Will Tesla, GM, and Nissan Get a Second Shot at EV Tax Credits?

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A proposed expansion of the $7,500 electric vehicle tax credit has become another polarizing issue, both for fiscal conservatives (“boondoggle … don’t need it”) and liberals and environmental advocates (“an important tool to slow climate change”). It is of greatest interest to Tesla and General Motors, which have already hit the cap. GM is still in the wind-down phase, with a maximum one-quarter credit, or $1,875, for the six months starting next month. Nissan will likely hit the cap in 2-3 years. Ford and Toyota may get there by 2025.

A proposal in front of Congress would expand the tax credit by another 400,000 vehicles per automaker for a total of 600,000. The maximum tax credit would become $7,000, not $7,500, and it would continue t0 apply to purely electric vehicles as well as to plug-in hybrids, but not to hybrids that only go a mile or two on battery power.

Tesla and GM are already over the current cap of 200,000 vehicles eligible for a $7,500 (max) federal tax credit. The site evadoption.com estimates Nissan will get there in 2022 or 2023.

Bill Before Congress

Tax credits for electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids have been available since 2010. Tesla, by far the largest seller of EVs in the US, has maxed out is tax credit allocation, and General Motors is winding down its tax credits during a 12-month phaseout period. (See below for more details.)

In April, Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Susan Collins (R-ME), along with Congressman Dan Kildee (D-MI), introduced the Driving America Forward Act that would extend the phaseout of the federal EV tax credit.  The legislation, if enacted, could include cars purchased between the phaseouts for Tesla and GM. Or not. Or it could be a partial credit, as people bought with little expectation of getting tax credit money. (But legislation with no provision for interim-period credits would drive EV sales close to zero in the months before passage.)

Proponents say the tax credits help drive buyers toward cleaner electrified vehicles during the period when battery technology is still costly. They note the government subsidizes other forms of energy-reducing transportation such as buses and commuter rail. There are subsidies for rebates for efficient houses, furnaces, appliances, and even light bulbs. (Some LED bulbs after energy company rebates are little more than $1 a bulb.)

While critics blame President Obama, the tax credit was passed in the George W. Bush administration, in the Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008.

“Washington has been underwriting EVs for nearly 30 years,” a Sept. 3 Wall Street Journal charges.

“It’s hard to imagine a more blatant income transfer for the well-to-do,” says a Sept. 3 Wall Street Journal, adding, “Washington has been underwriting EVs for nearly 30 years.” Critics of EV tax credits include people who say the government shouldn’t be in the business of shaping buying decisions. Others — fewer each year — say climate change/global warming is a hoax. The foes got a boost this week with a Wall Street Journal lead editorial, “Subsidize My Electric Car, Please,” that claimed the tax credits mainly benefit the wealthy and that market forces should decide the fate of EVs.  Separately, Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyoming) sent a letter to GOP senators urging them not to extend the EV tax credit.

Pro-EV credits people say the WSJ editorial made assertions that bear Snopes-style fact-checking, such as that “Washington has been underwriting EVs for nearly 30 years” and claiming it’s a “blatant income transfer for the well-to-do [of EVs, which have] a starting price of around $36,000.” Facts are slippery things. The feds have underwritten energy research (many kinds) for decades, but the first EV/PHEV credits weren’t until 2010. The average vehicle in 2018 sold for about $38,000 (per Kelly Blue Book), including options. Also, while four in five EVs sell to people with household incomes over $100,000 (in 2016), many were higher-priced Teslas like the Model S and X. Also, the majority of EV transactions are leases where it’s hard to determine income.

A more valuable piece of information would be to know the income of people acquiring mainstream EVs such as the Nissan Leaf, Volkswagen e-Golf, Chevrolet Bolt EV, and Hyundai Kona Electric.

If legislation does pass — and it is not currently being fast-tracked — it’s possible the backers might agree to a reduced or zero tax credit for costly EVs. If somebody buys or leases a Porsche Taycan EV — starting price $152,000 — it’s safe to say they are not in the mainstream of American wage-earners. Legislation also faces uncertain odds of being signed by the President. EV credits flow especially to staunch blue states such as California more than, say, West Virginia (the reddest state of the 2016 election). For tax credit backers, the long game may be waiting to see which way the nation votes in 2020. If the Senate, House, and President all go Democratic, the odds of a tax credit reinstatement are higher. The winning arguments may revolve around climate change issues and supporting new technologies.

