California regulator Mary Nichols is looking to transform the auto industry. In order to meet emissions reductions in California, the state will need 100% of vehicles to be zero emissions or almost zero emissions by 2050. As a practical matter, that means that all vehicles sold in California will need to be battery electric vehicles, plug in hybrid vehicles, or fuel cell vehicles by 2030. The conventional internal combustion engine will be a thing of the past and California will eliminate gas burning cars.
Will this be technologically feasible? Yes, all three technologies are available now and offered to the public. The current limitation for the adoption of battery electric vehicles (BEV) is range and charging infrastructure. Battery improvements have meant that acceptable range of almost 300 miles to a charge is available at a high price with the Tesla, and more affordable 200 mile range vehicles are expected in 2017. Charging infrastructure is growing by leaps and bounds. With electrical supply available in almost all but the most remote areas, making chargers available is often a matter of running wires and installing the chargers.
Fuel Cell vehicles don’t have the range issues that BEVs have, but the infrastructure doesn’t exist. California plans to build more fuel stations but they cost 10 times or more the cost of a DC Fast charger for a BEV. The method of generating hydrogen can also be an issue. It takes four times the energy to create hydrogen that is zero emission vs using natural gas methods. Natural gas methods don’t cost as much or use as much energy, but don’t reduce Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions as much.
Plug in hybrids are a compromise solution that doesn’t give the energy efficiency of a BEV or completely eliminate emissions due to their gas engine. These will probably be the car of choice until BEV technology and costs come down or fuel cell vehicle infrastructure and costs become competitive.
Here’s the link to the original article in Bloomberg:
Several articles and studies have been done recently regarding whether electric vehicles (EV’s) are really green. Are gas cars better for the environment? If we could switch to battery electric vehicles, should we?
In reviewing this question, there are three areas that I feel merit review:
- Energy efficiency
- Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Cost comparison
Each is worth looking at independently. So I’ll look at each in a separate post, this being the second.
GREENHOUSE GASES AND EMISSIONS
So with this second article, we’ll take a look at greenhouse gases.
The internal combustion engine generates a lot of toxic gases. There are definitive links between auto exhaust and asthma as well as cancer. There are also links between high levels of air pollution and heart attacks. Several studies have linked auto exhaust, especially diesel exhaust, to autism, Alzheimer’s and dementia, though I will point out that these studies do not necessarily show a cause and effect relationship. There are a lot of factors that have improved the quality of the exhaust from an internal combustion engine through the years. These include catalytic converters, filters, fuel injection, and other methods. Through the years, auto manufacturers have reduced the amount of poisonous emissions from gas burning engines dramatically. So much so that suicides by carbon monoxide poisoning from running a car in the garage have pretty much been eliminated and the number of accidental deaths from someone running the engine to make the heater work in a snowed-in vehicle is a rare occurrence. Even so, the nature of the internal combustion engine is that hazardous emissions, while they can be reduced, cannot be eliminated.
Electric Vehicles have no emissions at all at the point of operation. There are no gases generated at the point of use. Batteries are sealed and generally have a gel rather than a liquid core, so there are no harmful fumes. Recent breakthroughs in solid-state batteries may eliminate any liquid or out-gassing risk for battery electric vehicles. While there are no emissions generated at the point of use, the source of power used to generate the electricity may generate gasses. The generation of electricity is where an electric vehicle might not be green. On the other hand, the polluting power plant is probably not in your garage, backyard, or neighborhood, so the quality of the air one personally breathes will probably be improved by trading the gas burner for an electric vehicle. The gas burning car’s exhaust will always be a few yards away from your nose when you drive, though the electric power plant is probably miles away.
Each source of energy used to generate electricity has its own total GHG emission levels. To keep the analysis simple, I’ve chosen four sources for power and will compare GHG equivalents, which converts various pollutants into CO2 equivalent factors. First and last are Coal and Solar, which represent the worst and best GHG emissions for commonly used sources of energy. I’ve used grid mix emission numbers for comparison in the second and third positions. The US grid mix is used for the average. Those who live in high coal using states will have an emission level somewhere between the coal and US grid mix level. Since most EVs being driven today are in California, I’ve also included the CA grid mix, which is significantly cleaner than the US grid mix.
