Reviews/Test Drives: CR-Z, Rav4 EV, Spark EV, Zelectric Bug (videos)

Nicholas Zart (CarNewsCafe.com) Week Long Test Drive:

2013 Honda CR-Z 6-speed manual hybrid

Article here:
http://carnewscafe.com/2013/07/test-drive-hondas-sporty-cr-z-hybrid-why-we-loved-it/

 

Pamela Woon (Car Pro) reviews 2013 Toyota Rav4 EV

(Available in California only at this time)

 

Engadget on the 2014 Chevy Spark EV

Full article & pics here: http://www.engadget.com/2013/07/26/spark-ev-test-drive/

(Available in California & Oregon right now, more states on the way)

 

Driving the Zelectric Bug

(Coming soon. Check out the website: http://www.zelectricmotors.com)

 

 

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Must See Documentary: “Revenge of the Electric Car”

Revenge of the Electric Car
Director: Chris Paine
Documentary
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I finally saw “Revenge of The Electric Car” last week of June. It goes all the way up to the pre-production version of the Tesla Model S. This movie gives insight behind the scenes of what it takes to get EVs on the road. I highly recommend it.

Trailer:

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(If you haven’t seen it yet, in my blog posted march 13 you’ll find the full movie (free) “Who Killed The Electric Car”. Watch first, or, if only have time for one documentary, just get Revenge….)
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Get it, rent it, stream it, borrow it (from local library?), just find a way to watch it, here are a few links:
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Hulu: (w/Hulu Plus subscription): http://www.hulu.com/watch/322022
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Also available on demand with these cable providers:
Direct TV VOD
ECHOSTAR IPVOD
Verizon
TVN
Charter
AT&T
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See movie website for UK & Canadahttp://www.revengeoftheelectriccar.com/buy-the-dvd

Whatever happened to NiMH Batteries?; ’13 Leaf Impressions

I just read this…good read! :
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Why Do Some Electric Cars Have Short Range?

“EVs in 1996 were going farther than todays EVs using Nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) rechargeable batteries, why are they not being used today?” (The real reason)
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MotorWeek’s “First Impressions” of the 2013 Nissan Leaf

Ride The Future Tour (EV) Launch Today

Today (July 4th) Ride The Future will begin an all-EV transcontinental trek (cars, bikes, motorcycles, and scooter), starting at 9AM in Charleston SC and finishing 3,745 miles, zero gas, across the country at Google HQ, Mountain View CA.

They will be setting three world records:

The Guiness Record for the Longest Journey:

1) in an Electric Car

2) on an Electric Scooter

3) and on an Electric Motorcycle

(Complete information at their website, here’s “The Scoop”: http://ridethefuturetour.com/how-it-all-began/)

If you’d like to help send them off, come out around 8am at Brittlebank Park on Lockwood Blvd, Charleston SC

I will be (re-)tweeting anything I find on this 44-day trek (see sidebar for my twitter link). There also is a twitter you can follow: https://www.twitter.com/@Ride_the_Future

Chicago Tribune writeup: http://cars.chicagotribune.com/fuel-efficient/news/chi-transcontinental-electric-vehicle-parade-20130626

Here are the stops: http://ridethefuturetour.com/611/

Chevy Spark EV & More EV News

Chevy Spark EV

I don’t have much, but, it has begun to go on sale and I found a couple walk-through & drive videos on the production version:

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Edmunds review: http://www.edmunds.com/chevrolet/spark-ev/2014/#fullreview

If you live near Portland OR, check out the Chevy Spark EV on July 16th: http://www.evite.com/event/0296CIYTQCREFQCHKEPC3GR7KENVPA via @OEVAorg

Note: Anything you read or hear about DC quick charger taking 20 mins. to 80% charge…these are commercial chargers that are yet to be installed anywhere, using a huge SAE combo connector, not available for home charging. (IMO, they are trying to set a standard outside of Tesla superchargers, which, I think, all would be better off licensing from Tesla, as Tesla has a head start and more on the way, but, who am I to make sense?) So, looks like multiple charging standards abound, sucks for consumers again. More: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1084771_gm-bmw-complete-testing-of-new-ccs-quick-charging-stations-for-electric-cars

