There were a few posts this week about the reliability of new car gasoline mileage figures published by governments in the US and Europe. First, Green Car Reports told us the average mileage per gallon for new cars in the US has reached its highest level ever at 24.8 mpg. This is an increase of 4 mpg since 2007 when statistics were first kept by the University of Michigan’s Transport Research Institute. (For the index see here.) Second, the same source told us how auto engineers were programming their test vehicles to maximize the mileage under standard tests by the US Environmental Protection Agency and thereby gaming the system to produce results that are not achievable under real road conditions – whether by EVs, hybrids or fossil fuel powered cars. As a result drivers are finding their cars are not achieving anywhere near the mileage claims by the EPA/automakers.  The EPA is now investigating these discrepancies with the Ford Fusion and C-Max hybrids. Finally, Green Car Congress brings our attention to a recent study by the International Council on Clean Transportation which found large and increasing discrepancies between actual and government rated mileage in both the US and Europe. (You can access the study here.) The ICCT found the average discrepancy between the values in Europe increased from less than 10% in 2001 to 25% in 2011. For the US, the discrepancy was consistently around 20% until 2003. Since 2004 it has steadily increased to about 35% in 2012.

Torque News says self-driving cars are here now. We find out that cars that drive themselves are for sale now, and many more will arrive later this year. Some of these are the most powerful, and desirable vehicles in the market. For example, how about the new Cadillac where you set the “Cruise Control” to drive for you and the car will steer as well as match speeds with the traffic ahead of you?

But with self driving technology about to bombard us, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has announced it is going to carry out an exhaustive study of the safety implications of autonomous driving technology and when complete will advise the US states on how best to license and regulate them. In the meantime, the Administration would prefer the states keep these vehicles off the road except perhaps for research purposes.

Climate Spectator tells us German Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed her target to bring one million electric cars on to German roads by the end of this decade, despite evidence of dwindling consumer interest. Fewer than 3,000 electric cars were sold in Germany last year out of a total market that exceeded 3 million.

Once hyped as a technology that would crowd out conventionally-powered cars, electric auto sales have flopped due to high costs and range limitations. A survey by Germany’s motoring club ADAC said drivers are much more sceptical about the technology than two years ago and nearly half are unwilling to pay extra for an electric car.

“We actually lose money with each Ampera we sell, because the technology is too expensive,” said Karl-Thomas Neumann, chief executive of General Motors’ unprofitable unit Opel.

See also The Globe and Mail, Germans getting electric cars – whether they want them or not and Hispanic Business, Electric Cars Face Obstacles, German Study

Like the Chevy Volt and Fisker, Mitsubishi is suffering from EV battery fires. From Automotive News Europe we hear that the Japanese car company is recalling its  i-MiEV electric vehicle (which is also sold as the Peugeot iOn and Citroen C-Zero in Europe) along with the Outlander plug-in hybrid crossover because a manufacturing glitch caused one of their lithium-ion battery packs to melt and another to catch fire in March. The automaker says it created a manufacturing fix last month that will prevent the defects. Mitsubishi’s lithium-ion batteries were made by Lithium Energy Japan, a joint venture with Japanese battery maker GS Yuasa Corp.

German auto supply manufacturer, Bosch, says EVs will offer a minimum range of 180 miles per charge by 2020. Currently most EVs offer less than 100 miles per charge. Bosch believes innovations in battery technology will lead to cost reductions making the 180 mile target a reality. Meanwhile Business Mirror thinks a 1000 mile EV range is not far off. This is the perception of Ian Hobday, CEO of Liberty Electric Cars, a UK electric car manufacturer. He says “battery-based energy storage for electric vehicles will be capable of delivering everything that a tank of petrol or diesel can deliver within two or three years.” At that point EVs will be at the 500 mile range and shortly thereafter there will be no need for charging stations. “This is game-changing as we don’t need an electric recharge infrastructure, just some battery swap stations you visit every few months.”

The Los Angeles Times gives us an EV comparison test between the Honda Fit, Fiat 500e, and the Nissan Leaf.  You can read a more detailed comparison of these vehicles at the Chicago Tribune (scroll down page).







Tags: , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment on The Week in EVs and More (Part 2)

  1. Elroy Jetson says:

    A bit misleading to characterize the Volt as “suffering from battery fires”. After the infamous episode with the NHTSA GM modified the battery box to withstand greater impact and there is no greater probability of Volt fires than gasoline cars (hence the NHTSA discontinued its investigation). The consumer will want to be wary, all the same, since the technology is moving quickly and there are no ‘standard’ batteries in use and each auto maker takes its own approach (e.g. GM is liquid cooling batteries, Nissan does not). The Fiskers went up in flames when Hurricane Sandy smacked the Eastern Seaboard and sea water breached their electrical systems; hopefully that won’t be a normal situation.