Plug-in Cars News Roundup
Each week, we try to bring you not just news but a range of insights relating to plug-ins. At the end of the week though, there are inevitably some stories left over that we think are important but didn't get a chance to cover. Here are a few that caught our eye from last week:
Honda Announces Fuel Economy Numbers for Accord PHEV
At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Honda showed off its forthcoming 2014 Accord PHEV and announced efficiency details, claiming that the car will have “the highest fuel economy of any plug-in vehicle, period." The vehicle is scheduled to go on sale in California and New York in January, providing 13 miles of electric range, 115 MPGe, and a combined fuel efficiency of 47 mpg running on gas.
Of course, as Autoblog Green points out, when it comes to plug-in hybrids, numbers can be deceiving. Regardless of MPGe or non-electric fuel economy stats, real world fuel economy for plug-in hybrids like the Accord PHEV, Prius Plug-in or Chevy Volt are more dependent upon how drivers use their cars than the numbers displayed on the sticker. The Accord PHEV will carry a starting price of $39,780.
Fisker Suspends Karma Production
Fisker has temporarily halted production of its Karma electric sports car due to a shortage of battery packs in the wake of the A123 bankruptcy announcement last month. CEO Tony Pasowatz said this week that the carmaker hasn’t built any new Karmas for about a month. Though Fisker has reserve packs on hand, those units will be saved as possible replacement packs for vehicles already on the road. Pasowatz told Bloomberg News that the company hopes to resume production shortly after details of A123’s sale to either Johnson Controls or Wanxiang Auto Group have been finalized.
DOE Awards $120 Million to “5-5-5” Battery Research Goal
The Department of Energy has announced that it will fund a research partnership comprised of more than a dozen entities from the worlds of research, academics and manufacturing, to the tune of $120 million over five years. The goal of the collaboration will be to create new materials and technologies capable of yielding electric vehicle batteries that are “five times more powerful and five times cheaper within 5 years.” If the goals are met, the grant will be renewable for further research.
Tesla Ups Model S Base Price to $59,900
Tesla has announced that the starting prices for the forthcoming 40 kWh and 85 kWh models of the Model S will each increase by $2,500 next year. Tesla says the increased prices come as a result of inflation that has taken place since the company first floated Model S pricing four years ago. Reservations placed before January 1, 2013 will retain the originally announced base starting prices of $57,400 and $91,900 respectively.
Why Do Many Plug-ins Have Grilles?
Jalopnik wondered this week why so many of the electric vehicle designs unveiled by major carmakers include grilles when EVs have no need for them. The “vestigial tradition” stems from a design requirement for ICEs, which use radiators to regulate engine temperature and thus require extra venting in the front of the vehicle. The article is an interesting examination of how tradition and familiarity can be just as influential on a design as the technology it houses.
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