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Coronavirus: MG donates 100 ZS EVs to the NHS

MG donates 100 ZS EVs to NHS

MG is donating 100 MG ZS EVs to the NHS, as it joins the fight against the coronavirus. It will be distributing the fully-electric models to NHS agencies across the UK.

The cars will be supplied by MG’s nationwide dealer network and will be in use for six months, for free.

This fleet of ZS EVs will be put to work, helping key workers in their travels. The first six cars have already been delivered to the Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Trust, as supplied by MG Dealer Chorley Group.

2019 MG ZS EV

“As a proud British brand, MG is more than just a car manufacturer,” said Daniel Gregorious, head of sales and marketing at MG Motor UK.

“Together with our dealer network, we want to do our bit to help the country to come through this uncertain time. By providing 100 electric cars to our NHS heroes, we hope that we will help to keep healthcare moving so that as many people as possible can receive the support they need.

“It’s also our way of saying thank you to those selfless people who work so hard to keep us all safe”.

2019 MG ZS EV

Many car manufacturers have been joining the effort against coronavirus. While MG’s contribution is akin to ‘boots on the ground’, companies like Vauxhall, Nissan and McLaren are working on ventilator supply. Nissan and Vauxhall will be producing them, while McLaren has been on design duty.

MG launched the ZS EV last year, pitching it as the ‘first truly affordable family electric car’. However, MG’s £3,500 contribution has elapsed, as has the old plug-in grant. With the new £3,000 grant, it’s now £25,495. Still quite impressive for an electric family crossover good for 163 miles of range.

Electric vehicles ARE cleaner than petrol cars, report claims

Driving test change for electric cars

Electric cars are less emission-intensive than their fossil fuel counterparts in the majority of countries. That’s according to scientists from the universities of Exeter, Nijmegen and Cambridge.

They found that in 95 percent of the world, driving an electric car is better for the climate than a conventional petrol car. It divided the world into 59 regions to account for differences in power generation and technology.

In 53 of these regions – including the whole of Europe, the U.S. and China – they found that electric cars and heat pumps are less emission-intensive. These 53 regions represent 95 percent of global transport and heating demand.

Some studies have questioned the effectiveness of electric cars in the challenge to reduce carbon emissions. Detractors have pointed to the energy consumed during electric vehicle production, along with the electricity used during recharging.

However, Dr Jean-Francois Mercure at the University of Exeter, said that the “last few debatable cases will soon disappear”.

The study projects that by 2050, every second car could be electric, helping to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1.5 gigatons per year. This is the equivalent to the CO2 emissions of Russia.

It also claims that average lifetime emissions from electric cars are up to 70 percent lower than petrol in countries like Sweden and France, where most electricity is sourced from renewables and nuclear. In the UK, emissions from electric cars are 30 percent lower.

‘We should choose electric cars’

Making the switch to electric car

Dr Mercure said: “We started this work a few years ago, and policy-makers in the UK and abroad have shown a lot of interest in the results. The answer is clear: to reduce carbon emissions, we should choose electric cars and household heat pumps over fossil-fuel alternatives.

The lead author of the study, the University of Nijmegen’s Dr Florian Knobloch, added: “In other words, the idea that electric vehicles or electric heat pumps could increase emissions is essentially a myth. We’ve seen a lot of discussion about this recently, with lots of disinformation going around.

“Here is a definitive study that can dispel those myths. We have run the numbers for all around the world, looking at a whole range of cars and heating systems.

“Even in our worst-case scenario, there would be a reduction in emissions in almost all cases. This insight should be very useful for policy-makers.“

Switch to electric ‘without any regrets’

On-street electric car chargepoints

The electric car industry still faces many challenges if it’s to meet the study’s 2050 forecast. Many consumers perceive electric cars to be too expensive, although the launch of new EVs in 2020 will help to improve matters. There’s also the ongoing issue of range anxiety and a required shift in attitudes, not to mention the short- to medium-term effect of the coronavirus.

“Taking into account emissions from manufacturing and ongoing energy use, it’s clear that we should encourage the switch to electric cars and household heat pumps without any regrets,” Dr Knobloch concluded.

