Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Preview 2015
Read this in the December issue of Energy Digital!
There’s something about the hum of an old-school muscle car engine that is just undeniably cool. Maybe it’s the images conjured of classic cars and the untouchably cool people driving them (see: Bruce Willis in the Gorillaz “Stylo” video), but there’s something that’s made their appeal evergreen. With the recent surge in the retro stylings of these cars, one might expect them to be the talk of the auto market.
That topic, however, is reserved for electric and hybrid vehicles.
So, what are the hottest cars hitting the market and which should you be watching out for?
Starts at: $69,000
What more can I say?
There isn’t a single car that’s captured the global car market’s attention like the Model S. It’s beautiful, it’s clean, it’s luxurious, and it’s undeniably cool.
Plus, it’s fast—really fast.
The Model S can hit 0-60 in just 5.6 seconds and tops out around 125 mph, which is nothing to sneeze at. It’s also purely electric, running on Tesla’s impressive lithium battery. It has a range of about 300 miles on a single charge, which is not designed for long road trips. If you have one of these though, that’s not what you’re using it for.
Also, don’t let that base price fool you: the Model S generally costs around $100,000 or so when properly equipped. Still, considering what you’re getting, the price is very much justified.
Starts at: $29, 860
The Leaf is quietly brilliant. The first mass-produced fully electric vehicle, it runs on a lithium ion battery, not dissimilar to the Model S. However, the Leaf is much more affordable. The Leaf also benefits from clean design, as the car itself is quite attractive in its hatchback form.
Nissan touts the car’s zippiness, claiming it doesn’t lose and power or reactive feel from being electric, a concern some have voiced in the past.
“Upon its arrival in 2011, the Leaf garnered much praise but also a few complaints that were mostly to do with charging times and a high sticker cost,” AutoTrader.com writes. “Since we know how rumors can persist, we are happy to say that the 2015 Leaf no longer suffers from any of these flaws. A revised 6.6-kilowatt on-board charger lets the Leaf recharge in half the time that it took the 2012 model to recharge. The entry-level S resolves the pricing problem, while numerous upgrades to the upper trims make the Leaf feel more like any other gasoline car.”
The leaf also coordinates with a smartphone app that lets you manage the car in the palm of your hand.
Starts at: $29,995
The Focus Electric is getting a price drop—a hefty one at that. The 2015 model is down $6,000 from its previous price in hopes to get more people to shell out the cash for the car. Other than that, though, the 2015 model isn’t very different from the previous years, though the differences between the regular Focus and EV version are even less noticeable.
“The exterior visual distinctions between the ICE and EV are minimal, and basically nonexistent from the A-pillar to the rear,” Sebastian Blaco, writing for AutoBlog, said. “Up front, you can see the charge port, of course, but the front fascia has also undergone a bit of an adjustment. The front doesn't have the ICE version's flattened grille and the EV's Ford logo creates a bump in the hood line where none exists on the ICE. The 2015's grille is also different than the one on the 2014 Focus Electric, being slightly smaller (you can see this better if you compare pictures in our new gallery above to these of the 2011 Focus Electric and these of the gas-powered 2015 Focus).”
There’s also a slight difference in the 2015 intertior, but it’s minimal. So, if it’s all the same as a gas-powered version, why not just go electric?
Starts at: $136,625
While the Model S is certainly a luxury vehicle, the i8 takes it a whole different level.
While BMW is already known for its incredible craftsmanship and attention to detail, the i8 is the next evolution of what is already seen as close to automobile perfection.
A plug-in hybrid, the i8 screams from 0-60 in a mere 3.8 seconds. It’s an incredible automobile that’s both fun and functional, as it offers several different driving modes based on the situation.
Car and Driver gave the i8 a coveted 5-star rating, struggling to find anything wrong with it outside of several small nit-picks. They compare the i8 to the iconic DeLorean DMC-12, earning its place among the immortal ranks of “Hollywood car-porn stars.” Getting your hands on one of these things is a bit tricky, though.
“Regrettably, it’s too low volume (fewer than 500 will be made per year) and arguably too expensive to wreak havoc in the traditional sports-car ranks,” Car and Driver’s Don Sherman writes. “No, its playground is elsewhere. Remember that, globally, the number of city centers shunning CO2 emitters is rising. That means BMW i8 owners will enjoy exclusive access to at least a few areas denied to ordinary sports cars. Back to the future indeed.”
Starts at: $24, 200
“The hybrid that started it all.” That’s the tagline for the 2015 Toyota Prius, and in all fairness, they’re kind of right.
While the Prius was almost a joke for many years due its odd shape and “high-brow” associations, Toyota is having the last laugh, seeing as how it consistently makes the best-seller lists each year. As of September 2014, the company surpassed the mark of 7 billion hybrids sold globally.
While it’s not the Model S or the i8, the Prius is still a reliable car that makes for an easy point of entry for non-hybrid owners.
