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2025 Kia Carnival rear view on dirt road.

Kia’s Carnival minivan, or MPV as it is officially referred to by the Korean automaker, has been part of the Kia lineup here since 2022. Kia’s previous minivan, the Sedona, was replaced by the Carnival after a 20-year run. Now, the 2025 Kia Carnival returns to the fold after receiving a mid-generation refresh and an efficient new hybrid powertrain. 

The 2025 Kia Carnival HEV carries a good amount of optional equipment along with its new refresh. It’s built on a joint Hyundai-Kia N3 platform shared with other models like the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Kia Sorento. Four trim levels are available, ranging from the entry-level LSX trim, mid-range EX and SX trims, and the range-topping SX Prestige trim. All trims carry identical power, space, and fuel economy ratings. 

Kia Carnival minivan shift knob on console.

Kia Carnival Hybrid

Powering the 2025 Carnival HEV is Kia’s 1.6-liter turbocharged inline-four paired with a 54 kW electric motor, which utilizes a 1.49 kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Thanks to the aforementioned power sources, the Carnival HEV produces up to 242 horsepower and 271 lb-ft torque. A six-speed automatic transmission handles the Carnival HEV’s power, and front-wheel drive is the sole drivetrain option. For those not interested in a hybrid powertrain, the Carnival also comes with a 3.8-liter V-6 borrowed from the Kia Telluride that manages 290 horsepower and 262 lb-ft torque. Handy hybrid-exclusive driving aids include electrification-vehicle motion control that allows users to adjust the amount of regenerative braking and E-Ride, which helps smooth out bumps with the help of a specially-tuned suspension. 

The new Carnival HEV’s styling takes inspiration from Kia’s ‘Opposites United’ design language that aims to combine the rugged looks of an SUV with the familiarity and comfort of an MPV (aka SUV). The front fascia embodies this motif best, with chiseled lines and a muscular radiator grille. A pair of crystal-like headlights sit above the grille and feature Kia’s Star Map daytime running lights. Down its flanks, the Kia MPV retains much more of a minivan look with typically large windows and doors. At its rear, the Carnival again takes up the SUV look and dons a pair of angular Star Map LED taillights along with a repositioned license plate mounting area, allowing for a cleaner rear hatch look. Those whose tastes run to the dark side will enjoy the optional Carnival Dark Edition appearance package that adds black exterior accents. Buyers have a choice of 17 or 19 inch wheels, the latter offered in two different styles.

2025 Kia Carnival front seats and dashboard.

Futuristic Interior Theme

Inside, the Carnival is just as novel and futuristic. Designers utilized simple shapes and three-dimensional effects through the use of optional ambient lighting. Seating for up to eight passengers is still a hallmark of the Carnival, along with a class-leading maximum cargo space of 145.1 cubic feet. Second-row seats can be removed and third-row seats can fold into the floor for uninterrupted cargo space. 

An available twin-12.3-inch digital display takes center stage and does the job of both the infotainment and digital gauge cluster screens. A 12-inch infotainment screen and a 4.2-inch digital gauge cluster screen are standard. Other optional tech upgrades include a full-color head-up display and a Full Display Mirror, which replaces the standard rearview mirror with a camera and display. Seven USB-C ports are standard within the Carnival along with two handy 115-volt power inverters. Saying the phrase “Hey Kia” will activate the Carnival’s multi-zone voice control, allowing users to control or adjust systems like climate control or open and close windows. Brand-new for the Carnival is an available Connected Car Rear Cockpit system, which uses two 14.6-inch monitors and allows entertainment streaming from select platforms. 

2025 Kia Carnival minivan rear seating.

Tech in the Kia Carnival

Carnival features a litany of standard and available advanced driver assistance features. Among these is standard Forward Collision Avoidance Assist, which detects imminent vehicle or pedestrian collisions and assists with steering and/or braking to avoid them. Other available safety features include Junction Crossing, Evasive Steering Assist, and Lane-Change Oncoming, among others. 

The 2025 Kia Carnival is poised to make waves in today’s family mover field, though some competitors like the Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid and Toyota Sienna hybrid won’t make it easy. Pricing for the 2025 Carnival will be released as the model gets closer to going on sale this summer.

2024 Mazda CX-90 front view.

Mazda’s new 2024 CX-90 is the automaker’s replacement for its long-popular CX-9 and serves as the brand's flagship three-row model. It’s longer, wider, and lower than the earlier CX-9 and features many improvements relating to space, efficiency, power, and style. Importantly  all engine options are now hybrids with one of them a plug-in hybrid variant.

The CX-90 employs a front-engine, rear-wheel-bias powertrain with Mazda’s i-Activ all-wheel-drive system standard across all trim levels. Its three hybrid engine choices start with an entry-level 3.3-liter inline-six turbo producing 280 horsepower and 332 lb-ft torque. A more powerful 3.3-liter Turbo S delivers 340 horsepower and 369 lb-ft torque. Both the Turbo and Turbo S utilize Mazda’s 48-volt M-Hybrid Boost mild-hybrid system. Those looking for an ability to drive exclusively on battery power should look to the CX-90’s turbocharged 2.5-liter plug-in hybrid version, which produces 323 horsepower and 369 lb-ft torque using a 17.8 kWh battery.

2024 Mazda CX-90 side.

Three CX-90 Engines

All engines are rated at a combined 25 mpg, with the plug-in version topping out the range with a combined rating of 56 MPGe when running on battery power. The 2.5-liter PHEV option offers a total 490 mile driving range with the ability to drive exclusively in electric mode for 26 miles. Among the three engine options, 11 trim levels are available in total, ranging from the entry-level Select up to top-line Premium Plus. The availability of these trim levels depend on engine selection with the Turbo trim offering five and both the Turbo S and PHEV versions offering three.

A low-slung and hunkered-down appearance conveys a subtle sportiness in this crossover SUV that Mazda has been keen to showcase in the rest of its recent lineup. The front fascia is minimal when compared to other current full-size crossovers, but is in no way boring. A large black grille acts as a centerpiece and is accented with a chrome insert running beneath the grille, swooping up to meet the headlights at both ends. 

2024 Mazda CX-90.

CX-90 Has a Muscular Design

The CX-90 features flared wheel arches and a muscular persona along its flanks. It’s complemented with a low roofline and smooth lines along the doors that reinforce a sporty and elegant demeanor. At the rear, two slim LED taillights extend toward the middle of the hatch while a discreet, curved spoiler sits at an upward angle above the rear window. A chrome accent sits at the bottom of the rear end, finishing its run around the entirety of the CX-90. 

Mazda has taken great care to deliver a more accommodating interior than the earlier CX-9, with the CX-90 going above and beyond. A commanding and wide-set dash greets drivers with a large center console dividing the front seats and a 12.3-inch infotainment screen perched atop the dash. Traditional Japanese design and modern practicality blend together in a unique-to-Mazda fashion, exemplified by a sewing technique called Kumihimo, a classical Japanese book-binding practice that’s used to produce a hanging stitch pattern on the dash. Nappa leather and real-wood trim is an option throughout the cabin, along with tone-on-tone fabrics. Up to 75.2 cubic feet of carbo space is available with the second and third row seats folded flat. 

2024 Mazda CX-90 interior.

Tech and Safety Features

The CX-90’s tech and safety options are ample with all trims receiving Mazda’s i-Activsense Safety package that  includes Smart Brake Support, Blind Spot Monitoring, and Mazda Radar Cruise Control. Brand new for 2024 is Mazda’s See-Through View monitor that uses cameras positioned throughout the exterior to create a 360 degree perspective, allowing drivers to better park and maneuver in tight spots. 

Mazda’s CX-90 is an exemplary replacement for the CX-9 and comes at an entry price of $39,595.

Volvo S60 ReCharge T8 rear view on road.

The Volvo S60 model introduced in 2000 was positioned to compete with the popular BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class of the time. Since then, it has been a popular staple for the Swedish automaker. Now well into its third generation, the S60 has evolved as part of Volvo’s promise to electrify its entire fleet and now is available exclusively in electrified form as a plug-in hybrid. Green Car Journal editors had the opportunity to spend time behind the wheel of this Volvo PHEV and came away impressed by its style and satisfied with its overall performance.

Volvo has borrowed from its subsidiary company Polestar for power. The S60 is equipped with a 312 horsepower 2.0-liter, turbocharged inline-four cylinder engine augmented with a 143 horsepower electric motor located at the rear. Energy for the motor is supplied by an 18.8 kWh battery. The combination ekes an impressive 455 horsepower and 523 lb-ft torque overall. Power is handled by an eight-speed Aisin automatic transmission and distributed via an all-wheel-drive system.

Volvo S60 ReCharge Electric Range

The S60 offers a combined EPA-rated range of 530 miles. If drivers choose to use the S60’s Pure driving mode using only the battery, they should expect an EPA range of about 41 miles. When using Pure mode, the S60 Recharge is rear-wheel-drive. The 14.9 kWh battery can be charged to full capacity in about five hours using a 220-volt charger.

The exterior of the Volvo S60 Recharge can be summed up in one word: refined. When looking over the front of the vehicle one notices Volvo’s familiar Thor’s Hammer LED-accented headlights, with the large Volvo badge front and center. Its hood slopes down toward the fenders at either end to lend a slightly muscular appearance. At its flanks, the S60’s roofline rakes gently to its rear haunches and ends abruptly at the rear end, again giving it an air of muscularity. A high trunk line is accented by a small rear diffuser and familiar Volvo taillights at the back.

Interior cabin of Volvo S60 ReCharge sedan.

A Refined Volvo S60

Stepping into the S60’s interior presents another example of a refined experience. A sleek and functional design here finds Volvo’s nine-inch infotainment screen taking center stage. Large HVAC vents frame the screen with a brushed aluminum trim piece accenting the bottom of the dashboard. Adequate storage is present in the center console and doors pockets. Rear seat passengers get a good amount of legroom for two adults in the outboard positions but less so in the middle position. Two B-pillar-mounted HVAC vents provide heated or cooled air to passengers on both sides. Trunk space is adequate for a mid-size sedan, though depth and a spare tire is sacrificed to store more batteries beneath the floor. 

