Tag archives for General Motors
Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Nissan, and Tesla are among 13 companies joining together as founding Partners of the Department of Energy’s Workplace Charging Challenge.
“The market for electric vehicles is expanding dramatically, giving drivers more options to save money on gasoline while reducing carbon pollution,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
The mission of DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge is to increase the number of employers with workplace charging by tenfold within the next five years in hopes of strengthening the nation’s electric-vehicle infrastructure while increasing consumer exposure to plug-in electric vehicles.
Joining those automakers are 3M, Duke Energy, Eli Lilly and Company, General Electric, Google, San Diego Gas & Electric, Siemens, and Verizon. The DOE will be providing technical assistance and establishing a network where Partners and Ambassadors can share their best practices.
“These 13 companies are taking strong steps to make charging infrastructure more broadly available to their workforce – setting an example for others to follow and helping America lead the global race for a growing industry,” Chu said.
Discuss this story at GM-Volt.com
By Jason Siu
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
• Volvo is expected next month to announce a joint partnership with its owner, the Chinese manufacturer Geely, to build cars for the Chinese market. Though Geely holds a majority stake in the Swedish automaker, Volvo must partner with a local manufacturer to legally produce and market its cars in China. If approved, the joint venture would base its operations in Chengdu, located in China’s southwest. (Bloomberg)
• Smith Electric Vehicles, the Missouri-based producer of purely electric commercial vehicles, recently announced its intention to form a joint venture with Wanxiang Group, one of China’s largest automotive component manufacturers. Wanxiang would initially invest $25 million and, under the terms of the venture, up to a further $75 million to produce and commercialize the vehicles in China. Smith, with international clients like PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, recently announced its plan to open an assembly plant in the Bronx. (Smith Electric Vehicles)
• General Motors has appointed Jon Lauckner as its new chief technology officer, effective April 1. He will replace Tom Stephens, who recently announced his retirement. Mr. Lauckner, currently the president of G.M. Ventures, the venture capital arm of the conglomerate, was also tipped to assume leadership of Research and Development for G.M., a responsibility held by Alan Taub, who also recently announced his retirement. (General Motors)
• Former Nascar Sprint Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield was charged this week with three felony counts of theft stemming from a search that took place at his home in North Carolina last November. In his defense, Mayfield said the charges were based on statements from a source with a substantial criminal record. Mayfield was suspended from Nascar after failing a drug test in 2009. (ESPN, via The Associated Press)
• An amended libel charge brought by Tesla Motors against the BBC, the producer of the television program “Top Gear,” was dismissed by a London judge on Thursday. The electric vehicle manufacturer initially sued the broadcaster in March after a “Top Gear” segment aired in which the Tesla Roadster was said to have achieved 55 miles of range on the program’s test track, significantly less than the 200 miles or more claimed by Tesla. An earlier libel charge brought by Tesla was dismissed in October last year for being insubstantial. (Top Gear)
What cocktails go best with all this car chatter? Automobilemag.com is here to help with weekly recipes. Remember, this is for talking about cars, not driving — always designate a driver. This week’s cocktail comes by way of Automobile Magazine contributor Bob Merlis, who served The Christie at his Palm Springs pool party this past week. The Christie is made my mixing vodka and fresh grapefruit juice (Merlis recommends plucking a grapefruit from a tree and giving it a squeeze, since they grow all over Palm Springs); the proportions between juice and liquor and use of ice are up to the drinker’s discretion. Top with sparkling water, a splash of pomegranate juice, and a squeeze of lime. Read more about Merlis’ party below.
Ready for Bed: It actually has lights! Who wouldn’t want to tuck their kids in this Corvette bed? Now if only they made it an adult-size.
Tom Hang, Graphic Designer
BaT Hits the Big Time: We’ve long been fans of Bring A Trailer, the daily email with picks of the most interesting vintage cars for sale. We’ve even interviewed its founder, Randy Nonnenberg. Recently, BaT received the endorsement of bona fide celebrity car guy Jerry Seinfeld, in his recent appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.
Seinfeld suggests that BaT might be the place to find a vintage ride for Dave, for Seinfeld’s web series, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” The question is, what would be the right car for Letterman?