The paper published in Nature Sustainability can be accessed here.

The e-Bulli is a feel-good electric classic VW bus

Volkswagen e-Bulli electrified T1 bus

Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles and eClassics have electrified a T1 bus – the classic camper – from 1966. It’s called the e-Bulli, and if you want to swap you air-cooled power for ions, you can: eClassics will take commissions for conversions.

As with VW’s previous classic electric conversions, the e-Bulli T1 exchanges its choppy, unreliable, smoggy and slow air-cooled motor for an electric drive system from a modern VW EV. It packs an 83hp electric motor in place of the original 44hp four-pot. Amazingly, this is the most powerful T1 that Volkswagen has ever made.

It’s not just Volkswagen that electrifies its classics. We’ve driven a Volkswagen Beetle that’s got EV power courtesy of electrogenic.

Volkswagen e-Bulli electrified T1 bus

Drive goes to the wheels via a single-speed transmission. The new lever, instead of swapping cogs, swaps between P, R, N, D and B. The first four are relatively self-explanatory. B, meanwhile, allows the driver to vary the degree of energy recovery under braking. The e-Bulli can be charged up to 80 percent in 40 minutes, using CCS charging. A full battery will get the electrified bus 124 miles up the road before it needs to juice up again.

It may look like a proper classic, but it’s not just the powertrain that’s changed underneath. A new multi-link front and rear axle with coilover shocks join a new rack-and-pinion steering system. The e-Bulli also features internally ventilated disc brakes.

E-Bulli: still a classic?

Volkswagen e-Bulli electrified T1 bus

All that said, there are exterior hints as to the e-Bulli’s reinvention under the skin. There are new round LED headlamps, with day-runners.

At the rear, there are also LED charge indicators, so you know how much juice it has as you walk up to it. What is hidden, is the charging port, neatly behind the rear number plate. Overall, it’s subtle enough to retain the original’s classic style.

Volkswagen electrified T1 bus

The subtle update continues on the inside, while being rigorously faithful to the original’s style. The dial is old-school, but with a digital element within. The wheel is as was, while the seat trimmings match the exterior.

Out of sight, on the roof console, is a tablet which features Volkswagen ‘We Connect’, with all the connectivity features you’d expect on an ID.3 You can even check the charge status of your 1966 e-Bulli camper via your smartphone. The radio has a proper retro look, but has DAB digital radio, Bluetooth and USB built in. The best of both worlds, like much of this build.

I want one

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We like it too, but it will cost you. A T1 conversion from eClassics will set you back more than £58,000. T2 and T3 campers can also be converted, and conversion kits can be sent to qualified dealers for the work.

DriveElectric ULEV Experience NHS Nissan e-NV200

‘Try before you buy’ EV scheme coming to UK cities

DriveElectric ULEV Experience NHS Nissan e-NV200

A ‘try before you buy‘ scheme for electric vehicles (EVs) could ‘act as a blueprint’ for cities across the UK. That’s according to the company behind a successful trial in Nottingham.

As part of the project, local businesses and public sector organisations were given chance to experience an electric car or van for up to 30 days. Organisations were offered the opportunity to drive a fleet of EVs including the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro.

In total, 52 organisations have experienced 72 electric car loans over the past 18 months. The result is that 20 electric vehicles have been adopted to date.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust trialled the electric Renault Kangoo and Nissan e-NV200 for a month, with the Nissan well received by the organisation. The Trust now operates two e-NV200s, but there’s a potential to add a further 40 electric vans to the fleet.

The scheme was piloted by the Nottingham ULEV Experience project and financed through Nottingham City Council’s Go Ultra Low funding. Leasing company DriveElectric supplied the electric vehicles.

Similar schemes could be rolled out in other cities, particularly those operating Clean Air Zones (CAZ) to improve air quality. The Leeds CAZ will go live in September, with the Birmingham CAZ expected to launch in July.

Budget bonus for EVs

Electric cars could save drivers £40,000

At the recent Budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government will provide £403 million for the Plug-in Car Grant, extending the scheme to 2022-2023. A further £129.5 million will be provided to extend the grant for vans, taxis and motorcycles.