Volvo employs a new Android OS for its infotainment system that integrates an array of features into its tech arsenal. Google Maps is incorporated, with the S60 utilizing GPS information to adjust efficiency parameters according to driving conditions encountered in city or highway driving. A 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster ahead of the driver is also capable of displaying Google Maps information. A handy heads-up display lends the ability to easily read current speed and other information without taking eyes off the road.

Volvo S60 ReCharge plug-in hybrid on a road.

Volvo S60 ReCharge Tech

A proud hallmark of Volvo is safety, and the S60 Recharge is no exception. The car received a five out of five star crash test safety rating, along with receiving Volvo’s award winning safety tech. The S60 Recharge is equipped with 360-degree cameras, Blind Sport Warning, Cross-Traffic Alert, among other notable tech features. Four trim levels are offered including the base Core, mid-range Plus, and Ultimate trims, all available in an aptly named Black Edition that adds black accented wheels, grille, and badges.

The Volvo S60 Recharge T8 is a welcome blend of refinement and power offering an entry price of $51,950. It bears consideration as a great all-around car for anyone desiring the ability to get home quickly and in comfort while also stepping up to the environmental benefits of plug-in electric power.

Ron Lamberty, CMO of the American Coalition for Ethanol.
Ron Lamberty, CMO of the American Coalition for Ethanol.

Just over three years ago, when California’s Governor announced an executive order allowing only zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) to be sold in the state, most media (and probably the governor, regulators, and supporters of the rule) understood “ZEV” to mean battery electric vehicles (BEVs) only.

Although the final rule included plug-in hybrids and hydrogen vehicles, we theorized a standard hybrid, with an internal combustion engine (ICE) powered by E85 could have emissions similar to BEVs. When total lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were tallied, as well as carbon intensity (CI) scoring correctly reflecting CI reductions being achieved by farmers and ethanol producers, a standard hybrid flex-fuel vehicle (FFV) can be a ZEV long before any EV.

The American Coalition for Ethanol (ACE) began testing our theory 10 months after the California executive order, using a hybrid vehicle the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) identifies as midsized, to avoid naysayers dismissing the results as coming from a specialty vehicle or tiny clown car that would get good mileage on any fuel. We also wanted a vehicle similar in size to the best-selling BEV on the market, the Tesla Model 3 Long Range. We bought a 2019 Ford Fusion Hybrid in July 2021 for $30k to $50k less than the most popular new EVs of the day, and before converting it to the Hybrid Electric Flex-Fuel Vehicle we call “HEFF.”

We filled it with regular gasoline and drove 3,688 miles to establish a real-world regular gasoline use baseline, rather than having to compare our real-world results with fictional best case showroom sticker miles-per-gallon (mpg) and EPA’s emissions estimates based on that mileage. EPA pegged our car at 42 mpg on regular, with lifecycle GHG of 255 grams per mile (g/m). While that’s much better than the 25 mpg and 429 g/m of the non-hybrid Fusion, our pre-transition Fusion hybrid results were just over 34 mpg and around 310 g/m. We also adjusted the “regular gas” number we use for comparison using generally accepted mileage differentials for cold weather, and have periodically run tanks of regular gasoline to recalibrate for winter temps, vehicle age, and battery capacity changes during the demonstration project.

Clean-Running Hybrid Flex-Fuel Vehicle

Ford Fuxion hybrid flex-fuel vehicle.

Those results are used to estimate regular gasoline consumption and also when we record flex-fuel purchases, cost, and odometer reading with each fill. We record current regular gas price along with the baseline mileage to make a cost comparison. Although our goal is to demonstrate the low CI capability of a hybrid FFV and durability of a standard engine using flex-fuel, we track fuel expenditures because we know critics will always ask about mileage and cost.

Once we calculate real mileage and CI, we compare the results to the Tesla mentioned above, and depending on where you plug in, EPA estimates the 2019 Tesla 3 Long Range emits 80 to 200 g/m lifecycle GHGs, with a national average of 111, assuming a range of 310 miles per charge. However, unscientific anecdotal Tesla Uber driver estimates told us the actual range is from 225 to 240 miles, and Car and Driver’s more scientific 40,000-mile test confirmed the drivers’ reports, saying the 2019 Tesla 3 Long Range got 80 miles less than the expected 310 miles per charge. Changing Tesla’s range to 230 miles increases its real CO2 number to 110 to 270 g/m in different markets, and boosts the U.S. average to 150 g/m.

Test Methodology

Fueling a hybrid flex-fuel vehicle with ethanol E85.

Our baseline mpg-establishing journey ended in San Diego in August of 2021, where Pearson Fuels, the nation’s largest E85 distributor, arranged to transform the Fusion to HEFF with an eFlexFuel Plus conversion kit. The app that communicates with the flex-fuel converter provides actual ethanol content of the flex-fuel purchased, since flex-fuel can have 51 to 85 percent ethanol. Since the amount of carbon in gasoline and ethanol is different, we need the breakdown to calculate how many grams of carbon are being burned, and we divide that number by miles traveled to get our CI. We also use the ethanol and gasoline content to calculate BTU content of whatever fuel is in the tank to compare the mileage one should expect given that energy content with actual mileage to judge the effectiveness of the conversion kit.

Recording price, miles and ethanol content of every fuel purchase, and calculating E10 use and cost, after two years and three months and almost 30,000 miles on flex-fuel averaging 72 percent ethanol, produced average lifecycle GHGs of 205 g/m CO2 at 26.2 miles per gallon – not much higher than real Tesla average numbers, and lower than a Tesla 3 in many parts of the country. We calculated regular gas mpg at 32.7, which would’ve emitted 375 g/m CO2. And HEFF (Hybrid Electric Flex-Fuel) chugged 1,135 gallons of E72 versus a calculated 906 gallons regular, but the E72 cost $2,942, compared to $3,183 for gas.

Lower Emissions Than a Tesla

We have been able to calculate some other interesting numbers based on our test results so far. Had we been able to use true E85 – 83 percent ethanol – throughout the test, our emissions number would drop to 181 g/m, and further to 113 g/m if the ethanol was CARB-approved low-CI corn fiber ethanol. Blending low-CI ethanol with renewable naphtha would provide a CI of 71 g/m in our converted Ford Fusion Hybrid – lower than the same size Tesla could achieve plugged in anywhere in the U.S. All the flex-fuel blends just mentioned are real; they have been or are being sold today.

And although the flex-fuel hybrid – even a converted flex-fuel hybrid – is capable of achieving such results, a fact recognized by Toyota and Volkswagen and being put into use in the 2024 model year in Brazil, fuel regulations being adopted in the U.S. simply refuse to acknowledge that reality. Ethanol has been responsible for nearly all the air quality improvements seen in the U.S. in the past 20 years, and its ability to reduce carbon intensity is a proven fact. But people who claim to be interested in reducing carbon pollution are enacting regulations that increase the use of electricity that is still 60 percent fossil fuel generated, over plant-based fuels like ethanol, based on what they hope and believe will be done to make electricity cleaner over the next few decades. They use buzz-phrases like “extending the life of petroleum fuels” and “false climate solution” to avoid dealing with real numbers. Projections of cleaner electricity are assumed to be facts, and scientific facts of cleaner ethanol production are ignored.

The inclusion of plug-in hybrids and hydrogen vehicles in CARB’s final Advanced Clean Cars II rule provides a sliver of hope that regulators will eventually be as concerned about actually reducing CO2 emissions as they are enforcing the electric car solution they prefer and believe in. If environmentalists and regulators are truly interested in reducing carbon emissions, solutions are available today. HEFF is proof. But if you can’t trust HEFF, ask Brazil. Or Toyota. Or Volkswagen.

Ron Lamberty is the chief marketing officer of the American Coalition for Ethanol.

Side view of Toyota Grand Highlander.

Toyota’s full-size Highlander SUV has been with us since 2001 and has developed a loyal following. Unlike its utilitarian body-on-frame competitors of the era like the Chevy TrailBlazer and Jeep Grand Cherokee, the Highlander emerged with a unibody platform that delivered a much more comfortable and car-like ride. This, in addition to Toyota’s reputation for reliability and value, enabled the Highlander to blossom in popularity. Now Toyota has expanded upon its celebrated Highlander with the much anticipated and more spacious Grand Highlander SUV. 

New for the 2024 model year, the Grand Highlander is built on Toyota’s GA-K platform and shares it with countless other Toyota models including the original Highlander. In the case of the Grand Highlander, Toyota modified this platform with a longer wheelbase and wider track to allow for expanded interior comfort. Three trim levels are offered including base XLE, mid-range Limited, and top-line Platinum. 

Front view of 2024 Toyota Grand Highlander SUV.

Two Hybrid Choices Available

Buyers also have a choice of three powertrain options. A 2.4-liter turbocharged inline-four cylinder featuring 265 horsepower and an eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. Next up is a 2.5-liter inline-four Dynamic Force hybrid with two electric motors, a combination that pushes out 245 horsepower and connects to a CVT transmission. The most powerful choice is Toyota’s Hybrid MAX powerplant offering 362 horsepower and 400 lb-ft torque. This uses a 2.4-liter turbocharged motor with two electric motors coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission.  EPA estimated combined fuel economy is 24 mpg for the 2.4-liter turbo, 36 mpg for the hybrid, and 27 mpg for the Hybrid MAX

Front-wheel or all-wheel drive is available on all but the Hybrid MAX variant, which comes with all-wheel drive as standard fare. Driver selectable Sport, Eco, and Normal drive modes allow tailoring the driving experience with all powertrains. Off-pavement adventures are further enhanced in Hybrid MAX and gas AWD variants with Multi-Terrain Select driving modes for Rock & Dirt, Mud & Sand, and Snow.

Toyota Grand Highlander third row seat.

