Thursday, August 17, 2017

Hyundai-Kia: eight electric cars by 2022, dedicated EV platform

2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric - frame from video road test
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric - frame from video road test

It's long been said in the auto industry that Hyundai-Kia is the only competitor that truly scares industry colossus Toyota.
Thirty years ago, the Korean company was a bit player, producing designs adapted from obsolete Mitsubishi technology.

Today it's a major global player, reacting fast to market swings—and its goal is to be second only to Toyota itself in global production of green cars by 2020.
One more example of Hyundai's adaptation to changing market conditions came today in an announcement Thursday that it would place electric cars at the center of its future product strategy.
As part of that shift, it will expand its portfolio of battery-electric vehicles to newly independent luxury brand Genesis, which will get a long-range electric car to compete directly with Tesla as well as several future German electric models.
The new Hyundai electric car will be a luxury sedan to arrive in 2021, according to a Reuters report early Thursday that expanded on the Hyundai release.
2017 Kia Soul EV
2017 Kia Soul EV

The future Genesis competitor for the Tesla Model S may be the company's first "long range" electric vehicle (meaning 200 to 300 miles on a charge), but it won't be the last.
Before that, an all-electric Hyundai Kona subcompact crossover utility vehicle will launch next year, perhaps with a range of 125 to 200 miles.
The combined Hyundai and Kia brands have added three further models to their green-car lineup (hybrids, plug-in hybrids, battery electrics, and hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles), for a total of 31 separate vehicle versions by 2020.

In 2014, when Hyundai announced its plan to become the world's second-largest maker of green cars by 2020, just two of 22 planned models were to be pure battery-electrics.
Now, fully eight of the expanded roster of 31 cars will be all-electric, with the Hyundai Ioniq Electric and Kia Soul EV already in production jointed by the battery-powered Kona and an all-electric Kia Niro that may replace the Soul EV.
While Hyundai also released images of its future hydrogen-powered large crossover vehicle, which will be formally unveiled next year, only two of the planned 31 vehicles will use fuel cells.
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric (European spec), 2016 Geneva Motor Show
2017 Hyundai Ioniq Electric (European spec), 2016 Geneva Motor Show

The company also confirmed earlier reports that it would create its first dedicated electric-car platform, a strategy so far only followed by General Motors (with its Bolt EV and future derivatives), Tesla, and arguably Nissan for its Leaf.
Some coverage of Hyundai's announcement has presented it as a strategic shift, but it can be more accurately viewed as an evolution and expansion of the company's green-car plans.
The Hyundai Ioniq Electric, launched over the last 12 months in several markets around the world, has proven more popular than expected, Hyundai says, leading to short supplies in several countries.

With 124 miles of EPA-rated range, the electric Ioniq combines a conventional and intuitive interior design with a high-tailed hatchback body that doesn't particularly read as either "green" or "electric."
That may be a winning combination, and Hyundai's use of its underpinnings for a conventional hybrid (the highest volume model by far) and a plug-in hybrid variant as well should provide economies of scale.
Hyundai is historically strong in value for money even as new generations of its cars and crossovers go from strength to strength, and the Ioniq may be viewed as a cost-effective alternative for buyers who dislike the latest Prius design.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Nissan Leaf electric car platform to spawn more models, SUV included

Teaser for 2018 Nissan Leaf debuting on September 6, 2017
Teaser for 2018 Nissan Leaf debuting on September 6, 2017

The 2018 Nissan Leaf apparently won't be the brand's lone electric car for much longer, if a new report with details on plans to expand the electric car's underpinnings to additional models proves accurate. Following the introduction of the second-generation 2018 Nissan Leaf, the electric car's platform will spawn multiple models, and an electric SUV is said to be one of Nissan's priorities. Future expansions could see the next-generation Nissan Leaf's architecture also underpin electric Mitsubishi vehicles as well.
A report from Autocar details Nissan's goal to expand its electric-car portfolio with help from the Leaf, which remains the world's highest-selling electric car seven years after its introduction. Specifically, the Japanese brand has filed to protect the "Terra" name, which graced a 2012 concept vehicle. That concept car was all-electric and used the then-current Leaf's electric driveline, plus a hydrogen fuel cell system to power two rear motors that created the Terra concept's all-wheel drive system.
2018 Nissan Leaf spotted during photo shoot - Image via Broom
2018 Nissan Leaf spotted during photo shoot - Image via Broom

