As regular readers know, I set out this year to interview as many Detroit automaker executives as I could at the Detroit and Chicago auto shows to get their takes on meeting future fuel economy standards. And these reports are generating a lot of comments.

For example, "Nick" responded to my Ford interviews: "I don't get how 'electrifying global platforms' is any good. They're essentially taking cars that were 100% engineered with ICE in mind, and 'adapting' them into EVs. Not an optimal solution, to say the least. You end up with a car that looks exactly like its ICE counterpart, costs $15k more, is heavy and has poor range. Tesla is a billion miles ahead of these clowns."

Nick is right that electrified conventional vehicles will be somewhat heavier and less efficient than dedicated-platform cars, but Ford has chosen the former path for its early EVs because the latter is hugely expensive. Ford (and virtually all others) believe that potential EV buyers will be willing to sacrifice some range for much more affordable prices.

The idea that designing, developing and building unique, dedicated-platform EVs instead of electrifying conventional ones would result in lower costs is completely wrong. And I'm wondering what credentials justify Nick's calling Ford's incredibly hard-working, capable and dedicated engineers "clowns." And why he thinks, "Tesla is a billion miles ahead" of them. Really? How many dedicated-platform EVs has Tesla sold?

That said, let's start our Chrysler CAFE interviews at the very top with Chrysler (and parent company Fiat) CEO Sergio Marchionne. "If you ask GM and Ford," he said, "we all have the same types of technology, and we all carry the same burden in terms of the sizes of vehicles we are manufacturing. The 50-plus miles per gallon by 2025 cannot be achieved by just redesigning established combustion technologies. We know that some type of hybrid solution needs to be implemented, and if we don't make [sufficient] changes in combustion engines, hybrids will become the mainstay in the United States. At that point, economies of scale will drive down cost. They will never be equivalent, but they will come down. But if you think we're going to get there without passing on additional costs to the consumer, I've got news for you: we will have to.

If anybody sits back and says, 'I can't find the answer by 2025,' they shouldn't be in this business.

"We know how to do it technically," he continued. "I think there are unexplored areas of inefficiency in combustion that will give us much greater opportunity than people think, and we are just beginning to experience ways in which we can reduce the energy demands of a vehicle. This is going to require the efforts of everybody on the engineering side to get it done. If anybody sits back and says, 'I can't find the answer by 2025,' they shouldn't be in this business. I don't have a silver bullet, but our guys are on it. We will have the answer, and we will grow with it as we progress through development."



Fred Diaz, Chrysler's Ram Truck president and CEO, asserted that in his end of the business, both affordability and capability are key. "You can't lose what a truck can do," he said, "yet it has to be affordable. That is a huge challenge. But we have a group of product designers and engineers that I would put up against any in the entire world. Our partnership with Fiat and the technologies they have, coupled with ours, is a match made in heaven. That is what will give us the ability to whip these CAFE standards without sacrificing capability, and while keeping our prices affordable."

With new technologies and materials, we can remove a lot of weight while maintaining capability. But that does cost money.

Mike Manley, president/CEO of Chrysler's Jeep brand, said that Jeeps are known for their capabilities, but those have come with a lot of weight. "With new technologies and materials," he said, "we can remove a lot of weight while maintaining capability. But that does cost money, and at the end of the day, the customers who will have to pay for it. When people think of fuel economy, they tend to think of powertrain – for example, we're putting diesel into Grand Cherokee because of its fuel economy benefits and capability. But full-vehicle efficiency – parasitic losses, rolling resistance, aerodynamics – also plays a major role."

Ralph Gilles, vice president of both Chrysler Design (styling) and the company's high-performance SRT (Street and Racing Technology) Groups, said: "We are working hand-in-glove with Bob Lee's team on the engineering side, and we can do a lot with aerodynamics without doing jellybeans. There are a lot of tricks to making a car wind cheating, and things that look sleek are not necessarily the most aerodynamic.

The Europeans have been having fuel price challenges forever, and they have always approached aerodynamics as an art. Now we're seeing that stateside.

"The hours we spend in the wind tunnel have quadrupled. We used to spend maybe 100 hours on a car. Now we're spending 300 to 400 hours, because everything matters, even the underbody. If you look under the [2013 Dodge] Dart, you'll see aero treatments all over the bottom to give us a little more freedom on the top side."

