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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.

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

3D Printed Strati Electric Car

In September 2014, Jay Rogers surprised the world when he drove his new electric car to the International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago. The two-seater EV was created using a 3D Printer which Rogers says developed the vehicle in just 44 hours! The Strati is the world’s first 3D printer car. While the entire process took four and a half months, Rogers believes future models could be created in 6 weeks with the actual printing time cut to 24 hours.

Strati Electric Car – A Simple Success

Simplicity is the key to the Strati’s success; while the average car has thousands of parts, the Strati has just 49. Rogers, the CEO of Local Motors, believes that if a car can be made from the same material, it will be relatively easy to reduce the number of necessary parts. The majority of a car, including seats and the chassis, can be made using a 3D printer though it cannot create suspension, tyres and the engine.

strati electric car

Strati Electric Car. Image: Google UK

The material used to make the Strati is carbon-fibre reinforced thermoplastic which is as strong as mid-level aluminium according to Rogers. At present, the Local Motors team are refining the process to make it possible to print different flexibilities and other innovations in varying parts of the car. This would allow them to create compression bars for improved safety or softer plastic for the seats.

Rogers claims the new vehicle will be on the road by the end of 2015 and while he initially said it would cost between $17,000 (£11,500) and $31,000 (£20,000), he says the price will fall. He hopes to see localised factories creating cars designed with their environment in mind. For instance, a factory in a cold region could develop Stratis to suit the icy climate while a Nevada factory could create cars to cope with the desert. Rogers also hopes this principle can be applied to all industries which would help reduce the amount of overseas manufacturing companies in the United States.

Prindiville Electric Hummer

This EV from Prindiville is a touch different to what you might normally expect from an electric car. It carries the Hummer H3 design which is a General Motors brand though it is much smaller than the American behemoth hummer. Keep reading to find out if it is a worthy EV or an experiment that’s gone badly wrong.

prindiville electric hummer exterior

Prindiville Electric Hummer. Image: Google UK

Design

The front end of the Prindiville Electric Hummer looks to be nearly full size when compared to the H3 but it is a 2-door version which has a triangular back window and a sloped rear end. It has 15 inch hummer alloy wheels, LED lighting, trunks on front and back and shark fin antenna.

Inside the Prindiville you will find adjustable heated sports seats, floor mats, a pair of cup holders and a Pioneer CD player. The digital dashboard shows speed, distance, temperature, time and battery voltage and the speedometer can also switch between km and miles. Overall though, the interior of the hummer looks like that of a golf cart and lacks imagination.

Performance

There are 9 x 8 volt batteries for a 72 volt package that helps power the Hummer. The direct-drive system only allows the EV to top out at 40mph which is more than a bit disappointing. Equally disappointing is the 40 mile range which basically means you can’t venture outside the confines of your locality.

If you want to spruce up your hummer, there are a myriad of accessory options including a carbon fibre roof, sun roof, air conditioning, tinted windows, alarm immobilizer pack, full body vinyl wrap and dozens more choices.

prindiville electric hummer interior

Prindiville Electric Hummer. Image: Google UK

Verdict

There is no doubt that the Prindiville Electric Hummer has novelty value but with such a short range and slow top speed, there is little to recommend it. At over £22,000 ($36,000), it resembles a very expensive golf cart. You only receive a 2 year or 10,000 mile warranty and while you can purchase lithium-ion batteries to increase the range to 60 miles, this will set you back around £8,000 ($13,000).

Overall, the Prindiville is a collector’s item as there will apparently be only 25 units built. If you like this sort of thing, perhaps you should go ahead and buy one but those seeking a practical EV should stay well away.

  • Rating 1.5/5
  • Cost: £22,000+ ($36,000)
  • Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPG): estimated at 159mpg
  • Official Driving Range (Miles): 40 miles
  • Standard Charging Time (Hours): 8 hours
  • Practicality (Seats & Doors): 3 doors, 2 seats
  • Engine Size: 72 volt electric drive
  • Engine Power: N/A
  • Transmission: Direct Drive
  • Acceleration (0-62mph): N/A
  • Top Speed (mph): 40mph
  • NCAP Safety Rating: N/A

Renault Fluence ZE

The Fluence ZE is yet another electric car from the Renault line as it remains keen to stay ahead in the EV race. This particular offering has been available for a while now but received a facelift in 2012. Read on to find out how it compares to the latest electric cars on the market.

renault fluence ze exterior

Renault Fluence ZE. Image: Google UK

Design

The Fluence is relatively new to the UK but it has been available in Europe for a considerable period of time. The aforementioned facelift has given a futuristic look to the car with exterior trim, blue tinted badges, projector style headlights and the new Renault corporate grille along with other minor changes. Nonetheless, it is not a design to set the pulse racing.

