Despite its official EPA rating of 32 miles in electric-only mode, the 2012 Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid returned a shocking 51.6 miles in electric-only mode during official efficiency tests conducted in Europe.
Weight is the enemy of fuel economy, and the Karma tops the scales at 5,300 pounds—SUV territory. The best hope for putting the Karma on a diet rests with the battery pack. But Fisker says most drivers will stay within the car's 32-mile electric range, with the equivalent of 52 mpg.
Now that Toyota’s Prius Plug-in Hybrid has been officially announced, we can begin the comparisons with the other plug-in electric vehicle with an extended driving range, the Chevrolet Volt. The underlying question is which is more important to consumers: electric driving range, or total vehicle fuel efficiency?
Even without the additional hardware, vehicles can make money from the grid simply by speeding or slowing the rates at which the batteries are charged. While not full vehicle-to-grid, EVs can play a role today in ancillary services such as frequency or voltage regulation with the right systems in place.
In early December, General Motors loaned a pre-production Chevy Volt to James Woolsey. The former CIA director—who served under Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1995—promptly slapped a bumper sticker on the car, reading “Bin Laden Hates This Car.” He draws a direct line between his range-extended electric car, energy security, and the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia to a popular uprising. "You want to destroy OPEC’S monopoly over oil—and the only way to destroy that is to destroy oil’s monopoly over transportation," said Woolsey.
February 22 marked two months since the December 2010 delivery of my Chevy Volt, number 24 off the assembly line. Once this marvelous vehicle had reached 1,291 miles on the odometer—1,212 miles since I got it—I experienced what car owners all over the world endure far more often: for the first time, I had to visit a gas station. I found this a bittersweet experience.
As Tom Moloughney (our resident Mini E driver) wrote a few days ago, BMW is starting to share some of the first specific details about the BMW ActiveE. The electric rear-wheel drive 1-series will provide 170 horsepower and max torque of 184 lb-ft. of torque, while storing 32 kWh of energy in three separate blocks to provide 100 miles of range. The car will have Level 2 charger (at 6.6 kW) with the use of a J772 connector. Now, a new BMW ActiveE website is offering information about efficiency on the electric Bimmer.
To help consumers sort through the meaning of those top-level numbers, plus the math, formula and tables on the window sticker, General Motors produced a two-minute video. The company did a great job explaining the numbers, and selling the benefits of a plug-in hybrid. But the most instructive part of the short video comes at the 17 second mark. The narrator says, “A fully charged battery powers the vehicle for a range of about 35 miles.”
In advertisements, fuel economy numbers are the ones that count. In auto showrooms, the window stickers explain these numbers. These stickers are absolutely critical to the prospects for plug-in cars in the marketplace, and have been a long time coming. We've had five years of excitement about the100+ MPG cars we could someday drive. Now, they're about to arrive! So the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation want to get this right. To help you, we created this online report, providing links to the proposed stickers and to some of the first media stories, followed by our initial specific technical analysis.
For more than a half-century, consumers have associated vehicle fuel consumption with a single number: the federal government's Miles Per Gallon rating. But in a world where drivers charge cars up with electricity instead of pumping up with petroleum, MPG is meaningless. Okay, but what number can replace the MPG window sticker for a plug-in hybrid or electric car? After three years of looking into the question, task force committees organized by the Society of Automotive Engineers are no closer to a new metric to replace MPG. That’s because, according to Mike Duoba, a research engineer at Argonne National Lab who serves as chair for the SAE’s J1711 and J1634 committees, “There is no final answer.”