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
Review Sparks Outrage: John Broder’s review in The New York Times of the Tesla Model S, our Automobile of the Year, drew nasty tweets from the automaker’s chief, Elon Musk. Public reaction seems to favor Musk and his electric car, though I have no doubt that Broder followed Tesla’s instructions in his test of the company’s East Coast Supercharger network, resulting in a dead car. The Model S is a high-tech wonder, with an impressive electric-car range. It’s not for the uninformed, uninvolved customer, even the rich ones, who plans to drive it every day, in all conditions. Musk may be a visionary, but he’s a thin-skinned one, used to sycophantic press clips from an adoring Silicon Valley press corps. Buck up, Elon; new car reviews, like the car business, aren’t easy.
Todd Lassa, Executive Editor
German NASCAR: We got fired up for the sports car racing season last week at Daytona Int’l Speedway as BMW introduced its new car for the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), the BMW Z4 GTE. It looks like the snakiest Z4 in captivity with its unique, wide-body aero bodywork for the U.S., plus it has a 480-hp version of the latest 4.4-liter BMW V-8. Compared to the former M3 GT’s V-8 with its 180-degree crankshaft, this new BMW V-8, with its even-fire crankshaft, sounds like a NASCAR engine. In fact, NASCAR exec Mike Helton made a brief appearance in pit lane to see the program, and as the BMW Z4 GTE roared past on the banking, he said, “Now that sounds like a proper racing car.”
Mid-Century Magnificence: This weekend Palm Springs wraps up Modernism Week, which is the annual celebration of Mid-Century Modern design in the resort town in the California desert. Last Monday the Modernism Week car show took place in front of the convention center, a modest event of about 60 cars. Contributor Bob Merlis was predictably one of the ringleaders, as he knows everyone in Palm Springs who owns a cool car from the 1950s and 1960s. Merlis and his wife even hosted a pool party where Modernism Week performer Lou Christie – famous for his three-octave singing in the early 1960s — was the honored guest. Now that it’s cool to own a car that you might see in Mad Men, our Connecticut-bred Merlis wears a 1950s porkpie hat like he was born to it.
All in the Family: Contributor Ronald Ahrens was at Daytona Int’l Speedway last weekend as the 2014 Chevrolet SS was presented to the public. It made sense, since the rear-wheel-drive SS is the template for Chevrolet’s new-generation NASCAR racer that will appear in the Daytona 500 on Sunday. GM North America president Mark Reuss was the key spokesman, which seems only fair, since he was the general manager of Holden in Australia when the platform beneath the SS was first developed for the Pontiac G8. Some noticed that many wore a T-shirt emblazoned, “L. Reuss Garage: Excellent Used Cars, Darmstadt, Ill.” This is the car lot owned by Reuss’s grandfather, and Reuss’s father grew up there to become first an important GM engineer and then president of the whole corporation. This might seem like vanity move by Mark Reuss, but today Detroit feels like a family enterprise more than ever, because every person on every street depends on the car business for a livelihood and lives and dies with its successes and failures more than ever. Grandsons on the assembly line and daughters in the engineering office – everyone. It’s no longer fashionable at Chrysler, Ford and GM to be a Wall Street bagman and pretend it’s all just about business. In Detroit, it’s not just business. It’s personal.
Michael Jordan, Senior Editor
The End of Road Rage?: After I stumbled upon some illustrations of hovering cars the other week, I’m just now reading about Google’s new driverless car and the impacts it could have on roads, legislation and, really, how we live our everyday lives. The advent of these cars raises an important question: what happens when a driverless car is in an accident that might normally provoke road rage? It’s easy enough to get angry with the driver of a fellow car, but when it’s actually the car and not the driver that’s responsible for the accident, do you instead unleash your furry on an inanimate object?
John Kalmar, Graphic Designer
AWD AMG: Realizing that its E-Class needed major work, Mercedes-Benz implemented some serious changes for the mid-cycle face-lift of its high-volume mid-size car. The change that strikes me most is the move to standard all-wheel drive (sorry, 4Matic) for the AMG performance edition. Mercedes-AMG will soon go from offering zero all-wheel-drive cars to four (E63, CLS63, A45, and CLA45), in addition to the quartet of all-wheel drive SUVs already for sale. Is this a good thing? That depends on whether you’d rather get superb lap times on track days or perform sensational powerslides for magazine covers. BMW says that its M cars will remain rear-wheel drive, but German car companies often behave like lemmings, so I wouldn’t be surprised if BMW follows Mercedes, which followed Audi anyway.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Million Dollar Rides: It turns out that Will.i.am from The Black Eyed Peas is the owner of that crazy $900,000 Dick Tracy from the future car. Yeesh.