But isn't that adding cost, both in wind tunnel time and added hardware? "That's the reality we live in," Gilles responded. "The Europeans have been doing it for a long time. They have been having fuel price challenges forever, and they have always approached aerodynamics as an art. Now we're seeing that stateside.

2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8

Switching gears from design to performance, I asked whether Chrysler will have to offer much less of it and price it much higher. "SRT is fairly modest volume," he said, "so it has little impact on CAFE. And we do [improve efficiency] where we can. For example, nearly all of our 2012 Hemi engines have the four-cylinder mode and no problem staying in it a lot of the time. We are looking at different displacements, and pressure charging. But I think performance is here to stay. Over the years, every time it has gone away, it has come back."

There are areas where Fiat cannot be challenged, and one is fuel economy.

Olivier Francois, head of Fiat Global and Chrysler's chief marketing officer, pointed out that Fiat has the lowest fleet average CO2 emissions in Europe for the fourth year in a row. "No one is better than us," he said. "This is due to technologies like our new Twin Air engine, which was elected best engine of the year for 2011. A couple years ago, it was Multi-Air – now on the U.S. Dodge Dart – which gives 10 percent more power and 10 percent less consumption. When it comes to diesel, Fiat invented common rail, then sold that technology to others. There are areas where Fiat cannot be challenged, and one is fuel economy. So Fiat being part of the Chrysler Group will help, and probably all the Fiat technologies will be important in Detroit cars. We will have the best of both worlds."

I asked how large a role electrification will play, and how can Chrysler make EVs more affordable and acceptable to U.S. buyers. "We have announced that there will be an electric Fiat 500," he responded, "but I think acceptability is an open issue, still a question mark."