EMISSIONS AT POINT OF USE
Unlike the prior article, where it made sense to show the Pump/Plug-to-Wheel (PTW) efficiency, because EVs have zero emissions, there’s no point in putting up a chart comparing PTW of gas to EV vehicles. The gas cars give off toxic gases at the point of use, the EVs don’t.
EMISSIONS IN GENERATION
The chart below shows the well-to-wheels (WTW) emissions using the GREET application to generate our numbers. For the gas cars, I’ve compared a fuel-efficient 35mpg vehicle with a Nissan Leaf and BMW i3, the next comparison is between a luxury sedan/average car (both get the same MPG on average and generate similar emissions in the model) and the Tesla. The last comparison is the most apples to apples comparison, the RAV4 2 wheel drive gas burner vs. the RAV4 EV.
Total GHG emissions for Gas and Electric Vehicles of similar classes with multiple forms of generation
Note: The GHG emissions from solar (.027 g/mile) have been exaggerated in order to display on the chart.
Using grid power and especially solar power, the electric vehicles are significantly less polluting than gas burning vehicles. Only when comparing pure coal generated electricity against gas cars does the balance shift. While it is true that when using coal, the WTW emissions of an EV can be as much as 20% more than a comparable gas burning vehicle, when powered by solar generated electricity the balance shifts in favor of the electric vehicle by more than 10,000 to 1 (3-400 g/mile vs. 0.027 g/mile = 11,000-14,000 to 1).
It can be argued that coal plants are favored when generating marginal electric power. For example, a grid running at night has a single EV plugged in and is forced to generate more electricity. The additional electricity will probably come from a coal plant. Under this marginal analysis, the EV uses coal, which is the dirtier alternative, thus EVs are dirtier. However, marginal analysis only works when there are small quantities of EVs. There were over 119,000 plug-in vehicles sold in the US last year and that is a number large enough that marginal analysis breaks down. With enough EVs on the road, the power companies will need to keep more efficient plants on line or build new plants. The power companies would build more efficient and less polluting power plants to generate the electricity needed to meet the new baseline power requirements caused by the EV usage. Which means it’s fair to compare the EVs using the average grid power mix rather than marginal power.
EMISSIONS IN VEHICLE PRODUCTION
If one stopped the analysis at generation and Operation, EV’s are the clear winners. However, making batteries uses a lot of power and can generate a lot of GHG emissions. It’s pretty difficult to analyze the GHG emissions during production; firm numbers are not available. Even if they were, a change in the supply chain can dramatically impact emissions. The Leaf is built at an energy star compliant factory in an area with higher than average coal mix in the electric grid, is it a cleaner or dirtier factory because of it, or is it a wash? The BMW i3 is built at plants that are primarily powered by low emissions electricity such as solar and hydroelectric. These clean energy sources reduce the GHG emissions for the vehicle production, but how much does that reduce the emissions generated in building the battery? To generate an answer that is reasonable, but is really just an educated guess, I’ll go back to the Argonne National Lab and use an average number based on the weight of the batteries installed. A 2010 report on battery life-cycle costs gives an average of 12.5 kg CO2/kg of battery. Adding the other pollutants generated creating the battery gives a total average GHG CO2 equivalent of 13.0 kg/kg of battery. Multiplying by the weight of the battery gives ~2800 kg GHG for the battery of a Leaf, ~3000 kg for a BMW i3, ~7200 for a Tesla, and ~4900 for a RAV4. These numbers are probably high because EV battery producers have been working to reduce the emission profile of batteries. How much has been reduced is up for debate, so we’ll run with these numbers and just remember that the numbers are probably on the high side.