Kelly Murphy, Creative Director
Marketing Madness: Driving a Chrysler 300 Glacier Edition, I couldn’t help but to wonder why someone would buy one of these over the 300 S. The Glacier is based on the S, but eschews things like full leather seats and 19-inch wheels, while adding little more than one unique paint color, special floormats, and not-even-trying-to-look real carbon fiber interior trim. Unless you’re jones-ing for a 300 painted in Glacier Blue Pearl with 17-inch wheels, there’s little reason to opt for the special-edition car over the 300 S. We get it Chrysler – you’re trying to remind us that you have an all-wheel drive sedan in your dealerships, but I think your marketing money might be better spent just reminding people that the 300 is quite a good car, no special edition needed.
Donny Nordlicht, Associate Web Editor
Navigation Niggles: I spent Monday and Tuesday driving a Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible from Las Vegas to San Francisco. It was a spectacular car that handled Death Valley as well as it did a blizzard (thanks to the snow tires). But the navigation system is severely lacking. The Hyundai Azera I’m driving around Los Angeles has a faster, more logical navigation system. Then again, I suppose anyone driving a Bentley has already arrived.
Phil Floraday, Senior Web Editor
CDs? What are Those? I’m generally a fan of services like Rdio and Pandora to stream music, but I was recently reminded how good CDs—derided as relics of a bygone era—still are. I purchased Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” with my Sunday morning Starbucks and popped it into the Buick Regal GS’ optional Harmon/Kardon stereo; the combination of high-quality audio, surround sound algorithms, and about 500 watts of power turned “When It’s All Over” (one of the album’s most adventurous, and most satisfying, tracks) into an aural masterpiece. I’m sure that I could have replicated the experience in some cars with Bluetooth, or HD Radio, but CDs remain the most consistently awesome medium for listening to high-quality tunes.
Ben Timmins, Associate Web Editor
World’s Worst Drivers? There was no shortage of video footage of the asteroid that hit Russia last week thanks to the fact that so many drivers in that country have dash-mounted video cameras in their cars. Curious as to why this is so, The Washington Post looked into it and reports that the dash cams are there as a reaction to Russia’s high incidence of hit-and-run crashes and false accident-liability claims. One result of all those dash cams is that the internet is chockfull of compilations of Russian traffic accidents. Go to YouTube or Google and type in “Russian car crash” and you’ll find scores of video compilations of Russian traffic accidents. You’ll be alternately entertained by the crazy driving maneuvers and the fender benders that result and dismayed by the widespread disregard for public safety. But once you start watching, you might not be able to stop. It is, literally, like watching a train wreck – er, make that a car crash.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
Bling Bling: If that spiffy new 2013 GL in your driveway lacks a certain something, Mercedes-Benz has something that might literally light up your life. The automaker’s accessories wing is now selling kits that illuminate the gigantic three-pointed star grille emblem with LEDs at night. Pricing remains unknown, as does the illuma-star’s compliance with federal safety standards. Part of me kind of hopes Mercedes-Benz develops this for its European Actros semi truck, as that emblem is about the size of an extra-large pizza.
Evan McCausland, Associate Web Editor
Mulling Over Mercedes: Mercedes-Benz USA product planners and PR reps visited this week and gave me a few things to think about:
They talked more about the upcoming CLA250, the so-called baby CLS four-door coupe that will have a price point just below $30K (before destination charge) when it goes on sale later this year, thus undercutting the current least expensive Mercedes-Benz, the C-class sedan, by some five or six thousand dollars. The CLA appears to be a beautiful car (I’ve seen it only in photos), and I don’t think the target buyers in the United States will give a fig that it’s built on a front-wheel-drive platform rather than rear-wheel drive. (All-wheel drive will arrive early in 2014.) But it got me thinking about this difficult business of premium brands reaching down the price scale. I thought about the BMW 318 hatchback of the mid-90s, which started in the low to mid $20,000s. I thought about the early-2000s C-Class, which was heavily advertised as being a Mercedes for less than $30,000. Neither one of those cars really did much for their brands. I think the jury is still out on whether a premium brand like Mercedes can dip this low in the American market without losing its cachet.
