Which Automakers Are Actually Serious About The Business Of Making EVs?

JUN 26 2014 BY JAY COLE 89

Maker Of Only EVs, Tesla Motors IS Also The Number 1 Auto Employer In California Today

Maker Of Only EVs, Tesla Motors Is Also The Number 1 Auto Employer In California Today

Every automaker with the intention of selling vehicles in the United States has an electric vehicle program of some kind in the works.  For many, the decision to produce an electric vehicle was not by choice, as California regulations mandated a certain percentage of cars sold in the future must be of the zero emission variety.

Along the way the US federal government made the job of marketing EVs a little easier for the OEMs, and the pricetags more palatable for consumer, by offering up to $7,500 in credits off the MSRP of plug-in vehicles.

Since the ‘next’ generation of electric vehicles first hit the market at the beginning of this decade, the segment as gone from a niche curiosity – selling just 345 cars in December of 2010 –  to more then 12,000 in May, meaning that 1 in every 133 vehicles sold in America came with a plug last month.

However, the bulk of those gains have been made by a relatively small portion of the automakers.  Here is our list of which OEMs who have embraced plug-in vehicles as a viable part of the automotive industry…and those who have not!

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Has Put Tesla In The Pole Position When It Comes To EV Manufacturing

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Has Put Tesla In The Pole Position When It Comes To EV Manufacturing


Tesla Motors – As Tesla only sells pure electric vehicles this is an easy one.  The company, like its CEO Elon Musk, has a singular vision for the future of the automobile industry; specifically that it comes with a plug.  The Model X SUV based on the Model S debuts in early 2015, with a more affordable 3rd generation EV debuting in 2017 for the masses.  Commitment level: All-in

Nissan – If Tesla is the obvious front-runner, Nissan (along with partner Renault) is the clear choice for number two.  While some of the major automakers have cut out a nice business from themselves selling PHEVs (plug-in hybrids), only Nissan has embraced the fully electric vehicle as Tesla has.  Nissan sold more than 3,100 LEAFs just last month, while the rest of the industry (ex-Tesla) have sold less than 4,000 for the entire year combined.  Nissan also has an industry-best 4 EV manufacturing facilities around the world. Commitment level: Strong

Next Gen 2016 Volt Arrives In Fall Of Next Year

Next Gen 2016 Volt Arrives In Fall Of Next Year

General Motors – Judging GM’s seriousness to the business of selling plug-in cars is a tricky one.  Before the company’s emergence from Chapter 11 in 2009, any talk about future plug-in vehicles had to focused on GM.  They had a huge, knowledgeable production team behind the Volt, and an open-door policy about that car’s development.

This golden-age of electrification at GM was followed by 4 years of President (then CEO) Dan Akerson and government oversight focused on returning American’s forced investment in the company.  The production team, almost to a man, left for greener pastures while the EV-program pretty much went silent-running.  Recently, the company put new leadership in place, and with that a new, less expensive, higher range Chevy Volt is coming next year, along with 2 new plug-in stable-mates.  Commitment level: Growing…Again

Toyota – If there ever was a mixed message being given out, it is from Toyota.  The company produces the all-electric RAV4 (at a loss), but only sells it where it gets those valuable zero emission credits.  And once they sell 2,600 of them – the  amount they figure they need to stay ‘compliant’, the company is discontinuing the RAV4 EV and moving on to pumping out fuel cell vehicles – which generate 3x the credits as the plug-in EV.

On the other side of the coin, the Toyota Prius Plug-In is a runaway success (selling almost 2,700 of them in May), although Toyota certainly didn’t envision it as such when it debuted in February of 2012. Commitment level: Tepid

The Ford Family Of Plug-Ins Made Have Logged More Than 70 Million All-Electric Miles

The Ford Family Of Plug-Ins Made Have Logged More Than 70 Million All-Electric Miles

Ford – Much like Toyota, Ford introduced the all-electric Focus Electric in limited quantities in the United States, mostly for compliance reasons.

Unlike Toyota, they now have two facilities which can build the EV and have not talked down the technology.  Also like Toyota, Ford has found success in the plug-in hybrid business through two choices of cars; the C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi, both with 19 miles of electric range before the gas engine takes over.  Commitment level:  Strong when it comes to PHEVs – look for a Focus Energi soon

BMW – The German company is the newest kid on the EV block, but are possible one of the most serious.

