Detroit Three's electrified vehicle plans
GM to put 500,000 electrified vehicles on U.S. roads by 2017
Ford C-Max Energi PHV in the center, C-Max HV on the right, from the Detroit Auto Show 2014
Reported below is the Hybrid Vehicle (HV), Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle (PHV) and Electric Vehicle (EV) plans for the Detroit Three (GM, Ford, and Fiat-Chrysler Group).
General Motors (GM) has ended developing the Two-mode hybrid system to concentrate on the eAssist mild-HV, PHV and EV systems. GM is committed to achieve cumulative sales of 500,000 electrified vehicles in the U.S. by 2017.
Ford launched the new-generation HVs, PHVs and EVs in 2012 and sold 87,776 units of them in the U.S. in 2013 (2.5-fold increase year on year). The company will launch hybrid versions in its full-size pickup and SUV lineup by 2020. In order to accelerate its HV and EV development, Ford is hiring more development engineers and increasing capital investment.
Chrysler currently sells the Fiat 500e in California, the U.S. The company's stance was to wait for electric vehicle technology and market to grow before developing electrified vehicles on its own. In 2013, however, Chrysler began joint research with the McMaster University in Canada, and started hiring engineers to strengthen its electrified vehicle development capacity. Plans for Tesla Motors and other emerging manufacturers will be covered in a separate report.
Toyota aggressively adds all-new models to HV lineup (posted in October 2013)
Honda introduces three types of HV; Mitsubishi shows EV-derived PHV (posted in October 2013)
Unit sales of HVs, PHVs and EVs in the U.S.
GM: to put 500,000 electrified vehicles on U.S. road by 2017
GM uses the eAssist mild-hybrid system on its mid- to large-size passenger cars and the Two-mode hybrid system on the full-size pickups and SUVs. The company also sells the Volt plug-in hybrid. GM launched the Chevrolet Spark EV, its first electric vehicle, in the summer of 2013.
GM installed the eAssist system on the fully-redesigned Chevrolet Impala in the fall of 2013. Then, in early 2014, the company released its second plug-in hybrid model, the Cadillac ELR.
GM was developing the new Two-mode hybrid system but discontinued the effort due to its slow sales. Therefore, the Two-mode hybrid system has not been used for the full-size pickup or SUVs since the new models launched in the fall of 2013.
As for electrification development, GM will concentrate on the eAssist mild-hybrid system, PHVs and EVs. Specifically, the company will install the eAssist system on more models.
In November 2012, GM announced that it was committed to achieve cumulative sales of 500,000 vehicles with some form of electrification in the U.S. by 2017. This goal was reaffirmed in the 2012 Sustainability Report that was announced in July 2013.
GM: Unit sales of HVs and EVs in the U.S.
|Mild hybrid vehicle (eAssist)||Buick LaCrosse||-||-||-||-||1,801||12,010||7,133|
|Mild hybrid vehicle (Belt-alternator starter system)||Chevrolet Malibu||-||2,093||4,162||405||24||-||-|
|Saturn (model name unknown)||-||-||-||105||-||-||-|
|Two-mode Hybrid||Cadillac Escalade||-||801||1,958||1,210||819||708||372|
|(Notes) 1.||The 2014 Chevrolet Impala was fully-redesigned using the same platform as the Buick LaCrosse. The new Impala Eco was launched, equipped with eAssist mild hybrid system and a 2400cc engine.|
|2-1.||GM discontinued developing the Two-mode hybrid system due to its slow sales. Therefore, the Two-mode hybrid system has not been featured in the new models of full-size pickups and SUVs launched since the fall of 2013. No future plans have been announced about the electrification of full-size pickups and SUVs.|
|2-2.||BMW, Daimler and Chrysler that developed the Two-mode hybrid with GM have also discontinued installation of Two-mode hybrid system.|
|3.||The Cadillac ELR is a PHV that shares the powertrain with the Chevrolet Volt. Unlike the five-door hatchback Volt, the Cadillac ELR is a coupe fitted with better suspension and high-end interior. The price starts at USD 75,995 (USD 34,995 for the Volt). GM expects to sell about 3000 units in North American markets alone with the hope of improving the impression for the Cadillac brand.|
|4.||In summer 2013, GM began producing the Chevrolet Spark EV in Korea. The EV is sold initially in California and Oregon to take advantage of applicable tax credits for EVs there. It is now sold in Korea as well. The Chevrolet Spark EV has a cruising range of 82 miles per charge.|
GM: cutting price of next-generation Chevrolet Volt by USD10,000
GM has cut the price of the 2014 Chevrolet Volt by USD 5,000. The company reportedly is planning to slash USD10,000 for the new model which is slated for launch in the latter half of 2015.
Sales of EVs and PHVs are not increasing as initially expected about three years ago when the Volt and Nissan Leaf debuted. The slow demand for EVs is attributable to the high price, cruising range and the shortage of charging infrastructure. As for PHVs, their low popularity in the market is due, aside from the price, to the lack of understanding among customers for the difference between PHVs and EVs. GM believes it can boost the potential demand for PHVs by patiently informing the customers of the excellent characteristics such as higher fuel economy and extended cruising ranges.
On the other hand, USD 6,400 price cut of the Nissan Leaf was a big factor behind the 2.3-fold year-over-year increase of its sales in the U.S. in 2013. It is said that GM (and other OEMs launching EVs and PHVs in the market) are developing electrified vehicles anticipating a sudden rise in future demand in the course of technological renovation and increase of charging infrastructure.
