Monthly Archives: November 2014

BMW i3 wins 2015 Green Car of the Year award (Image: Green Car Journal)

BMW i3 wins 2015 Green Car of the Year award

Milestone Carbon Fiber Electric Car Wins the Auto Industry’s Most Important Environmental Award at Los Angeles Auto Show

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 20, 2014) – BMW’s i3, an innovative electric car built with a lightweight carbon fiber passenger cell and an aluminum drive module, has been named Green Car Journal’s 2015 Green Car of the Year®, which was announced at the LA Auto Show. Green Car of the Year® finalists also included the Audi A3 TDI, Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel, Honda Fit, and VW Golf.

BMW i3 wins 2015 Green Car of the Year award (Image: Green Car Journal)
BMW i3 wins 2015 Green Car of the Year award (Image: Green Car Journal)

The Green Car of the Year® award is an honor widely recognized as the auto industry’s most important environmental accolade. Green Car Journal, the leading voice in the intersection of automobiles, energy, and the environment since the publication’s launch in 1992, celebrates the high-profile award’s 10th anniversary at the L.A. Auto Show this year.

“BMW’s i3 is a milestone vehicle in many respects and illustrates the automaker’s expansive vision of future motoring,”

said Ron Cogan, editor and publisher of Green Car Journal and CarsOfChange.com.

“It is purposefully designed with a small environmental footprint and zero emissions, offering the best features of an electric vehicle with the functionality of an available on board engine-generator that nearly doubles its battery electric range.”

The first all-electric vehicle to win Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year®, the i3 benefits from BMW’s years-long ‘project i’ initiative that focuses on future mobility and strategies for sustainable transportation. The result is a unique approach that finds the i3 embracing technologies, materials, and construction methods breaking new ground for a mainstream model. While the i3 is designed as a battery electric car, its optional REx gasoline engine-generator enables extended driving range with electricity created on board easing potential range anxiety.

“Unlike other manufacturers that build vehicles and then create advanced powertrains to go in them, BMW rethought the whole process of building a car from the ground-up, using new materials and techniques”

said noted TV personality and avid car collector Jay Leno, pointing out one of many strengths the i3 had going into the competition. Leno has been one of Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year® jurors since the award program launched in 2005.

Along with Leno, the Green Car of the Year® jury includes leaders of noted environmental and efficiency organizations including Jean-Michel Cousteau, president of Ocean Futures Society; Matt Petersen, board member of Global Green USA; Mindy Lubber, President of CERES; Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy, and Dr. Alan Lloyd, President Emeritus of the International Council on Clean Transportation and former CalEPA Secretary and Chairman of the California Air Resources Board. The jury is rounded out by a smaller number of Green Car Journal editors.

The magazine’s extensive vetting process considers all vehicles, fuels, and technologies as the field of nominees is narrowed down to five finalists that significantly raise the bar in environmental performance. Vehicles that are all-new, or in the early stages of their model lifecycle, are considered and finalists must be on sale by January 1 of the award year. Availability and market significance are factors to ensure that models have the potential to make a real impact on improving air quality, reducing greenhouse gases, and promoting transportation efficiency.

As finalists for 2015 Green Car of the Year®, the Audi A3 TDI, BMW i3, Chevrolet Impala Bi-Fuel, Honda Fit, and Volkswagen Golf are additionally honored with Green Car Journal’s 2015 Green Car Product of Excellence™.

BMW i3 Charging (Image: Chargemaster)

Chargemaster Keeps UK Charging Network 99% Operational

Chargemaster, the UK’s largest supplier of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, is keeping its charge points in London and the rest of the UK online with its industry-leading operations.

Earlier this year, the British firm installed its 10,000th public and commercial charging point and, along with a telephone support line that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to resolve urgent issues, has a dedicated team of electricians and engineers to fix any faults, typically within 48 hours.

David Martell, Chargemaster CEO, said:

“We are proud to have the best-maintained charge points not only in London, but across the entire UK electric vehicle charging estate. Our own Chargevision back-end management system is the best in the business and provides us with diagnostics on every single one of our charge points, every minute of the day.”

Chargemaster, through its sophisticated Chargevision system and its own dedicated national maintenance team of technicians, is able to monitor the operational availability of its network. Over the last year, its owned and maintained infrastructure achieved a 98.7% serviceability record for all charge points on a month-by-month basis.

