• Mar 22nd 2008 at 12:29PM
  • 15
About a month ago Hybrid Technologies sent out press release that they were slashing the price of their electric vehicle conversions. For some time now, they have been offering up MINI Coopers, Chrysler PT Cruisers and even Crossfires among others. The flaw in the plan however was the pricing. There have been questions about actual performance and how many vehicles the company has actually delivered. The one independent test that we are aware was a battery powered Chrysler PT Cruiser the company provided for testing as a New York City Taxi. That one ended badly after only a few months in service when the car was unable to approach the claimed range and it performed poorly in cold weather. Well, some of the staff from Hybrid Technologies were on hand with a few of their vehicles at the New York Auto Show this week and I managed to get answers (sort of) to a few questions. Their MINI conversion is now priced at $57,500 and they have built two prototypes for testing. However, to date none have been ordered by potential customers. As for their latest offering, a converted Toyota Yaris called Liv Wise, priced a slightly more reasonable $39,500, HT claims to have gotten fifteen serious inquiries and they are attempting to firm up the first order. Once an order is confirmed they will deliver a car within four months. So apparently people are looking for actual demonstrated capability at an affordable price when it comes to electric vehicles and conversions of existing cars may not be the way to get there.

[Source: Hybrid Technologies]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      That's not true at all, because these cars cost more than twice as much as the base model and that prices them in an entirely different segment!. You are paying $60k instead of $30k, $40k instead of $11k. That is a HUGE difference. As I mentioned, I think people are okay with the difference being $10k or less and with the promised performance (there is some doubt about the promised range & performance of these cars too). Anything too much more, and I don't think there will be much demand.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Tesla started with a sports car for 2 reasons. One to build hype and the brand. Two, its easier to build a sports car and then build sporty handling into a mass produced car. Then it is to build a stodgy mass produced car and then try to build a respectable sports car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Converting new cars doesn't make much economic sense. Convering used "gliders" bought for next to nothing does. It is just hard to create a business model on used car conversions, which is why that's almost all DIY right now.

      • 7 Years Ago
      To get the price down, you have to mass produce them in high volume. Right now, EVs are basically handmade one by one. There is no feasible way to sell large numbers of these cars right at the start.

      Tesla has the right idea. For the first generation sell about 1000 a year, second gen about 10,000 a year, third gen go for a mainstream number of 100,000 a year. At each stage you have to have a product that you can produce in each of those numbers, and that will actually sell in those numbers, and turn a profit at each stage.

      If you try in the first generation to sell a low-end product at 1000 a year, you will have to charge so much that it will be priced like a high end product, and won't sell, and there will be no profit to fund the next generation. Game over.

      • 7 Years Ago
      Bring the price down to under 30K, and there WILL be a demand. 60K is unaffordable for people wanting to buy electric cars. 30K is more appealing and people may buy that once they consider the amount of money they will spend on gas.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Of course there is very little demand. Who pays for the car with a brand new the petrol engine hooked up and everything just to rip it out and convert the car . That is dumb . That in a sense is very ungreen all those manufacturing hours , electricity, gasoline ans testing is now wasted because you were going to convert the war anyway . Why don't they just sell the car body . Why pay twice the amount for a car when you could just get the body and put the electricall equipment in .
      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree Tesla is on the right track. High performance cars are toys and they are producing a politically correct toy for the super rich. There is a huge market in Hollywood and I believe it will do well.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is why Tesla didn't hop into the lower cost EV market so quickly. These batteries are still very costly and I don't think many people can justify spending more than twice as much on a EV version of a car. With conversions it is even worst since the manufacturer already took profit from the car itself and you are adding in the battery and EV drivetrain. For more affordable EVs I think we have to look to cars like the Mitsubishi iMiev and the Subaru R1e. They may be a little expensive too, potentially costing $20-25k as opposed to the gas version costing around $10k. But a jump from $10k to $20-25k is alot easier to swallow than a jump from $30k to $60k. PHEVs are something to consider too. For conversions, most are better off doing their own using flooded lead acids if they want an affordable EV. Yes I know it's not good for the environment, but the battery options are very limited so far for personal conversions.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I constantly see people complaining about the Tesla being so expensive, and that they should have started out with a less expensive vehicle first.

      But they recognize that if the price performance equation doesn't work, people will not buy it.

      One hundred thousand for an electric car with Porsche-like performance and a 220 mile range works. A sixty thousand dollar Mini Cooper, with 9 seconds to 60 acceleration and 100 mile range, doesn't work. You would have to charge a lot less to move this car, but you could only get the price down if you had much higher sales volume. There is simply no way to get there unless you were willing and able to lose about 500 million over the first few years while you built up the business. It might even take a billion or more.