However, the grant itself has been cut from £3,500 to £3,000, with cars costing £50,000 or more ineligible for the grant.

The Plug-in Van Grant also continues, providing up to a maximum of £8,000 off the price of a plug-in van, and there’s up to £20,000 off the price of large vans and trucks.

Meanwhile, exemption of Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax), for zero emission electric vehicles will continue. What’s more, they are also exempt from the ‘expensive car’ first-year supplement for vehicles costing over £40,000.

‘Need to experience electric’

Mike Potter, managing director of DriveElectric, said: “Most organisations need to experience electric vehicles before making a decision to purchase. Fully-funded month-long EV loans are not readily available through dealerships, manufacturers or any other source.

“Therefore the ‘try before you buy’ EV loans provided by the ULEV Experience have been extremely valuable in filling a gap in the market not offered elsewhere.”

£500 EV charger rebate extended beyond March 31

OLEV charge point grant

The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) has updated its position on charging infrastructure grants in 2020.

Orders for home EV charging points placed before March 12 will still benefit from the full £500 rebate, even if installed after March 31.

The grant was announced as reducing from £500 to £350 in the Budget of March 12. The original declaration says that the new rate applies to all installations on or after the first of April. However, there is an exemption if you ordered before March 12.

'Electric avenue' opens in london with full street lamp car charging conversion

The electric vehicle home charge scheme allows those that install charge points at home to claim a rebate. This has been reduced, supposedly to allow people to take advantage of it.

Under the previous £500 rate, 30,000 people could use it. Now, with the £350 rebate, 57,000 are expected to take it on.

Eligibility is also extending to those who have larger electric motorbikes, as well as those with electric cars and vans.

Mini Electric charging socket

To date, more than 120,000 home charge point installations have been partly subsidised by government grants. The decrease in the grant is considered to be in line with the reduction in the cost of installing a charge point.

In short, £350 is considered to be about the same percentage of the overall cost as £500 was when the scheme was launched.

Electric Avenue: the first entire street with lamp post car charging

'Electric avenue' opens in london with full street lamp car charging conversion

A London street has seen all its lamp posts converted to EV charging points. Sutherland Avenue in W9 (dubbed ‘Electric Avenue’) is the first road of its kind in the UK

The project was a collaboration between Ubitricity and Westminster City Council. It saw 24 lamp posts converted to charging points.

A further two adjoining roads are due to be finished in the coming weeks. Siemens and Ubitricity have now completed more than 1,300 installations across the city.

'Electric avenue' opens in london with full street lamp car charging conversion

“Lamp post charging gives people without driveways a very convenient, low cost, renewable, energy-friendly way to charge their EVs,” said Daniel Bentham, MD of Ubitricity.

“Cars spend 95 percent of their lives idle, so it makes sense to charge them while the driver is doing something else, like sleeping or working. Our technology is designed to keep installation and maintenance costs low, which translates to long-term low costs for EV drivers and councils.”

At present, Westminster City Council has more EV plug-in points than any other UK local authority. Electric Avenue is just part of its 296-strong lamp post network. Over the next 12 months, it plans to have 1,000 charge points in the area.

By contrast, public perception on available charge points is not favourable. Motorists believe there are between 100 and 200 EV charging points in London. That’s less than 10 percent of the installations Siemens alone has made. A third believe there are no charging points near their home or where they work.

'Electric avenue' opens in london with full street lamp car charging conversion

“In a city that suffers from some of the worst air pollution in the country, we need to be supporting the change to green technology as much as we can,” said Andrew Smith of Westminster City Council.

“Electric Avenue gives us a glimpse into the future of streets in Westminster, where we hope to provide the infrastructure needed for our residents to make the switch to cleaner, greener transport.”

You have TWO WEEKS to get a £500 plug-in grant from these carmakers

You have TWO WEEKS to get £500 plug-in grant boost from these carmakers

Last week’s Budget was largely well received, but the government did reduce the Plug-in Car Grant. It’s now been cut from £3,500 to £3,000. That’s still a useful contribution, which now runs until 2022-2023, but it’s still £500 less.

