Toyota Moving Beyond the Prius: Pure EV by 2012

Toyota showed off this concept electric vehicle, the FT-EV today at the Detroit Auto Show. And while it's an adorable little micro-car concept that might never see the light of day, they used the opportunity to promise a pure electric vehicle by 2012.

Interestingly, they aren't the only ones. Ford also promised a (very similar) BEV by 2012, with the same market (urban dwellers) in mind. Toyota hinted at a 100-mile range, the same as Fords promised BEV, but it looks as if Ford will be delivering the vehicle in a more traditional casing.

The FT-EV is based on Toyota's iQ, a peppy little three-seater for young urbanites in Japan. It's Toyota's answer to the Smart Car, and the FT-EV, of course, is Toyota's answer to the electric Smart Car. Though, the Smart EV should beat Toyota to the punch by at least a year.

This blog first appeared at EcoGeek.


Ford Promises Pure Electric Vehicle for 2011

While Chrysler might be coming out of this year's Detroit Auto Show looking jealous of the Chevrolet Volt, Ford seems to be trying to one-up them with a pure electric car. It looks as if, in the age of acronyms, pure electrics are going to be called BEVs (for battery electric vehicle) so that's the nomenclature I'll go with here.

Ford is looking toward a four year plan for hybrids, plug-in hybrids and BEVs. With a slew of announcements that caught me a little off guard, my image of Ford changed pretty significantly.

First, of course, is more talk about the 41 mpg Ford Fusion. They're proud of it, and they should be. Depending on the price of this car, it could steal some significant market share from the Prius while helping decrease fuel use in America.

Next they announced that they'll have a commercial BEV van available in the US on 2010 followed by a small car in 2011. The car will be based on the Fusion and marketed in urban areas. They're aiming for the car to have a 100 mile operating range and a production run of between 5,000 and 10,000 units.

They made it clear that this won't be possible without efforts going forward in infrastructure. With a hat-tip to the new administration here in the U.S. Mr. Ford called on the government to help create a charging infrastructure, beginning with urban markets.

This blog first appeared at EcoGeek along with full press releases from Ford.


Chrysler Shocks All with a Volt of Their Own

Well, yesterday I indicated that there might not be room for many surprises at this year's Detroit auto show, but I was just plain wrong. The first on the list of "kinda knocked my socks off" surprises is the Chrysler 200C. Not only is this sedan good-looking and extremely technology advanced, but it's also being billed as an extended-range electric vehicle.

Of course, Chrysler left the door open for the concept to also, maybe, be a regular gasoline powered V6.

That isn't too much of a surprise, really, since it'd be a shame to waste this styling on a car that Chrysler (or whoever owns Chrysler in six months) might not be able (or want) to produce.

Chrysler says that the car would have a 40 mile all-electric range and an internal gasoline generator that would recharge the batteries to extend the range beyond that. Basically, this gives it the exact same range stats as a Volt. The 200C, of course, is still just a concept, meaning that it probably won't actually be around for another five years minimum. But it is a bit of an endorsement of GM's work on the Volt, and also a great design job from the folks at Chrysler.

Keep your eyes here for a couple more surprises from other car companies...this is a crazy show! It's like somebody finally got the memo and all they're working on now is alt-fuel cars!

This blog first appeared at EcoGeek.

The Converj: An Electric Cadillac...With Attitude

GM just officially unveiled their Converj extended-range electric vehicle. The two-door coupe looks like the kind of luxury sports car that will support the extra price of the E-Flex system (the Volt will be sold at a loss) but still deliver a 40 mile, pure-electric range.

And I don't generally report on styling, but it is a good looking car.

There's no word on a production date, but (if it gets made at all) we probably can't expect it before 2012. The car is built on the same platform as the Volt, with a stack of lithium ion batteries to hold a charge for the first 40 miles, and a small gasoline generator to re-charge the batteries after that 40 miles.

So, since the average commuter drives less than 40 miles per day, the car could be drive its whole life without ever using gasoline. Of course, if you need to go on vacation, extended-range EVs allow for that, letting you basically "recharge" with gasoline. At that point, it's not that green, but it is a lot more convenient than running out of juice and being stuck in the middle of nowhere.

The Converj is trying to be the kind of luxury car people want regardless of the drive train, and the hope of General Motors is that people will see the electric drive train as just one more compelling reason to spend $50 or $60k on a Cadillac. And, frankly, if I had $60k to spend on a car, I could see spending it here.

This blog first appeared at EcoGeek along with a photo gallery.