Nissan LEAF sales continue to impress

2013 Nissan LEAF

Hybrid cars have been growing in popularity for years, but now we’re starting to see the demand for electric vehicles increase as well. The Nissan LEAF is a good example. October sales set a record at 2,002 vehicles, an increase of 26.8 percent over last year’s numbers. LEAF deliveries are up 166.2 percent in 2013 and have set 8 consecutive monthly sales records.

If you’ve been considering an EV, not might be a good time to start looking as prices have been coming down. That has helped to fuel LEAF sales. Of course when considering an EV it’s all about lifestyle. What ranges will you be driving and can the EV handle that. As we get more electric charging stations the issue of range anxiety will start to go away, but for many people that is still an issue.

  

Honda Accord Hybrid gets good reviews

Honda Accord Hybrid reviews

The market for hybrids is heating up as more popular nameplates are getting hybrid versions. The Honda Accord has been one of the most popular four-door sedans for decades, and with this hybrid version it will get plenty of attention in the marketplace.

The reviews have been very positive. Bullz-Eye.com was impressed with the fuel mileage and hybrid engine features:

I drove the Accord Hybrid on a wide variety of roads and found the vehicle to be very responsive. In one of the city setting we were challenged to try to get the highest gas mileage along a prepared route. Once you get the hang of how the Hybrid works you can achieve some very impressive mileage numbers in slow traffic areas.

The Accord Hybrid achieves impressive fuel economy ratings with 50 MPG city, 45 MPG highway and 47 MPG combined by using a two-motor hybrid system called Intelligent Multi-Mode Drive (i-MMD) that continuously cycles between three different modes (EV drive, hybrid drive and engine drive) to maximize fuel efficiency. The gas engine powers a generator in most driving conditions which then provides energy to charge the hybrid battery and/or for the electric motor to power the wheels. The i-MMD can also operate on gasoline engine power only, usually during medium- to high-speed cruising.

The folks at Edmunds noted that Honda made the correct choice this time to focus on fuel economy over performance:

The 2014 Honda Accord Hybrid is EPA rated at 50 mpg in the city and 45 mpg on the highway. More importantly, the combined rating is 47 mpg, and Honda’s new two-motor hybrid system (introduced last year with the Accord Plug-In Hybrid) aims to deliver those numbers to all but the incurably lead-footed.

Hybrids are becoming more sophisticated as pointed out by Autoblog:

So, let’s start there, with the powertrain. It’s a complicated mess to understand if you’re not a Honda engineer (and maybe even then), but it’s a complicated mess that works well.

You can also choose the plug-in hybrid model as well with the Accord, so we definitely have a new entry that will give consumers even more choices in this market. It’s clear you no longer have to sacrifice styling and comfort if you’re looking to be green or just save on gas costs.

  

Issues regarding the export of natural gas

The fracking boom has led to low prices and high supplies of natural gas in the United States, which makes consumers and manufacturers who use natural gas very happy. But prices overseas are much higher, so there are 19 applications to sell liquefied natural gas overseas, and many are watching to see what the Obama administration will decide.

In Europe and Asia, where natural gas sells for $10 to $16 per million British thermal units—three to four times the U.S. price—demand is high. Imports from the U.S. could also give European countries greater power to bargain on prices with Russia’s Gazprom (OGZD), now a dominant supplier of natural gas. All that’s missing are the U.S. facilities to liquefy gas for export.

There’s a ton of money to be made for gas producers, and the natural gas could replace coal, which is growing as an export to Europe. Since natural gas is cleaner, many argue that allowing exports would be good for the environment.

But there is opposition from domestic manufacturers who don’t want to see natural gas prices go up. The article linked above points out that “Paul Cicio, president of the Washington-based trade group Industrial Energy Consumers of America, has called for delaying approvals for some new export terminals to avoid a domestic price shock.”

Stay tuned . . .

  

Will we see natural gas cars?

With natural gas being so cheap, there’s a push from producers to showcase how compressed natural gas can be used in cars. The issues involve things like trunk space since the fuel requires much more space, and also fueling stations. Trucking companies are setting up fueling stations for well-defined routes, but for someone who wants to buy a car we’re a very long way off.

With all the options surrounding alternative fuel vehicles, it seems like these are a long shot in the short term.

  

Whether to buy an electric car

With tax credits and lower prices from manufacturers, particularly lease deals, we’re starting to see an increase in sales for electric cars. Automakers have a huge incentive to sell these vehicles in order to comply with regulatory mandates.

  

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