First, two fun videos to get us rolling:
We’re trying to get more electric vehicle (EV) stories going on Planetsave. To catch readers up, below is a roundup of the 33 top EV stories of 2013 so far (according to me). To keep an eye on upcoming (or older) EV stories, bookmark and scroll through our EV category from time to time.
It’s pretty hard to actually rank these top 33 articles, so I didn’t even try. The list is in no particular order. The numbers are basically just for referring people (your friends, family, coworkers, etc) to specific stories you think are worth highlighting.
Pretty much everywhere you drive in the US, electric cars are much greener than gasmobiles. But hey, if you’re driving on power from the sun, you know you’re whooping some oil-addicted butt. The really good news? A significant percentage of EV owners are feeding their cars from rooftop solar panels.
2. 2013 Nissan Leaf Gets Massive Price Cut, Over 100 Improvements.
The Nissan Leaf now has a standout fuel economy of 115 MPGe and a range of 75 miles on a 90% charge (according to the US EPA). And the car is filled with improvements, including a faster charging time. Additionally, it has seen a massive price drop, from $35,200 (before tax credits) last year to $28,800 this year. With the $7,500 federal tax credit and the $2,500 California EV rebate, a Californian, for example, can get the car for $18,800.
Meanwhile, in the UK / Europe, the price has dropped to £15,990 (after a £5,000 federal grant — available in the UK) if you lease the battery for £70/month, but there are a number of different options.
The big boost that has enabled the massive price drops is that the car is now being manufactured in the US and the UK. Shipping costs were previously a huge impediment to a low-cost Leaf in Europe or North America (not to mention Japan’s high cost of labor). But with that solved, Nissan was able to make the price cuts noted above.
4. Nissan Leaf Sales Soaring.
On the back of the massive price drops and numerous improvements noted above, Nissan Leaf Sales have been soaring. In the US, the Nissan Leaf had a record sales month in March. It had another great month in April, even while most competitors dipped. In Norway, the Nissan leaf was actually the #2 best-selling car in the country — of any type!
5. NYTimes Journalist John Broder vs Tesla.
In January, NYTimes journalist John Broder “tested out” Tesla’s East Coast Supercharger network with a long along the East Coast in a Tesla Model S. His battery died right near the end of the drive. He made some extremely suspect/poor decisions along the way, and to many of us it seems that he did what he could to make sure the battery died before the finish line. It certainly got Tesla and the NYTimes a ton of (mostly negative) press. I came away with three main thoughts from the whole thing, which you can read here, here, and here.
6. Tesla Announces One Huge Improvement Or Milestone After Another.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder and CEO, seems to be genuinely intent on helping humans and helping humanity. He and the Tesla team have announced that they will cover everything that might happen to a Model S owner’s car… beyond a physical accident or someone blowtorching the battery or “taking it out for shooting practice;” will give owners a fully loaded Model S (probably better than their own) when their car is in the shop; are offering a competitive new leasing option; are guaranteeing the Model S has the highest resale value of any premium sedan made in volume; have rolled out their European gameplan; have paid back their US government loan 9 years early(!); earned a profit in Q1 2013; and will be offering an affordable electric car about half the cost of the Model S by 2017. A lot of big news for clean car (and awesome car) lovers.
Furthermore, despite no releasing official figures, it seems the Tesla Model S has been leading electric car sales in the US.
Well, from doing what most people said was impossible with Tesla Motors, to doing what most people said was possible with Space X, to chairing solar industry-leading SolarCity, there’s no doubt Elon deserves props as an extremely influential person in the world today.
Scoring an amazing 99/100, the Tesla Model S won Consumer Reports’ best rating ever, a rating only one other car has ever won. And if charging were simply a little fast, or range a bit longer, Consumer Reports said it would have given the car a 100/100.
It also won the 2013 Green Car of the Year award, the 2013 Automobile Magazine Car of the Year award, the 2012 Motor Trend Car of the Year award, and a bunch of other awards, natch.
Following all the positive announcements, Tesla Motors stock has been surging, reaching high after high. To be honest, I don’t expect that to stop anytime soon.
10. Detroit Electric Reborn, Unveils SP:01.
Detroit Electric, an electric car company originally founded in 1907, has been reborn. Its first new model, the SP:01, is a beauty.
I’m not going to lie, this one shocked me. But it’s true. The world’s first nationwide fast-charging network for the public will be in Estonia.
The Chevy Spark EV, which is now being partially manufactured in the US and offers a best-in-class fuel economy rating, is selling for a low price of $27,495 before incentives, just under the Leaf’s $28,800. It looks like quite a buy, and could certainly give the Leaf a bit of a run for its money.
A huge milestone was just passed — US consumers have now bought over 100,000 electric vehicles (EVs). Well, that’s the estimate from Plug In America, at least. It’s not based on super hard data. But it’s probably the best estimate anyone’s got.
Fiat has launched its beauty of an electric car, the Fiat 500e, for $32,500 (before tax credits) or as low as $199/month if you decide to lease. This is one my my 3 favorite EVs on the market today (alongside the Leaf and Model S). It’s a cute, affordable, practical little EV. And I’ve heard it drives great! By the way, Fiat also announced that it would offer a handful of free car rentals each year to Fiat 500e owners, which I think is the obvious way to go and should be the industry norm.
The BMW i3, BMW’s first 100% electric car, is getting ready for launch. It’s a beauty. More pics and info at the link above.