Today, just two charge points installed and maintained by Chargemaster in London are not fully operational, and both of these are scheduled to be back online within the next few days.

David Martell added:

“We take maintenance and serviceability very seriously. As the UK’s largest provider of EV charging infrastructure, we have a responsibility to ensure that electric car drivers can rely on our network to enable them to complete their journeys.”

Chargemaster infrastructure is part of the Source London charging network, a scheme which involves more than 60 site/charge point owners – from local councils to car park operators. Contractually, funding currently exists for the maintenance of London’s EV infrastructure and Chargemaster believes that if this funding was properly reclaimed by charge point owners, any sites that are currently out-of-service could be brought back online swiftly.

BMW i3, selected as Yahoo Autos 2015 Green Car of the Year (Image: Kerian/Yahoo)

The 2015 Yahoo Autos Green Vehicle of the Year: BMW i3

The most radical vehicle to emerge from any automaker in the past year — and likely the past decade — the BMW i3 looks and drives like nothing else on the road. You may call it a hatchback hit with an ugly stick or an an expensive way to travel 80 miles on a charge, but you’ll still miss the point of why we named it our 2015 Green Vehicle of the Year.

We’ve written before about the lengths BMW went to build a lightweight electric vehicle that would have unimpeachable green credentials. The carbon-fiber frame, narrow tires and drive system so wired to recover energy in coasting you really need only one pedal in everyday driving combine into a vehicle that’s more efficient at traveling a mile than any other available, including the Tesla Model S.

Driving the i3 — ours came with the 650-cc, two-cylinder range-extender engine that adds an addtional 80 miles of reach — is to revel in parsimony and goodness, and like the houses that hand out toothbrushes on Halloween, a bit of a buzzkill. The torque does arrive instantly, and the low center of gravity adds some fun in the chassis, but the tiny contact patch and suspension keeps such joy bottled up. The interior of open-pore eucalyptus and recycled plastic-fiber cloth looks inviting and jarring at first — as open and sporty as a fair-trade coffeehouse.

“No matter how funky and modern BMW makes its lights and window graphics,” said contributing editor Steve Siler, “it’s hard to get excited about a box with ultra-skinny wheels.”

Yet the panel of editors came to see the strategy behind the i3. The world has lived with automobiles for over 100 years, more than long enough for them to evolve into signifiers of our personalities. We expect form to follow function in even our wildest cars, from the spoilers and hood scoops on the Dodge Challenger Hellcat to the engine vents on the Alfa Romeo 4C’s rear decklid. But few automakers has ever been so enthralled by electric cars, so ready to embrace a low-carbon future, that they were willing to engineer a car that acts as a rolling billboard for saving energy. The BMW i3 was the first of this century, but it won’t be the last.

Source: Yahoo

London Climate March - the Rally (Image: T. Larkum)

People’s Climate March – Part 2

[Continued from Part 1]

The exit from Temple station was severely congested with crowds of people trying to move slowly out. We were herded to the right and towards the Thames and embankment where apparently the back end of the march crowd would be found.

London Climate March - a quick selfie near Embankment (Image: T. Larkum)
London Climate March – a quick selfie near Embankment (Image: T. Larkum)

There was still some time to go before the march began so I used it to make my way through the crowd to get somewhere nearer the front, though after half an hour I was back again at Temple Station (about where I would have been if I’d turned left on leaving it – I’ll know that next time!). By the time the march started I had got perhaps halfway through the long crowd.

London Climate March - a carnival atmosphere (Image: T. Larkum)
London Climate March – a carnival atmosphere (Image: T. Larkum)

The crowd was very good-natured, there was something of a gentle carnival spirit around. I saw representatives from many different organisations including Greenpeace UK, Avaaz, the Green Party, Friends of the Earth, Socialist Workers, and various trade unions, to name just a few. Plus, of course, thousands of individuals like myself who had decided to ‘stand up and be counted’ even though we don’t belong to any political organisations.

London Climate March - passing the Palace of Westminster (Image: T. Larkum)
London Climate March – passing the Palace of Westminster (Image: T. Larkum)

We marched from Temple, past Embankment and then the Palace of Westminster to Abington Street Gardens. There we congregated – people standing around or picnicking on the grass – for a mass rally. Various organisers and celebrities gave speeches from a parked open-top bus. I particular concurred with the heartfelt talk from Emma Thompson.

London Climate March - the Rally (Image: T. Larkum)
London Climate March – the Rally (Image: T. Larkum)

Despite the subdued talks and the bad news they contained I felt that the overall mood of the march was very buoyant. I think for most people it will not be the end of their campaigning but more likely a beginning. I enjoyed my time there and felt it was time well spent. I will certainly be looking for further opportunities to get involved in these sorts of actions.

Of course, the London Climate March – which has been estimated to have involved 40000 people – was not the only one in the UK; there were others in Manchester, Edinburgh and Sheffild. These were just a few of many around the world. There were big marches in Australia, Germany, Canada, India, Italy and elsewhere. The biggest was in New York, with some 400,000 people attending.

Formula E Racing in Beijing (Image: FIA Formula E)

FIA: What is Formula-e and why should we care?

With only three days until Round-2 of the inaugural FIA Formula-E Championship is upon us, I thought it was time to take a deeper look into this interesting racing series.

The debut of Formula-e racing was held in the streets of Beijing on 13th September 2014. You can read my review of that here. There was great racing from quality drivers with interesting incidents. That’s what you would expect from any racing series so what makes Forumla-e different?

Firstly, the obvious part is the “e” – this is the first fully electric single-seater racing series. The car is the Spark-Renault SRT_01E which uses a Dallara chassis, a McLaren engineered electric motor, a Rechargeable Energy Storage System (RESS) part of which has been engineered by Williams and it rides on Michelin tyres. This being a racing series that champions sustainability and cost saving, the tyre is essentially a road tyre, capable of running in both wet and dry conditions. One set of tyres should last a whole race weekend.

The “electric” part presents a number of issues for ensuring entertaining racing. The sound is an immediate problem, especially in the aftermath of the controversy over Formula 1 went through when the engines were downgraded for eight to six cylinders. The new sound of F1 is more tame than it ever has been and this has led to criticism from pundits and the race going public. So much so that some different artificial sound enhancing tricks have been tried to no avail. This however has meant that the problem of very little sound coming from an electrical power unit being much less of an issue. In practice, the Formula-e car sounds just as aggressive as the current Formula 1 engine, just a little less loud.

Another big problem with an electric car is refuelling. Currently there is very little in the way of technology that allows a car to be recharged in the time it takes for a pit stop to happen. How do Formula-e get around this? Simple, have two cars. Instead of pulling in to change tyres or recharge the battery, the driver simple hops out of one car and into another. Now this works at the moment but it isn’t exactly the most economical way of running proceedings. It means that each team, of which there are ten, has to have four cars as a minimum, two for each driver. Not ideal, however this can only be positive for the future of electric cars. With Formula-e investing time and money improving the image of the sport and electric cars in general, they will surely have to look at a way of improving this set up. Maybe a 3.5-second way of changing the batteries or a 10-second way of charging. All potential exciting developments for the future of road cars.

So, there are some issues but all of them so far, have been easy to account for. Here comes one part of Formula-e that I just can’t get past, “Fan Boost”. Three drivers out of the twenty in the field, are given a 5-second “Fan Boost”. This is measured purely on popularity via social media. This will force drivers to work harder in the media, gain more “Followers” and ask them to vote for them. I am not sure that measuring how popular you are to the public, should have any bearing on anything in your life, let alone the outcome of an otherwise very equal race. This boost, though it seems relatively ineffective, with a 5-second boost equivalent to 40 BHP for the drivers to use twice in the race (once in each car) feels like a poor gimmick taken from 1980’s Saturday morning kids television that Formula-e would do well to be rid of.

Another problem for me is the length of time between races. I understand that the logistics of getting a city ready to host a race are extremely complicated. Unfortunately, Formula-e whet the appetite for this series with an incident packed race-one in mid-September but race-two will not take place until the end of November, easily enough time for the public to forget it. Thankfully the rest of the races will be closer together but still 3 weeks to a month apart, the schedule is below.

Problems aside, the first race was gripping and I am genuinely excited about the close fought racing that is likely to await us in this year’s Formula E championship. I am also eager to see how this innovative series can improve both itself and race cars of the future. It also forces the likes of Formula 1 to ensure they are genuinely at the forefront of fuel-efficient racing and encourages new efficiencies through both series’, into our road cars.

The next race will be broadcast live on ITV4 at 6am on Saturday 22nd November.