From the chart, you can see that the GHG emissions from production of a gas car are somewhere between one half to one quarter the amount of GHG emissions from building an electric vehicle. The EV doesn’t look as good from an emissions point now, however, the one year operating GHG emissions of a gas car are almost twice that of the production emissions. What’s the best way to make sense of this information? Perhaps a good way is too look at the point in time where driving an EV equals the same emissions as driving a gas car. Here are several charts comparing emissions over time. The calculations below assume 12,000 miles per year of driving. Please note that the emissions from the operation of a solar vehicle have been exaggerated greatly in order to display something on the chart.
FUEL EFFICIENT CAR vs LEAF and BMW i3
The source of the generation power makes all the difference. EV’s powered by coal start out with an emissions disadvantage and never recover the emissions deficit. EVs that use US grid electricity or CA grid electricity will make up the deficit within 2 years and when solar energy is used to generate the electricity, the deficit is made up for in less than one year. Does the same ratio hold true with the larger EVs?
TESLA AND RAV4 vs GAS CARS
These charts are similar to the more fuel-efficient vehicles above, but the larger battery packs mean a larger emission deficit to overcome and more time required to reach parity with the gas burning vehicle. As with the smaller vehicles, using straight coal to generate electricity means that the EV never recovers from the emissions deficit and actually creates more emissions than the gas car over time. The time to make up the emissions deficit is longer with these larger vehicles, with grid generated power being made up in the third year and even Solar generated power takes until early in the second year of operation to make up the emissions deficit caused by production.
I didn’t add in the replacement of the battery pack into this equation because the packs last 5+ years and I’m only looking at three years on the graph. However, battery packs degrade over time. If one assumes total replacement at 5 years, the EV will still create lower emissions than the gas burner, except in the case of coal generation. Why? Because the gas burner generates more emissions in two years than a battery lasting 5 years will generate. Replacing the battery still ends up giving the EV and edge over the gas burner. You might ask what happens to the old EV battery? Well, even an EV battery that can hold only a 50% charge has a smaller footprint than the lead acid batteries currently used in solar storage. There is a fledgling industry in taking those used batteries and using them for solar storage, which extends the life many more years. Because the batteries can be repurposed, they don’t need to be scrapped or recycled.
Given the average 10-year life of an automobile, the electric vehicle using US grid power for generation will be cleaner than any gas vehicle in its class. When using cleaner grid power such as that of California, the EV fairs even better. If the owner uses solar energy to power the EV, then the EV is dramatically cleaner. A gas car would have to stop driving somewhere before two years in order to generate the same amount of GHG as an electric vehicle powered by solar would in 10 years.
1) At the point of use, the electric vehicle will always have fewer emissions than a gas-burning vehicle. Due to modern zoning regulations, electric power plants are usually not located near residential areas. So, if you want to clean up the air around your home, school or just in the area you’re driving, an electric vehicle will do the trick.
2) When adding in the emissions caused by generation, under most circumstances, the EV is going to generate fewer emissions than a gas-burning vehicle of the same class. The exception is when coal is used to generate electricity. There are a few states, such as Kentucky, where coal is the source of almost all grid electricity generated. However, when solar is used to generate the electricity, the EV is practically a zero emissions vehicle, with less than three one-hundredths of a gram of emissions per mile. If one lives in a state with US grid level emissions or better, such as the Pacific Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington, the EV is going to be the greener vehicle. If you can add solar to your house and use that to generate electricity for your EV, regardless of the grid power mix, you’ve pretty much eliminated GHG emissions from your driving.
3) Adding in the production emissions give EVs a slightly less rosy picture, but, still the EV looks better over time. The initial emissions deficit the EV has when it rolls off the production line is made up for in as little as one year of driving a gas burner and at most 3 years. Coal generated electricity is the exception to this rule.
Battery Electric Vehicles are generally cleaner than gas burning vehicles of the same class. When powered by renewable energy sources such as solar, they are significantly cleaner. So much so, that driving a gas burning vehicle for more than one year is worse than all the emissions of driving an electric vehicle until the battery needs to be replaced.
The tremendous (over 11,000 to 1 ratio) operational emissions reduction of driving on solar generated power is one of the reasons Sunspeed Enterprises is committed to using zero emissions power sources for our charging network.