This is one unique and eye-catching EV. Toyota unveiled the EV at this year’s Geneva Motor Show. A bunch more details at the link above, plus another video — one from the Geneva Motor Show.
Other cute, innovative EVs worthy of mention here are a foldable electric car that is a foot shorter than Daimler’s smart fortwo (and is being used in a German carsharing program), and Nissan’s New Mobility Concept vehicles (which have been tested with great success by some busy Japanese moms).
Undercutting the Renault Zoe, the Bollore Bluecar is one cheap EV. Notably, the battery is leased for €80 ($103) a month, but that’s still quite a good deal. The Bluecar has a range of 155 miles(!) on a full charge and can travel up to 75 mph. It’s not a Tesla Roadster, but it’s great for most city driving purposes.
With nearly 6,000 public EV charging stations in the US, compared to about 52 hydrogen fueling stations, it’s clear the EV revolution is taking off a lot faster than the “hydrogen economy.” With EVs growing in popularity, and new EV models hitting the market pretty continuously, the country is now adding about 180 new public charging stations each month. It’s all something that reminds some 97-year-olds of the growth of gas stations.
The Ford Fusion Energi was certified in March as the most efficient sedan in the US. It was also named “Green Car of the Year” by Green Car Journal. It has a combined 100 MPGe rating. “Ford projects savings of around $6,850 in fuel costs over 5 years compared to a comparable new car,” Adam Johnston writes on CleanTechnica. “This is the third Ford hybrid/electric vehicle which has received an EPA rating of 100 MPGe or greater. Ford’s Focus Electric has a combined 105 MPGe combined rating (110 MPGe city; 99 MPGe highway), while the C-Max Energi’s combined rating is 100 MPGe (108 MPGe city; 92 MPGe highway).Meanwhile, Ford has put out five electric vehicles in just over the past year, which has helped the company rank number one in overall fuel economy.”
Honda’s first all-electric car, initially introduced only on the West Coast, became available (to a limited degree) on the East Coast. It’s a great car, but competing with the Leaf is no easy task these days.
21. Tesla Scaring Auto Dealers.
Back to Tesla: one of the biggest stories for it this year has been battles with conventional auto dealerships and dealership associations. They have been fighting Tesla’s unique self-dealership model. But Tesla has largely been backed up the public, the courts, and even ethical auto dealers… but it hasn’t been wins everywhere.
Citing a focus on the Model S, Tesla pushed back production of its Model X SUV one year. Delivery on that vehicle is now scheduled to start at the end of 2014.
23. US Department Of Energy’s Workplace EV Charging Initiative.
The US Department of Energy has been plowing forward with an initiative to expand workplace electric vehicle charging options. Dozens of major employers have signed on to help out. The challenge helps support the DOE’s EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, which was announced by President Obama in 2012.
Aiming to save tuk-tuk drivers in the developing world a boatload of money and cut emissions tremendously, Tokyo-based Terra Motors has introduced an electric tuk-tuk that would save drivers money almost immediately. The initial focus for rollout is in the Philippines, thanks to some funding from the Asian Development Bank. “The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing $300 million towards a groundbreaking project that will replace 100,000 gasoline-burning tricycles in the Philippines with clean, energy efficient electric tricycles, or E-Trikes,” the bank wrote in a press release in April.
For a pretty super downtown Las Vegas project — Project 100 — Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh order 100 of the electric sedans. They will be part of “a complete transportation system” that will also include shared bikes and shared bus passes, all for one set monthly fee. Pretty cool.
26. Chinese EV Subsidies Expire, Strong New Ones Take Their Place.
China continues its efforts to address smog and cut its carbon emissions while still growing, and one of those ways is restarting strong electric vehicle incentives in the countries.
27. BMW & Detroit Electric Team Up With Chinese Companies To Manufacture EVs For The Chinese Market.
With those strong incentives in place and electric vehicle technology getting better and cheaper every day, there’s a move taking place to build more electric cars in China for the Chinese. For example, Detroit Electric and Geely Automotive have teamed up to do so under Geely’s Emgrand brand, and BMW and BMW’s Brilliance Automotive (a joint venture in China) have unveiled the new Zinoro brand for that purpose.
28. Mercedes & Volkswagen Soon Bringing Their First Electric Cars To Market.
German automakers Mercedes and Volkswagen haven’t exactly been frontrunners in the electric vehicle space. But they’re finally getting into it. Mercedes has unveiled the the 2014 Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive (as well as a wicked $500,000 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG), and Volkswagen has unveiled the up! and a plug-in hybrid electric Golf.
29. Fisker Goes Bankrupt.
Fisker Automotive’s co-founder and executive chairman Henrik Fisker stepped down in March. It followed up by hiring bankruptcy lawyers, laying off 75% of the workforce, and then the inevitable…. It’s still unclear if someone (in particular, a Chinese company or GM’s Bob Lutz) is going to buy the remains or not.
30. CODA Goes Bankrupt.
The average EV with an average look and average personality (and not much press) also couldn’t make it.
News from this week: after years of hype and not a lot of growth, battery-swapping EV company Better Place is on its way towards filing for bankruptcy. It’s debatable whether the model simply isn’t a good one (at least at this point in time) or was poorly executed. Take your pick.
32. Electric VW Bug.
A San Diego company, Zelectric Motors, is turning iconic VW bugs into electric cars. Nuff said.
The best-selling electric car to date, the Nissan Leaf, passed 50,000 worldwide sales earlier this year. Congrats to Nissan for being a leader!
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