Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Chevy Bolt Pulls Clearly Ahead of Volt With November Sales

Once again, the Chevrolet Bolt EV raised its all-time high sales with 2,987 deliveries in November, putting its extended-range electric Volt sibling clearly in its rear-view mirror.
The Volt sold 1,702 units, and with one month to go this year, the Bolt has 20,070 sales, and the Volt has 18,412.
October had been the first month this year the Bolt came from behind after its nationwide rollout completed this summer. The Volt has basically been underperforming all year, while the Bolt has outdone itself. Through October the Bolt established a modest 373-unit lead thanks to 2,781 sales to the Volt’s 1,362, and now the gap has widened to 1,658.
These are relatively small margins and numbers for a company whose bread-and-butter vehicles sell upwards of 9,000 or well over that monthly, but the Bolt’s lead is symbolic or indicative of something in the sub-category of zero/low emissions cars.
The Bolt keeps setting new all-time highs, and the Volt has dwindled and is nowhere near to being on track to matching the 24,739 sales it documented last year.
For that matter, it would be quite a stretch for the Bolt to match the Volt’s record set last year either, unless Chevrolet manages to push 4,669 Bolt EVs out the door.
Typically, December is a month of the highest or near highest sales for plug-in cars as it’s right before the beginning of tax filing season for those wishing to recoup plug-in credits, so we shall see.
Meanwhile the Volt continues on with its fans. To what degree the Bolt is cannibalizing sales from the Volt is not quantifiable, but that some people have opted to go with the all-electric Chevy instead of part time electric is clear.
The Bolt is also roomier, a true five seater, quicker with 0-60 in 6.5 seconds instead of low-mid 8s, and gives Volt drivers more of what they wanted – all-electric driving, albeit it has no range extender, so it is not as ready to fly across the country as the Volt, for those to whom this matters.
With 238 miles EV range, the Bolt does work for many more people than one of the current 80-124 mile EVs in its segment, and its sales bear this out.
GM also does not advertise the Bolt or Volt to any great degree, and both are early placeholders in GM’s efforts to satisfy California ZEV rules in a market that has yet to fully heat up.
Looking ahead, unconfirmed rumors are the Volt may not see a third generation, and could be replaced by a crossover version. The Bolt on the other hand is a basis for 20 EVs due by 2023, said GM.
Given the support, and way things are shaping up in the market, GM may be just as happy to let the Bolt run ahead, and the Volt lag behind as it’s already said where it sees the future of its low-emissions vehicles – pure electric.

Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid To Be in Dealerships Before End of 2017

The Kia Niro lineup is gaining a new family member before the end of the year.
Making its debut at the 2017 L.A. Auto Show, the Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid is the Korean automaker’s third plug-in model and has an estimated 26 miles of all-electric range. Total driving range is rated up to an estimated 560 miles, offering plenty of versatility in a crossover package. The model falls under the Kia Motors EcoDynamics sub-brand, as the company focuses on nearly tripling its global lineup of alternative fuel vehicles by 2020. The Niro Plug-in Hybrid joins the existing Niro, Optima Hybrid, Optima PHEV, and Soul EV models.
The plug-in hybrid variant does have a few different features compared to the standard Niro Hybrid. There’s a subtly-modified front grille insert and surround, hybrid blue exterior accents, available LED headlamps, a charge port door, available seven-inch color meter cluster with digital tachometer, and “ECO/Plug-In” badges.
Powering the Niro PHEV is a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine paired to a 60-horsepower electric motor and an 8.9-kWh lithium-polymer battery pack. The powertrain’s combined system output is 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque, while returning an MPGe rating of 105. Its EPA-estimated 48-mpg city, 44-mpg highway and 46-mpg combined ratings are similar to the Niro Hybrid. According to Kia, a full charge can be had in approximately 2.5 hours with a 240-volt Level 2 charger, while a standard 120-volt Level 1 charger will take under nine hours.
When it arrives dealerships later this year, the Niro PHEV will be available in three trim levels: LX, EX, and EX Premium. It will be offered with a suite of advanced driver assistance and convenience technologies such as Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Change Assist, and front and rear parking sensors. Smart Cruise Control, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Forward Collision Warning, and Lane Keep Assist System are all standard.
“The Niro Plug-in is the exciting next step in Kia’s progression toward offering more alternative fuel vehicles by 2020,” said Orth Hedrick, vice president, product planning, Kia Motors America (KMA). “Consumers who are intrigued by the Niro hybrid’s fantastic versatility and design, but want even more EcoDynamics technology and the ability to drive only using electric power, will find more to love in the Niro Plug-in Hybrid.”

Sunday, December 3, 2017

BMW i3 electric car sales stopped, future recall announced for specific safety concern

2018 BMW i3 and i3s
2018 BMW i3 and i3s

An obscure safety issue has led to a halt in sales of the BMW i3 electric car until further notice.
The German maker announced a recall for every single i3 sold in the United States, covering 30,542 cars from the 2014 to 2018 model year.

The safety issue that led to the recall and stop-sale follows recent testing by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

During recent tests, the NHTSA found that 5th-percentile women—female drivers more than 5 feet tall and weighing between 100 and 110 pounds—showed a “marginally higher risk” of sustaining neck injuries in the event of a frontal crash if not wearing a seatbelt.
Drivers should wear their seatbelt at all times, of course. But if a female BMW i3 driver fitting that profile did not do so, she would be at risk of exceeding the injury limit allowed by the NHTSA, according to a report by BMW Blog last Monday.
2017 BMW i3 REx range-extended electric car [photo: Chris Neff]
2017 BMW i3 REx range-extended electric car [photo: Chris Neff]

The blog obtained a copy of the document specifying and detailing the safety concern. It says a remedy for the issue is still under development.
UPDATE: On December 1, BMW dealers sent the following notice to at least some BMW i3 owners:
Our engineers are about to finish the programming of a software repair solution that will fix the non-compliance issue. The software development is in the final stages and the solution is expected to be available as of mid-December.

BMW released a statement which said its own testing did not reveal the inconsistencies found by the NHTSA, but it acknowledged them and said it will fix the issue.
The issue isn't software or a specific component, but a design characteristic that doesn't properly protect a small, specific portion of the population.
The remedy is expected to involve reprogramming of the airbag control logic.
2017 BMW i3 REx range-extended electric car [photo: Chris Neff]
2017 BMW i3 REx range-extended electric car [photo: Chris Neff]

BMW made it clear that the i3 is completely safe to drive in all conditions when the safety belt is fastened properly.
Unfortunately, the stop-sale means buyers looking at a new i3—which was recently updated for the 2018 model year—will be out of luck due to the safety concern.
The 2018 BMW i3 adds a sportier i3s trim and slight styling updates, though the battery and rated ranges remain identical to the 2017 model year.

BMW gave no definitive timeline for when it will lift the stop-sale. BMW will begin mailing notifications to owners of the affected cars in January 2018.
The 30,542 cars to be recalled for the as-yet-unspecified modification include 29,383 sold to customers and 1,159 currently held by U.S. dealerships.