For 2019, however, the No. 1 automotive/climate change discussion revolves around how much control California and a dozen other states have in setting their own pollution rules. For decades, California, because of its unique pollution issues especially in the Los Angeles basin, has had the choice of following federal air pollution regulations or setting its own. Thirteen other states have chosen to use California’s emissions rules: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

In July, four automakers cut a deal with California to adopt even tougher tailpipe emission rules. That effectively snubbed President Trump’s goal of a standards rollback.

Rules for the EV Tax Credit

The tax credit for an EV has several rules. They’re not hard to understand once you grasp it’s a credit on taxes you’d otherwise owe. It’s not a check, and it’s not always $7,500. To qualify for a tax credit:

  • It must be an electrified vehicle with a battery of at least 4 kilowatt-hours capacity, which is another way of saying hybrids such as the Toyota Prius do not qualify. Also, it must be capable of being charged by an external electric source, meaning it can’t just be recharged by the combustion engine or brake regeneration. It can’t weigh more than 14,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (the latter not a problem for passenger cars or even the biggest SUVs or pickups).
  • The full credit, $7,500, requires at least a 16 kWh battery. Cars with 4-16 kWh get partial credit. See the EPA fuel economy site for specific-car info.
  • Traditional hybrids already had their own tax-credit program. It’s gone, it’s not likely to come back, and hybrids sometimes cost only $1,000 more than gasoline-only versions. That means there’s little need for a tax credit, since the buyer may well earn back the cost delta over a couple of years.
  • It’s a tax credit, not a tax refund or other check from Uncle Sam. This is good because a tax credit is worth more than money back, on which you’d then typically owe taxes. But you have to owe taxes to get a tax credit and you have to owe taxes in the calendar year you bought the car. If you want a $7,500 credit, you need to owe $7,500 in taxes (over the course of the year, not the extra you might owe April 15.) It is not good if you don’t owe taxes, but then, most Americans would be happy to trade places with you assuming you’ve figured how to not pay taxes and still afford a new car.
  • The tax credit accrues to whoever bought the car. If you leased the car, the credit goes to the leasing company (or whoever holds title) and you should see a $7,500 offset in the implied priced of the car. If you didn’t get it, find someplace else to lease.
  • A dealer demo doesn’t count when you buy it almost-new, but the dealer should be figuring the credit into what it sells the car for. There is one credit per qualifying car, and it applies to the first purchaser.
  • When an automaker reaches 200,000 cumulative sales (counting from January 2010), the tax credit phases out, gradually:
    – The quarter that automaker hits 200,000 doesn’t count, nor does the quarter following. If an automaker hit 200,000 this month (September 2019), the third and four quarters would be full-tax-credit quarters.
    –  The following two quarters, the buyer is eligible for a half-credit, or up to $3,750.
    – The next two quarters, it’s a one-quarter credit, or up to $1,875.
    – Then the credit goes away (unless The Congress acts).

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Porsche Taycan EV Sedan Debuts: $152,250 and Up, 670 hp, 0-60 in 3 seconds

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Game on, Tesla. The Porsche Taycan EV sedan unveiled Wednesday (Sept. 4) in advance of the Frankfurt auto show is a vehicle of superlatives, a low-slung sedan with speed, handling, and most of all, the Porsche name. It will cost half again as much as a Tesla Model S Performance model, a plus for early buyers with deep pockets who want to show off, and later on a challenge because there’s a limit to how many super-costly cars the market can absorb.

According to the trio of worldwide announcements — in China, in Europe and in Niagara Falls, Ontario — the Taycan Turbo will be $152,250 in the US (including freight), while the Taycan Turbo S will be $186,350 with launch-special pricing, after which they go up an additional $2,410 and $2,610. The “Turbo” part of the name is a misnomer (the Taycans are electric-only vehicles) but why not: There’s enough BS already floating around the high end of the EV business. What’s a little more among friends?

The Porsche Taycan, here in its side view, looks like the Panamera.

Mission E Comes to Life

The 2020 Porsche Taycan evolved from the concept car called the Mission E that was unveiled at the 2015 Frankfurt auto show. The Mission E-now-Taycan is Porsche’s first electric except for a couple dating back a century. In silhouette, it looks a lot like the Porsche Panamera sedan.