Yes, it is. Next time, I'll report on what a variety of GM leaders had to say about it.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 42 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      VW are bringing out a limited run of 500 Golf electrics cars as a trial with 20 of them going to the US. It notable that they have not screwed up the boot the way Ford have: http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-57384759-48/volkswagen-ships-first-electric-golf-to-california/ I can't understand why the US manufacturers expect to be congratulated for producing kludges, and grossly overpricing many of their alternative fuel offerings. Apparently VW may be able to rapidly go to production if they wished to. If petrol goes over $5/gallon perhaps they will. They usually prefer to produce a few iterations of the demo cars first though. What they could do is ship the electric Up to the US.
      Ron Wagner
      • 3 Years Ago
      The easiest way to lower fuel cost is to convert the existing fleet to natural gas/gasoline switchable vehicles. The goal should be to lower overall cost to the consumer while reducing dependency on foreign oil. Cummins and Peterbilt are coming out with natural gas engines, for their trucks, in 2013. Pickups and Vans would benefit most from natural gas use because they would save the most money. RVs would greatly benefit, and CNG (compressed natural gas) could really benefit that industry. Americans love large vehicles, and this would enable them to continue to enjoy them and boost the economy. There are natural gas pipelines to almost all populated areas of the USA and Canada. The technology and equipment needed is already well proven and widely available.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ron Wagner
        natural gas is not a 1 for 1 replacement for oil. You have to spend a lot of energy compressing the gas to get a decent energy density. The range of the Honda Civic NG is only around 200 miles . . . much better than most pure electrics but significantly worse than gas cars. And you need a filling infrastructure for natural gas. A friend of mine bought the Honda Civic NG to use the carpool lane but he concluded it wasn't worth the money for the home filling system.
        Greg
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ron Wagner
        Ron, No, the easiest way is to minimize the commute. If you drive half as far, you will spend half as much without any new technology or buying a new car.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      I can understand some resentment at unduly harsh criticism of hard-working engineers. However the choices of many car companies are by no means above criticism. Ford seems to have done a good job in engineering the hybrids and plug-ins. What on earth are they thinking about with their BEVs though? I pass swiftly on from the ludicrously prices Azure Connect, which will never pay its premium back in petrol if you drove it for 100 years. If Renault can build economic electric vans, why can't Ford? If they are no good at producing economic vehicles, what are they there for? Moving on to the much more reasonable Ford Focus EV, whilst it is understandable not to want to make a totally different platform, that does not mean that a current one can't be adapted, as for instance Renault stretched the Fluence for the electric version. Instead Ford have decided not to give an inch, and simply stuffed the batteries into a standard Focus, ending up in the completely daft position of building a City car ideal for errants and shopping, without an effective boot to put said shopping in. If they did not fancy stretching or adapting the Focus, the Max-C body could certainly have taken the batteries whilst still providing reasonable accomodation. One ends up with the impression that Ford do not believe in pure electric cars, are not willing to make electric variants part of their design process as VW has done for instance with the Up, and really feels that if customers insist on driving electric then they should be prepared to put up with whatever level of inconvenience Ford fancies dishing out. Ford seems to believe in hybrids and plug ins, but not in BEV vehicles. This missive is becoming lengthy, so I will confine my other remarks on US car manufacturers to the observation that if it involves alternative fuels, or anything bar conventional petrol vehicles, they charge such massive premiums that they ruin the economics, apparently deliberately. In Europe for instance Fiat charges only a small premium for their CNG vehicles I believe it may have been a GM van that was mentioned on this blog, where they stuffed a $15k premium on for CNG. If American car companies are either so incompetent that that is the best they can do, or so venal that they are happy to produce at this vast premium since it will be on the taxpayer's dollar as no-one in their right mind would buy at that price, so that leaves mandate driven Government and quasi government organisations, then they deserve all the abuse they get.
        SVX pearlie
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        "Ford seems to believe in hybrids and plug ins, but not in BEV vehicles." If every Ford were a PHEV, their fleet mileage numbers would be dramatically better than anybody else in the industry. There is nothing wrong with a strategy that leverages well-developed, proven technology and extends it to even higher levels of efficiency.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          Hybrids are costly by their nature. In volume the chances of drastically reducing cost on a BEV, and certainly maintenance and so on, are far better.