Several articles and studies have been done recently regarding whether EV’s are really green. Are gas cars better for the environment? If we could switch to battery electric vehicles, should we?
In reviewing this question, there are three areas that I feel merit review:
- Energy efficiency
- Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Cost comparison
Each is worth looking at independently. So I’ll look at each in a separate post, this being the first.
First Energy efficiency
Is the EV more energy efficient than a gas burning car? The short answer is yes. In any given class, the EV is more energy efficient than a gas burning car.
How did I come to that conclusion and why is it so definitive?
First, electric motors are tremendously more energy efficient than gas engines used for vehicles. About 80% efficient for the electric motor, and 20% efficient for the gas engine. A quick look at some of the EVs on the road shows that the comparison holds with EVs getting about 3-4x the mileage of gas vehicles in the same class. A Tesla gets about 98 MPGe vs 24 mpg for the average luxury sedan. The best EVs get 100-120 mpge vs 30-40 mpg for the best small cars. The BMW i3 is rated 137 mpge city, a full 100 mpg higher than just about any pure gas burning vehicle’s city mileage. The above numbers are EPA ratings, many EV drivers get better mileage by driving in the EV’s economy mode most of the time. My personal average after 36,000 miles in a 2012 Leaf is 4.1 miles/kwh or ~135mpg combined city and highway.
But this phenomenal mileage may be a little misleading. It is based on the power from the plug or pump to the wheels (PTW), the EV gets an advantage because the electricity has to be generated elsewhere. What about the power required to generate the electricity and for the gas vehicle, what about the cost to drill, refine, transport and pump the gas? So how bad can generation costs be?
Electricity can be generated a number of ways. Solar generates electricity directly from light, wind and hydro electric use the motion of wind or water to generate electricity. Nuclear power uses fission to generate heat to run steam turbines. Natural gas, coal, and bio-combustion generators burn fuels to generate motion directly through an engine or to generate heat to run steam turbines. All of these have different energy costs to build and energy costs to operate. However, even fuel burning generators are more efficient when used to generate electricity rather than motive power. This is mainly because the generator can always be run at the most efficient speed for energy generation while a car’s engine speed is based on the desired speed for the vehicle, which may not be most energy efficient.
Gasoline is pumped from ancient reserves of oil in the earth, refined from oil (or coal, for synthetic fuels) into gasoline, and transported to the gas station for use. There is an energy cost for bringing gasoline to your local gas station that can also be measured and taken into account.
Fortunately, someone has already done most of the legwork on the energy cost for generation also known as the Well-to-Pump (WTP) cost. The Argonne National Laboratory has developed a program called GREET – Greenhouse Gases, Regulated Emissions, and Energy Use in Transportation. This model is designed as a well-to-wheels model for many forms of transportation. The model allows users to add their own data for analysis while building in research that is already complete. I’ll be using data generated using this model for my analysis.
In addition to operational and well-to-wheel energy costs, there’s the energy cost to build. The gas burning car uses about half the power to build that an EV does. The energy cost to build a gas car is equal to around 6-8 month’s worth of driving at the average of 12,000 miles per year. For a gas car, this represents about 5% of the total energy used. If the EV burned gas, the energy cost to build would represent 10% of the total energy used, or the EV uses five percent more than the gas car over the average life of an average vehicle driven an average number of miles. For purposes of this analysis, I won’t be adding this energy cost to the comparison. Just keep in mind that the EV starts with an energy deficit that is balanced out after 6-8 months of driving.
Operational Energy usage of Gas and Electric Vehicles of similar classes
The chart above shows that from plug/pump-to-wheel, in each class, the BEV has a much higher energy efficiency than the gas burning car. However, the electricity has to be generated somehow and there are additional energy costs in drilling and transporting the gasoline. So the chart below adds those generation and drilling costs, to provide the well-to-wheel energy costs.
Total Energy usage of Gas and Electric Vehicles of similar classes, with multiple forms of generation
The graphs show that the electric vehicles are more energy efficient, even if powered by coal.