The BMW i3 comes in both an all-electric version with 81 miles of range, and a REx (or range extended) version that offers a gas backup.  BMW clearly is not looking to just ‘do the minimum’, but to really make a profit on the i3 as the company as increased production capacity of the car three times in just the first year on the market.  The high performance i8 supercar also demonstrates BMW’s desire to be known as a player in the industry.  Commitment level: High

Let Me Tell You How I Really Feel...

Let Me Tell You How I Really Feel…

Fiat/Chrysler – If there is any automaker out there who has been dragged into making EVs kicking and screaming, its Fiatsler.  It seems like hardly a press opportunity goes by that CEO Sergio Marchionne doesn’t talk down his company’s Fiat 500e, claiming they lose $14,000 for every one they build.  Recently his was quoted as saying “I hope you don’t buy one…”  As for Chryslerm they did unveil ‘future plans’ for a plug-in hybrid van and SUV, but we aren’t buying in just yet.  Commitment level: Non-existent

Those OEMS cover the top selling plug-ins in America today.  Below is our bullet-point synopsis of the rest:

  • smart (High)- Although Daimler’s offshoot mini-car brand is excessively small, 30% of smart ForTwos sold in the US are of the  smart ED (electric drive) variety
  • Honda (Low) – Like Toyota, Honda has fuel cell dreams; while the company waits on FCEV sales to materialize they are ‘doing the minimum’ by producing a limited run of 1,100 Fit EVs to stay compliant.  The company is still producing the Accord PHV, but only in limited numbers
  • Mitsubishi (High) –  Originally, the company seemed almost apologetic offering the i-MiEV in the US and disinterested in the segment…that is until someone figured out it would be a really good idea to offer an extended range, 4WD plug-in SUV.  The Outlander PHEV is now a huge success around the world (coming to the US the end of 2015) and Mitsubishi now rarely doesn’t talk about its plug-in future.
  • Mercedes-Benz (Subtly Strong) –  The company really doesn’t need to bring an electric vehicle to the United States with the smart ED in the fold, but parent Daimler has very quietly been involved in this business since the beginning.  First with the development (and partial ownership) of Tesla Motors, then the aforementioned smart ED.  Now the B-Class Electric Drive is coming to market next month.  With an available 104 miles of EPA range and a starting price just above the BMW i3, the B-Class ED looks to be a strong offering in the premium EV segment.  Daimler has strong intentions to add plugs to much of its lineup over the next few years
  • Volkswagen/Audi/Porsche (confusing…but turning the corner) – At one point VW couldn’t talk about anything unless it involved a diesel engine, while Audi went out of their way to not only talk down the EV segment, as well as seemingly introduce (and then cancel) the high performance R8 e-tron repeatedly.  Today, the VW group is the undisputed king of the ‘EV announcement press release’, saying that just about everything in their lineup with be offered with a plug…at some point in the future.  For today, VW has the e-Up! and e-Golf in Europe, the low volume Porsche Panamera S-E Hybrid in America, with the Audi A3 e-tron, e-Golf and Passat PHEV coming soon-ish to the US.  How they price them in the US will ultimately decide their final rating
  • Hyundai/Kia (Low) – Sure the Kia Soul EV is coming to the US this fall, but Hyundai is more focused on the 2015 Tucson Fuel Cell


Categories: Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Fiat, Ford, General, Honda, Kia, Mercedes, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Sales, Smart, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen


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89 Comments on "Which Automakers Are Actually Serious About The Business Of Making EVs?"

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Why does a FCV create 3x the zero emission credits?

Actually since CARB has been worked over by the hydrogen lobby hydrogen vehicles get up to 7 times more credits than battery electrics; up to 26 ZEV credits points worth up to $130K.(source Ward’s Auto)

That’s why it makes sense to lease hydrogen compliance cars that probably cost about $100K to build for prices that only reflect a fraction of that value.

A FCV could potentially earn twice the number of credits … only a 2 year lease is required to earn full CARB credits. The FVCs can then be reconditioned and placed back in service with a new owner for an additional set of CARB credits.

Eg: BMW ActiveE vehicles were leased to owner for a couple years, return, then placed into a car-sharing demo program which also earns CARB credits.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

Because California voters want it that way?

Who knows…

Not me! I’m a CA-Republican, which means nothing ever goes my way!

It’s not the voters, or California. The rules are made by the California Air Resource Board. The decisions are influenced by politicians and lobbyists.

California is very favorable to Tesla having purchased the most Tesla’s vehicles of any state by a large number.

