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Tesla Hits 10,000 In Sales For First Quarter Of 2015

Tesla sold more than 10,000 electric car models in the first three months of this year which is a 55% increase on the same period in 2014. According to the company’s founder, Elon Musk, Tesla is altering the way it announces performance details to avoid the inaccurate sources of information used by other companies to provide details of vehicle sales.

The number of vehicle deliveries will be published by Tesla within three days of the end of the quarter which is far quicker than normal business practice. Despite this rise in sales, it is far below the level of gas models. For example, General Motors sells as many vehicles in America in a day as Tesla sells around the world in three months.

Share Price

The share price of Tesla has actually fallen 14% in 2015 as investors showed concern about the departure of two top sales executives from China as sales figures in that country fell well short of the original target. Additionally, Tesla will need another rise in sales to hit its target of 55,000 models sold in the world during 2015.

Musk’s fortunes won’t depend on the success of Tesla since he is worth almost £8 billion according to Forbes. The South African entrepreneur has other projects in mind; for example, he is planning to spend around £700 million on the launch of 700 satellites which will give Internet access to the billions of people who are currently without.

Musk has a track record of success going back to when he was 12 years of age and sold his first video game called Blastar. He is also responsible for creating the online company which ultimately became PayPal. He now lives in California and pledged to donate $10 million towards artificial intelligence research.

Musk has tried to put on a brave face regarding Tesla’s performance in China and the company is working on new upgrades and models. An example of this is hands-free steering on its Model S sedan which is expected to see the light of day by the middle of 2015, a full year ahead of everyone else.

Tesla is set to reveal a new product on April 30 but have confirmed that it would not be a new car. Back in February, Musk spoke about a new home battery so there is a strong possibility that this will be the new release.

Solar Powered Electric Car Charging Station Tested At Piraeus University

The Piraeus University of Applied Sciences has recently launched the first solar powered electric car charging station in Greece; this innovation guarantees 100% green energy. The charging point only uses solar power which gets turned into electricity which in turn charges EV batteries. It is the first step on the road to becoming independent from the main electricity grid. Though it is a promising innovation, it is still only in its test phase where it is being used for training and research.

Truly Clean Energy

Professor Ioannis Kaldelis is part of the department responsible for the plan and he said the goal is to create a charging station that uses only renewable energy sources. The end result is that electric cars finally run on “truly green energy.” Kaldelis pointed out that at present, Greece’s electricity is created mainly from imported natural gas and lignite.
He stated that creating the station was easy as it involved the use of 3 KW photovoltaic panels which generate enough power to charge an EV in winter and two electric cars in summer when there is more sun. At the station, motorists can fill their batteries or charge their car directly at the charging point.

piraeus university electric car charging station

Piraeus University 100% solar electric car charging station. Image source: Google

Giorgos Spyropoulos came up with the idea for the station which is located outside the Elaionas Campus and it was built by him and a team of students, both undergraduate and postgraduate. It is funded by a number of private companies and the University.

According to Kaldelis, a charging station such as this one can be created in 14 days when red tape is set aside and he admitted that the idea came about because of the rise in prominence of electric cars. He also said that it was the perfect transport solution on small Greek islands as a fully charged vehicle can travel 100-150km on a single charge. This is more than enough for tourists to travel around on a daily basis.

Costs

Kaldelis also said that these charging points could be mass produced for around €20,000 each. The trouble is, electric cars are hardly used in Greece; there are only 60 on the roads at present. Part of the reason is cost; the cheapest models are €20,000 while many EVs can cost as much as €60,000, far beyond the price of gas models.

Yet the Greek public need to be persuaded and long-term savings can be a way of doing so. It can cost as little as €1 for every 100km of use because charging is so cheap. While it can take 7-8 hours to fully charge a vehicle, there are systems available that halve the waiting time; the problem is, they cost €3,000.