Race Schedule

Round 1 – 13 Sept 2014 – Beijing, China

Round 2 – 22 Nov 2014 – Putrajaya, Malaysia

Round 3 – 13 Dec 2014 – Punta del Este, Uruguay

Round 4 – 10 Jan 2015 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

Round 5 – 14 Feb 2015 – TBA*

Round 6 – 14 Mar 2015 – Miami, USA

Round 7 – 4 Apr 2015 – Long Beach, USA

Round 8 – 9 May 2015 – Monte Carlo, Monaco

Round 9 – 30 May 2015 – Berlin, Germany

Round 10 – 27 Jun 2015 – London, United Kingdom

* Rio de Janeiro was originally scheduled to host a race in November but the calendar has since changed and though the date has been selected for Round 5, no venue has been announced.

Kia Soul EV (Image: Kia)

Kia Soul EV review

Driving the Kia Soul EV round central London made petrol and diesel power seem so yesterday. You actually feel sympathy for people driving around in Bentleys. Kia says it has been working on electric vehicles for 30 years, but only now thinks the time is right to make one available to the public. Kia, which now sells nearly three million cars a year, is starting in a typically small way with intended annual sales expected to be around a couple of hundred.

If you need a compact electric SUV crossover hatchback, the Kia Soul is it. As with all Kias, the Soul EV has a seven year warranty which should give confidence about the life of the battery pack.

Performance

With acceleration to 60 mph taking 10.8 seconds the Kia Soul EV has adequate performance for a town car especially with town planners’ mania for traffic lights. Performance is smooth and serene and in mode B the regenerative braking is strong. Drive and Brake modes can also be operated in Eco mode to help maximise the car’s range. Maximum speed is claimed to be 90 mph but there was no opportunity to verify this.

The permanent magnet synchronous AC electric motor produces 109 bhp from 2,730 rpm to 8,000 rpm, while maximum torque of 211 lbs ft arrives instantly and continues until 2,730 rpm. Claimed class-leading energy density of 200 Wh/kg gives the car a projected range approaching 132 miles.

Handling

The rack and pinion power steering is quick and light and the car’s shape (and reversing camera) makes it easy to manoeuvre into parking spaces. A button push makes the steering even lighter for parking. The 275 kg battery pack has actually improved the handling of the Soul. Not only has it lowered its centre of gravity but the weight distribution of the Soul EV has been altered slightly too.

It is several percentage points less front heavy though you don’t really notice a difference on a slow speed town drive. The suspension settings felt stiffer which helped cornering precision. Braking, with large discs front and rear, was predictable and progressive.

Read more: Next Green Car

Tar Sands in Alberta (Image: Wikimedia/Howl Arts Collective)

IEA Says Oil Supplies May Not Keep Up With Demand

Despite what appears to be a saturated oil market in 2014, oil producers around the world will struggle to meet rising demand over the next few decades.

In its latest annual World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency (IEA) warned that the current period of oil abundance may be fleeting, and in fact, without heroic levels of production increases, oil markets will grow dangerously tight in the coming years.

Global oil demand is expected to increase by 37 percent by 2040, with a dominant proportion of that coming from developing countries – i.e. China and India. In fact, the IEA says that for every barrel of oil the industrialized world expects to eliminate from demand through efficiency or other ways of reducing demand, developing countries will burn through two additional barrels.

The IEA predicts that the world will need to extract an additional 14 million barrels of oil per day (bpd) by 2040, which comes on top of today’s production levels of about 90 million bpd. While there is a lot of triumphalism in the United States about shale oil production and how places like the Bakken and the Eagle Ford have ushered in an era of abundance, the IEA says that tight oil production in the U.S. – along with Canadian oil sands – will only last until the mid-2020’s.

After that point, when the shale revolution peters out, oil markets revert to their old ways – that is, looking to the Middle East once again to meet global demand. And that should raise some alarm. Saudi Arabia will remain one of the largest and most important oil producers in the world, but it probably won’t be able to ramp up production much beyond its current levels. There is some slack production in Iran, due to western sanctions, but even when it returns to the fold it likely will only make a small contribution to oil production growth in the long-term.

Instead, much of the world’s hopes are pinned disproportionately on Iraq. A year ago, after the IEA released its 2013 WEO, I wrote about how the IEA was placing a surprising amount of faith in the ability of Iraq to scale up its oil production. For several years, the IEA predicted that Iraq would be able to triple its output from 3 million bpd to around 8.3 million bpd by 2035. Under that assumption, oil prices would rise only a modest amount over that timeframe.