Grand Highlander is Spacious

Toyota has not forgotten that SUVs are often used to haul things, whether camping gear, home improvement supplies, or toys for the kids. There’s plenty of room for all since the Grand Highlander has 20.6 cubic feet of stowage capacity behind the third row seat and 57.9 cubic feet with the second row seats folded. With second and third rows folded flat, the Grand Highlander boasts an impressive 97.5 cubic feet of total storage space. Those who need to tow gear along on their journeys will find that the Grand Highlander delivers here as well. The Dynamic Force hybrid comes with a tow rating of 3,500 pounds while the gas variant and Hybrid MAX models up the ante with the ability to tow up to 5,000 pounds.

The Grand Highlander expands upon Toyota’s current design language. At the front of the SUV, a familiar large gloss-black grille is situated front and center. A pair of functional air curtains sit below and diagonally, allowing air to flow over the front wheels to reduce drag. A discreetly muscular hood sits high atop the front end. Down the sides, very large windows are a hallmark of the Grand Highlander’s look, allowing as much light into the cabin as possible. At the rear, a large roof spoiler spills out atop the similarly large rear window. A pair of slim and stark LED taillights line either end of the rear hatch.

Dashboard and console in Toyota Grand Highlander.

Storage Space in the Grand Highlander

Inside, Toyota conveys what it believes the Grand in Grand Highlander should represent. Ample room is present throughout, with tons of charging ops and storage space. For example, a total of 13 cupholders and seven USB-C ports are present. Soft-touch materials are peppered throughout the space, including on seats and armrests. Up front, a standard 12.3-inch infotainment system sits center-stage with climate control buttons positioned beneath. A standard 8-inch digital gauge cluster sits in front of the driver with a 12.3-inch digital cluster optional. Both the second and third row seats make use of the same soft-touch materials and offer more examples of abundant storage.

A generous amount of tech and safety features are included in this SUV. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, along with over-the-air update capability. A one-year free trial for Toyota’s Drive Connect is included that makes Intelligent Assistant, Cloud Navigation, and Destination Assistant available to drivers. Toyota Safety Sense 3.0 is included as well, with Proactive Driving Assist and an Emergency Driving Stop System that will attempt to safely stop the vehicle if the system senses an unresponsive driver.

2024 Toyota Grand Highlander.

An Appealing New Toyota SUV

With the addition of the Grand Highlander in Toyota’s already-ample SUV lineup, buyers now have a new and appealing choice ideally positioned between the mid-size Highlander and full-size Tundra-based Sequoia, at a base price of $43,070. No doubt, Toyota’s long-popular Highlander has paved an extremely successful path for the new Grand Highlander to follow. We imagine that legions of buyers attracted to the many charms of the Highlander but yearn for a roomier package will find the new Grand Highlander an intriguing new option at the showroom.

Unveiled earlier this year, the Polestar 4 is the fourth model produced by the Swedish EV maker. The Polestar 4 takes on a unique coupe SUV design and is placed between the Polestar 2 and 3 in terms of size. Polestar has utilized the SEA1 platform for the 4 model that’s built by Geely Holding, a Chinese automotive giant. This luxurious EV boasts a 50-50 weight distribution and in its more powerful version delivers admirable performance with dual motors and a projected zero to 60 time of 3.6 seconds.

Polestar offers two powertrain options. The standard iteration consists of a single-motor, rear-wheel-drive configuration capable of producing 272 horsepower and 253 lb-ft torque. The second option, which is expected to go toe-to-toe with the Porsche Macan EV, is a dual-motor, all-wheel-drive arrangement sporting 544 horsepower and 506 lb-ft torque. This variant is able to disengage the front motor using a clutch system when under light throttle to save battery power. 

Front view of electric Polestar 4.

Polestar 4 Tech and Design

All Polestar 4 configurations receive a 102 kWh lithium-ion battery. Fast charge times are not yet available; however Polestar has reported a maximum fast charge capability of 200 kW. The Polestar 4 also carries V2L, or vehicle-to-load ability, allowing users to power their gadgets or other electric items on the go. 

The exterior design is a rather singular experience with futuristic style and cutting-edge lines. Precept headlights featuring a Thor’s Hammer design tells one right away that this is a Polestar. Split at the middle, the top half of the headlight travels up and shoots along the fender, while the bottom half turns downward toward the functional air scoop situated in front of both wheels. A long and sporty hood swoops up into a windshield that has been brought forward to allow more interior space. 

Polestar 4 electric vehicle rolling chassis.

Sportiness Throughout

Looking to the side, more evidence of the model’s subtle sportiness is on display. Wheel options for the Polestar 4 are all sharp and angular in design, matching the knife-edged bodyline at the bottom of the doors. 

Polestar has included its LightBlade rear light design that spans the width of the rear end, with 90-degree downward angles at both ends. A notable feature for the Polestar 4 is the absence of a rear window. In its place is a pair of High-Definition cameras mounted at the back of the roof. These cameras are connected to a digital rear-view mirror that allows for a full view of the road already traveled. 

Interior of the Polestar 4 electric vehicle.

Polestar 4 Interior

Polestar has devoted a lot of attention to designing the interior of the 4. Here, one finds tons of unique options and design cues along with a panoramic roof that extends all the way past the heads of rear passengers. This glass can be fitted with an optional electrochromic feature that allows users to turn the glass from transparent to opaque. Several interior options are available, all of which utilize sustainable materials at every opportunity. Seats are upholstered with SoftTech, a 3D-printed material, and carpets and floor mats use PET. Several interior configurations take advantage of vegan materials, with one option using animal welfare-secured Nappa leather. Drivers can also set the mood using the infotainment system, with its settings taking inspiration from the solar system. 

The Polestar 4 is packed with tech. A 10.2-inch digital gauge cluster is used along with a 15.4-inch infotainment screen that takes center stage, the latter employing the Snapdragon Cockpit Platform to control functions. Polestar also includes a 14.7-inch head-up display that can turn yellow for better visibility in snowy conditions. Android Automotive OS grants use of select Google apps, with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard fare. Polestar is partnered with Volvo so there’s naturally a myriad of safety features. Mobileye SuperVision is present, allowing drivers to take their hands off the wheel in select driving conditions, as long as eyes are focused on the road. A dozen cameras monitor the inside and outside of the vehicle along with ultrasonic sensors that monitor the driver to detect drowsiness or distraction. 

Polestar 4 models in a manufacturing facility.

This all-new Polestar model looks to be an all-around contender for the EV world. It’s got power, tech, and style on its side. This upscale coupe SUV has a lot going for it including a more manageable estimated price of $60,000, a significant twenty five grand less than the Polestar 3. Production has begun and the first deliveries are slated for China shortly, though buyers in the U.S. will have to wait patiently until later in 2024.

Stuart Weidie, CE0 of Blossman Gas, Inc.

It is surprising to many people in the United States that globally, propane autogas vehicles exceed the number of battery electric and natural gas vehicles on the road. In addition, the emergence of renewable propane is expected to dramatically increase the number of autogas vehicles operating in the U.S. – currently estimated at 150,000 vehicles – due to its low carbon intensity and cost-effectiveness. 

Propane is for much more than your outdoor grill. There are more than 4,000 uses of propane for homes, businesses, and industrial applications, including in the U.S. transportation sector. The Carbon Intensity (CI) of traditional propane is 79.6, less than gasoline, which is currently at 90. Today renewable propane produced in the United States has a CI score of 18-20. In the next five years, innovations such as GTI Energy’s new Cool LPG technology will increase the production of renewable propane globally.

In 2022, rLPG North America formed to bring an increasing amount of renewable propane to the U.S. market in partnership with BioLPG, LLC. Their goal is to utilize GTI Energy’s Cool LPG technology to effectuate the widespread potential of renewably sourced propane. Currently, most renewable propane comes from the production of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) and renewable diesel. Renewable propane is a co-product of these fuels, which are derived from organic waste such as plant oils, beef tallow, and waste oils.

GTI Energy’s Cool LPG technology was recently recognized at the World LPG Global Science Conference as the technology with the most promise and potential to decarbonize propane and create a legitimate path to zero carbon emissions. Cool LPG technology converts biogas, or bio-syngas, into renewably sourced propane. Cool LPG will expand the number of feedstocks that can be used to produce more renewable propane, as it is agnostic to the feedstock source. This includes landfill waste, livestock and animal waste, food waste, and other sources of biogas. It is estimated that renewable propane derived from the Cool LPG process will have a CI score as low as (-)75 when produced from landfill waste and a score of (-)200 when utilizing dairy and animal waste. This means a blend of renewable propane and traditional propane could be used to provide a zero-carbon solution for small to large commercial fleets and consumers. 

Renewable Propane is Clean

Nationally, the average CI score of the electric grid is 165. The battery electric vehicle (BEV) has garnered widespread government support and publicity, but it will be decades before the electric grid can accomplish a CI score equivalent to innovative transportation fuels such as renewable natural gas (RNG) and renewable propane. Companies and consumers who want to make a positive impact today have options. RNG provides a good option for Class 8 trucks and vehicles, while renewable propane autogas is ideal for Class 2 through 7 vehicles. 

Renewable propane in tanker trucks.

Over the past 15 years, operating a vehicle on propane autogas has averaged fuel costs 35 percent less than gasoline. Small and large commercial fleets can make a positive impact on emissions while also saving money – a rare feature for companies striving to meet their decarbonization and sustainability goals without extraordinary costs. 

Promoting Energy Security

Renewable propane and traditional propane can be 100 percent produced in the U.S. In fact, more than 24 billion gallons of traditional propane are exported out of the United States. These exports could fuel more than 6 million commercial vehicles or 12 million consumer vehicles on an annual basis. Between today and 2035, it is projected that as much as 2 billion gallons of renewable propane can be produced in the U.S., enhancing the availability of a low-carbon transportation fuel that can make an immediate impact.

Why are propane autogas and RNG not more widely used as transportation fuels in the United States as they are in the rest of the world? Good question. The status quo and resistance to change are part of the reason. The other reason often cited is no longer valid – lack of viable technology. Today, there is vehicle technology to operate fleets efficiently and reliably on autogas or RNG. Companies such as Alliance AutoGas have more than 1,800 EPA-certified vehicle platforms available to businesses and consumers. Renewable propane will be compatible with current propane technology, so the question for consumers now is, why wait for renewable when we can be prepared for a clean, efficient technology right now?

