Monday, 22 April 2019

Why Tesla Model Y Rival Audi E-Tron Production Is Slowing Down


The Audi E-tron is considered to be one of Tesla Model Y’s top competition, but that might change soon as news of production slowdown could threaten Audi’s standing.
The electric vehicle model from the luxury car brand was once considered to be a “Tesla Killer” because analysts believe that Audi can put the same excellence in car production it's been known for years. The Audi E-tron is impressive, with two electric motors that deliver a total power output of 300 kW, as well as a sizable 95 kWh battery that aims to deliver 204 miles of range on a full charge.
However, recent news reveals that the E-tron is currently experiencing production problems due to difficulty in its supply of batteries and slow turnover of its motors. This has caused the production of the vehicles to slow down to as much as only six hours a day and could push the release of the Audi E-tron Sportback to 2020 instead of 2019.
According to The Brussels Times, the German carmaker is having a difficult time with LG Chem, the company which supplies the e-tron’s batteries. The company is said to have raised their prices on the batteries needed for the electric vehicles and is now competing against other brands such as BMW and Mercedez-Benz for supplies. LG Chem also produces batteries for other electric vehicles from luxury car brands such as the Porsche Taycan and the Jaguar I-PACE.
Aside from batteries, motor production for the Audi E-tron is also causing problems, particularly in its plant in Györ, Hungary. Currently, the Audi plant is experiencing workers’ strikes since early this year. Because of this, production time has been cut down to only six hours a day and soon the German company could resolve to a four-day work week.
On the other hand, Tesla is improving when it comes to its production line. Learning from the challenges the company faced in the production of the Model 3,  Elon Musk’s company is now described to be the most experienced when it comes to electric vehicle production.
This is a plus especially to the Model Y which the company is banking largely on. Musk claimed that they won’t have as much problem in producing the crossover SUV as with the Model 3, especially as the company will be using around 70 percent of its parts for the new electric vehicle.

Lawmakers Working to Charge Electric Car Owners Additional Fee for Use of Roadways


URBANDALE, Iowa -- Electric car owners might be seeing an additional annual fee in Iowa next year. Last week, the House voted through a bill with bipartisan approval that would charge people with electric cars $130 on top of their yearly registration fee.
Every time someone with a regular gasoline car fills up their tank at the gas station, they are paying a Road Use Tax Fund that provides 45 percent of the funding for state, county and city roads. Since electric cars don’t need to stop at the pump, they don’t pay to support roadways, and this piece of legislation would change that.
“See how quiet they are?” State Rep. (D-Urbandale) John Forbes said, referencing his electric car.
More times than not, you’ll find Forbes and his wife, Cindy, humming around town in their Chevy Bolt. Forbes said getting a fully electric car was an investment worth making.
“It’s more the feel good part for me to know that I’m doing something positive for the environment,” Forbes said.
It’s as easy as plugging in the car and charging overnight.
“It cost me about $6 for me to charge this car for 220 miles in electricity cost,” Forbes said.
Not needing a drop of gasoline, Forbes never pays for the taxes on gas, but his car still contributes to the wear and tear on roadways. That’s why even he agrees there needs to be a way for electric car owners to pay their fair share.
“I think the majority of both parties in both the House and the Senate agree that we need to address this issue because we are going to see more and more cars in the future that are all electric and not paying that Road Use Tax Fund money,” Forbes said.
The Iowa Department of Transportation reported, as of December of 2018, there are 800 fully electric vehicles in Iowa. But the Legislative Services Agency projects more than 5,500 by by 2024.
“We need to get on top of this early to make sure we aren’t coming up short when it comes to road and bridges here in the state of Iowa in terms of funding,” Forbes said.
The bill has a gradual increase, starting at $65 a year per battery electric vehicle and increasing to $130 by 2022.
“Well, I think it’s a fair formula because these cars are not paying into the tax that goes to build our roads and keep them in driveable conditions,” Forbes said. “So this fee will be about what a normal car, that has driven over a 12-month period, will pay in road tax funds.”
If this bill gets through the Senate and is signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, Iowa will join 20 states that have special fees for electric vehicles. The bill also includes fees for plug-in hybrids and other electric and hydrogen vehicles.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Electric city sedan of the future revealed in New York


