October 12, 2017

EVs, 2017 and ahead

"Have you seen the Mercedes EQ?" says CelloDad.

I look up the Mercedes EQ.

"But - it's a concept car."

"Yes. Isn't it nice?"

Call me overly pragmatic and totally curmudgeonly (I won't deny either accusation) - I just don't have time to fawn over something that may never hit the road. Until it's actually for sale, at a dealer who can make you sign on the dotted line, it doesn't count.

We've been having pow-wows about what to do with our diesel Golf, now that Volkswagen is offering, not only a buyback option, but also a fix-it option where they put in the correct software plus hardware so that the car complies with EURO5 standards, same as Golfs in Europe.

While we're making up our minds, we're looking into EVs - that would fill my requirement that our next car not run on fossil fuels, and CelloDad's requirement that it not have a manually operated gear box.

So for fun, here is a list of the all-electric 2017 models for sale in the US, helpfully supplied by Green Car Reports, plus a similar list for Europe from the Dutch automobile association.

Focus Electric
Ioniq Electric
Soul EV
Model S
Model X
Model 3

To a scientist like me, this list of model names is hilarious. I mean, besides the references to the current-carrying electrons and ions, the list represents a constellation of physicists who have been instrumental in advancing the electromagnetism that makes these cars work: Tesla, Volta, Ampère.

I bet we will soon see cars named after Joule, Maxwell, Watt, Coulomb, Gauss, Oersted, Faraday and others.

But back to the list. The Chevrolet Volt and Bolt are not available in Europe but the Opel Ampera-e shares a platform with the Volt. On the other hand, Europe has a few that are not for sale in the US, like the famed Renault Zoe, and the tiny Peugeot iOn and VW e-Up! city cars.

One thing that's clear is that the European numbers for range are inflated, just like their numbers for fuel efficiency. For instance, the US EPA lists the BMW i3 range as 81 / 114 miles, whereas the European test cycle claims 190 / 300 km, which is more like 118 / 186, a rather egregious overstatement. I trust the EPA numbers, thanks.

That's the current e-lineup.

But the future will be awash in electric cars, driven in no small part by the mayors of major cities calling for bans on fossil fuel powered cars which makes the air in their cities hard to breathe.

A roundup of plans shows that most car manufacturers are planning to drastically expand their electric offerings, with some even stating that every one of their models will have an electric version by 2021 (Volvo); 2022 (Daimler Benz, Jaguar Land Rover) or 2030 (VW Group), with the other manufacturers having plans for at least a dozen electric models by 2023.

This list does not include Chinese cars. Partly that's because no Chinese EVs are for sale in the US right now. Conversely, in China the 21 top-selling EV models contains only one US EV (the Tesla Model X). The rest are Chinese brand EVs. Apparently Chinese car makers like to number rather than name their models (e.g. Zhidou D2 EV, BYD e5, and so on), although the letter E features in most of these designations.

China is in a huge push for EV development, as large Chinese cities are desperate to get rid of the smog in which they are shrouded, and the EV is one obvious solution.



You may also like:
1. Is an EV best for the climate? - "It Depends"
2. Why VW diesel fix comes later to American drivers
3. How to Slash Transportation Emissions


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