Category: ‘Electric Cars’

Fully Autonomous Nissan Leaf May Be Closer Than You Think

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

Autonomous Nissan Leaf

According to any futuristic sci-fi movie from the 1970s, by 2013 we should have been driving flying cars. Unfortunately, while there have been some steps in that direction, no automaker is ready to shake things up quite that much just yet. Autonomous cars, on the other hand, now that’s a goal to shoot for. And if Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has anything to say about it, we may be driving hands-free sooner than you think.

It was just one year ago that Nissan impressed us with their first-ever self-parking car at Japan’s annual Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies show (CEATEC for short). Now, one year later, they’re demonstrating their first ever Autonomous Driving Nissan Leaf prototype. They’ve allowed everyone from journalists to competing CEO Akio Toyoda to go for a ride, and reactions have been glowing all around.

After her test drive, Li Hui, a head producer for Pheonix TV out of Hong Kong, confidently stated that the technology would be wholeheartedly adapted by Chinese drivers if it were available right now.  She felt that women in particular would benefit from autonomous driving, as it would free up the many hours spent commuting each week for other things. Imagine being able to eat breakfast, put on makeup, and otherwise prepare for the day on your way to work. And who wouldn’t want to get some extra sleep in on the way to work as well? Not only would you make better use of your time, you’d be saving money on fuel because it’s an EV, and you’d be safer because the car drives itself perfectly.

Obviously, a fully autonomous vehicle is one of those things you have to see to believe. So, check out the video below and see for yourself:

For our more technologically inclined to readers, the Nissan Leaf drives itself through the use of five lasers and five cameras mounted around the car’s exterior.  The cameras and lasers work together to direct the car safely around a track.  In the video above, you’ll see the Autonomous Driving Nissan Leaf stop at stop signs, drive around a stalled car, yield for other human-operated vehicles, and smoothly glide through u-turns.

In another video, CEO Carlos Ghosn gets behind the wheel for himself and discusses what this debut means for Nissan. He praises his team of engineers for the enormous advancements they’ve made in just one year, but at the same time he acknowledges that the success of this prototype only serves to put more pressure on Nissan. He claims that they will have a commercially available autonomous vehicle by 2020, “at the latest.” That sounds like a recipe for more long nights in the lab for the geeks. Good job the car will be able to drive them home at the end of all of that.

Nissan has already worked out an agreement with the Japanese government to begin testing semi-autonomous vehicles on real roads with real people. According to their tests, the AD Leaf shows better reaction times than any human driver.

Toru Futami, Nissan’s head of IT and ITS Development, says that their end-goal is to have a system that predicts and reacts to every conceivable circumstance, from a child running into the road to another car running a red light. Perfect safety and perfect convenience are the joint objectives, and if the autonomous Nissan Leaf at CEATEC is any indication, both goals will be met sooner rather than later.

Nissan News: Upgraded European Navara and New Mobility Concept Carsharing

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

It’s been a pretty quiet week around the automotive blogosphere.  Most of us are waiting for the next couple of major international motor shows In November – the ones in LA and Tokyo. Chances are, we’ll start to see a steady stream of previews around the beginning of October. Until then, automakers seem to be using this time to focus their media promotion on local markets.

All that to say, we’re going to finish off the week by discussing two new and interesting developments from Nissan, although they may not be directly relevant to every single one of our readers… Keep reading to learn more.

European Market Nissan Navara SV Gets Luxurified

Updated Nissan Navara

This is the new, more luxurious edition of the Nissan Navara LE pickup truck; it’s the SV (special version) edition and it’s exclusive for the European market. Basically, Nissan is looking to appeal to drivers who want a comfortable interior in their pick-up, and a rugged-but-premium exterior.

To accomplish these two goals, Nissan has upgraded the Navara LE SV with 18” chrome-alloy wheels, a brushed steel bar under the front fender, and chrome-wrapped fog lights. Inside, the Navara LE SV gets new Alcantara trim on the seats and accented throughout, while the rest of the upholstery gets upgraded to double-stitched leather.

According to Christian Meola, LCV European Product Manager, “The special version underlines and enhances the appeal of one of the most capable pickups on the market.  Luxurious, sporting and supremely versatile, it is the ultimate Navara.”