Mercedes-Benz USA’s head of product planning, when asked about the recent announcements of a Chevrolet Cruze diesel and a Mazda 6 diesel, was ecstatic, telling us that nothing can be better for acceptance of diesel automobiles in America than affordable, mass-market diesel sedans. Mercedes, which has been selling BlueTec versions of its E-Class and S-Class sedans and its M-Class and GL-Class SUVs, has done everything it can to educate Americans that modern diesel engines are smooth, powerful, reliable, and efficient, but they’ve had a very difficult time spreading the message beyond a core group of true believers. So it was interesting to me to see a representative of a premium brand so excited about what’s going on at two mass-market brands.
Joe DeMatio, Deputy Editor
XL1ent: The news that Volkswagen will put its XL1 into limited production is great for the auto industry. Sure, the teensy, slow, and likely very expensive car is nowhere near as thrilling as the latest supercar from Europe — but it involves just as much clever engineering. The challenges needed to build a car that can drive 261 miles on a single gallon of diesel fuel are just as (or perhaps more) interesting than those needed to build a 900-horsepower supercar. Just like a supercar, the Volkswagen XL1 will be somewhat expensive and thus will have limited appeal, but also like a supercar, lessons learned from the XL1 will eventually trickle down to other models. This car is the future — and I would love to drive it.
Jake Holmes, Associate Web Editor
88 MPH: Universal Studios recently announced that a crack team of geeks restored a DeLorean from the Back to the Future franchise. This “Time Machine Restoration Team” reminds me of when a Midwestern DeLorean club visited my high school.
I woke up early on a Saturday morning and drove to our garage to clean and paint suspension components for a 1965 Ford Mustang. About an hour after I arrived, the first one pulled up. Then the next one. Then the next. The stainless-steel locusts filled the lot adjacent to the garage. I studied the cars only until I saw their owners. “88 MPH” t-shirts tucked into the elastic waistbands of 99-cent sweatpants. One guy silently walked around with a clipboard. One guy put his car up on a two-post lift, looked at its underside for a few minutes, then decided to cut a line that subsequently spilled transmission fluid all over the floor. One guy enthusiastically gloated that he’d installed a clear, neon-lit steering wheel in his car.
I’ve seen my hell, and it’s full of aspiring “Time Machine Restoration Team” members.
Chris Nelson, Road Test Editor
Extreme Makeover: Lots of new cars have claustrophobic interiors. In some cases, like that of the Chevrolet Camaro, this is driven by conscious (if not quite wise) design. But even family cars like the Chevy Malibu and Ford Fusion—vehicles put on earth to haul people and things—seem to have oppressively big dashboards, door panels, and roof pillars. The real culprit is all the stuff that’s found its way into our cars in the last few decades—airbags, touchscreens, multi-zone climate control, super-strong roof pillars. No wonder people think they need big crossovers.
Enter the Visteon e-Bee concept. The supplier essentially gutted a Nissan Leaf and rebuilt it with some new components and new thinking. The climate control hardware is smaller and has been relocated from under the dashboard to the nose of the car. The front airbags move into the ceiling.
All this obviates the need for a big dashboard, which as one Visteon designer reminded me, exists solely to hide ugly parts like the A/C blower motor. This opens up space for the front passenger. That passenger, in turn, sits on a fixed seat, saving the weight and cost of rails. Capacitive screens replace just about every physical control, something we’re already seeing on production cars with mixed results. Here, two small screens are placed on either side of the steering wheel, almost like shift paddles. This placement theoretically reduces the hands-off-wheel time and replaces the bulky center stack. Visteon is also working on software that “learns” a driver’s climate and media preferences, so one wouldn’t constantly need to dig through menus to flip on seat heaters and tune to a favorite radio station.
Some of Visteon’s ideas are a bit radical. I don’t think, for instance, most American buyers would give up floor carpeting (saves weight) or a rear window (ditto). But the general direction is brilliant. Car interiors cannot continue to look exactly like they did twenty years ago, only with more stuff, because the stuff is crowding out the passengers.
