is to use the grid, and avoid gas stations.
GM has also said Volt sales are “right on target” as its deliberately slow roll out continues. “Demand for the product is very, very high,” Posawatz said. Consumers “can’t get enough of them.”
That Chevy Volt. What a joke. OK, so the ‘world’s most advanced car’ isn’t actually a laughing matter, potentially changing the auto industry forever while altering people’s perceptions of General Motors at a time when it needed help the most, but apparently it’s far enough on the fringes of car culture to attract April Fool’s speculators.
In total, three Volt-based April Fools jokes have been tabled so far, ranging from the unbelievable to the ridiculous. First up came Road & Track‘s “exclusive” Chevy Volt Convertible. We do have to give them credit for creating more than just one photochop of the car, and some genuine thought actually went into dreaming up a new powertrain.
Next up, we couldn’t look past our colleagues at GMInsideNews, who presented us with not one, but two hoaxes this morning: a Chevy Volt Pickup truck, as well as a story about the next-gen Corvette getting a Voltec powertrain.
Heard any other tall tales today? Share them in the comments section below.
The ongoing crisis in Japan is continuing to impact automakers and the entire industry, even American companies. Japanese suppliers of the Chevrolet Volt’s transmission have been disrupted by the nuclear situation, which has a chance to delay production of the hot-selling electric car.
The Japanese plant that builds the high-tech transmission has been shut down in the wake of the earthquake and nuclear crisis. GM is not sure how long they’ll be able to receive the transmissions from Japan, and isn’t willing to count on an uninterrupted supply as they had enjoyed from before.
But as of now, Volt production has not witnessed any hiccups. “Volt production is currently not impacted by the crisis in Japan,” said Rob Peterson, GM spokesman. “We continue to monitor the situation closely as we do for all GM products.”
[Source: Inside Line]
It was hard not to be surprised by the recent Green Car Book ranking of the Chevrolet Volt, which placed it just 13th in a list of most environmentally friendly vehicles. The Volt, after all, has a 60-mpg combined EPA sticker rating.
The list, compiled by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a non-profit group funded by foundations, electric utilities and government agencies, “doesn’t add up,” according to GM spokesman Rob Peterson.
The Green Car Book ranked the Volt so poorly because of its 37-mpg average once the initial electric charge has been depleted. But within the 25 to 50 mile range that the charge allows, the Volt gets an EPA-estimated 93-mpg.
Peterson insists that the Green Car Book doesn’t take into account “how the car is actually used” noting that many owners will almost never run out of electric charge.
The Volt’s big rival, the Nissan Leaf, placed second in the Green Car Book‘s ranking. It gets an EPA-rated 99-mpg, but with a limited range of 73 miles. The winner? The natural gas-powered Honda Civic GX.
A few months ago the Granite concept, the darling of GMC’s display at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show, was slated to enter production. But GM internal management never confirmed it, and the matter was dropped. Now, the GMC Granite has been given the go-ahead for production…again.
Motor Trend reports, from a source within GM, that the Granite will enter production—and will even keep the trick rear-hinged suicide doors from the 2010 concept. It rides on the same C-Segment platform that’s shared by the Chevrolets Volt and Cruze, the Buick Verano, and Opel Astra, and closely shares its floorpan (as well as its functionality and overall shape) with the Chevy Orlando, the too-hot-for-America mini-MPV that GM will sell in Europe, Asia, and Canada.
Except, well, the Granite is more “professional-grade,” which apparently means that the model will live on without a B-pillar, necessitating plenty of reinforcement from the quarter-panels to the roof. This might overwhelm the 138-horsepower turbo 1.4-liter four-cylinder and six-speed transmission, that the Granite will share with the Cruze. Hopefully there will be other engine options available (such as the Buick Verano’s 177-horsepower 2.4-liter inline-four, as MT suggests) to ensure that the Granite won’t be as slow as its namesake.
It’s not yet clear if GMC intends to also go ahead with the Granite Compact Pick Up.
The Chevy Volt works as a car and as a green transportation solution, but as a business case it’s less sound. Helped by massive tax incentives to make the $41,000 entry price a more attractive number to consumers, GM insists demand for the car is strong, repeatedly announcing new plans to up production numbers. That, however, may not be the case moving forward.
General Motors CEO Dan Akerson commented last week that he intends to sell 25,000 Volts this year, followed by 120,000 units in 2012 – double the originally forecasted and already optimistic number.
A recent look at the auto market by the analysts at TrueCar revealed that currently no car on the market priced at over $41,000 sells at a volume that high. There is, however, one truck that fits the bill, the Ford Super Duty.
For argument’s sake, thanks to those tax incentives the Volt doesn’t cost anywhere near $41,000 currently, but that taxpayer funded reserve is set to run out once GM reaches the 200,000 mark.
In comparison, Toyota has sold just 120,000 Prius models in only three years, priced at a more modest $25,000.
[Source: Automotive News]
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the Chevrolet Volt was awarded the 2011 North American Car of the Year.
“It’s a great honor to be recognized as the North American Car of the Year,” said GM CEO Dan Akerson after being handed the award at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. “Since development began, we believed the Volt had the potential to transform the automotive industry. Today, the Volt is the first electric vehicle to win the prestigious North American Car of the Year award, and the first vehicle ever to receive the industry’s highest automotive, technology, and environmental recognitions.”
