BMW has recognized that they simply teed up GM and Nissan to benefit from the MINI E experience. Today they announced officially that MINI E “pioneers” will be able to extend their leases until 2011. At that point the ActiveE, an electric Series 1 Beemer, is projected to be available, however only as yet another “electric vehicle test program,” as they put it in their wordy press release. Will MINI E drivers be so loyal to BMW they’ll forgo the opportunity to actually purchase a plug-in car?
Over at GM, Bob Lutz says an all-electric Volt would be “technologically trivial.” No word on when.
Toyota titillates with its plug-in Prius test program (600 vehicles worldwide over the next few years) as well as an all-electric 50-mile range “small, urban commuter BEV” and a plug-in hybrid concept small car. But they still want us to believe that their fuel cell vehicles will hit showrooms in 2015. This despite the fact that they project placing in service a mere 100 or so such cars over the next three years. And Toyota’s press release continues their “blame the consumer” rewrite of history regarding the RAV4 EV (about 800 of which, including mine, remain on the road.)
The RAV4 EV and e-com programs were short lived due to lack of commitment from the market; the consumer and the consumer’s environmental mind set were not ready to commit to battery electric vehicles at that time.
Audi, too, continues to tantalize with its E-tron. They say the car will go on sale in 2012. At the moment the concept car has four wheel motors, always a red flag to me. If I remember correctly, Mitsubishi’s iMiev had wheel motors when it was a concept, but reverted to a more mainstream drivetrain with commercialization. When and if Audi becomes serious, I suspect we’ll see a more conventional approach to electric drive.