The Nissan Navara LE SV will be available with one of two diesel engine configurations; either a 2.5L four-cylinder with 187 hp or a 3.0L V6 with 228 hp.

New Nissan Mobility Concept EV Car Sharing Program

Nissan New Mobility Concept

We’ve been keeping tabs on the Twizy-based Nissan Mobility Concept since the beginning of this year, and it seems as if the Japanese automaker is finally ready to put its urban EV to the test in the real world.  Starting next month, Nissan and the Japanese city of Yokohama will launch the first-ever EV carsharing program using a fleet of 30 Mobility Concept EV’s.

The new car sharing program will be called Choimobi Yokohama, which literally means Mega-Easy Mobility Yokohama. Nissan’s short term goal is to enlarge the fleet up to 100 NMC’s, each of which will be rented out at a rate of ~$12/hr. Rentals will be facilitated through an online reservation system and will include the free use of various parking facilities throughout the city.

This is a big step for Nissan, and if it works out well then Choimobi Yokohama could be the first of many EV carsharing programs around the world. It’s not difficult to imagine similar programs taking off in many other European and Asian markets, although it may not be appealing to U.S. customers for several years yet…  At least, not outside of the ever-trendy Northwest coast.

Thanks for reading, and come back next week for more news about your favorite Japanese cars!

Honda Officially Testing Micro Commuter Prototype

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, July 25th, 2013

There’s a hot new segment of vehicles in town, and Japanese automakers everywhere are clamoring for their piece of the pie. According to Autocar, Honda is the latest competitor in the super-urban EV race with the now official testing of their Honda Micro Commuter prototype.

For those of you completely lost when I say “super-urban EV”, I will refer you to the car that deserves credit for starting the craze – the Renault Twizy. Admittedly, it would be a stretch to call the Twizy a car, but Renault’s moped-quadricycle-Leaf Frankenstein has been a huge success since it hit European streets in 2012. It’s been so successful, in fact, that Nissan has since adopted the Twizy for their own super-urban vehicle, the Nissan Mobility Concept or NMC. Meanwhile, Toyota recently showed us their own take with the i-Road Concept, and finally we’re back to where we started with the latest addition of Honda’s Micro Commuter prototype.

But, even though it appears that Honda’s ingenuity is limited to imitation, don’t let the timeline fool you… Honda has had the Micro Commuter in the works for several years now. The public’s first exposure was at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show when it was presented as a weirdly prismatic, Tron-like vehicle (see below). Then, we saw a more refined version of the Micro Commuter at the end of 2012 with promises that production was on the horizon. And, now that we’re about halfway through 2013, like clockwork, Honda is moving forward with prototype testing.

Honda Micro concept car

Obviously, we still don’t know a whole lot about the Micro Commuter. But, here are the basics that we know for sure:

* The Micro Commuter is a pure EV powered by a surprisingly powerful 15kW lithium-ion battery, compared to the 7kW battery used in the Twizy.
* Just like the Twizy, the NMC and the i-Road Concept, the Micro Commuter features a 1+1 seating arrangement with the driver in the front and a single passenger crammed into the back. But, there’s a twist (more below).
* As of right now, Honda’s super-urban EV has a range of 37 miles, which it can blast through at 50 mph.

Nothing unexpected there. In fact, you might be wondering what the unique selling point is for Honda’s Micro Commuter that sets it apart from the already-well-established EV from Renault. The answer is interesting; Honda plans to separate the Micro Commuter from the competition with a modular design. This would allow the car to be adapted to each driver’s independent needs, as per the photo below:

Honda micro commuter EV

For example, the rear seat could be switched out with a double-seat that would be perfect for two small children. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, Honda says the Micro Commuter would make a perfect urban delivery vehicle if you remove the back seat altogether.

In addition to the interior, the exterior body will apparently feature modular components as well, although we still don’t know exactly what that means. My guess is that we’ll see a production-ready Micro Commuter either at the end of this year or the beginning of 2014. Either way, you’ll get updates as soon as we do, so stay tuned to Integrity Exports for more Japanese car news coming soon.

