When it comes to battery-electric versions of existing gas-powered vehicles, it's tough for those leopards to change their spots.

That's a conclusion from Consumer Reports, which says that the Ford Focus Electric and Chevrolet Volt are among plug-in vehicles marred by design compromises because they used platforms from existing gas-powered models.

The Volt, whose architecture stems from the Chevrolet Cruze, and the Focus EV both lack interior room and trunk space because the cars' larger batteries were crammed into spaces not originally designed to accommodate them, according to the publication. In contrast, models like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S, which were always designed for electric powertrains, keep most if not all of their batteries underneath the car's flooring, increasing roominess as well as improving handling. Consumer Reports noted the Mercedes-Benz B-Class Fuel Cell vehicle as an exception because most of its powertrain components are also in the floor.

The topic of converted electric-drive vehicles vs. those that had always been designed as EVs is topical as many automakers rush EVs to the market to capitalize on growing awareness of electric-drive vehicles.

Earlier this month, Green Car Reports broached the topic of converted vs. purpose built EVs in an article about which EVs are being made for true production and which are being produced merely to comply with California's quota for zero-emissions vehicles. Green Car Reports concluded that converted models such as electric versions of the Focus, Honda Fit and Toyota RAV4 are being made merely for compliance purposes.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 81 Comments
      Tagbert
      • 2 Years Ago
      Even the hump is not too bad if you get the optional cargo organizer. it creates a level load area with covered compartments underneath. (if you skip the bolt-down step, it can be removed when you need the extra space for larger items.)
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      Tagbert: If the Volt is a Cruze, then the LEAF is a Versa. I'm not saying it is a Versa, but if you use consistent criteria, they are the same statement. So I don't get how CR calls the Volt a conversion and the LEAF not.
      Austin Too
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is just another one of those articles that tries to divide the EV efforts of automakers into "good" and "bad" like the Green Car Reports article attempted to divide entires into "compliance" and "real". What's next, dividing EV's into "good" and "evil" and elevating Carlos Ghosn to sainthood (ohh, wait a minute....they already did that, didn't they)? Enough already. As long as EV efforts by manufacturers are safe and reliable, they are all good in my book. The market, not some snippy CR blogger, will determine which cars are sold. Consumers will make their choices based on a variety of attributes including (but not limited to) package, economy, range, charging time, vehicle dynamics, price, interior and exterior appearance, and brand image. And I'm not at all sure that the criteria customers will use will be the same as the strident EV enthusiast comments that are often found on websites. Sometimes appearance alone can be the difference. If EV manufacturers' products are found wanting by buyers, they won't sell. And if they don't sell, then manufacturers will have to develop Gen II products that are more competitive (which they are probably already doing considering upcoming ZEV mandates from California + other states).
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Austin Too
        The CR report is written to inform the market. They don't have any kind of ability to ban the sales of certain vehicles. I don't understand your argument.
      BC
      • 2 Years Ago
      Pure EVs are most suitable as urban runabouts anyway, and the Focus is as good for that purpose as anything. It can also be built on the same production line as other Focus models.
      Ford Future
      • 2 Years Ago
      When is Consumer Reports going to say something about the INSANITY about most cars on the road with 300-500 hp, in an age of Advanced Global Warming Damage. When Consumer Reports tells it's readers buying an V8 in this age of high gas prices and global warming crop damage, from extreme weather events and drought, then they can criticize EV's. http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/
        Nick
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Ford Future
        I agree. There are far, far worse things on the road, such as millions of over-powered monsters capable of speeds above 140mph when the limit is 65mph. It's absurd to pick on these EVs.
