Half way through the year and the June sales numbers for plug-in electric vehicles are beginning to roll in with the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car moving 1,760 units in the month, a relatively strong showing, and Nissan selling a paltry 535 Leafs.

These sales bring the calendar year’s first half totals to 3,148 for the Leaf and 8,817 for the Volt. This second number is especially impressive, since if this trend continues it will mean that Chevy will more than double the number of Leafs it sold last year, 7,671. After a troubling, sputtering start, Chevy and its Volt may finally be finding some purchase.

Mitsubishi meanwhile sold a Larry-Bird-like 33 ‘I’ electric minicars in the month.

An Audi R8 e-tron has set the production electric car record by running a 8:09.099 lap at the Nurburgring track.  Audi is calling this achievement a “milestone in its history” that ranks right up there with its eleven victories at the 24-hour LeMans race.

Though the e-tron is a production vehicle, it is still quite a vehicle. The all electric car boasts 375 horsepower and a 133-mile range. The car’s race car driver Marcus Winkelhock got a kick out of giving the e-tron a run. “The torque with which the electric motors propel the car uphill beats everything that I know. Within just a few weeks we’ve taken on some big challenges and in the process we’ve shown that we are at the forefront with all of our drive concepts.”

The Audi R8 e-tron will go on sale towards the end of the year.  No word yet on price.  But don’t expect to get a car loan with bad credit for this one.  It ain’t gonna be cheap, that’s for sure!

The Environmental Protection Agency, the crew that publishes the officially inaccurate gas mileage ratings, says that hybrid vehicles save drivers more money than many believe. The agency is so steadfast in its belief that it has created a hybrid savings calculator that it has posted on its drolly-named website, www.fueleconomy.gov

However, not everyone is eager to swallow what the EPA is offering. A publication, the U.S. News, did a comparison between various hybrids and their gas-powered competitors and determined that it takes anywhere from 2.2 years to more than 5 years of driving for a hybrid buyer to realize any fuel cost savings since hybrids are cost more. Many other auto-industry experts and consumer advocates have made similar findings.

When Is 118 MPG Not Worth It?

Honda Motors recently announced that the the 2013 Honda Fit EV is capable of 118 mpg, topping the figures set for its rivals the Ford Focus, Nissan Leaf, and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. The number is truly breath-taking, but is it really worth it?

The Fit EV needs 28.6 kilowatt hours of electricity to travel 100 miles. The average price of electricity per kilowatt hour is 11.6 cents, meaning that 100 miles will cost $3.30 to drive. The gas powered Fit costs $11.52 to travel 100 miles. That sounds like quite a savings until you factor in how much each model costs. The Fit EV has an MSRP that is nearly double that of the gas powered version. Given that the average American drives 13,500 miles per year, it will take 12 years to to recoup the initial difference in price even after the $7,500 rebate the government is offering.

Honda will be initially leasing the first 1,100 Fit EVs for $389 per month. A short term lease may help the higher priced car make more sense to a wider variety of buyers. That may be the only hope that Honda has to hang its hat on.

Chevrolet has announced that the 2013 Chevrolet Volt will have a single-charge range of 38 miles. This is a three-mile increase over what owners of the 2012 Volt get.

The increased range is possible due to slight changes having been made to the material composition of its battery’s chemistry. The new battery’s storage capacity increased to 16.5 kWh from a mere 16 and will, as a result, require longer charger times taking up to 10.5 hours to fully charge on a 120V charger.

Charged about the improved battery, Bill Wallace, GM director of Global Battery Systems Engineering, said, “The best way to explain what we’ve done at the cell level is to compare it to a cake batter recipe.  Sometimes if you use more sugar and less vanilla you get a better tasting cake. We’ve done some work at the cell level to modify the ‘ingredients’ to make a better end result. This attention to detail will allow our customers to experience more pure EV range, which is the true benefit of owning a Volt.”

Toyota Prius C NOT Recommended by Consumer Reports

Long one of the more favorite of the electric and/or hybrid vehicles, the Prius has a lengthy track run of pleasing owners and impressing critics. However, that successful stretch may be nearing its end, for the new Prius C failed to receive a recommendation from Consumer Reports. The publication that knows all things quality and pricing says that though the subcompact hatchback has “excellent” fuel economy, its ride is “noisy” and “harsh.”