California buyers like Tesla, but CARB has eliminated the ability to use battery swap to qualify for “fast refill” credits, and is considering removing California’s $2500 rebate from cars that cost over a set price (about $60k).

CARB seems very unfriendly to Tesla.


Because FCVs are 3x less efficient that BECs 🙁

I’ve a thread about this in MNL.

“Why is California so Anti-Tesla and pro foreign auto makers?”

I’m pretty angry that CARB has decided to award 3 times the credits to Fuel Cell EV’s over BEVs… Why?!

Instead, they should award the same number of credits and see which one wins through their own merits. I don’t see any reason to incentivize one over the other except politics and influence of “Big Hydrogen”

I wouldn’t bemoan credits and then suggest that cars succeed on their own merits.

EVs were given their help, now FCV cars get an opportunity (and honestly, FCV needs much more help).

But the Fossil Fuel Industry already gets enough taxpayer “help”… 🙁

7 times more help to be precisely, which really just reflects the poor economic viability of this technology at this point. I doubt it will ever surpass battery electrics as a value proposition for consumers when the subsidies dry out but time will tell.

Presumably you made the same arguments against credits for battery electric cars.

Either that or you are completely muddled.

Because you don’t fancy a technology does not mean that you should apply dual standards.

I think the point is that dual standards are being applied right now. 7x? Why?

Hydrogen does not even make sense from a C02 emissions perspective. It’s no better than gasoline. It has no safety advantage over EVs, and hydrogen is not cheap.

Don’t know how DaveMart managed to miss my point but when it comes to hydrogen poor DaveMart is very “muddled” indeed these days.

The idea is to encourage alternative fuel vehicles.

So BEVs and PHEVs benefitted, and since they are now more developed as we are continually reminded by battery only advocates, the heavier incentives are now with fuel cell cars.

Its the same policy being applied, which you would realise if you had not already decided that you do not fancy fuel cells.

Explain to me at what stage plug-ins were ever awarded up to $130K worth of ZEV credits as hydrogen vehicles currently are. At what stage did the state of California $220 million for fast charge infrastructure as it has done for hydrogen infrastructure? It could have paid for 1300 Superchargers rather than a scant 100 hydrogen stations…

The very fact that such ludicrous support is needed to get small numbers of hydrogen compliance vehicles are needed are a reason indeed not to have much faith in HFCVs as ever beating plug-ins as a value proposition.

Not much reason to like the idea of resources being wasted and policies being distracted to a technology which main benefit for the industry seems to be that it won’t be viable for a long time to come allowing them to keep on focusing on the ICE products they really want to be doing for a few more decades.

The way I see it Hydrogen = BAU even if it’s Toyota that promotes it (while generously admitting it won’t be on par with batteries for at least another 15 years BTW).

My point was as Alonzo stated. Why so many more credits. Both result in tailpipe-free emissions, and yet FCEV’s have a much larger penalty in terms of needed infrastructure and electrical efficiency to make and compress the fuel.

So why would they get MORE credits and incentives? The incentives are intended to help balance out the fact that gas is indirectly and heavily subsidized, not giving EVs a chance for fair market competition without some incentives to help jump start the market.

All that is unchanged for fuel cells, so there’s no need in my opinion to give them so much more of an advantage. It doesn’t matter if the technology is harder, what matters is whether or not the technology is CLEANER, and it isn’t.

Batteries or fuel cells could come out on top, we don’t know yet. Incentivizing one more over the other is playing favorites.

I see Hyundai/Kia as being able to hedge their bets, by Hyundai covering the fuel cell angle, and Kia the BEV side. The problem with them, is with only one vehicle on each side, they are still not committing much either way.

VW group is currently selling, in Europe:
– VW e-up!
– VW e-Golf (262 delivered in May in Germany)
– VW XL1 (limited run)
– Porsche Panamera S E Hybrid
– Porsche 918 Spyder (limited run)
Coming this year:
– VW Golf GTE (PHEV)
– Audi A3 Sportsback e-Tron (hopefully this winter)
Coming next year:
– VW Passat PHEV

(+ announcements of 2 long range BEVs by Audi, Porsche Cayenne PHEV, Porsche 911 PHEV, …)

Big chances the 3 upcoming PHEV models will all be bestsellers.

Anything more?

Yeah, I think with the e-Golf, E-Up!, and Golf PHEV, . . . VW is definitely real.

The etron stuff is a joke but the VW’s are enough to be real . . . just as real as Nissan now.