          SVX pearlie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          That may be true. But first, "pure" BEVs can get around the adoption hurdles like "range anxiety" and "charging anxiety". We're definitely not there yet.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        I think the reality is that American car companies don't believe in electric yet at all and want to keep producing standard ol' gas cars, maybe a hybrid here and there.. Making crummy electric cars is a great way to get your CAFE ratings up though.. so that's just what they'll do until they find the idea plausible. This encourages them to spend as little money as possible on developing cars like this. It makes business sense to them as they get more benefit in CAFE rating increases versus how much $ they have to actually put into development. Hand it over to Magna and pass the cost to the consumer; job done. Call me crazy but i think electrics will sell themselves. All this posturing is a bit silly.. imho..
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          Its not just American car companies. VW has set itself the 'demanding' target of producing 100,000 electric cars a year - by 2018. However being Volkswagen they have done a reasonable job of designing the Up from the ground up to work well in a BEV variant - for very small cars, and hence cheap ones, they don't believe hybrids can be cost efficient. So Ford and GM like hybrids - bigger cars with bigger margins. All the talk of how customers having to pay more for better fuel economy is wishful thinking by US car executives - they don't want them to downsize and keep expenditures constant whilst getting better economy.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Here is the deal with electrics. When you mass produce you do it by making a little bit of money from every part of the car. The rest of the car industry such as the dealer make a little from the sale and the majority from the service. When you bring in electrics you eliminate a lot of the players. You dont have as many parts so you have to make more from each part. This makes the cars extremely expensive with little room for markup. You as a dealer make almost nothing from parts and service so you choke the dealers off. Why are electrics not really the answer? Pretty easy to figure it out. The car companies dont make money and the dealers make less. You absolutely destroy parts suppliers. Can you imagine the amount of companies and jobs you would eliminate? I am all about new technologies and saving the environment but I really dont see electrics being the answer for a very long time. Sure they can resolve our dependance on oil but they still dont make a good profitable business case. There are lots of ICE technologies still to be used that will lower our gas consumption and reduce our pollution. The electric cars day will come but it wont be for at least the next 10 years. I think all the CEO's of these companies realize this is not the path to take right now. If you want these companies that just survived bailouts to be around and making money then electrics are not the answer currently. Can you imagine life without any engine parts companies or oil change businesses or and the list goes on and on. if anyone wants to drive and electric all the best to them but they will not be cheap and they wont be coming to you in any quantity any time soon. The extended range at least has a motor so they havent totally dumped the ICE yet. These might make more sense then we think.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        You are assuming that the producers will be able to control the game, and they certainly make every effort to. I can't see that being a successful strategy, and for instance Japan is already hollowing out its car industry to produce abroad. Those companies would prefer to set up something which has less parts to worry about, as it is less costly. In areas where car companies have a lot of political clout such as North America, they will no doubt fight a rearguard action, as indeed they are already doing. They won't win though.
        sirvixisvexed
        • 3 Years Ago
        "When you mass produce you do it by making a little bit of money from every part of the car." This makes no sense and is no different from ICE cars. "You dont have as many parts so you have to make more from each part. This makes the cars extremely expensive with little room for markup." This makes little sense in a lot of ways. Your second sentence contradicts your first. Making more from each part would MEAN more markup, not little room for it. But the idea in your first sentence is random and I don't see the logic; if car company X buys ten combustion engine parts from supplier 1, but then chooses to buy only 5 different parts, we'll call them "electric car parts" from supplier 2, then supplier 2 is by definition more hard pressed for profits because his parts are of a smaller variation? That's like saying a store that only sells t-shirts needs to charge astronomical prices because they have less selection then the store next to them that sells not only t-shirts, but jeans, socks, and jackets. By your definition, no specialty supplies/suppliers/stores/businesses can even exist. " The car companies dont make money and the dealers make less. You absolutely destroy parts suppliers. Can you imagine the amount of companies and jobs you would eliminate?" q3a7vodk4 answered this one best. Just because a human once performed a task of some sort, it does not mean that mother nature and God collaborated to make that employment position available since the beginning of time; and that there are people, if unable to work at said job, literally cannot do anything else with themselves. If your logic was true here, there would be many hundreds of thousands of families that were the descendants of horse carriage builders roaming the earth starving and broke because their employment source was eliminated in the year 1900.
        q3a7vodk4
        • 3 Years Ago
        You are right sir! I vote we should get rid of computers too, do all calculations by hand that would employ many more people. And what's with these automated assembly lines, get rid of them too and make EVEN MORE JOBS! JOBS IS GOOD. THEY TOOK ARRRRRR JAAAWWWBBBSSSS.
          sirvixisvexed
          • 3 Years Ago
          @q3a7vodk4