The Genesis Mint is the premium Hyundai division’s idea of how the all-electric sedan will fit into city life in the 2020s. It is being shown at the 2019 New York Auto Show as a taste of what the first compact Genesis could look like.
Said to ‘respect city life’, Genesis’ Mint concept is a “lightweight runabout [that] reimagines the iconic shape of the city car”. Luc Donckerwolke, chief designer at Hyundai, said it “disconnects the physical dimensions of the vehicle from its positioning as a premium product” and brings the traditional city car bang up to date.
The Mint is a two-door, two-seat city car. Despite being a concept, it still wears a sedan-style three-box design, stretching its bodywork right to the corners with super-short overhangs front and rear. It “marries classic proportions with forward-looking, minimalist design,” said Donckerwolke
Finished in Hunter Green matte paint, the car has front and rear lamps elongated far into the corners, giving it more presence and a better stance. Tricks such as the wraparound light bands also give a bigger-car appearance.
Because it is an electric car, the Mint concept doesn’t need lots of cooling slots at the front. So it is fully sealed off, save for a small opening in the middle to help cool the battery packGenesis calls the detailing along the lower half a ‘G-Matrix’ pattern. This doesn’t only look good, it also helps cool the battery and maintain airflow around the battery floor. The wheels’ design is also an aero shape that draws from the G-Matrix style.a close up of a car: Genesis Mint Concept studioInside, it will, for two people, feel enormous. The electric drivetrain has allowed Genesis to hollow out the cabin for an expansive feel, helped by glass that contains no unsightly divisions. Like Korean furniture, the lightweight textiles and cognac leather “embrace the empty space”. It is reductive, decluttered and organic.Genesis Mint Concept studio
There’s more G-Matrix patterning inside, with a gunmetal balustrade running across the passenger compartment, and repeating itself in the floor and cargo space. Don’t like the center console? Fold it away and turn the front bench into a couch.
a close up of a bicycle: Genesis Mint Concept studioBecause it is a modern concept car, it has an oblong steering wheel rather than a boring round one. In the middle is a simple OLED display screen, and surrounding that are six copper ‘Graphic User Interface’ mini-screens. Everything is finished to a very rich and premium standard.

