President Obama Calls for 75% Increase in EV Budget

US president Barak Obama called for a 75 percent increase for the Department of Energy's EV research budget which would reach $575 million as a result.

Convincing Americans that EVs are a viable alternative to their gasoline cars has proved difficult, but adoption of electric cars is on the rise and technology is advancing at a steady pace.

Obama has taken plenty of political flack for his support of green technology. Ex-VP candidate Sarah Palin recently called Tesla and the Chevy Volt "losers", suggesting the president has invested too much money into cars that the vast majority of people can't afford.

Still, that's not exactly true. Nissan has started making the Leaf EV in North America and has subsequently dropped prices below $30,000. After taking into account tax incentives, the car can be cheaper than $20,000.

By Mihnea Radu

Quick-Charging EV Charging Infrastucture: Ford, GM, Nissan, Chrysler, Tesla Sign DOT Pledge

Quick-Charging EV Charging Infrastucture: Ford, GM, Nissan, Chrysler, Tesla Sign DOT Pledge

Early sales of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV may have proved underwhelming, but don’t count out the zero-emissions vehicles yet. At the Washington Auto Show, the Department of Energy announced the Workplace Charging Challenge signed by 13 companies including GM, Ford, Chrysler, Tesla, and Google. These companies have pledged to introduce a plan for workplace charging in at least one major company location. The DOE says the ultimate goal over the next five years is to increase tenfold the number of U.S. employers offering charging.

2013 Chevrolet Volt plugged in 300x187 imageAlso ambitious is the related EV-Everywhere Challenge. By the year 2022, the DOE hopes to see companies in the U.S. be the first to manufacture a five-passenger American electric vehicle that’s affordable and has a payback time of less than five years, yet still have a decent range so that families can use it without compromise. Helping to complete that picture will be additional fast-charging options scattered in various urban spaces.

“Having a robust charging infrastructure helps build range confidence, which boosts interest in and use of electric vehicles,” said Brendan Jones, Nissan’s director of electric vehicle marketing and sales strategy.

We’ve already reported on Tesla’s so-called Superchargers, and Nissan this week has announced its plans to add at least 500 quick-charging stations in the U.S. over the next 18 months, starting with 40 eVgo Freedom Station sites in Washington D.C. The sites can provide a Nissan Leaf an 80-percent charge in less than 30 minutes. Service plans offered by eVgo allow users to pay a monthly fee for unlimited charging.

Considering the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year is the all-electric Tesla Model S, and the “extended-range electric” Chevrolet Volt earned the golden calipers in 2011, increasing charging infrastructure sounds like a good idea to us. Before a national hydrogen refueling infrastructure gets any traction, perhaps the Workplace Charging Challenge and EV-Everywhere Challenge will help boost sales of electric vehicles.

Source: DOT, GM, Ford, Nissan

By Zach Gale

Tesla Model S Already A Future Classic? Auto Library Thinks So

2012 Tesla Model S

2012 Tesla Model S

Enlarge Photo

Put a group of auto enthusiasts in a room, ply them with suitable amounts of alcohol, and soon conversation will turn to ‘future classics’.

The term refers to a modern car which gains the kind of respect and appeal of a classic vehicle in its lifetime, guaranteeing it a similar status many years in the future.

And according to some, the Tesla Model S electric sedan already makes the grade.

The Sacramento Bee reports that Detroit’s National Automotive History Collection has already decreed the Model S a “collectible vehicle of the future”.

Of all the models released in 2012, it’s the Model S which is most likely to be desired by future car collectors–that’s the suggestion of Friends of the NAHC, which supports the automotive archive at the Detroit Public Library.

Members vote annually on the North American-built vehicle most likely to reach classic status–and Palo Alto-based Tesla’s sedan is the first non-Detroit vehicle to be declared a collectible.

The honor is the latest in an increasing roster of achievements for the electric luxury sedan, including our own Best Car To Buy 2013 title.

The Model S joins other big American names such as the 2010 Chevy Camaro, 2008 Dodge Challenger and 2005 Ford Mustang on the list–as well as last year’s winner, the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.

Given the car’s significance, current-day appeal and it’s assured future classic status, we’d go as far as saying the Model S is a modern classic–a significant vehicle which already defines its time, and praised highly by auto enthusiasts.

Can you think of any other green vehicles which might become classics? Let us know in the comment section below.