David Zenlea, Associate Editor
With the rise of electric vehicles comes the risk of confusing methods to charge the batteries. Thankfully, seven automakers have collaborated and reached an agreement to standardize EV fast charging methods in the United States and Europe.
The automakers include Audi, BMW, Daimler, Ford, General Motors, Porsche, and Volkswagen. All seven have agreed on one vehicle inlet/charging connector as well as the method in which the car communicates with the charging station. They also considered the future of smart grid application and have decided to use HomePlug GreenPHY for the communication protocol.
The agreement is compatible with the J1772 connector standard in the U.S., now used at Level 2 (220V in the U.S.) charging stations.
“At Ford, we know how important it is to provide technologically innovative solutions that are convenient for our customers – it’s part of our ‘One Ford’ vision and a key factor in our company’s overall success,” said Steve Biegun, Ford’s vice president of international government affairs. “We applied the same philosophy in working with other global automakers and governments to offer one common approach on charging electric vehicles – helping speed infrastructure development, strengthen economic growth and most importantly, make charging even more convenient for our customers.”
However, it’s a different story for Japanese cars such as the Nissan Leaf and the Mitsubishi i, which currently support the CHAdeMO standard for level 3 DC fast charging (anywhere between 300-500 volts). That means owners of Japanese EVs will likely have to use adapters for any quick charging station that isn’t CHAdeMO compatible. Tesla, which created its charging units prior to standardization, also requires an adaptor for any station outside of the automaker’s proprietary connectors for all charge levels (1,2, and 3) for both the Roadster and upcoming Tesla S sedan.
Envia Systems, a battery maker based in California, announced on Monday what it called a “major breakthrough” in lithium-ion cell technology that would result in a significant increase in the energy density — and a sharp reduction in the cost — of lithium-ion battery packs. Envia is financed by the Energy Department and G.M. Ventures, the venture-capital arm of General Motors, as well as other investors.
“We will be able to make smaller automotive packs that are also less heavy and much cheaper,” Atul Kapadia, chairman and chief executive of Envia, said in a telephone interview. “The cost of cells will be less than half — perhaps 45 percent — of cells today, and the energy density will be almost three times greater than conventional automotive cells.”
Mr. Kapadia continued: “What we have are not demonstrations, not experiments, but actual products. We could be in automotive production in a year and a half.”
Envia, which was founded in 2007 and has licensed some technology from Argonne National Laboratory, was awarded $4 million in late 2009 by the Energy Department’s ARPA-E program, which finances advanced energy research. As a founding principle, the program was designed “to develop lithium-ion batteries with the highest energy density in the world.”
The advances were credited to the company’s proprietary cathode, anode and electrolyte materials, including manganese for the cathode. G.M. Ventures, in announcing its $7 million investment in Envia last year, noted that the company’s materials would “store more energy per unit of mass than current cathode materials.” Because the cathode was a “key driver” in the cost of a pack, the venture firm said, “the more energy the cathode delivers, the lower the battery cost because fewer cells are needed.”
Envia’s announcement said that its packs would deliver cell energy of 400 watt-hours per kilogram at a cost of $150 per kilowatt-hour. Though it doesn’t disclose a cost breakdown, Tesla Motors rates the energy density of its Roadster’s pack at 121 watt-hours per kilogram. Envia said its energy-density performance was verified in testing of prototype cells at the Naval Service Warfare Center’s Crane evaluation division.
“If it’s true, it’s a huge breakthrough, because the main problem for battery cars has been cost,” David Cole, chairman emeritus of the Center for Automotive Research, a nonprofit research group based in Michigan, said in a telephone interview. “Right now, the lithium-ion battery is about three times as expensive as it should be for reasonable commercialization. That kind of cost target is the holy grail, and once it’s achieved it’s game on.”
