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Consumers choose fuel efficient normal vehicles over EVs and hybrids

Despite the fact that gas prices are at record levels in many parts of the country, the sales of electric vehicles are still falling. Many consumers are staying away from electric vehicles due to the relatively high cost of entry and range anxiety (in the case of the Nissan Leaf).
 
Two of the most popular electric vehicles in the country are the Chevrolet Volt and the Nissan Leaf. The Volt isn't a traditional electric vehicle; rather it's an extended range hybrid that runs on battery power and features a generator to recharge the battery for extended driving. GM says that in the month of April 2012 1,462 Volts were sold, which represents 200% increase from April of 2011 when 493 were sold.
 
April was the second best month for retail sales of Volt cars since it launched in 2010. Interestingly, the good month for Volt sales comes not long after GM suspended production of the car due to soft demand.


Chevrolet Volt sales are up.
 
While sales of the Volt were up, the Nissan Leaf saw sales fall 35% with only 370 units sold. Nissan hopes to sell 20,000 Leaf EVs this year, and will have to sell over 2200 monthly to meet that goal.
 
While electric vehicle sales are down, Ford has a booming business with its fuel-efficient EcoBoost-powered vehicles. Ford has announced that it has started a third shift at the Cleveland plant that builds EcoBoost engines.
 
The addition of a third shift to the engine building plant will add 250 jobs. However, most of those positions will be filled by employees that are transferring from a different Cleveland engine plant that will be placed on idle later this week.


The 2013 Ford Fusion will offer two EcoBoost four-cylinder engine options.
 
"Our engine plant in Cleveland is the first and only facility in North America to produce EcoBoost engines, and we are tripling production capacity to meet customers' growing needs for fuel-efficient engines," said Ford Americas President Mark Fields during a celebration with employees at the plant Tuesday. "EcoBoost engines are a key part of our plan to give customers the power of choice — from EcoBoost-powered vehicles and hybrids, to plug-in hybrids and full electrics."
 
Ford's EcoBoost engine has found its way the under the hood of everything from full-sized trucks to small economy vehicles. EcoBoost engines use a smaller displacement engine with turbochargers for increased power and fuel efficiency. 

Sources: Detroit News, Detroit News



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RE: Makes perfect sense
By nolisi on 5/2/2012 2:08:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The fact is that hybrids are more expensive.


Pay attention to the conversation: no one is arguing against the fact that hybrids are more expensive.

However, that fact is mitigated substantially by features included. In other words, value.

No one compares a BMW 3 series to a Toyota Yaris. Besides the fact that they are aimed at totally different market segments, their standard features list is completely different. However, the BMW3 series appeals to people based on multiple factors of value that the Yaris doesn't provide.

You also don't compare a base model Corolla against a Civic SI even if they are in the same segment- their price points and, subsequently, target audience are different, again, because of their features.

The same idea applies to a Fusion SE and Base Fusion Hybrid. Their standard equipment list is different, and therefore they offer different value even if the features are there to mitigate the cost of the hybrid power train.

The bottom line is the value that the manufacturer is able to offer with a particular package. And given the feature list, the value provided by the hybrid trim is much greater than just fuel efficiency, making a comparison against the SE invalid if you're only comparing on the basis of efficiency.

Further, no one wants to buy a hybrid that feels technically the same as a base model.

So, it's not just cost subsidy. Manufacturers target vehicle packages at price points that most buyers are likely
fall into. They have one package for bare bones buyers, but if someone is likely to spend $26/27 K on a vehicle, they're also likely to want to add on certain features. It makes it easier to provide dealers with stock and further incentivize that stock.


RE: Makes perfect sense
By Jeffk464 on 5/2/2012 2:42:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yup the new 240hp BMW 3 series is the ultimate economy car.


RE: Makes perfect sense
By chromal on 5/3/2012 11:20:15 AM , Rating: 2
The BMW HybridActive 3 sedan looks sweet, at least, if you're into sedans with automatic transmissions, but at a MSRP starting over $50K, you can hardly call this an economy car. Try 'luxury sedan.'

Even if I could afford one, I would keep looking unless they offered it as a wagon and with a 6-speed manual transmission. That's just how I roll. ;)


RE: Makes perfect sense
By Jeffk464 on 5/2/2012 2:45:48 PM , Rating: 2
PS I think the BMW 3 series was designed to push up BMW's fleet average MPG. But it should sell well to people that want and can afford an upscale car but have a green mindset or believe in energy independence. Traditionally upscale cars have been pretty bad resource guzzlers.


RE: Makes perfect sense
By Church of Dirac on 5/2/2012 3:04:41 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously you've never seen the M3 :-P. Although BMW makes a new 320d ED which is rated for (and got in magazine testing) 4.1L/100km combined which is 57MPG. Plus it has 161hp. Too bad we'll never see it in the States.


RE: Makes perfect sense
By Mint on 5/2/2012 4:11:29 PM , Rating: 2
26MPG combined isn't particularly green. It is quite good for the performance, however.

The M35h is more impressive in that regard, IMO. It's a much bigger upscale car than the 3 and has 360HP, but is gets 30MPG. Nissan should figure out how to fit a bigger battery in there and make it a plugin, as everything else is already there.


RE: Makes perfect sense
By Just Tom on 5/5/2012 11:22:48 AM , Rating: 2
Yet, despite your arguments the only hybrid that sells in any quantities is the Prius. So obviously the value the market has set for hybrids is not what the automakers think it should be. Unless the major auto manufacturers wish to have monthly sales in the 100's for their flagship hybrids.


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