Is Tesla’s Model 3 Affecting Us As Profoundly As Did Ford’s Model T?

Is Tesla’s Model 3 Affecting Us As Profoundly As Did Ford’s Model T? If mind-boggling progression projected in the next five years happens as plotted, Tesla’s pivotal $35,000, 200-mile-range Model 3 may the most vital and the upper classes changing electric car of all time – that no one has yet seen.
Anticipated for years, a bit late to the party at this point, when a pre-production prototype is finally shown, it’s intended as the third stage of Tesla’s three-phase plot to blast EVs into the forefront of public consciousness.
Enabled by the world’s leading battery plant now being built to supply cost-effective energy supply, the Model 3 is to be the ”volume car” central to 15-times higher projected production for Tesla than last year’s 32,000 vehicles to one-half million cars annually by 2020.
The Model X is the car more eyes are on at the second, and both its and the Model S’ design were known years in advance of their launch. The downright elusive Model 3 – that the most jaded have called “vaporware” – could be the one to budge the paradigm when we do get to see its design.
Stage one was the proof-of-concept but necessarily pricey Roadster, stage two is the mid-level Model S (pictured above) – which ironically can sticker for more than the original Roadster in fully kitted P85D trim. The Model X, now said to be in beta stage could also be lumped in with the Model S as a car Tesla head Elon Musk – and many thousands of reservation holders – have a deep personal interest in.
And stage 3 – Model 3 – is the car for “the masses” – the promise for everyone else without necessarily deep pockets, and this one really has to be priced to sell.
The plot is just that, though it’s not without skeptics. But aside from direct sales of the Model 3 – whether substantial or less than plotted – its influence as a goad to major automakers means this one as-yet-unseen car could be considered most reliable for accelerating EVs to the next level from today’s $30,000, 80-some-mile first-generation cars.
SEE ALSO: Is a 200-Mile EV the Next Automotive Benchmark?
Presently the EV landscape has as many limited-market “compliance cars” from automakers some have said are dragging their heels to develop, but Tesla is not one of these. It is sink or swim for this electric-only startup, and since the announcement of the mystery car’s specs, it’s said Chevrolet, Nissan, and as of today Ford have been spurred to meet it’s 200-mile mid-30s price point.
Following are some highlights on the car Tesla needs to succeed to nail home its EV agenda – an agenda that’s already underway before we have even seen it.
Cheaper Than Chevy Bolt*
Once codenamed “BlueStar” when but a glitter in its parent company’s eyes, then later called Model E, Tesla tweeted last July the new entry level EV will be called Model 3.
While the Model S was well-stacked with pre-orders before its arrival June 2012, and Model X is pre-ordered to the hilt, Tesla has not started taking pre-orders on Model 3, but one might presume it could open a floodgate if and when it does.
*Bolt could be priced around $37,500. Model 3, says Elon Musk, could be $2,500 less. Both woudl be subsidy eligible.
But all is silent on the western adjoin. Instead of Model 3 being revealed in Detroit this January as had been predicted two years prior, news was Chevrolet’s BMW i3-like Bolt had beaten Tesla to the punch.
Characteristically not dissuaded, Musk fired back that the Model 3 could be priced a couple thousand dollars less than the Bowtie brand’s best shot.
Both are expected to get 200 miles range, and Musk said $35,000 for the Model 3 is less than maybe $37,500 for the Bolt which would net at $30,000 or so after a $7,500 federal credit.
Assuming this is the case, a Tesla EV for $27,500 after tax credit – and cheaper in California and states where state credits could also be applied – would be quite an alternative to today’s top EV, the 84-mile, $30,000 Nissan Leaf.
Of course by 2017, there will be a new Leaf, reportedly a purpose-built Ford, the Chevrolet, possibly others, but the Model 3 has Tesla watchers hoping a lot of trickle-down cool factor from the Model S and X will be baked in.
Late But Not That Late
In 2013, head of Tesla design Franz von Holzhausen – who once said BMW’s i3 is like something that Ikea would have made – made statements to German magazine Autobild leading to reports the Model 3 would be shown by the 2015 Detroit auto show.
As mentioned, that show came and went in January where instead we had the surprise Chevy Bolt.
More recently, Musk told the Reno Gazette-Journal – the paper casing its close Gigafactory under construction – that the Model 3 will not see as many delays as the Model s or Model X did.
The Model X has been delayed a couple times, and was hoped to be here by 2013. As the Gigafactory battery plant intended to make its li-ion batteries goes up, the priority is to get Model 3 built and ready too.
“We don’t want the delays that affected the Model X to affect the Model 3 so we’ve been quite conscientious in this area that,” Musk said. “We want to have super high volume.”
What Will it Look Like?
If von Holzhausen sneers at BMW’s best, one would surmise the car will be pretty cool, but your guess may be as excellent as any.
Ahead of schedule reports had von Holzhausen and others saying this would be a BMW 3-Series fighter – or, for that matter, an alternative to any mid-level internal combustion sporty sedan, such as an Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class. Read more