Saturday, 13 April 2019

Electric Car Price Tag Shrinks Along With Battery Cost

Big things, small packages.
BloombergNEF’s advanced transport team builds a bottom-up analysis of the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle and compares it to the cost of a combustion-engine vehicle of the same size. The crossover point — when electric vehicles become cheaper than their combustion-engine equivalents — will be a crucial moment for the EV market. All things being equal, upfront price parity makes a buyer’s decision to buy an EV a matter of taste, style or preference — but not, for much longer, a matter of cost.
Every year, that crossover point gets closer. In 2017, a BloombergNEF analysis forecast that the crossover point was in 2026, nine years out. In 2018, the crossover point was in 2024 — six years (or, as I described it then, two lease cycles) out.
The crossover point, per the latest analysis, is now 2022 for large vehicles in the European Union. For that, we can thank the incredible shrinking electric vehicle battery, which isn’t so much shrinking in size as it is shrinking — dramatically — in cost.
Analysts have for several years been using a sort of shorthand for describing an electric vehicle battery: half the car’s total cost. That figure, and that shorthand, has changed in just a few years. For a midsize U.S. car in 2015, the battery made up more than 57 percent of the total cost. This year, it’s 33 percent. By 2025, the battery will be only 20 percent of total vehicle cost.
My colleague Nikolas Soulopoulos, author of the research note, provided further insights. The first is that he expects electric vehicle chassis and body costs to drop slightly, while those same costs will rise modestly for combustion vehicles “as a result of light-weighting and other measures to help comply with emissions targets.”
Second, Soulopoulos expects bigger cost improvements in the electric powertrain, as “large-volume manufacturing is only now beginning for such parts.” By 2030, costs for motors, inverters and power electronics could be 25 to 30 percent lower than they are today.
The incredible shrinking electric vehicle battery doesn’t just mean cheaper electric passenger cars. It also means all sorts of other vehicles that weren’t previously practical to electrify now are — and beyond proof-of-concept scale, too.
One example: Komatsu Ltd. has just announced a small all-electric excavator. The company’s rationale is worth reading:
Equipped with an in-house developed new charger, high-voltage converter and other devices, it offers excavation performance on par with the internal combustion model of the same power output, while achieving zero exhaust gas emissions and a dynamic reduction in noise levels. It is an environment and people-friendly machine. Komatsu expects a wider range of applications for this machine, including construction work near hospitals or schools or in residential areas, where contractors have conventionally paid special attention to exhaust gas and noise during work, as well as inside tunnels or buildings.
There are new electric vehicles at sea as well. Stena Line plans to install batteries in one of its car ferries between Sweden and Denmark, rolling out its battery systems incrementally. The first, a 1 megawatt-hour battery, will power the ship when it is maneuvering in port. The next, a 20 megawatt-hour battery, will provide power for port operations and “about 10 nautical miles” beyond. The final, a 50 megawatt-hour battery, will provide 50 nautical miles’ worth of power. “As both the size and cost of batteries decrease, battery operation becomes a very exciting alternative to traditional fuels for shipping, as emissions to air can be completely eliminated,” says Stena Line’s CEO Niclas Martensson.
Smaller EV batteries will soon be flying, too. Harbour Air Ltd., which operates 42 planes in 12 short routes in British Columbia, is adding an electric plane to its fleet. “The intent is to eventually convert the entire fleet,” says founder and CEO Greg McDougall, who offers a familiar rationale for his optimism: Ranges and capabilities “are changing very rapidly with the development of the battery technology.”
McDougall’s company is seeking approval for his plans ahead of today’s battery economics in anticipation of what’s coming. “We don’t want to be trying to get through the regulatory process after it becomes more economically viable; we want to do it now,” .

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Tesla, Panasonic Temper Expansion Plans for Battery Factory


Tesla Inc. and Panasonic Corp. are tempering expansion plans for the battery gigafactory they’ve plugged billions into the last few years, deepening concerns about demand for the carmaker’s electric vehicles.
The maker of the Model 3 sedan said Thursday that while it’s going to continue making new investment as needed in its plant outside Reno, Nevada, existing equipment may be able to produce far more output than previously estimated. Panasonic said it will study additional investment in collaboration with Tesla, following a Nikkei report that said the two had frozen spending plans.
Tesla shares slumped as much as 3.8 percent Thursday, extending their drop this year to 20 percent. A record decline in deliveries during the first quarter stoked concerns about slackening demand for the Model 3, the company’s newest and least-expensive car. While Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk last week reiterated a forecastfor 360,000 to 400,000 vehicle deliveries in 2019, investors remain cautious given Tesla’s history of missing ambitious projections.
“The environment for Tesla is getting tougher and there are question marks on Tesla’s ability to deliver sustainable profits,” said Sven Diermeier, a Frankfurt-based analyst at Independent Research GmbH. “Other major manufacturers are readying their own electric lineups, and are able to cross-finance battery cars with the higher returns from combustion-engine cars.”
Tesla and Panasonic had intended to raise capacity at the gigafactory by about 50 percent by 2020, but financial problems forced a re-think, the Nikkei said, without citing its sources. Panasonic also intends to suspend planned investment in Tesla’s battery and electric vehicle plant in Shanghai, and instead provide technical support and a small number of batteries from the existing gigafactory, the newspaper reported.
It’s unclear whether Panasonic’s involvement in the Shanghai plant was ever formalized. Bloomberg News reported last month that Tesla was in talks with top Chinese battery producer Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. about supplying cells for the Model 3 cars it will assemble at the new factory.
In a Feb. 19 regulatory filing, Tesla said it expected to need additional production from the Nevada gigafactory to support the start of Model 3 manufacturing at the plant in Shanghai.
Tesla’s financial strength has been a concern for investors. The company had to pay off a $920 million convertible bond in February, which ate into the about $3.7 billion of cash and equivalents it held at the end of last year.
Musk warned in late February that Tesla probably would lose money during the just-ended first quarter, and the carmaker has a $566 million note coming due in November. The company, which reports first-quarter earnings on April 24, has said it has enough money to pay off debt obligations with cash flow.
The Model 3 has been available in the U.S. since 2017, though the pace of sales in the market has slowed following the shrinking of federal tax incentives, and the company has struggled to get the car quickly into Europe and China. In the March quarter, Tesla delivered 63,000 vehicles, down from 90,966 in the final three months of 2018.
Panasonic President Kazuhiro Tsuga’s bet on Tesla has also been a source of concern as the carmaker went through what Musk called “production hell” ramping up output of the Model 3 last year. While production at the gigafactory in Nevada has improved and sales have climbed, the business has yet to become a major contributor to earnings.