Courtesy of Terrafugia
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
• Have you ever wished you could just fly over traffic like Doc Brown at the end of “Back to the Future?” Massachusetts-based Terrafugia says it will have a flying plug-in hybrid car on the market by 2015 or 2016. The company’s name is Italian for “escape the land,” and its car, the TF-X, is designed to take off vertically with tilting electric rotors. A gasoline engine and fan would then propel the car forward through the air at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Carl Dietrich, Terrafugia’s chief executive, said the TF-X is still in the early design phase, but that it could be built using readily available parts. As with increasingly automated land-based cars, the TF-X would feature an intelligent flight system, Mr. Dietrich said, ruling out the need for a licensed pilot to fly the car. (The Wall Street Journal)
• General Motors won approval from Chinese legislators to build a Cadillac plant in China. Building cars in China would give G.M. direct access to the Chinese market, as well as allow the company to bypass China’s 25 percent import tariff. G.M. said the $1.3 billion plant would have an annual capacity of about 150,000 cars. G.M.’s Cadillac sales in China last year were 30,010, while Audi sold 405,838 vehicles, BMW 327,341 and Mercedes-Benz 196,211. (Bloomberg)
• According to analysts, California’s push to increase the percentage of zero emissions vehicles on the state’s roads could benefit Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla Motors to the tune of $250,000 this year. Tesla sold 2,650 of its electric cars – with a starting price at just under $70,000 – in 2012 and hopes to sell closer to 20,000 this year. According to The Los Angeles Times, California’s energy credits – aimed at hitting the state Air Resource Board’s mandate for 15 percent of cars sold there to be zero emissions vehicles by 2025 – give Tesla as much as $45,000 on top of each car sale. (The Los Angeles Times)
• According to evidence from a military auto insurance agency and other sources, veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are 75 percent more likely to die in a traffic accident than civilians. A Washington Post article last week highlighted drunken and reckless driving and driving without seat belts as factors in veterans’ post-deployment traffic fatalities. (The Washington Post)
• Note to motorists: Driving near the ocean is risky business. A Ram public relations team taking pictures of a prototype 2014 Ram pickup found this out when the truck got stuck on rocks at low tide at Moonstone Beach, in Northern California. Help did not arrive before the tide rose and inundated the new truck, attracting the attention of area surfers and photographers. (Automotive News)
Early sales of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV may have proved underwhelming, but don’t count out the zero-emissions vehicles yet. At the Washington Auto Show, the Department of Energy announced the Workplace Charging Challenge signed by 13 companies including GM, Ford, Chrysler, Tesla, and Google. These companies have pledged to introduce a plan for workplace charging in at least one major company location. The DOE says the ultimate goal over the next five years is to increase tenfold the number of U.S. employers offering charging.
Also ambitious is the related EV-Everywhere Challenge. By the year 2022, the DOE hopes to see companies in the U.S. be the first to manufacture a five-passenger American electric vehicle that’s affordable and has a payback time of less than five years, yet still have a decent range so that families can use it without compromise. Helping to complete that picture will be additional fast-charging options scattered in various urban spaces.
“Having a robust charging infrastructure helps build range confidence, which boosts interest in and use of electric vehicles,” said Brendan Jones, Nissan’s director of electric vehicle marketing and sales strategy.
We’ve already reported on Tesla’s so-called Superchargers, and Nissan this week has announced its plans to add at least 500 quick-charging stations in the U.S. over the next 18 months, starting with 40 eVgo Freedom Station sites in Washington D.C. The sites can provide a Nissan Leaf an 80-percent charge in less than 30 minutes. Service plans offered by eVgo allow users to pay a monthly fee for unlimited charging.
Considering the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year is the all-electric Tesla Model S, and the “extended-range electric” Chevrolet Volt earned the golden calipers in 2011, increasing charging infrastructure sounds like a good idea to us. Before a national hydrogen refueling infrastructure gets any traction, perhaps the Workplace Charging Challenge and EV-Everywhere Challenge will help boost sales of electric vehicles.