          I was going to eat breakfast but you just served me ROFLs with syrup! Part of the reason you served me ROFLs is because you're right.
      Nick
      • 3 Years Ago
      Gary Witzenburg: It's up for debate which strategy will be more successful, and only time will tell, but I stand by my comment. "I don't get how 'electrifying global platforms' is any good. They're essentially taking cars that were 100% engineered with ICE in mind, and 'adapting' them into EVs. Not an optimal solution, to say the least. You end up with a car that looks exactly like its ICE counterpart, costs $15k more, is heavy and has poor range. Tesla is a billion miles ahead of these clowns." 1) Re-engineering ICE cars is a lukewarm attempt to get to an EV, and it shows. 2) EVs that resemble their ICE counterparts are generally less appealing to consumers, an issue that is underlined by the steep price differences. 3) Converted vehicles, such as the Focus EV at $39,995 can cost as much as the high-tech Volt, and even more than the LEAF or Mitsubishi Miev. There goes the argument of “much more affordable prices”. With a 100 mile range, and a price tag that dwarfs its ICE counterpart by factor 3, the Focus EV's selling proposition is miserable in comparison to its competitors. 4) Regarding “sacrificing range” in exchange for lower prices, I don't think so. Research has shown that range is one of the most important criteria that buyers consider. With more affordable, superior cars with more range, such as the Nissan Lead, I question Ford's intentions: do they want to mass-market EVs, or just create the appearance of it? “The idea that designing, developing and building unique, dedicated-platform EVs instead of electrifying conventional ones would result in lower costs is completely wrong. And I'm wondering what credentials justify Nick's calling Ford's incredibly hard-working, capable and dedicated engineers "clowns." And why he thinks, "Tesla is a billion miles ahead" of them. Really? How many dedicated-platform EVs has Tesla sold?” 1) FYI Ford's EV tech development was outsourced to Azure Dynamics and Magna. Do a little research, unless you want people to start questioning your credentials as a journalist? 2) Building a dedicated-platform does require a larger investment which takes longer to amortize, but unit costs certainly are lower, resulting in lower costs per-unit. 3) Tesla really IS a billion years ahead of these clowns, they've sold many times more EV platforms than Ford ever has, and is about to launch products that are far ahead of anything out there. Sincerely, Nick
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      Here is the parts count between an ICE and a BEV. Hybrids presumably would have just as extensive a parts list as an ICE, or more - In don't think Ford's approach is likely to save the customer money in buying the car, although the fuel costs are lower: 'Q: Is a BEV more reliable? A: Yes. There are many fewer moving and wearing parts. Both have brakes, wipers, radio, air-conditioning, and heater - BUT - in an BEV, these six parts: -electric motor and controller -batteries and charger -throttle potentiometer and shunt replace these 86 parts of a gasoline-powered vehicle: -engine block -crankshaft -bearings -rods -pistons -rings -cylinder heads -valves -seals -lifters -cams -more bearings -oil pump and lines -oil & filter -sprockets -timing belt and tensioner -gas tank and level sensor -fuel pump and wiring and filters (2) -charcoal canister -front to back metal fuel lines (3) -rubber fuel lines -carburetor or fuel injectors -air filter -cold start valve -sensors like AFM, MAF, TPS -water pump -coolant -radiator and two hoses -fan and wiring -thermostat -temperature sensor -alternator -crank sensor -distributor -spark plugs (4-8) and wires (4-8) , -starter motor & wire -flywheel -clutch parts (4), -transmission & fluid and filter -driveshaft and universal joints or CV joints (2) -exhaust pipes (3) -muffler & resonator -catalytic converter and emission testing! http://www.electricauto.me/Learning.html
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Not on topic, but nice list :) Yeah an EV is mindblowingly simple and i can't wait till i have the cash to invest in converting a car over! tearing out the Rube Goldberg machine of the gasoline engine's life support system will be the most entertaining part. From a manufacturing perspective, electric is mind blowingly simple to put together.. lots of off the shelf parts.. the corporate parts bin may need 1-3 different motor and controller combinations for all cars across the line.. and the battery can be scaled to X amount of amp hours to provide the needed load and range. No moving target of CAFE or emissions standards, and you can take the express lane through the EPA's approval process, which can take up to a year.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          ? I think I showed why Ford's push for hybrids may work at the moment with fairly expensive cars, but as batteries improve it can't compete for cost with BEVs' Their lack of interest in pushing BEVs does not seem like a sound business strategy to me.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      the global warming denier is back. oh goodie
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      "We have announced that there will be an electric Fiat 500," he responded, "but I think acceptability is an open issue, still a question mark." If your attitude is "we are taking small existing gas car and making a kludge conversion" then people are not going to accept it. There are better alternatives out there. But you are going to fall behind and risk not being able to catch up.
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      Good job Nick! I hope you will remember is little posting people, now that you are famous. :)
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      Chrysler has an extremely long way to go. I for one am surprised to see them still in business. They need to think beyond meeting requirements if they want to succeed and thrive.
        Gordon Chen
