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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.

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 mahindrauk.com 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…