Ford To Reveal Its Own Chevy Bolt EV Competitor This Year

Ford To Reveal Its Own Chevy Bolt EV Competitor This Year When we wrote a couple weeks ago saying electric car makers will need to step up to the new 200-mile/mid-$30,000 benchmark due by 2017, modest did we know how soon Ford would reportedly show it too agrees.
According to Automobile magazine, Ford will be the fourth EV maker to offer a 200-plug-mile range EV ostensibly to compete with the plotted Chevrolet Bolt.
“Scant” details are known, but implied is this will be a dedicated EV, not a breathed on Focus EV already compromised with limited cargo storage as a converted gas-powered car.
Ford has not yet confirmed this information with any press announcement.
Also uncertain is whether Ford’s new EV will be launched by the 2017 timeframe reported but not confirmed for Chevrolet, but given the two automakers are long-time rivals in segments like pickups and pony cars, it’s said the incentive is more than there in the green space as well.
The Chevrolet Bolt EV was shown as a concept January 2015 and has been confirmed to be slated for production. Official date is not set, but 2017 has been reported by insiders, and would fit the timeline for Tesla’s Model 3 plotted that same year.
Of course Tesla and Nissan also plot to be offering their respective Model 3 and second-generation Leaf by 2017 with 200 mile range and mid-30s price tag, and so we’ll see what Ford does.
The next huge auto show is at the end of this month in New York, and while that would be a fantastic place for Ford to reveal its Bolt fighter, Automobile reports it may not be revealed until the LA auto show in November.
The notion that Ford would step up, assuming this unofficial report is verified, is not at all surprising. The American automaker has been more proactive in the hybrid space with more market share, and evenly touts its green and eco-sensible ethos at auto shows, press events, through published reports and more.
Chevrolet has been in the news as tasking a Tesla watch team, but Ford was also reported to have disassembled a Model S and place it all back together – a not uncommon do, but one it has admitted to in boasting of its engineering prowess and commitment.
In other words, Ford intends not to be left behind either. What else it might do, and who else will be next – BMW anyone? – will remain to be seen regarding the new de facto benchmark of mid 30s / 200+/- mile range.

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It Was Steady As She Goes For February Leaf and Volt Sales

It Was Steady As She Goes For February Leaf and Volt Sales Nissan recorded 1,198 Leaf sales last month, Chevrolet recorded 693 Volt sales and this in a shorter sales month would be a case of steady as she goes.
The month prior, Nissan broke an 18-month streak of setting minutes and came plummeting down 65 percent from December to 1,017 sales and 14.5 percent down year over year.
February’s 1,198 is an uptick over January but again no minutes were set as Nissan attributed lost business to wintry conditions.
“Tough winter weather in several key markets held EV sales back in February,” said Brendan Jones, director, Nissan Electric Vehicle Sales and Infrastructure. “As we head into spring, we look forward to seeing more dealership traffic so shoppers can encounter actual the benefits of the all-electric Nissan Leaf.” Read more

VW Presents PHEV Sport Coupé Concept GTE

VW Presents PHEV Sport Coupé Concept GTE Volkswagen will reveal the plug-in hybrid Sport Coupé Concept GTE at the 2015 Geneva International Motor Show.
The concept combines a new design language for the brand with different directions Volkswagen intends to take its plug-in hybrid powertrains, identified with the GTE designation.
“This breathtakingly dynamic coupé is disparate any other to grow in this class,” said Dr Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Volkswagen Brand Board Limb for Development. ‘The design of the Sport Coupé Concept GTE is an impressive alternative to the classic sedans of the B and C segments—it has the style of a sport coupé that is enriched by the functionality of a generous hatchback and the interior space of a sedan.” Read more

Do Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries Still Have A Long Future Ahead of Them?

