Archive for the ‘Green Car’ Category
The motor industry is currently in the middle of a period of transition as the focus goes from designs that rely solely on fossil fuels to those that are fuelled by more sustainable means.
With sales of the first electric car to be produced by a major manufacturer having so far being underwhelming; some are beginning to question whether electric vehicles really are the future. We therefore take a look at the reasons why sales of electric vehicles have so far been underwhelming and examine the potential alternatives.
The Nissan Leaf examined
The Nissan Leaf was made available to the public in 2010 and immediately won the European car of the Year Competition; a prestigious award voted for by some of the industries most respected journalists. The Leaf won over critics with its impressive performance; being capable of a top speed of 91mph and with a range of 100 miles between charges. This has been achieved without compromising the appearance of the model or the space within it; with the being big enough to fit in five people. This really helps it stand apart from electric vehicles that have been launched previously.
Despite all the hype, initial sales of the Leaf have been modest to say the least and it hasn’t exactly turned the market on its head. Part of the reason for this has to be the initial selling price, with a basic version of the Leaf being on sale for £25,990; which is a similar price to a brand new Range Rover or a luxurious Mercedes C-Class. This is despite getting similar quality levels to what you would expect with a bog standard Ford Focus.
However, this is looking at it in an unrealistic world where you would be expecting people to pay for their vehicle with a one-off fee. Of course, the majority of motorists will be using the monthly repayment method and in this light the Leaf suddenly looks much more affordable for the average motorist.
The monthly repayment costs would obviously be more expensive than for the cheaper Ford Focus; being somewhere in the region of £130. However, the average motorist who owns a Leaf would save £55 every single month by recharging their vehicle with mains electricity rather than filling the tank with fuel. There would also be a saving around £13 for road tax each month as well as a 5% (£92 per year/£7.67 per month) reduction off your overall car insurance bill with some insurers who reward owners of environmentally friendly vehicles. If you live in London the saving would be even more substantial, with Leaf owners also not being required to pay congestion charges.
However, regardless of whether or not you would make a total saving, it would still take quite a significant amount of London based travel to make the Leaf a viable option given the inconvenience of the 100 mile range and the current lack of recharging stations around the country which really makes journeys of more than 50 miles away from home impossible. Ultimately it is this limitation which has held back adoption of electric vehicles so far.
Fuelled by hydrogen
One manufacturer who seems to have lost faith in the prospect of an electric future is Honda. The Japanese company has been investing heavily in vehicles which are fuelled by hydrogen gas in recent years with their first hydrogen fuelled vehicle currently being available for lease in America, Japan and Europe for $600 per month.
The FCX Clarity design is powered by an electric motor just like the Leaf, but unlike the Leaf users don’t need to go through the time consuming recharging phase every 100 miles. The hydrogen gas is used to create a fusion reaction which produces the electric energy required to power the engine. The current range of the vehicle on one tank of hydrogen is 240 miles, which is substantially more than for the all-electric Leaf and not far from the standards set by convention fossil fuelled alternatives. The refilling process is also no more time consuming than conventional cars.
However, the one problem with this concept is that like with electric charging points; hydrogen filling stations are currently not widely available. This largely renders the FCX Clarity a no-go area for motorists until a concerted effort is made by governments across the developed world to ensure a wider hydrogen station distribution network.
This is surely a far more realistic proposition than electric vehicles, with recharging times likely to remain a permanent source of inconvenience. Let us also not forget that uptake of electric vehicles would have been handicapped by a similar issue in the late 1800s.
Despite all of praise and awards which the Leaf has been heaped with since its launch, it is perhaps the Honda Clarity FCX which is the really star of the current green car revolution.