A production version of the Terra electric crossover would, of course, benefit from the 2018 Leaf's new battery pack and electric driveline. The 2018 Nissan Leaf will likely offer two battery options: one will boast at least 200 miles of range to rival the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Tesla Model 3. The Bolt EV returns an EPA-estimated 238 miles of range, while the base Model 3 returns an EPA-estimated 220 miles.

Aside from the Terra SUV, Nissan could use the Leaf's electric driveline in additional crossover models later on. Previously, reports indicated Nissan has been planning electric versions of the hot-selling Rogue crossover and the smaller Nissan Juke. A Nissan spokesperson previously said the company will combine its crossover and electric-car technology "in the future," which will clearly be after the 2018 Leaf goes on sale late this year or early in 2018.
Mitsubishi eX Concept, 2015 Tokyo Motor Show
Mitsubishi eX Concept, 2015 Tokyo Motor Show

Mitsubishi is the third element of the Renault Nissan Alliance's overarching electric-vehicle strategy. Nissan acquired a 34-percent stake in the Japanese automaker last year, and plans to integrate Mitsubishi into its own electric car plans. If a Nissan Terra electric crossover is in the cards, the automaker's plan could also bring the long-awaited Mitsubishi eX electric crossover concept into production.

The Mitsubishi eX debuted in 2015 as an all-electric compact crossover with a 45-kilowatt-hour battery pack said to produce an estimated 200 miles of range. Since its debut, Mitsubishi hasn't revealed any further plans for the eX, though it did reveal the Eclipse Cross, which shares some design cues from the concept. One thing is certain: Renault-Nissan plans to spread the wealth with its latest electric car into many more vehicles.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Maven Says Uber and Lyft Drivers Love Chevy Bolt

General Motor’s Maven car sharing unit finds that Uber and Lyft drivers love the Chevy Bolt and are putting a lot of miles behind the wheel.
Rachel Bhattacharya, who heads GM’s commercial mobility unit, spoke about it yesterday at a CAR Management Briefing Seminar in Traverse City, Mich.
The Maven fleet brought in 150 Bolts during May, and has 250 more on order.
Bolt rentals have done very well through the Maven Gig program, where ride-hailing and delivery service drivers rent a Maven vehicle for a week at a time. Maven Gig launched in May in San Diego and has expanded to San Francisco.
Drivers pay more for the Chevy Bolt under the program than they would under other Maven rentals; but they end up saving money on fuel costs.
Drivers pay $229 for the weekly rental, which covers insurance, maintenance, and charging. It’s about $40 more than other rentals, but drivers end up saving about $70 a week on fuelcosts, the GM executive said.
“Early interest has been phenomenal,” Bhattacharya said. “For most of them, it’s not about environmentalism. It’s about fuel savings.”
It’s taken off in the past three months. The GM mobility executive said that drivers are putting an average of 30 percent more miles in the Bolt than while driving cars with internal combustion engines.
Maven customers have put in more than 1 million miles during their Bolt rentals since the offer was launched in May.
The car sharing service is doing business now in 17 North America since its startup 18 months ago. Besides Maven Gig, the Maven Home service has done well with customers living in apartment and condo complexes and needing short trips in a shared rental car.
Bhattacharya said established brands like Zipcar helped open the door for Maven.
GM has the advantage of getting young consumers to try out car sharing services and its own vehicle products, which could the first car they end up buying.
It’a also setting the stage for testing self-driving Bolts through its partnership with Lyft and through its Maven subsidiary,
“The whole goal of Maven is we’re the learning laboratory for General Motors as we’re preparing for an autonomous future,” she said. “We’re still very much in startup mode, but we’ve had some positive results to date.”