Happily, some car manufacturers have already said they’ll pick up the £500 slack, and we suspect others may follow.

Here are the marques that will plug the gap in the PiCG, if you buy their electric cars.

Renault grant boost

You have TWO WEEKS to get £500 plug-in grant boost from these carmakers

Renault almost immediately announced it would boost the grant for its Zoe electric car. The longstanding model recently got its most comprehensive update since the 2012 launch. The incentive lasts until the end of March.

This offer is on top of the current £1,000 incentive to switch. With all discounts added, including the limited-time £500 discount, the new Zoe starts from £24,670. All Renault Zoe orders also come with a free wallbox charger.

MG grant boost

2020 MG ZS EV

MG was also quick to lop off £500 ‘for the remainder of March’. The company is something of a leader in the electric revolution at the moment: 30 percent of its UK sales so far in 2020 have been the ZS EV.

“With the government’s announcement that the Plug-in Car Grant is reduced from £3,500 to £3,000 from today (12 March), we wanted to be able to help our customers to switch to zero-emissions electric MGs without spending more money,” said Daniel Gregorious, head of sales and marketing at MG.

“We’re delighted to be able to top-up the grant back to £3,500 for the remainder of March.”

Peugeot grant boostPeugeot offers six months free electric car charging

Peugeot joined the party late, also offering to chop £500 off until March 31. The grant boost will come for ‘all orders and registrations before the 31st of March’.

This comes on top of Peugeot’s offer of a free POD point home charging unit, and a six-month subscription to Polar Plus.

DS Automobiles grant boost

You have TWO WEEKS to get £500 plug-in grant boost from these carmakers

Peugeot’s PSA group-mate DS Automobiles will also factor in a £500 discount. This will be available on the DS 3 Crossback E-Tense EV.

It’ll be available ‘on all orders placed before the 31 March 2020’. It also comes in conjunction with the same offer as Peugeot. That is, a free six-month subscription to Polar Plus, along with a free POD point home charging unit.

Wild new Apex AP-0 previews all-electric supercar

Apex AP-0 electric sports car concept revealed

A new electric car manufacturer has revealed its first concept. The Apex AP-0 previews a production model, due in 2022. And while it’s said to perform like a hypercar, Apex will price it like a supercar (from £150,000).

The performance figures sound mightily impressive. So impressive, in fact, that some are difficult to believe…

Apex AP-0: key stats of the ‘super EV’

Apex AP-0 electric sports car concept revealed

Price: £150,000

Power: 650hp

0-62mph: 2.3 seconds

Top speed: 190mph

Kerb weight: 1,200kg

Battery/range: 90kW/320 miles

Charging time: 80 percent in 15 minutes (CCS), full charge in eight hours (Type 2)

The Apex is just a concept at present, but you don’t give out numbers without some hope of substantiating them. Perhaps most impressive is that kerb weight. Battery electric vehicles are notoriously heavy, so 1,200kg (a bit less than a typical lightweight petrol supercar) seems incredible.

The weight savings are partly due to the AP-0’s monocoque carbon chassis, with modular spaceframes and a central spine. Of that 1,200kg, a total of 550kg is the battery. The body panels wrap the chassis, although not in its entirety.

Apex AP-0: design

Apex AP-0 electric sports car concept revealed

Speaking of those body panels, it’s quite a striking looking thing, isn’t it? It’s all angles and jagged lines, which Apex says ‘evokes its powerful performance attributes and emphasises the lightweight structure of the car’.

They also work together with the flat underfloor and ground-effect aero for downforce. To that end, it’s just 95mm off the ground, negating the need for a rear spoiler and reducing drag.

The front apes that of the Ferrari F12 TdF with a Jack Nicholson Joker smile, flanked by futuristic LED lights. The mixture of materials is McLaren-esque, with white body panels shrink-wrapping the carbon construction. Carbon is everywhere, of course, including the wheels.

Apex AP-0 electric sports car concept revealed

Unique to the AP-0 is the rear fin, sprouting from the teardrop cockpit and leading down into the brake lights. In conclusion, it’s about as striking (and as fast, incidentally) as a McLaren P1, but for one-sixth of the price. The price is difficult to believe, too.