Apart for the Volt’s quantum leap in extended drive technology, it represents the new General Motors, recently emerged from bankruptcy and ready to take on the world’s finest yet again.
An American take on the electric car, the Volt delivers electric power for 25 to 50 miles, after which the gasoline engine kicks in to charge the lithium-ion battery pack an enable an additional 300 miles.
The announcement also follows on the heels of the Nissan Leaf (one of the other finalists for the 2011 North American Car of the Year award) being named European Car of the Year.
North American automotive publications have lauded the Volt, with the car recently winning the Motor Trend 2011 Car of the Year, as well as a very long list of other accolades from Popular Science, Car and Driver, Ward’s AutoWorld and the Green Car Journal (2011 Green Car of the Year).
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If you’re running a little low on cell phone juice and need a boost, the Chevy Volt will soon have you covered. General Motors has just announced that they’ve paired up with Powermat (a wireless charging technology) to bring Volt owners a new way to charge their personal electronic devices without those pesky charging cords.
The new Powermat technology will let drivers charge their electronic devices, like cell phones and MP3 players, safely and efficiently. This new technology will be available many future Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac products beginning in mid-2012 and GM will invest $5 million in Powermat to develop this new technology. This mat will definitely change the way you get charged up while driving.
“Imagine a mat or shelf where you could put your iPhone, your Droid or other personal device and charge it automatically while you commute to work, run errands or as you’re driving on a family vacation,” said Micky Bly, GM’s lead electronics executive, including infotainment, hybrids and battery electric vehicles.
Sales of both the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf electric cars were insignificant in the month of December. Due to the slow ramp-up of production volumes, it’s still unclear how much long-term demand for EVs there is.
In December GM sold less than 350 Chevy Volts, while Nissan moved just 10 Leaf models in the last two weeks of the year. Nissan has said, however, that a shipment of 90 additional Leafs has docked in the U.S., with deliveries set to take place early in the new year.
Nissan claims it has the capability to manufacture 50,000 Leaf models a year, while Chevy plans to build 10,000 Volts in 2011, with that number jumping to 45,000 in 2012.
Initial interest is high, with 50,000 reportedly on the list for the Volt. Aiding interest in the car is a $7,500 federal tax rebate being offered to help encourage consumers to purchase a battery-powered car. Without it, the Leaf is priced at $32,780 and the Volt at $40,280 – significantly higher than a typical compact-to-midsize car.
According to Edmunds.com, hybrids are expected to increase from 2.4 percent of the market in 2010 to 4.8 percent by 2013, although true electric vehicles will still make up a tiny potion of that number. Reaching that number may not be easy, however, as it was recently revealed that over the past two years on quarter of all domestic hybrids (Ford and GM) had been purchased by the U.S. government, while overall hybrid sales have been decreasing. In fact, there may only be a market for the Toyota Prius, which as of the mid-way point in 2010 had accounted for more than half of all hybrid sales.
Jay Leno might be best known as a late night talk show host, but to automotive enthusiasts he’s regarded as a genuine car guy – and one that just happens to have millions of dollars to spend on his hobby.
But instead of packing his garage full of rare Ferraris or the latest Bugatti (even if he has those too), Leno has a preference for the obscure, the wild and wacky and… the Chevrolet Volt.
That’s right, yesterday Leno was one of the first customers in the world to pick up his Volt from Rydell Chevrolet in Nothridge, CA. He even made time to talk to the cameras about the Volt and insisted it would be his daily driver.
Leno is a proponent of the technology behind the Volt, saying that pure electric cars will only, “take you half way to where you want to go,” and that, “electricity is like sex, everybody lies about it.”
See more of what Jay has to say in the video after the jump:
Like a lot of people, you may not be willing to take the plunge and buy an electric car. But now, you can rent one from Hertz.
It was announced recently that Hertz Corp. and Smart USA are joining forces to bring the all-electric version of the Fortwo mini to Connect by Hertz car sharing and Hertz Rent A Car locations in New York, Washington, DC, and San Francisco.
Starting December 15, you’ll be able to rent the Smart Fortwo in New York City through Hertz’s car sharing program, followed shortly by San Francisco and Washington DC. More cities will be added later next year. The Hertz Global EV program will offer a variety of electric and plug-in hybrids, including the Chevy Volt and Mitsubishi i-MiEV, to car sharing and rental customers.
Hertz has plans to employ a fleet of 2011 Fortwo electric drive vehicles across the United States, hoping to target early adopters of electric drive technology before series production begins in 2012 and as the car goes on sale through Smart USA’s dealer network.
Earlier this week General Motors announced the official start of production of its revolutionary Chevrolet Volt.
With an official kick-off of at the Hamtramck assembly plant where the car is built, GM has now released a video of the full assembly process to feed your inner car-geek.
In case you haven’t been paying attention, the Volt can drive anywhere from 25 to 50 miles on pure electricity, after which point the car’s gasoline engine kicks-in to recharge the battery and keep the car going for an additional 300 miles. The car was recently given an official EPA fuel economy rating of 93-mpg in electric mode, 37-mpg in gasoline mode and a combined average of 60-mpg. GM has already upped production numbers for the car saying that by 2012 it will build 45,000 Volts per year.
The Chevy Volt was recently awarded Car of the Year by both Motor Trend and Automobile Magazine and is on the short list for the North American Car of the Year.
And see the video after the jump: