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Monday, May 14, 2012

Tesla, Cadillac and Infinity To Compete With BMW For The Premium EV Market

It wasn't long ago I was driving around in my MINI-E and was virtually the only electric vehicle on the roadway. Sure there were a few hundred Toyota RAV 4 EVs, about a thousand or so Tesla Roadsters and some home built converted electric cars, but there weren't any major OEM dealerships where you could walk in and drive away with an electric car.

Now only a couple of short years later you can go to your local dealership and order a Nissan LEAF, a Mitsubishi i or a Ford Focus, all are 100% electric vehicles. There are also two plug in hybrids available, the Chevy Volt, which offers about 35 miles of electric range before switching to gas, and the plug in Toyota Prius which will take you about 11 miles on electricity before the gas engine takes over. However none of these cars offer the all electric range like the MINI-E, the ActiveE have or what the upcoming BMW i3 will offer and have EPA ratings below 80 MPC. 

Tesla Model S
Except for the fact that they have a plug and run on electricity, none of these cars are really in the premium car market that the upcoming BMW i vehicles will be situated in. That's about to change though. In just a couple of months Tesla will be launching their second electric car, the Model S. It's a full size sedan with all the luxury amenities expected in a premium automobile. It has strikingly good looks, performs as well or better than any gas powered luxury sport sedans and is available in three different battery pack sizes: 40kWh, 60kWh and 85kWh. Base list prices for the Model S are as follows: $57,750, $67,750 & $77,750 respectively. Tesla has really set the bar high for long range electric vehicles. The 40kWh Model S, the smallest battery pack offered, will have anywhere between 100 and 160 miles or range, depending on temperature and driving conditions. The largest pack offered, (85kWh) will have an official EPA rating of 265 miles, but under the right conditions will take the car up to 320 miles.

2014 Cadillac ELR PHEV
Then there is the plug in hybrid Cadillac ELR. The ELR is basically a more luxurious, re-badged Chevy Volt. It will share the Volt's Voltec powertrain and offer a yet-unidentified all electric range before the range extender turns on. Some expect the electric range to be longer than the Volt's approximate 30-40 miles conditions permitting. After all, Cadillac is a premium brand, and premium in an electric car means premium range. The ELR is scheduled to be available in late 2013 as a 2014 model, just like the BMW i3.

Infinity LE Concept
Now Infinity has thrown their hat into the premium EV market with the announcement of the Infinity LE. Infinity announced the car a couple of months ago at the New York Auto Show. This might lead you to believe that they are behind the others if they are only just announcing the car. However since it's being built on the LEAF platform, they are much closer to delivering the cars than you might think. Infinity claims they will begin selling the LE in two years so it will also be a 2014 model, although it will come out after the BMW i3 and ELR have been launched. The LE is only about six inches shorter than a BMW 5 series, so it is definitely a full size sedan. The concept LE was said to be fitted with a 24 kWh battery pack, the same as the LEAF. Personally I don't believe the production LE will have such a small pack. If it does, the range will most certainly be insufficient for what most prospective premium sedan purchasers will be looking for. As I said before, premium IS range when talking about an electric vehicle. I have had more than a few conversations with people high up in Nissan's electric vehicle program, some very recently. It really seems like they are going to be very aggressive with their electric vehicle program and that they "get: what it's going to take to be an industry leader. This makes me believe they won't under power their first entry into the premium EV market, and the LE will have a larger pack than the 24kWh that the concept has.

It's hard for me to believe that all of theses electric vehicles either are or will be available within two years. We have come a long way from my early MINI-E days when there were no "affordable" pure electric cars even on the horizon. Even with all of these choices, there isn't much of an overlap and all of theses cars are different enough not to cannibalize too much sales from one another. The Infinity LE offers close to what the Tesla Model S will except for range, and until we really know what the Infinity's range will be there is no use really comparing them. The ELR is a plug in hybrid and the closest thing to it coming out will be the BMW i3 with the REx range extender option. However the i3 is a hatchback while the ELR is a sports coupe which is really more like the ActiveE but that won't go into series production (to the chagrin of many ActiveE drivers!). Tesla really has an opportunity to grab the majority of the luxury electric vehicle market. They are first to market with Model S delivery beginning in two months and they are offering more all electric range than anyone, by a long shot. The big question remaining is can they really pull it off? Do they have the funding to stay in it for the long haul and will the cars be reliable? If Tesla starts delivering cars and half of them end up back in at the dealerships for major battery issues or software problems, they will take a huge customer confidence hit and that could be enough to kill them, especially since there will be premium EV options following the Model S very soon. Still, the range Tesla is offering is going to make many people who wouldn't consider a 70 to 90 mile per charge EV think about it.
BMW Concept i3 has no B-pillar and 'coach-style' doors.

BMW's i3 is launching in about 16 months now. Official EPA range figures aren't available but all indications from early testing point to an EPA rating in the low to mid 90's. If so, it will be the only EV available with an EPA rating over 90 MPC other than Tesla offerings. I have been very vocal to my BMW connections that I believe the i3 NEEDS to have an EPA rating of 90 or more miles. If not, it's not really in the 'premium EV market' and falls into the LEAF/Focus EV/Volt category to me. Remember premium IS range when talking EV and being the only one other than Tesla to break 90 miles per charge is important in my opinion. BMW also wants the customers that need/want an even greater range though so they are offering a range extender(REx) as an option in the i3. It will be a very small (600cc) gasoline engine with a small(probably 2-3 gallons) gas tank. When the i3's battery is depleted, or hits some pre-determined critical low state of charge level, the REx will turn on and sustain the batteries charge, similar to how a Chevy Volt works. This will allow the i3 REx to go ~100 miles on battery only and then ~100 miles on gas without needing to plug in or refuel. Unlike the volt, the i3's gas engine will have no physical connection to the cars drive train and will serve to charge the batteries only, never powering the wheels. BMW is taking this approach as opposed to just using a bigger battery pack like Tesla because they believe it's not necessary to lug around a huge, expensive, heavy battery all the time if you only need it once in a while. The MINI-E and ActiveE programs have proven that most people can live perfectly well with a 100 mile BEV, especially now that public charging infrastructure is being deployed. If you feel you need more range, rather than pay $10,000 more for a larger battery you can add the REx for much less and not add 400lbs of extra battery that you have to lug around all the time reducing the cars efficiency even on short trips where you didn't need the extra kWh's.
A camouflaged  i3 in recent testing

The concept i3s looks have been a subject of concern for some following BMW's EV plans though, and I have read comments where people express their objections to the futuristic styling. It should be noted that they are commenting on the concept i3 though, and concepts are usually futuristic looking. I'm sure the production i3 will be toned down a bit and look more "BMW like." Some also wish it was a bigger car with a trunk. Personally I'm happy with the current i3 configuration. It's just what I want for my daily driving car. The utility of a hatchback is a big plus for me and the size is just right for commuting and city driving and parking. This doesn't mean BMW is abandoning the full size sedan market though. They currently have a number of BEVs and PHEVs in development and the i5 in particular has been rumored to be either a five passenger sedan or a small crossover and should satisfy the needs of those looking for a premium family-sized plug in vehicle. The first car out of the new i brand can't be everything for everybody, and will suit the needs of some but not others. However in just a matter of a couple of years BMW will have at least four plug in cars in showrooms (i3, i4, i5 & i8) and it won't end there. Richard Steinberg, manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy for BMW NA recently said, "I have a feeling you'll see plugs cascade through our entire product line." Yes, it is getting interesting!

Note: I intentionally left out the Fisker Karma and the Coda Sedan. The Karma is over $100,000 and costs more than any of the cars mentioned here, even the most expensive Model S. Personally I don't consider Fisker competition to these cars and I doubt they will even be in business in  a few years. Coda's sedan does have decent range with an 88mpc EPA rating, however it's anything but premium or luxury and is basically a carbon copy of an economy car made ten years ago. It's built in China and based on articles I have read by people who have driven them, the quality is far inferior than anything expected from the automakers mentioned above.


  1. Thanks for the write-up Tom, great insight. I agree with the notion that it's not necessary to lug around enough heavy/expensive batteries for 300 mile range if you only drive 40 a day. However, lugging around a heavy/expensive/complicated ICE doesn't seem like the right answer either - at lease for me :)
    I can't wait for auto makers to offer a bit more customization. REX for some people, larger battery pack for others. I think Tesla has it right with their multiple pack size offerings. Love your blog, looking forward to my i3!

  2. I LOVE the optional pack sizes that Tesla are offering. I would definitely pay $4,000 to $5,000 more for an extra 6-7kWh's on the i3 before I would pay for the REx. I'd really love to see a 28kWh i3!!!!
    Thant being said, as long as the i3 is EPA rated at MORE THAN 90 miles (I'll say it again in case BMW didn't hear me the first 100 times) then I think it will do just fine. Less and 90 mpc in less than premium to me!

  3. Tom, this post is very insightful. I'm only at 3K on the ActiveE, but I have already started research on what's next. It will come sooner than we all think. I drove a Prius for 8 years and agree with you about the utility of the hatchback. I also agree with you that greater range on the i3 would be ideal. Personally, I would feel more comfortable with a 120-150 mile range. I think 150 and 300 are the sweet spots until the next great leap in battery technology.

  4. Tom I've been keeping an eye on the i3 since I first read about it on your mini-e blog. One hundred miles will be good for about 95% of my needs. I agree I would probably pay a few thousand dollars more for a larger battery pack.

    How about this concept. Order the car with the size battery you want/need. Yes you would have to wait a bit for it to come, but you could pay by the kilowatt hour. If you want a 15kWh battery fine, if you want a 23kWh or 29kWh no problem! Instead of having them in set amounts, let the consumer order what they want and can afford.

  5. Good point about extra range being premium in an EV.. but it will also severely affect performance and handling due to the extra weight. Probably better to err on the side of excess range, from a battery durability wiewpoint.

  6. I am very surprised we haven't seen any established auto maker come out with a long range electric car, like Tesla is doing. It's as if they really don't believe people want and will pay for them. I think they are wrong and Tesla will sell more S models that they can make for at least two to three years. That does hinge on what Tom wrote about reliability. It is amazingly difficult to engineer and manufacturer an automobile, especially one like the S that is breaking the molds. In my opinion inferior quality is the only thing that would keep them from selling like crazy. Sure they are expensive but there are still enough people out there with the money and desire to have the latest and greatest, and the Tesla S will be that for a while.

  7. Thanks for the great blog, Tom! I was a little surprised by your pronouncement that "premium" equaled range, after your saying many times that range anxiety disappeared as an issue for people who actually had some experience with BEVs.

    I would hope that the "premium" label would be earned with high-quality design, materials, and construction, as defined by the purpose of the car. While Rolls Royce and Porsche can both be described as premium brands, the performance qualities expected by the clientele of each are quite different.

    Among "premium" BEVs, you could distinguish between the BMW i3 and Tesla's Model S. The i3 was designed and intended as a city car; the Model S not so much. Just look at the two--the Tesla is a low and sleek sedan that oozes luxury and status--a highway cruiser. It has long range, advertised for "highway speeds," with high-capacity batteries that must weigh a ton (but we don't know, because Tesla doesn't publish the curb weight for the three versions of the Model S).

    The weighty Model S could be used as a city car, but it would not be a good fit. It certainly cannot be expected to be "nimble," as I fully expect the much lighter i3 will be. I doubt you would argue that the i3 is not "premium," simply because it does not have the long range of the Model S.

    The i3 has a range that fits its purpose. More range will not make it better; it will make it worse (if it means a heavier car). I'm hoping that "range" does not become the benchmark for a BEV's value (as touted by a BEV-ignorant public that is looking for ICE-equivalency). I would hate to see "range" become the BEV marketing counterpart for conventional car's "horsepower."
    Horsepower became the measure of performance for ICE cars, even though it is not. Maximum advertised horsepower is only realized at near peak RPM with the throttle fully open; this virtually never happens for street cars. Horsepower gives you top speed--relevant for race cars but not street cars. The best numeric measure of performance in a street car is torque -- low-end torque -- it translates to acceleration. (The other half of the real-world performance equation is, of course, weight.)

