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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Drax advances biomass strategy with Pinnacle acquisition
The Group’s enlarged supply chain will have access to 4.9 million tonnes of operational capacity from 2022. Of this total, 2.9 million tonnes are available for Drax’s self-supply requirements in 2022, which will rise to 3.4 million tonnes in 2027.
The £424 million acquisition of the Canadian biomass pellet producer supports Drax' ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, using bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS) and will make a "significant contribution" in the UK cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 (click here).
This summer Drax will undertake maintenance on its CfD(2) biomass unit, including a high-pressure turbine upgrade to reduce maintenance costs and improve thermal efficiency, contributing to lower generation costs for Drax Power Station.
In March, Drax secured Capacity Market agreements for its hydro and pumped storage assets worth around £10 million for delivery October 2024-September 2025.
The limitations on BECCS are not technology but supply, with every gigatonne of CO2 stored per year requiring approximately 30-40 million hectares of BECCS feedstock, according to the Global CCS Institute. Nonetheless, BECCS should be seen as an essential complement to the required, wide-scale deployment of CCS to meet climate change targets, it concludes.