About the Author

Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for electrek.co since 2016.

You can contact him at jamie@9to5mac.com

October 20

It’s often expected for new models to receive low reliability ratings, but Chevy has bucked that trend with the Bolt.  In Consumer Reports’ new reliability ratings released yesterday, while Chevy as an overall brand scored relatively low (18th place), the Bolt came in as the most reliable car the manufacturer sells, out of 15 models (the highest number of models of any manufacturer ranked by CR).

This is great news, because the Bolt is a great car in pretty much every other way too.  It won Motor Trend’s Car of the Year and many other awards, and we really like it, even though it’s not without its quibbles.  Despite all these awards, sales initially lagged (though they’re picking up as the car is made more available nationwide), so perhaps CR’s rating will help GM sell some more Bolts – if they actually want to. We’ll see if Chevy puts the Bolt, their most reliable car, front and center in its national ad campaign about winning awards for reliability.

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October 19

Volkswagen will challenge Pike’s Peak with a purpose-built electric racecar

Volkswagen has been making a lot of noise about electric cars lately. Announcing huge investments and new concept models, trying to recover their reputation after the dieselgate scandal. Its newest electric push comes from somewhere new: racing.  While VW group has been involved in electrified racing before, with the Audi Formula E team and with several wins from Audi’s retired hybrid Le Mans car, the Volkswagen brand hasn’t yet undertaken electric racing on their own.

This changes next year, when Volkswagen will enter a car into the famous – and difficult – Pike’s Peak International Hill Climb.  Details are light on VW’s entry, all we have to go on so far is a silhouette – pictured above – and a promise of all-wheel-drive. But it’s clear that VW are going after the electric prototype record – 8:57.118 by Rhys Millen in the Drive eO PP03.  That car had over a megawatt of power available (1367hp), so expect VW’s entry to have similar horsepower if it wants any chance of getting that record.

Consumer Reports has released their latest reliability rating for the Model S, upgrading its rating from “average” to “above average.”  This is the first time Tesla has received an “above average” rating from Consumer Reports.

In the same article, Consumer Reports also mentions their “predicted reliability” for the Model 3.  They give these ratings out based on previous experience with a manufacturer and whether a new model is a significant departure from previous models – and this is not unique to Tesla, they give predicted reliability scores to other cars too.  Since the Model 3 doesn’t share many parts with the Model S but is expected to be less complex, and since Tesla has had difficulties with reliability of early VINs before, Consumer Reports is taking the middle ground as far as predictions go and predicts average reliability out of the Model 3.  They will not have an actual rating until owners have time to report back with their real-life experiences.

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October 10

Industry pawn Scott Pruitt, posing as the administrator of the “Environmental Protection” Agency, announced yesterday that he will end implementation of the Clean Power Plan, a course of action which will cause an additional 3,600 deaths, 90,000 asthma attacks and 300,000 missed days of work or school per year, according to his agency’s own estimates. Pruitt also suggested that solar and wind subsidies should be cut, but failed to propose ending any part of the $5.3 trillion annual global subsidy received by the large, polluting fossil fuel industry which has underwritten his political career.

Pruitt’s “reasoning” for these changes is because he does not want the government to “pick winners and losers.” But, apparently, he is fine with government picking winners as long as it’s the same historically-winning fossil industry (with 4 of the top 10 companies by revenue worldwide) which has been bribing him to do their work for decades. And he’s fine with picking losers as long as it’s the industry which he continues to quixotically fight against in his quest to eliminate green energy and worsen public health. However, the only loser in this quest will be him.

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October 4

Crowds gather in the village on the last day of public tours at the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2015, Sunday October 18, 2015 at the Orange County Great Park, Irvine, California (Credit: Thomas Kelsey/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon)
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For 15 years, the US Department of Energy has held the “Solar Decathlon,” a student competition which showcases sustainable technologies in the home.  Teams from around the world come together and build functional solar-powered houses from the ground up, then use those houses for two weeks.  The houses are then graded on ten different aspects of their design, with the largest combined score being the winner.  The competition has been happening approximately biennially since 2002.  This year it’s in Denver, Colorado at the University of Colorado.

The best part is: all of this is free and open to the public.  Every house is open for tours and knowledgeable students are on hand and ready to answer questions about their projects, and there is a “sustainability expo” with company booths focused on sustainability.  There are even workshops, an electric vehicle ride-and-drive (only Oct 14th 11am-3pm), and a career fair (Oct 10th 12-3pm).  Public visiting hours are 11am-7pm most days (1-7pm Monday Oct 9), though the Decathlon is closed to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday (Oct 10-11).  See the full list of things to do here.

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October 3

Electrification will not solve the auto industry’s problems, said Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne in an interview posted by Bloomberg.

In keeping with Marchionne’s typical bombast, his comments were wide-ranging and a little disorganized – as they have been in the past.  We’ll attempt to pick through them below.