“We'll wait to see whether Toyota can meet all its goals, but the current 2015 Prius Liftback and Plug-In remain the most economical gasoline cars sold in the U.S.—as they have been since their launch for 2010,” The Car Connection’s John Voelcker writes. “Only electric cars are more efficient, and other makers have had six years to try to beat the Prius in fuel-economy ratings. None have succeeded.”
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UK must stop blundering into high carbon choices warns CCC
The UK Government must end a year of climate contradictions and stop blundering on high carbon choices, according to the Climate Change Committee as it released 200 policy recommendations in a progress to Parliament update.
While the rigour of the Climate Change Act helped bring COP26 to the UK, it is not enough for Ministers to point to the Glasgow summit and hope that this will carry the day with the public, the Committee warns. Leadership is required, detail on the steps the UK will take in the coming years, clarity on tax changes and public spending commitments, as well as active engagement with people and businesses across the country.
"It it is hard to discern any comprehensive strategy in the climate plans we have seen in the last 12 months. There are gaps and ambiguities. Climate resilience remains a second-order issue, if it is considered at all. We continue to blunder into high-carbon choices. Our Planning system and other fundamental structures have not been recast to meet our legal and international climate commitments," the update states. "Our message to Government is simple: act quickly – be bold and decisive."
The UK’s record to date is strong in parts, but it has fallen behind on adapting to the changing climate and not yet provided a coherent plan to reduce emissions in the critical decade ahead, according to the Committee.
- Statutory framework for climate The UK has a strong climate framework under the Climate Change Act (2008), with legally-binding emissions targets, a process to integrate climate risks into policy, and a central role for independent evidence-based advice and monitoring. This model has inspired similarclimate legislation across the world.
- Emissions targets The UK has adopted ambitious territorial emissions targets aligned to the Paris Agreement: the Sixth Carbon Budget requires an emissions reduction of 63% from 2019 to 2035, on the way to Net Zero by 2050. These are comprehensive targets covering all greenhouse gases and all sectors, including international aviation and shipping.
- Emissions reduction The UK has a leading record in reducing its own emissions: down by 40% from 1990 to 2019, the largest reduction in the G20, while growing the economy (GDP increased by 78% from 1990 to 2019). The rate of reductions since 2012 (of around 20 MtCO2e annually) is comparable to that needed in the future.
- Climate Risk and Adaptation The UK has undertaken three comprehensive assessments of the climate risks it faces, and the Government has published plans for adapting to those risks. There have been some actions in response, notably in tackling flooding and water scarcity, but overall progress in planning and delivering adaptation is not keeping up with increasing risk. The UK is less prepared for the changing climate now than it was when the previous risk assessment was published five years ago.
- Climate finance The UK has been a strong contributor to international climate finance, having recently doubled its commitment to £11.6 billion in aggregate over 2021/22 to 2025/26. This spend is split between support for cutting emissions and support for adaptation, which is important given significant underfunding of adaptation globally. However, recent cuts to the UK’s overseas aid are undermining these commitments.
In a separate comment, it said the Prime Minister’s Ten-Point Plan was an important statement of ambition, but it has yet to be backed with firm policies.
Baroness Brown, Chair of the Adaptation Committee said: “The UK is leading in diagnosis but lagging in policy and action. This cannot be put off further. We cannot deliver Net Zero without serious action on adaptation. We need action now, followed by a National Adaptation Programme that must be more ambitious; more comprehensive; and better focussed on implementation than its predecessors, to improve national resilience to climate change.”
Priority recommendations for 2021 include setting out capacity and usage requirements for Energy from Waste consistent with plans to improve recycling and waste prevention, and issue guidance to align local authority waste contracts and planning policy to these targets; develop (with DIT) the option of applying either border carbon tariffs or minimum standards to imports of selected embedded-emission-intense industrial and agricultural products and fuels; and implement a public engagement programme about national adaptation objectives, acceptable levels of risk, desired resilience standards, how to address inequalities, and responsibilities across society.
Drax Group CEO Will Gardiner said the report is another reminder that if the UK is to meet its ambitious climate targets there is an urgent need to scale up bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).
"As the world’s leading generator and supplier of sustainable bioenergy there is no better place to deliver BECCS at scale than at Drax in the UK. We are ready to invest in and deliver this world-leading green technology, which would support clean growth in the north of England, create tens of thousands of jobs and put the UK at the forefront of combatting climate change."
Drax Group is kickstarting the planning process to build a new underground pumped hydro storage power station – more than doubling the electricity generating capacity at its iconic Cruachan facility in Scotland. The 600MW power station will be located inside Ben Cruachan – Argyll’s highest mountain – and increase the site’s total capacity to 1.04GW (click here).
Lockdown measures led to a record decrease in UK emissions in 2020 of 13% from the previous year. The largest falls were in aviation (-60%), shipping (-24%) and surface transport (-18%). While some of this change could persist (e.g. business travellers accounted for 15-25% of UK air passengers before the pandemic), much is already rebounding with HGV and van travel back to pre-pandemic levels, while car use, which at one point was down by two-thirds, only 20% below pre-pandemic levels.