Aren’t all VW plugins conversions ? More like Ford than Nissan.

No . . . not really. They waited until they redid the car chassis and then designed it in a manner to accommodate all kinds of drivetrains: ICE, hybrid, plug-in hybrid, pure EV, and diesel.

So they are not designed specifically to be plug-ins, but they are not mere conversions either.

That’s really the right way to do it, and ultimately where Ford is going as well.

The next generation Focus (2016/2017) is the first to be designed that way, which will eliminate the awkward battery placement problem in the current “conversion”.

I’m not so sure how serious Nissan is anymore. Not taking any cred from the Leaf but why haven’t they launched any other models since then? (I know the e-NV200 is coming soon, but I’m talking about cars).

Starting something and then stagnating doesn’t really show commitment. I would definitely hold VW higher than Nissan today, and even more so tomorrow.

Because sales are a fraction of what they thought they would be.
You can’t just turn out cars regardless of demand.

There would have been plenty of demand for a PHEV Outlander, Altima or Qashqai.

Do they even have anything in the works?

That is what they thought about the Leaf and the Zoe, and they are set up to produce far more than they are.

They have massively missed sales targets, and that is not to diss the considerable real progress they have made.

Electric vehicles are coming, just not as fast as Nissan/Renault thought.

There is a Qashqui PHEV coming.

I agree. Nissan deserves props for launching the Leaf. And they worked hard to reduce the cost. But they haven’t done anything since then. No PHEV. Even the eNV-200 is just the same Leaf drivetrain in the eNV-200 body.

Hopefully they’ll at least provide a larger battery option soon. I doubt they’ll provide another model soon. :-/

In my mind the answer to this post headline question will be known when we find out which auto maker(s) will partner with Tesla in using their battery charging technology and supporting the growth of the Supercharging Network.


I’m going to love the day that Toyota and Honda have to admit they were wrong and produce some serious plug-in vehicles.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

By then, they’ll be 2+ generations behind BMW and GM, assuming those companies don’t get mismanaged by complete retards. And with GM, that could be a close-run thing!

Yeah, GM already mismanaged with the over-priced ELR flop.

I think you miss the elephant in the room, FCV can easily be switched to BEV. Remove the fuel cell, remove the hydrogen tanks, replace with a battery pack. Toyota can easily adapt.

Yeah . . . I’ve got some pre-schadenfreude as well.

I think they are focusing way too much on the fast-refill aspect of FCVs and failing to appreciate the advantages of filling up at home with cheap electricity and the fact that 90+% you don’t care if it refills slow because it is done while you sleep.

The problem here is that until you own an EV, you don’t really understand the “refueling” paradigm shift of charging overnight. This in turn leads to people trying to replicate the Filling Station model. The CARB fast refueling credits are just one example of this ignorance.



People really need to drive an EV for a few months to understand the refueling model is different, and much better for most people.


Exactly, even now people seem concerned about how long it takes to charge. I never give it a second thought how long it takes to charge my LEAF. I have it set to end time automatic charging so it’s always full by the morning.

The only time I care about the speed of charging is at the rapid chargers, that could definitely do with improving but Tesla are making good progress with that. Eventually they’ll be hardly any advantage of a fuel cell vehicle over a battery in terms of range and refuelling time.

They’re hedging their bets; The FCV has an EV as the core; they add a FC for the increased ZEV credits. If BEVs prove to be the car to build, they remove the FC.

Re: Toyota … don’t forget the Sion iQ which was to go n sale, but could not compete on price and performance. Only deployed in a limited car-sharing service in California. The iQ however stills earns some CARB credits for Toyota.

The statement “Tesla was born out of CEO Elon Musk’s vision for an electric future for the automobile industry and his drive to make that happen as soon as possible.” Is not correct. While Elon was not the founder of Tesla.

Tesla was born out of Martin Eberhard’s vision. Elon was initially an investor with a similar vision.

Technically true.. Elon may not have given birth to Tesla, but has certainly raised it from infancy.

Elon also kicked Tesla’s founding father out of his house and then moved in himself! I’m sure Martin Eberhard didn’t tell Elon “All our company are belong to you.” 😀

“Eberhard grew Tesla Motors from two people to a team of 280 people in 4 countries, with expertise across the disciplines needed to create a car company. Along the way, he raised over $100M from both Venture Capitalists and angel investors. He led the development of the Roadster from inception through design and testing including the stringent safety testing required by the US Department of Transportation, and also including performance and range tests that validate his original claims of 0-60 mph in less than 4 seconds, and nearly 250 miles range per charge.