Overall, the Prius C, with a 53 out of 100, scored one fewer points than did its top competitor, the Honda Insight. Talking about its score and why the Prius C failed to get a recommendation, Consumer Reports wrote on its website, “We can’t recommend the Prius C because it scores too low in our tests. Its harsh ride, noisy engine and cabin, and slow acceleration make it feel more like an econobox than a sophisticated hybrid.” Though, it must be noted that the magazine was not wholly negative about the Toyota Prius C. “We do expect it to have very good reliability,” it also wrote on its website.

Green Battery Start-Ups Running out of Power

Though car battery start-ups were granted close to $1.3 billion in U.S. grants to open at least nine factories, the industry and its government funding plants continues to not create jobs nor produce batteries.

These grants, given out by the Obama administration since 2009, were part of a six-year campaign to produce one million electric and plug-in hybrids, the current tally total sits at a paltry 50,000 cars. This lack of success is clearly visible at the green-energy battery plants whose construction in Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan was funded by the grants. Less than one-third of the projected number of employees these factories would create have in fact been created. So far, the funding that was given to companies such as Fisker Automotive Inc. has not been an effective use of anyone’s dollars.

Thanks to AutoLoansFlorida.com for this tip.

2012′s 11 Most Fuel-Efficient Sedans

With fuel economy being at the forefront in the minds of car shoppers these days, carmakers are working hard at producing models featuring high MPG ratings. To help consumers navigate the crowded auto vehicle market, the ladies and lads down at Edmunds has compiled a list of the most fuel-efficient sedans of the year using numbers sourced from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The top fuel-efficient sedans of 2012 are the Honda Civic Hybrid with city/highway/combined ratings of 44/44/44; the Toyota Camry Hybrid with city/highway/combined ratings of 43/39/41; Ford Fusion Hybrid, 41/36/39; Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, 41/36/39; Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, 35/40/37; Kia Optima Hybrid, 35/40/37; Lexus HS 250h, 35/34/35; Volkswagen Passat Diesel, 31/43/35; Hyundai Accent, 30/40/34; Kia Rio, 30/40/34; and Volkswagen Jetta Diesel, 30/42/34.

Do Fisker Failures Equal Democrat Failure?

If Fisker is known for much of anything, it is most likely its failure to produce working electric vehicles. Though the American company has a history of making grand promises and enticing us with beautiful concept cars, it has thus far not been able to make good on its boasts. Some of its failures have been fantastic and taken place on grand stages. The $107,850 Fisker Karma that the Consumer Reports purchased famously broke down on the publication before they were able to test the thing, and Fisker is under NHTSA investigation for a garage fire in Sugar Land, TX.

These types of missteps do not go unnoticed. They have forced the Department of Energy to at least momentarily stop loaning funds to Fisker. So far, DoE has given close to $200 million of the $529 million it has promised the carmaker. Also, the beautiful, non-running cars have caught the attention of the Republican Party.

Talking about how these types of green energy failures shine a bad light on the Obama administration, Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said, “President Obama’s failed investments in companies like Solyndra, Fisker and Ener1 are a constant reminder to the American people that this president does not understand how the economy works, does not understand the appropriate role for government and does not have any ideas to get America working again.”

Time and a national election will only tell how accurate Williams’ thought is.

The mayor of Windsor, Ontario has sent a letter of intent to China’s BYD Motors, a bus-making company, for the purchase of up to ten buses. If Mayor Eddie Francis’s letter bears fruit, Windsor will become the first city in North American to use these all-electric long-range buses. BYD Motors has already piloted a public transportation program in Helsinki, Finland.

The bus manufacturer is pleased with the letter and hopes that it is just the first step in a long successful journey across the continent. Talking about this dream, BYD Motors President Stella Li said, “One of our primary goals was to position Windsor among the first cities in North America to pioneer the efficient use of electric buses within its public transit authority and to establish Windsor as a hub for the development, manufacture and commercialization of energy products including electric buses.”

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