EV News

Wired (UK) Review of Toyota Rav4 EVhttp://www.wired.co.uk/reviews/gadgets/2013-06/toyota-rav4-ev

Fiat 500e virtually sold out in CA: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1085045_2013-fiat-500e-electric-car-sold-out-in-california

Ford Focus Electric Ultimate Guide: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1065308_ford-focus-electric-ultimate-guide-to-what-you-need-to-know (2013 model is virtually unchanged from 2012 model)

Pikes Peak International Hill Climb

Electric cars break the 10 minute barrier for the first time ranking an EV in 5th place!

http://www.electric-vehiclenews.com/2013/06/monster-tajima-wins-ev-class-with-fifth.html

Lightning’s Electric Motorcycle Dominates the two-wheeled segment, EV beats gas!

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2013/07/lightning-pikes-peak-2013/

More here: http://www.autoblog.com/2013/07/01/race-recap-the-lion-roars-at-2013-pikes-peak-international-hill

And, In Case You Missed It

Tesla Model S Battery Swap Demo:

Electric Blue

Check out this Customized Matte Blue Metallic wrapped Tesla Model S with 22 in. Matte Graphite Machined Vossen CV1 rims (…don’t miss the door handles):

Customized in Miami FL

Pics here (scroll past the vid.):
http://blog.vossenwheels.com/?p=3420

also see:

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WATCH FOR IT:

Thursday, June 20th, 8pm PDT (5pm EDT), Elon Musk will demo a new battery pack swap for Tesla Model S. @ElonMusk @TeslaMotors

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Honda Apologizes…

While the all-electric drive Honda Fit EV did sell out of current inventory in dealerships upon changing their lease deal, and they do have waiting lists, they have NOT pre-sold all that have yet to be delivered to dealerships. While they won’t be increasing the 2013 production number of 1,100 Fit EVs, dealerships in several states, (CA, OR, NY, NJ, MA, MD, RI, CT), will continue to be shipped inventory. See Los Angeles Times article:

More EV News

Honda Fit EV SOLD OUT!

In less than two weeks after changing their lease pricing, Honda has full waiting lists at all California dealerships, the limited-production 2013 Fit EV is already SOLD OUT! I hope this means they will offer more EVs for 2014! 😀 http://www.plugincars.com/southern-california-honda-dealerships-sell-out-fit-ev-following-price-cut-127452.html

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Driving the ZelectricBug Electric VW Beetle at Highway Speeds

(testing the range of the battery)

Zelectric Motors initial EV conversion is the ZelectricBug featuring the Zelectric powertrain built into restored VW Beetles (1958-1966). They are in final prototype testing and plan to have the first model for sale this summer. For more, see their website:

http://www.zelectricmotors.com

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First Drive: 2013 Smart ForTwo ED (Electric Drive) Vastly Improved from Previous Versions

Review: http://www.plugincars.com/2013-smart-fortwo-proves-good-things-come-small-packages-127447.html

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Tesla Supercharger Announcement

Tesla is expanding their supercharger network, and installing faster chargers (demonstration coming June 20). Keep in mind, when Elon Musk says “free”, that is, supercharging is included with the purchase of the 85 kWh Model S’s, optional on smaller battery sizes (for a one-time price, same unlimited free super-charging deal).

A Quick Post To Catch Up…

I missed these posted back in March…

Elon Musk interview on Tesla, Solar City, Space X:

When asked about why Space X, he didn’t have kid dreams of being an astronaut, he says it’s more from the standpoint of “What are the things that need to happen in order for the future to be an exciting and inspiring one.” My favorite quote.

Tesla Model S & BMW M5

A Video Showing the Tesla Model S (w/Performance Package) and the BMW M5 as tested by Edmunds (Two separate tests edited into one video, not a race). Pretty close! It’s obvious Telsa had the M5 in mind when designing the Model S w/Performance Package. Gas/electric aside, if you think about the fact that this is Tesla’s first production car and the M5 has decades of development behind it, the Model S is pretty impressive! Now think about the fact that this is an electric car, and what that means for the future.

websites:

http://www.teslamotors.com

http://www.solarcity.com

http://www.spacex.com

http://elonmusk.com

http://www.bmw.com

twitter:

https://twitter.com/elonmusk

https://twitter.com/teslamotors

EV Lease Price War Coming This Summer

Note: These cars are mainly available/to be available in California, some also in Oregon and/or other states as well. Check the car maker websites for availability. Also, before leasing a car, be sure to check the fine print for such things as mileage limitations, taxes may be different on a lease in your city/state, and such, just be sure you’ll actually be getting a deal that works for you.

