Gas2 Week in Review, July 23: Electric Car Production Reports and Consumer Attitudes
Electric car production reports took the headlines this week on Gas2, with updates from Tesla and its wanna-be rivals capturing our readers’ interest. With the Tesla Model 3 production under way and completion numbers exceeding original quotas, other U.S. automakers seem to be scrambling to understand the EV industry.
As example, the Chevy Bolt production line summer shutdown was extended to absorb excess inventory. In a companion story, one of our Gas2 readers who has driven the Bolt wrote a rather scathing guest editorial, to the consternation of some of our other regulars. We also heard from readers who weren’t that surprised that Lucid is having electric vehicle production problems due to financial deficits. But the story about Nissan LEAF’s innovative e-pedal seemed to be quite promising, unlike many higher priced vehicles, which a new report has indicated are simply out of reach right now for many U.S. consumers.
Here are those stories and more on this week’s edition of the “Gas2 Week in Review.”
With a new VIN number ending in 336 off the line, Tesla’s anticipated Model 3 electric car production may be ahead of schedule. That bodes poorly for the big U.S. automakers like Chevrolet, which has extended the summer shutdown of its Michigan factory where the Chevy Bolt is manufactured. Why? The company needs to get control of bulging inventories of unsold vehicles, according to a company spokesperson. Meanwhile, Tesla says it will be selling 500,000 cars a year by the end of 2018, five times what it sells now. Consumers are crying out for Teslas, but Chevy can’t sell them? Can you say “cognitive dissonance?”
What did one of our dedicated and loyal Gas2 readers think of the all-electric Chevy Bolt in a guest editorial? Here is his electric car production report.
- The hatchback is “humble;”
- It “doesn’t offer anything close to the refinement or speed of a Tesla;”
- The Bolt has “a lot more mechanical noise” from the electric motor and transmission than a 2015 Tesla Model S 60;
- There’s no “automatic regenerative braking,” which charges the battery and slows the car;
- Like the BMWi3, the Bolt requires the driver to pull a steering-wheel paddle or shift the automatic transmission into “low” for regenerative braking;
- The car seems noisy from a standing start;
- There is some torque steer or pulling on the steering wheel from this front-wheel-drive vehicle; and,
- The Bolt costs about half the amount of a rear-wheel-drive Tesla Model S 60.
One of our readers took the guest author to task, saying, “GM engineers were asked to design a practical electric car…and they did.”
Acknowledging that they simply don’t have the money available to start construction of the factory necessary to secure the Series D, Lucid Motors is now seeking new financing for its vehicle production. Chief Technology Officer Peter Rawlinson — who you’ll remember as the guiding force behind the Tesla Model S production — called any rush to construction “irresponsible” and acknowledges that Lucid electric car production must proceed “professionally and with absolute integrity” in order to be have a viable place in the auto marketplace. Enter Morgan Stanley, whose help has been sought by Lucid for vehicle and Arizona manufacturing plant fiscal boosts.
The 2018 Nissan LEAF will introduce one pedal driving in what is rather innovative in electric car production. It’s a simple answer to the automakers’ dilemma of how to create an EV that emulates a combustion engine’s functions. The e-pedal requires only a push on the right pedal to go, with a bit harder push to accelerate faster. To slow down, the driver only needs to ease off on the pedal. To get the regenerative braking that’s so different from a combustion engine, the driver of the LEAF will release the pedal completely and come to a complete stop. And stop it will, because the e-Pedal system will keep the car stationary until the pedal is pressed again. When the driver’s foot is released from the right hand pedal, the electric motor becomes a generator, pumping electrons back into the battery pack to extend range.
Maybe Nissan, as one of our savvy readers has suggested, is “the only large Auto company outside of Tesla” that really gets what future EV owners want.
Not only are people living in 24 of the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. struggling to afford new cars that average $33,000, people in six of those cities admit that they they really cannot handle payments for cars that cost half that amount. That finding comes from a new study by Bankrate.com, which calculates positive consumer car credit using three measures: 1) a 20 percent down payment; 2) 48 month loan; 3) a total of of insurance and loan payments that do not exceed 10 percent of a family’s gross income.
Factors that are contributing to many people’s inability to manage a new car loan include wage instability and rising health care and college costs. What are the ramifications of this report for electric car production? Check out the conversations about capitalism that follow the article… fascinating!