Do Nickel Metal Hydride Batteries Still Have A Long Future Ahead of Them? When hybrid batteries make headlines – whether it’s a new 200-mile range battery or a company expanding its battery manufacturing – the news typically focuses on lithium-ion if not some advanced tech touted with varying degrees of potential.
But lithium-ion (li-ion) might not be the best battery technology to invest in for electrified vehicles says one maker of the technology that came before and which is still used in most of Toyota’s hybrids.
BASF, the world’s leading compound producer, is wagering that nickel metal hydride (NiMH) can start a more efficient battery than li-ion. The company is working to significantly multiply the room and improve packaging for a better rechargeable battery.
“[BASF] recently doubled the amount of energy that these batteries can store, making them comparable to lithium-ion batteries,” said Kevin Bullis in MIT Technology Review.
“And they have a plot to improve them far more, potentially rising energy storage by an additional eight times.”
When electrified vehicles started become mainstream, NiMH was the rechargeable battery of choice. Its advantages over li-ion include cost, lifespan and safety.
NiMH is also said to be less susceptible to farthest temperatures. On a Tesla Model S, which uses li-ion batteries, at least one owner has carefully documented that range can drop by as much as 40-percent in subzero weather.
SEE ALSO: Studies Suggest Tesla Batteries Lose Modest Range
Though li-ion has increased in popularity, it’s not the only battery technology used in electrified vehicles. Now, well loved hybrid models including the automaker that owns 70 percent of the hybrid market – Toyota/Lexus – has stuck with its tried and right formula so far.
“For more than a decade, NiMH batteries have delivered safe, reliable, cost-effective performance in more than five million hybrid electric vehicles,” said Michael Zelinsky, market and business development manager for BASF Battery Materials.
“NiMH batteries consistently give up life-of-vehicle performance and owners seldom give them a second plotting, regardless of pouring conditions.”
While it’s cheaper to build a NiMH battery, the resulting pack historically takes up more space and weighs more than Li-ion. This is also part of the standard that BASF wants to change.
“Changing the microstructure helped make them more durable, which in turn allowed changes to the cell design that saved considerable weight, enabling storage of 140 watt-hours per kilogram,” Bullis said.
SEE ALSO: Bosch: Battery Prices Will Drop, Electrified Powertrains Will Spread
If BASF is able to meet its goal of developing a NiMH battery that costs $146 per kilowatt-hour, the battery will be half the cost of a comparable Li-ion battery. Extra cost and weight savings will also come from dropping the safety supplies needed for Li-ion batteries.
“Nickel-metal hydride batteries wouldn’t require the heavy, expensive safety systems needed by the lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars now,” said Bullis.
Analysts agree that battery cost is key to the sales success of electrified vehicles. By lowering the cost of the rechargeable battery – which makes up a significant part of an electrified vehicle’s price – the buy price of a new hybrid or battery electric vehicle can become more affordable.
MIT Technology Review

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Would The 2016 Volt’s Transaxle Be Ideal For An Extended-Range Truck?