The Taycan is an all-wheel-drive vehicle with a motor for the front axle and a second for the rear axle. The Taycan uses an 800-volt electrical architecture with the possibility of lightning-fast recharges at the right charge-points. It is the same electrical architecture as the Audi e-Tron GT. Porsche says it takes just 22.5 minutes to run up the battery from 5 percent to 80 percent with a DC fast charger that produces 270 kW of power, under ideal conditions. (Tesla says it takes 20 minutes to charge to 50 percent, using a 150-kW Supercharger.) Charge times can be reduced if the owner sets a departure time into their phone app and the battery will be warmed or chilled, depending on ambient conditions, prior to charging. US-bound Taycans will get free charging (the first 30 minutes) for three years through Electrify America.

Inside, there’s a 16.8-inch LCD instrument panel, a center stack LCD smaller than Tesla’s, and an optional passenger-facing LCD display for entertainment. It can’t be seen by the driver. As on the Panamera, the center console is chock full of gauges and switches and extends almost to the back seat.

The Taycan and solar panels.

Porsche Taycan vs. Tesla Model S

Both the Taycan and Model S are low-slung midsize sedans with two seating rows and four doors. Many dimensions are similar: 195.4 inches long (Porsche) versus 195.7 (Tesla Model S), and width is about 77 inches for both. But Tesla is markedly taller, 56.9 inches versus 54.3 inches, with a longer wheelbase (116.5 versus 114.2 inches) for a smoother ride. Tesla also has more trunk space, 28.4 cubic feet rear and front combined versus 16.8 cubic feet. If you’re going on vacation, the two are competitive — if you, as a Porsche owner, use FedEx second-day for your golf clubs.

Looking at the high ends of the line, the Taycan Turbo S battery is 93.4 kWh, the Tesla Model S Performance is 100 kWh. Both battery packs are under the floor. Porsche projects a range of 265 miles using the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure) methodology versus 365 miles for Tesla. (WLTP figures are about 10 percent more optimistic than EPA numbers.)  Car and Driver estimates 260-270 miles for the Turbo and 225-250 for the Turbo S.

Porsche rates the Taycan at 617 hp (751 hp for a 2.5-second overboost acceleration) while Tesla is rated at around 760 hp. Porsche claims 3.0-3.5 seconds 0-60 mph for the Turbo and less than 3 seconds for the Turbo S, both versus 2.4 for Tesla’s Model S Performance. Porsche’s top speed is 162 mph (260 kph); Tesla’s is 161.

Porsche has the bigger instrument panel LCD, Tesla has the bigger center stack display, and Porsche has an optional LCD for passenger entertainment and control. Tesla has semi-autonomous (Level 2) Autopilot self-driving.

One difference is modernity: The Tesla Model S interior feels dated. It has been around since 2012 with continual improvements and is still the same basic car.

Porsche Taycan cockpit

Why Porsche Did It: The Future Is Electric

From the perspective of the US, the idea of climate change may be still in doubt — in some minds, at least. Thus the comparatively lower interest in electrified vehicles here. The long distances across the US are more suited currently to a combustion-engine cross-country drive: From Stuttgart, home of Porsche, to Moscow is less in kilometers (2,400) than from Silicon Valley to Manhattan is in miles (3,000). But the world’s automakers are convinced they have to electrify, which means more EVs and more charging points every year. And they also know that nothing provides performance like an electric-motor vehicle.

Porsche Taycan instrument panel: 16.8-inch LCD.

Volkswagen last fall said its next generation of combustion engines, rolling out in 2026, will be its last new combustion engines ever. (With modifications, that could still be two more decades.) Porsche is part of Volkswagen.

Since the Taycan price is high, there’s already talk (among analysts and journalists) that Porsche might do a rear-drive model only to bring the price further below $100,000. To some, that would be the ideal commuter car, since it’d be eligible for an HOV sticker.

Tesla legitimized the EV market. Porsche adds an honored nameplate. Interest in high-performance EVs may grow the market and help those automakers already with great vehicles that haven’t yet caught the public eye, particularly the Jaguar I-Pace. With Porsche coming to market along with Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW can’t be far behind.

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UPS introduces hybrid, long-range trucks that change modes based on where they are – gpgmail

UPS is introducing 15 new vehicles to its U.K. fleet that offer extended driving range versus traditional EVs, but that are also capable of operating in fully electric mode when required to do so, as in emission-free zones and dense city cores. The trucks, developed in partnership with commercial electric vehicle tech startup Tevva, can switch between hybrid and fully electric modes for a total range of up to 400km (~250 miles), with the same cargo carrying capacity of same-sized, diesel-powered trucks.