Electric Car Subsidies To Be Reviewed In Norway After Sales Skyrocket

The entire purpose of providing motorists with grants for electric cars is to increase the sale of these low carbon emissions vehicles. However, it appears as if the Norwegian Government has overdone it with the generosity of its incentives. Its subsidy program has been so successful that Norway is now the largest users of electric cars on the planet. The problem is, the massive grants have eaten into the Government’s budget to the point where the aforementioned incentives are to be reviewed.

Last week, the number of electric cars in Norway exceeded the 50,000 mark, a figure that wasn’t supposed to be reached until 2018. This has happened due to Government schemes including the cutting of taxes and inclusion of benefits for EV drivers such as free recharging stations, bus lane use and an exemption from parking fees and tolls.

During 2015, 20% of all vehicles sold have been of the electric variety and Norway accounts for approximately 33% of all EVs sold in Europe despite its tiny population in relation to the rest of the continent. According to the finance ministry, the review’s outcome will be announced in May when a revised budget is due.

Will Incentives Be Cut?

The existing scheme has been offered to motorists for the last three years but it faced criticism due to the immense increase in the sales of the Tesla Model S. This is deemed to be a ‘luxury’ model and the Norwegian Government’s budget was hit to the tune of an estimated 4 billion crowns ($510 million).

The Tesla Model S retails for around $70,000 though this can rise to $100,000 depending on ‘extras’. Despite the high price, it made up 3% of Norway’s vehicle sales in 2014 and critics said this was a sign that subsidies should not be given to wealthy EV buyers. Other electric car models such as the e-Golf and Nissan Leaf have also risen since the scheme started.

According to the Norwegian Electric Car Association, the fact that Norway leads the world in EVs on the road is not enough since only 2% of vehicles being driven on the nation’s roads are electric cars.

A major benefit of the scheme is the significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions produced by Norway as a combination of more EVs and an increasing reliance on hydropower for electricity helps the nation meet its goal of reducing emission levels in 2030. Norway’s goal is to ensure emission levels are 40% less in that year when compared to the 1990 levels.
Norway is also the largest producer of oil and gas in Western Europe as it produces 3.7 million barrels of oil equivalents daily while the nation’s offshore energy sector accounts for 20% of its economy.

Richard Branson Hints At Creation Of Virgin Electric Car To Compete With Google & Tesla

According to the billionaire founder of Virgin, Richard Branson, he has teams of people working on the creation of an electric car. While he was coy when it came to details, he did hint at a battle between Virgin and Tesla in the electric car business. Branson spoke while he was in attendance at the Formula E Championship where he was supporting the Virgin Racing team.

It is believed that the Virgin electric car in production will be capable of hitting 160mph and could be able to go from 0-60mph in an incredible 3 seconds. Such a move would result in a fascinating competition between Branson and the founder of Tesla, Elon Musk. While Branson refused to give too much away regarding the project, he did have time to pay Musk a compliment. According to Branson, Tesla vehicles are as sexy as any other vehicle on the road right now.

Tesla Motors first came to prominence with the release of its Roadster model which became the first electric car in serial production for sale in America. In the following seven years, Tesla expanded beyond the U.S into Britain and Asia. Other corporate giants hinting at entering the great electric car race include Apple and Google. However, Apple’s vehicle is unlikely to be seen until 2020 while there is no news on a release date for Google’s self-driving electric car.

Rural Companies In Warwickshire Asked To Enrol In Electric Car Scheme

In Warwickshire, there is a new incentive for rural businesses to begin using electric cars. Any company that signs up for a new scheme will receive a £2,000 grant from the county council as a means of reducing the cost of leasing an EV; firms that get involved will also be given free access to a charging point.

According to Jim Cherry of Taste of the Country, it is a good deal for small businesses in the area since electric cars are cheap to maintain which means his firm has saved money. Greenwatt Technology is the company looking to sign firms up to the new scheme and its Director, Mike Woollcott, outlined the fact that transport in rural areas was a growing concern.

Dundee Council Leads Electric Car Fleet

Dundee Council has more electric cars than any other local authority in the United Kingdom. With 38 environmentally friendly vehicles being used by the Council, they are top of the tables in comparison to other local authorities.