Geely launches Geometry EV spinoff brand, reveals first sedan in Singapore



Geely, the Chinese automaker currently behind familiar OEMs like Volvo and Lotus, is about to embark on yet another adventure -- but this time, it's a creation all its own.
Geely on Thursday introduced Geometry, a spinoff automaker dedicated solely to electric vehicles. Geometry aims to have 10 electric vehicles on the market by 2025, covering a wide variety of segments, from sedans to MPVs.
At the same time, Geometry rolled out its first car, the not-very-creatively-named Geometry A. Two different batteries are on offer: The 51.9-kWh battery allows for a maximum range of 255 miles, whereas the 61.9-kWh battery extends that range to 311 miles. It's worth noting, though, that Geely's range estimates come from the NEDC measurement standard, which is being phased out in favor of the more accurate WLTP. It's not exactly a sprightly car, with the electric motor's output of 161 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque enabling an 8.8-second sprint to 62 miles per hour.
It's not the prettiest car on the block, but it's all right. Its thin headlights stay low to the ground, leaving a lot of space for the hood and fenders above it. The sides of the front bumper look like they should be open, but they aren't. There's an oddly squared-off rear fender, although I will say the rear end is pretty decent, easily the best side of the car. That weird form has function, though, contributing to a slippery 0.2375 drag coefficient.
The interior is far closer to futuristic than the exterior. There's a relatively large floating screen between the front seats, with a nice strip of ambient lighting beneath. The dashboard materials have an interesting texture, making use of geometric patterns to add some excitement. The coolest part has to be the center console -- ahead of the shifter dial is a set of embedded lights and buttons that look like they're part of the trim. It's a cool look for sure. The steering wheel only has two spokes, giving it a dash of old-school flavor, too.
There's a good deal of tech in the Geometry A, too. It's loaded with the usual complement of safety systems and driver aids, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise with stop-and-go functionality. It can also park itself with the press of a button, and there's also a high-definition dashcam in there, to boot. The glove compartment can even be locked with a password.
It's not very expensive, either. The standard-range version starts at 210,000 Chinese yuan (about $31,000) and stretches to 230,000 Chinese yuan (about $34,000). The long-range version starts where the standard-range ends, eventually topping out at a decent 250,000 Chinese yuan (about $37,000). When subsidies are applied, the prices go even lower.

Ferrari and Lamborghini — this Italian electric car’s 1,900 horsepower makes it faster than a Formula 1 racer