        Smith Jim
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Ford Future
        When I saw your post it was voted down so I voted you up. I assume the person who voted you down is a climate change denier. Climate change denial is interesting. I was on that side of the fence a few years ago then I retired and had lots of free time. I decided to do some research on both sides of the debate. I literally spent hundreds of hours reading books, watching documentaries and scanning the internet. Obviously, I can't share everything I've learned but here's some info ya'll might find interesting. You may have heard the saying, "Follow the money". It has become obvious to me that most of the scientists who are climate change skeptics have received money indirectly from the fossil fuel industry. One of the often quoted climate skeptics is Fred Singer. He's physicist and obviously knows a lot about science. The problem is that he's received huge sums of money from Exxon/Mobil. Before Singer was on Exxon/Mobil's payroll he received money from the tobacco industry in exchange for him twisting the truth about second hand smoke and the addictive nature of nicotine. Roy Spencer is another intelligent and well educated climate scientist who has received money from Exxon/Mobil. Not only is Roy Spencer skeptical of AGW, he also does not believe in evolution. Lord Monckton is another person who is an outspoken climate change skeptic who was invited to testify about climate change by Republican congressmen. He has absolutely no scientific education at all. He holds a degree in journalism. He claims to have invented a drug that cures everything from graves disease to HIV. I have a question for all the conservatives reading this. You are suspicious of climate scientists who receive government grants but you have absolute trust in skeptics who receive money from the fossil fuel industry. Why is that?
          Spec
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Smith Jim
          I can't help but burst out laughing when anyone says "they talk about climate change to get grant money!". If it was just about getting grant money, they'd go to Exxon-Mobile and produce anti-climate change stuff as you point out. Who has the money these days? The government or Exxon? Which one has deficits and which one has massive profits?
        EZEE
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Ford Future
        The horse power wars are interesting. When I bought my Ranger, it was equipped with the then antiquated Vulcan 3.0 liter V6, and had around 145 hp. It tows my boat fine, and if I wanted to, I could do a burnout. I like to make my tires last, however, so I avoid such activities. The Lincoln Navigator came out and was the most powerful SUV On the planet with a whopping 300 hp. A friend of mine got a firebird formula, with around 275 hp. He gunned it coming up a ramp and just like that, we were at 100mph. He then guns it again, and we are at 145mph, just like that. 300hp is now something we see in V6 engines, and in cars that are mid sized. Now, being an evil right winger, I don't want to force people into cars they don't want, but at the same time, I do wonder about these numbers. My buddy's firebird was scary fast, with 275hp. Would he really need to double that? Even ignoring the environment, peak oil, or whatever....am I the only cheap person out there? I even have roll up windows in my Ranger....they have never broke either....
          Ziv
          • 1 Month Ago
          @EZEE
          I have a 2004 350Z and it has around 287 hp, and weighs about 3100 pounds. It is a monster. When I nail it coming out of a corner it just slams you back in the seat. I can get 0-100 mph so fast it is hard to believe. I cannot imagine a small car with 400 hp. But it would be fun to try it...
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Month Ago
          @EZEE
          I had plenty of fun (and several large speeding tix) with my 90hp Pontiac Grand Am back in high school. Nowadays, I'll drive my fiance's VW Beetle with *only* 115hp - absolutely no problem keeping up with traffic. High HP might be fun, but it isn't required for fun.
      George Voll
      • 2 Years Ago
      I don't put much stock in consumer reports "reporting" ability since the screw up with the auto X-Prize.
        Dan Frederiksen
        • 2 Years Ago
        @George Voll
        I must have missed that. what did they say?
          George Voll
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Dan Frederiksen
          Here is an "unbiased" review of my entry in the auto x-prize. http://onlocation.consumerreports.org/xprize/bitw_technologies_vincitore_1000.html Consumer reports is supposed to be unbiased and fair, you should have read this before we complained about the editing, it was even worse.
      Letstakeawalk
      • 2 Years Ago
      The current Mercedes F-Cell was designed with a sandwich floor to enable flexibility between ICE, BEV, and FCV drivetrains. The next B-Class will not retain the sandwich floor design. Overall, this isn't a surprising conclusion reached by CR. Many ABG commentators often point out the benefits of platforms optimized for EV components.
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Alternate Universe Car Review: The ford focus ICE had mind boggling range, but comes with several issues buyers should be aware of. First, the 'fuel' that the focus runs on is highly toxic, and supplies are questionable. Some say that supplies will last 100's of years, some say not. Also, in addition to being toxic, it is highly flammable, and there are safety concerns from a rear end collision. Where we have had some standard vehicles catch on fire weeks after an accident, these new ICE vehicles may explode on impact, with the fire spreading to the passenger compartment (that means you!). Ventilation is also important when using these types of vehicles. If you left your vehicle running in an enclosed area, the exhaust (note, the exhaust is a byproduct of the method the engine works) is toxic and can lead to death, unless the area is properly ventilated. Although the range on the vehicles is eye popping, the engines have ultra low torque. As a result, they require complex transmissions with multiple gears, repair of one of these transmissions, should it fail, runs in the $1000's of dollars. Astounding range aside, inherent safety concerns, along with long term maintenance issues cause us to advise readers to think twice prior to the purchase of one of these vehicles.