A Leaf or i3 using a Coal generated source saves somewhere between 20-25% of the energy vs. a fuel efficient car. A Tesla using the same source saves about 30% vs an average car while the RAV4 EV saves about 17% vs its gas burning counterpart.
A Leaf or i3 using US Grid generated power saves somewhere between 45% – 50% of the energy vs. a fuel efficient car. A Tesla using the same source saves about 55% vs an average car while the RAV4 EV save about 33% vs its gas burning counterpart.
The real savings starts to show when solar power is used to generate electricity. All of the EVs get 75% or greater fuel efficiency than a gas burning car when renewable solar energy is used to generate electricity.
A note about hybrids
I deliberately am not including hybrids in this analysis. There are may hybrids and electric assist vehicles on the market and some increase fuel efficiency while others use the electric motor to create more power. To generalize, the hybrid will use more energy to build than a gas car and possibly more than even a battery electric vehicle, but possibly less depending on battery size. The fuel efficiency will be between the gas car and the EV. The hybrid trades lower fuel efficiency for higher range.
The EV is more energy efficient than the gas burning vehicle. That applies even if coal is used to generate the electricity. The transition from gas burning vehicles to electric vehicles will reduce energy consumption in the US. Combining that with solar electricity generation will free up tremendous amounts of power for other purposes.
Next, Part 2 – Green House Gas Emissions
The number of car manufacturers that have invested in fuel-cell technology is slim, which isn’t to say that it’s an ill advised play. Toyota, since its inception, has long been at the forefront of automotive innovation, whether by design and styling, or technical savvy. It was the first automaker to give its cars curves, effectively removing the boxy styles of the 1970s and 1980s.
It launched the Prius Hybrid in 1997 when much of the buying public was busy fawning over gas-guzzling SUVs and pick-up trucks. At the time, it was not a popular decision, but Toyota executives knew the Prius would be a money maker in due time. By the early 2000s, the Prius had become a hit, and the rest of the auto industry was playing catch up. Nearly twenty years later, the Prius is the all-time leader in hybrid sales.
So when Toyota turned its attention to a hydrogen-based model as the fuel of the future, it’s only natural to pay attention. Its track record is just too good to ignore. The 2016 Toyota Mirai, which is the Japanese carmaker’s foray into the hydrogen fuel-cell segment, will go on sale in the U.S. later this year with an expected MSRP of $57,700, according to a report from GreenCarReports.com.
As in any game changing product, there are considerable obstacles. One of which is cost of entry. At first, these vehicles will be high-priced, and heavily reliant on federal and state tax credits, both of which are written with sunset provisions so automakers can’t rely on these subsidies forever.
Then there is the expensive question of transportation infrastructure. According to Popular Mechanics, the current cost of a hydrogen filling station is pegged at more than $1 million, neither the government nor the corporate world has any plans for a rapid expansion of the filling network. Meanwhile, the fuel-cells chief competitor, the electric vehicle, has electricity everywhere. The power grid already exists with charging stations popping up at business parks, municipal centers, parking garages, along major freeway routes, and the list goes on and on.
Furthermore, there is a huge public knowledge gap with just how hydrogen can morph itself into a transportation fuel. Just understanding how hydrogen produces electricity to power a 2-ton automobile requires a refresher course in college chemistry.
Certainly Toyota is facing an uphill battle and we at Sunspeed are encouraged to hear about its courage to test an unproven fuel. Imagine the criticism it received when it poured millions into its hybrid technology, only to watch the entire automotive industry snicker at its business plan.
The key learning here is that the transportation of the future will be more about renewable-based energy and less about smog-inducing fossil fuels. A mixture of electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel-cell cars, and plug-in hybrids will help reduce the global carbon footprint, and make up the majority of the vehicle fleets. It won’t happen overnight, but that is the direction we are heading in.
Citing numerous empirical studies, analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) stipulate that the future of transportation is poised to look a lot different than the current oil-fueled model. Their analysis shows oil consumption peaking in 2004, and since then, it has remained flat for about a decade due to inventories surging through the fracking boom, increased vehicle fuel efficiency mandated by federal regulation, and the dawn of a new, clean form of transport – the electric vehicle.