Sources: Car Scoops, Autoblog

Infiniti’s Luxury EV Facing “Not Significant” Delays

Posted by Stephen On Friday, July 19th, 2013

Okay, okay, maybe “plans” isn’t the right word here. At least, we can safely assume that Carlos Ghosn didn’t WANT to postpone the release of the Leaf-based Infiniti LE, but such is life. With no major updates planned for the Nissan Leaf in 2014, it’s looking like next year might be the first uneventful 365 days for Nissan’s all-electric game-plan in several years.

For those of you who need a refresher course, Infiniti first debuted the LE concept last year at the 2012 New York Motor Show. We saw the concept again earlier this year, this time with the extra detail that in no way, shape, or form would the Infiniti LE ever be released without wireless induction charging. In other words, Ghosn (rightly) feels that a luxury EV should be hands-free and devoid of the normal hassle of charging.

The Infiniti EV was originally scheduled for a 2015 model year, however, earlier this week Andy Palmer told Autonews Europe that there would be some “not significant” delays. Palmer, who is Nissan’s head of global planning, emphasized that this delay is NOT in any way indicative of a decreased interest in electric vehicles, or in delivering those vehicles to luxury drivers. Instead, he cites that, “There are some interesting advances in electric technology we hadn’t anticipated when we showed the LE, which, by delaying a little bit, we can incorporate into the car.”

Furthermore, Palmer hinted that Ghosn and co. had expected a more dominant induction charging system to emerge from the many competing technologies. But, as of right now, they’re still scrambling.

Or could it be that Tesla’s Model S is already well ahead of where Infiniti want to be and their supercharging system could also make their induction charger look old hat before it’s even out of the development stage.

On the other hand, the delay isn’t all bad. In addition to solidifying the use of induction technology, Infiniti also plans to use the extra time to incorporate several new technologies into the Infiniti LE. In fact, Palmer went so far as to state that upcoming developments in lithium ion batteries alone would justify the delay; apparently these improved batteries will allow significant savings while simultaneously increasing driving range and battery capacity. In addition, Infiniti may take this time to incorporate things like water-cooling into their powertrain, which would make the aforementioned improved batteries last longer and perform better.

Even though the Infiniti LE and Nissan Leaf may take a backseat during 2014, that doesn’t mean Nissan won’t be doing anything interesting.

For one, Ghosn will still maintain his goal of 1.5 million EVs by 2015, and Nissan Leafs will continue to sell extremely well. In fact, right now Leafs are selling faster than Nissan can make them.

For two, Nissan has at least one arguably more interesting car coming next year in the form of the new Nissan GT-R, which is getting tweaked, tuned and hybridized. And we haven’t even touched on the next-gen Nissan Rogue or the upcoming Pathfinder Hybrid (although we covered the latter during the 2013 New York Motor Show).

Well, there you have it – consider yourself updated and in-the-know about Nissan’s all-electric plans. If you have anything you’d like to add, feel free to chime in below. Otherwise, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Japanese car-related news coming soon.

Source: Car Scoops

Nissan Updates Us On The Future Of Their Twizy-Based Mobility Concept

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Regular readers will recall an article we published a couple months ago about Nissan’s new Mobility Concept. At the time, we didn’t really get it. As far as we knew, the NMC was simply a Japan-only re-badging of the already existing Twizy. Don’t get me wrong, the Twizy is a great car and I duly noted why Nissan would want one of their own in a market like Japan. But still, I was expecting something more. In the article, I even predicted that we’d be seeing improvements from Nissan before the expected launch in 2015.

Well, earlier this week, we found out exactly what those improvements will be. Basically, Nissan confirmed that their version of Renault’s best-selling city car will address many of the car’s built-in weaknesses in order to move upmarket and eventually sell internationally. More specifically, Nissan says they want to offer drivers the agility and convenience of a motorcycle coupled with the safety and weather-resistance of a car. How do they do that? With a weather-proofed and re-styled Twizy, of course!

Looking Back to the 2008 Land Glider Concept

Nissan Land Glider concept car

The folks who broke the story at Auto News Europe made an interesting connection between the Renault Twizy and an old, easily forgotten Nissan concept from for years past, the Land Glider Concept. The car was originally shown back in 2009, and shows a clear resemblance to the one-year-old Renault Twizy.