Like many supercars, and indeed F1 racers, the AP-0 uses pushrod suspension. Automatic ride-height adjustment allows the car to be set in modes that best suit the driving situation.

Apex AP-0 electric sports car concept revealed

Increased connectivity

Apex says that its definition of connectivity is “about linking the car with those who have a true passion for driving”. So there is a sophisticated LIDAR sensor system, able to create high-res 3D imagery of the car’s surroundings. It’s effectively able to identify obstacles, accurate to a few centimetres, up to 100m away.

On the inside, there’s a holographic AR display, and an AR Race Instructor, giving you a game-like experience when on-track. Driver and passenger sit just 180mm above the ground in carbon seats.

Apex AP-0 electric sports car concept revealed

Overall? It’s like a BAC Mono, Tesla Model S and McLaren P1 had a love child, with fast, futuristic, surprisingly lightweight and low-priced results.

When looking at a Pininfarina Battista, one has to consider whether a Bugatti Chiron would better suit Sir’s taste. When looking at the AP-0, it’s a choice between this, a 911 Turbo or an Audi R8.

All of a sudden, the EV seems like a very interesting and appealing alternative. We look forward to learning more, as the AP-0’s 2022 launch date draws nearer.

The new 2020 electric Fiat 500: everything you need to know

2020 Fiat 500 revealed

Say ciao to the 2020 Fiat 500. It still looks retro, but is all-new beneath the skin – including an electric drivetrain with a 199-mile range. Here’s everything you need to know.

The new Fiat 500 comes not a moment too soon. As the outgoing car enters its 13th year on sale, Fiat faces growing pressure to modernise, reduce emissions and electrify. The new car has that covered, but also needs to deliver what buyers want. And buyers really wanted the old 500. 

From the moment it went on sale in 2007, the retro-styled 500 has been an unmitigated success. Between 2008 and 2014, European sales ranged from a low of 145,000 in 2012 to a high of 180,000 in 2014 – and they’ve hardly declined since. Needless to say, there’s a lot riding on the new 500.

2020 Fiat 500: the headlines

2020 Fiat 500 revealed

  • All-new platform
  • All-electric
  • 199 miles of range
  • Modernised inside and out
  • You can pre-book one of the 500 Launch Editions now 
  • From £29,000 (including Plug-in Car Grant)

2020 Fiat 500 revealed

The figures you need to know are: 

  • 199 miles of range (WLTP)
  • Fast charge to 80 percent in 35 minutes
  • Optional 7.4kW Easy Wallbox, full charge at home in six hours
  • 87kW electric motor
  • 0-62mph in nine seconds
  • 93mph top speed

As standard, the Easy Wallbox charges at 3kW, without the need to be professionally installed. And the 500 also comes with a Mode 3 cable for 11kW public charging speeds.

Three driving modes optimise the car and how it preserves power. ‘Sherpa’, ‘Range’, and ‘Normal’. Sherpa limits you to 50mph, manages accelerator response and deactivates the climate control and heated seats. Like a ‘Himalayan sherpa’, this mode is designed to get you home. 

2020 Fiat 500 revealed

Normal is as it sounds, while Range activates the ‘one-pedal drive’, with added regenerative braking to slow the car down when you lift off the throttle. 

It’s a bold move to go electric-only. Fiat hopes to build 80,000 new 500s a year at its Mirafiori factory.

2020 Fiat 500: design

2020 Fiat 500 revealed

It’s the Fiat 500’s trump card. The outgoing car owes much of its success to its irresistible style. 

The new silhouette is almost identical, and all the lovable cues are still there. The front bumper design is claimed to mirror the 1957 original. There are, however, new LED headlights that are modular and elliptical. The circular shape has been re-interpreted, with the shape completed by an arc in the bonnet.

The Fiat logo has been replaced by the premium-looking 500 badge, almost defining it as a brand of its own. The badge has also been modified for the all-electric sequel, with the final ‘0’ changed into an ‘e’.

