What defines a “green car” can be the source of much discussion among environmentalists, advocates, and actual buyers. Every week, Green Car Reports shines a light on the industry with coverage of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, conventional hybrids, high-efficiency clean diesels, and smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles in general. Here’s a selection of their stories from this month.
Electric-car maker Tesla Motors held its year-end financial results call last month, and a handful of news items came out of the call. Among them: Tesla plans to offer batteries for home energy storage, so homes can not just generate electricity but also store it for later use.
There are lots of advantages to adding a battery to home photovoltaic solar panels, among them that the battery offers backup power in the event of a grid outage. On the dollars-and-cents side, even at a cost of several thousand dollars, it may reduce the number of panels required to power a home enough to offset its cost. The company says it will release more details within the next month or so. Stay tuned on that one.
Mid-February also saw the launch of the new Honda Pilot mid-size SUV at the Chicago Auto Show, and Green Car Reports covered several of the greener events at the show. By far the most interesting car there was the Kia Trail’ster e-AWD Concept, which adds an electric motor to the rear axle of the Kia Soul to give it all-wheel drive.
This setup, which adds an electric motor on another axle that’s not mechnically connected to the engine, is referred to as a “through-the-road hybrid” system. Given the huge success of the Soul tall wagon–Kia sold 140,000 last year–an AWD Soul seems likely to go into production, adding a crossover utility model to the Soul range. It could do very well for Kia–depending on the price, of course.
The first press event at the Chicago Show saw General Motors confirm what was by then an open secret: It will build the Chevy Bolt 200-mile electric car. Later in the show, it launched an updated 2016 Chevy Equinox compact crossover. That one got far less attention.
Back on the Tesla beat, the site’s Tesla-owning contributor George Parrott explained why he had to trade in his perfectly good Tesla Model S … for the new P85D model. The hot-rod Tesla is the one with the “insane” mode, and videos showing the shocked reactions of P85D passengers still make us giggle.
But the Tesla everyone’s waiting for is the long-delayed Model X crossover utility vehicle. The site looked at the three reasons that the Tesla Model X had been delayed so often. Among them are range, towing, and those challenging “falcon doors.” Still, spy photos of the Tesla Model X electric crossover undergoing road testing in California continue to emerge, so development work is proceeding hot and heavy.
Tesla said it won’t unveil its electric SUV until the car is being delivered to its first customers–and the company confirmed that’s still on track for the third quarter. It’s safe to assume there’ll be a whole lot more spy shots, rumors, and suppositions about the big electric SUV in the meantime.
As for smaller, more affordable electric cars, Green Car Reports published a set of shots sent in by a reader showing a camouflaged Fiat 500X small SUV being tested near Chrysler headquarters. Since it had no tailpipe, that begged the question: Could it be the next Fiat electric compliance car that will replace today’s Fiat 500e (sold only in California)? A Chrysler executive later told GCR’s editor that it was a “very interesting” article, and he congratulated the site for running it. Sounds like “yes,” doesn’t it?
Finally, you’re likely familiar with the ongoing battle between proponents of hydrogen fuel-cell and battery-electric cars, and the debate over which will win the zero-emission vehicle battle. Green Car Reports offered a simple suggestion: Why can’t one carmaker offer the same car with both technologies–and let the market decide?
That, of course, simply reinforced the notion of the people who run the site as nothing more than a bunch of hopeless idealists waving rainbows and riding unicorns while they strew fairy dust and wait for world peace and harmony to erupt. Gee, that doesn’t sound so bad, does it?
For more news from Green Car Reports, you can visit the website here. You can also sign up for an e-mail that delivers every story in one neat daily package (just look for “News In Your Inbox” in the right-hand column of any GCR page).