Would The 2016 Volt’s Transaxle Be Ideal For An Extended-Range Truck? In revising the second-generation Chevrolet Volt, General Motors re-designed its electrical/mechanical transaxle, and one might now pose the inquiry whether this same design would be ultimate to use in a super fuel-saving truck such as VIA Motors now makes.
VIA builds pure series plug-in hybrid trucks based on the Chevrolet Silverado and other light-duty GM trucks.
The Oregon start-up’s Mexico-based gift takes whole GM trucks from a close production plant, tears out the drive train and retrofits whole new plug-in hybrid systems with up to “100 mpg” averaged efficiency.
GM itself had a 2-mode hybrid it discontinued and there is a gaping hole in this gas-guzzling segment. Following is a look at the possibilities …
A Superior Design
The gen 2 Volt transmission lowers cost.
A week ago on the GM-Volt forum, an special article was posted on the Voltec transmission screening it cuts cost and weight while rising vehicle performance and efficiency.
The lower cost is achieved through the new motor designs which use fewer rare earth metals. Most importantly GM is now additively linking the two motors in EV mode so they can get by with a less vital main traction motor but still end up with the same total power in EV mode as before. In small more for less.
Could this same theory be used in an ‘EREV’ truck?
It seems to me that answer is an unequivocal yes. GM could start an extended-range electric truck that would be lower cost than a pure series hybrid truck. In other words, GM could out VIA VIA.
The VIA VTrux pickup is a pure series hybrid.
The VIA truck has one huge traction motor and a generator driven by an ICE like Gen 1 Volt. GM can get by with lower motor costs than the pure series arrangement by linking the two motors and also offer more efficient operation in extended-range mode since all the pure series conversion losses are eliminated. You may recall that GM has eliminated pure series as an in commission mode in the new Volt transmission.
We are all aware that GM produced a 2-mode hybrid transmission for the Silverado truck. Although much maligned as a failure it was really an engineering work of art. Its breakdown was that GM exciting too much for it and by no means really tried to lower costs and finally it was cancelled.
All the cost cutting features that GM used in the new Gen 2 Volt transmission should apply to a truck transmission. The two units are very similar from a technical point of view. Both transmissions have identical hybrid modes: input split and compound split. The rest of the modes are just fixed gear ratio modes: gen 2 Volt has one fixed gear and the Silverado 2 mode had four fixed gears. The ancient 2 mode had three planetary gearsets and four clutches so it had one more clasp and one more planetary gearset than the gen 2 transmission.
2013 Silverado Hybrid. Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, now working for VIA, has said GM should have started with pickup trucks as these stand to save the most fuel.
Of course the Silverado transmission did not have an EV mode but that could easily be added since all the hardware components are the same.
Therefore not only could GM make a pure hybrid version of the transmission they could also make an extended range version.
SEE ALSO: 2014 VIA VTRUX Test Drive Review
Granted, an EREV version seems like a long shot but a plain hybrid version does not. In person I reckon that it is just a matter of time until mileage supplies dictate that configuration anyhow. Both Ford and Toyota are believed to already be working on one.
GM just beat all the other EV makers to the punch with their new 200 mile Bolt EV.
Could GM be first on the market with a successful version of a hybrid truck … or better yet an extended range electric truck? What do you reckon?
George Bower is a retired aerospace engineer, Prius and Volt owner, motorcyclist, long-time reader and occasional tech writer for

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Detroit Electric Designs Flagship Store

Detroit Electric Designs Flagship Store EV manufacturer Detroit Electric has revealed the design of its first store, set to also be the flagship store for the brand.
This first store has been constructed beside the company’s dedicated production gift in Leamington Spa, UK.
The new EV company stated the store sports a thoroughly modern, industrial look which is said to be complemented and softened by recognizably classic modern furnishings such as Corbusier sofas and leather-and-chrome Marcel Brueuer Wassily chairs.
SEE ALSO: Detroit Electric To Build EV In Europe
Prospective customers will be able to shop, digitally build and peacefulness their SP:01 electric vehicle on touchscreen displays as well as discuss their buy with staff in more private, dedicated areas.
“Laying down this outlet marker is an vital step as we gear up to the start of production of our first model and prepare to roll it out to our first dealers in Asia and Europe,” said Albert Lam, Chairman and CEO of Detroit Electric. “Our flagship store design reflects the pioneering design and technology values of a brand that can trail its roots back to 1907 – now revived a modest over a century later. The outlet is a visually-arresting and stylish environment where a customized lighting theme literally highlights our ‘pure-electric’ clean power product proposal.”

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‘Unscrupulous’ Dodge Hellcat Dealers Help Prove Tesla’s Case

‘Unscrupulous’ Dodge Hellcat Dealers Help Prove Tesla’s Case The Dodge Charger Hellcat has been compared to Tesla’s P85D as an alternate “world’s fastest” sedan, and while that is one point of contention, there’s also a stark contrast in sales practices over the electric versus gas-powered muscle cars.
While Tesla has fought for its factory direct sales model as a more ethical way, a “handful” of Dodge dealers may be proving Tesla’s case and Fiat-Chrysler is taking the unusual step of warning its customers against its own franchised dealers.
In small, FCA’s allocation system for the 707-horsepower Charger Hellcat and Challenger Hellcat is finite, but some dealers are taking orders and even non-refundable deposits just to secure a sale.
SEE ALSO: Tesla P85D is Not The World’s ‘Fastest’ Sedan
FCA has said a “handful” of its Dodge dealers may even be breaking the law in taking orders “without regard to available supply and without advising their customers that orders may not be filled, if at all, for many months or longer.”
On its blog, the automaker spells out how its allocation system works, saying most dealers know and abide by the rules while making clear some are not doing so.

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