    This horsepower fiction has become so associated with (premium) performance, that automobile company marketing departments have pressured the engineers to design engines with ever-higher horsepower ratings. Horsepower sells. But emphasizing horsepower has its cost, as tuning an engine for higher horsepower usually means sacrificing low-end torque (and hence, performance).

    BMW engineers are getting it right now, bucking the traditionalists, with new lighter four-cylinder turbocharged engines that produce gobs of low-end torque. They also got it right with the i3's design (a city car). BMW has given the i3 lots of torque, but they also understood the implications of weight when they chose its carbon fiber and aluminum structure. At 2800 pounds, it should be a blast to drive in the turns (lighter would be nicer still). The heavy Tesla Model S? Not so much, but I'm sure it will be very quiet, comfortable and luxurious.

    Both are premium, but making range the measure for "premium" would eliminate choice for drivers. Longer range has a cost: a very dear cost -- sacrificing performance, handling, braking, and efficiency. Most people drive less than 40 miles per day, with an occasional longer trip. An 80-mile range would be optimal for a city car, enough for an occasional longer trip and a margin to extend battery life.

    Some drivers (myself included) love to drive as sport on my otherwise mundane errands. I hope BMW sticks to their guns and keeps the i3's battery weight down. Don't make the "horsepower" mistake. The BEV-loving highway cruisers can buy a Tesla or wait for BMW to produce a different car to fit that niche.

  8. Hi Chris,

    If you read enough of my blogs, I'm sure find inconsistencies as I do write posts on the fly a lot and talk about what's on my mind at the moment without always thinking things through all the time!

    I'm not backpedaling though, I still stand by my 'range IS premium' comments. Maybe I should have been clearer that it certainly isn't the only qualification, but it's certainly part of the equation. The overall driving experience is certainly paramount, and I know BMW is really working hare to make the i3 the most enjoyable EV to drive. However, I strongly believe they need to put a little distance between the i3 and the LEAF/Focus/iMiEV when it comes to range. Especially for customers that live in colder weather climates where the winter months reduce the cars range even with proper thermal management and per-conditioning. An 80 mile BEV turns into a 55-60 mile car in 20 degree weather and that's just not enough in my opinion for a $42-$45,000 car. It's fine for the lower tier cars that I mentioned, but BMW is a premium automaker (their definition)and that to me means it has to perform better that the less expensive cars in it's class and when talking EV, range is a part of the performance.

    I've been driving electric for three years now and have spoken to thousands of people. I speak at green-vehicle events and expo's and do a lot of public Q&A events (I'm doing one tomorrow in Jersey City) and in most cases the first question I get is "How far does it go?". Not "How's the torque?" or "How does it handle?", it's all about the range. BMW has high expectations for the i3 and is hoping to sell 30,000 to 40,000 of them annually. They will primarily be selling them to first time EV owners and unlike seasoned EV drivers and advocates, they are much more concerned about range and believe they need more than they actually do. So I'm not necessarily saying the car needs more range to be a useful daily driving car, but I STRONGLY believe they need to have the EPA rating in the 90's so people will say to themselves "OK, it will go 100 miles". They can look at the LEAF's 73MPC rating and the Focus EV's 76mpc rating and feel like they are getting a more complete and useful EV.

    I get (an agree) with your points about adding weight and reducing efficiency. I'm not advocating they stuff a 35kWh pack in the base i3. I'm fine with it as it is, I just hope they deliver a 100 mile car like they have been promising us for a couple years now. Personally I'd prefer they offer a larger pack as opposed to the gasoline range extender though for customers that want to pay for more range.

    Don't worry about the weight and performance though. The i3 will weigh 2,756lbs and is going to really drive great. I've spoken to people that have driven them in testing and they remark about how great the car drives, almost as if they were surprised.

    1. HI Tom - I appreciate your comments. I just wanted to balance some of the calls for BEVs to extend their range (a lot on to replicate the ICE model. BEVs will not be all things to all people, certainly for the foreseeable future, nor should they be (why share the fun?). I like to promote BEVs just for situations where they excel right now (a big market, but not mass market). Their appeal will spread fast enough. BTW, range will vary greatly (like ICE mpg) depending on how a car is driven. The i3 may have an EPA range of 100 miles, but only go 70 miles for some while giving 130 for others. Promising 100 to someone who then gets 60 will only make them angry; any resulting bad publicity would not be good. Better to have an 80 rating with owner reviews claiming 100-plus.