Even before the first Tesla car shipped, Eberhard’s vision had a deep impact on the auto industry and the public perception of what an electric car can be. For example, recently Bob Lutz, Vice-Chairman of General Motors, publicly commented that he restarted GM’s electric car program, creating the upcoming Chevy Volt as a direct response to the Tesla Roadster.”


Tittle: By EVs in the article title, assume the focus is PEVs (plug-ins) as FCVs are really just FCEVs (yes, EV drivetrains, but the hydrogen marketing folks don’t talk much about it 😉

Next year (2015) Chysler/Fiat will still be selling the Fiat 500e (and likely through 2018, or 2020). There commitment listed as “Non-existent”, while Honda is listed as “Low” and won’t sell any PEVs in 2015-2020. Subjective, but have to give Fiat credit as the 500e will likely be sold as long as a 500 (gas) is sold and CARB credits are mandated.

Hyundai/Kia (Low): plans to sell 5000 Soul EVs ths year and next. Would say their commitment has to be higher than Honda and Toyota (also “Low”), but not offering a PEV model beyond 2014. Perhaps, “minimal” commitment should be a level for OEMs have yet to sell 500 PEVs per month? (ie: compliance only)

Yeah, I think ‘non-existent’ was too low for Chrysler. Despite Sergio’s trolling, Fiat has built over 4000 of the Fiat 500es. That is more than Spark EVs, Toyota RAV4s, or Honda Fit EVs.

The 500e credits are to offset all of the Dodge sales in CA, so they are going to have to sell a lot more “$14k loss” cars come 2018.

A FCV is really an EV with a FC generator installed. The FC is used to keep the traction battery charged and, depending on the design, can drive the motor directly in cruise mode; acceleration and power modes are handled by the battery and FC working together. The FC is like an expensive sophisticated range extender.

The car companies will seriously build BEVs and maybe FCVs, when a low-cost, low-mass, high density traction battery is available in quality. At this point EVs are considered profit risks and the IC cars are sure things.

Tesla’s Giga Factory is the driving force behind BEVs because the first lab with “The Better Battery” accepted for production will be richly rewarded.

Pretty accurate list, IMHO.

That Volt II pic is interesting. The Volt II looks larger and more aerodynamic.

Jay, perhaps you could get your head around the fact that a fuel cell vehicle is electric.

If you want to write an article on what you see as the commitment of various makers to batter electric cars, fine, but at least get your terminology right.

How can you think straight about a subject when you muddle the distinctions?

Dave, A fuel cell electric vehicle is nothing like a vehicle that is powered by electricity…everyone understands the fundamental difference. To make a long convoluted argument that there is no difference between the two only muddies the waters to self-serve those who wish to not draw a comparison. Yes, both terms have the word electric in them…but that is where the similarity basically ends.A FCEV is a vehicle that converts (on board) a specific chemical energy from a fuel into electricity to run a motor. An true electric vehicle is one that stores and then utilizes the end product (electricity) but does not create it. An “EV” such as a LEAF or Tesla Model S can still ultimately be powered via hydrogen if that is your fancy, or petrol, or coal; but also has the option to be powered via solar or wind generation, etc. Now, if that FCEV is of the extended range, plug-in variety…then we can bend the rules enough to bring it into the EV family, as the general public does not have a good working understand of the difference between a PHEV and a PEV – in those cases we often use the word “EV” generically.… Read more »

“An true electric vehicle is one that stores and then utilizes the end product (electricity) but does not create it.”

Jay, I respectfully disagree with your definition of a true EV since it would exclude vehicles like the Solar Impulse electric airplane.


“Now, if that FCEV is of the extended range, plug-in variety…then we can bend the rules enough to bring it into the EV family. . . .”

Start bending Jay! Hawaii is getting a plug-in fuel cell shuttle bus. 😀



This is all about proper definitions. Since energy is the problem alt fuel vehicles need to solve energy should be the basis of any definition/classification of vehicles in the context of green cars.

That means that cars can only be defined as electric to the extend they use energy from an external source for their propulsion.

BEVs do that all the time, PHEVs some of the time but hydrogen vehicles never do that so there is no more point in calling them electric cars than in calling regular (non plug-in) hybrids electric cars.

So, once again sub dividing as the fancy takes you.

Perhaps the catchy term you are looking for is electric vehicles solely using mains-supplied electricity.