Stuart Weidie is president and CEO of Blossman Gas, Inc. He also serves as president of the nationwide alternative fuels and equipment network Alliance AutoGas and is founder of the industry coalition AutoGas for America.

A ‘green’ aura has been cast over the auto industry in ways large and small. While there has been growing interest in vehicles with greater environmental performance since the 1990s, that interest has been incremental. Higher efficiency models? Yep. Alternative fuel vehicles? Sure, some. Hybrids? Yes please. Plug-in models? Of course, growing slowly over the years but increasing exponentially in recent times, in no small part due to generous federal and state incentives, regulations moving us away from internal combustion, and a wholesale shift in auto industry strategies that are embracing electrification.

For several decades, most of this was driven by the need to address fuel efficiency and energy diversity, tackling a vexing dependency on imported oil. The other important driver was the need for cleaner-running cars with significantly lower tailpipe emissions, which spoke to mitigating the smog that has historically created air quality issues in major cities across the country.

A Focus on Carbon Emissions

Then, sometime around 15 years ago, there was a shift as concerns about climate change and carbon emissions began taking shape. While smog-forming emissions and fuel efficiency continue to be fundamental to the need for cleaner cars, carbon emissions – and ways to decrease them – is driving greater interest in plug-in vehicles that enable zero-emission driving. All this interest has grown in tandem with awareness of new vehicle models that achieve ever-higher levels of environmental sustainability across the board.

Widely recognized as the most important environmental awards in the automotive field over the past 19 years, Green Car Journal’s Green Car Awards™ program takes all this in account as the most environmentally positive vehicles are identified each year, as they have been since the first Green Car Awards were announced in Los Angeles in 2005. As we’ve seen in recent years, electrification has taken on increasing importance in the automotive market and this is reflected in a greater number of electrified vehicles as finalists, and as it turns out, in this year’s award winners. And that leads us to this year’s Green Car Awards™ program.

Green Car of the Year

Toyota Prius Prime, an example of green cars, is charging.
Toyota Prius Prime, 2024 Green Car of the Year.

Green Car Journal has awarded its prestigious 2024 Green Car of the Year® honor to the Toyota Prius Prime plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Toyota’s Prius has earned its well-deserved reputation as a leading eco-conscious model since its introduction to American highways in 2000. Yet, amid the tremendously competitive nature of the Green Car Awards™ field and the program’s focus – which considers not only environmental achievement but also traditional touchstones like performance and a fun-to-drive nature – the Green Car of the Year© honor has remained elusive for the Prius and its plug-in iteration over the years. That ends now with the Prius Prime’s win of 2024 Green Car of the Year.

Toyota’s Prius Prime has evolved to become the ideal vehicle for our time. The plug-in hybrid variant of the new fifth-generation Prius hatchback, Prius Prime champions the high efficiency and eco-consciousness that has long defined the Prius nameplate. Now it also speaks to car enthusiasts with its compelling style and impressive performance. Importantly, it offers the range-anxiety-free ability to drive 44 miles on battery power and 600 overall miles as a hybrid. Given the average daily miles driven by consumers, that means most Prius Prime owners will find their daily driving experience to be one behind the wheel of a zero-emission electric vehicle achieving up to 127 MPGe.

Green SUV of the Year

Alfa Romeo Tonale plug-in hybrid on the road.
Alfa Romeo Tonale, 2024 Green SUV of the Year.

There’s no lack of SUV models on the market these days so choices are abundant. Increasingly, many of these models feature electric drive and plug-in capability, and the magazine’s focus has gravitated here. To that end, Green Car Journal editors have identified the Alfa Romeo Tonale, this brand’s first plug-in hybrid, as the magazine’s 2024 Green SUV of the Year™.

The Tonale combines the marque’s sensuous Italian style with welcome functionality, a sporty and high-tech interior, and an engaging driving experience courtesy of adjustable driving dynamics and best-in-class horsepower. Its 15.5 kWh lithium-ion battery, which can be charged in less than three hours with a 240-volt Level 2 charger, enables the Tonale to drive 33 zero-emission miles on battery power while delivering an overall 360 mile range.

Family Green Car of the Year

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV plug in hybrid is one of the popular green cars on the highway.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, 2024 Family Green Car of the Year.

Honored with Green Car Journal’s 2024 Family Green Car of the Year™ award is the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, the electrified version of this automaker’s seven passenger Outlander SUV. This handsome electrified SUV does it all. Now a two-time winner of Family Green Car of the Year™,  and in its earlier generation winner of 2019 Green SUV of the Year, the Outlander PHEV’s charms begin with three row seating for larger families, with the rear seat foldable and stowable in a floor well to optimize cargo space.

The Outlander PHEV’s efficient gas engine/twin motor PHEV drivetrain delivers satisfying efficiency while offering 38 miles of battery electric range as an EV, plus a total 420 mile driving range overall. Like full electric vehicles, the plug-in hybrid Outlander PHEV features ‘one pedal driving’ and DC fast charge capability. Adding to its versatility is Mitsubishi’s Super-All Wheel Control that enables confident driving over varying terrain and in challenging road conditions.

Green Car Product of Excellence

Making the cut to become a finalist in a Green Car Awards™ category is an honor earned by virtue of commendable environmental achievement that distinguishes a model above its peers. Each of these vehicles is recognized with Green Car Journal’s 2024 Green Car Product of Excellence™.

2024 Green Car of the Year© finalists honored with Green Car Journal's Green Car Product of Excellence: Honda Accord Hybrid, Hyundai Ioniq 6, Hyundai Sonata, Tesla Model 3, Toyota Prius Prime.

2024 Green SUV of the Year™ finalists honored with Green Car Journal's Green Car Product of Excellence: Alfa Romeo Tonale, Chevrolet Blazer EV, Dodge Hornet, Genesis GV70 Electrified, Hyundai Kona.

2024 Family Green Car of the Year™ finalists honored with Green Car Journal's Green Car Product of Excellence: Kia EV9, Kia Sorento, Mazda CX-90 PHEV, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Toyota Grand Highlander.

Front view of 2024 Chevrolet Trax crossover.

The Chevrolet Trax was introduced as an affordable crossover option in 2013 and has  enjoyed moderate success in North America and Asian markets since its arrival. Now entering its second generation, the 2024 Trax is set to replace the now-canceled Chevrolet Cruze, keeping price a primary concern for entry-level buyers while maintaining an exciting aura that General Motors hopes will attract younger buyers.

Chevrolet utilizes the GM VSS-F platform for the 2024 Trax, a front-engine, front-wheel-drive configuration for compact SUVs and crossovers. Five trim levels are available including the entry-level LS and 1RS, mid-range LT and 2RS, and top-end ACTIV trim. The Trax is available in front-wheel-drive only.

Allow wheel shown on 2024 Chevrolet Trax crossover.

Efficient Turbo Engine is Standard

Trax is powered by a 1.2-liter DOHC turbocharged three-cylinder engine sporting 137 horsepower and 162 lb-ft torque. Power is delivered to the road through a six-speed automatic transmission. The little inline three-cylinder earns an EPA estimated 28 city/32 highway/30 combined fuel efficiency rating.

In a stylistic leap forward for the Trax, it’s evident that Chevrolet used its larger Blazer model as an inspiration for this updated model. A familiar chiseled front end is present along with slim LED running lights that sit atop a recessed headlight assembly. The use of body lines is plentiful with all lines ending at a large, trapezoidal grille taking center stage.

2024 Chevrolet Trax crossover cabin.

Chevrolet Trax Cabin

Along the sides, Trax takes on a muscular appearance with a wide stance and slightly flared wheel arches. A diagonally placed crease runs along the bottom of the doors with another crease shooting off of the C-pillar into the rear door. Its 7.3-inch ground clearance allows for a more rugged and capable presence.

Looking rearward, the muscularity continues with an inset and chiseled rear hatch that mimics the front grille’s trapezoidal design, with the hatch flanked on either side with attractive angular taillights. A sharply sloping rear window reaches up to a small roof spoiler that slightly curves around the top of the window.

2024 Chevrolet Trax crossover seat detail.

Contrast Stitching Adds a Sporty Look

Chevrolet has also made a significant effort in redesigning the interior of the Trax with yet more angles and body-colored accents used here. Available contrast stitching adds sporty style on both front door inserts and seats, along with body-colored seat piping. Even the shift boot gets a sporty touch. Camaro-inspired circular HVAC vents are placed at both corners of the dashboard. Easy-to-clean rubber is used on all frequently touched surfaces, such as the center and door armrests. A standard eight-inch or available 11.3-inch infotainment screen sits in the middle of the dash. The cabin takes on a driver-centric feeling with the infotainment screen and center dials oriented toward the driver. This subcompact crossover seats five and offers 25.6 cubic feet of cargo area, expanding to 54.1 cubic feet with the rear seats folded flat.

Tech and safety have been thoroughly implemented throughout the new Trax. Here, Chevrolet employs its Chevy Safety Assist 2 driver assist software that includes Automatic Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Braking, and Lane Keep Assist, among others. Both infotainment systems feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability, with the optional 11.3-inch variant offering wireless connectivity for those applications.

The 2024 Trax is taking on a large responsibility as it has to fill the gap left by all of Chevrolet’s previous compact sedans, all the while remaining as affordable as possible. This new iteration is poised to do just that at a very agreeable starting price of $21,495, with an attractive appearance to boot.

Contrast stiching on shift boot.
Andrew Bennett, CEO of EVolve, a company that supports eRoaming for electric vehicle charging.
Andrew Bennet, CEO of EVolve

Though the amount of public charging stations across the country has grown sharply over the past year – increasing more in 2022 than in the prior three years combined – driver satisfaction with charging infrastructure has dropped significantly over the same time period. From long wait times to high costs, there are many hurdles that must be overcome to accelerate widespread EV adoption.