    2. BMW is saying the i3 will have a range of 80 to 100 miles. Which tells me they are expecting an EPA rating of about 90.

      So far, the new 5 cycle test the EPA is using seems right on for the 'average range by the average person' in the cars that have been rated by it already. You are 100% correct about the varying range when you say one person may get X while another gets Y.

      I'll take it one step further. I can't even give you an exact range for me with my ActiveE. One day I can go 115 miles per charge and another I can only go 80 depending on the driving conditions and ambient temperature. So I do like how BMW is handling the range question, by simply saying 80 to 100 miles instead of saying it can go X miles per charge, because there really isn't any correct X.

      We've heard your "Promising 100 to someone who then gets 60" situation before right? I don't need to name names.

    3. Psychologically, starting the Active E after a full charge and seeing 75-85 miles of ECO Pro range has an interesting emotional effect. Getting this up to always above the 100 mile mark on the i3 would certainly be uplifting in the morning, although I rarely use more than half of the charge in a single day. I don't think performance EVs should add the additional battery mass to push the range up much higher than that. I'm going on 10 weeks on my Active E and only had one drive that would have benefited from additional range - and I would have needed 250 miles to make that trip. I'd rather have a lighter car with faster acceleration than a battle wagon that is lugging around 500-1000lbs of deadweight.

  9. Great summary! I am definitely with you on watching the premium sedan part of the market. My previous car was an Audi A4, and while I settled on the Volt for now, I really would like something a little bigger and more powerful.

    I test drove a Ford Focus Electric last week, and was disappointed to find that the performance (torque) was about the same as a Nissan Leaf, meaning noticeably LESS than a Chevy Volt. It seems that EVs are clustering around the low-power commuter car segment, which concerns me as it does Chris above. I want more power (cough, torque), and my FFE drive this week made me realize that, for now, the Chevy Volt is the most powerful EV you can actually OWN now for less than $100,000. And it'll stay like that for quite a while, as the Model S will likely not be available in volume or non-Signature trim until 2013.

    A few specific comments:

    "If Tesla starts delivering cars and half of them end up back in at the dealerships for major battery issues or software problems, they will take a huge customer confidence hit and that could be enough to kill them ..."

    What will be most interesting is what kind of press coverage will they get if there are only MINOR problems. The Chevy Volt has been nearly perfect technology out of the gate (yes, it has), and still got crucified by the shrill partisans, to the point where the average Joe thinks it has failed. I had someone ask me last week why the Volt had been discontinued. SIGH.

    "however the i3 is a hatchback and the ELR is a sports coupe and is really more like the ActiveE"

    You should edit this sentence, as it's not clear which car you are referring to in the last clause.

    I completely agree about Fisker. They are a disaster in progress and the sooner they disappear off the market the better.

    1. Chris, I'm very glad to hear your assessment of the LEAF/Focus/Volt acceleration. I drove the LEAF about six months before it's release and was woefully disappointed in the performance. I was ridiculed when I reported this - everyone saying that the 100% torque from start meant that it accelerated very quickly. Then, people began buying them and reporting how "sporty" they were. I'm happy to hear I'm not the only one that was disappointed - maybe all those new LEAF drivers were previously driving Priusii and don't know what acceleration is supposed to feel like :)
      I also agree that the Volt seemed much more powerful than LEAF. A little disappointed to hear the Focus is similar to the LEAF - I want to like the Focus Electric, but Ford has really kicked us in the teeth at every turn.