By Antony Ingram

Tesla And Fisker: Who’s Winning, Who’s Losing? (Video Chat)

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Right now, we seem to get news about Tesla Motors or Fisker Automotive almost every day. Some is good, some isn’t.

Yesterday, Green Car Reports editor John Voelcker sat down with High Gear Media’s social-media manager, Joel Feder, to discuss the two companies in a Google+ Hangout on Air.

The live video chat was hosted by GCR’s sister site for sports and luxury cars, Motor Authority.

Voelcker and Feder began their discussion with brief background on both companies and their vehicles.

The Fisker Karma is an extended-range electric luxury sport sedan that’s assembled in Finland with a battery supplied by A123 Systems. Fisker says the Karma can travel about 50 miles electrically, though the EPA rated the Karma at 32 miles of electric range.

The Tesla Model S is a pure battery-electric car with three different sizes of battery pack, letting buyers opt for different amounts of driving range. The Model S is built in California, and Tesla Motors [NSDQ:TSLA] has just recently ramped up to full capacity.

Both car companies have increased the prices on their electric cars since they were first announced. Fisker’s price increases have been more substantial, while Tesla honored its original pricing for customers who had already placed their deposits.

When it came to driving impressions, both Feder and Voelcker agreed that the Fisker felt like a hand-built car, with more than a few quality control issues. The Karma is also a large car with a very small interior; the most remarkable thing about it seems to be that it was actually built in four years, and–for the most part–it works.

The Model S, on the other hand, felt like a real production car. Its fit and finish is near luxury levels, and fares well against the competition. The interior is spacious and well laid-out. Feder noted that while the central 17-inch color capacitive touchscreen is impressive, he felt its brightness–even at the lowest setting–was distracting to the driver at night.

The video chat wound up with discussions of some of the issues the automakers have faced.

Fisker has clearly had more challenges: The Karma has caught fire more than once, the company hasn’t built a Karma in about six months, its battery supplier went bankrupt, and Consumer Reports tore the Karma apart in its review.

Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S

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That isn’t to say the Model S has no faults, but it has had fewer issues–and we’ve reported on the handful of Model S glitches and quirks. The factory has just reached its full production capacity, and in other news, Consumer Reports just took delivery of its Model S and looks forward to putting on some miles.

Voelcker and Feder closed with a discussion of each company’s future, and whether one or both of these two new American car companies will survive.

Watch the video, and let us know what you think the future holds in the Comments below.


By Joel Feder

Consumer Reports Rates Tesla Model S 99 Out Of 100 – Rumor Central

Consumer Reports Rates Tesla Model S 99 Out Of 100

The Tesla Model S now has another strong endorsement. Product-review publication Consumer Reports gave the electric car 99 out of 100 possible points — a rating matched by only one other car in Consumer Reports’ history, the 2007 Lexus LS460L.

The Tesla Model S received the ringing endorsement from Consumer Reports because, “It accelerates, handles and brakes like a sports car, it has the ride and quietness of a luxury car and is far more energy efficient than the best hybrid cars,” automotive testing director Jake Fisher said in a statement. The publication called the Model S “the most practical” electric car on sale today, compared its handling to that of Porsche models, and said it is the quietest car CR has tested since the aforementioned Lexus LS460L.

Nonetheless, CR dinged the Tesla for its high price, long charging times, and low rear-seat headroom. The publication also warned that Tesla doesn’t yet have a proven track record of building high volumes of cars, and because so few have been sold, CR doesn’t yet have enough reliability data to give the Model S its coveted “Recommended” label.CR‘s test car is apparently averaging between 180 and 225 miles per charge; the EPA says versions with the 85-kWh battery pack have a driving range of about 265 miles.

This is just the latest in a long line of endorsements for the Tesla Model S electric car, the brainchild of entrepreneur Elon Musk. We named it our 2013 Automobile of the Year, and Motor Trend selected it as its 2013 Car of the Year.

The glowing review comes on the heels of news that Tesla posted its first profitable quarter to date, with a profit of about $11 million in the first quarter of 2013. The company said it had built 5000 units of the Model S in the first quarter, putting it on track to meet its goal of building (and, hopefully, selling) 20,000 cars this year. This news caused Tesla’s stock price to surge; as of writing, according to Tesla data, it was trading for $68, up from a closing price of $55.79 yesterday.