The trucks can operate at a much longer range than fully electric delivery trucks, which typically top out at around 60 miles of range. They can also switch between modes to stay fair of local transportation bylaws. This is especially helpful where they’re rolling out in Birmingham and Southampton in the UK, since Birmingham will introduce a clean air zone to block non-electric commercial vehicles in its city center by sometime next year.

UPS has already made use of electric delivery vehicles, but the range of its existing trucks meant they couldn’t make the trip from central depots to in-city drop-off points in every case. Plus, this hybridized solution will be able to carry a lot more packages than the fully electric trucks, which should lead to fewer cars on the road overall and less congestion, according to UPS.

The crucial difference between these trucks and standard hybrid vehicles is that they’re capable of fully autonomously switching between purely electric motors and their diesel hybrid powertrains – and can do so with geofencing whenever they cross into and out of a clean air or reduced emissions regulated zone.

UPS has taken delivery of 15 of these vans already, serving customers in both Tamworth and Southampton in the UK. They’re just one part of UPS’s overall effort to decrease their emissions footprint and environmental impact.

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2019 Range Rover Sport HSE P400e Hybrid Review: The Premier Off-Roader Conquers the HOV Lane

Land Rover’s 2019 Range Rover Sport HSE P400e is a big, roomy plug-in hybrid SUV. A battery motivates its 5,500 pounds for about 25 miles before handing off to a turbo-four-cylinder engine, at which point the battery still providing reserve electric power under acceleration.

The HSE costs a ton, the driver’s seat is not for small people, and a full recharge takes 14 hours or more if you use 120-volt current. But how many competing vehicles can go seriously off-road, ford almost three feet of water while occupants sit on buttery leather massaging seats … and the P400e gives you entrée to HOV lanes because it’s a plug-in?

The Plug-In on the Road

My P400e test car, in Firenze Red with a black contrasting roof, was cat-quick. In testing, I got all 5,450 pounds motivated to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. On highways, the air suspension gave the P400e a comfortable ride. Four-wheel-drive is standard, along with a Terrain Response system and multiple off-road modes. Going off-road (dirt, small rocks, no boulders), the air springs can raise the car’s undercarriage 10.9 inches above the ground. Most passenger cars and on-road SUVs are in the realm of 6-8 inches. Adding in almost $13,000 in packages, options and freight, the $79,000 P400e ran $93,200 as tested. You will be eligible for an estimated $7,100 federal tax credit.

Push hard on the throttle and cabin noise increases a bit, but it wasn’t harsh. The NiMH battery under the rear load floor always retains enough capacity to act as a second turbocharger. And as long as there’s battery power, you can press the EV button to shift to battery-only mode, but the car slips back to combustion engine/hybrid drive if you call for more power, or to save some juice for later.

EPA figures haven’t been released yet. In a full day of city/suburban driving or commuting, say 50 miles, you might get in the 40s (MPGe, e for equivalent). On a pair of 250-mile drives starting with a full charge, I got in the mid-20s, and even at the end the electric motor still kicked in for passing. My best effort at EV-only driving was 28 miles. A couple of issues: There was an overnight charge that netted no more than 15 miles range, and another where I shut down during a utility company power failure because it’s a money-losing proposition for the home generator to burn natural gas to charge a battery at a cost higher than burning gasoline in the engine. (Home-generating a kilowatt-hour of electricity costs about 40 cents; the local power company sells it for 13 cents.)

Adaptive cruise control (ACC) controls are big and easy to use, particularly the large resume button. The glossy finish makes them look slippery but with the driver’s hand on the wheel, it’s not a problem. Others should steal (“adapt”) RR’s design.

Excellent Driver Controls

I was impressed by the steering wheel controls for the full-range adaptive cruise control system. The buttons are big, legible, and the most important one — Resume — is the largest and easiest to find after you accidentally tapped the brake and want to resume auto-piloting. The Touch Pro Duo twin 10-inch displays in the center stack also work well. There is a learning curve, after which some aspects are genius: tap the rubber-edged knob in the HVAC cluster and it sets cabin temperature; tap it again and it adjusts seat cooling (counterclockwise) and heating (clockwise). The Meridian audio with 825-watt amp sounded excellent. Wi-Fi is built-in as part of telematics.