    2. Ford kicked you in the teeth? What a ridiculous statement. Can't wrap my head around people who think performance means pulling away from a stop sign with a ridiculous waste of energy. Having performance can be going a longer distance or doing the job with the least amount of energy. I enjoy performance in my car, and I like to have enough power to get the job done. If you want a thrill ride, go to Disneyland. Please stop annoying those of us who just want to get to work in one piece without you showing off. ;)

    3. Joe, obviously "kicked in the teeth" is an exaggeration meant to heighten the impact of the statement, I didn't mean it to be overly dramatic. What I meant by "kicked in the teeth at every turn" was that Ford announced the FFE 3 years ago, and has slowly dribbled out information about the car. Each time a new piece came, it was a disappointment (to me). First, was the timeframe: "Available in 2011", which meant "we'll give 12 of them to fleets in December of 2011". Next, that the conversion was being done by Magna, and not by Ford itself. Next, was the range - they claim 100 miles but the EPA begs to differ. As an engineer, I was disappointed with the 22 kWh battery. Then came the news that the cargo area was severely impacted. I visited my local dealership and drove the FFE this weekend. Unfortunately the compromised cargo space doesn't work for me - my bicycle won't fit in it, despite it fitting with room to spare in a ICE Focus. Next came the price announcement, which I think has universally been greeted with lackluster enthusiasm. Finally, the fact that they are manufacturing the FFE is minuscule quantities.
      I think the FFE is a fine car, but it's not what I want - or what I imagined it would be when they teased us with it on Jay Leno's show in 2009. I feel like Ford slowly sucked my enthusiasm for the vehicle over the course of 3 years, and I am a bit resentful of that. Of course, "kicked in the teeth" may have been a bit overly impassioned :)
      As for me annoying you by wasting energy - get over it. A Tesla-like 3.9 second 0-60 is overkill for my taste, but a 7.9 (LEAF) time makes me feel like I'm driving through glue. How about we save the bickering for the petrol-heads, and save the "I'm a better EV driver than you" arguments for when we have better than 0.001% market penetration.

    4. Sorry but is sounded like you felt Ford had done you wrong by building a "slow" car. I apologize for the bickering but the emphasis on how fast a car can get off the line or how fast it will go is really is monotonous. I have not driven a Leaf or a Focus, and "Sport" mode on my Volt rarely gets used... maybe twice in the year I've had it. I see lots of wannabe hotrodders on the road and they can be pretty annoying as well as dangerous and it's a pet peeve of mine. So I'm just saying, maybe obeying traffic laws and driving with some respect for others isn't cool, but it sure is appreciated by those of us who share the road.

  10. Couple of points on the Volt Tom. Yes, it has 35-40 miles of electric range before switching to gas, but remember that for many people, that's enough. My commute is 32 miles and even in cold weather, I can do the trip on only the battery. And I don't have to sacrifice my heated seats or my air conditioner to do that. You have an advantage many people do not, which is the ability to charge at work. For many of us, a battery-only EV just will not do, even if the range were over 100 miles. Having a range extending engine makes owning an EV possible for me. (We also have an Active-E, Tom, but the Volt is what takes us on longer trips.) Apparently BMW recognizes this too since I hear they will be offering a range extender for the i series as well. It will be a 600cc motorcycle engine, from what I hear, and should be much less complicated than what the Volt has. But remember that today's Volt is a first gen product and the design concept was a little different from BMW's. I'd also like to point out that Volt is a fully engineered production car, not a test mule. So maybe the concept and engineering are a little dated now in some ways, maybe it has some compromises such as using a bigger engine than needed. Those things will be refined. But it's still the car that scared BMW enough to hire away the Volt project manager. 'nuff said there. BMW learned from it, but they will be releasing their first gen product about the time GM is releasing it's second gen products.

    As for the Cadillac ELR being a "rebadged Volt". I'm sure there will be a lot of shared technology and certainly the Voltec system, whatever that ends up being for 2014, will be somewhat shared, but ELR is a Cadillac, not a rebadge.

    I have a lot of respect for you and your excitement for the BMW EV product line is understandable, but don't go shortchanging the rest of the world's ideas and products. They all help contribute to moving us off of gasoline. I may use some gas in my Volt (8.2 gallons in the year I've had it) but there are no charging stations to stop at when I go visit my family and the 2011 cost of putting a battery in the Volt that would be big enough to make the round trip would have been prohibitive. Enjoy your test mule but recognize that it doesn't fit everybody and even the hottest new models are still a long way from where EV's will go in the future.

