Monthly Archives: January 2017

Smog over Paris (Image: F. Fife/AFP/Getty)

Paris tries something different in the fight against smog

Under a new French scheme cars are labelled according to the pollution that they emit. This allows the worst offenders to be banned when necessary.

Last week Paris suffered its fourth smog of the winter and tried a new idea to protect its residents from the worst effects. Like many European cities, the Paris region has a well-established system of emergency actions that escalate if smog persists. Initial steps include health warnings, reduced speed limits and restrictions on lorries in the city centre. Final steps include cheaper public (€3.80 for a day pass), and bans on half of cars, using an odd/even number plate system.

Smog over Paris (Image: F. Fife/AFP/Getty)
Smog over Paris (Image: F. Fife/AFP/Getty)

Despite gradual long-term improvements in air pollution across Europe, in the last month Oslo and Madrid restricted traffic to protect their residents during smog but there is little evidence on the effectiveness of these schemes. The odd/even car ban during the Paris smog of March 2014 reduced the particle pollution alongside major roads by around 20% in the rush hour, but this was less effective in December 2016 as fewer people left their car at home.

This time, instead of taking half of the cars from the roads, Paris banned the oldest diesels. This was made possible by a new French scheme to label cars according to the pollution that they emit. Electric ones get a green sticker. A petrol car made between 1997 and 2003 gets an orange sticker. The new smog scheme banned the most polluting diesels, those more than 16 years old.

Read more: The Guardian

Advisors want petrol and diesel phased out (Image: Getty)

Petrol and diesel cars could be banned in Scottish cities within eight years

Drivers could be forced to give up their vehicles and switch to electric cars in some urban areas.

Advisors want petrol and diesel phased out (Image: Getty)
Advisors want petrol and diesel phased out (Image: Getty)

Radical new plans have been drawn up which could see petrol and diesel vehicles banned in some parts of Scotland within eight years.

The Scottish Government have pledged to cut emissions by 80 per cent by 2050.

Academics and industry experts on Scotland’s future energy taskforce say some tough changes are required for targets to be met.

They have published a strategy suggesting ministers should start introducing a phasing out of petrol and diesel vehicles in 2025, with urban areas and cites facing the ban first.

The taskforce, convened by WWF Scotland, also suggested central and local government should make sure they buy and lease only low carbon vehicles that produce fewer emissions.

The report backs the development of low carbon energy sources, highlighting the need in particular for carbon, capture and storage (CCS) technology.

It also suggests a programme be put in place for all homes to be brought up to a minimum energy efficiency standard by 2025, where practicable to do so.

With the Scottish Government expected to publish its draft energy strategy in the coming week, Dr Keith MacLean, the chair of the UK Energy Research Centre advisory board, and taskforce facilitator said there was

“an excellent opportunity for the Scottish Government to assert overall leadership and control over the nation’s energy future”.

Read more: Daily Record

Petar Kralev and his wife, Lyuba, collecting their Nissan LEAF (Image: Evening Standard)

How to make the move to electric cars

No longer a futuristic novelty, electric cars are becoming an increasingly common sight on Britain’s streets.

Petar Kralev and his wife, Lyuba, collecting their Nissan LEAF (Image: Evening Standard)
Petar Kralev and his wife, Lyuba, collecting their Nissan LEAF (Image: Evening Standard)

Most of the major car manufacturers are now either selling or developing electric and hybrid models, even the supercar makers at Ferrari are planning on fitting every new car with a hybrid powertrain by 2019. There will be roughly 500,000 electric cars on Europe’s streets by the end of the year.

The Nissan LEAF is the world’s best-selling fully electric car, with more than 180,000 sold last year. It’s a true all-electric vehicle – with no range-extending or hybrid petrol engine in sight.

It comes in several variations, with prices ranging from £21,000 to £27,000 but that’s before the UK Government plug-in car grant of £4,500. WhatCar recommends a target price of £12,863-£24,535 for a new LEAF, which is also road tax and Congestion Charge exempt.

Petar and Lyuba Kralev are a London couple who traded in their Audi A3 Cabriolet and purchased the Nissan LEAF 24kwh, which comes with an everyday driving range of 124 miles. Their Leaf will soon have its two year anniversary with couple, who are now going the whole-hog and installing solar panels on their house, providing them with free electricity from renewable source.