Specifically, as the EV market has grown, it’s become increasingly fragmented and, as a result, difficult to navigate. With its wide range of stakeholders with distinct business needs to the increasing variety of charging hardware that runs on differing software, a lack of compatibility across the ecosystem often leaves drivers unsure where they can reliably charge their vehicles – what has come to be known as “EV range anxiety” – or having to toggle between multiple applications just to refuel.

How eRoaming Works

We can overcome much of these frustrations by improving interoperability and roaming capabilities throughout charging infrastructure. The concept of EV roaming, also referred to as eRoaming, opens customer access to an almost endless number of chargers. Similar to the use of roaming on a cellular network, eRoaming allows drivers to charge at another service provider’s charging station and have the charging transaction integrated with their normal method of payment. We’ve seen the success of eRoaming in supporting tremendous EV growth throughout Europe – where roaming has been the norm in countries like the Netherlands and Norway for the past decade – and it’s time we did the same in the U.S.

However, delivering EV roaming is an incredibly complex process, involving negotiated service and clearing agreements, comprehensive communications standards, various protocols, and support of multiple languages, currencies, tax rates, and regulations. Its successful deployment depends on eMobility providers (eMSPs) and charge point operators (CPOs) – traditionally separate players in the e-Mobility ecosystem – working together to share their capabilities through either a peer-to-peer Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI) protocol or leveraging a roaming hub, such as Hubject, GIREVE, or e-clearing.net.

What’s more, to enable true interoperability, EV charging management platforms must be compatible with all roaming hubs and support OCPI-based roaming, providing a scalable, live, and automated EV roaming setup between eMSPs and CPOs. At EVolve, a subsidiary of Vontier Corporation, our integrated smart energy management platform allows us to manage hundreds of thousands of EV chargers on roaming networks. From customer-facing tools that streamline the eRoaming experience for drivers to back-end technology that authorizes charging sessions, reconciles transitions between CPOs and eMSPs, and shares charge point data, our platform equips EV charging networks, OEMs, and other e-Mobility partners with a backward-compatible solution to easily deliver eRoaming and create a more reliable and convenient EV charging experience for customers.

Electric vehicle chargers like these can benefit from eRoaming.

All e-Mobility Players Will Benefit

Although a complicated landscape, what’s clear is that achieving widespread eRoaming will take the investment, collaboration, and cooperation of the entire industry. And despite differing business needs, this is an issue that all e-Mobility players stand to benefit from. Not only is improving roaming capabilities key to unleashing the true power of electrification – elevating outcomes for all corners of the ecosystem – but it will bring increased use to the charging points of CPOs and foster further brand recognition and loyalty for eMSPs, creating greater streams of revenue for both.

As we consider our goals for the years to come across the EV ecosystem, let’s all prioritize working together to enable eRoaming and increase interoperability to realize the full potential of the EV transformation.

Andrew Bennett is the CEO of EVolve, a Vontier company

Nissan Ariya EV parked by water.

Nissan’s LEAF electric vehicle was groundbreaking when it was introduced in the 2011 model year and has maintained an honored spot in the Nissan lineup, but it’s on its way out. Until the time comes for a replacement, Nissan fans in search of a zero-emission option needn’t worry. There’s another choice in the new Nissan Ariya EV.

The Ariya is built on Renault-Nissan’s CMF-EV platform, also utilized by the European-market exclusive Renault Megane E-Tech Electric. It has the same exterior dimensions as the Nissan Rogue yet the same interior dimensions as the larger Murano, owing the larger space to the absence of a front trunk (“frunk”), along with a clever space-saving design.

A Pair of Powertrains

Nissan provides two powertrain choices. The standard powertrain setup is a single-motor, front-wheel-drive option producing 238 horsepower and 221 lb-ft torque. If buyers wish to upgrade, Nissan offers a 389 horsepower, 442 lb-ft torque dual-motor configuration that also boasts Nissan’s e-4ORCE all-wheel-drive system. This system is loosely related to the racetrack-dominating Nissan GT-R’s ATTESA E-TS torque split all-wheel-drive configuration. 

As for batteries, Nissan offers two of those as well. The entry-level battery is a 63 kWh liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery with an EPA-estimated range of 216 miles. The second, more powerful option is an 87 kWh lithium-ion battery which is also liquid-cooled and offers an EPA-estimated range up to 304 miles. The Ariya is capable of charging from 20 to 80 percent in about 40 minutes using a fast charger via its front fender-mounted charge port. 

Front end detail of the Nissan Ariya EV.

Nissan Arriya EV Design

Exterior and interior design were at the forefront of the Ariya’s conception. Nissan uses many traditional and modern Japanese techniques, combining them into a rather unique finished product. The front end of the Ariya exhibits what Nissan describes as chic and timeless Japanese futurism, or iki, exemplified by its Bullet Train-inspired fascia. Its slim, four-LED V-Motion headlights are underlined by thin LED running lights, darting diagonally into the translucent front grille. Underneath this see-through cover is an example of Kumiko, a traditional Japanese pattern. Large, functional air scoops sit in front of both wheels with a diffuser-inspired gloss-black central air intake situated at the bottom of the front end.

At the sides, the Ariya assumes a more sporty appearance, but still captures some of the minimalistic elegance that Nissan has tried to convey. Cleverly designed wheels take air and push it away from the body while in motion to minimize drag. A sleek, low roofline is painted gloss-black to create a floating look.

Overhead view of the Nissan Ariya EV.

Traditional Japanese Influences

At the back, Nissan angled the rear end a bit more than most SUVs to further its sporty appearance. A large roof spoiler comes down almost to the middle of the rear window. A thin LED rear light spanning the entirety of the rear hatch is present, with a design that hints at the Nissan Z. Another air diffuser-inspired design is seen at the bottom of the rear bumper. 

Inside the Ariya, Nissan has again employed traditional Japanese design. The door panels all have an embossed paper lantern-inspired pattern around the speaker-surround and armrest. HVAC vents are hidden in the dashboard, powered by haptic-touch buttons built into the dash beneath a convex 12.3-inch infotainment screen. Along with this screen is a connected 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster with easy to locate drive mode selections. Nissan has provided plenty of rear legroom and the Ariya is capable of folding the second-row seats completely flat, providing a maximum 60 cubic feet of cargo room with the second row folded. 

Nissan Ariya EV instrument panel.

High Tech Nissan Ariya EV

Arriya integrates Nissan’s newest driver assistance platform, ProPILOT Assist 2.0. Included in this iteration is a hands-on system that aids drivers with staying in their lane, changing lanes, and exiting highways. ProPILOT Assist 2.0 also allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel, as long as the drivers eyes are squarely on the road ahead. Nissan Safety Shield 360 is also present, offering High Beam Assist, Blind Spot Warning, and Pedestrian Detection, among others. 

While coming at a cost some $15,000 higher than Nissan’s longstanding LEAF, the $43,190 Ariya crossover is more spacious, quite stylish, and offers significantly longer driving range that can top 300 miles. Overall, it represents a solid choice for buyers looking to upgrade their everyday driving experience to a zero-emission crossover from one of the industry’s EV pioneers.

Driver's compartment in a Nissan Ariya EV.
John Bozzella, president and CEO, Alliance for Automotive Innovation.
John Bozzella, Alliance for Automotive Innovation.

Requiring 60+ percent of U.S. vehicles sales to be pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) by 2030 leapfrogged the administration’s own 2021 executive order that called for 50 percent electric vehicles – including plug-in hybrid and fuel cell EVs – by 2030. More on that below.

That 2021 executive order was a stretch goal (then and now), but the auto industry backed a 40-50 percent EV sales target – presuming the requisite public policies would also be in place. 

When the companies that will build the millions of EVs required by these regulations say the pace and balance of EPA’s rules are out of whack – in fact, we told the agency those rules are “neither reasonable nor achievable in the timeframe provided" and opens the door to China – regulators and policymakers  should believe them.

It’s not too late to course correct. Here are five ways for EPA to fix the proposed rule while supporting increased automotive electrification and carbon reduction.

1.  Don’t write off plug-in hybrids and fuel cell EVs.

The current EPA rule calls for 37 percent of new light-duty cars and trucks to be BEVs by 2027 (and the aforementioned 60+ percent by 2030). Keep in mind, BEV sales were just under 6 percent in 2022.

But EPA’s proposal goes further and completely writes off plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). A 67 percent BEV-only approach by 2032 will unquestionably reduce consumer choice and push automakers to non-compliance with such unachievable requirements. The administration’s 50 percent executive order from 2021 included BEVs and PHEVs and fuel cell electric vehicles. Why take PHEV technology off the field?

2. Don't siphon finite resource from EVs to gas-powered vehicles.

EPA’s proposal also sets new rules for criteria pollutants from gas-powered vehicles that are already near zero emissions. A backpack leaf blower produces more ozone-forming pollution in one hour than driving an SUV for 6,000 miles. 

But automakers support criteria pollution reductions, most recently in California where we developed a path to reduce particulate matter by 67 percent between 2025 and 2028. EPA should get behind those criteria pollution standards.

That said, EPA’s rule requires automakers to eke out some incremental improvements by installing expensive new technology on all internal combustion engines – a powertrain the administration wants to discourage (and California has already banned for new vehicles sales by 2035).

The point: automakers are investing massive amounts of capital in electrification, but every dollar invested (required to be invested, that is) in internal combustion technology is a dollar not spent on zero carbon technology. And vice versa.

3. Sync up EPA’s rules with yet-to-be-released Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.

A vehicle tailpipe is regulated by three federal agencies and four sets of regulations. One vehicle overseen by competing, overlapping (sometimes conflicting) rules that aren’t coordinated. It’s expensive and complex and frankly why the country and automakers need a single national standard to reduce carbon in transportation through a streamlined regulatory structure.

At the very least, if an automaker complies with EPA’s greenhouse gas emissions rules, they shouldn’t be at risk of violating the Transportation Department’s coming CAFE rules and subject to significant civil penalties (that create no environmental benefit but do levy additional costs on consumers, workers, and manufacturers).