What does this mean? Simply that Nissan has been thinking about a city car for at least four years.

Check out this video and see the Land Glider in action:

When questioned about the similarities between the Land Glider Concept and a possible Nissan Twizy-based vehicle, Etienne Henry, Nissan’s head of product strategy and planning, simply replied that, “It was a very interesting concept with very challenging and meaningful technology.” Meaningful? I bet it was, Mr. Henry.

Why Nissan May Not Have a Choice

You might think that this this is a clear act of genius on the part of Nissan. They listened to the masses, heard that the Twizy had a few select problems (such as a harsh suspension), and are now producing a perfectly amended vehicle that everyone will love. They’re moving upmarket because they can make more money that way, or because they know people will pay for their superior city car car, right?

While that very well may be the case and I’m happy to give credit where credit is due, I suspect that the terms of the Renault-Nissan alliance were the primary motivation. Basically, if Nissan wants a Twizy of their own – and they do – then their agreement prohibits them from selling at the same or lower price than the Twizy. So, they’re being smart and making the car better, hopefully enough so that moving upmarket won’t hurt sales too much on a car that’s primary selling point is affordability.

Obviously, all of this makes Nissan’s testing in Japan with the NMC a lot more sensible. You might remember that Japan’s Ministry of Transportation is going to prohibit Nissan from selling their version of the Twizy until they feel that the average driver could handle it safely. The NMC is paving the way for something better.

Even more than last time, I can say with confidence that we will see a lot more improvements between the NMC and the eventual release (hopefully in 2015) of Nissan’s own three-wheeled city car. Rest assured that you’ll get updates as soon as we do. As always, thanks for reading!

Sources: Green Car Reports, Auto News, Car Scoops, Auto Evolution

Honda and Toyota Getting More Aggressive With Hydrogen Fuel Cell Future

Posted by Stephen On Friday, July 5th, 2013

Hydrogen fuel cell cars have had a surprisingly controversial history. Ultimately, it comes down to a weird pseudo-rivalry between HFCs and EVs…

On the one hand, you have brands like Toyota who’ve been very aggressive from the start that H2 cars are the future of the automotive industry. They’ll cite the built-in advantages that come with hydrogen, such as gasoline-like range, more power, and a more convenient refueling time, in addition to zero-emissions and infinite renewability.

Honda hydrogen car

However, on the other hand you have brands like Tesla, who’s CEO swears that hydrogen technology is a dead-end, and that EVs will dominate the near future of the automotive world because of cheaper development costs and current technology.

Now, regular readers will know that we’ve talked quite a bit about the Nissan Leaf, as well as a couple other Japanese all-electric cars over the past few months. So, today we thought it’d be a good idea to check-in on the other side of the argument and identify where our favorite Japanese brands stand in their progress towards HFC viability. More specifically, we’re going to discuss two recent developments from Toyota and Honda.

Honda & GM’s Definitive Master Agreement

On Tuesday of this week, it was officially announced that Honda and GM would be partnering up with a brand-new “definitive master agreement to co-develop next-generation fuel-cell systems and hydrogen storage technologies.”

Quite a mouth-full. To give you a basic rundown of the press release, both GM and Honda recognize that to some degree, the skeptics are right. Hydrogen technology IS expensive, and development WILL take longer simply because of the complex nature of a viable H2 solution. So, the two powerhouse automakers are partnering up to share expertise, leverage economies of scale, and eventually utilize common manufacturing strategies.

Specifically, this master alliance aims to accelerate the development of a widespread refueling system, which stands as one of the biggest hurdles to the widespread use of hydrogen. One of the key ways they’ll do this is through improved hydrogen storage, which currently inhibits the acquisition of commercial hydrogen. Both automakers desire to implement these new technologies by 2020.

But, as promising as this new alliance sounds, there’s one Japanese brand that’s getting even more aggressive, and it’s doing so all by itself.

Toyota Bringing 2015 Lexus FCV-R to 2013 Tokyo Motor Show

Last week, Bloomberg filled us in on a few juicy details regarding Toyota’s promised 2015 hydrogen car. Since we haven’t heard very much about it up to this point, we’re pretty excited to delve a little deeper into Toyota’s plans.