The Renault Fluence possesses a very large battery; so large in fact that the car’s body has been stretched to accommodate it. The interior provides you with a well-built cabin and the dashboard is covered in soft touch plastic. There is Z.E badging on the dashboard and dials showing energy usage and battery charge as per usual in electric cars.

It’s a large car and the interior feels extremely spacious. You can fit three adults at the back and the boot’s capacity is 317 litres which is very large for an electric car.

renault fluence ze interior

renault fluence ze interior

Renault Fluence ZE. Image: Google UK

Performance

Like most EVs, the Fluence moves away silently and rapidly from a standstill and gets to 30mph in 4.1 seconds. The acceleration process feels so smooth you’ll think it won’t stop but ultimately, the car’s top speed is 84mph and travelling at high speeds will only drain your juice rapidly.

With 166lb ft of torque at your disposal immediately, the Fluence is a great car for the city as you can quickly move away at traffic lights and junctions. However, at 1605kg, the Fluence is not a sporty car and you can feel the weight as you try to speed up. Renault claim the range is 115 miles but this varies on weather conditions and how you drive the car.

Verdict

With every full charge costing you just £3 ($5), you can see the appeal of the Renault Fluence or any electric car for that matter. It is a good option for those looking to drive a second car for shorter commutes in urban areas and at £22,000 ($37,000); it isn’t as expensive as some of its rivals.

The problem is that you have to lease the battery system and that can prove expensive unless you agree to a longer term lease. Ultimately, the Fluence ticks most of the boxes for high quality EVs for city and town use and represents a good purchase.

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Cost: £22,195 ($37,000)
  • Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPG): estimated at 149mpg
  • Official Driving Range (Miles): 115 miles
  • Standard Charging Time (Hours): 8 hours
  • Practicality (Seats & Doors): 4 doors, 5 seats
  • Engine Size: 70kW
  • Engine Power: 70bhp
  • Transmission: 5-speed manual, 6-speed manual, 6-speed automatic
  • Acceleration (0-62mph): 13.4 seconds
  • Top Speed (mph): 84mph
  • NCAP Safety Rating: 4 stars

Nissan e-NV200 Combi

This is a new release from Nissan and the company is confident the e-NV200 Combi is a ‘game changer’ given its long range and large loading capacity. As Nissan has had enormous success with the Leaf, it’s no surprise to hear it being so confident. Read on to see if Nissan’s latest attempt to increase its stake in the EV is a hit or a miss.

nissan e-nv200 combi exterior

NIssan e-NV200 Combi. Image: Google UK

Design

Nissan have taken the electric motor from the Leaf and plopped it straight into it e-NV200 Combi; this move should save motorists a fortune on diesel but one can’t help but wonder if a more powerful motor should have been used since it is a van.

The steering wheel has been designed at a flat angle which means it will take a while to get comfortable in this vehicle but the steering rack is very sharp and the turning circle of the e-NV200 Combi is small for a van. Naturally, this will prove to be exceptionally useful when driving in towns and cities.

There are three trim levels: Acenta, Acenta Rapid and Tekna Rapid. The term ‘rapid’ refers to the inclusion of fast charging capability. The EV’s equipment pack includes air conditioning, electric windows, Bluetooth and a rear camera. The CARWINGS service from Nissan is also included and this allows remote access to the amount of battery charge remaining whether you are on a Smartphone or computer.

nissan e-nv200 combi interior

NIssan e-NV200 Combi. Image: Google UK

Performance

When we heard the e-NV200 Combi was designed to change the market, we expected a huge range and 106 miles is not bad at all. However, add in the fact that the top speed is 76mph, the range drops to 70 miles when loaded, it takes 14 seconds to go 0-62mph and it all seems a little underwhelming, even for a van.

The e-NV200 Combi performs well in the city thanks to the instant response of the electric motor and single-gear ratio; travelling through traffic is a breeze and much less frustrating than in a normal van. When it comes to quicker roads, the e-NV200 Combi is less impressive and you’re in for a bumpy ride if there is no load in the back.