Cutting the cost of the next-generation Chevrolet Volt by USD10,000
|USD 5,000 price cut for the 2014 model||The price of the 2014 Chevrolet Volt launched in 2013 was slashed by USD 5,000, without much change in the specifications. The price starts at USD 34,995. After applying a USD 7,500 federal tax credit, the actual price will be USD 27,495.|
|During the three and half years after market launch, the Volt has gone through a series of cost reduction efforts. According to GM, the PHV is a brand new vehicle whose initial cost is high, but has more room for cost reduction than other models that are in the market longer.|
|USD 10,000 cost reduction for the next-generation models||The next-generation Volt is slated for market launch in late 2015 and is said to cost USD 10,000 less per unit. The company is considering replacing the four-cylinder 1400cc gasoline engine generator with a three-cylinder 1200cc or 1000cc engine.|
(Note) In 2013, Nissan moved production of the Leaf and lithium-ion batteries for North American markets from Japan to the Smyrna plant in the U.S. In addition, Nissan started in-house production of the electric motors at the Decherd plant and removed navigation systems and the Carwings telematics service from the equipment list. As a result, the base price of the vehicle was slashed by USD 6,400 to USD 28,800 (It will be USD21,300 after applying the US$7,500 federal tax credit). This has made the Leaf a good competitor for gasoline-powered compact cars and has led to a 2.3-fold year on year increase in sales in the U.S. in 2013 from 9,819 to 22,610 units.
Ford: 88,000 hybrid and electric vehicles sold in U.S. in 2013
In 2012, Ford released six models in its present lineup of HVs and EVs (Fusion HV and PHV, C-MAX HV and PHV, Focus EV, and Lincoln MKZ HV). In 2013, Ford sold 87,776 units in the U.S., achieving a 2.5-fold year-over-year increase. According to Ford, many Toyota Prius users replaced their vehicles with the C-Max HV. While Toyota maintains the top share in the hybrid vehicle market, Ford is climbing closer to Toyota in the full-hybrid segment.
Ford and Toyota have dissolved partnership for joint development of Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD) large-size HVs. Ford currently plans to develop RWD full-size pickup and SUV hybrids on its own by 2020 and to further launch RWD hybrid vehicles in new segments.
Electrified vehicle development is an important part of Ford's product lineup plan. In 2013, Ford increased the number of electrification engineers by 50 percent to 500 (eventually to 1000). The company also made an additional investment of USD 50 million in its development and testing facilities. These decisions are made to accelerate the company's development of HVs and EVs and expand its product lineup.
Ford: Unit sales of HVs and EVs in the U.S.
|(Notes) 1.||In August 2011, Ford and Toyota agreed to a joint development of hybrid systems for RWD light trucks. The plan was terminated in July 2013 and the two companies started developing such systems separately.|
|2.||The termination of the partnership is causing a significant delay for Ford in launching large-size RWD hybrid vehicles. Ford currently plans to launch hybrid versions for the full-size pickup (F-150) and SUVs by 2020 to meet EPA's average fleet fuel economy requirement of 54.5mpg for 2025MY light vehicles. Toyota will launch its counterparts in or after 2016.|
Fiat-Chrysler: to jointly develop HVs and EVs with McMaster Univ. in Canada
In December 2012, Chrysler started production of the Fiat 500e at its plant in Mexico. The electric vehicle is sold only in California, the U.S. The Fiat 500e is reportedly sold only for 405 units in 2013, creating a US$10,000-per-unit loss for Chrysler. The State of California regulates that 15.4 percent of the 2025MY vehicles sold by an OEM should be zero-emission vehicles (ZEV).
In 2008, Chrysler discontinued selling the Chrysler Aspen and Dodge Durango HVs (fitted with the Two-mode hybrid system co-developed with GM). Chrysler judged that the consumers were not ready to accept extra costs for battery and motor of electrifed vehicles. With this notion, Chrysler decided to concentrate on vehicles powered by Fiat's diesel engines and turbocharged engines.
In October 2013, however, Chrysler entered into a five-year partnership with McMaster University in Canada and embarked on joint development of electrified powertrains and powertrain components. According to Automotive News dated September 23, 2013, Chrysler started to recruit electrified vehicle engineers in line with its product planning. In order to be compliant with higher fuel economy standards in Europe and U.S. in the future, Chrysler will develop and launch “belt starter generator” start-stop systems, and a wide variety of PHVs and EVs in the markets.
Chrysler partners with McMaster University in Canada for HV and EV powertrain development
|Background||Legislative and social environments are compelling automakers to deliver technological advancement of electrified vehicles at an unprecedented rate.|
|Objectives||To develop highly energy-efficient, next-generation powertrains and powertrain components for a broad range of electrified vehicles. The partnership will conduct studies on a range of powertrain architecture, electronics, motors, and embedded software and develop prototypes. Since cost reduction is the key to market penetration of electrified vehicles, they will also develop motors that use only a small amount of costly rare-earth metals.|
|Funding||The total project investment of USD 18.2 million will come from Chrysler (USD 9.25 million) and the Canadian Government (USD 8.93 million). The project will last for five years.|
|Research center and engineers||The project will be conducted mainly at McMaster University and will also use Chrysler's laboratories and test vehicles. The project team will consist of 20 Chrysler engineers, seven McMaster research engineers, faculty members, and graduate and undergraduate engineering students. Staff from the University of Trento in Italy and Fiat's central laboratories will also participate in the project.|
Source: Press releases from each company and media reports
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