All of these factors have coalesced to make oil a far less valuable commodity. In the U.S. alone, dramatic improvements in miles per gallon has cut oil demand to the point that automakers were averaging 24.5 MPG in 2001, and by 2014, that number was 31.6 – a 29% improvement in just thirteen years.
In addition to more efficient cars, automakers are steadily electrifying their fleets. Global sales of plug-ins reached 288,500 units last year, according to BNEF research. While that is less than 1% of total sales, it’s more than five times the number in 2011. The surge is due to the continued falling costs of electric batteries. BNEF estimates that the price of lithium-ion batteries that power most electric cars has fallen 60% from 2010, and will keep declining at the same pace.
There is also dwindling interest in continued investment in biofuels – gasoline substitutes made from corn and sugar in the form of ethanol. Currently, biofuels account for 10% of the U.S. fuel supply, and efforts to find an alternative from crops that cannot be eaten have stalled. Plus, lower oil costs make it economically unfeasible to produce fuels in such a manner.
According to Bloomberg Business, the world is now adding more capacity for renewable power each year than coal, natural gas, and oil combined. Energy forecasters now believe that it’s no longer a question of if the world will transition to cleaner energy, but how long it will take.
The International Energy Agency says solar could be the world’s biggest single source by 2050, despite making up less than 1 percent of today’s electricity market. According to the Riverside Press-Enterprise, last year California received more than 5 percent of its electricity from the sun, leaving the rest of the country far behind in solar-power production.
According to an analysis from the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) annual summit in New York, the energy shift occurred in 2013. That year the world added 143 gigawatts of renewable electricity capacity, compared with 141 gigawatts in new plants that burn fossil fuels. Further analysis calls on the the shift to accelerate, and by 2030 more than four times as much renewable capacity will be added.
“The electricity system is shifting to clean,” said Michael Liebreich, founder of BNEF. “Despite the change in oil and gas prices there is going to be a substantial buildout of renewable energy that is likely to be an order of magnitude larger than the buildout of coal and gas.”
The clear advantage that Electric Vehicles have over legacy cars is that of reduced operating costs. There are no oil changes, no smog checks, and certainly no heavy fluids, which are the lifeblood of an internal combustion engine. One California EV owner recently claimed to have driven a Tesla Model S for free, for 18 months, because of zero maintenance expenses.
We’ve touted the benefits of electric vehicle ownership over legacy vehicles numerous times, particularly our blog post on how the Ford Taurus and Tesla Model S cost the same over an ownership period of 10 years – so as you can imagine – this story was of great interest to us.
According to Green Car Reports, the car in question was purchased in September 2013 for a post-incentive price of $86,000. The car now has 53,000 miles, and the owner believes it is valued at $77,000, only $9,000 worth of depreciation for a car that will be two years old, six months from now. In addition, the car’s loan includes interest at 2 percent APR, for an estimated $2,400 charge during the window of ownership.
According to the owner, that’s were the expenses stop. His home parking garage is equipped with free charging, while Tesla’s Supercharger stations offer free charging for Tesla owners/leased vehicles. He had no maintenance done on the car outside of the free factory tire rotations that occur every five to ten thousand miles or so. The owner claims he would have spent $9,300 on fuel and $2,200 on maintenance driving a legacy vehicle during the same distance over the same period of time (assuming 20 mpg @ $3.50 per gallon).
Green Car Reports notes that “those estimated savings add up to $11,400–equally the amount paid in interest and lost through depreciation. Hence: a “free” stretch of car ownership.” Obviously this Tesla owner manipulated the data to fit his conclusion, which is a common practice so we can’t fault him for that. The key takeaway here is that EVs offer ownership savings that legacy vehicles will never be able to match.
Who knew a concept tire could look this cool, and at the same time, positively impact the environment. Our hats are off to the R&D staff at Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company responsible for this innovative, first-of-its-kind thinking.
The concept product, called BHO3, and revealed at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, “offers the possibility of charging the batteries of electric cars by transforming the heat generated by the rolling tire into electrical energy.”