Dundee Council Electric Car Charging

A Dundee Council owned electric car charging.

In second place in South Lanarkshire Council with 24 vehicles. According to a report by Intelligent Car Leasing, the UK Government has a total of 531 electric cars.

In October 2014 Dundee Council announced plans to expand their use of electric cars. Environment Convener Craig Melville commended the move, saying “This is another important step in our commitment to environmentally-friendly transport”.

Vauxhall Ampera

The Vauxhall Ampera was launched in early 2012 and was immediately hailed as bringing forth a revolution in motor transport. It was named the European Car of the Year in 2012 but is the hype really justified? Read on to discover if the Ampera is a genuinely useful electric car suitable for the motorway as well as short journeys.

Design

Although it is a hybrid, Vauxhall want people to consider the Ampera to be an extended range electric car. The main power source for this EV is a 148bhp AC synchronous electric friction motor while the battery takes around six hours to charge using a regular domestic socket. The electronic power control module only taps into 65% of the vehicle’s total capacity which is said to increase the operational life of the car. Beneath the Ampera’s bonnet you will find an 85bhp engine which is 1.4 litres and a 71bhp electric motor.

Vauxhall Ampera

Vauxhall Ampera. Source: Google Images

Vauxhall want the Ampera to be a family’s only mode of transport so it is designed to resemble a regular car as much as possible. There is ample space for four adults but not five because of the T-shaped battery. The fit and quality of the car’s materials vary in quality and the centre stack control panel will feel strange to those used to conventional buttons.

There are two seven-inch LCD displays; one on the centre stack and the other where traditional instruments would be. There is an indicator to tell you how much charge is left and once that runs out, you can fall back on the fuel gauge to let you know how much gas you have. You can also benefit from added extras such as a DVD system, sat-nav and Bose sound system depending on the model you choose.

Performance

In many ways, the Ampera feels like a regular car when you drive as the gearlever makes the shifts from drive to reverse to neutral like a traditional automatic car. It is an easy vehicle to drive as there are no gears and the lack of noise is really relaxing, especially when driving along country roads. Although it doesn’t match traditional vehicles, it holds its own on the road most of the time.

The Ampera travels 0-62mph in a reasonable 9 seconds while it goes from 50-70mph in 6.2 seconds which is again a decent standard. According to Vauxhall, the Ampera has a potential range of 310 miles because you have a 35 litre tank of fuel on standby once your battery charge is gone while economy is estimated at 235mpg.

Verdict

As the Ampera has the reserve fuel tank in play and has an impressive overall range, it is very tempting to make the switch from a regular model. It handles most driving conditions relatively well though the ride can never be described as ‘smooth’. Overall, while making the transition to the Ampera is still daunting, it is not quite as big a leap as jumping to an all-electric car.

Rating: 4/5

  • Cost: From $49,000 (£32,995)
  • Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPG): Estimated at 235mpg
  • Official Driving Range (Miles): Vauxhall claims 310 miles.
  • Standard Charging Time (Hours): 6 hours
  • Practicality (Seats & Doors): 5 doors, 4 seats
  • Engine Size: 1.4 litres
  • Engine Power: 85bhp and 148bhp electric motor.
  • Transmission: N/A
  • Acceleration (0-62mph): 9 seconds
  • Top Speed (mph): 100mph
  • NCAP Safety Rating: 5 stars

Kia Soul

The Kia Soul EV is the Korean manufacturer’s entry into the electric car market and is an interesting model which is sure to divide opinion. Read on to discover whether the Kia is the right electric car for you.

Design

The EV version of the Kia Soul has an 81.4kW AC synchronous permanent magnet motor and offers 109bhp. As is the case with all EVs, the Kia Soul has the ability to deliver the entirety of its 210lbs of torque from a standing start. This means it should feel more responsive than traditional cars.