Automobili Pininfarina’s Battista is a hypercar in every sense of the word, a model the Italian company wants to use to position itself as a pioneer in the luxury electric-vehicle (EV) space. The beating heart of the beast is a 120 kilowatt hour (kWh) battery that feeds four electric motors, one for each wheel, resulting in an earth-quaking 1,900 horsepower and 1,696 pound-feet of torque. That’s about four times as powerful as the 2019 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Battista, which also happens to be the name of Pininfarina’s founder, Battista Farina, rockets to 60 miles per hour (mph) in less than 2 seconds, faster than a Formula 1 racing car, and reaches almost 300 miles on a single charge. Top speed is about 217 mph.
Battista was designed in only 18 months by an all-star team of design and engineering experts responsible for some of the most impressive and exciting performance cars. They include Design Director Luca Borgogno (Lamborghini Urus), Chief Technical Officer Christian Jung (Porsche Mission E) and Program Director (Sports Cars) Rene Wollmann (Mercedes-AMG Project One).
Now, those cars are impressive on their own, and it makes me proud to say that Battista also borrows about half of its technical components from another hypercar close to my heart (and home): Croatia’s Rimac C Two.
Battista’s looks match its performance, showcasing typical Italian luxury-car design, with its flowing carbon-fiber curves and butterfly doors. Its interior is equally impressive: a three-part control panel is fully digital, and its color scheme and minimalistic layout work well with the full-leather interior and sports steering wheel. Sitting in one of these beasts feels like being in a futuristic, luxurious Formula 1 car.
Now comes the hard part: With a hefty $2.5 million price tag, this car obviously isn’t for everyone. However, if you can afford it, you should know that only 150 will be manufactured, and just 50 will be available for purchase in the U.S. The rest will be split equally between Europe and the Middle East/Asia.
To meet demand, the company has contracted specialist retailer partners in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America, where customers can pre-order one. All will be hand-built at Pininfarina SpA in Italy next year.
Pininfarina has designed, and often built, some of the most beautiful cars in the world. They include the Ferrari 250 GT (1958-1960), Alfa Romeo Giulietta (1959-1962), Ferrari Testarossa (1984-1993) and the Ferrari 456 GT (1992-1996).
Car collectors, supercar owners, business leaders and automotive influencers have been invited to see Battista at a series of private briefings in New York April 16-18 before it departs for further showings in the U.S. and Canada. The car will be available for purchase in 2020.
Other than Rimac Automobili’s Rimac C Two (mentioned above), this car really has no competition. Outside the hypercar class, the closest competitor might be the Tesla TSLA, -2.95%  Roadster, which CEO Elon Musk has said will be for sale in 2020. He claims it will sprint to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds and have a top speed of more than 250 mph. Range will approach 620 miles. The base price is a bargain $200,000. Still, Tesla’s production isn’t limited — you can order one on its web site right now. Battista, on the other hand, will be rare.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Should I Buy an Electric Car or Plug-In Hybrid?

tesla model 3 dashboard.jpg

Should you buy a plug-in car? This is a tough question with no simple answer, but as things stand in 2019, our general response is this: If you want to make a difference, the answer is yes. If you want to save money, the answer is usually no.
From the environmental perspective there is no question that electric propulsion is superior, despite the propaganda to the contrary. This is why plug-in vehicles and regular hybrids have sold in the U.S. at all. Why they haven't done better is because this is the land of consistently cheap gasoline and diesel fuel, and until efficient and/or clean alternatives are priced to beat the status quo soundly, they won't make up a major chunk of the market.
Just so you know where we're coming from, Cars.com's editors are EV believers, though pragmatic ones. We loved driving our 2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevrolet Volt, as we have many other plug-in models since then. But they have their limitations, and it's not just the obvious limitation, range. 
Below I'll attempt to answer the basic questions about the two main types of plug-in vehicles — pure battery-electric models and plug-in hybrids — and in the future we'll be going into more detail in each of these areas as automakers ramp up yet another plug-in push, amid questionable demand.
What Is an Electric Car?
Electricity plays a role in all vehicles, and an important one in common gasoline-electric hybrids, but we're concentrating here on the vehicles you plug in and drive some distance on electric power alone, which represents two basic types. Typically when people refer to an electric car, they're talking about a pure battery-electric vehicle that has no gas backup; when it does have a gas backup, it's called a plug-in hybrid (which I'll explain next). From the perspective of the automaker, with potential consequence for the consumer, a pure EV can be cheaper to build because it has one drivetrain, but because there's no backup, more electric range is needed, and that means more battery capacity, which is one of the most expensive components and can gobble up whatever is saved by eliminating the gas engine and everything that goes with it. 

What Is a Plug-In Hybrid?