An electric vehicle as such is clearly one which runs on electricity whether externally supplied or internally generated, however little that suits your book.

Nope, my definition for electric vehicles has always been that vehicles are only EVs to the extend they use energy from an external source for their propulsion, because it’s the only one that makes sense from the perspective of solving energy related problems.

If you prefer a powertrain related definition that’s your choice but it isn’t particularly helpful for those interested in solving energy related problems.

Basically what sets electric cars apart from hydrogen vehicles is that they do away with the need for hydrogen as an intermediate energy carrier improving efficiency and flexibility of energy source and generally avoid the rather colossal problems that come with the hydrogen territory.

As such they have a far better perspective for solving energy related problems than hydrogen cars and therefore a lot more popular support so I do understand the current drive of the hydrogen lobby to tap into that popularity by disingenuously calling fuel cells just a different type of battery.

FCEVs have an electric motor and no ICE.
That makes them far as much an electric vehicle as the Volt.

The clue is in the term ‘Electric Vehicle’.

Altering the very straightforward definition of that term because you don’t happen to fancy fuel cells is not on.

If you want to discuss battery only electric vehicles, then the correct term to use is obvious.

As for the rest, perhaps you don’t realise that by far the biggest customer of the gas industry is the electric industry.

Regardless of what solar advocates think, massive amounts of electricity will continue to come from gas for decades.

It hardly seems likely then that the gas part of the fossil fuel industry is against electric vehicles, and the sweeping claim that the fossil fuel industry is frightened of electric cars is plainly false.

That is more sloppy definitions and imprecise thinking in operation.

No, what matters if we try to come up with a proper definition from an energy viewpoint is the form in which the energy enters the vehicle. That way we can distinguish between gasoline vehicles, diesel vehicles, cng vehicles, hydrogen vehicles, electric vehicles and what not.

The fact that somewhere in the vehicles electric motors do their bit in the propulsion isn’t all that interesting, what one needs to feed the beast however is. Beasts that will only eat hydrogen are a lot more high maintenance than the sort that will just take the electrons without the need of an intermediate energy carrier.

What makes zero sense is to seek to include the Volt as an electric vehicle whilst excluding FCEVs.

The Volt plugs in and can operate solely from that energy acquired via the plug…if the FCV plugs-in and operates in the same manner, it will be included in the discussion, it is as simple as that. If a vehicle solely utilizes a particular fuel source in order create electricity, it will not.

If the Volt didn’t plug-in, and for some reason burned petrol only as a generator to propel a traction motor, it would not be included here in discussions about EVs.

I know you don’t agree, but unfortunately that is the way it is. We just aren’t going to put in a special disclaimer in every article to be inclusive of a FCV…at least not at this point in time when the business model has not been proven, and hardly anyone owns one.


Well said Jay.


O for an edit function.

Concisely it is clear that under the heading ‘Electric Vehicle’ there are subdivisions, with one headed ‘External electricity supply’ and the other: ‘Internally generated Electricity’

There are further subdivisions below this, where on occasion power is transmitted directly to the wheels without being mediated by electricity,as in most plug ins.

In any event it is perfectly plain that FCEV’s are included in electric vehicles.

That is what the flow chart says, and it is a nonsense to set it up any other way.

Hey Jay, I agree with your comment here (or at least I really, really want to!), but to play devil’s advocate for a minute… Couldn’t one argue that a battery itself is also a chemical reaction to create electricity, just like a fuel cell?

Once upon a time, the mantra was posted. It does not declare one type inferior, it simply draws a line. The way I understood it, this is how InsideEVs wanted to distinguish themselves from other sites. Yes it limits their material but it focuses on the information that they choose to write about. I don’t mind the conversations about HEVs and FCEVs but I do respect the mantra.

You certainly could argue that point, (; That is kinda the issue you can endlessly struggle with if you never draw the line.

ps to Mark) The Toyota FCV is out today in the US, so we are going to temporary break a rule and feature that event in a story today. Just to show we can be flexible/accommodating from time-to-time, (=

Update –> here is the story:
Toyota Fuel Cell Sedan Makes US Debut Today

Jay, I also respectfully disagree with your definition of “EV”. An EV is a vehicle with an electric drivetrain. Period. The source of power for the electric motor can be batteries, fuels including hydrogen used in a fuel cell, or even an onboard gasoline generator.

You’re trying to define “EV” as “BEV”. The category is broader than that.

