Nissan EV London Fire Brigade

11 UK businesses lead electric car charge to set ‘new green standard’

Nissan EV London Fire Brigade11 UK organisations are among the first to gain ‘Go Ultra Low Company’ status for their early adoption of electric cars – and one, London Fire Brigade’s car fleet, is to become fully 100% electric later this year.

Launched by the Go Ultra Low campaign, the new ‘Company’ status is intended to help encourage more UK businesses to switch into electric cars. Already, it reports, there are 36% more EVs being registered today than at the same time a year ago.

Greenpeace demands electric car revolution – from the top of Nelson’s Column

The initiative requires companies to demonstrate a commitment for EVs to make up at least 5% of their fleet by 2020 – mirroring the UK government target that EVs will represent 5% of UK new car registrations by then.

One large Go Ultra Low Company, Microsoft UK, has already achieved this: the fleet is 6% EV today, and will be 20% EV by 2017.

“The UK is a world leader in the uptake of low emission vehicles,” said transport minister Andrew Jones, “and our long-term economic plan is investing £600 million by 2020 to improve air quality, create jobs and achieve our goal of every new car and van in the UK being ultra-low emission by 2040.”

Between January to April, 13,065 plug-in cars were registered in the UK, an increase of 30% – and that 36% growth for businesses shows fleets are outpacing the UK average. Two-thirds of electric vehicles currently sold are going to corporate and public sector organisations.

Business car users seem to like them, too. Microsoft UK car benefits manager Katie Colledge-Price explained that Microsoft UK first started offering EVs as company cars five years ago as “we could see the relevance of the new technology and the potential long-term cost savings.

“We’re delighted with the response we’ve had and continue to hear from our employees.”

2016 BMW i3 94Ah

BMW i3 electric car range extended to 195 miles

2016 BMW i3 94AhBMW will launch a revised version of its i3 electric car in July 2016, with a bigger battery capacity that extends the range to almost 200 miles.

The i3 94Ah model gets a larger-capacity 33kWh battery that adds more than 50% to the standard NEDC-tested EV distance: BMW now claims a range of 195 miles in everyday driving.

That’s despite the 170hp i3 EV also being capable of accelerating from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds (naturally, you won’t get such a big range if you utilise this…).

BMW does, impressively, also claim the full 195-mile range is available even if you use the air con or heating – “with no subjective loss of driving performance and agility”. Makes you wonder what the range is if you really decided to hypermile with all the systems turned off.

Gallery: 2016 BMW i3

BMW says the new battery is faster to charge as well: a DC rapid charge system is now standard.

The arrival of the bigger-battery i3 94Ah, which will cost £27,830 including the £4,500 government OLEV grant, may now make the i3 Range Extender alternative a little less of a must-have. Costing £30,980, BMW does, however, claim an also-extended range of 276 miles for this version, many times more than the average daily drive (and not far shy of a conventional family hatch petrol car).

The i3 Range Extender, which has a tiny 31hp motorcycle engine in the rear to extend the range by 81 miles when the batteries are flat, emits a scant 12g/km on the official cycle – that’s 1g/km less than before, despite the bigger range.

Other revisions for the bigger-capacity battery i3 EV include the introduction of BMW’s distinctive Protonic Blue paint, first seen on the BMW i8 PHEV supercars.

BMW has updated its interior trim packages, for more choice from the four ‘world’s: Loft, Lodge and Suite are joined by an Atelier interior trim ‘world’.

As before, all materials are a mix of naturally treated leather, wood, wool and other renewable raw materials – so, says BMW, “the sustainable premium character of the i3 (is) both visible and tangible”.

BMW also reminds us the i3 is made in factories that use 70% less energy than normal plants, which are powered by 100% wind turbine energy. The factories even use 50% less water than normal facilities.

Facelifted Tesla Model S: less grille and more wood

Facelifted Tesla Model S: less grille and more wood

Facelifted Tesla Model S: less grille and more wood

In a move that is most un-Tesla, the American car brand has released these pictures of its mid-life facelift for the Model S – and revealed that new interior trims will be available, featuring wood.

Yes, the interior will come with two new interior finishes – called Figured Ash Wood and Dark Ash Wood. Outside, the new Model S gets a grille-less front-end (just how will it look with a number plate?), as per the Model X and Model 3.

Facelifted Tesla Model S: less grille and more wood

These pictures were leaked yesterday – Tesla responded by sneaking them onto its own press website and claimed that was its intention all along. As such, information is on the scarce side, but we do know the Model S will be getting yet more clever tech. Because Tesla.

This includes the ‘bioweapons defence mode’ which, unfortunately, isn’t quite as exciting as it sounds. It’s essentially a fancy air filtration system which, Tesla says, is 100 times more effective than a regular cabin filter at removing particulate exhaust pollution as well as allergens, bacteria and contaminants.

Facelifted Tesla Model S: less grille and more wood

What could be exciting to existing owners is the faster charge time. Although the electric motor remains unchanged, the standard charger has been upgraded from 40A to 48A, meaning charging from Tesla’s Supercharger network will be even quicker.