        Grendal
        • 1 Month Ago
        @EZEE
        ;) Nicely said! Of course, now I can't drive home tonight without having a panic attack.
      JakeY
      • 2 Years Ago
      The core issue is not being a converted EV, but rather having any sort of battery design other than a floor battery. There are PLENTY of examples of converted EVs that have good passenger and cargo space simply because they have a floor battery: the iMIEV, Smart eD, B-Class, RAV4-EV, Coda Sedan. The iMIEV, Smart eD, B-Class got lucky from having a "sandwich" design from the start, where the passenger is a bit higher and the engine/transmission is lower. This lends itself to an easy conversion to a floor battery. The RAV4-EV benefits from being an SUV, and the Coda got a floor battery fitted with extensive modifications to the chassis.
        DaveMart
        • 1 Month Ago
        @JakeY
        The Honda Fit is pretty good too, and does not suffer from intrusion. I would amend Consumer Reports article to state that you need either a custom design or a suitable chassis, something with enough height to enable under floor installation.
        SVX pearlie
        • 1 Month Ago
        @JakeY
        It's a trade off, like any other Engineering decision.. Sandwich pack under the floor keeps the 5th seat, but adds to the overall vehicle height because everybody sits on top of the batteries. "T" pack where the trans / driveshaft / fuel tank would be loses the center seat, but tucks the passengers and driver down lower in the car. For how rarely (and uncomfortably) you'd ever seat 3 adults in the rear of something as small as a Leaf, I don't understand why CR is getting their panties in a bunch.
          JakeY
          • 1 Month Ago
          @SVX pearlie
          It's not just the fifth seat, but also significantly lower cargo space (about 5 cubic feet less than the Cruze and Leaf with seats up). The middle position is also a concern if you have child seats (since that's the safest place to put one). And even though you don't usually need the middle seat in the back, but it's useful in a pinch (I just had a trip that I used that third seat in the rear, if I didn't have it I would have had to rent another car just to carry 4 passengers). Having a taller vehicle isn't that much of a compromise since it doesn't really affect passengers that much or the relevant specs of the vehicle. And with flat enough a module, it really doesn't add much to the height, if at all (look at how low the Model S is).
      SNP
      • 2 Years Ago
      Consumer reports - Ford/GM/Chrysler vehicles are terrible. Even the ground up designed Volt has terrible design flaws because they werent built like Toyota/Honda/Nissan. We like Tesla because Toyota uses them too in the very awesome and soon to be standardized Rav4 EV. We'd like to see the new Fusion "energi" system, but we doubt it will be any good. We love prius's though. Camry hybrids are great too, because they are hybrids like the prius. Toyota! Honda! Nissan! Go go go. Dont buy Ford/GM though because even though they sell fuel efficient vehicles, they dont drive well. Not unlike the differences in Toyota/Honda/Nissans driving experience and range extended efficiently powered spaciousness... prius!...leaf!...
      Scambuster
      • 2 Years Ago
      Another indictment of the stupidity at GM and Ford just when EVs are seen as the darlings of the cleaner emission automotive future. Do they real think American consumers are as stupid as their leadership? Having lost domestic market share of 75% during the mid 60s to the current 20% due to re-badge engines, interchangeable fenders, windshield, and other body parts, you would think the morons at GM should have learn something. Apparently, not. Bankruptcy part II coming soon to a Federal Court near you.
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Scambuster
        Not a fan of GM or Ford.... but they're actually doing pretty well now.
        Marco Polo
        • 1 Month Ago
        @Scambuster
        @ Scambuster Give up. you will never beat DF's record of -29, no matter how hard you try !
      DaveMart
      • 2 Years Ago
      Solar panels in cars can perform the very useful function of keeping the cabin cool when parked, using a small fan, as Audi does. Unfortunately the Leaf does not seem to do this, so I don't really understand what it is good for.
    • Load More Comments