Week in Review: The Rise and Fall of the Electric Car and Everything In Between
You would have loved to be in our office this week, especially with some big announcements from two environmental-centric automakers. Fisker looks like it’s circling the drain while rival Tesla is getting ready to expand. On top of that, the suddenly relevant Shanghai Motor Show is just around the corner, and automakers are preparing for that, including one blast from the past: Detroit Electric. Similar in concept to the old Tesla Roadster, it’s adapting a car from Lotus parts and will be expanding.
All of that and more happened in what became a busy week following the New York Auto Show. Let’s take a look at the highlights.
Monday, April 1
Yes, it was April Fool’s Day. But the business world still turned, and not everything was about BMW building another wacky iteration of a car that no one thought they needed. That would happen later in the week. The big news for Monday was pricing and fuel economy numbers were announced for the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. At the bottom, the trucks will start at $24,585, including $995 for destination and handling. The rear-wheel-drive base V-8 model will net 16 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. For more details, engine outputs, and further pricing, follow the article link. There’s a lot more there than what one paragraph can address.
Tuesday, April 2
Our wrapup coverage of the 2013 New York Auto Show came with our list of Studs and Duds, vehicles that, upon first sight, either wowed us or made us want to know what the automakers were thinking. If you couldn’t tell last week from our adulation of the 2014 Cadillac CTS, we’ll tell you it ended up on our Studs list. But what could have possibly been among the duds? With automakers always striving to improve their vehicles, how would one possibly get onto that list? To find out, you’re going to have to check out the list. Let us know if you agree or disagree with our picks.
Wednesday, April 3
Late on Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he’d put his money where his mouth is, offering up a way to get into a 2013 Tesla Model S for roughly $500 per month. He was being a little optimistic, but his point still stood, as he announced that there would be a new financing plan for new customers to the Tesla brand with help from US Bank and Wells Fargo. Immediately, the customer would have to pay 10 percent down, which would be $6,500 to $10,000. From there, 63 (amended from 66 months) of financing would be available to qualified customers at a 2.95-percent interest rate. To most, this doesn’t sound much different than any other financing plan, except that Tesla will allow customers to end it at three years if they don’t want to keep the car.
Thursday, April 4
Maybe this one came three days late. The week after the New York Auto Show, BMW introduced its Concept X4 to debut at the Shanghai Motor Show. Based on the X3 crossover and sharing similar dimensions in all but height, the Sport Activity Coupe X6 sells remarkably well in China. So the smaller X4 is headed there first. Don’t for a second think that the Concept X4, with its massive wheels and outlandish paint, is merely for show. It will be headed to the U.S. in production form, likely as a 2015 model. And, yes, we love the Long Beach Blue, and we think it should find a production vehicle. We just wonder how well this thing will do in BMW’s already saturated lineup in the U.S. where it will be built.
Friday, April 5
Closing the week on a sad note, 75 percent of Fisker Automotive’s employees were laid off in what can only be a signal of further things to come. Ambitiously, Fisker Automotive was created late last decade to build an eco-minded high-end luxury sports sedan. Penned by founder Henrik Fisker, the Fisker Karma was the company’s only product, as it has been limited by financial constraints. Without the ability to find a backer–borrowing U.S. Department of Energy startup loans made it difficult–Fisker started withering away. Reliability issues, fires, hurricanes, and other problems plagued Fisker, and now it’s a much smaller company because of it. Is this the end of the brand? We hope not, but we fear it’s the beginning of its demise.
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By Jacob Brown