Finally there is some competition among EVs! (…at least in the state of California). These all-electric cars are available now or due out this year (most by summer season), and most are offering a lease option of $199/month. Some have special lease deals that are not offered nationally, but depends on dealership. Some are available in Oregon and/or other states also, (or will be in more states at some future time). This is partly because of a California law that stipulates car makers offer a certain percentage of EVs in that state, and partly due to the fact that Electric Cars will be the standard of the future globally (mark my words).

Fiat 500e There is no order to this list, except first. This one I list first because, with this 80+ mile range car, you can lease for $199/mo., and you also get free car rentals, so that takes care of your infrequent long-trips for business/vacation. See article: http://cars.chicagotribune.com/fuel-efficient/news/chi-fiat-500e-enterprise-20130412 Edmunds road test: http://www.edmunds.com/fiat/500e/2013/road-test.html

Fiat’s 500e website: http://www.fiatusa.com/en/2013/500e/

 

 

Nissan Leaf $199/month lease available. Nissan also offers free rental cars for your family vacation/other long travel, though, more limited than the 500e rental car program. Leaf website: http://www.nissanusa.com/electric-cars/leaf/

(See previous post “2013 Luxo-Sport Sedans, Leaf, Rav4 EV & More”, posted May 3rd, for a couple vids on this car)

 

The Honda Fit EV is one of the most viable EVs on the market today, in that, although it shares it’s platform with the gas version of the Fit, they raised the car a bit and put the battery underneath instead of taking up trunk space, and it is otherwise quite competitive with the other EVs listed here. 80+ mile range and the shortest charge time w/240-volt charging station at home. It’s available for lease (lease-only, not purchase), and, (as I write this), they JUST reduced their lease price (Starting June 1st) to $259/month. That might seem a bit more than the $199 the others have announced, however, the lease price for the Fit EV includes insurance and maintenance, unlimited miles, and, (unlike the others), for Californians, this one also qualifies for a $2500 CVRP rebate. (When I started writing this earlier, that price was $389 w/12,000 mile yearly limit.) Even though they don’t offer free car rentals for your long trips, this seems like it might be the best value of all EVs listed here. The fight is on even as I write this! http://colbytrudeau.com/2013/05/29/honda-fit-ev-lease-price-reduced/  Translogic: http://translogic.aolautos.com/2012/07/09/translogic-106-honda-fit-ev/

Honda Fit EV Website: http://automobiles.honda.com/fit-ev/ (The following videos are from last year, but still apply)

 

 

I have to mention the Smart Electric Drive, previously a car-share only vehicle, currently you can buy for $25K (after incentives) or lease it for $199/month. Web: http://www.smartusa.com/models/electric-drive/overview.aspx

 