4. While you’re at it… sync up the rules and eliminate conflict with state standards too.

Let me revise that. A vehicle tailpipe is regulated by three federal agencies and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) using seven sets of regulations. EPA should get with CARB to ensure both programs are on the same wavelength and not creating unnecessary compliance burdens (that deliver no corresponding emissions reduction benefits).

5. Keep score (and keep track) of conditions outside the vehicle.

I’m a broken record about policies and conditions outside the vehicle, necessary for a successful EV transition: residential and public charging, critical mineral availability and grid capacity. EPA should develop a roadmap and methodically track this data so the country – and all sectors of the economy responsible for the transformation – can collectively assess progress.

EPA should release a public report taking stock of the overall EV market, the mineral and processing supply chain, and state of refueling and charging infrastructure. For example: How is the transition going? Is it meeting EPA’s milestones? If not, what’s the fix?

When I raise these points with policymakers, I hear: “Well, things have changed since 2021” and the 50 percent executive order. The implication: EPA’s higher EV targets make sense because EV sales continue to grow. We’re on the right path… they say.

I don’t see it that way, and most experts who’ve been building autos or studying the industry for any length of time don’t either. EPA’s proposal is an outlier when compared to the EV adoption models of S&P, Bloomberg, and other analysts. See this chart:

National Blueprint for National Decarbonization.

EPA is asking for a huge BEV ramp up in the next few years. On a graph, their model looks like a hockey stick. The pitch of that curve is most aggressive in the next few years when market conditions (consumer acceptance, supply chains, infrastructure) are most speculative.

The administration’s 50 percent goal in 2021 was aspirational, but it was also based on clearly defined climate goals – from the United Nations and the incoming Biden administration (reflected in its 2023 National Blueprint for Transportation Decarbonization). It was built on a foundation of credible assumptions. And data.

The 60+ percent BEVs by 2030 plan, on the other hand, is a house of cards (… a house of cars?). It rolls up rosy forecasts (like EV batteries will eventually cost automakers nothing) and other hopeful assumptions.

The next couple years are make or break. The auto industry is making huge progress on electrification and continued improvements to internal combustion engine technology. Don’t toss it away now. Let’s come out of this process with a balanced, achievable and durable rule that maintains customer choice and doesn’t blunt America’s EV momentum.

John Bozzella is president and CEO of Alliance for Automotive Innovation. This editorial originally ran at https://www.autosinnovate.org/posts/blog/epas-rules-are-out-of-whack-five-ways-to-fix-them.

East Peterson-Trujillo of Public Citizen.
Photo by Justin Knight

Consumer demand for electric vehicles (EVs) is at an all-time high – in fact, EV sales saw a 50 percent increase in the first half of this year, compared to 10 percent growth for combustion engine vehicles. Analysts estimate the U.S. will reach one million EV sales this year, and roughly one-third of U.S. drivers say they are considering an EV for their next car purchase. The Tesla Model Y is the best-selling car in the country.

These are the facts, yet I keep hearing claims about sagging EV demand. But to claim this is just flimsy cover for automakers who want to argue that a rapid transition away from polluting gas-powered cars and trucks is too ambitious. 

Cox Automotive recently reported that EVs sit longer on dealership lots than do combustion engine vehicles. Based on that report, many media outlets concluded that EV demand is weak. Unfortunately, most analyses of Cox’s report ignore critical data and context.

For starters, Tesla, the best-selling EV manufacturer on the planet, does not use dealerships – so there is no data on the company factored into Cox’s report. Given that Tesla accounts for roughly 60 percent of all EVs sold in the U.S., to conclude that EV demand is low because EVs are sitting on dealer lots is judging demand based on only 40 percent of the market – and the weaker 40 percent at that.

For the EVs that are sold through dealers, Cox’s report looks at wait times for all EVs instead of differentiating by type – compact SUVs, hatchbacks, luxury electric trucks, etc. Internal combustion engine data is analyzed at a detailed level, instead of lumped together, so why do the opposite for EVs?

It’s 2023, and electric vehicles come in all sizes, shapes, and at wide-ranging price points. A closer look reveals that the EVs flagged for slower sales are largely big, expensive luxury SUVs or foreign-made luxury EVs. This isn’t just true for EVs: the slowest-selling gas-powered models right now are luxury cars and SUVs priced similarly to the slowest-selling EVs. 

Large/Luxury EVs Sell Slower

Vehicles ineligible for federal tax credits are seeing higher lot wait times than others. If consumer demand for EVs was the problem, all EVs would be sitting on lots, not just the expensive ones.

Smaller, more affordable EVs like the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Models 3 and Y have set records and drove EV sales to all-time highs in the second quarter of 2023. That’s not a surprise, because the gas-powered cars with the tightest inventories in the U.S. are also smaller cars and compact SUVs. 

The issue is not demand, it’s affordability, and it's affecting gas and electric cars alike. If the market for EVs appears weak overall, it’s only because automakers are making too many larger, pricier models and not enough smaller, less expensive ones.

Analysis of the car market cannot ignore the broader economy. High interest rates and a turbulent economy are changing consumer spending habits for all kinds of products, including cars. Earlier this year, analysts found new gas-powered cars are out of reach for many consumers as interest rates rise and the average price hit almost $50,000 (a 30 percent increase from three years ago). Manufacturers have reduced the number of affordable models, leading many people to put off buying a car or opt for a used vehicle. 

MINIs are affordable electric vehicles.

Big Demand for Smaller EVs

Clearly there is enormous demand for affordable EVs. Luckily,automakers have more resources than ever from the federal government to make the transition to electric vehicles and to make more affordable EVs available now. With the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law, new tax credits for EVs make some models even more affordable than comparable combustion engine cars. 

EVs are more popular than ever, and Americans want to buy them. We are moving from the early-adopter phase to the mass market, and car companies should adjust their production accordingly. Instead of producing bigger, more expensive electric trucks and SUVs, automakers must make more affordable EVs to meet booming demand. 

East Peterson-Trujillo is a clean vehicles campaigner at Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest, https://www.citizen.org/

Corvette E-Ray driving on bridge.

Chevrolet’s exciting new Corvette E-Ray marks several important milestones for the marque, most notably the Corvette’s first application of hybrid technology and its first use of all-wheel-drive. It’s also expected to be the quickest Corvette ever with projected 0-60 acceleration in just 2.5 seconds. The E-Ray will be replacing the Gran Sport trim option in the Corvette lineup, with Chevrolet offering three trim levels for the E-Ray including the entry-level 1LZ, mid-range 2LZ, and top-line 3LZ. 

The E-Ray will use Chevrolet’s 6.2-liter LT2 crossplane crankshaft V-8 producing 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft torque. The midship LT2 is augmented by a magnesium and carbon fiber-encased 160 horsepower electric motor mounted at the front, with energy supplied by a 1.9 kWh lithium-ion battery. The E-Ray’s combined 655 horsepower and 595 lb-ft torque is channeled through a Tremec eight-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. All this provides enough muscle to earn the E-Ray a quarter-mile time of 10.5 seconds at 130 mph. 

Corvette E-Ray overhead view.

High-Tech Features Abound

Handling all this muscle is well-covered. Brembo Carbon-Ceramic brakes and Chevrolet’s Magnetic Ride Control 4.0 are standard equipment, along with staggered 20-inch front and 21-inch rear wheels employing wide, Z-rated all-season tires. Chevrolet also gives drivers plenty of options when it comes to applying the E-Ray’s lean and green power with six selectable driving modes. These include Tour, Sport, Track, Weather, My Mode, and Z-Mode. 

Plenty of sustainable and eco-friendly functions are also built in. Active Fuel Management allows the LT2 V-8 to shut down half its cylinders during times of low power demand to conserve fuel. Drivers can select a Charge+ mode to maximize battery life when high performance is not needed. An E-Ray-specific Stealth Mode is also standard that enables driving silently on battery power up to 45 mph for limited distances, a welcome function for drivers and neighbors alike.

Cockpit of Corvette E-Ray.

Corvette E-Ray Styling

A Corvette is meant to look lean as well as quick, and the E-Ray is no exception. The E-Ray’s front end retains the C8 Corvette look, with a couple of unique styling cues. A body-colored grille surround is present around the wide-mouthed opening, along with a pair of large and functional air induction ports sitting beneath chiseled, aggressive headlights. The classic Fleur-De-Lis emblem, synonymous with the Corvette name since its introduction in 1953, is seen center stage. 

At both sides of the E-Ray are a pair of imposing side scoops that guide air over the rear wheels to enhance better grip. These side scoops are outlined with a three-pronged, gloss black design that’s yet another styling cue unique to the E-Ray. Aggressive haunches sit atop both the front and rear wheels, a look that is ironically Corvette. 

Corvette E-Ray rear detail.

A Driver-Centric Cockpit

Looking rearward, those wide haunches slope back into the E-Rays slightly pointed rear end and impart a familiar and decidedly athletic look. A pair of functional air exit ports sitting above a quad-tailpipe exhaust system are surrounded by a large, race-inspired rear air diffuser finished in gloss black. Looking down through the rear window allows viewing the LT2 V-8 on full display.

Inside is an interior designed to completely immerse occupants in the driving experience. A squared, Formula 1-inspired carbon fiber steering wheel sits in front of  the driver with an 8-inch infotainment screen angled directly towards the driver’s position. A 12-inch digital gauge cluster in front of the wheel displays the usual functions along with battery life and torque readings unique to the E-Ray. A large pillar angling downward from the dash features climate and seat warmer controls, among others. Twin stitching and tone-on-tone colors are used throughout the passenger space, along with carbon fiber-accented seatbacks. Chevrolet made sure to include a front trunk, or frunk, seen on regular C8 models as research indicated it was an important feature for prospective E-Ray buyers. 

Corvette E-Ray Breaks New Ground

The E-Ray contains plenty of brains to go along with all its brawn. Chevrolet’s Infotainment 3 Plus system is present, offering Bluetooth audio streaming and wireless CarPlay and Android Auto capability.

Chevrolet’s Corvette E-Ray is a very big deal for the performance automotive world. It is the first hybrid V-8 sports car made domestically for the consumer market, as well as the quickest Corvette ever produced. All eyes will be on the E-Ray, and time will tell if it can live up to the hype. Pricing starts at $104,295 for the 1LZ coupe version, with deliveries of the E-Ray expected to begin in late 2023.