      I'd say Tesla's strategy of starting at the top and working down looks pretty good.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Most of you will disagree, I know, but I *might* be willing to pay $57,500 for a Mini EV --*IF* it really existed, and worked as well as, say, a RAV4-EV. After all, used RAV4-EVs have sold for more than that on eBay! Like those who place such eBay bids, I guess that I am so fed up with polluting the planet, our addiction to oil, and paying huge profits to despicable regimes via the pump, that if that's the only price available for an EV... at this point I'd pay it.

      The real problem, as I have stated in other posts about Hybrid Technologies, is that it is a questionable outfit at best. This report confirms that impression. They haven't even BUILT a prototype yet, let alone delivered a production model to a single customer. No wonder their web pages originally claimed a range of over 120 miles, which they have now revised to 100+ miles --and then the order page states 70+ miles! So... which is it? Whoops. Obviously they don't even know, having never built one --let alone tested it. Moreover, their marketing right hand doesn't know what their webmaster's left hand is doing: they use radio buttons on the order page that cancel each other out. Ergo, you can't select, for example, both a "Convenience" and a "Cold Weather" package. Duh!

      Unless and until the Green Auobloggers and/or other automotive journalists can test drive one of these cars, and publish a report on their findings, we might as well consider them vaporware. I have far more trust in Mitsubishi, Subaru, Think, Nissan, Miles, or Aptera to bringing their EVs to market than I do in these characters.
        • 6 Years Ago

        Showing typical behavior inspired anonymity, rather than clarify or add to the discussion, you resort to snide insults. Well... I'll be sure to say "hi" to Sulu for you. Sticks and stones, Mr. Deity!

        Since you mention facts, let's point some out.

        FACT: I posted my observation above on March 22, 2008.

        FACT: You claim to have driven a HT Mini at Alt Car Expo, i.e., September 26 or 27, 2008 in Santa Monica.

        Nice...! I didn't even know that HT was there, since the company's name doesn't appear on the list of exhibitors. BUT... I don't see how your experience renders my statement made 6 MONTHS EARLIER invalid. Are you, in FACT, asserting that HT had sold Minis to customers BEFORE my post?

        Perhaps. Anything is possible. But NONE of us here in Autoblog Green had yet heard of such a sale AT THAT TIME, so yes: that gave me the right to state as much.

        If my observation was, in FACT, mistaken, fine: just please have your HT Mini owner friends reply to this post, clarifying their date of purchase, and hopefully providing a thorough evaluation of the vehicle --now that nearly a year has passed behind the wheel. We'd all love to read their reports! And I am more than willing to eat some crow. So far we have only heard from one owner of an HT Wise (Yaris) EV in Oregon, who took delivery... one week ago ( http://www.autobloggreen.com/2009/01/29/hybrid-technologies-delivers-liv-wise-corvette-guy-loves-it/).

        In the meantime, since you got to drive one of those HT Minis last September, please fill in the blanks that I identified:

        Is its tested range 120 miles (as originally posted)? 70+ miles (still posted on its order page)? Or 100-120 miles (currently posted on its description page)? Which is it? And has that actual range been established by EPA testing?

        Why has HT still not fixed the buttons for optional packages, i.e., why can one still not order BOTH the "cold weather" and "convenience" packages? Just what does one GET with those packages, anyway? The "premium package" is still the only one that has any kind of description.

        Finally, when you gather the input from your HT Mini owner friends, please have HT post such feedback on their web page. Potential customers would really like to read testimonials from all those previous customers before investing nearly $60K in an EV that has yet to be tested and reviewed by automotive journalists.

        And if you know of any such reviews by automotive journalists, be SURE to pass them along!
        • 6 Years Ago
        You don't know what your talking about. I've driven their Mini and they have sold cars. What gives you the right to cast dispersions without facts? I drove the Mini at the Alt Car Expo in 2008. Where were you in your imaginary spaceship with Mr. Sulu?
      • 7 Years Ago
      I have read the comment so many times -- a Tesla is for the super rich etc. etc.

      Have you looked at car prices lately? $100k is not a "toy for the super rich". A toy for the super rich costs around $500k these days, and cars over $1,000k (i.e. a cool million bucks) have already appeared. For example, McLaren/Mercedes SLR has a starting list price of $425k. The Bugatti Veyron will set you back well over $1 million.

      The Tesla is for the well-to-do certainly, but no where near "super rich".
      • 7 Years Ago
      The problem with EV conversion companies is they are getting complete cars at full price, then have the labor costs of removing the gas engine and fuel tank, then install the EV components. No wonder the price goes way up!

      What they should do is make an agreement with the auto makers. They could provide the EV components to be factory installed, or persuade the auto maker to sell them "gliders" without engines and they'll install the EV parts. Either way, it provides a profitable new market for the auto companies, reduces cost for consumers, improves the auto makers CAFE fleet figures, and even gives valuable ZEV credits. There is little risk or cost for the auto makers, especially if the EV converter agrees to provide a full drivetrain warranty.

      If they could make a persuasive case, the auto makers should go for it.
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