        • 3 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        You're not the only one surprised. I'm surprised in a good way. Let's hope Chrysler keeps it up. They definitely still need to make huge strides
      ss1591
      • 3 Years Ago
      The readers who think that using conventional cars as electric cars might be a bad idea will be amazed that they offer a very good platform. Most current 3 box designs offer great packaging for electric cars for the following reasons: No matter what car you build you must have a box (#2) for passengers to sit in and use, this will not change unless transporters from Star Trek become a reality. The third box (trunk / cargo) is used for luggage and fuel storage this still happens in a electric car but they also use the center section to store batteries something that can still be done when sharing a platform and is used by the Volt and Cruze. Last but not least is box #1 where the engine goes in almost ever modern car. This will continue because electric cars still must have a trans-axle and electric motor but as electric cars continue to evolve with in wheel electric motors this will allow cars without trans-axels or transmissions and create more power storage. When you compare Nissan's electric car to their other cars very little was done differently in the the box design.
      fred schumacher
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's good that the comments on this thread have started to question vehicle morphology as it relates to electric propulsion, but the comments have not pushed far enough. What is the primary purpose of a BEV today, with today's technology? It's commuting, that is, driving a regular daily loop, most likely with only a single passenger, the driver. This calls for a single-purpose vehicle optimized for this primary task. However, the industry keeps going back to the multi-purpose morphology it is most comfortable with. The result is heavy, expensive battery powered cars with short range. What's required is a paradigm shift, and the best place to find it, I think, is with three-wheel scooter morphology, such as the Piaggio MP3. And enclosed, three-wheel, tilting, narrow, two-seat inline "motorcycle" would accomplish the primary transportation task of daily commuting and could be developed and produced at much lower cost, especially if Gordon Murray's (T.25 and T.27) design and manufacturing methodologies were used. Such a vehicle would be the safest motorcycle ever built and has the added advantage of having a ready initial market among motorcycle riders who no longer feel comfortable on open two-wheelers but don't want to give up the experience.
        fred schumacher
        • 3 Years Ago
        @fred schumacher
        Thanks for the comments. Re: Ziv - working at home or within walking distance. Most efforts at self-employment fail. It's an option for some but not all. With the new world economy, job security has become a thing of the past, so where is "home" in such a world where one changes jobs frequently? For example, my older son works three days a week 20 miles west of his home; two days a week he goes to his company's other location which is 15 miles east; his wife, who carries the health insurance for his family, works 20 miles north. Where would they live, even considering the possibility of being able to sell their house, which is not likely in today's real estate market? Re: DaveMart - they don't like sacrificing flexibility for efficiency. This hits the problem right on the head. We build cars and buy them based on ultimate usage rather than modal (i.e., most frequent) usage. This was fine when fuel was cheap and plentiful. It won't be in the future. I'm a retired farmer and millwright. One of my favorite jokes is: Always use the right tool. Make sure you have the right size crescent wrench when pounding on a shaft. Re: marcopolo - BEV range and silly ideas The only BEVs I know of with 200+ mile range cost over $100,000. That's not a functional solution for most people. The cost has to go down, and the only way to accomplish that with today's technology is to reduce the size of the battery pack, the most costly part of a BEV. That can only be accomplished by downsizing. The Vectrix Scooter is not at all what I'm proposing. The Vectrix is an open, two-wheel scooter, not a weather proof, enclosed three-wheel. It takes time to develop a workable technology that the market will accept. The Chrysler Airflow was a marketing disaster, but within 15 years, all car design borrowed from it.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @fred schumacher
          @Spec: The amount of energy you save powering a 2 seater is absolutely trivial compared to a small 4 seater. The Smart gets worse mileage than the Up 4 seater, which gets 62.8mpg (UK Imperial, European cycle) even in the turbo charged GT form: http://fuel-economy.co.uk/stats.shtml Driving an SUV is one thing, driving a small 4 seater is another, and if you can afford the battery pack then the energy they use is fine.
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @fred schumacher
          @ fred schumacher Actually, battery technology and EV energy storage is occurring with astonishing speed. The Tesla model S will be shortly available and in the meantime, if you want affordable , that what PI-hybrids and EREV's are designed to bridge. Oh, and Vectrix did offer a Piaggio MP3 EV model, (part of the nearly $1 billion bankruptcy) If I was home in Australia, I would have a collection of articles about the numerous hopeful start-ups, that have tried to produce the types of vehicles you are advocating. The reason none has succeeded is very few consumers want such oddities.
        Ziv
        • 3 Years Ago
        @fred schumacher
        If you want to shift the paradigm, how about we stop working for other people and start our own businesses at home or within walking distance of home. ;-) Now that would be a horse of a different color. Kind of like the majority of the US about 100 years ago.
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          I'm doing that.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ziv
