Where should the EV charging port be located?

On the Toyota Prius Plug-in the charging port is located just behind the gas cap on the right rear of the car.  On the Ford C-Max Energi the charging port is located just front of the driver’s door.  The volt places it in the same location.  On the Nissan Leaf the charging port is located at the front of the vehicle, with a larger lid that covers both the J1772 level 2 port and also the quick charge port found on Leaf SLs.

When my wife and I were first researching the Energi, she was very concerned that she might forget to disconnect the charger from the car before backing out of our garage.  When she discovered that it was located next to the driver’s door, her concern decreased.   To me, it seems like the location on the Prius Plug-in is very poor.  Ford researched locations and decided to use the same location as the Volt.

C-Max Energi Charge Port with Nissan Leaf Charger

Ford C-Max Energi J1772 charge port is located near the driver’s door.


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California Green Stickers and the success of the C-Max Energi

2013 Ford C-Max Energi

2013 Ford C-Max Energi

As I’ve blogged before, the Prius is a very successful car in the US, especially in California.  Part of the reason they’ve been so successful is because of HOV lanes.  In California, the state air resources board issued a Yellow Clean Air Vehicle Sticker for a Prius driver to use the HOV lane without passengers.  This is a big incentive in California where traffic is congested.  Now, the Yellow Clean Air Stickers are no longer valid for the Prius.  Only the Prius plug-in is qualified.  Other Prius owners can no longer drive in the HOV lane.  As of October 9th, 2012 just 5,600 of 40,000 Green Stickers have been issued by California.  The 40,000 Green Stickers aren’t on a per model basis but for all qualifying vehicles.  The C-Max Energi, Fusion Energi, Chevrolet Volt (only 2012 Volts with the low emissions package qualify), and Prius Plug-in are the only vehicles that qualify.  The Fusion Energi won’t be available until much later in 2013.  The Prius Plug-in and the Volt are the main competitors to the C-Max in the near term.  Assuming Ford can get the C-Max Energi shipping to California soon, it would seem like they should be able to sell them easily.   Will Prius owners trade in their Prius for a C-Max Energi?  I think it is possible the C-Max Energi sells well in California and that will help to build name recognition throughout the country.  It should be interesting to see whether this makes a difference in the sales of the Energi.


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How fast will EV (PHEV, EREV, BEV, etc) cars be adopted?

In late September, Toyota announced that it stopped widespread sales of EV vehicles.  It plans on selling less than 1,000 RAV4 electrics over the next three years.  They had planned on selling the eQ electric minicar, but now plan on selling just hundred in a limited release.  Toyota said it would emphasize traditional hybrid vehicles.  It plans to include a hybrid drivetrain option for 21 different models.  Toyota planned on selling more than 35,000 Prius plug-in hybrids in Japan in 2012.  They have only sold 8,400, according to the Reuters article on September 24th, 2012.  Nissan is forecasting 10% of sales will be plug-in vehicles by 2020.  According to an article at plugincars.com, 85% of Toyota dealers agreed with Toyota’s decision to drop plug-in vehicles and emphasize hybrid models.

Reading my blog, it is clear I’m more optimistic.  I think the Prius plug-in was poorly implemented.  The Ford C-Max Energi may outsell the C-Max hybrid, even though Ford believes it will only account for a small percent of C-Max sales.  Is Toyota missing an opportunity?  Will Ford or other companies leap-frog Toyota by producing more energy-efficient vehicles?  Perhaps it is still too early for EV vehicles.  With the current tax credits and discounts on leases, Nissan Leafs and Chevrolet Volts are competitive or even less expensive for cost of ownership than traditional (ICE) vehicles.   It will be interesting to see what happens over the next few years.

Ford C-MAX Energi

2013 Ford C-MAX Energi


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