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On October 26th, Tesla is set to unveil an all-electric truck which will surely shake up the trucking industry.   Details on the truck are light so far, and all we’ve seen from Tesla officially is one teaser photo.  The event is right around the corner however, as yesterday Tesla sent out a “save the date” email to owners who have reached 5 referrals.

So despite having few details, today we’ve seen our best tip yet.  On reddit, a user posted a photo which we can’t quite confirm the source of, but is reportedly from “an undisclosed place in California where they test Tesla vehicles.”  While we can’t see any logos or other confirmation that this is the actual Tesla truck, it certainly looks like it – the headlights and fenders match up, the nose looks like it doesn’t have an engine in it, and the angle of the windshield looks similar to the teaser photo.

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September 30

Control your Tesla’s HVAC system from your Mac with this Tesla BitBar plugin

An enterprising Tesla owner wrote a small script for the Mac menubar plugin app BitBar which lets you view and control your Tesla’s temperature via the HVAC system, and also view charging status, all on your Mac menubar.

While you can view inside/outside temp and charging status, so far the only control the plugin has is to start/stop HVAC, and otherwise it relies on the last temperature setting input into your Tesla – so if your car was set to 70º the last time you were driving, that’s the temperature the car will cool down/heat up to.

September 28

A new study from iseecars.com shows that out of the 10 fastest-selling used cars on the market in the US today, 6 of them have plugs – 3 plug-in hybrids and 3 fully electric vehicles.

The top spot belongs to the fully electric Fiat 500e, followed by the BMW i3.  The i3 is listed in the study as a plug-in hybrid, despite the base model being electric – we’re not sure if the two models were counted separately or just bundled together for the purposes of this study.  Both the i3 and 500e have been popular on the used market in the last year, as many of the cars have been coming off 3-year leases, putting a bunch of lightly-used lease return electric cars on the market at attractive prices.

Also in the top 10 are the Prius Plug-in in 4th place, the Nissan LEAF in 6th place, and the Ford Fusion Energi and Tesla Model S rounding out the list in 9th and 10th.

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September 27

Audi will build electric cars in all factories worldwide, expanding from previous plans

Today Audi CEO Rupert Stadler said that Audi will build electric cars in all of their factories around the world, including plants in Mexico and Hungary, Automotive News reports.  Previously, we reported on Audi’s main worker union demanding that Audi build EVs in their main plant in Ingolstadt, Germany, not just in smaller plants as they had previously planned.

Today’s comments seem a response to that demand, only even more sweeping than the union had requested.  Not only will Audi build EVs in their main plant in Ingolstadt, but they will build them in their factories all over the rest of the world as well.

September 21

Each year, Motor Trend gives out the title of “best driver’s car” to a sportscar which is the most fun to drive, but which is perhaps impractical for everyday purposes.  As part of this “best driver’s car” competition, for the last 7 years they’ve taken this group of the most exciting sportscars in the world to race in what they’ve called the “world’s greatest drag race” – all 12 finalists doing a simultaneous quarter mile race against each other on an airstrip – this time at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.  It’s always quite something to see.

The only problem is, for the last several years, there has been one great quarter mile car conspicuously absent from their test: the Tesla Model S.  Since the Model S is particularly practical – 5 (or 7) seats, lots of cargo space, efficient, quiet, comfortable – and isn’t really made for racing on a track, it doesn’t quite fit Motor Trend’s restrictive definition of a “driver’s car.”  But one car in the competition, the Mazda MX-5 RF, despite being a great driver’s car, is a little underpowered compared to the rest.  So Motor Trend decided to substitute a Tesla Model S P100D Ludicrous in its place for the drag race, since, let’s be honest, that’s the car we all wanted to see in the drag race anyway.  And you’ll never guess what happened next…

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September 20

Rimac, the company behind the incredible Concept_One all-electric hypercar, has just announced a deal with Camel Group, who bill themselves as “Asia’s largest battery manufacturer,” with the latter investing 30 million Euros ($36m) into the Croatian EV startup.  Rimac will use the money to expand their production facility and also work on the next generation of their hypercar.

The investment also includes 3 million Euros for Rimac’s sister company Greyp Bikes, a high-performance electric bike manufacturer.

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September 12

In the wake of today’s NTSB report about Tesla’s autopilot crash, DOT/NHTSA has released updated guidelines on autonomous vehicle systems, meant to be used by state and local governments and vehicle manufacturers to help facilitate the transition to self-driving cars.  NHTSA claims in the introduction to the report that 94% of fatal crashes are the result of human error, and that autonomous drive systems have the potential to reduce that number significantly, saving tens of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars of lost economic activity each year in the process.

NHTSA also claims that they expect “fully automated safety features” and “highway autopilot” in the years 2025+, which is significantly later than Tesla’s timeline for the same technology.  Tesla is rather close to “highway autopilot” already – though Tesla’s system is “level 2” (partial automation) on the highway and NHTSA seems to be thinking more about level 4-5 (high/full automation, not requiring reminders that the driver keep paying attention).