Kia Soul Electric Car

Kia Soul. Source: Google Images

Of course, the Kia is a supermini and its squat appearance may not be for everyone. Its upholstery is biodegradable and feels surprisingly plush. The battery is packed under the floor which means things can get uncomfortable for passengers in the back since a few inches have been taken off their legroom. Overall, the interior has that clean and sanitised look that you either love or loathe. From first glance, you wouldn’t think the Kia Soul has much room in the boot but its capacity is 281 litres which is reasonable.

Performance

This version of the Kia Soul actually weighs 300 pounds more than the gasoline-powered model; this is not a surprise once you realise the battery weighs a hefty 620 pounds. While Kia claims the range on the vehicle is over 130 miles, various tests show it to be closer to 90 miles in real-world conditions which is about the norm for existing electric cars.

When in Drive mode, the Soul’s acceleration is seamless while the steering feels as light as a feather. While out in the open road, it’s almost as if you are gliding to your destination and the lack of noise made by the Soul is a typical electric car bonus. It is an excellent vehicle for navigating city traffic as it takes off from a dead stop effortlessly.

Verdict

Had the Kia Soul been released in 2012 or even in 2013, it would probably have been a market leader. Unfortunately for Kia, there are better electric cars on the market right now for a comparable or even cheaper price. It appears as if Kia does not have delusions of grandeur as it only expects to sell a few hundred units which makes us wonder why it bothered. The Soul is a decent electric car but it needs to be so much more to compete.

Rating 3/5

  • Cost: $37,000 (£24,995 after UK Government Grant)
  • Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPG): 105mpg
  • Official Driving Range (Miles): 93 miles, Kia claims 132 miles.
  • Standard Charging Time (Hours): 5 hours on 240-volt charger
  • Practicality (Seats & Doors): 5 doors, 5 seats
  • Engine Size: 81.4kW
  • Engine Power: 109bhp
  • Transmission: Single-speed front wheel drive
  • Acceleration (0-62mph): 10.8 seconds
  • Top Speed (mph): 90mph
  • NCAP Safety Rating: 4 stars

Tesla Looks To Conquer Australia & Has Plans For New Charging Network

Early in December 2014, Tesla finally began selling its electric vehicles in Australia with its first showroom officially opened in north Sydney by company founder Elon Musk. The first EV available from the Tesla range for Australian motorists is the Model S, a four-door sedan with an impressive 500km range.

Tesla also unveiled its two supercharger stations; one is in the Sydney showroom while the other is at Darling Harbour’s Star casino. These stations will allow electric drivers to fully charge their vehicles in 60 minutes and half charge it in 20 minutes. While it is not the first electric car on the Australian market, the Model S is certainly one of the most expensive at $117,000 AUD. Add in extras such as a dual motor to increase the range and power plus an amazing autopilot feature which has the ability to change lanes and steer autonomously and the price goes to $200,000AUD.

According to Heath Walker, the company spokesman in Australia, the vehicle’s 500km range and ability to accelerate from 0-100km in 3.4 seconds means it is well worth the price as it rivals high-performance vehicles in the same price bracket. Walker described the Tesla Model S as the fastest accelerating 4-door sedan that has ever been built.

A Lifestyle Statement

If you decide to purchase the Model S, bear in mind that you also have to pay the cost of installing the 40-amp single phase charger which is crucial for the smooth running of the vehicle. If you live in an older home, you may have to pay up to $1,000AUD for an electrical system upgrade that can power the Model S. In contrast, it is possible to plug the Nissan Leaf or Holden Volt into a regular household powerpoint and both vehicles are substantially cheaper than the Model S.

Tesla Super Charger Network

Tesla Super Charger Network. Source: Google Images

Supercharger Network

Tesla also announced plans to add eight superchargers across Australia in cities such as Canberra and Melbourne with more superchargers to be installed in Sydney in 2015. Tesla hopes to extend its network to Brisbane in 2016.

The company’s Gigafactory is scheduled to be opened in Nevada in 2017; this plant will create lithium ion batteries and this mass production should help reduce the price of Tesla models. Eventually, the company hopes to introduce the Model III in Australia for a slightly more affordable $60,000AUD which brings the price below the nation’s luxury car tax; this should make the Model III an appealing prospect.

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