Nissan Leaf (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car) begins its US roll out very soon and it will be available in some other world wide markets before a more widespread roll out. It is Nissan’s all electric car with a range of 100 miles (160 km). It has a top speed of over 140 km/h (87 mph). Its motor is rated at 80 kW (110 hp) and 280 Nm (210 lbft).
Some responses to electric cars can be paraphrased as such:
The electricity you are using to charge your car is produced in a non environmentally friendly manner, such as coal, so you are still polluting
That shouldn’t diminish the importance of electric cars and additionally it is the job of the consumer and the voter to make sure electricity comes from clean sources. That is done by voting for the politicians who would make sure clean energy happens and also those would make sure that electric cars, such as the Nissan Leaf, make it to dealerships near you in mass numbers and are not dismissed or removed from the market place altogether.
The Mercedes SLS AMG E-CELL is a prototype and one of the cars in line to take Mercedes-Benz and it’s subsidiary Mercedes-AMG into its promised fully electric line. At one point it was mooted that Mercedes will be free of fossil fuels by, a now impossible, 2015 but a move in that direction is in the works and the “AMG Performace 2015” motto is now geared more towards big reductions in emissions.
A limited supply of the E-CELL line, featuring high voltage (400V) liquid-cooled lithium-ion batteries, will be ready for 2013. They will boast 526 horsepowers thanks to 4 electric engines which combined can achieve an equivalent maximum of 12,000 RPM with top speeds of 155 miles per hour. The cars also do 0 to 100Km/hr in 4 seconds, well in line with other non-zero emission cars. The one ‘advertised’ limitation, that of range, is around 90 miles on a charge for the first of Mercedes SLSs. This will improve in future generation green cars.
This Mercedes SLS is certainly a car with luxury specs but one with a giant step towards the green future where charging stations will be the norm instead of gas stations and the moving part monstrosity that is a combustion engine will be a thing of the past.
One of the important but yet incomplete moves towards reducing harmful emissions has been the advent of the hybrid electric vehicle. Those include the now famous Honda Insight and Toyota Prius for example, running on a combination of the old and outdated propulsion system plus different forms of rechargeable batteries. Recently Honda Insight has for the first time been a best selling car in Japan and that in itself is an important indicator of the mood and the need of the population. While hybrids of different kind contribute well to the low emissions needs of our planet ‘full’ electric vehicles can and certainly have the potential for even better results. For the time being, although not scientifically limited, the number of choices for full electric vehicles are more limited and not fully supported by the traditional big auto makers.
Two companies that do manufactures the vehicles and are slowly gearing towards providing cars for everyday use are Miles Electric Vehicles and Tesla Motors. The former has begun launching the Coda Automotive brand which, while expensive, is targeted at the no-frills environmentalist. The company is trying to get a 5 star highway safety rating from the US government agency National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and sell the cars online. Tesla Motors has taken a more luxurious and high performance route with the likes of Tesla Roadster.
With the bigger traditional companies manufacturing their own or investing in startups, legislative bodies taking the lead in making sure cars can be made available in the market and barring ‘outside’ destructive propaganda against the developing technology the future is looking clean (poor pun intended) for electric vehicles and the health of the environment.
Carbon Neutrality is a concept of reducing or balancing the amount of greenhouses gases released into the atmosphere. Massive evidence points to fossil fuels causing extreme harm to the environment and while some voices of propaganda or even legitimate scientists do not agree the evidence seems to confirm extreme dangers. Even if the dangers are overblown there is no denying that city life where fumes and other pollutants are very much present has detrimental effects on each human’s health.
Many worldwide or United Nations (and other organizations) sponsored meetings and summits have been convened to reach a worldwide (or close to worldwide) agreement on controlling the release of CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) and other so-called greenhouse gases that at the very least have local health effects. The Kyoto Protocol is the most famous and perhaps the most criticized. It is however local governments and nations that have taken things into their hands and try to do their part in virtual unilateral fashion. Over the past few years Costa Rica, Norway, Maldives, New Zealand and Maldives and some others have set their own targets of becoming carbon neutral under an UN initiative called the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). While some concepts such as selling carbon credits might be questionable as to shift the problem elsewhere for cash it is still commendable and necessary that some form of concrete action is being taken by countries that may not even be the richest.
Costa Rica’s example seems to be the most ambitious by setting a target of 2021, the country’s 200th anniversary, for becoming carbon neutral. Others like Norway have set dates like 2050 as a target. Such things as moving forward and increasing existing hydroelectric power generation, starting or adding to wind power and solar power generation projects are all steps that help and have long term and short term benefits. Other steps such as halting deforestation add to the arsenal by adding carbon consuming plants. Removing pollutants from the assembly lines and the roads help as well.
As one concrete example one can look to the the introduction of electric cars into a market place. Recently the India based REVA Electric Car Company (RECC) entered the Costa Rican market and will sell its electric car in that country. Initiatives like this that include profits will help bit by bit and the chances of improving our health and most certainly the well-being of the planet are increased.
A modular car that gives you the option of a gas-electric, battery electric or hydrogen fuel-cell drivetrain. Developed by Mercedes Benz the Concept BlueZero cars will take the next step towards ditching the gas guzzeling monstrosities on the road today.