So, here’s what we now know:

* Toyota’s first HFC vehicle will be a Lexus sedan
* It will cost between $50,000 and $100,000
* It will offer a range of 300 miles
* We will definitely see a concept at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show
* We might see a production model in 2014, labeled as a 2015MY

As you can see, the future is getting closer. These next five years seem like they’ll be make-or-break time for hydrogen advocates everywhere, as commercial production becomes more and more viable. 2020 will mark roughly 25 years of dedicated HFC development, depending on which brand you’re looking at, and if the cars aren’t getting competitive by then, chances are the technology really is a dead-end.

As always, thanks for reading, and we’d love to hear your own thoughts, comments and opinions below.

Sources: Autoblog Green, Bloomberg, Carscoops, Autoblog Green

Toyota Gets Kid-Friendly With Customizable Camatte57s Concept

Posted by Stephen On Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

Toyota is really into customizable cars lately. Several weeks ago we saw the Toyota ME.WE concept, a very interesting car designed to encapsulate the individuality that future drivers may seek from their vehicles. As we reported last year, Toyota is taking a new spin on customizability with kid-friendly concepts. This year it’s the Camatte57s and the Camatte57s Sport, distinguished from each other only by their exterior.


In case you’re wondering about the name, let’s get that out of the way up front: Camatte stands for “caring”, 57 refers to the number of body panels that make up the cars’ exterior, and the s at the end apparently means “touch” (perhaps from the Japanese sawaru, which means “to touch”).

We’ll see the Camatte57s concepts later this week at the 2013 International Tokyo Toy Show. They’re actually the sequels to a Camatte concept shown last year, but the new versions offer more body panels and they come in two new flavors. The regular Camatte57s gets sky-blue vintage body panels reminiscent of an old Model A, while the Sport looks more like a modern day roadster. Both cars look really sweet, and I’m sure that any kid would be happy to trade up their Big Wheel for one of these bad boys.

Unfortunately, however cool they may be, neither Camatte57s concept is likely to ever see serious production. At least, not without some serious changes. The Camatte57s is not street legal, so it would have to be driven exclusively up and down the driveway or on a dedicated track. Not exactly convenient in the eyes of your average parents.

Even though the Camatte57s likely won’t see actual production, I can still appreciate the concept because it’s so rare to involve kids in the automotive industry. Really, ignoring kids is a huge mistake because it’s proven that the best car salesmen (or saleswomen) are the ones that involve the wife and kids, not just the father figure. Drivers with families want their children involved, so Toyota is definitely taking a step in the right direction.

For those of you who’d like to know a bit more about specs, the Camatte57s is all-electric and measures about 3m long by 1.5m wide, so it’s not exactly tiny. It features a 1+2 seating arrangement that allows the child to sit in front while mom and dad sit in the rear. The seating is configured so that it’s easy for parents to handle either steering or the gas and brake pedals while the child handles the other… According to the press release, this way “youngsters can make an early start on developing their driving skills and appropriate, safe places, off the public highway.”

Or perhaps Toyota is simply poking fun at rivals Nissan who are betting everything on an all-electric future? As the main driving force behind hybrid cars, Toyota is famously skeptical about the near-term prospects of pure EVs. Perhaps making toy electric car concepts is just another way of making this argument.

All in all, the Camatte57s is a really neat concept that I’m happy to see returning from Toyota. If you’d like to see the kid-friendly concept in action, check out the video below to see a team assemble the body panels on a regular Camatte57s. As you can see, it really is Legos meets Big Wheel meets high-tech unaffordable super-toy. No doubt this will be one of the star attractions of the 2013 International Tokyo Toy Show.

Sources: Autoblog, Carscoops

Nissan Leaf Selling Well, Charging Smarter… Still Losing Value

Posted by Stephen On Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

As our regular readers are aware, Nissan is putting quite a lot of faith in its all-electric Leaf. CEO Carlos Ghosn wants to put 1.5M electric vehicles on the road by 2016, and the Nissan Leaf is how he’s going to do it. In addition, the Leaf is an important car simply because it’s one of the pioneers for the automotive industry. For those reasons and more, we figured today we’d check in on the little EV and see what’s new.

