2014 – The Year Electric Cars Become Cool

6 Апр 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи 2014 – The Year Electric Cars Become Cool отключены
Electric Cars

2014 – The Year Electric Cars Become Cool

What s a petrolhead without the petrol, you might ask.

What s a foot-to-the-floor, tyre-screeching, high-octane racing experience without the cylinders. pistons and injectors which make up the beautiful complexity of a motor vehicle? Where s the thrill of the drive without a baritone soundtrack blaring from the chrome tailpipes?

Or more realistically, where s the fun and excitement without the staggering running costs, the toxic by-products and the unwelcome winter break-downs?

Perhaps these are minor concerns at the moment, but with the electric car continuing its ascension in the UK it might be fair to say that traditional motoring is on the way out. Despite the forecasted sales boom expected to propel sales back to pre-recession figures in 2014, come December, we are almost certainly going to be dubbing this the year of the electric car. With only around 50 years left of fossil fuelling our run-arounds, not to mention a constantly climbing price until such a time, we find ourselves on the cusp of a new era in motoring history.

Well, kinda.

What do you mean kinda ?

Actually, the truth is that we ve been on this cusp several times before. Electric vehicle technology was a cornerstone of the first production model cars in the 19 th and 20 th centuries – but in a turn of events which borders on foreshadowing, the electric car was side-lined as drivers begun to favour the gasoline motor for inter-city travel. As such, developments in the electric car market staggered and collapsed, with minor revivals failing to meet consumer expectations time after time.

At the dawn of the last century, the first production Hybrid model entered the market in the form of the Toyota Prius. However, the first three generations of the innovative gasoline-electric clean-burner enjoyed only a modest return in sales, and its almost two-decade-long run has been littered with missed targets and negative publicity. Why?

Because the car seemed to answer a problem no one seemed to have. The savings in expenses were not significant enough to justify the upfront price, and the complexity of maintenance was seen as an unnecessary hindrance.

But with the horizon of fossil fuels coming ever closer the market seems finally ready to realise its electric dreams. Six years from now, we re expected to be seeing up to ten million electric cars on European roads, and the EV s major foothold is expected to be found during these critical 12 months.

This, however, depends on one factor. The question of whether, in 2014, the electric car can retain the same mojo of its petroleum predecessor and, as such, whether it is worthwhile choosing to invest in one today. Nay-sayers of the electric era are quick to point fingers at immediate statistics such as range, longevity, top speeds, and price – and they are quite correct in asserting that in these categories the electric does fall short.

The ongoing evolution of the electric car continues to open doors to new possibilities, and some of the biggest manufacturers are finding novel ways to address these common complaints. So if you choose the new BMW i3 with Range Extender. you ll enjoy the benefit of a back-up petrol tank which can extend your journey up to 186 miles. Or if you drive away the Nissan Leaf. you ll receive a five-year or 60,000-mile warranty on the lithium-ion battery.

And as for speed, certainly Tesla absorbs most of the limelight in this category – with 100% of its torque available from a standstill, the P85 drivetrain sends its Model S to 60mph in just 4.2 seconds, and continues up to a top speed of 130mph.

And if these big contenders aren t evidence enough of the prosperity in the electric car sector, perhaps you ll be convinced by the entries of Ford. Volkswagen. Smart. Mitsubishi.

Honda and Infiniti into the fray.

With this sudden escalation in technology it s fair to say that any current electric car will certainly hold its weight against a petrol or diesel competitor, at least in terms of usability. Based on the present state of development, it may not even be too far off to suggest that the drivability of an electric car, particularly in an urban environment, is just as efficient and only slightly less convenient.

And though the upfront costs may at first seem staggering, thanks to the government s electric vehicle grant scheme, you ll find all marked prices slashed instantly by £5000, plus added benefits including zero road tax and exemption from Congestion Zone Charging in London, which is another £2000 off. And of course, without having to factor in petrol (and the volatile tax prices accompanying it), you ll be spending as little as 2p per mile in overheads – another £800 saved year-on-year.

Insurers are also beginning to realise the potential of the electric car and, in an effort to capture the fledgling market, are offering incentives from anywhere between a 5% annual discount, to tree-planting initiatives. Whichever insurer you decide to purchase from, one thing at least is guaranteed – lower rates across the board (and this applies to young drivers, too). A quick browse across some price comparison websites can offer figures as low as 50% of the same policy in a petrol car, and new policies are being devised every day, with many insurers now claiming electric car insurance as a speciality.

Electric Cars

Elsewhere, one of the more common arguments against electric motoring persists, and this is the criticism against charging. Ownership of an electric car carries with it the burden of essential changes in lifestyle, and suddenly leaving your car in the p ub car park on Friday may cost you your weekend plans.

But again, the process of change is ongoing. Currently the United Kingdom is one of the best-prepared countries for the electric revolution, with around 2,400 public charging points accessible – and more soon to come, thanks to a nine-million pound chunk of investment from the government. Newer Rapid DC stations, which are continuing to spread across major cities, are capable of delivering an 80% charge in around the same time it takes to enjoy a coffee. And if you drive to the office, you can apply to have your own charge point installed at the government s expense.

So whilst having to plug your car in when you re out and about may not be particularly in vogue, you can at least enjoy having your own designated spot in the company car park.

But is the electric car cool?

With all of its innovation and ingenuity, it would certainly make sense to say it is. Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of Next Green Car certainly seems to think so: The coolest part of being an EV owner is the car itself, he says. And as for the drive, a few minutes into your first electric drive you will just get it. And perhaps it really is just as simple as that – a refreshingly new experience which answers all of the problems of the archaic internal combustion engine.

The other school of thought asserts that, even if it isn t cool now, it s going to have to be one day. It is true to say that the cars of the future have, so far, failed to impress the present. Their hyper-liberal characteristics may have caught a fancy from the younger generation, but they have had less of an effect on the traditionalist automobile aesthetes and engine aficionados – this will simply take time.

And perhaps this core of motorists may find their tastes challenged in the coming year by the introduction of the breath-taking Cadillac ELR. the understated Lexus EH 300h. or the classic Audi A3 sportback e- tron. Though they may not boost the same acoustics and engine output as the similarly soon-to-be-released Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupé, the Jaguar F-Type or the BMW 2-Series, their attractive designs and promises of cheap fun are sure to make them powerful competitors in 2014.

It is exactly cars such as these which are redefining the electric vehicle as the fashionable choice. Cost-effective, future-sensitive, and with just the right amount of niche, the electric car is no longer in the domain of the eco-warriors. Instead it tops the wish-lists of the smartphone-wielding fashionistas, perhaps looking for something a little bit different, perhaps carrying a hangover from the recession which has ingrained a mentality of hyper-efficiency.

(Then again, perhaps it s just because they want a car which won t contribute towards the creation of a second Shanghai )


Is that it then? Is it all electric from here?

Well, let s not rule that idea out. Whatever the case may be, there is little doubt that the dawn of the electric car era has arrived. Just be prepared for extra attention from passers-by, says Dr Lane. And your friends will want to take a turn at the wheel too.

Electric Cars

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