Sources: Consumer Reports, Tesla

By Jake Holmes

Fisker Launches New Ad Campaign and Increases European Presence

While all ‘green’ car news of the week have been pretty much all about the launch of the Tesla Model S, another California-based ‘green’ automaker with a decently successful car, Fisker, is looking to increase its brand appeal, not to be left behind by Tesla.

Apparently, Fisker launched a US ad campaign for the Karma, on the very same day that the Model S was officially launched – we suspect that this is no accident. Furthermore, the automaker has also been working hard on expanding its European dealer network, after having granted sales rights to a company which sells BMW, Ferrari and Porsche cars in Spain, as well as Portugal and Morocco. Also, Fisker will be opening a new showroom in ‘green-loving’ Norway, in an old Oslo shipyard.

With Dutch sales going very well, Fisker still has a chance to recover after the recent problems it faced, despite having to overcome another setback in the form of a delay in the production date of its less expensive offering, the Atlantic. This move has been caused by the US Department of Energy freezing most of the $529 (€423) million in loans granted to Fisker.

By Andrei Nedelea

Promises, Promises: Ten Cars We Keep Waiting (and Waiting) For

Promises, Promises: Ten Cars We Keep Waiting (and Waiting) For

Taste is a fickle thing. What’s cool today is lame tomorrow. Few things vex automakers more than this aspect of human nature, because new and even updated cars can take years to reach showrooms while the instant gratification generation loses interest. The following are perfect examples of the trouble automakers find themselves in.

These vehicles are as much rumor as they are fact. They’ve been rumored, alluded to, teased, promised, and delayed more times than we can recall, and have achieved a nearly mythical status that often evokes guffaws and cries of “I’ll believe it when I see it” from our staff. Whether the pet project of an executive, the demand of a vocal group of hardcore fans, or a technology that just isn’t viable yet, all of these vehicles have managed to hang around in limbo for years, feeding fans’ hopes and driving everyone else nuts. In no particular order, we present 10 of the longest-running broken promises in the automotive industry today.

Tesla Model S

After a string of high-profile growing pains, things have gone quiet over at Tesla. The company is working furiously to get its Model S electric sedan (pictured above) to showrooms by 2012. This might not seem like an unrealistic goal, until you consider the fact that Tesla doesn’t even have a factory to build the car in yet. The company is rumored to be deciding between three empty factories in the Los Angeles area that it would have to retrofit before ever beginning production, a process that’s estimated to require nearly two years working around the clock. Add to that the fact that the company hasn’t yet revealed a production-intent model of the car, and it’s not hard to believe that the Model S will miss its big dance number.


Mahindra & Mahindra Pickup

Though known globally for its rugged, inexpensive small trucks and SUVs, India’s Mahindra & Mahindra is completely unknown in the U.S. and looks to stay that way for a while. The company has been promising to bring its diesel pickup here since 2007 with tentative launch dates in 2009 continually pushed back. We hear now that the company is hoping to get trucks in dealers by December, but we’re not holding our breath, since we heard the same thing this time last year. We can only hope for the best for the shuttered Chrysler dealers who signed on as Mahindra dealers and are still awaiting product.


Global Ford Ranger

There’s nothing particularly wrong with the current Ford Ranger. It’s just ancient. The current model has been on the road more than a decade with only minor updates, and is long overdue for a replacement. When we’ll get one, though, is anybody’s guess. Global markets have had updated Rangers for years and we’ve spotted the latest redesign out testing more times than we can count. While it’s obvious that Ford is working on a new Ranger, we have no idea when it will actually see our showrooms, if ever. Of course, if the F-100 project rises from the dead, we may never see the next Ranger, but at this point we’re not sure which of those scenarios is less likely.


Tata Nano

The world’s cheapest car costs the rough equivalent of $2000, and if Indian manufacturing powerhouse Tata has its way, you’ll see one in the U.S. Of course, for that to happen, Tata will need to catch up with Indian market demand first. Delays, cost overruns, and the relocation of the primary factory all put the Nano behind schedule, but it’s finally on the streets of India, glued-on rear hatch and all. And it’s catching fire. Tata’s got a recall out for some faulty wiring that’s led to several car fires, and even without that issue there’s serious concern that the little bean-shaped car wouldn’t meet U.S. crash standards anyway.