          Moving to the Suburbs was the biggest mistake most Americans ever made. They've ruined our sense of community, and forced us into an auto-centric lifestyle.
        Spec
        • 3 Years Ago
        @fred schumacher
        3-wheeler is too much of a change . . . the Aptera failed, the NMG failed, the ZAP Alias failed, etc. I think a cheap little 4-wheel commuter vehicle could succeed. Make an electric that is lighter and more aerodynamic than the Leaf such that it can get the same range with less battery. The Mitsubishi-i is not quite it . . . it looks too weird. I think a two-seater may be fine for many. If you have a 2-seater electric for daily work commuting, you could drive an SUV beast on weekends and end up still saving a massive amount of gasoline.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @fred schumacher
        Fred: Even the Twizy which only has 4kwh of battery can take 2 people, and is not fully covered purely so that it meets French quadracycle regulations so that it can be driven without a full licence. There is simply no need to put on a hair shirt to the degree you advocate.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @fred schumacher
        People aren't bothered whether they spend one dollar or two for the equivalent of a fill-up. They are bothered if they can't get in two or more people when they need to and don[t like sacrificing all flexibility in service to some theoretically ideal efficiency. Big words like 'morphology' and 'paradigm shift' don't alter the fact that there have been umpteen attempts at that sort of lay out, which all dies a deserved death as the idea is extremely silly and impractical.
        marcopolo
        • 3 Years Ago
        @fred schumacher
        @fred schumacher" What is the primary purpose of a BEV today, with today's technology? It's commuting, that is, driving a regular daily loop, most likely with only a single passenger, the driver." I would like you to consider three points to your proposition. 1) The range of some 5 passenger EV's, is already exceeding 250-300 miles on a single charge. With new quick charge facilities, this is comparable to gasoline. 2) Volt EREV technology. 3 ) the largest EV corporate failure so far is the nearly, one billion dollar bankruptcy of Vectrix Maxi-Scooters, who produced just the model you proposed.!
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @marcopolo
          @ Spec, Well, I for one accept Tesla's advertised claims for it's model 'S'.! Oh, and for the last 18 months my LEVRR, regularly delivers 220-240 miles per charge. But then it's a 4WD, SUV that seats 5 in comfort! (Liberty have been in business for 4 years) , There are Japanese specialist EV makers delivering vehicles with these sorts of ranges. Just because you where you live in the USA doesn't have such vehicles available, doesn't mean they don't exist! Most new technology starts out as cost specialist items to prove the value and viability of the technology, the transfers to mass production and mass availability. Once the technology exists, it will find it's way into more affordable models as Tesla is proving....
          marcopolo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @marcopolo
          @ Spec, Well, I for one accept Tesla's advertised claims for it's model 'S'.! Oh, and for the last 18 months my LEVRR, regularly delivers 220-240 miles per charge. But then it's a 4WD, SUV that seats 5 in comfort! (Liberty have been in business for 4 years) , There are Japanese specialist EV makers delivering vehicles with these sorts of ranges. Just because you where you live in the USA doesn't have such vehicles available, doesn't mean they don't exist! Most new technology starts out as cost specialist items to prove the value and viability of the technology, the transfers to mass production and mass availability. Once the technology exists, it will find it's way into more affordable models, as Tesla is proving....
          Spec
          • 3 Years Ago
          @marcopolo
          "1) The range of some 5 passenger EV's, is already exceeding 250-300 miles on a single charge." There is absolutely no 5 passenger EV with a range exceeding 250-300 miles on the market today. Don't count your chickens before they hatch. I know some are making such claims but we all know what the claims were for the Volt and Karma before they actually delivered with much lower numbers.
        mylexicon
        • 3 Years Ago
        @fred schumacher
        I don't know that paradigm shifts are as necessary as simply branching out into new segments with experimental products (e.g. Prius, Honda Insight or VW XL1). Manufacturers have always been skittish, and American manufacturers most of all b/c of the consumptive trends they (rightly or wrongly) attribute to the first CAFE system. Paradigm shift might be too much to ask, but most of them seem content to experiment with new segments. They've already developed the SUV and CUV segments just since the beginning of this century, and they are playing around with the urban box concept, though half-heartedly b/c the urban box style was created by arbitrary kei car laws in Japan. They will likely stumble on something new eventually. I definitely understand where you're coming from, but consider the following: Where is a conventional ICE least efficient (not the entire car just the engine)? On the highway when it's running about 15% throttle and making a giant turbulent wake. Why does it make a wake? Partly b/c car companies are lazy, but also b/c ICE's, particularly transverse inline ICEs have extraordinary frontal area. Engine height is particularly troublesome. What's the easiest way to solve partial-throttle ICE's with massive frontal area? You could make an argument for electricity. I like the tandem seating idea, and I'm disappointed VW have gone side-by-side for the XL1, but I'm not sure tandem three-wheelers are really necessary to make a sizable improvement.
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