Category Archives: Automotive

There’s A Strong Market For Used Teslas

“Tesla’s Model S takes on average 87 days to sell after being listed and the sale price was on average 3 to 5% closer to the list price than most other vehicles.

What is interesting here is that they can not only look at the same segment, like with retained value in the previous study, but also at less expensive vehicles and see just how quick Tesla vehicles move off the lots.

For the study, Alex Klein, VP of Data Science at Autolist, analyzed data from over 10 million vehicles and came to the conclusion that the Model S outperforms even the top performing GM and Ford vehicles.”

Testing Out The Nissan LEAF

One of our cars is crawling along these days and though we we’re not excited about buying another vehicle, we are excited about what type of vehicle it will be. Yes, you guessed it, an electric!  After years of researching, a few drives here and there, and much advocacy, we’re planning to dive in head first.

Since we haven’t bought a car in years, there’s a lot of ground to cover. And adding in the electric vehicle (EV) component arguably compounds the legwork required to make sure we getting a good deal and minimizing obsolescence.  The search got underway in Albany, NY when I drove a Nissan Leaf.  In short, I was really impressed with how it handled. It felt like a solid car without all the noise and rumbling of a combustible engine — something you have to experience to appreciate.  We’ve been looking for a used one in Upstate NY but not seeing too much inventory.  I’ll have more updates soon.


 

Chevy Volt Still Tops EV Sales

The Chevy Volt is still outselling other EVs, even Tesla’s Model S. It’ll be interesting to see how battery technology accelerates and how it impacts pricing.

Climate Progress had a snippet on that recently.

“investment pundits think that Tesla Motors is on the verge of achieving something big: A battery cheap enough to make electric vehicles cost-competitive with conventional cars..Motley Fool is reporting that the company is on the right track towards developing a battery that costs only $100 per kilowatt-hour — a cost widely believed to be the threshold where electric vehicles can finally be cost-competitive.”

And besides the obvious price difference, Nissan doesn’t have limits on distribution, something Tesla’s fighting in several states.

Give it a few years and we’ll be laughing even harder at the Lexus ad below.

Tesla Test In Norway

The Tesla Model S had a range of 205 miles in one of the coldest environments on Earth. Range anxiety is slowly fading.

via Market Clues: Why Tesla Will Crush The Competition.

Global Banks Pony Up $175 Billion to Scale Up Support for Cleaner Transportation

This was timely considering our recent discussion with Electric Cab of Austin. A smaller scale yes, but the core challenge is the same.

“Global CO2 emissions from the transport sector are projected to increase nearly 50% by 2030 – with profound environmental, economic and social consequences – unless dramatic changes are adopted.”

via $175 Billion to Scale Up Support for Transport Announced at Rio+20 | Asian Development Bank.

Urban Transportation Is Ripe For Change. Here’s What Electric Cab Of Austin Is Doing.

You might call Chris Nielsen an artisan. His company, Electric Cab of Austin, actually makes things. And as good a tinkerer as he might be, his goal is to shake up Austin’s urban transportation market. That means everything from how you flag down a pedicab to the type of bus you’ll board in 2020.

“We have strong relationships with local businesses and local government decision-makers, which has helped us play an influential role in the definition and development of new ordinances related to sustainable transportation in multiple areas of public policy,” said Nielsen.

To get a sense of the opportunity, beyond rides back to your house from H.E.B., (though he’ll do that too) The World Economic Forum has a startling data point. We’ll need to build the same urban capacity (housing, infrastructure and facilities) in the next 40 years that we’ve built over the past 4,000 years to meet the demand of urbanization. That’s where Nielsen’s vision for electrification becomes more intriguing.

For starters, utilities and city leadership are being pressed on innovation and need solutions for improved infrastructure. Digitizing the electrical grid, improving traffic congestion and reducing pollution are necessities as cities and towns vie for the quality of life spotlight.

Nielsen says he’s approached Capital Metro with a turnkey package that includes his Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV) designs and drivers at a lower hourly rate.