There is one more car coming with a $199/month lease this summer, but first, I have to say something. I have a particular animosity toward GM for the way they handled things in the past with the EV-1, and also, (and especially), how they have really confused the market (got in people’s heads) with the way they have marketed the PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid gas/Electric Vehicle) they call the Chevy “Volt”, by calling it an “extended range” electric, which, I have to say, it is not. It is plain and simply, a plug-in HYBRID gas/electric vehicle, whose main drive is an electric motor with a LIMITED RANGE. Once the battery is depleted (about 35 miles) they keep you tied to Big Oil by keeping the electric motor powered by the gas-combustion engine, (they call it a “generator” because, rather than directly powering the drivetrain, it supposedly powers the battery when it is depleted. It is a gas combustion engine. Period.). I think they want you to think, by calling it a generator, that it is a small thing, something like a lawn-mower engine, but, it is a full-fledged 1.4 liter, 4 cylinder gas-combustion engine, make no mistake, (gas, oil, spark plugs, radiator, drive belt, etc, all that comes with a gasoline engine, NOT found on an all-electric car.). Also, note, once the battery is done, this car only gets 37 MPG at best (I’ll talk about “MPGe” in some later post also). …I took a test drive in a “Volt”, so I know that they are very adamant about it being a generator and not an engine. I also recall the first ad or brochure for this car talking about how the “electric car is not dead”, and how, TWO years after the first “Volt” was made available, this one older lady drove it for 12,000 miles without using any gas at all (please take note, that is, 12,000 miles over a TWO YEAR PERIOD, the average american drives 15,000 miles in ONE YEAR, so this is someone who only drove it 6,000 miles PER YEAR, …who does that? Obviously this person only drove it on electric on purpose and then either drove their other car or got a ride or was a retired homebody. Marketing. Period.) In any case, it is obvious from the moment you go to the page on their website for the “Volt” that they are playing off your concept of “Range Anxiety”, by telling you that it has gas for backup/extended range. Marketing B.S. at it’s best. They quelch your “range anxiety” with gasoline. This is not how you quelch range anxiety, it has just the opposite effect, reinforces it by showing you that gas is still the answer to range anxiety, but I’ll save that for another day. So, this is why I don’t appreciate the “Volt” being compared with all-electric cars because it is a PHEV, …yes it has the furthest EV (battery only) range of PHEVs currently out there, but, Hybrid it is. In any case, GM does have a new all-electric vehicle which, to me, shows they have the technology (and could have done this a few years ago):

Chevy Spark EV is GM’s answer to the current all-electric EV market, starting in California & Oregon in June, although this appears to be a vehicle they plan to sell globally. Range is claimed around 80 miles. Note that the short charge time is not at home, but via SAE combo DC fast-charging stations yet to be available. The fastest charge time is 7 hours w/240 volt charging unit at home. This is one of the first vehicles with Siri eyes free connect. Web: http://www.chevrolet.com/spark-ev-electric-vehicle.html

See article: http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-chevy-spark-ev-lease-highlight-electric-car-price-war-20130522,0,3983957.story

I’m having difficulty finding an independent U.S. drive video for this car, once it is selling this summer I am sure I will find something and post it in a future blog, for now, here’s a preview vid:

 

Not currently offering $199/mo. leases, (but, could this change this summer?):

Ford Focus Electric This, IMO, is the second best looking car in this bunch, (Fiat’s 500e is the best looking, but a bit small). At one point in time this car had a $199/month lease program, but currently $284/month. Perhaps when the Chevy Spark starts showing up in show rooms this summer along with the 500e and Leaf going for $199/mo. leases, could Ford join in the EV lease war?

2013 Ford Focus Electric: http://www.ford.com/cars/focus/trim/electric/

 

 

Mitsubishi i-MiEV Currently $221/mo. lease listed on their website, though, I saw online, one dealership had been advertising $69/mo. back in January, but I don’t see this currently. ($221/mo. supposedly only until May 31st…maybe this means this summer will be $199?) This car has been around for a few years in Japan before coming to the US, and has not had the best reviews. http://www.mitsubishicars.com/MMNA/jsp/imiev/12/showroom/overview.do

 

Also worth mentioning:

Toyota’s only all-electric offering is the Scion iQ EV, but something you might only find in car-sharing circles, it has a range of up to 50 miles, so mainly a car to travel between sites for businesses/campuses, and will not likely be found in Scion showrooms. I only mention in case you’ve heard of it or seen it, and it would seem to fit into this category, but, it just does not, at least not at this time, unless Toyota develops it for next year. See: http://wot.motortrend.com/2013-scion-iq-ev-in-photos-scions-first-ev-is-officially-uncovered-277679.html and: http://www.toyota.com/esq/vehicles/electric-vehicle/2013-scion-iq-ev.html

{Correction: Toyota has one other all-electric EV (Rav4 EV), but it is a very limited production vehicle and not likely to have this type of lease.}

 

See also:

http://cars.chicagotribune.com/fuel-efficient/news/chi-automakers-ignite-electric-vehicle-interest-with-low-lease-rates-20130528

At some point I will list all EVs (or find a list and repost it), but, for now, this is about the EVs in a lease-affordability war.

(Note: When I use the term “EV”, I mean electric-only vehicles, that is, vehicles powered solely by a battery, charged by electricity). (One day I will also find that list of all the acronyms for cars and post it. 🙂