2020 Fiat 500 revealed

The car is larger by six centimetres, both in width and length, while the wheelbase grows by two centimetres. The net result is that it retains the squat, rounded proportions of the outgoing car. 

At the back, the minimalist look continues. The lights remain the same shape, with new LED innards. In all, if it’s been revolutionised underneath, it’s evolved on the surface. The 500 has been modernised without corrupting any of that best-selling style.

2020 Fiat 500: interior

2020 Fiat 500 revealed

The 500 has been in need of a comprehensive tech update for some time. The new UConnect 5 media system runs through a seven-inch TFT display, plus a 10.25-inch touchscreen with navigation, DAB radio, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Uconnect 5 offers advanced smartphone connectivity. Buyers will be able to check their car’s battery status, set navigation routes and climate control settings from the comfort of their local coffee shop.

Passengers can connect up to eight devices to the in-car wi-fi, too. The launch car will also have a natural language interface system, allowing voice control for many features. 

2020 Fiat 500 revealed

Yet with all this modernisation, once again, the 500 retains its inimitable style. The screen, while large, isn’t the only draw for the eye, and the wheel is nicely retro and high-tech at the same time.

There are plenty of reminders of what you’re in, too, with ‘500’ badges throughout. It should also be pleasingly practical, with lots of storage between the front seats. These can be trimmed in ‘Seaqual’ yarn, which is made of recycled sea plastic. 

2020 Fiat 500 La Prima: prices revealed

2020 Fiat 500 revealed

The La Prima launch edition is available in Mineral Grey, Ocean Green or Celestial Blue, with full LED lights, eco-leather upholstery, 17-inch wheels and chrome trim. It’s also a soft-top (the first ever four-seat electric convertible) and you can pre-order one now.

One of the 500 La Prima launch edition models will set you back £29,000, after the government Plug-in Car Grant is deducted. That’s a fair amount more than the 500 used to be – and a bit more than the Mini Electric, too. But it does offer more range than the latter car, and indeed the new Honda e. 

People will certainly want this new 500. Whether they’ll be able to afford one is another question.

One-off 500s for charity: Armani, Bvlgari and Kartell

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To celebrate the new car’s release, Fiat has created three one-offs in collaboration with three fashion brands (very in-keeping with the car’s customer base).

These are the 500 Giorgio Armani, the B.500 with Bvlgari, plus the 500 Kartell.  If you simply must have one, they’re due to be auctioned for charity.

Brabus modifies the electric Mercedes-Benz EQC

Brabus Mercedes EQC

Brabus has been experimenting with tuning new electric models from Mercedes-Benz. This concept for the Mercedes EQC 400 4Matic teases what could come next.

The car is a first step for Brabus into the silent world of electric performance, after a history of fettling V8s and V12s.

Brabus Mercedes EQC

Interestingly, the EQC is, for the most part, a technical exercise. Brabus’ visual work isn’t yet complete for the car, but it does want to show off its E-PowerXtra performance upgrade. 

This allows the EQC, when in ‘S’ mode on the dynamic select switch, to deploy 422hp – up from 408hp. The car also sports a torque increase from 561lb ft to 612lb ft.

Zero to 62mph in S mode is cut to 4.9 seconds, although top speed remains limited to 112mph.

Brabus Mercedes EQC

Quite how all this new power level will affect the car’s range is not yet known.

Of course, it’s not all under-the-skin upgrades. While the bodywork remains largely standard, there are a couple of visual cues. EQC owners can already buy the new Monoblock Z wheels, in 20- or 21-inch sizes.

Brabus Mercedes EQC

There are also special Platinum Edition Monoblock Z rims available, which are lighter and stronger thanks to a high-tech forging process.

ALSO SEE: Pininfarina Battista Anniversario is the ‘new pinnacle for electric cars’

Bodywork upgrades are coming, but the rear spoiler is also ready. Completing the look of this prototype on the outside is matte black paint with ‘Brabus Electric’ livery, as well as a selection of Brabus badges.

The German tuner is in the business of enhancing Mercedes-Benz interiors, too. From entire retrims in bespoke colours to custom accessories in alloy, carbon fibre and more, the only limit is your budget.