Nissan Leaf

2nd Best Month for the 2nd Month in a Row

While we can all acknowledge that 1.5 million total sales in less than 3 years is probably unrealistic, the Nissan Leaf is still doing extremely well. It seems like it’s broken a new sales record every month this year. The best month ever was March with 2,236 sales. Then, Nissan had an awesome month in April with 1,937 Leaf EVs sold, the second-best month ever. But, the new second-best month ever was May with 2,138 Leaf sales, over 300% more sales than in May of 2012.

Nobody can deny that the Nissan Leaf is selling well. The car continues to gain popularity as it begins moving up the product diffusion curve from Innovators to Early Adopters – a 500% larger market, statistically. My guess is that these record-setting months will continue throughout 2013.

My Electric Avenue

In addition to improved sales, Nissan continues to refine their product offer with new innovations. Today, Autocar published a very interesting article detailing Nissan’s new My Electric Avenue project in the UK. This project is aimed at exploring relationships with electric companies that will become necessary if EVs ever gain widespread popularity.

I encourage you to read the article for yourself, but basically, My Electric Avenue will allow a small community of 10 drivers in the same neighborhood to lease a Leaf for £100 per month for 18 months. The goal of is for all 10 vehicles to charge on a regular power grid without overloading it, even if all 10 vehicles are plugged in at the same time (for example, in the evening after work). This will be accomplished by reallocating power distribution throughout low-use periods each night.

Okay, okay, My Electric Avenue isn’t the most exciting project in the world, but it’s a necessary one nonetheless. Plus, it just goes to show that Nissan is definitely playing a long game. And yet, despite this commitment to innovation…

KBB Projects Decreased Value for 2013 Leafs

Obviously, all cars decrease in value over time, but the difference is how much. At the end of 2011, Automotive News reports that Kelley Blue Book projected the 2012 Nissan Leaf to hold 40% MSRP after three years. However, the 2013 Leaf is only expected to retain 35% of its value.

This isn’t all gloom and doom, however. The decrease in projected value isn’t so much because of the Leaf itself, but because of the nature of used car buyers. KBB says that these economically-focused drivers just aren’t into electric vehicles yet. This makes sense, since if you’re buying a used car, you probably care about price more than emissions. Since electric vehicles are more expensive by default than their internally combusted counterparts, it’s to be expected that they wouldn’t do very well in that market. So, disappointing, but not really surprising.

At the beginning of this article we set out to update you on the Nissan Leaf, and as you can tell, all is going well. And, as an added bonus, while Nissan Leaf sales continue to improve, Chevrolet Volt sales continue to remain steady or decline. For those of you with a vested interest in Japanese cars, this is worth at least the smallest of fist pumps. Huzzah!

Stay tuned tomorrow for more Japanese car news, and thanks for reading.

Additional source: Autoblog Green

Honda Fit EV Gets More Competitive With Cheaper Lease Agreement

Posted by Stephen On Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

As electric vehicles begin to gain more momentum among consumers (sort of), their market space also becomes more competitive. Honda certainly doesn’t mind this trend, as it has an excellent EV in the all-electric Honda Fit. However, even though the Fit is undoubtedly a top-tier EV, it doesn’t match up very well to the leasing options available from other manufacturers. For example, Fiat, Chevrolet AND Nissan all offer lease contracts for $199 per month, while Ford offers $284 per month. $200 per month seems to be a very reasonable price for many city drivers.

How much would it cost to lease a Honda Fit?

As of right now, $389 per month, almost double the price of its competitors. Obviously, this is a problem. Fortunately, it’s an easy one to fix. All Honda has to do is lower the price. So, as of June 1, you’ll be able to lease a Honda Fit for just $259 per month, a full 30% reduction in price.

Why $259 is Cheaper than $199

Our more mathematically skilled readers will notice a small problem here – $259 per month is more expensive than $199 per month. You may be asking, why reduce the price at all if you’re still going to charge 30% more than the competition?

The answer is twofold.