Possible drawbacks in the cabin: Drivers 5-foot-6 and under, meaning the majority of women, will want to sit in the driver seat in the showroom to make sure the seat cushion isn’t too long. While the first two rows are both spacious, load capacity is fair: 24.8 cubic feet or 56.8 cubic feet with the second row down, 2.7 cubic feet less than other models because the battery raises the load floor 1.8 inches.

The PHEV Range Rover Sport has a 13.1-kWh LiIon battery in the load floor. The onboard charger is in the front grille. Using 120-volt power, the recharge takes “as little as 14 hours,” and sometimes takes more. Spring for the 240-volt Level 2 32-amp Level 2 charger.

Technology for a Price

My test car had a lot of technology. Some of it is included (the HSE in the name standard for high specification equipment), such as air suspension. Even for a premium car, however, the driver assists were pricey. The $4,000 Driver Assist Pack is built around full-range adaptive cruise control lane departure warning/lane centering assist, and forward-collision warning/braking, which on Hondas and Toyotas are part of the base price. The assist pack also includes blind-spot assist (detection is standard), parking assist, and surround-view cameras. Every part worked well. With ACC and lane centering enabled, you could let the car drive itself — Level 2 automation — with your heads lightly on the wheel and your eyes still watching the road.

My car also had a Vision Assist Pack for $1,385 that combines the cosmetic (ambient interior lighting), simple technology (auto high beams), and significant technology (head-up display). It also had a Climate Comfort Pack for $1,635 with a heated steering wheel (for eighty large base sticker price, maybe it should be included, and sorry about that for South Florida buyers), a refrigerator in the center console (now that’s handy), a panoramic roof, and four-zone HVAC. Nine standalone options added $5,885, notably those front/rear cooled and heated seats; premium paint on the body; a separate black finish on the roof ($665); and the most reasonable option at $135, a 120-volt AC outlet, another ought-to-be standard.

But: If you gripe about, say, the AC power adapter being a cost-adder, you are not a luxury car candidate. (That or you have the not-unreasonable notion every big premium SUV should have AC power on tap.) You must know you and the sales associate will find ten grand in need-to-have options. It’s how the game is played and, anyway, a premium-auto dealership serves a nicer cup of Keurig. At least Land Rover doesn’t nick you $80 a year to rent Apple CarPlay the way BMW does. It also has Android Auto, plus USB jacks and satellite radio.

The P400e plug-in hybrid comes with air suspension, adaptive dynamics, 20-inch alloy wheels, surround-view cameras, blind-spot detection, driver awareness monitor, traffic sign recognition, LED headlamps, and “Windsor Leather” seats.

JLR Expands Its Lineup

Jaguar-Land Rover is pushing to grow its technological and environmental presence in a time of increased fuel-efficiency and clean-air mandates around the world, give or take the US. No surprise: 5,000-pound SUVs don’t get 40 mpg, not even 30, without help. The rest of the world is cracking down on fuel consumption by setting caps on CO2, a contributor to climate change, which is generated in proportion to how much gas or diesel you burn.

Thus the plug-in hybrid Land Rover Range Rover Sport HSE P400e – yes, that is a long name, 39 characters in all. The PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) gives the company six Range Rover Sport variants of 254 hp to 567 hp: two V6 gas turbo engines, two V8 supercharged engines, a V6 turbo-diesel, and now the 398-hp plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle. Land Rover remains one of the last suppliers of diesel-engine vehicles in the US (about 30 mpg on the highway, more than 650 miles range).

Land Rover 2019 Range Rover Sport HSE P400e. The Range Sport is 192 inches long, the Range Rover is 197 inches, and the Range Rover Long Wheelbase is 205 inches

Which Land Rover Is Which?

Everybody knows Land Rover stands for vehicles that go over rocks and through streams and is at home at polo matches. But why are there six models called Range Rover? Here’s a spotter’s guide. First, “Land Rover” is the umbrella brand, the SUV part of Jaguar-Land Rover USA. Range Rover is the prefix term for many of the models, Land Rover for the others.

2020 Ranger Rover Evoque. The outgoing Gen 1 dated to 2012..

The vehicle tested here is the PHEV version of the Range Rover Sport, a mid-size SUV at 192 inches long; it weighs 4,755 to 5,430 pounds, with the PHEV the heaviest by 285 to 695 pounds. Range Rover Sport is 5 inches shorter than the Range Rover (197 inches) and 13 inches shorter than Range Rover Long Wheelbase (205 inches). The Range Rover is the pinnacle of Land Rover luxury and size and runs $92,000 to $210,000 (for the Range Rover SV Autobiography).