That would have been a monumental task even before the country began unraveling in June 2014. Since then, Iraq has been plunged back into a state of war. The prospect that it can be put back together, and the requisite levels of capital investment can be put into its oil sector in order to add 5-6 million bpd over the next 20-30 years, appears fanciful to say the least.

An estimated $900 billion will need to be deployed each year beginning in the 2030s to bring enough oil online to meet global demand. But the IEA also cautions that replicating the tight oil boom in the United States will be very difficult. Different geological conditions could pose some problems, but the long lead times and opposition to drilling will also slow development in much of the world.

Unlike last year, this time around the IEA appears to be more concerned. The IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, said in a press release:

“A well-supplied oil market in the short-term should not disguise the challenges that lie ahead, as the world is set to rely more heavily on a relatively small number of producing countries.”

And in its WEO Fact sheet, the IEA declares:

“the task of bringing production above 100 mb/d rests on a fairly limited number of shoulders.”

Source: Oil Price

Electric Cars Fast Charging (Image: BusinessCarManager.co.uk)

Five reasons why electric vehicles will go mass-market

Over the last 100 years there have been a number of attempts from electric vehicle enthusiasts to push them into the mass market. Unfortunately the vast majority of these attempts have failed for a variety of reasons, often out of the control of the market itself, but today we stand in a very different place and electric vehicles will eventually go mass-market. We hereby list five reasons why electric vehicles are here to stay in the longer term: –

1. Technology

There have been enormous leaps in electric vehicle technology over the last 10 years which not only offer greater efficiency but also give the driving public greater confidence. This technology continues to advance at breathtaking speed not only in the area of electric vehicles themselves but also battery technology. In many ways the development of new technologies is putting gasoline vehicles in the shadows and grabbing the headlines.

2. Industry and government expenditure

While the electric vehicle market has made numerous attempts to crack the mass market, the majority of which failed, today is very different. The industry itself and governments around the world have literally invested billions upon billions of dollars and gone beyond the point of no return. In previous attempts there was a definite lack of incentives from governments around the world and indeed many governments paid lip service to the industry without cold hard cash. The simple fact is that too much money has been spent for the EV industry to fail this time round!

Quote from ElectricForum.com: “While the electric vehicle market seems to be dominated by the likes of Tesla, General Motors, Nissan, etc, there is a rather unknown entity sneaking up on the sidelines in the shape of Chinese electric car manufacturer BYD.”

3. Battery technology

One of the major problems of the last decade has been the relatively slow development of battery technology in relation to electric vehicles. This was in many ways overlooked by the industry as more focus and more investment was placed upon actual car technology as opposed to battery technology. It was only when the general public began to have major concerns about battery power and efficiency that both governments and the industry switched part of their investment towards battery technology.

4. Journey capacity

In tandem with new electric vehicle technology and battery technology we now have a greater emphasis upon extended journey capacity. The introduction of various electric vehicle recharging networks across the world has also added to this more positive picture with journey capacity in excess of 100 miles now commonplace among some of the more popular vehicles. There is still some way to go, more investment is required but there is no doubt that journey capacity concerns are certainly reducing.

5. Electric vehicles have lost that stigma!

In the early years the electric vehicles we saw on the roads were, how can we put it, very different in look and style and often embarrassing. This created something of a stigma which hovered over the electric vehicle industry for many years although thankfully this stigma has now gone. In many cases it is difficult to tell at a distance whether a vehicle is powered by traditional gasoline/diesel or whether indeed it is powered by electric. This in itself is probably the most compelling reason why electric vehicles will eventually crack the mass market, the fact they fit the hopes and aspirations of the motoring public and there is no embarrassment in driving one today!

Source: Electric Forum

Double GreenFleet win for all-electric e-NV200

Double GreenFleet win for all-electric Nissan e-NV200 van

NISSAN, the global market leader in electric vehicles, is celebrating a memorable double win after picking up two of the top honours at the prestigious GreenFleet Awards 2014 in Warwickshire.

The first success came as the trailblazing e-NV200 100 per cent electric van – a vehicle capable of helping fleet van operators slash both carbon emissions and whole-life costs – was named Industry Innovation of the Year.

