Jan 27, 2012
Chris Salamone

GM Acknowledges Rough Volt Publicity, Launches New Ad To Bolster Sales

For the next month GM will air a commercial which aims right to the heart of the matter, suggesting the Volt is a car “America had no choice but to build” and implying the car’s automotive nuts and bolts make up the very fabric of Detroit. If this all sounds a bit desperate, that’s because the Volt needs a lifeline. GM just recently publically acknowledged that sales of the Volt have been dramatically hurt by recent negative publicity. Concerns ranging from battery safety, design, and price have popped up everywhere and often.

The Volt has become something of a media-induced tumor, made even more noxious because of GM’s otherwise financially successful 2011. Which effectively means the new Volt “Morning in Hamtramck” ad represents a critical attempt by the company to salvage the Volt’s sinking reputation.

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Jan 16, 2012
Chris Salamone

Nissan Donates Quick Chargers To Atlanta

Right on the heels of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn’s unveiled plan to stress eco-friendly products, the company has decided to quit wasting time and get right to the heart of the matter. One of the major hurtles in making electric vehicles mainstream comes from a lack of re-fueling infrastructure. Normal, petrol using, drivers can fill up as often their pocket books can afford – especially with gas stations looming on nearly every major intersection. But, in typical Nissan fashion, the electric vehicle program looks to move forward regardless of industry trends by setting new standards in electric vehicle charging station availability.

What started as a ‘Drive Electric Tour’, featuring city-to-city test drives of the company’s LEAF, has turned into an altogether different monster: a tour to prove electric vehicles a viable transportation solution. Nissan has donated two electric quick charge stations to the city of Atlanta, capable of an 80% recharge in less than 30 minutes.

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Jan 5, 2012
Chris Weiss

Fisker Karma Models Recalled For Fire Hazard

It’s been a tough couple of months for plug-in hybrids. In November, the NHTSA opened up an investigation of the Chevy Volt’s battery after a test model caught fire at the agency’s facility. With that investigation still pending, the market’s other series hybrid–the Fisker Karma–has battery fire problems of its own. Fisker has recalled 2012 Karma models built between July 1 and November 3 in order to repair a problem with the lithium-ion batteries.

Fisker has identified a problem caused by incorrect positioning of hose clamps within the Karma’s high-voltage lithium-ion battery. If left uncorrected, the misaligned clamps could allow coolant to leak from the hoses, creating a potential short circuit and fire hazard.

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Dec 30, 2011
Chris Weiss

Korea’s First Electric Vehicle: Kia Ray EV

Kia has introduced the Korean market’s very first EV in the way of the Ray, a boxy urban car. The new model will begin production next year, with Kia supplying it to fleet customers for testing.

The Ray is essentially an electric version of the efficient Ray CUV, which went on sale in Korea last month. The Ray EV shares the Ray CUV’s dimensions and will be built on the same assembly lines as the gas model.

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Dec 28, 2011
Chris Weiss

Toyota Teases New Plug-In Hybrid Concept

Toyota will debut a new plug-in hybrid concept at the 2012 North American International Auto Show next month. The automaker has released a teaser picture of what it calls the NS4.

Toyota has given absolutely no information on the design of the concept. The press release accompanying the teaser photo is but one paragraph and describes the NS4 as an “advanced plug-in hybrid concept.”

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Dec 22, 2011
Chris Weiss

Fisker Karma Gets Yet Another Price Increase, Now Over $100K

Fisker just can’t seem to keep the price of the Karma down. The sexy series hybrid is finally starting to show up in dealerships after years of delays, and Fisker is already bumping the price up. Again. The car got a 6 percent increase in base price. The new pricing went into effect last Thursday for new customers and will apply to those that have already reserved their Karmas beginning in January.

Cars tend to get price increases when they move into the next model year, but Fisker has increased the price of the Karma at least three different times before it’s hardly begun selling it. The ever-rising price can’t be helping the start-up automaker’s reputation.

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Dec 20, 2011
Chris Weiss

Mitsubishi Delivers First i-Miev

Well this feels like a replay of December 2010. In that month, Chevy and Nissan launched their respective mass-market e-vehicles within days of each other. In December 2011, the next two highly anticipated mass-market EVs are both making headlines. Ford began production on the Focus Electric on Wednesday and Mitsubishi delivered its first i-Miev a day later.

The event wasn’t in California, where EV launches tend to be, but on the beautiful island of Hawaii. Mitsubishi representatives joined by Hawaiian Governor Neil Abercombie delivered the very first 2012 i-Miev to Bryson and Bridget Nishimura of Waipahu, Hawaii. The event was held at the Hawaiian State Capitol Building in Honolulu.

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Dec 16, 2011
Chris Weiss

Ford Begins Production On The 100 MPG-E 2012 Focus Electric

Around this time last year, Chevy launched the Volt range-extending hybrid and Nissan launched the Leaf electric. Those respective launches marked the beginning of a new chapter in automotive history: the mass-produced EV chapter (okay, the Volt isn’t an EV, but it does derive its drive power from a motor).

This year, the EV chapter is getting a few new characters. The newest is the Focus Electric, which Ford began production on Wednesday.

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Dec 13, 2011
Chris Weiss

Despite Fires, 2012 Chevy Volt Is Still A Five-Star Safety Pick

Though it’s been on the hot seat for potential fire issues of late, the Chevy Volt is still one of the safest cars on the road according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Volt renewed its five-star safety rating from the agency for the 2012 model year.

Interestingly, the NHTSA’s designation comes at a time when the agency is investigating about 5,000 Volt models for a potential safety hazard. That hazard relates directly to crashes–the battery may become damaged in a crash, leading to fire. The investigation was launched after a Volt caught fire in the garage of an NHTSA testing facility.

Chevy says that its own internal tests over the past two years have indicated no fire hazard.

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Dec 8, 2011
Chris Weiss

Cadillac ELR Will Be FWD, Not RWD

Over the summer, GM confirmed that it will be building a production car based on the Cadillac Converj concept. The ELR will essentially be a luxury Volt. Some murmurs recently indicated that one of the factors that will distinguish it from the Volt is a rear-wheel drive platform. No way, says a GM source.

Auto News released a report indicating that the ELR should use a RWD platform to properly differentiate itself from the Chevy Volt. The logic was that if GM really wanted to build a luxury car based on Volt technology, it would need to provide a very strong argument for the extra money involved in buying a Caddy over a Chevy. That argument should include RWD, according to AN’s Rick Kranz.

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