Re-Badged Ram Pickup

First it was Nissan that wanted in on the Ram pickup’s act. Building the Titan in-house wasn’t especially cost-effective for Nissan considering its low volume, so Nissan made a deal with Chrysler to build a new Titan that would essentially be a re-skinned and re-badged Ram. The project was on and off for some time until Chrysler entered bankruptcy and put the kibosh on the whole affair. With Nissan out of the way, word has it that Hyundai is sniffing around Auburn Hills looking for a Ram with a shiny Hyundai badge on it. Chrysler reportedly said no to that request, but it doesn’t matter since Hyundai’s issued an official press release denying any pickup plans for the “foreseeable future.” Nissan, meanwhile, has decided to press on with the Titan on its own.


GM RWD Large Car

We can probably thank former VP of Awesome Bob Lutz for this one, along with his replacement Mark Reuss. Both are big proponents of Holden and the work they’ve been doing down under, particularly on the Zeta large passenger car platform. After the Aussie-based Pontiac GTO flopped, they tried again with the Zeta-based Pontiac G8 only to see the brand put out to pasture. Still, they did get the Chevrolet Camaro built on the Zeta platform, but it’s said to be migrating to another platform with its first redesign. With the G8 gone, rumors continue to fly around GM fan sites of RWD Impalas, Buicks, and other large GM cars. Lutz fanned the flames before his departure, but now that he’s left the building, we’re not holding our breath.


Porsche/Volkswagen Small Roadster

A few years back, Volkswagen unveiled the surprisingly cool Concept BlueSport Roadster, a diesel-powered, mid-engine, two-seat sports car that promised a happy compromise between fuel efficiency and sportiness. Most everyone loved the idea, but it didn’t get enough love from VW brass to hit the streets. Then the whole Porsche/Volkswagen takeover debacle occurred, and suddenly there were rumors of a joint project between the companies, a la the old Porsche/Volkswagen 914. Word has it Porsche is looking for a new entry-level car below the Boxster, and sharing it with Volkswagen would seriously curtail the bill. The car’s been stuck in rumor phase ever since, and we don’t see it coming out any time soon.


A Viable Hydrogen-Powered Car

Sure, GM and Honda have built small fleets of hydrogen fuel-cell cars, and Mazda’s tricked a couple of its cars into burning the stuff straight up, but none of them has much of a prayer of mass production. Hydrogen remains expensive to harvest, volatile to store and use, and lacks anything even resembling a refueling infrastructure that could be used by more than a handful of enthusiastic early adopters in Southern California. Though the technology is impressive, it’s likely to be forgotten as battery-powered and range-extended cars like the Chevrolet Volt take to the market, what with their ability to take advantage of the massive electrical infrastructure in the U.S.


Any Car from a Chinese Automaker

China has dozens upon dozens of automakers in its home market, but only a few have a shot at becoming real powerhouses like their international brethren. The frontrunners, in a bid to expand their reach into what is now the second-largest car market in the world, have all declared they’ll bring their cars to the U.S., and soon. Geely, Chery, and BYD have all made and broken this promise more times than we care to recall, and they show no signs of slowing down. BYD even shows up in Detroit every year promising to bring its cars to our shores in the near future. While we don’t doubt that a Chinese car will someday be offered in the U.S. market, we aren’t planning any comparison tests yet.


The Entire Alfa Romeo Lineup

After an embarrassing withdrawal from the U.S. market in 1995, Alfa fans have pined over the possibility of a reintroduction. The legendary Italian automaker teased us with a small number of 8C Competizione supercars a few years back, but ever since the promise of Alfa’s triumphant return has been a string of broken promises. Things looked bleak until last year when Fiat, Alfa’s parent company, took control of bankrupt Chrysler. Alfa’s back! Or is it? The brand’s return has continued to fluctuate ever since the merger and its status has changed twice already in 2010 alone. For now, the plan is to have Alfas in U.S. showrooms in 2012, but we expect that story to change a few more times before then.

Honorable Mentions:

Toyota/Subaru FT-86, Carbon E7, Dodge Viper replacement, Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Fisker Karma, Hummer H4, Dodge Hornet/subcompact car and nearly every electric car start-up and cottage supercar-maker out there.

By Scott Evans

Tesla supercar on the way?

2010 TAG Heuer Tesla Roadster

As the first Model S electric cars trickle off its California assembly line, Tesla Motors is already thinking about bigger and better things. Tesla CEO Elon Musk told Bloomberg that he wants to bring an electric supercar to production.