Verdict

If you live in London, the e-NV200 Combi is a worthy investment as you will save £11,000 in congestion fees in four years along with the £5,000 grant. This saves a huge chunk of the £22,900 purchase price and it gets even cheaper if you choose to take on the battery lease contract of £61 a month offered by Nissan.

Overall, it is a good effort by Nissan but we don’t feel the e-NV200 Combi is a ‘game changer’.

  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Cost: £22,900 ($37,900)
  • Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPG): estimated at 153mpg
  • Official Driving Range (Miles): 106 miles
  • Standard Charging Time (Hours): 8 hours – 80% charge in 30 minutes with supercharger
  • Practicality (Seats & Doors): 6 doors, 5 seats
  • Engine Size: 80kW synchronous
  • Engine Power: 109bhp
  • Transmission: Single-speed front wheel drive
  • Acceleration (0-62mph): 14 seconds
  • Top Speed (mph): 76mph
  • NCAP Safety Rating: N/A

Ford Focus Electric

This is the first pure electric car from Ford but it has been on sale in the United States for a couple of years. At just over £28,500 ($46,000) after the UK Government grant, the Focus Electric is one of the most expensive EVs on the market but is it worth the price?

Ford Focus Electric Exterior

Ford Focus Electric. Image: Google UK

Design

It is a 5-door electric car that can seat 5 people and the interior looks very similar to the regular Focus models from Ford barring of course the unique dials found in all electric cars. It consists of a single speedometer with a pair of digital screens that show your energy consumption and driving data.

The standard kit includes a sat-nav system, reversing camera, part leather seats and Sony DAB stereo and while this is all nice to have, we don’t think it justifies the large price tag. On the plus side, the powerpack is very smooth and refined and the cabin silence is something you would need to pay a lot more for in a typical car. The battery reduces the boot size to around 237 litres which should still be enough for daily use.

Ford Focus Electric Interior

Ford Focus Electric. Image: Google UK

Performance

The Ford Focus Electric has a kerb weight of 1700kg which gives the suspension springs a solid base and enables it to impressively absorb bumps. You should get a range approaching 100 miles on a full charge along with a top speed of 85mph. However, the steering wheel does have a tendency to squirm in your hands while you accelerate and the brakes feel more than a bit grabby.

The pair of lithium-ion batteries used in the Focus Electric weigh 300kg combined yet the car’s straight line performance is reasonably good with 0-62mph achieved in 11 seconds and 250Nm of torque produced immediately. It will take up to 11 hours to fully charge the Focus Electric from a standard socket but a 32amp charger can do the job in as little as 3 hours.

Verdict

If you want great driving dynamics, the Focus Electric is the car for you even though the price is more than a little steep. Those who can ignore the cost will land themselves a very good EV while everyone else should shop around for something a bit more affordable.

  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Cost: From £28,580 ($46,000)
  • Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPG): estimated at 177mpg
  • Official Driving Range (Miles): 100 miles
  • Standard Charging Time (Hours): 3-11 hours depending on charger
  • Practicality (Seats & Doors): 5 doors, 5 seats
  • Engine Size: 105kW
  • Engine Power: 141bhp
  • Transmission: Single-speed automatic, front-wheel drive
  • Acceleration (0-62mph): 11 seconds
  • Top Speed (mph): 85mph
  • NCAP Safety Rating: 5 stars

Volkswagen e-Golf

As well as releasing the e-Up, Volkswagen has decided to bring the e-Golf on to the market. Will VW conquer the EV market or does it fall short with its latest offering? Read on to find out more.

volkswagen-e-golf-exterior

Volkswagen e-Golf. Image: Google UK

Design

It seems as if electric cars have to be uniquely designed to stand out from the crowd judging by recent releases but the e-Golf does not follow this pattern. Indeed, it is difficult to distinguish it from the internal combustion engine versions of the Golf in terms of design. This means the e-Golf has the same level of high quality engineering details so you get the same range of seat adjustment, driver position and gear lever as the other Golf versions.

The e-Golf is cleverly designed to reduce the loss of space since a specific platform is used to fit the 24kWh battery beneath the front and rear seats and along the centre tunnel of the vehicle. A conventional key is used to start up and while the torque goes right from the start like all electric vehicles, there is little in the way of motor whine.

volkswagen e golf interior

Volkswagen e-Golf. Image: Google UK

Performance

The e-Golf’s transmission is silky smooth and accelerating around bends is a pleasurable experience while the car’s handling and balance is exceptional despite the presence of a 318kg battery pack. There are also different levels of brake regeneration in the transmission and all three are fairly gentle.