A plug-in hybrid is a vehicle that can do two things: One, drive a limited distance on electricity from a battery that's been charged by plugging into grid power, and two, also has a gasoline engine onboard that can turn on to keep the vehicle going indefinitely so long as it's provided with fuel. The gas backup, whether it drives the wheels directly or provides electricity for the electric motor, eliminates concerns about being stranded with a dead battery, and arguably makes PHEVs a better choice if you or your family own only one car. Pure battery-electric cars, on the other hand, are not a great choice if you want to go on long road trips, because public charging is slow and unreliable.
Perhaps the best-known PHEV, and one of the best, is the erstwhile Chevrolet Volt, but there also have been plug-in versions of the Toyota Prius, now called the Prius Prime, and many others. Frankly, they haven't been super popular, and I suspect it's partly because some of them have had almost laughably short electric ranges. Also, some drive better than others, and the inclusion of both a gas tank and a battery pack often compromises the size (and range) of one or the other — or the cargo or passenger space. Still, there are good ones, like the Honda Clarity Plug-In Hybrid sedan and Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivan. Literally dozens more are coming.

What Don't I Know About Plug-In Cars?

If you're new to plug-ins, there are a few things you should know, some of which might surprise you — and are likely to irritate EV evangelists. I'll address all of these issues below, but they bear calling out:
1. Public charging is not part of the equation; if you're thinking that's how you'll keep your plug-in going, you'd better be a true believer.
2. EVs favor the homeowner. If you rent, or lack a garage, a pure EV is probably out of the question.
3. Range goes to hell as temperatures fall, losing more than 40 percent at 20 degrees, according to AAA (and super obvious to anyone with EV experience). There's a reason plug-ins are more popular in warmer climates.
4. Charging takes a long time, which is just one reason behind our claim in No. 1 above. 
5. Federal incentives worth as much as $7,500 on plug-in models with sufficient battery size have been tax credits, not cash rebates, since their inception. Funds won't come back to you until tax return time for the year of purchase, and the amount depends on your tax liability (income level). In other words, you'll wait months, at minimum, and might not get the full amount.

How Much Range Do I Need? 

Our short answer is: not as much as you probably think, though there are many disclaimers attached. Once you accept that EV ownership is fundamentally different, your true needs become clearer. If you accept my other positions — primarily that the point is to charge at home overnight and not rely on public charging — you'll recognize that it's all about how far you drive on a daily basis, not how far you drive between stops at a filling station. Our first EV was a 2011 Nissan Leaf with an estimated range of 72 miles, which plummeted in a Chicago winter. You know what? It was plenty when we charged at both home and work, and it proved to be plenty even when we charged only at home, despite the effect of cold weather on our range. Pure EVs with modest ranges would make great commuter cars for the majority of Americans. The requirement that the same car be able to drive much longer distances is what makes an EV less affordable and less likely to recoup your investment. The current Nissan Leaf starts at $30,885 with an EPA-estimated range of 150 miles. The Leaf Plus, with its larger battery and 226 miles, costs $37,445, a whopping $6,560 to add 76 miles of range (see the two side by side; prices include destination).
If you're considering a plug-in hybrid, it's the same equation. Technically, if you have a 20-mile commute and do 18 miles of it on electric power before the gas kicks in, that's great (and usually cheaper than gas alone would be), but it's even better if you're running electric all the time. The length of your commute, electric range of the PHEV and how many opportunities you have to charge will all come into play.

How Long Does EV Charging Take?

