NYTimes: A Banner year for Plug ins

December 24, 2012


FOR those who advocate the electrification of the automobile, it has been a good year. No fewer than eight significant plug-in models came to market in the United States in 2012.

That’s progress, but even if the absolute number was modest, the heft of the companies behind them could not be ignored: battery-electric and plug-in hybrid cars arrived from BMW and Honda, while Ford and Toyota each released two. Tesla and Coda, California-based electric specialists, offered sedans with starkly different levels of appeal.

So it may be tempting to declare 2012 the year of the electric car — at least until you consider that many of these debuts were for limited production runs of a couple of thousand vehicles. When the year’s final sales figures are reported, cars with plugs will still represent only about one-third of 1 percent of the new-car market.

Despite their small share of overall sales, plug-in cars seem to have established a beachhead this year, regardless of the ups and downs revealed in the year’s electric car headlines.

TESLA MODEL S In January, Franz von Holzhausen, design chief at Tesla Motors, promised that the first car designed and produced entirely by the start-up, the Model S, would not only be a good E.V. but “the best sedan on the planet.”

At the time, auto reviewers mostly dismissed the words as more Silicon Valley braggadocio. But once they drove the car, many who had been Tesla doubters became E.V. believers. Automobile magazine and Motor Trend each named the Model S its car of the year.

NISSAN LEAF WILTS Tesla was not the only company that failed to meet E.V. sales goals in 2012. Nissan struggled to find customers for its all-electric Leaf compact. But even with tepid sales in the first few months of the year, Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s chief executive and one of the auto industry’s most outspoken E.V. proponents, stood firm: “I am not changing my bullish approach,” he told reporters at the New York auto show in April.

RIUS GOES MAINSTREAM Toyota added a plug-in version to its growing family of Prius hybrids in 2012. It also added the extra-capacity Prius V wagon and the subcompact Prius C, rated at 53 m.p.g. in city driving. Prius is now the No. 1 selling line of cars in California.

It took 15 years for the Prius to grow from an avant-garde experiment, to a high-volume product line. In 2012, Toyota will sell more than one million hybrids globally.

7 Responses to “NYTimes: A Banner year for Plug ins”

  1. prokaryotes Says:

    Multiple studies have shown we have a century of lithium already, if we start mass producing EVs. Accounting for breakthroughs and new technology and even more alternatives, it is like it’s 1912 for oil.
    What This Means For Investors
    In 50 years, people who made big bets against the ability of the electric vehicle to survive and prosper will be lucky if they keep their shirts. The electric vehicle is the next logical step for transportation, and the rising cost of oil all but insures this. http://seekingalpha.com/article/922821-peak-lithium-death-blow-for-electric-cars

    • andrewfez Says:

      The article was ok, but what was exciting was a comment in the section below the article:

      “Biggest downside to EV’s? Try petroleum companies and car manufacturers. The have successfully purchased and buried promising technologis that would have had major impact on electric vehicle development. If you really want to know about recent leaps in EV development, Google: DBM Energy Systems or Kolibri Power Systems. This German company has developed an EV battery that will travel 300+ miles on a single charge, recharging in less than 10 minutes, and costing 20% of conventional batteries to produce.”

      Underline that last sentence. Then start the Google search!

      • prokaryotes Says:

        Interesting tech, however the website is online and is advertising it’s products http://www.kolibri-ag.com/en/products.html (last update seems to be from April this year)

        Here are infos on company moves from September this year.
        http://pressw0rds.wordpress.com/ The last blog entry is about a test run by the German government on some energy storage for households with Kolibri tech.

        Could you provide any reliable source for the claim that this tech has been successfully buried?

        • andrewfez Says:

          Hi Prokaryotes,

          I’m not in agreement with the quote I lifted from the Seeking Alpha article. I have no knowledge of Kolibri being bought out or otherwise. I was just excited about the last line of the commenter’s missive.

          Kolibri’s AlphaPolymer battery gives a compact car a range of 500Km. It’s been tested by driving a 4 person car (normal car) 600Km, from Munich to Berlin, on one charge, and won some innovation award as well. I haven’t looked around enough to verify the charge speed that the commenter claims, so still some Googling to do…

  2. Bruce Miller Says:

    In the post Chinese “Population Bomb” era, even with the astounding chinese Thorium energy contribltion, the world will face highest bid ever fin Yuan for oil, driving the price out of the practical range for the U.S.A. save for Military purposes. Electric cars , short hop affairs, and electric bullet trains replacing fuel intensive jet flights soon the only economic solution to transpoetation in the U.S.
    An America in trasition and recoiling to the Asian Fact will adapt with coal burning generators, enriched Uranium electroc plants against China?Norway/India designed, mass produced, Thorium LFTR reactors and lose the energy battle. “Global Energy Maps” will be altered forever by these new reactors.

  3. Lithium battery assisted bicycles have also progressed rapidly and can provide a reliable and efficient commute for some. $2,000 will buy one that goes 20 miles at 15MPH.

  4. […] 2012/12/24: PSinclair: NYTimes: A Banner year for Plug ins […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: