Which new EVs combine all-wheel drive, 40 mpg or more, and cost less than $30,000?
And why did the electric Microbus take so long to get to the U.S.?
This is our look back at the Week In Reverse—right here at Green Car Reports—for the week ending June 9, 2023.
General Motors announced Thursday that GM vehicles will gain Tesla Supercharger access in 2024. Further, future GM EVs will drop the CCS port in favor of the Tesla charge port. Following on Ford’s commitment to the Tesla standard, called NACS, just a couple weeks earlier, that puts three U.S. automakers—Tesla, Ford, and GM—on the same domestic EV charging standard.
GM EVs get Tesla Supercharger access in 2024
Why was the VW ID.Buzz delayed years for the U.S.? Despite concepts teasing the idea of a modern Bus since 2001, and the concept previewing this design originating seven years ago, America will wait more than a year more for its VW electric van. As executives outlined to Green Car Reports last week, focus groups were partly why; so was a need to leap past VW’s software and interface woes.
That said, there were several plug-in vehicle debuts this week. The Volvo EX30 EV will start around $35,000 in the U.S., the automaker revealed Wednesday, in a form that might achieve a range of about 275 miles. In its optional Twin Motor form, the EX30 will be Volvo’s fastest-accelerating vehicle ever, while the EX30 lineup is professed to have the brand’s lowest carbon footprint of any vehicle it’s made.
2024 Lexus TX
The 2024 Lexus TX 550h+ plug-in hybrid will offer a 33-mile electric range, then 30 mpg, the Toyota luxury brand anticipated at its introduction. The PHEV is part of a broader rollout of the new TX line, including a TX500h hybrid, that offers up three rows of seating in what amounts to a Lexus equivalent to the Toyota Grand Highlander.
And much as the Porsche Mission E from years ago provided an early preview of the Porsche Taycan four-door, the Porsche Mission X concept unveiled Thursday and shows the direction of future electric sports cars from the brand—with a 900-volt system architecture and a racing-derived, carbon-fiber exoskeleton.
Porsche Mission X concept
In noteworthy models we won’t see for the U.S., the Lexus luxury brand has revealed a new, smaller hybrid model called LBX for Europe and Japan. A foot shorter than the UX that is sold in America, the Lexus LBX hybrid hatchback marks the looks easy to park, but its launch brings back the brand’s controversial “self-charging” marketing language that’s been banned in some markets. And GM rolled out another head-turning concept car for China last week. The Buick Proxima, designed in Shanghai, is a gullwing flagship EV concept that will remind some of the Tesla Model X. While Buick is far more important to China, the automaker hinted that future designs like this intended for that market could reach the U.S.
Buick Proxima concept
Tax credit eligibility and price cuts are helping make a few plug-in models significantly more affordable. Firstly, the base Tesla Model 3 now qualifies for the full $7,500 EV tex credit, the EPA confirmed on Tuesday—lowering the effective price, for those income-qualified, under $35,000. Until last week it was only eligible for half that, and Tesla hasn’t yet confirmed what it changed in battery sourcing to meet the top eligibility tier. And with the introduction of a lower base price for the 2024 Jeep Wrangler 4xe, this top-selling U.S. plug-in hybrid is likely to keep its interest and sales bustling—especially with its eligibility for a $3,750 EV tax credit.
2024 Alfa Romeo Tonale
The Alfa Romeo Tonale plug-in hybrid goes 33 electric miles, according to its EPA ratings as confirmed by the automaker this past week—although as a hybrid it only returns 29 mpg. How does it fit into the plug-in hybrid landscape?
According to federal documents referenced in a recent report, Stellantis and GM recently paid record fuel economy fines—a combined $363, for shortfalls that in GM’s case go all the way back to 2016.
GM CEO Mary Barra said last week that EV battery costs are still too high to build profitable EVs in the $30,000 to $40,000 range. Given GM’s intent to craft its Ultium EV lineup around profitability, it’s not yet entirely clear what this means for upcoming models with price points well under $40,000—like the upcoming $30,000 Chevy Equinox EV.
2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV
A recent University of Michigan study found that shifting Lyft and Uber ride-hailing to EVs wouldn’t make much of a difference—just 3% per trip, on average, due to increased traffic congestion and additional travel to and from charging stations.
Colorado is incentivizing smaller, cheaper EVs with its latest state electric vehicle incentives, which were re-upped and boosted in May. With a $5,000 credit, plus an additional $2,500 on tap for vehicles with an MSRP under $35,000, they’re among the most generous EVs incentives among U.S. states.
If you don’t have a place to plug in but want an affordable, high-mpg vehicle with all-wheel drive, there are just three hybrid models that offer up AWD, top 40 mpg, and cost less than $30,000. And it just so happens they’re all Toyotas.
2023 Toyota Prius XLE
And how often do plug-in hybrid drivers plug in? Fields of data suggest it’s not as often as the EPA assumes in its fleet emissions rules, so it’s likely tightening them by assuming owners plug in a smaller portion of the time—giving automakers less of a regulatory boost from them.