Sure, BEVs have the potential to be (and where “green” power is used to charge them, actually are) the most efficient, lowest-polluting use of energy to power a vehicle. But that doesn’t make them the only EVs.

The FCV is about as electric as a pure gasoline hybrid. It’s not even a plug-in. The fuel pathway is completely different from any “electric”. Even being inclusive of PHEVs is bending things a lot; being inclusive of the FCV is going even further (in the same category as pure gasoline hybrids).


They are clearly a different type of electric vehicle.

That does not mean that they are not an electric vehicle.

Fortunately we already have the very handy term ‘battery electric vehicle’ if that is what you wish to discuss.

I’m not sure what issue you are having then. If you agree that including FCVs is equivalent to including a pure gasoline hybrid, the problem with using your definition of “EV” in this context is entirely clear. You are advocating that we count every vehicle that has “electric drive” in it when using the term “EV” (which might be correct in technical discussion). The reason we don’t want that on this site is because it muddies the water. This community only considers cars that use electricity from the grid as EVs because it covers to a lot of related issues that only these type of cars will have to consider (including public AC/DC charging infrastructure, electricity pricing/generation/infrastructure, home/work EVSEs, etc.). “Fortunately we already have the very handy term ‘battery electric vehicle’ if that is what you wish to discuss.” Unfortunately that is not the right term either (esp. for the type of vehicles Jay is talking about). Some EVs can use super-capacitors, so BEV won’t be the right term. Plus colloquially, before GM invented the “EREV” term to try to hijack/redefine EV, everyone you talk to knows EV means a car powered solely by electricity (no ICE on-board). Even accepting… Read more »

FCEVs have battery pack (~2-4 kWh) simiar in size to a PHEV to capture regen energy, but the motor and power electronics are similar to a BEV. The missing components are an on-board charger and plug to enable charging and operation from sources other than the fuel cell power. The only difference is battery capacity to enable plug-in charging options in addition to electricity from the hydrogen powered fuel cell.

Surprised to never see discussions or PFCEV concepts … even a 10-15 mile battery only range should be possible from a plugged in change. A 30-45 mile battery range (~10 kWh battery) could enable 90%+ of daily commuting trips to be completed using battery only. The choice on battery capacity is non-technical, it is purely a business decision outside of what customers are requesting.

I have been talking to Jay about posting an Op Ed on the PFCEV subject.

To Davemart: The mantra here is “if it has a plug”. You argument would apply to HEVs too. I applaud HEVs and often do here but respect the mantra.

But to Brian’s question, if FCVs really wanting to be an EV, would they not start with an EREV? The majority of Volt drivers have very infrequent stops for petrol. Would this not be the perfect answer to the chicken-or-the-egg hydrogen infrastructure problem for hydrogen?

I followed the Honda Clarity for years and was especially intrigued by the promise of a home fueling station. The idea of producing your own energy was intoxicating to me. Then Chevy offered a solution that could be plugged into a 110V outlet and I could capture sunlight to power it.

But again to Brian’s question: Why are there no hydrogen EREVs?

I jumped to a range extender when in fairness should consider the entire PFCEV range in the discussion. I favor the 40 miles range in that the need for stopping would be diminished to a third.

Really the answer is pretty clear why they will not do this. As a HUGE EREV fan, even I would admit that some day in the future need for the extender will disappear even in rural area. This is the clear reason an FCEV will never offer more than 20 miles. Why build out an infrastructure to watch it go away in under 20 years.

The real hydrogen question to me is not the battle over light duty vehicles buy who will win over long distance freight? Will it be hydrogen, CNG, or LNG?

And some day in the distant future we will have an edit button.

Don’t forget about Subaru.

(but I still rate them as “weak”)

The fuel cell vehicle is similar to diesel-electric trains. Diesel electric trains are hybrids. They have relatively low speed diesel generators that make electricity. (800-1100 rpm) The resultant electricity that is generated is sent to the electric traction motors that actually drive the train wheels. Both hydrogen and diesel are fossil fuels. The hydrogen fuel cell vehicle uses hydrogen from natural gas and turns it into electricity. Until you can show me how to extract Hydrogen from something other than fossil fuels, I will consider the fuel cell vehicle just another fossil fuel vehicle just like diesel-electric trains Fuel cell vehicles and diesel-electric trains both run on fossil fuels, yet some claim they are electric. They are actually hybrids and both rely completely on fossil fuels to produce the electricity for the electric traction motors that actually turn the wheels. The fuel cell turns stored hydrogen (natural gas) into electricity. The gen-set on diesel trains uses stored diesel fuel to make electricity. Which is why the oil companies, the natural gas companies and the hydrogen bottlers are holding their breath with crossed fingers in anticipation of the fuel cell. They can’t wait, They are wringing their hands in anticipation and… Read more »