The short answer is "too long." The slightly more detailed answer is "too long, and there's no simple answer because variables abound." Having said that, if you're doing it the right way, which is charging your EV at home overnight, charging typically turns out not to be the problem people think it is, and plugging and unplugging once a day proves preferable to visiting a gas station as often, if ever. But we're not going to say charging speeds are a high point of plug-in vehicles. They are one of the reasons public charging isn't the solution uninitiated shoppers often expect.
We're all accustomed to spending five minutes at a gas pump to add several hundred miles of range, and unfortunately that's the standard consumers expect. (If this is to become a reality for EVs through solid-state batteries or some other innovation, it won't come soon, or cheap.) The ugly truth is that charging on a regular 120-volt household outlet adds only about 5 miles of range for every hour of charging — at best, for an efficient, small plug-in car. Something like 3 miles per hour is more likely with a larger vehicle. For a plug-in-hybrid car, as opposed to an SUV or van, 120 volts can work out fine, and you won't have to spend any extra money on a 240-volt circuit if you don't already have one.
Home 240-volt charging, which is called Level 2, can add 10, 20 or even more miles of range in an hour's time if it provides — and the car itself accepts — enough current.
Unfortunately, low or high temperatures can slow the charging process, and all rechargeable batteries charge fastest when empty and slowest when nearing capacity.

What About Public Charging? 

Public charging is nice if you can find it, but don't buy an EV expecting to rely on it. I'm sure there are people who buy EVs and manage to get by on public charging, because everyone's needs, expectations and environments are different, but at this point in time, our position remains that if you can't charge at home, there's no point to buying a plug-in. Charging takes a long time (see above), and public charging typically costs more than home — especially Level 3 DC fast charging (Supercharging is Tesla's term), which is faster than Level 2 but still doesn't match the gas-pump expectation. Most public charging is Level 2 and is sometimes free. It's also sometimes in use when you need it, or splits the current between two attached vehicles (which slows the charging rate) or is broken. 
There may be free charging options now, but are you willing to invest in a vehicle that relies on someone else providing the juice? After we bought our Leaf and Volt, we went from being the only ones using the two free charging points that appeared in our parking structure to being consistently beaten to them by other EVs that hogged them all day. After a couple of years, the parking lot began to bill after four hours' time, which dampened the appeal yet made little difference in availability. Eventually these units stopped working and then were removed entirely, leaving us in a charging desert, many blocks away from an alternative. The above transpired over the course of roughly five years. 

Is Home Charging Expensive?

In one regard, home charging isn't expensive. Your electric bill will go up, but usually not as much as your gas bill goes down: The cost per mile of a plug-in easily can be less than that of a comparable gas-powered vehicle, and the advantage is even greater if you're comparing with a car that requires premium gasoline. But bear in mind that electric and gas costs vary widely across the country, so there's no single verdict. 
Where the expense might come in is the installation of 240-volt, Level 2 charging if needed. Like most aspects of plug-ins, there's no simple answer to the question of cost. 
Level 2 hardware ranges from about $200 to $1,000, with higher current capacity costing more. Installation costs are the big mystery, depending on how close your garage or parking space is to your home's electric service panel. If you already have an unused 240-volt circuit in your garage, you might be ready or very close to being able to charge at home. If your service panel is in the garage, you might be less than $100 from being in business. But if a new 240-volt circuit must be run to the parking area, it could mean several hundred to several thousand dollars' worth of installation charges. It all depends on the distance involved and what's in between — walls, concrete, asphalt or what have you. This is why the process of buying a plug-in usually starts with a site survey from a licensed installer or electrician.

Will a Plug-In Car Save Me Money?

It's hard to say definitively because there are so many variables, but the honest answer is probably not, or not much. In our experience in Chicago, the cost per mile on electric power has been about half that for regular gasoline — and even better versus premium gas. (Compare your region's electric and gas cost per mile here.) But that's just the cost of operation. Even with the incentives available today, plug-in vehicles tend to be relatively expensive. Pure electrics prove to have lower maintenance costs associated with their drivetrains and some other systems, so we see signs of how the car ownership paradigm might shift, but we're not there yet. 
Unfortunately, it can shift in the other direction as well. The federal tax incentives alluded to above have already begun to phase out for Chevrolet and Tesla, and the Trump administration has expressed interest in eliminating them midstream — once before the tax reforms of 2018 (automakers successfully lobbied to leave them in place) and again shortly thereafter when GM announced the de-allocation of some assembly plants. With the Republicans in the majority of the U.S. Senate and the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives, it's less likely that the incentives will indeed vanish, but it's also unlikely that they'll be extended.
Similarly, there are legislators at the federal and state levels who are attempting to institute road-usage fees for plug-ins to compensate for the revenue otherwise collected only in gasoline and diesel taxes. (EV advocates claim that the higher prices of plug-ins already compensates in the form of higher sales tax.) Annual registration fees, which also have been equal to or lower than those for conventional vehicles — as an incentive — may also be on the rise.