Prices will start at £53,800 (post Government grant) for the entry-level 70D model, and American websites are speculating on a range-topping P100D model on its way. That’s yet to be confirmed – but the rest of the facelifted range is on sale now.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3: all you need to know – with video

Tesla Model 3 first lookThe waiting is over – Tesla has launched its $35,000 (£25,000) high-volume Model 3 electric car and the world is buzzing with excitement.

The firm is already accepting $1,000 (refundable) deposits – £1,000 in the UK – for the new Model 3 and during the launch event, Tesla chief Elon Musk revealed 115,000 orders had already been placed in the first 24 hours alone.

This figure currently appears to be rising by many hundreds every single minute…

Tesla Model 3: need to know

  • Price: From $35,000
  • Range: From 215 miles
  • 0-62mph: Less than 6.0 seconds
  • Seats: 5
  • Delivery: 2017
  • Driverless functionality: Auto Pilot standard
  • Ordering: $1,000 (£1,000) refundable deposits taken from now
  • Target annual production: 500,000

Video: Tesla Model 3

Musk started the launch event by setting the scene for Tesla: record high global CO2, making it “very important to accelerate the transition to sustainable transport”. Enter the four-part ‘Tesla Secret Masterplan” that started with the Tesla Roadster, evolved to the Model S and Model X, and now takes in the Model 3.

GM’s Bob Lutz credited the Telsa Roadster with inspiring the Chevrolet Volt programme, which also led to the Nissan Leaf. Already, Tesla’s had a big effect on the auto industry. And now the Model 3 is set to take the next step.

What is the Tesla Model 3?

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is a mid-size model that will compete with models such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. It is all-electric and Musk says the range will be a minimum of 215 miles on the U.S. EPA test cycle; all models will have Telsa Supercharger recharge functionality as standard (and the Supercharger network is set to double, to 441 global locations, by the end of next year).

It will be a fast car – even the ‘slowest’ model will do 0-62mph in less than 6.0 seconds. “At Tesla, we don’t make slow cars” says Musk. And there will, of course, be models that go much faster, he confirmed.

Both all-wheel drive and air suspension will be optional.

The Model 3 will be “an incredibly safe car” said Musk, with 5-star ratings in every category. “Safety has to come first” said the company founder. We can thus expect glittering Euro NCAP test results when the Model 3 is assessed in Europe.

Active safety will be boosted by the standard fitment of Tesla Auto Pilot, the autonomous ‘self-driving’ technology already seen on the Tesla Model S.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

Inside, the Model 3 is a full five-seater with the “best roominess of any car of this size”, promised Musk: five adults will fit comfortably and the cabin will fully swallow a 7-foot surfboard. As with the Model S, there are luggage compartments both front and rear, offering class-leading capacity “and more cargo space than any same-size gas car”.

Tesla Model 3 interior

The cabin incorporates the familiar oversize touchscreen in the centre of the dash – although this time it’s mounted horizontally rather than portrait-style. There’s also no traditional instrument panel dashboard – the designers have instead shifted the cabin layout, seating those in the front much further forward than normal to maximise interior space.

As for the price, Musk was clear: it will “of course” cost from £35,000 – that’s around £24,500 in the UK, although it will likely rise to around £30,000 once it arrives in the UK.

The base model won’t be a stripped-out, featureless machine though, promised Musk. All the key features of the Model 3 will be standard across the range.

And when will deliveries begin? Next year, he said: a 2017 delivery date is something he’s “fairly confident” of (although Tesla perhaps doesn’t have the best track record of meeting delivery date targets…).

Tesla Model 3: a high-volume EV

Tesla Freemont

Tesla wants to significantly ramp up its global volumes with the Model 3. This is its mainstream model, the car that should take it from 50,000 units to 500,000 units per year.

The Freemont factory – a former GM/Toyota joint venture called NUMMI – already has the capacity to make half a million cars a year, said Musk: the challenge is the batteries. 500,000 batteries a year represents the world’s current total lithium ion production!

Tesla Gigafactory

Hence Tesla building a new battery factory, the Gigafactory (pictured above). This will boast the largest footprint of any building in the world and be second in overall size only to the Boeing factory in Washington. It’s enormous – and its success is essential to the Model 3’s viability.

Video: watch the Tesla Model 3 launch

What are the rivals to the Tesla Model 3?

The Model 3 is a revolution for Tesla but it’s not a car without rival. Here are the established contenders and ambitious newcomers set to go up against the new Model 3

Chevrolet Bolt

Similar price, all-electric ability, similarly ambitious goals: GM’s first modern EV is being pitched as the real world alternative to the fancy Tesla Model 3 and will be a fierce competitor to Elon’s baby. But is it a bit too real world?