There are existing facilities that produce hydrogen from organic waste. One such facility is a sewage treatment plant in Orange County, CA. They make biogas from the sewage and from that make electricity, heat, and hydrogen. There are also existing facilities that use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. However, you are right in the fact that these are basically demonstration projects and cannot compete economically with steam reformed natural gas hydrogen production.

would be sweet if all the hydrogen we need for our cars could come from sewage.

Hydrogen is not a fossil fuel per se.
That is obvious when one considers that one third of Californian vehicle hydrogen is mandated to come from non-fossil sources, with similar proportions likely in Europe, whilst South Korea can run 500,000 FCEVs from hydrogen produced as an industrial by product..

Your equation of hydrogen with fossil fuels is about as true as equating battery electric vehicles with fossil fuels, as a very high proportion of electricity comes from them.

Hydrogen is not a fuel at all. It’s an energy carrier. =)

Yeah Toyota kept referring to hydrogen as fuel in their ridiculous hour long press conference. It’s no more a fuel than electricity is, *sigh*.

Technically diesel-electric trains are not hybrids. Neither are cruse ships and earthmovers which also have diesel-electric drivetrains. A second energy source, usually a battery, would have to be added to make them hybrids.


A better word for GM would be “schizophrenic”.

There’s a high level of commitment in the strategy, R&D and engineering teams, and it shows in the product. But there is lower commitment in marketing, finance and product planning, which results in poor sales and goofy concepts like the ELR. And senior management is just confused, especially since Lutz isn’t there to drive it anymore (although senior management was probably happy to find out their EVs don’t have mechanical ignition switches…).

Mazada is completely non-existent also!

As is Mazda. 😉

If someone, or some group, here wants to restrict discussion only to street legal, highway-capable, plug-in EV passenger cars sold in North America, then they should label the discussion that way.

And not claim the discussion is about “EVs” in general. EVs include such things as diesel-electric train locomotives, golf carts, e-bikes, electric motorcycles, fork lifts, and even electrically powered boats and sailplanes.

It also includes the low-speed EVs variously referred to as “LSVs” or “NEVs”. The best selling EV in Europe is the Renault Twizy. Even if it was sold in North America, it wouldn’t appear on this website’s “Monthly Plug-in Sales Scorecard”, because it’s a LSV.

If y’all want to exclude fuel cell EVs from discussion, then you can at -least- use the more restrictive acronym “PEVs”, for Plug-in Electric Vehicles. Personally, I’ll continue to use the acronym “EV” for what it actually means. And that is: Any vehicle with a drivetrain powered by electricity. That certainly includes FCVs (Fuel Cell Vehicles).

If I want to specify “Street legal, highway-capable, plug-in EV passenger cars and light trucks sold in North America”, which is the focus of this website, then I won’t use a much more general term like “EVs”.

Also missing from the article is Renault. Agreed that it’s in the same group as Nissan, but they are a serious car manufacturer in Europe (one of the biggest).

Renault has so far released 4 battery EV’s:

– Fluence: 4 door sedan with battery swap technology from Better Place (discontinued)
– Kangoo EV: electric conversion of the popular minivan
– Twizzy: small motorcycle-car cross over, mostly for inner city use
– Zoé: 4 door hatchback, with competitive pricing and attractive looks. Very well received by the automotive press in Europe. Has a good range of 210km (vs 199 for the LEAF on the same NEDC test).

Maybe they don’t sell in the USA, but their commitment to BEV’s is definitely serious.

A very serious player, though currently focused solely on the Chinese market is Kandi Technologies (Nasdaq: KNDI) and their JV partner Geely. Plug-in and proven battery swap technology, as well as a nifty “vending machine” rental program

As you know it all started WITH reuse-able energy, that the key RE-usable and what is the most re-usable energy SOLAR. (Electic)

Yes the car is made to go from point A, to point B with a little Style.

In your book you what “MORE”.

ITS re-usable.

Get the point

Back to the subject of this post:
Only Tesla and Nissan have been really determined and make as many Electrics as they can. Now BMW and FORD seem to be for real but the others all seem to be compliance 1,100 only just to meet the California mandate.