by Jon LeSage, editor and publisher, Green Auto Market
Here’s my take on the six most significant and interesting occurrences during the past week…….
- Model X SUV rolls out: The long-awaited Tesla Model X was unveiled a week ago at a warehouse party in Fremont, Calif. The luxury all-electric SUV gets 257 miles on one charge and can reach 60 mph in 3.2 seconds in Ludicrous mode. As we’ve know about for three-and-a-half years, it comes with futuristic falcon-wing doors. It is an expensive car, reminiscent of the BMW i8; the Model X comes with a $132,000 price, plus delivery and other fees. The Tesla Model S has been selling in various editions from about $75,000 to around $100,000 and lease payments have been in the $1,100 to $1,300 per month range. There are no details released yet on what the Model X will cost in payments through financing options, but it has required a $40,000 deposit. Demand is strong, even at its high price. There should be a lot more owners lining up for the cheaper Model III, which is due to roll out in 2018.
- Chevy Volt attack ads: When the revamped 2016 Chevrolet Volt rolls out next spring, General Motors has plans to attack its arch enemies, the Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius. At the press launch in San Francisco, Chevrolet executives showed the ads to automotive journalists. The Volt ads focus on three messages: The car’s 53-mile all-electric range, its advanced technology, and a combined gasoline and electric driving range of more than 400 miles. The 2016 Volt has a sticker price of $33,995, including destination – down from the 2015 price of $35,110 including shipping.
- New name for Fisker Automotive: The luxury sports carmaker Fisker Automotive has renamed itself Karma Automotive. The new company intends to bring the Karma plug-in hybrid back to market next year. The company says the new name was chosen because it’s “relevant to both the old and new brands, while providing an aspirational message which embodies the company’s purpose.”
- GM gets into personal mobility: General Motors will be investing $5 billion to take on new challengers such as Apple, Google, and Tesla, CEO Mary Barra said. During the Thursday meeting at its GM Proving Grounds near Detroit, Barra also announced the automaker’s “Let’s Drive” carsharing program in New York City. It will be available to eligible residents of The Ritz Plaza, who will have access to a GM vehicle for three hours each month. Those interested can buy more carsharing hours at a nominal rate. In related news, GM discussed plans to test out a fleet of autonomous 2017 Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrids at its Tech Center site in Michigan. Employees will use the vehicles to get around the 326-acre campus in Warren, Michigan.
- RNG buses: Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) in Southern California plans on switching over to renewable natural gas (RNG) in its existing fleet of more than 340 compressed natural gas buses – and will add 202 new buses. The transit agency is looking for a supplier to provide a guaranteed supply of RNG to its four facilities; the supplier will develop and manage OCTA’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program.
- Honda fuel cell car: It’s take a while, but Honda is getting ready to unveil its fuel cell vehicle, currently being named the Honda FCV. It’s scheduled to be rolled out at the Tokyo Motor Show, and will feature a very similar look as the finalized version Honda will be bringing to market next year. Honda said it has made a few changes to the FCV since introducing it as a prototype in November 2014.The range is being extended to more than 300 miles; that will place it in a competitive position with the 301-mile rated Toyota Mirai.