Source: DOT, GM, Ford, Nissan
By Zach Gale
Jeffrey Sauger for General Motors
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
• Simona De Silvestro, one of Team Chevy’s IndyCar drivers, got some seat time in the all-new plug-in hybrid-electric Cadillac ELR this week in Michigan. General Motors said the ELR that Ms. De Silvestro introduced was the first to roll off the assembly line at the company’s Detroit-Hamtramck Plant. The ELR is similar to the Chevrolet Volt in that it uses an electric motor to drive the car, with a small gasoline engine used to generate electricity to charge its batteries. G.M. says its electro-Caddy, which is scheduled to go on sale in 2014, has a range of more than 300 miles. (Autoweek)
• Formula One racing team Williams F1 has officially dumped Renault for Mercedes as its engine supplier for next season. Although Williams will use Mercedes’ turbocharged 1.6-liter V-6 engines and Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems in its cars, it will use its own gearboxes. That puts Mercedes engines in the cars of four Formula One teams: Mercedes, Force India, McLaren and now Williams. McLaren, however, is scheduled to make the switch to Honda as its engine supplier after the 2014 season concludes. (Autoblog)
Map of Tesla Supercharger coverage for one year from now. The holes are interesting. – pic.twitter.com/HPa8Aq7wtA
— Paul Kedrosky (@pkedrosky) May 30, 2013
• Tesla Motors announced on Thursday that it planned to implement an expansion of its supercharger network. Currently, there are seven supercharger stations – five stretching from Sacramento, Calif., to San Diego, one near the District of Columbia and another in Connecticut. Tesla expects to triple that number by the end of June and have enough superchargers for Tesla owners to make the trip from New York to Los Angeles by the end of the year. Two years down the line, the company plans to have a network of stations spanning the United States and even push into Canada. (Business Insider)
• Following a 2013 redesign, the Chevrolet Malibu will get a refresh for 2014. The rush-delivery alteration goes a little deeper than a mere facelift, though. General Motors said the 2014 Malibu would have a roomier rear seat, more powerful and efficient engine options, and improved suspension components and safety alert features. It also seems to take some styling cues from the all-new 2014 Impala. With the Malibu’s refresh coming so quickly after a redesign, G.M. seems intent upon addressing slipping sales in the midsize segment. (General Motors)
• In Italian, “non ti preoccupare” means don’t worry. That’s apparently what Sergio Marchionne, Fiat and Chrysler’s chief executive, is telling the Italian working man concerning the impending merger between the two companies. Although there has been discussion of Fiat moving its headquarters from Turin, Italy – where it’s always been – to the United States, Mr. Marchionne has reassured Italy’s industry minister that Fiat will not cut any jobs in its mother country. According to a report from Reuters, Fiat is Italy’s largest employer. (Reuters)
• You probably don’t think much about what happens to cars after people crash them, but The Chicago Tribune reports that many of them end up in Afghanistan. Cars that fail to meet safety standards in the United States and Europe after collisions are useable in Afghanistan, which has been getting the West’s automotive hand-me-downs for decades. Often, the cars show up at dealership lots festooned with American and European insurance sticker reading “total loss.” (Jalopnik)
Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times
In which we bring you motoring news from around the Web:
• Tesla Motors Chief Executive Elon Musk held a conference call on Tuesday morning to allay concerns that the departures of two executives indicated broader problems within the California-based company. Tesla announced last Friday that Peter Rawlinson, the company’s vice president and chief engineer, left for undisclosed personal reasons. Mr. Musk said on Tuesday’s call that Nick Sampson, a chassis engineering supervisor, was dismissed. After falling 19 percent on Friday afternoon, Tesla’s stock was rebounding on Tuesday morning. The company still intends to sell its Model S sedan this summer and reveal a prototype of the Model X, Tesla’s third vehicle, on Feb. 9, Mr. Musk said.
• General Motors announced Saturday that Tom Stephens, chief technology officer and a 43-year employee of the company, would retire effective April 1. Mr. Stephens led development of the Cadillac Northstar engines in the ’90s and later worked on advanced propulsion projects, including those that led to the Chevrolet Volt. “Tom Stephens is an engineering icon within our company and within our industry,” said Daniel F. Akerson, G.M. chairman and chief executive, in a statement. (General Motors)
• The British government has announced a new incentive program to encourage the adoption of plug-in delivery and passenger vans. The purchase of vans that meet emissions criteria will be subsidized by up to 20 percent of the van’s price, up to a maximum £8,000, or about $12,000. To qualify, vans cannot expel more than 75 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer and be capable of at least 60 miles of range between charges, or 10 miles in purely electric mode for plug-in hybrids. (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders)
• In an interview with the German business magazine WirtschaftsWoche, Matthias Müller, the Porsche chief executive, said the company’s plans for a small midengine roadster to slot below the Boxster, which was refreshed for 2013, were on hold. “Possibly we need to wait until the next generation of customers before the idea of a small roadster will work for Porsche,” he told the magazine. The model was to be co-developed with the Volkswagen Group subsidiaries Audi and Volkswagen. (WirtschaftsWoche, via Car magazine)