First, while the Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500 and Chevy Spark all come in at under $200 per month, they each require a signing fee of either $999 or $1,999. The Ford Focus e isn’t much better with a fee of $929. The Honda Fit EV, however, only requires $259 paid upfront. Already, you can see that this would make up for several months of slightly higher payments.

But there’s more…

In addition to a cheaper signing fee, Honda will also offer several benefits to tenants that you won’t find when leasing any other electric vehicle. First, there is no mileage limit. No other EV lease agreement allows unlimited mileage; the maximum is 12,000 per year. Second, the Fit EV comes with collision coverage. This releases you of some potential financial responsibility. Lastly, the all-electric Fit comes with a free 240V charger unit (although installation is the buyer’s responsibility) and complementary routine maintenance by the local Honda dealership.

So, even though the monthly fee for the Honda Fit EV is about $60 more than the most competitive options on the market, it actually works out cheaper when the other factors are taken into consideration. If you want to see all of this data presented side-by-side, I highly recommend you check out this handy chart the folks over at Autoblog Green put together:

If you currently lease a Honda Fit EV, you’re in luck. This new rate will automatically be applied to any current lease agreements, starting June 1.

While the market for electric vehicles still has a long ways to go, this is a very encouraging sign for the industry. The fact that EVs are important enough to manufacturers to engage in a bidding war for best price can only be good for the consumer. And if you haven’t bought an EV yet (I’m guessing that’s most of us), maybe if you wait another year they’ll be even cheaper. Only way to find out is to wait and see!

Toyota Prius is Most Popular Hybrid Online – Nobody’s Surprised

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, May 30th, 2013

As new technologies develop, the auto industry is able to access data that it’s never had before. For the most part, this data is used to better familiarize automakers with their target customers. Sometimes, though, it’s used just to see who’s better.

20 years ago, automakers relied on surveys and focus groups to learn more about customers. But, those proved unreliable because respondents have a tendency to exaggerate if they think it’ll earn approval.

Then, the Internet happened and authentic customer reviews began to dominate the consumer experience. This resulted in some major innovations… For example, this is when automakers figured out that the interior matters just as much as the exterior design or technical specs, at least to most drivers.

Today, the newest pool of data is social media. With this new resource come new companies ready to analyze it, and that’s where GenSent Insights comes into the picture. According to Automotive News, this New York-based analytics firm performed an extensive study using social data from the months of January through April of this year. Their aim in this study? To assign a dollar amount to the social network exposure of the top 5 most frequently mentioned hybrid cars on the Internet.

So, all of that introduction to say this – the Toyota Prius is the most talked about hybrid online.

GenSent Insights says that Toyota’s “total media value” for the first four months of 2013 comes to $14.5 million. The second most popular hybrid came to $4.5 million. However, since this is so completely to be expected, we’re going to move on and discuss the other hybrids in the top five, two of which are Japanese … and one of which isn’t even a hybrid.

Here’s the list, complete with total media values, for the top five most frequently mentioned hybrids online. (For some reason they seem to think the Tesla is a “hybrid”):

1. Toyota Prius – $14.5 million
2. Honda Fit – $4.5 million
3. Chevrolet Volt – $3.1 million
4. Tesla Model S EV – $3 million
5. Honda Insight – $2.9 million

So, three out of the top five hybrids are Japanese-made, which is pretty neat. More impressively, if you look at it from a total media valuation standpoint, Japanese hybrids accounted for 78% of the total worth shared by the top 5 vehicles. Interestingly enough, GenSent says that the Nissan Leaf was the most well-liked low emissions car, but it didn’t have the widespread frequency to back it up.

For those of you skeptical about how you could assign real dollar value to a completely digital currency – if you can call social mentions currency – I assure you, there is a very complex formula. And I’m also sure that I don’t understand it at all. But I do know that it involves tracking the sentiment, frequency and source of social media mentions.

Obviously, this isn’t an exact science. There’s no way of knowing whether Toyota got $14.5 million worth of real exposure thanks to social media mentions alone. It would probably be safer to call it a points system than a valuation system, but nonetheless, the end result is the same – no one can dispute that the Toyota Prius is the most popular hybrid in existence.

Source: Autonews, Autoblog Green