The value-oriented Land Rover Discovery Sport (181 inches) and Discovery (196 inches, available with two or three rows of seating) start at about $40,000 for the Sport with a turbo four.

The Range Rover Evoque is a compact SUV, 172 inches long; it’s the stylized one with small windows. It has an aura of a city car for young urban dwellers, although it does have four-wheel-drive. It’s long in the tooth, but the second generation (photo) arrives shortly as a 2020 model.

2020 Land Rover Defender, under test in the UAE.

The Range Rover Velar is a compact-almost-midsize at 189 inches. Velar came out in 2018 and the looks say baby Range Rover. It’s two rows/five passengers only, the base engine is a turbo-four, and prices start around $50,000.

Coming in 2020 is a return of the tallish Land Rover Defender models: Defender 90 (170 inches, close in size to Jeep Wrangler by way of reference), Defender 110 (187 inches) and Defender 130 (201 inches). As for Defender’s role, think serious off-roading, think “Out of Africa” (never mind the book was published in 1937, three decades before the first Range Rover), think Ralph Lauren photo shoots. Or to be more 21st century appropriate, the Range Rover image is driving the Red Cross into disaster-ravaged areas. Actually, the Red Cross has been helping LR test the Defender in the UAE, a nice tie-in for both.

Range Rover Sport offers a wealth of interior fabrics and trims, some restrained, a handful pretty bold.

Should You Buy the P400e?

The 2019 Range Rover Sport HSE P400e is thinly available in the US at the moment, since demand is so high elsewhere, with the modest USA allotment set aside for media testers, promotions, and the like. The availability improves with the similar 2020 model arriving soon. Hold on a month or two.

When you’re paying at least $80,000, the choice in a premium vehicle is as much how you feel about the vehicle’s aura and how it looks in your driveway, in addition to how it goes on- and off-road. There is little question the Range Rover Sport is desirable, especially if you do go off-roading or tow 5,000-plus pounds. It is the premium off-roading benchmark. In some ways, the scarcer the vehicle, the more desirable. The entire Land Rover line will sell about 100,000 vehicles this year in the US. A comparative handful will be the P400e. As with any Range Rover, the cockpit furnishings are first-class. Nobody cut corners.

You might hope that a hundred-thousand-dollar vehicle would be solid on reliability. That is not Land Rover’s forte. On the 2019 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) measuring reliability at three years, Land Rover ranks 30th of 31 brands, ahead of only Fiat. It’s not a British thing because Mini, long near the bottom, is now sixth.

Another way to look at reliability: Low-rated 2019 vehicles are reliable compared with the average car of a generation ago. The average three-year-old car has 1.4 reported problems on VDS where Land Rovers have 2.2. Also, if you can afford a Land Rover, it’s probably not your only car, and the dealer’s going to give you a loaner when you come in for work. But still: Among the key competition, Lexus, Porsche, BMW, and Audi are in the top 10 and Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz are above average, while only Lincoln, Cadillac and Volvo are below average. (For the first time in VDS history, every German car was ranked above average, and the Porsche 911, not exactly a simple vehicle, is the most dependable car, rated more reliable even than, say, the Toyota Camry or Corolla.)

You may not get 31 miles on battery — that’s based on the more generous European standards –but 25 is attainable and there’s always battery reserve to boost performance. Which it does when you tromp the throttle. First and second-row passengers will all be comfortable and all can have those ventilated seats. Other Range Rover Sports offer three rows, but not the P400e, and row three is snug in any midsize SUV.

The competition by the end of the year for compact to full-size electrified vehicles includes the $80,000 Porsche Cayenne E-Hybrid, the $70,000 Lincoln Aviator PHEV, the $54,000 Volvo XC60 and $67,000 XC90 PHEVs, the $51,000 Mercedes-Benz GLC350e, and the $74,800 Audi E-tron all-electric. BMW will have X3, X5 and X7 plug-ins by 2020. Then then there’s the best-selling EV SUV, the Tesla Model X. The Jaguar i-Pace pure-electric is our reigning Car of the Year; it’s a compact SUV, much snugger in the second row than the P400e.

Some in the US  say climate change is in doubt, but what’s not in doubt is this: When you drive a plug-in hybrid, you get a high occupancy vehicle sticker for the expressway. That could be the tipping-point reason to go with this Range Rover.

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