EV total energy meter.

Range estimates are important for electric vehicle drivers, especially when traveling long distances along routes with sparse fast charge infrastructure. Even though EVs do provide range information, drivers do not have much useful real-time information on how environmental conditions of the drive,  or elevation changes of the route, are affecting the vehicle's energy use.

For example, short term miles per kilowatt-hour (miles/kWh) or watt-hour per mile (Wh/mile) information is strongly affected by the slope of the road and recent speed changes. However, this is very difficult to use for range estimation, especially on an unfamiliar route, and does not provide much useful feedback to the driver so they can adapt to current conditions. 

The fundamental concept of the Total Energy Meter system here is that there are actually three important energy storage mechanisms, which may be intuitively thought of as ‘batteries.’ The first is the potential energy a battery stores from elevation changes. Second is the kinetic energy a battery stores from the vehicle’s speed and mass. Third is the chemical battery that stores the electrical energy.

Total energy meter measures three forms of energy.

The Total Energy in these three batteries accurately represents the energy available to the vehicle. Altitude and speed changes merely transfer energy between the three batteries, so the Total Energy consumption represents energy actually being dissipated to the environment by aerodynamic drag, friction, electrical losses, and climate control.

With real-time Total Energy Wh/mile information, a driver can easily adjust their vehicle’s speed and climate settings to stay within an energy budget and achieve a desired range, even in difficult environmental conditions such as hilly terrain, high winds, rain or snow, and extreme temperatures.

How the Total Energy Meter Works

It may be useful to consider the following energy equivalents for a ‘typical’ 2000kg, 260Wh/mi (@65mph) EV: The EV traveling at 65mph has 234Wh of kinetic energy, which represents 0.9 miles of range; On a road with 3.0% down slope the EV will coast at 65mph with no power; The potential energy of a 1000m elevation change is 5.45kWh, which represents 21 miles of range.

In order to provide accurate range prediction in varying driving conditions, it important to determine the energy that is truly being lost to the environment in the form of friction, aerodynamic drag, electrical losses, and auxiliary loads, and not to contaminate this with energy that is merely being transferred between the vehicle’s ‘batteries.’

Total energy meter for electric vehicles.

Vehicle instrumentation that calculates the true energy use (Wh/mi) using the total of the 3 ‘batteries’ can be used to extrapolate accurate range estimations from the most recent few miles of driving. It can also provide the driver with meaningful real-time feedback on their driving choices (such as speed,  climate control, cargo racks, and tire pressure) that can be easily interpreted to ensure that a desired range is attained. 

An EV with total energy metering will indicate an energy use (Wh/mi, to be preferred over the mi/kWh shown by some) that remains relatively constant whether the vehicle is on a level road, climbing a grade, or descending. The Wh/mi number will accurately reflect the effect of driving speed, headwinds, temperature, rain, and A/C load on the vehicle’s actual power dissipation even over hilly terrain. As the effects of speed changes (kinetic energy) are properly accounted for, the short term energy use, averaged over only a fraction of a mile, is quite a smooth function during city driving.

When offered more usable energy feedback, there is the potential that a driver may learn to optimize their driving efficiency and enjoy enhanced vehicle utility with reduced energy consumption, battery degradation, and range anxiety.

The Elevation Measurement Problem

Most EVs already have GPS, and this provides altitude information. The short term error of the GPS altitude can be several meters, especially in urban or mountain environments. For 4 percent accuracy of the total energy Wh/mi over a specific distance, for example quarter mile, the altitude must have less than 0.5m error. Another measurement method is required for short term accuracy.

A practical solution has been to use a sensitive longitudinal accelerometer to measure the slope that the vehicle is driving on. For the same accuracy as above, the slope needs a precision of 0.12 percent, or a few mm over the wheelbase. As the sensor must be mounted to the chassis (not the road surface!), the variations of the suspension loads and tire deflections introduce errors greater than desired.

The complete solution has been to use the GPS altitude data (which has excellent long term precision), averaged over several miles, to adjust the accelerometer null used in the total energy calculation. It is interesting to note that the time integral of  (accel * mass * speed) is the sum of the potential and kinetic energies, exactly what is needed for the total energy meter system.

There is another detail that needs to be considered when deciding where to mount the accelerometer in the chassis. The location should minimize the cross coupling between the lateral g generated in turns to the desired measurement of longitudinal acceleration. Fortunately most EV s only steer the front wheels, so a location above the rear axle ensures that the lateral g forces are orthogonal to the longitudinal axis of the vehicle. Lower in the chassis is also preferable, as pitch oscillations have less effect.

System Integration

The EV total energy meter is not just a theoretical discussion. A prototype was developed during the last year and has been implemented in a Hyundai Kona EV. The system has been tested in a wide variety of driving conditions.

The prototype uses a Windows tablet PC with a Bluetooth link to the vehicle’s OBDII port to get battery state of charge (SOC), volts, amps, and motor rpm. This is combined with accelerometer data and GPS altitude to calculate and display energy use information. As the software in the tablet is not linked to the NAV system, the user manually enters the destination altitude for the range calculation.

For an OEM implementation, the only additional hardware requirement over what is currently in most EV s is the accelerometer, which can use a $2 sensor chip and needs to be connected to the vehicle CAN bus. The vehicle dashboard computer could handle the data processing and display.

User Interface

The prototype system display is for engineering test and evaluation, but much of the basic functionality could be applied to a consumer oriented implementation. This view of the touchscreen shows the range display tab.

The calculated remaining range can either be based on the “E.use” Wh/mi evaluated over the last x miles (“eval dist” user select), or on a target Wh/mile number entered by the user. The target Wh/mi mode has proven valuable when it is important to ensure a desired range is attained; as long as measured energy use is kept below the target, the range requirement will be met. 

Note how the blue Wh/mi trace is not affected by altitude changes (red), but does reflect the effect of different driving speeds (white), from 65 mph freeway driving to 35 mph on a twisty mountain road. Both the trip average of 170Wh/mi “trip E” and the 157Wh/mi “E use” were well below the target 210Wh/mi “set targ” at this point in the drive, so the remaining range number would be indicating an increasing margin to the destination.  The range calculation is based on the 280m “dest alt” that is set manually. During the drive, shown cruise control was used extensively to maximize efficiency and to generate smoother data records.

An Open Source Invitation

This presentation of the EV Total Energy Meter is an invitation for this concept to be used by OEMs and anyone else as an open source technology to enhance EV products and promote more efficient transportation. The same concept could also be applied to fueled vehicles, substituting gal/mi or $/mi for Wh/mi.

Kia EV9 on a mountain road.

First teased back in 2021 with a bold, forward-looking design that’s still signature Kia, the automaker’s electric EV9 emerged in recent months to great expectations. Not the least of these expectations is from Kia itself, which aims for the Kia EV9 to take the family SUV market by storm, much like its spiritual Telluride sibling did when it was released four years ago.

Kia’s signature EV model line was launched in 2021 with the EV6, an all-electric compact crossover. The EV9 is the automaker’s second volley in the EV wars, sharing Kia’s E-GMP platform also used by the EV6, Hyundai Ioniq 5 and 6, and the Genesis GV60. Kia hasn’t released much info regarding trim levels, but we do know the EV9 will be offered in Kia’s GT trim sporting unique 21-inch wheels, roof rack, and dark chrome exterior accents. Entry pricing is speculated to begin around $55,000.

Three row seating in Kia EV9.

Three Rows, Two Powertrains

As of now, Kia has announced two powertrain choices for the upcoming EV9. First will be a base RWD option sporting 215 horsepower and 258 lb-ft torque utilizing a 77.6 kWh battery. The second is an AWD variant capable of producing 379 horsepower and 516 lb-ft torque with a long range 99.8 kWh battery. Kia is targeting 300 miles with its long range battery setup, while estimates for the base 77.6 kWh battery variant are currently unknown. Kia boasts a towing capacity of up to 5000 pounds, matching the Telluride. Charging the battery from 10 to 80 percent is handled in just 25 minutes thanks to Kia’s fourth-generation battery technology and use of an 800-volt fast charger.

The Kia EV9 has a surprisingly well-blended combination of varying styles, most prominent being its sci-fi essence. At the front, Kia’s ‘Tiger Face’ front fascia design metric is ruggedly futuristic with a large, black grille that emphasizes an appealing design flow, accentuated by slim, vertically oriented headlights that angle diagonally toward the grille. A high, sloping hood reminds us we are in the presence of a large and capable SUV. Hidden windshield wipers mean the continuity of the hood is uninterrupted, adding a subtle sleekness to this SUV.

Kia EV9 distinctive wheels.

Kia EV9 Has Futuristic Styling

Along the sides, the EV9’s most striking feature is its wheels. Kia’s use of simple geometric shapes as a base for the wheel design underscores how futuristic the model is meant to be perceived. That, along with its chunky, trapezoidal wheel arches, sharp fender lines, and smoothly uninterrupted body lines, provide an appealing amalgamation of styles. Around back, we see a very minimalist hatch with a subtle spoiler extending out from the roofline. The taillights were designed along the lines of Kia’s ‘Star-map Signature Lighting’ system, with the intent to emphasize the flow of body lines as they wrap into the rear of the EV9. Another styling benefit of this lighting system is its ability to frame the rear window, which represents yet another futuristic design cue.

Inside is a different story. Here’s Kia’s intent is to offer a cabin designed to be as comfortable and calming as possible without the complexity and futurism of its exterior. Most functions are controlled through the infotainment screen, which extends into the driver’s sightline to also act as a digital gauge cluster. Beneath the screen, Kia added dash-integrated haptic buttons that control key functions of the infotainment system. Buttons and switches are kept to a minimum to reinforce the model’s calm and comfortable interior theme.

Calming cabin of the Kia EV9.