“We will do an electric supercar at some point,” Musk said. “It was going to happen right after the Model X, but it is more important to the world that we do a more affordable electric car. Hopefully, we will get to an electric supercar in four to five years.”

Musk’s supercar would not be Tesla’s first performance vehicle. The company started out making the Roadster (pictured), an electric sports car based on the Lotus Elise. A Roadster Sport did 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 125 mph. The Roadster went out of production last year.

To reach supercar levels of performance, Tesla will need to do better. A Ferrari 458 Italia will do 0 to 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, and keep pulling all the way to 202 mph. Electric motors make all of their power at zero rpm, which gets a car off the line quickly, but a supercar needs to be fast as well as quick.

The Roadster Sport sold for roughly $120,000. A new 458 will set its owner back at least $226,000.

Another challenge for Tesla’s engineers will be handling. If Tesla evenly distributes the supercar’s batteries in the floor, as it did with the Model S, the supercar will have a very low center of gravity. However, a battery pack weighs more than a gasoline engine. That, combined with low rolling resistance tires, made the Roadster less than satisfying to drive through corners.

Performance aside, the Tesla supercar would probably be the most spacious of its kind. Since it wouldn’t have an engine or transmission tunnel, such a car would have plenty of cabin space; most supercars are very cramped, and are hard to get in and out of. A comfortable supercar would be a nice change of pace, but the Tesla will be a bit of a joke if its only virtue is leg room.

Before any supercars can get built, Tesla has another model in the pipeline. The first is the aforementioned Model X, a crossover with roof-hinged “Falcon Wing” doors and a projected 0 to 60 mph time of “under 5 seconds.” Tesla says it will deliver the first cars in 2014.

Tesla also plans to deliver 5,000 Model S sedans by the end of the year, and to produce a total of 20,000 of the EVs in 2013.

By Stephen Edelstein

Coda Automotive, the 'anti-Tesla,' files for bankruptcy, returns focus to battery biz

Coda sedan driving

Tesla Motors has stolen the electric car spotlight with its flashy, luxurious Model S, but there is another upstart EV builder that most people forget about (and it’s not Fisker). Maybe that’s why Coda Automotive is filing for bankruptcy.

The company will leave the car business and instead concentrate on Coda Energy, a stationary battery division it started in 2011.

Coda Automotive had a short and frustrated existence. It finally put its electric sedan on sale last year after months of delays, only to lay off 15 percent of its workforce last December.

While the car business has always been tough to break into, it’s easy to see why Coda failed just by looking at its product.

Coda really was the anti-Tesla; its car was supposed to be cheap and unpretentious, which is why it didn’t even have a name.

However, that meant Coda had to skimp on several qualities that could have attracted less humble customers. The Coda was based on the Chinese Haifei Saibao, so it had the styling of a 1990s Hyundai. It also lacked the tech and convenience options of other cars.

In the end, the Coda sedan wasn’t especially cheap either. At $37,250, it was actually a little dearer than a Nissan Leaf, and thanks to the creation of a new $28,800 base model, the Leaf is now significantly cheaper.

The Coda’s performance didn’t set the world on fire either. It’s 85 mph top speed and EPA-rated 88-mile range put it in the middle of the EV pack.

Even if the car was better, Coda’s demise wouldn’t be entirely surprising. Starting a car company isn’t easy, even when that company isn’t built around relatively unproven technology. Just ask Preston Tucker, or Henrik Fisker.

Like those men, Coda’s founders had a good idea that just didn’t work out. Coda may be gone, but hopefully the idea of a truly affordable, no-nonsense EV won’t die with it.

By Stephen Edelstein

Tesla Working on Affordable Compact Crossover

Having just announced plans for a Nissan Leaf rival priced below $40,000, electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors revealed that an affordable compact crossover SUV is also in the works.

Set to be built on the same platform as the entry-level sedan, the crossover will also hit the market "in the next three to four years" and will be significantly cheaper than the $70,000 Tesla Model S.

Reportedly aimed at the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3, the crossover could borrow the design of the gull-winged Model X, which was delayed for 2014 when Tesla decided to repay the company's Department of Energy loan ahead of schedule and increase Model S production.

As we already reported earlier this week, Elon Musk announced that the Nissan Leaf contender will offer a range of about 200 miles.

Story via AutomotiveNews

By Ciprian Florea