One of the few downsides of the e-Golf is its limited range of 90 miles which is decent but less than some of its rivals. As you might expect, the battery gets thrashed when you operate at high speeds but lots of energy gets recovered when driving on back roads for example. It takes 13 hours to charge using a 3-pin socket and 8 hours to charge with a 3.6 kW wallbox fitted to a domestic supply. A supercharger can have it 80% charged in 35 minutes however.

Verdict

The e-Golf’s battery pack has a 100,000 mile or 8 year warranty and VW claims its battery should be at 80% capacity after 10 years of use. Aside from the moderate range, the e-Golf is a terrific automobile and one of the best electric cars on the market. It looks great, handles beautifully and carries all the hallmarks of great Volkswagen car manufacture and design.

  • Rating 4.5/5
  • Cost: From £25,845 including UK grant ($41,000)
  • Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPG): estimated at 199mpg
  • Official Driving Range (Miles): 90 miles (VW claims 118 miles)
  • Standard Charging Time (Hours): 8 hours
  • Practicality (Seats & Doors): 5 doors, 5 seats
  • Engine Size: 85kW
  • Engine Power: 113bhp
  • Transmission: Single-speed, mechanical with integrated differential and mechanical parking brake
  • Acceleration (0-62mph): 10.5 seconds
  • Top Speed (mph): 87mph
  • NCAP Safety Rating: 5 stars

Renault Kangoo ZE

It was only a matter of time before Renault created a zero emissions version of its Kangoo van; mainly because it’s a lot cheaper than coming up with a new design! We were disappointed to learn that because it is a commercial vehicle, it is not eligible for the £5,000 Government grant (UK only) which is likely to hamper sales of this electric vehicle.

reanult kangoo ze interior

Renault Kangoo ZE. Image: Google UK

Design

You can purchase a five-seat maxi or two-seater van version of this model and we found it to be very good when it comes to hauling large loads. It was also surprisingly relaxing to drive because it is very quiet both on start up and when on the move; this is a pleasant contrast to vans that normally make a lot of noise.

On first glance, it isn’t easy to distinguish it from the internal combustion engine model as even little details such as the fuel filler cap on the side are the same. The main changes are stickers on the bodywork and a charging socket on the nose of the Kangoo ZE.

The cabin is again similar to the original model but there are of course new dials showing energy usage and battery charge which replace the old rev counter and fuel gauge. There are also features such as climate and cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity and parking sensors. In the Maxi version, you get up to 2,600 litres of boot space when you fold the rear seats.

renault kangoo ze interior

Renault Kangoo ZE. Image: Google UK

Performance

All versions of the Kangoo ZE have a 59bhp electric motor and the vehicle produces 226lbNm of torque which is very impressive and means it can haul large loads. There is a slight whine when the van accelerates but it is barely noticeable after a while and we found that it handled well overall.

Renault claim the Kangoo ZE has a range of 106 miles but this is dramatically reduced if you are carrying passengers or cargo. You can reduce the impressive torque output by pressing the eco button which should add 10% to your range. Renault states that 70% of van drivers drive less than 62 miles a day so the range shouldn’t be an issue for most.

Verdict

As is the case with many electric vehicles, you purchase the Kangoo ZE vehicle but rent the batteries so the result is a starting price of £22,000 and leases beginning at £60 a month. The ineligibility of the vehicle for the grant is a pain but it is a good solid van overall and well worth looking into if you want a larger electric vehicle.

  • Rating: 4/5
  • Cost: £22,000 ($36,000) + £60 ($99) a month lease for batteries
  • Miles Per Gallon Equivalent (MPG): 42.8mpg
  • Official Driving Range (Miles): 106 miles
  • Standard Charging Time (Hours): 6-8 hours
  • Practicality (Seats & Doors): 5 doors, 5 seats in the Maxi
  • Engine Size: 44kW electric motor
  • Engine Power: 59bhp
  • Transmission: Single-speed, front-wheel drive
  • Acceleration (0-62mph): 13 seconds
  • Top Speed (mph): 81mph
  • NCAP Safety Rating: 5 stars
electric cars, cars, auto, vehicles, hybrid