Thursday, March 15, 2018

Audi prices e-tron starting at €80,000; new Audi Sport e-tron GT promised for 2020

Audi’s first fully electric series-produced model, the Audi e-tron, will be available in Germany starting at €80,000 (US$98,800), said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management, at Audi’s annual press conference in Ingolstadt. Audi will stage the world premiere of the battery-electric vehicle this summer in Brussels. The Audi e-tron Sportback will follow in 2019.
Rupert Stadler with the Audi e-tron prototype.
Stadler also presented a design sketch of a fully electric gran turismo: the Audi e-tron GT. This spearhead from Audi Sport will be produced at the Böllinger Höfe plant near Neckarsulm as of 2020.
Sketch of e-tron GT.
Stadler said that Audi will leverage the Modular Electric Toolkit that Volkswagen is developing for the compact segment as well as its own premium-architecture electrification to be used for electric vehicles in the mid-, upper-, and luxury-range. Through this cooperation with Porsche, Audi will reduce development costs by a three-digit million euro amount.
By 2025, Audi will have approximately 20 electrified models in its product offering across the entire portfolio. More than half of them will be fully electric; the others will be plug-in hybrids. Furthermore, all core model series will be equipped at least with mild hybrids. Audi already offers cars with some degree of electrified drive systems in half of its core model series.

Ford to electrify most SUVs, promises to pass Toyota in hybrids

Ford hasn’t given up on hybrids and electric cars, despite letting its existing models languish since 2013.
That was the message conveyed by various executives at an event Thursday morning at the Ford Product Development Center in Dearborn, Michigan.
The company will build a hybrid version of five SUVs it sells by 2020, promised Jim Farley, Ford's president of global markets, and produce six battery-electric vehicles by 2022.
Buyers, however, should no longer expect Ford’s hybrids and plug-in models to be all about the highest fuel efficiency.
Taking a page from Elon Musk’s playbook at Tesla, Farley said that to amortize the high cost of electric-car batteries today, the company will focus on performance and utility vehicles for its hybrid and electric vehicle.
“We don’t think people should have to go to a car to get that benefit,” he said.
Ford's future hybrid and PHEV lineup
Ford's future hybrid and PHEV lineup

In addition to a hybrid version of most SUVs it produces, from the tiny EcoSport to the large Explorer, the company has already announced that its next F-150 full-size pickup truck will include a hybrid version.
That model will come complete with a generator for contractors off the grid, RVers, and even home backup power.
Ford will also offer a hybrid version of the Mustang, which it had previously said more than a year ago. In fact, he said, it aims to pass Toyota in hybrid models as soon as 2021.

No announcement was made as to whether the Focus Electric compliance car, now in its seventh model year, will continue into the next generation.
The C-Max Hybrid that was popular in its first model year but has languished in sales since is already on its way out, with production to end within a few months. The C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid went of out production late last year.
The announcement implies that there will be hybrid versions of the new Bronco and the Expedition, as well as any new versions of the Escape and the Explorer.
Ford's future product planning
Ford's future product planning

The only notable vehicle that leaves out, beyond traditional cars is the new Ranger midsized pickup truck, based on a Southeast Asian design, which will offer four-cylinder turbo and diesel options.
The Escape Hybrid was the first crossover utility vehicle available as a hybrid when it debuted in late 2004. These days, a new Escape Hybrid would have plenty of competition from the popular Toyota RAV4 Hybrid as well as the Nissan Rogue Hybrid.
Buyers in the past have been slow to adopt hybrid systems in large pickups and SUVs, complaining that they compromise utility and don’t offer the impressive 50 mpg-plus fuel economy figures that they expect to come with any hybrid badge.

GM offered five different full-size SUV and pickup truck models with hybrid powertrains between 2008 and 2014, but they failed to sell for a host of reasons and were withdrawn after 2014.
In reality, larger hybrids can bring more fuel savings, because standard versions of big SUVs and pickups drink fuel like pirates on a raid. That means that a 20- to 40-percent improvement saves far more gallons of fuel than in smaller, more efficient compact models.
That consumer reluctance has made big pickup trucks among the last types of vehicles to benefit from automakers’ investment in batteries and electric powertrains.
Ford's upcoming small off-road crossover SUV
Ford's upcoming small off-road crossover SUV

Ford’s counterparts in Detroit have recently announced different strategies for improving fuel economy in big pickups.
General Motors will introduce a new 6-cylinder turbodiesel in the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, joining the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel and the new Ford F-150 Power Stroke that use 3.0-liter V-6 turbodiesels.
Meanwhile, Fiat-Chrysler will also offer a mild-hybrid version of the new Ram, but it doesn’t plug in.
Combined with higher performance and such features as a generator in a new F-150 Hybrid, hybrids in trucks might be more appealing going forward.
-- Eric C. Evarts

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


BMW i3 EV in California Executive Order for More Electric Cars
Following the signing of a new executive order by California Governor Jerry Brown, the official target for all-electric vehicle sales in the state is now 5 million electric cars on California’s roads by 2030.
“To reach the goal, California will spend $2.5 billion between now and 2025 to install more charging stations and hydrogen fueling stations throughout the state. It will also beef up its incentives and rebate programs for people who buy zero emissions cars. Right now, there are about 350,000 zero-emissions vehicles on the road in California. Increasing the number 15 fold in 12 years will be a daunting task.
    “The plan calls for expanding the number of EV charging stations in the state from 14,000 today to 250,000. Fast charging stations will increase from 1,500 to 10,000 and hydrogen refueling stations will jump from 31 today to 200. Some of the cost of expanding the charging infrastructure will be paid for money Volkswagen has agreed to pay to settle claims connected to its diesel cheating scandal. Proceeds from California’s cap & trade carbon emissions will also pay part of the cost.”

“California, joined by nearly a dozen other states, could seek to enforce existing emissions rules, even if the Trump administration softens the federal 2022-2025 requirements,” Reuters adds. “Automakers want the White House and California to reach agreement because a legal battle over the rules could result in lengthy uncertainty for the industry. They want changes to address lower gasoline prices and a shift in US consumer preferences to larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles.”
While this news is of course worth taking consideration of, it remains to be seen what it will amount to in practice. One thing that is certain, however, is that this move will definitely upset the Trump base and his Administration’s EPA!

By James Ayre, originally published by EVObsession.