The evening soon got even better as the brand also received the Outstanding Achievement award, in partnership with British Gas and Hitachi Capital Commercial Vehicle Solutions, for its hugely successful tri-party pilot of the e-NV200 on the British Gas fleet.

Presenting the award for Industry Innovation, the GreenFleet judges noted the ‘rarely-seen levels of anticipation’ that had surrounded the launch of the e-NV200 and said the model would lead a revolution in UK fleets.

Colin Boyton, Sales and Marketing Manager at GreenFleet Events, said:

“The e-NV200 is a fantastic vehicle and I truly believe it will shape the eCV market from here on.”

The potential to inspire industry-wide change was also the deciding factor in the judges’ decision in the Outstanding Achievement award.

The three-way partnership project saw British Gas pilot 28 Nissan e-NV200 vans throughout the winter to determine the future viability of 100% electric vehicle technology as part of its 13,000 home service vans fleet. The project was a huge success and led to British Gas placing an order for 100 vehicles.

Colin said:

“This project stands out from the crowd and is exactly what the fleet sector needed, in terms of proving EV viability. We hope that in awarding the project this accolade others will sit up and take notice, and if they achieve a fraction of what has been achieved here, it will be all the more worthwhile.”

Collecting Nissan’s honours from awards host Quentin Willson, Nissan Motor GB Corporate Sales Director Barry Beeston said:

“We are absolutely delighted to see the e-NV200 being honoured in this way.

“The e-NV200 is a model with the potential to transform fleets, with running costs of just two pence per mile contributing to significantly reduced whole-life costs, not to mention the environmental benefits.”

Source: Nissan Insider

Volkswagen e-Golf

2015 Volkswagen e-Golf: Volkswagen Enters the Electric Car Game

About 10 years ago alternative fuel vehicles became become a hot topic as gas prices peaked and consumers started focusing on miles-per-gallon as a primary factor when shopping for a new car. Automakers quickly rallied around their preferred routes to improve fuel efficiency. Some took the hybrid/electric path, some talked up fuel cells, other brands (primarily European car companies) continued to tout diesel as the answer to our fuel efficiency quandaries. But things have changed in recent years, with most automakers realizing they can’t stick to a single alt fuel strategy. The wide range of consumer demands and government regulations related to fuel efficiency requires a comprehensive alternative fuel plan, one that incorporates multiple solutions.

Volkswagen is a shining example of a modern car company embracing this multi-pronged approach. VW has long been the leader in the diesel segment. Year-to-date, over 23% of all Volkswagen sales in the U.S. have featured clean diesel technology, a much higher percentage than overall industry sales for diesel, which make up barely 3% of the total U.S. market. But in the last two years the German automaker has displayed a flurry of activity around plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles, including the revolutionary XL1 and the new all-electric 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf. We recently had an opportunity to visit Volkswagen’s factories in Wolfsburg and Braunschweig to take a closer look at the new e-Golf and hear Volkswagen’s plans for electrification. Just a few years ago we couldn’t have imagined such an experience with VW, yet the company’s rapid progress in the field of electric cars is impressive.

Because VW has multiple variants of the Golf (diesel, all-electric or plug-in hybrid), and because the Golf now utilizes VW’s new modular platform, the automaker can shift assembly line configuration in short order. It has the ability to produce up to 1,100 alt fuel Golfs per day, though as of now only about 70 e-Golfs are being assembled daily. They went on sale in select U.S. states in early November. If demand warrants it Volkswagen can easily shift that number (up or down) to match consumer interest. This flexibility makes sense in a world where gas prices can pivot on a geopolitical headline or natural disaster. But it also begs the question – is Volkswagen building these electric variants because it sees a need to meet broadening consumer demand? Or is it simply positioning itself to address future regulatory requirements? The answer may not matter, as enhanced production flexibility is the wave of the future. Automakers that don’t master it will be at a major competitive disadvantage.

Volkswagen Automotive Group’s ‘modular toolkit’ production system, utilizing four major platforms to address the entire group’s vehicle needs, continues to roll out across brands and models. The all-new 2015 Golf is one of two early vehicles built off the new MQB platform and already on sale in the U.S. (the 2015 Audi A3 is the other one). Because of this system Golf production, including body styles and drivetrain configurations, can be shifted almost instantaneously. However, production capacity and flexibility is only half the battle. One of the main hurdles Volkswagen’s new e-Golf will face is an electric car market saturated with vehicles offered at the same price and touting the same battery range.

Source: Forbes