  11. Joe,

    First of all, I love the volt! I wasn't saying it was deficient in any way, it just isn't really right for comparison here since I was talking about premium EV's that are on the horizon. If I wasn't in this program, I'd be driving a volt, without a doubt! There aren't much details on the ELR so far so it's hard to say if it will basically share the voltec powertrain of if they will give it a larger battery and a bigger motor or what. I'd expect they will, but it's hard to say because I'm sure they want to keep it under $55K, no? Saying it's a rebadged volt isn't a criticism, unless you don't think the volt is a good car. What I meant about that is it will be a PHEV like the volt and share the voltec powertrain.

    I believe you have been following here for a while so I'm surprised you say "don't go shortchanging the rest of the world's ideas and products" where have I done that? I think I've been promoting just about all electric vehicles and I've also been critical of what BMW is doing quite a bit.
    I actually give Nissan and Tesla the most credit so far, as I think they are both leading the electric vehicle charge.

    I'm going to go back and reread the post now. When I wrote it I wasn't trying to put down any of the other cars. I was trying to say they are all unique and will suit the needs of different people because as you said, we all have different needs.

    1. Thanks for the response Tom. I guess I don't get what you mean by "Premium". I see a fully loaded Volt as at least somewhat of a premium car, the bowtie notwithstanding. Too many people want to compare it to a Cruze or ding it because it "only" goes 40 miles on a charge. (Perhaps I am a but sensitive at this point?) But a Leaf / Coda / Focus / Prius, not so premium. The i3 also seems like it might not fall into what I think of as "premium" either. But we'll have to wait and see. Sorry if I mis-took your post. ;)

      As for the rebadge thing, it's considered a disparaging remark by most of the car guys I know. Think Cadillac Cimarron and you'll understand what I mean. No I definitely think the ELR will be it's own car, not a rebadge.

      Anyway as I said, I have a lot of respect for you and appreciate the way you put yourself out there.


  12. I guess I was taking the angle of BMW doesn't generally compete head to head with Chevy and Nissan, but they do compete head to head with Cadilliac and Infinity.
    As good as the volt is, you know people compare it to the cruze. You and I know that's not a fair comparison, but that's the perception people have. I think many people don't give the volt a chance because they look at the sticker price (with a few options it's $45k) and say "I'm not paying $45,000 for an economy car from Chevrolet!" Again, you and I know it's much more than an economy car, but honestly in my opinion GM hasn't done a good job marketing it to show how good a car it is - like a premium sports sedan, not an economy car that saves you money on gas. People look at that and say "who cares if I save some money on gas if it costs $20,000 more than a cruise!"
    With the ELR people aren't going to focus so much on the cost as they do with the volt because they expect the car to be more of a premium vehicle with luxury items standard and great performance.
    I just have a different opinion or the term 'rebadge' than you do. In GM's greatest days, they rebadged cars all the time for the different brands and it worked very well for them. If a car is a winner then theres nothing wrong giving us slightly different versions of it for their different brands. Look at the Ampera- love the styling there. Wouldn't you call that a rebadged volt also?

    1. "As good as the volt is, you know people compare it to the cruze. You and I know that's not a fair comparison, but that's the perception people have."
      I know why that's the perception I have - GM gave it to me. When I visited my local Chevrolet dealership to see the Volt, they started by telling my how quirky and one-off it was - complicated to service. They continued to explain the limitations of the battery, and the hassle of finding a plug since the infrastructure isn't there yet. The salesman concluded with "but the Cruze Eco over here gets great mileage, and at half the price..."

    2. GM didn't give it to you, the salesman did. He doesn't work for GM, and had you called a Volt Advisor to let them know about it, that dealer's allocation would have been cut. But, the fact remains that dealers did use the interest in Volt to move Cruze's.

    3. Yes, Ampera is a rebadge. And a rebadge is not always bad, per se. But most people use it in a negative way. And I don't believe the ELR will be a rebadge. But then we haven't seen what the 2014 Volt/Ampera will look like, so I could be way off. I just think Cadillac is very sensitive to that and it you look at the body, it is the Art & Science design they've been using for some time, not the Volt body.

      And you're right. EV advertising in general has sucked, GM's in particular!

      Thanks for the great discussion, guys!

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