Nissan LEAF

2015 Nissan Leaf 30kWh review: Verdict

Musk namechecked the Nissan LEAF during the reveal of the Model 3: the original Tesla Roadster led directly to its development, he said (which may be news to Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn). Today the world’s most successful fully electric car, it’s a groundbreaker that will become even more formidable in next-gen form that’s likely due around the time of the Model 3’s launch…

BMW 3 Series

BMW 320d LT part 2

Tesla aims to make a full EV that can challenge the compact executive hierarchy with the Model 3, and there’s no finer example of this than the BMW 3 Series (a car we’ve been living with for the past few months). Most are sold with conventional petrol or diesel engines but there’s also now a plug-in hybrid. BMW also offers…

BMW i3

BMW i3 in Central London

… The brilliantly ingenious i3, which has ingenious construction, brilliant driving manners and all the reliability, solidity and cut-above feel you’d expect of a BMW. If a full EV is a step too far, there’s even a range extender version with a tiny motorbike engine in the back

Toyota Prius Prime

Revealed at the 2016 New York Auto Show, Toyota has added extended-range plug-in hybrid capability to the established, multi-million-selling Prius hybrid. But what if buyers truly want zero emissions? Toyota has an answer there too…

Toyota Mirai

Toyota Mirai

… With the brilliant Mirai, an all-electric car powered by a hydrogen fuel cell rather than the Tesla’s plug-in batteries. It’s the first volume fuel cell car on sale and as much of a ground-breaker as anything Tesla’s done. Could this be the one the Model 3 must really watch?

Mahindra e2o

Mahindra to launch affordable electric car in April 2016

Mahindra e2oIndian multinational Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd is to launch a new budget electric city car called e2o in the UK next month, promising to close the price gap between normal cars and EVs.

The Mahindra e2o has been optimised for city centre use: indeed, the firm is set to champion the benefits of zero-emissions cars in talking UK city air pollution following its April launch.

Likely to be priced at a similar budget level to the Renault Twizy EV, some are speculating whether Mahindra has a list price surprise in store: it won’t be as cheap as the £7,000 Renault Twizy but it’ll certainly cost many thousands less than the £18k Renault Zoe. How much less? We’ll find out next month when prices are revealed.

The proviso is the fact this isn’t a conventional car but, like the Twizy, a lightweight quadricycles. Safety standards for these cars are lower, they’re less refined and, hopefully not ominously, they’re the same regulations that brought an earlier EV pioneer to London – the much-derided G-Wiz.

Hopefully the e2o is a big step on…

Mahindra says buyers can expect fuel costs of £10 a month – even if they regularly cover the UK average annual miles of almost 8,000 miles a year: that’s more than 20 miles a day.

To be sold fully online, owners will use the website to choose a spec, book a test drive, pay a deposit and track the delivery status of their new car. There may even be a Mahindra e2o smartphone sales app.

Its sole UK base will be its HQ in Chiswick, West London, which will be open seven days a week; test drives will be based there.

Aftersales service and maintenance will be handled by a mobile service team.

Pravin Shah, president & chief executive at M&M Ltd, said: “In the face of issues such as environmental degradation, pollution-related concerns, climate change and energy security, all of which plague communities globally, the e2o is a smart choice for the UK’s urban multi-car households.

Mahindra EV division leader Arvind Mathew added: “The Mahindra e2o is a savvy electric car that redefines sustainable urban driving. We designed the e2o, as well as our complete sales and service model, to be more convenient and flexible in keeping with the way our UK customers live and work.”

And while Mahindra may not be the biggest name in UK motoring, it’ll be familiar to motorsport fans: the Mahindra Racing team is currently running in the FIA Formula E championship.

You can bet this motorsport link won’t be lost on potential Mahindra e2o customers when the launch gets underway next month…

Volkswagen e-Golf home charging

Stop wasting money on fuel says government – buy an EV

Volkswagen e-Golf home chargingThe average British driver spends 12p a mile on fuel for their diesel or petrol car – but could cut this to 2p a mile if they switched to an ultra-low emissions vehicle.

The figures have been revealed by the government and a consortium of car manufacturers set up to promote ultra-green cars called Go Ultra Low.

Spread the savings across Britain’s 31.6 million cars and it means UK motorists are missing out on £24.5 billion in savings by spending more on fuel and tax.

And that’s an annual multi-billion saving that Brits are turning down…

How do you save money with an electric car?

Hetal Shah, head of the Go Ultra Low campaign, said: “After buying a house, a car is the second most expensive purchase that most of us will ever make.

“With fuel costs from just 2p-per-mile, no road tax, no congestion charge and free parking in many locations, electric cars certainly present a compelling proposition.

“Put simply: the more you drive, the more you save.”

Money saving expert no longer wincing

Crack money-saver and newspaper columnist Ashleigh Swan has joined the panel of the Go Ultra Low campaign and reckons EV motoring has been an eye-opener.

“Fuel bills are the most noticeable regular outlay, and every time we pull up at a petrol station, my husband and I wince at the price of a full tank.”

Contrast this with the “extremely low running costs” of an EV and this hefty outlay for the average motorist – who covers 7,500 miles a year, or around 140 miles a week – can be mitigated.

Car manufactures have almost cracked the range anxiety part too, adds Go Ultra Low: the quoted range of up to 124 miles for many electric cars is getting ever-closer to the UK-average weekly mileage…


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