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Charles Murray
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Re: Development time
Charles Murray   1/6/2012 6:19:01 PM
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I think there's a solution to the unsustainable luxury car dilemma that you mention, Ann. In earlier stories, I have mentioned that the Volt is based on a new definition of luxury. I can buy a Chevy Cruze for under $20,000 or buy a Volt for $40,000. In some respects they are the same car, same size, same foundation. The Cruze gets 42 mpg; the Volt gets about 45 mpg on gasoline and 90+ mpge using electricity. The Volt also has a few more luxuries inside. I really do believe that most of the of the buyers of the Volt, Leaf and other EVs and hybrids are wealthier consumers with a new definition of luxury. If they were buying out of a sense of pragmatism, they'd go for vehicles like the Cruze.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Development time
Ann R. Thryft   1/9/2012 12:24:30 PM
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Chuck, that's a really interesting shift in what's defined as luxury. Thanks for pointing that out. OTOH, I hope that doesn't mean that EVs and hybrids are being aimed at the upper end of consumers, since that will most likely delay acceptance and the higher volumes needed to make them mainstream. During the energy crisis in the mid-70s, people started buying smaller Japanese cars in huge numbers because they both cost less and had better mileage than Detroit. It was a win-win.


Charles Murray
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Re: Development time
Charles Murray   1/18/2012 11:39:45 PM
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Ann, I'm afraid that until now, most hybrids and electric cars have been aimed at upper-end consumers. That's starting to change no, though, with last week's introduction of the $19,000 Prius c. Automakers are also turning to plug-in hybrids because they can market them at the mid-level of the market by reducing the size of the battery and, therefore, reducing the cost.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Development time
Ann R. Thryft   1/19/2012 1:10:54 PM
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Thanks for reporting on that lower-priced Prius and the down-sized pricing of plug-in hybrids. They should go a long way toward getting volumes up by appealing to more consumers, especially in these tough economic times.


Charles Murray
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Re: Development time
Charles Murray   1/19/2012 7:48:48 PM
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Next we want to hear how much Toyota is going to charge for its plug-in vehicle, the Prius PHV. If that comes in at a reasonable price -- say, $28K -- we'll really see electrification appealing to more consumers. We should know soon.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Development time
Ann R. Thryft   1/20/2012 12:54:31 PM
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Wow, that price could make a big difference. Under $20K is my sweet spot for buying a new car, but under $30K is when I start paying attention. When do you think we'll find out?


Charles Murray
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Re: Development time
Charles Murray   1/30/2012 7:46:48 PM
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Ann: We should know by second quarter of this year. Predictions seem to vary from $28K to $32K, but when I interviewed Toyota engineers over the summer, they described the sweet spot as $26K. I doubt they can come in that low, but they do have the advantage of a small-ish battery on this (one-third the size of the Volt battery), so they should be able to keep costs down.  

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Development time
Ann R. Thryft   2/1/2012 3:36:48 PM
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Thanks, Chuck. I'm interested in finding out what that price will be and I imagine so are a zillion others.


Charles Murray
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Re: Development time
Charles Murray   2/1/2012 8:19:15 PM
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A final note on the Prius PHV, Ann. To me, it seems like the most logical form of electrification in vhicles today. By minimizing the size of the battery, Toyota will hopefully keep the costs down. If you're a person who drives less than 13 miles roundtrip to work, and if you recharge religiously, you can run in pure electric mode the majority of the time.  

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