Here’s the full document, which is targeted more towards policy wonks, whereas the main site is meant to appeal to everyone, with FAQs and nice graphics.

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The Mercedes EQ sub-brand got its second entry today with the new EQA compact all-electric vehicle concept, unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show today.  We heard about this upcoming debut a few weeks ago, but this is our first time seeing the concept and hearing about what possible features the car might end up with.  Unlike other concepts released today, this one has a few more details and gives us an idea of what Mercedes is looking towards in the future.

Comparable in size to the Mercedes A-Class but with two doors instead of four, the EQA is expected to have a “real-world range” of 400km (250 miles – but on NEDC, so likely closer to 180-200 miles EPA range) from an up-to-60kWh battery, dual motors with over 268hp (200kW) and all-wheel drive delivering 0-100km/h (0-60mph) in around 5 seconds, and “seamless charging” which means the ability to use standard AC charging, DC quick charging (able to add 100km/62mi of range in 10 minutes), and even inductive charging.

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The latest in BMW’s series of confusingly-named concepts is here: the four-door i Vision Dynamics, unveiled at the Frankfurt Auto Show earlier today.  Earlier this week BMW updated its plans announcing that they will electrify 25 models and offer 12 fully-electric models by 2025.  Since then, this concept is the first unveiling of what one of those all-electric models might look like.

It has long been expected that BMW will make an “i5” model, something able to round out their “i” sub-brand product offerings with a price point inbetween the i3 compact car and i8 sportscar, possibly available in 2020 as a 2021 model to compete more directly against Tesla’s offerings in the four-door sedan space.  This seems to be the manifestation of that rumor, though it has not been given the expected “letter+number” moniker as of yet.

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September 11

Honda announced today that the plug-in hybrid version of their three-drivetrains-in-one Clarity sedan has been rated at a “class-leading” 47 miles by the EPA from its 17kWh battery.  This is the highest all-electric range among “midsize plug-in hybrids” and is comparable to the range of the Chevy Volt, which has 53 miles but is considered a compact sedan (the Clarity is ~10 inches longer).  It also got a combined MPGe rating of 110 and a gasoline-only combined MPG rating of 42.

Pricing and availability have not yet been nailed down for the vehicle, but we can expect news on that front soon as the car is expected to be available worldwide for purchase in the 2018 model year, with a price probably in the range of $35,000.  This as opposed to the other cars in the Clarity platform, which are available now but only in California and they can’t be purchased, only leased.

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September 7

Plug in America, an organization which advocates the transition to electric transportation, along with Sierra Club and the Electric Auto Association, are holding their 7th annual National Drive Electric Week this coming week, with 263 events registered all across the US – and even a few in other countries (Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Denmark and Jordan).  There are events scheduled both this weekend and next, and some during the week as well.  The events are free to the public and a great way to get the word out about electric vehicles.

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September 2

In the wake of destruction Hurricane Harvey has brought on Southeast Texas, we’re seeing a common sight after disasters: long lines for gasoline.  In surrounding areas which weren’t even hit by the hurricane itself, such as San Antonio, Austin and Dallas, there have been extremely long lines at gas stations, due to increased demand driven by reports of refinery shutdowns on the Gulf Coast.  The demand has also been a reaction to recent rises in gas prices, with many customers stockpiling gasoline in anticipation of further rising prices in the near future.

This brings up an important point: in contrast to what many people may think would be the case, in practice electric cars tend to be more resilient to natural disasters than gas cars do.

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August 23

Ariel Motor Company, best known for the ultra-lightweight Atom sportscar, has just announced their plunge into electrification with their upcoming HIPERCAR, an ultra-high-performance range-extended electric supercar.  In contrast to most plug-in hybrids, HIPERCAR won’t use a traditional engine as its “range extender,” instead opting for a 35kW micro-turbine generator.

The car’s specs look suitably insane – 1180hp total from 4 in-wheel motors, 0-60mph in 2.4 seconds, and 0-150mph in 7.8 seconds.  That 0-150 time is nearly three seconds (!) faster than the Porsche 918.

Teaser images have been released, but the design has not been finalized.  While no price has been announced, it will “represent excellent value” when compared to “£1m+ supercars which it will outperform.”  The car will hit the road in 2020.

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August 19

Tesla will add automatic “enter/exit” seat positions in future software update after Twitter request

Tesla is leveraging both its CEO’s popularity on twitter and its cars’ over-the-air update capability to respond to another customer request, with CEO Elon Musk promising on twitter that a future software update will include a function to automatically move the seat and steering wheel into a more comfortable position for entry and exit when the vehicle is put in park.

The Model S can be slightly difficult to get in and out of for less-flexible people, so this feature should be a nice addition for many customers.  I’ve personally seen several owners who have an “enter/exit” driver profile on their Teslas, with the seat and wheel position saved for easier exit and entry.  So while this workaround was always possible, Tesla’s software update will make it more automatic.

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