According to Green Car Reports, Goodyear says the BHO3 can harness heat created by flexing under normal driving conditions, increasing the efficiency of electric vehicles. This could be a boon for car manufacturers who are searching for ways to extend the range of large, electric batteries, similar to how regenerative braking stretches the length of a battery charge.
The company also announced a new tire called “triple tube,” which automatically adjusts its own air pressure based on road conditions through its three internal tubes. Reinventing the tire so it is more closely integrated with a car’s computer and memory systems seems like a natural progression in automotive engineering.
Electric cars aren’t only green; they’re also a ton of fun to drive. The growing market includes dozens of models, with new ones joining the club every year. We’ve rounded up some of the new battery-electric cars that will hit the U.S. market in 2015/16. Our list just covers battery electrics rather than conventional hybrids or fuel-cell vehicles (which aren’t exactly in the same league).
Prices noted below do not include electric vehicle incentives like the $7,500 federal tax credit, the $2,500 California ZEV rebate, or other state or local incentives. Be sure to check to find out which incentives are available in your area, to get the lowest available price.
Tesla Model X
Definitely the hottest green car coming to market in 2015, the Tesla Model X is the all-electric SUV/crossover that follows the world-renowned Tesla Model S, an all-electric sedan widely considered the best mass-manufactured car ever. The new Model X is supposed to feature more than 200 miles of range, falcon-wing doors, seating for up to seven adults, all-wheel drive, and breathtaking acceleration (the Tesla Model X P85 can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds, faster than any sedan in history and faster than many super cars).
In September 2014, there were already about 20,000 reservations for the Model X and new monthly reservations were growing. The vehicle is expected to be like no other. The only real downside: It won’t be cheap. An early price estimate suggests the car will start around $60,000, but that figure may well go up by the time the vehicle hits the market. It’s not very clear when the Model X will be available – it has been delayed four times, most recently at the end of last year. It is now scheduled for release in the third quarter of 2015.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV
Another SUV/crossover, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV isn’t an all-electric vehicle but rather a plug-in hybrid. Thus, its electric-only range and efficiency are compromised a bit, but it gets greater range than it would otherwise.
The Outlander PHEV has been on the market for quite some time in Europe and Japan (its home country), where it’s been selling very well. So far in 2014, it is the top-selling electric vehicle in Europe. Attractive and utilitarian, the vehicle includes all-wheel drive, seats up to five adults, and has an electric-only range of more than 30 miles (according to the U.K. rating). Mitsubishi promotes it as a “no compromise” vehicle. The downside of the vehicle, for those wanting to be as green as possible, is that it switches to gasoline (or diesel) when the limited electric range runs out. And being such a large vehicle, efficiency is reduced. In other words, it’s not the greenest car on this list, but it offers its own advantages.
BMW X5 eDrive
The BMW X5 eDrive is a plug-in hybrid electric version of the BMW X5, the brand’s midsize luxury SUV. A release date hasn’t been announced, but the X5 eDrive is expected sometime in 2015.
The X5 eDrive includes all-wheel drive as well as innovative EfficientDynamics drive technology. Its all-electric range is about 19 miles, not even two-thirds of the Outlander PHEV, but its efficiency is still “unrivaled among vehicles in this class,” according to BMW. The X5 eDrive is also expected to be quite fast despite its large size, with the ability to go from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than seven seconds. It’s not going to compete with the Model X in that regard, but that’s still quick for an SUV.
One of the most exciting features of the X5 eDrive is its EfficientDynamics drive technology. The X5 eDrive is intelligent enough to prepare the vehicle for upcoming changes in gradient, traffic, and road design in order to improve efficiency. It uses sensors, a navigation system, and radar to help. The technology takes into account speed limits, corners, the start of built-up areas, traffic circles, turnoffs, and highway exits. The X5 eDrive also pays attention to each driver’s driving style and provides tips for more efficient travel, and will also recommend the most fuel-efficient route to your destination. Furthermore, the X5 eDrive can pay attention to vehicles nearby and decelerate on its own in the case of a potential crash.