A Calming Cabin in the Kia EV9

The EV9 makes good use of negative space, with decorative cloth inserts placed in the doors and the passenger side dash fascia. A floating center console stretches into the second row and features a reasonable amount of storage space. Optional 8-way reclining seats are offered for the first and second rows featuring heating and cooling capabilities. The EV9 follows Kia’s 10 essential materials interior production method using synthetic leather and recycled material throughout the cabin. Using a flat floor, cargo room is ample within the EV9, with 20 cubic feet of cargo room when all three rows are in use, as well as nearly 82 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded down.

The EV9 features a lot of tech with 20 collision avoidance and active driver technologies, three of which are all-new for Kia. These include standard Highway Driving Assist 2 that combines adaptive cruise control, stop-and-go assist, and lane-centering assistance. Standard Lane Following Assist helps the driver stay centered in their lane by delivering slight steering inputs, and optional Advanced Highway Driving Assist uses LiDAR technology to scan the road for potential hazards. Also standard is Remote Parking Assist 2, allowing drivers to remotely park their vehicles using Kia’s smartphone app, Kia Connect. The EV9 also employs over-the-air software updates.

Kia EV9 has spacious cargo area with the seats folded down.

With the speedy advance of electric vehicles, it’s no surprise that legacy automakers are starting to make strides in tech and production, and the Kia EV9 is poised to make a big impact. The EV9 is pointed squarely at Kia’s plans for the future of the brand and should begin arriving at dealers by the end of 2023.

Marquest McCammon, president of EV manufacturer Karma Automotive.

Approximately 6 percent of the vehicles sold in the U.S. today are electric. That’s only 825,000 EVs. When you consider that 40 percent of those sales are in California, that leaves less than 500,000 divided among 49 states.

The good news – for the environment and EV sales – is that most prognostications point toward 40 – 50 percent of all vehicles on America’s roads by 2030 will be electric.So, what’s an EV manufacturer to do? The simple answer is that there’s a rainbow of solutions.

Some traditional manufacturers are still making profits from predictable internal combustion vehicles. They’re selling the ICE experience that wraps around their cars and trucks. For example, there’s the hot version from Dodge and the off-road variants from Ford. They are wisely finding low-cost methods to stretch the lives of their portfolio products while simultaneously stepping into the EV marketplace.

A Flexible Approach

Quite a few pundits have disparaged Toyota for being slow to develop a pure EV portfolio. Their scientists, however, claim there is no single silver bullet. To support a move to lower carbon consumption, the worldwide leader in auto sales is remaining flexible. Their reasoning is that drivers across the country will not have access to a widespread full electric infrastructure for quite a few years. So, hybrid range, extended electric, cleaner gasoline, hydrogen fuel cells and, of course, full electric are going to play prominent roles for at least the next 20 to 30 years.

Tesla originally shook the industry when the investment community heaped kudos and cash on Elon Musk for being a futurist and an outsized disruptor. Now, nearly every manufacturer is sprinting into electrification, but, as usual, it will not be a one-size-fits-all formula. Manufacturers will still have to balance their portfolios to ensure profits and perform tried-and-true marketing methods.

There will assuredly be quite a few auto companies that fall away in the process. And some that aren’t making headlines today will be front page news tomorrow. Bottom line: we still have at least another decade or so of industry disruption ahead of us.

Inspiring Transformation

Karma Automotive EV platform.

Playing it safe creates mediocrity and oftentimes failure. At Karma, research, data, a brilliant design team, and common sense are guiding our efforts toward fulfilling a unique market niche. Our American luxury brand will be a variant of: Distinctive. Aspirational. Exotic-Elegant-Electric. Or maybe something entirely different, but still addressing a clean mobility future. (We’ll be revealing our actual updated branding and marketing beginning in the latter stages of 2023.)

Whatever we decide, we expect to build a competitive advantage by being a mirror of our customers in an industry that will soon be bursting at the seams. We truly aspire to drive change beyond the norm, building vehicles that inspire positive transformation in the world.

Select a strategic direction, extol the differentiators, and state the story. An entire organization – inside and out – should enthusiastically speak with one voice, unapologetically dispensing core messaging over and over again.

U.S. businesses lose nearly $40 billion annually due to poor customer service. The EV world – where there are often unique customer demands – is not an exception to this rule. In fact, as the segment expands, superior service is actually becoming a differentiator. While we’ve all been rightfully focused on sales, many of the shiny new vehicles have become a bit road-worn and require regular maintenance and occasional repairs.

This is where a breakdown occurs. A quality customer experience should be mandatory. Developing well-schooled EV service techs is an astute investment that is too often overlooked.

The Next Chapter

The transition into EVs and, more broadly, the next chapter of automotive will be defined by the experiences that automakers create for customers. As media and digital interactions move deeper into the fabric of society, the ability and desire to create an unbroken connection between the life of the consumer and the products they consume will be an increasingly prevalent focus.

It will not be the buying, the service, or even the driving that build sales. Instead, it will be how the vehicle can be inserted into the continuum of a consumer’s life to complement their sense of self and future aspirations.

In April, Marques McCammon was named president of Irvine, Calif.-based ultra-luxury carmaker Karma Automotive. His 30-year auto industry career across four continents includes engineering, manufacturing, brand leadership, marketing, and software-based product advancement.

Patrick Lindemann, President of e-mobility at Schaeffler.
Patrick Lindemann, President of Transmission Systems & E-Mobility at Schaeffler.

The concept of mobility is rapidly changing, with sustainable energy, carbon footprint reduction, and  electrification driving the evolution. As a leading global mobility supplier whose enduring success is built upon unsurpassed quality, outstanding technology, and partnership, Schaeffler is dedicated to energizing the next generation with sustainable mobility solutions that satisfy customer demands.

The successful transformation of Schaeffler’s automotive business is evident from the fact that it secured $5 billion euros in order intake for e-mobility in 2022. Driving this success are Schaeffler’s products, technology, and people.

Schaeffler has worked to transform in products in three key areas: a mix of ICE, hybrid, and BEV powertrains to meet current and future customer needs; intelligent, safe and reliable chassis systems; and new mobility solutions geared towards a driverless future. Dedicated to a systems approach, Schaeffler innovations span from electronic propulsion systems to steer-by-wire systems to innovative bearing advancements.

The consumption and emissions targets of the future can be met through electrification of the powertrain. Schaeffler offers a full range of electrification options from 48-volt hybrids and plug-in hybrids to technologies for all-electric vehicles and alternative drives, such as key components for fuel cells. The company’s systems expertise makes it the ideal partner for customers evolving into the electrified future. Schaeffler predicts the global percentage of new electrified cars in the year 2030 will be 80 percent (40 percent all-electric and 40 percent hybrids).

The idea of a steer-by-wire system initially seems almost foolhardy, as the system eliminates the steering column and the mechanical connection between the steering wheel and the steering gear. But on further investigation, this type of system has a wide range of benefits, including advanced driver safety. Schaeffler leveraged its experience in mechatronic systems to develop its intelligent Rear Wheel Steering System and took its first step towards becoming a steering system supplier. This intelligent technology turns the rear wheels in the opposite direction to the front wheels, significantly reducing the turning radius and optimizes maneuverability in tight spaces. At higher speeds, it further improves handling by allowing the rear axle to turn in the same direction as the front axle, enhancing handling, stability, ride comfort, and improving vehicle safety.

schaeffler fuel cell power for sustainable mobility.

Innovative bearing solutions play a key role in sustainable mobility by making powertrain and chassis systems more efficient. Schaeffler has developed an alternative to tapered roller wheel bearings – called the TriFinity wheel bearing. The TriFinity wheel bearing can reduce friction by 50 percent and increases stiffness by 33 percent compared to a tapered roller wheel bearing while maintaining the same package envelope. This innovative ball bearing design provides an alternative to tapered roller wheel bearings that didn’t exist prior to TriFinity.

Technology Transformation

Schaeffler has been leading the successful transformation in mobility and in the areas of digitalization and sustainability. The company has made significant investments in its U.S.-based operations to support growth in this sector. To that end, Schaeffler’s facility in Wooster, Ohio, represents its E-Mobility Center of Competence in the Americas, leading the region’s development of the next generation of powertrain solutions.

This facility, which recently celebrated its 45th anniversary, has transformed from a team of six employees assembling manual clutches into approximately 1,700 highly skilled employees pioneering motion for products like the e-axle, which is responsible for moving the entire electric vehicle, gearboxes, hybrid systems, batteries, and more. The Wooster facility is supported by Schaeffler’s Troy, Michigan competence center for chassis mechatronics and ultra-low friction bearings like TriFinity. The Troy center leverages decades of expertise in engine and chassis developments, now focusing on the next generation of technologies for these components and systems.

Schaeffler Ohio plant focuses on sustainable mobility.

People Transformation

Schaeffler's nationally recognized apprenticeship program also helps the global supplier attract and cultivate top talent that it needs to drive its E-Mobility transformation. Schaeffler offers apprenticeship programs throughout the country, partnering with technical schools to offer a range of trades. The 3.5-year program consists of both classroom and on-the-job training with a high retention rate after graduation.

In addition to apprenticeship programs, Schaeffler has partnered with 30 universities in the Americas to grow its internship and co-op programs. The company recently also developed a unique collaborative partnership with The Ohio State University (OSU), launching its first North American Schaeffler Hub for Advanced Research (SHARE) program. Located on the OSU campus in Columbus, the collaborative program is dedicated to advancing energy storage technology by working with students and professors on solid state battery and fuel cell technology. Schaeffler has several successful SHARE programs in Europe and Asia, each with a distinct focus.

Schaeffler electronics.

Additionally, the Schaeffler Academy has developed a variety of Fit4 qualification programs to support the required re- and upskilling of employees. The programs consist of modular training options with defined learning paths that consider the target groups’ different backgrounds and areas of experience. The ‘Fit4Mechatronics’ program currently offers more than 100 training courses providing research and development engineers with knowledge about mechatronics and electronics.

With a dedicated focus on the transformation of its products, technology, and people, Schaeffler is embracing disruptive change as it continues its mission of energizing the next generation of future mobility.

Patrick Lindemann is President of Transmission Systems & E-Mobility at Schaeffler.