Is There an Exception?

Perhaps the best chance you have to save money on a plug-in vehicle over the long run is this: Buy a used EV as a second car that you can charge at home. Used battery-electric cars tend to be surprisingly cheap, for a few reasons: First, they're used, and that alone represents a major discount. Second, incentives are available only on new purchases, so the market has subtracted them from the initial value. Third, like all cars, EVs keep improving and adding range, so those with shorter ranges seem less valuable. Fourth, consumers worry about EV batteries dying completely and being prohibitively expensive to replace. In reality, we've learned from more than a decade of hybrids as well as plug-ins that outright battery failures are rare. Traction batteries lose about 20 percent of their capacity over the course of 100,000 miles and/or 10 years, consistently enough that automakers account for it. Warranties are pretty long but don't cover marginal loss of range. Worry less about failure and more about whether a 20 percent loss still gives you enough range to work with.
In the above scenario, with another car available for longer trips and the lower cost per mile of electric motoring based on home charging, you have a better shot at coming out ahead, even if higher registration fees or road-use taxes come into play.
There might also be some deals on plug-in hybrids, though it's tough to gauge. Their market acceptance has been modest at best in the U.S., but automakers are compelled to produce plug-in hybrids to comply with zero-emissions requirements in some states, so there are literally dozens on the way. There's a chance, if demand just doesn't materialize for this type of vehicle, that you'll be able to get a really good deal on one. Automakers get credit for selling them, not just offering them. Our cheap gas, disinterested politicians and widespread climate-change denial are the worst things going for the plug-in market in the U.S. The best thing going for it is that many other advanced countries are the opposite in all of these respects, so automakers are building the vehicles regardless. 

The Week in Tesla News: Wi-Fi While You Wait, Auto Lane Change and Summon Comin'


Tesla had a rough week on the business side with a first-quarter report that fell short of Wall Street expectations and threw shade on the share price, but the company closed with news on Monday that a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles would bring in fresh cash, with Tesla selling credits for building EVs to FCA to help that company meet European emissions rules. But in between, there was more fun news about the rollout of updated Navigate on Autopilot, autonomous parking, and Wi-Fi and video.

Tesla Model S OEM.jpg

Netflix 'N' Chill While You Charge

Even fast charging can seem slow when you're waiting to resume your journey, and Tesla is planning to help you pass the time. Tesla CEO Elon Musk reiterated via Twitter that not only is the company moving toward enabling video playback in the car, but it's also working to deploy free Wi-Fi at all of Tesla's Supercharging stations.
While streaming video, video playback and video gaming in the car holds even more promise for the future when the car might be able to operate in fully autonomous mode, initially it will be for use when the vehicle is parked and connected to Wi-Fi.
Tweeted Musk in response to a question about how the video playback would work, "It will enable video when parked & connected to Wi-Fi. All Tesla Superchargers will have free Wi-Fi over time."
Tesla announced that as of April 3, it had begun rolling out in the U.S. an over-the-air update for a "more seamless" Navigate on Autopilot feature for cars whose owners paid for Enhanced Autopilot or Full Self-Driving Capability. Specifically, it will allow drivers to opt to have Navigate on Autopilot make lane changes while navigating on Autopilot without the driver having to confirm impending lane changes with the turn-signal stalk. Early users gave it rave reviews.
Drivers still can opt to require such confirmation, but if they turn on the new feature, the car will alert that it's going to change lanes with both a chime and a visual prompt — as well as steering-wheel vibration in cars built after August 2017 — so the driver can look around and cancel the change on the screen or with the turn-signal stalk. Tesla was quick to point out that the feature only works if it detects the driver's hands on the wheel and also that the driver remains responsible for control of the car.