Despite its large size, modest battery, and all-electric range, the X5 eDrive is still more efficient than a Toyota Prius or any other non-electric car on the market. The downsides to the X5 eDrive are the limited electric range and, most likely, a high price tag.
Audi A3 e-tron
The Audi A3 e-tron is Audi’s highly anticipated first electric offering. It is a plug-in hybrid electric car with 204 horsepower, 258 pound-foot of torque, and 18 miles of all-electric range. It can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than eight seconds. The Audi A3 e-tron also offers quite a lot of cargo space, 40 cubic feet.
Edmunds notes the A3 e-tron has excellent handling: “In our quick Audi e-tron test-drive, we found that the plug-in hybrid delivers the best balance and handling of the A3 range.” The only con Edmunds mentions is the noise level: “Stock tires coupled with quiet electric operation allow more road noise into the cabin.” If superb fuel efficiency is the goal, the A3 e-tron doesn’t compare to an all-electric vehicle. Its 18 miles of all-electric range is less than a typical all-electric car’s 75 to 200-plus miles of range. What you get in return is greater total range before refueling (about 550 miles).
Audi has not yet announced pricing and a release date, but the A3 e-tron is supposed to hit the U.S. market sometime in 2015.
Kia Soul EV
Technically, the Kia Soul EV has arrived in the U.S., but it is only available in California right now. In 2015, it should be available to several other U.S. markets.
The Kia Soul EV starts at $33,700, placing it the affordable class. With EV incentives taken, it is much cheaper than the average new car purchased in the U.S. Compared to the vehicles mentioned above, this is a big advantage of the Kia Soul EV. However, the car comes with fewer bells and whistles. Still, the Kia Soul EV is quite spacious and comfortable.
The Soul EV offers a respectable 93 miles of range – more than most all-electric vehicles and the best in its class – and it has a combined miles-per-gallon equivalency (MPGe) of 105. On the highway, the Soul is rated at 92 MPGe, while it gets 120 MPGe in the city.
The Kia Soul EV isn’t the most luxurious or speedy electric vehicle on the market, but it is a hip, affordable, and highly efficient option with good range.
2016 Chevy Volt
A heavily updated version of the popular Chevy Volt (an extended-range electric vehicle) is scheduled for 2015. Not much is known about the upcoming Volt, but it’s supposed to have a bit more electric-only range than the current one, as well as a different body style.
The current Volt, which was the highest-selling electric car in the U.S. market for a couple of years, gets 38 miles of all-electric range (a lot for a car that isn’t fully electric) as well as a 98 MPGe rating on the battery and 37 MPG on gas. The Volt is known for great drive quality, as it has the most satisfied car owners in the U.S. One of the biggest downsides is that the Volt only seats four people. It also has limited trunk space.
The current Volt sells for $34,345 before incentives. That’s a fair price, considering what the car offers.
You can find the original article here: http://www.fix.com/blog/new-green-cars-2015/
ChargePoint, an EV infrastructure company with more than 20,000 charging spots in North America, recently compiled a list of the top 10 U.S. cities for electric cars based on the number of vehicles registered and available charging stations. So what city came out on top?
The San Francisco Bay Area claimed the number one spot, which encompasses Oakland and San Jose, as well as the city of San Francisco itself. Los Angeles came in a strong second, leaping four spots from its previous position of sixth. Seattle, San Diego, and Honolulu round out the top five.
With its EV friendly atmosphere, staunch approach to reducing greenhouse gases, and pro plug-in legislation, it’s no shock that three out of the five top spots came from California. The Golden State has a long history of forward thinking behavior and this certainly solidifies its reputation as a trailblazing state.
The complete list: 1) San Francisco, 2) Los Angeles, 3) Seattle, 4) San Diego, 5) Honolulu, 6) Austin, 7) Detroit, 8) Atlanta, 9) Denver, 10) Portland. It appears the West Coast has been the earliest adopters of Electric Vehicles. Let’s hope the rest of the nation, particular the highly populated Northeast Corridor, catches up soon.