Sales of Plug-in Hybrid Electric Models Surge

Two plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) performed well in August and during the first 8 months of 2012, while the pure electric vehicles have lost some of their first glow, according to transaction data and analysis from J.D. Power’s Power Information Network® (PIN) and strategic partner LMC Automotive. In August, Toyota announced strong deliveries for its new Prius plug-in hybrid model, while Chevrolet Volt deliveries have recently gotten a boost. Sales have been a little  lackluster for the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i EVs. Highlights:

• After its first 6 months on the market, the Prius plug-in model (PHEV), which offers a standard 50 mpg-EPA rated Prius hybrid powertrain with extended electric vehicle (EV) driving, tallied more than 6,000 unit sales. Continue reading ›

Utility Customers Weigh In on Owning an EV

Jeff Conklin

Nearly every major automaker plans to introduce a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) or battery electric vehicle (BEV) during the next 3 years, according to J.D. Power research. During the remainder of 2011 through 2014, consumers can expect to see as many as 16 new vehicle models with alternative powertrains launched in the US market, according to analysis in Charging Forward with Electric Vehicles: A Primer for Electric Utilities, a J.D. Power special report that features national and regional analysis about EV owners and intenders who are electric utility customers. A few EV trends from the report, which is based on several of our J.D. Power studies*and analysis, are highlighted:

• Through this fall, five more BEVs, in addition to the Nissan Leaf, will be introduced in the US market.

• J.D. Power finds that nearly one-third of US utility customers say they “definitely would” or “probably would” be interested in buying or leasing a PHEV for their next new car or truck.More than one-fourth of these utility customers are interested in considering a BEV. Continue reading ›

Partners in China: A Perspective on EV Joint Venture for GM and SAIC

Tim Dunne

The complicated pas-de-deux carried on between General Motors and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC)* in China may have gotten just a little more complex.

The two companies, which already operate 10 automotive-related joint ventures together, added an 11th JV company to their stable on Tuesday, September 20. This new JV was entered into specifically to develop electric cars in China. The new electric vehicles (EVs), according to General Motors, will not be based on the proprietary technology developed by GM for its Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle, or based on its Sonic small-car platform.

The EVs will be designed at GM’s Pan Asian Technical Center (PATAC) in Shanghai, another GM and SAIC joint venture. Who gets the new electric vehicles—and how they will be branded—was not announced. Continue reading ›

BMW Uses the “i” Sub-brand to Promote Cutting-Edge Technology

Mike Omotoso

BMW’s i sub-brand will be the next phase of BMW’s electric vehicle development. We do expect this sub-brand to be brought to the US in 2013 or 2014. The US is one of the leading markets for electric vehicles (EVs), and along with Western Europe will be a target market for the i3 Megacity vehicle and the i8 plug-in hybrid. The BMW Mini E has been available for lease in California, New York and New Jersey since 2009. Continue reading ›

EV Sales to Rise If More Popular Segment Models Are Added

As with the hybrid market, the increase in the number of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) should help increase demand. The hybrid market grew from two models–the original Honda Insight and the Toyota Prius—in 2000 to more than 25 models in 2010.

In addition to the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf, there will soon be an electric Ford Focus and niche offerings—such as the Tesla Roadster, Fisker Karma, Mini-E, Toyota RAV4 EV, and the electric smart fortwo. However, the BEV market will remain small if only compact and sub-compact cars are offered. We see the need to add electric utilities (SUVs); crossovers (CUVs); large cars; and electric pickup trucks for the market to really take off. Continue reading ›

J.D. Power Experts and Auto Industry Leaders See a Return to Stability

Leslie Cocco

The auto industry appears to be stabilizing; credit seems to be easing up; and there is a wave of exciting new products—including smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles—that will attract new-vehicle buyers in the US market this year, according to J.D. Power experts and industry leaders who spoke at this year’s J.D. Power and Associates International Automotive Roundtable (Feb. 4) in San Francisco, CA, which was held in conjunction with the 2011 NADA Convention and Expo. There was encouraging news from the provocative and comprehensive one-day event.

For instance, Jeff Schuster, executive director of automotive forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates, who was one of the event’s opening speakers, presented a positive outlook for the global automotive market. He told participants that new-vehicle redesigns and small vehicles will help drive the US auto market recovery in 2011. Schuster estimated that some 13 million retail units will be sold in the US this year. On the green front, Schuster also projected that worldwide hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) sales will surpass 5 million unit sales by 2020.

The Roundtable’s first keynote speaker, John D. Porcari, Deputy Secretary for the US Department of Transportation, discussed how the auto industry has moved from merely surviving to thriving, and noted that “safety sells.” At the same time, he cautioned that the greatest emerging auto safety risk is distracted driving. His message to automakers: “Think long and hard about features in your vehicles, and keep the dangers of distraction in mind.” 

Industry leader Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Italy’s Fiat, which owns 25% of Chrysler Group, made news and blog headlines when he told Roundtable participants that it is possible in the next few years that Chrysler and Fiat’s auto divisions could operate as one company, possibly based in the US. In a compelling presentation, Marchionne profiled Chrysler and the plight of the auto industry during the year before and after the company came out of bankruptcy. He suggested, “We can no longer afford to be wasteful; the industry needs to be strategic and adapt.” Marchionne was upbeat about Chrysler’s future and said the automaker is on the road to recovery with increased market share and a rejuvenated lineup. Continue reading ›

GM Withdraws Request for Energy Loans, Invests In Batteries

General Motors has withdrawn its application for $14.4 billion in low-interest government loans from the Department of Energy (DOE), citing its overall progress and improved global business performance, according to CFO Chris Liddell. Also, the company reports that it has just invested $7 million in Envia Systems, a California-based start-up that has been developing . . . Continue Reading GM Withdraws Request for Energy Loans, Invests In Batteries

Powertrain Choices are Touted at Detroit Auto Show

Mike Omotoso, senior manager, global powertrain, Automotive Forecasting at J.D. Power and Associates, attended OEM press briefings and reviewed some of the products and concepts that are on display at this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, MI (the show is open to the public Saturday, Jan. 15 through Sunday, Jan. . . . Continue Reading Powertrain Choices are Touted at Detroit Auto Show

GM Invests in Engineers, Researchers to Lead in EV Future Development

During the next 2 years, General Motors will hire more than 2,000 engineers and researchers in Michigan to work on electric vehicles (EVs), according to a company statement. GM points out that it already has one of the industry’s largest and most advanced battery systems lab at its Technical Center in Warren, MI, and . . . Continue Reading GM Invests in Engineers, Researchers to Lead in EV Future Development

Consumers Share Concerns about “Green” Vehicles

Consumers have a variety of concerns about hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs), according to insight based on research and analysis of consumer attitudes toward alternative powertrain technologies that is featured in the “Drive Green 2020: More Hope than Reality?” special report from J.D. Power and Associates. Some of the issues . . . Continue Reading Consumers Share Concerns about “Green” Vehicles