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A number of transportation groups across the country have already pulled the trigger on similar projects. One example, covered in Scientific American, looked at scenarios in Washington State and California. Washington’s LINK system mentioned a big piece of the upside.

 

“It is no wonder LINK is still bullish on the endeavor: Pezoldt says a comparable diesel-powered trolley would cost about $435,000 and each electric trolley built by Downey, Calif.–based Ebus costs significantly less at $370,000. On top of that, diesel fuel for the same trolley on the same route runs about $1,200 per month, whereas the inexpensive and green hydropowered electricity used for the Ebus trolley comes in at approximately $100 per month—less than one tenth the cost.”

While Electric Cab’s Low Speed Electric Vehicles (LSVs) have been fully permitted since January 2012 for Austin’s Low Speed Vehicles for Hire Ordinance, there’s more to the model than just moving tourists from hotel lobbies to hot spot bars. They want to kill gas-fed routes that originate from all sorts of businesses and government entities. School campuses, prisons, retirement communities and a host of others come to mind.

But that’s the bigger picture. The nice thing for potential investors is the fact that Electric Cab already operates at full speed (OK, half speed until additional funding) with some key alliances in the works. The current model has two components. The first one targets short-range fares, which Nielsen says are often denied by cab drivers. The other segment is the pedicab market, which has its own challenges when it comes to longer routes and safety issues. The company generates revenue by leasing vehicles to drivers for a flat fee, selling on-vehicle display advertising, and by delivering customers to commercial businesses, much like a mobile concierge.

Nielsen wants the additional capital to expand his clean fleet to 25 LSVs. He says each LSV is roughly $9,500, and has an earning potential of $3,500 per month. And returns can be quick, with some units paying for themselves within the first 7 to 10 months under normal circumstances. Just as notable, the maintenance associated with LSV’s is usually very low, while their lifespans are lengthy. According to his figures, an LSV can net an investor more than $40,000 over a 4-year period.

 

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Strategic partners are key as well. The company is in talks with Pflugerville’s Community Cars, a company now run by Austin attorney Stacy Zoern after it merged with Hungary-based Kenguru Services KFT in early 2011. Zoern’s industry knowledge and the need for additional manufacturing and supply chain expertise has both companies eager to explore  joint opportunities.

A few other things might also play out in its favor. Austin Energy has significant grant funding to deploy an electric vehicle charging grid, which could expand rapidly as other regional developments take shape. Pecan Street’s visibility doesn’t hurt either. They’re also exploring a partnership with Formula One to help it utilize large passenger EVs for logistical support and passenger transportation. Apparently, there’s different seating configurations to allow fans to move around the track for the best views.

But perhaps most indicative of its broad appeal, the company is currently working with the  Texas Senior Mobility Project to provide alternate modes of transportation. Electric Cab says Capital Metro has decreased service to that demographic and says its newly available ADA compliant shuttle bus would be the perfect for senior citizens.

I may be a bit biased, but the more I learned about Electric Cab’s business, the more I was intrigued. Whatever the case, with fossil fuel subsidies losing favor, gas prices consistently rising, and more pressure on cities to reduce carbon emissions, what’s not to like about cleaner and more affordable transportation? And besides, we all know another website isn’t going to solve the world’s problems.

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Here’s A Helpful EV Cheat Sheet For Car Buyers

Ford media event

Sightline Daily has a good compilation on some of the current electric vehicle models. As Sightline mentions, it’s really a case of satisfying particular needs. The Chevy Volt and Prius jump out if you’re using the range metric, though I’d guess Toyota likely wins out with hard core greenies because of Chevy’s combustible engine backup.  In urban markets, range anxiety isn’t as much of a factor — most drivers aren’t tailoring their tendencies around long commutes anyway. It’s also interesting to see charge times decreasing so rapidly. There seems to be major advancements happening every few quarters now,  with A123’s being the latest.

Carbon Emissions To Backyard Chickens

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