Автомобиль » Sebastian Blanco -Autoblog AutoblogGreen Editor-In-Chief

Sebastian Blanco -Autoblog AutoblogGreen Editor-In-Chief

Sebastian Blanco -Autoblog AutoblogGreen Editor-In-Chief

As automotive imbroglios go, General Motors problems with its Chevrolet Volt barely rate. Unlike scandals at Ford and Toyota that affected millions and sent both companies reeling, GM only has about 6,500 Volt owners to worry about. But some fret that the incident could put a dent in sales of advanced green vehicles just as they are beginning to catch on. The troubled started in May, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) performed crash safety tests on the Volt. Three weeks later the test vehicle caught fire while it was in storage at a NHTSA testing facility. Since then, two out of the NHTSA s three follow-up tests have reproduced the fires. GM
announced it would provide loaner vehicles to owners and even consider buying the cars back. About two dozen people have contacted the company about making the latter move, a company spokesman said. It is a delicate moment for sales of highly advanced vehicles like the Volt. For the first time major manufacturers, including Toyota, Ford, are rushing to put out mass-market electric or partially electric vehicles. (The Volt, which costs about $39,000 before hefty tax credits, is a so-called extended range hybrid, which has both an electric motor and a conventional gas engine. ) Consumers, meanwhile, are slowly beginning to put aside concerns over the range and high costs of such cars.

Still, the market is tiny. Analysts at Pike Research expect that global sales of plug-in hybrids and electrics will only reach 1 million units in 2015, compared to a global auto market of about 70 million vehicles today. In the U. S. , hybrid and electric vehicles only make up about 2% of automotive sales, according to car-buying site Edmunds. com. Some green car advocates worry that bad press could trim the budding category s prospects. According to David Friedman, deputy director and senior engineer of the Union of Concerned Scientists, consumers have a three- to five-year attention span for emerging technologies. A bump in the road could hurt sales. БIБm sure there are people who will decide not to get an electric car after this, but, at worst, this will cost Chevy some Volt sales,Б adds John OБDell, senior editor of Edmunds. com AutoObserver blog. GM has a lot going for it, though.

The company has been quick to react to press accounts of the incident, and it was further buoyed when the car shopping Bible, Consumer Reports, rated the Volt number one in owner satisfaction. GM hasn t licensed its technology to other car makers, so it has no manufacturing partners to fret over either. GM spokesman Greg Martin says that customers buying such vehicles are also the most informed. Sebastian Blanco, editor-in-chief of AutoblogGreen. com, agrees. БThereБs enough interest in electric vehicles that they can weather the ups and downs for now, he added. The question now is how GM handles the NHTSA investigation, says Tesla spokesman Ricardo Reyes. Tesla voluntarily recalled 439 of its electric Roadsters following a customer report that a cable chafed against a carbon fiber panel and began to emit smoke. Reyes says sometimes these sorts of growing pains can actually have a silver lining for auto makers. БWhere it sparks research and conversation, I think we come out ahead,Б he says. What does all of this have to do with greener transportation? PLots. Like car racing a sport that burns a lot of fuel and goes in circles people who tinker with fantastical transportation ideas can help us find ways to be more efficient, since they're dealing with new problems.

Think air friction is bad on the highway? PTry water friction for your submersible car. Want to get more time out of your jet pack? Find the most efficient way to burn the little bit of fuel that you're carrying. Want to give your flying car a chance in a world where gasoline costs are going to keep skyrocketing? PMake sure your SkyCar can burn biofuel (which it does). Solving these problems doesn't automatically make for better "regular"Pcars, but it can lead to interesting solutions, whether that's things like the SkyCar or (or, more likely the company's ). More important than the technology, though, is how dream vehicles like the ones mentioned above can inspire us to rethink how we get around. Remember this line from the 2006 movie " "? With a 200-mile range on a single charge and a price tag of US$30,000 after incentives, analysts say General MotorsБ new Chevy Bolt hatchback could be the model that brings electric vehicles into the mainstream when it goes on the market in 2017.

БIf the automaker can deliver, the Bolt could transform the prospects for widespread adoption of electric cars,Б the Los Angeles Times reported, after GMБs surprise announcement at the Detroit Auto Show yesterday. A 200-mile EV range at about $30,000 in a crossover body shape is a killer combination, said John Krafcik, president of auto shopping company TrueCar Inc. and former chief executive of Hyundai Motor America. While Tesla MotorsБ Model S runs 265 miles on a charge, it costs $80,000. Last summer, Tesla hinted that it might release its by 2016. AutoblogGreen Editor-in-Chief Sebastian Blanco, suggesting the Bolt would most likely begin life as a concept vehicle. БThat means the ideas behind the vehicle are perhaps more important than the details. For example, no one is talking about what size battery might appear in a production Bolt. Б Blanco added that federal tax creditsБalways subject to change, and only applicable to a manufacturerБs first 200,000 vehicles before they start to declineБmay not be available to build a large market for the Bolt.

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