Many potential customers looking at the EV market are put off by fears that the battery won’t carry them far enough, but Petar Kralev tells me this has not been an issue. Petar has a daily 40-60 minute commute between Romford and London’s Canary Wharf, and tells me he has never suffered from “range anxiety”, even on a 150 mile round trip.

I caught up with Petar Kralev and asked him about life with his electric motor.

Why the move to EV?

Electric vehicles are the cars of the future, there’s no doubt about it. They’re cheaper to run and also quieter than any other car on the road. I find it easier to drive an electric car compared to other options – more so than any other vehicle with an automatic transmission. All the power is instant, whether you’re moving or from a standstill.

Read more: Standard

Ethical financing shows global corporations that their tactics are no longer tolerated, says Deputy Pringle (Image: Getty)

Ireland passes law to become world’s first country to fully divest from fossil fuels

Bill will drop coal, oil and gas investments from Ireland Strategic Investment Fund

Ireland has voted to be the world’s first country to fully divest public money from fossil fuels.

Ethical financing shows global corporations that their tactics are no longer tolerated, says Deputy Pringle (Image: Getty)
Ethical financing shows global corporations that their tactics are no longer tolerated, says Deputy Pringle (Image: Getty)

The Irish Parliament passed the historic legislation in a 90 to 53 vote in favour of dropping coal, oil and gas investments from the €8bn (£6.8bn) Ireland Strategic Investment Fund, part of the Republic’s National Treasury Management Agency.

The bill, introduced by Deputy Thomas Pringle, is likely to pass into law in the next few months after it is reviewed by the financial committee.

“This principle of ethical financing is a symbol to these global corporations that their continual manipulation of climate science, denial of the existence of climate change and their controversial lobbying practices of politicians around the world is no longer tolerated,” Mr Pringle said.

“We cannot accept their actions while millions of poor people in underdeveloped nations bear the brunt of climate change forces as they experience famine, mass emigration and civil unrest as a result.”

Once enacted, the bill would force the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund to sell its investment in fossil fuel industries over the next five years.

In 2015, Norway’s sovereign pension fund divested from some fossil fuel companies, but not all.

Source: Independent

BMW i3 (Image: Carwitter)

BMW I3 Review – Concept To Reality

[Originally published in 2013 but recently updated with a nod to us – thanks CarWitter!]

BMW first showed off the i3 concept back in 2011 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, it was at an advanced stage but looked nothing like any BMW had done before. Low and behold it’s now available to order and sitting in showrooms.

BMW i3 (Image: Carwitter)
BMW i3 (Image: Carwitter)

Powered by a 130 KW electric motor making 170 HP and 250 Nm of torque it accelerates to 37 MPH in just 3.7 seconds, 0-62 takes 7.2. On a full charge you can expect 80-100 miles of driving. In fact the i3 is quicker to 30 MPH than a V8 BMW M3. Oh, and it’s also rear wheel drive like an M3.

Our test car was kitted out with just under £6k of extras, bringing the final price up to £35,945.

However, there is now a company that will give you 10,000 miles of fuel (electricity) in with the cost of your new car, check them out at fuelincluded.com.

The i3 is one of those special cars, it has come from design to concept, to production with barely any changes. It looks stunning, fresh, modern a new phase in BMW’s somewhat stayed and generic design house.

Up front the tell-tale kidney grille floats over the lip of the bonnet, inner edges coloured by the bright turquoise blue hue that signifies BMW’s I range. A gloss black bonnet contrasts with the lower sections, our car was coloured in Ionic silver, but the real stunner was sitting in the showroom, a Capparis White model – it looks superb with the black bonnet and hatch!

Read more: Carwitter

In the report, the Government said high-risk issues that needed to be addressed included the damage expected to be caused by flooding (Image: Getty)

Government ‘tried to bury’ its own alarming report on climate change

Exclusive: The five-yearly assessment of what will happen to the UK as the world warms says one of an array of potential threats is the ‘significant risk’ to supplies of food

The Government has been accused of trying to bury a major report about the potential dangers of global warming to Britain – including the doubling of the deaths during heatwaves, a “significant risk” to supplies of food and the prospect of infrastructure damage from flooding.

In the report, the Government said high-risk issues that needed to be addressed included the damage expected to be caused by flooding (Image: Getty)
In the report, the Government said high-risk issues that needed to be addressed included the damage expected to be caused by flooding (Image: Getty)

The UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Report, which by law has to be produced every five years, was published with little fanfare on the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) website on 18 January.

But, despite its undoubted importance, Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom made no speech and did not issue her own statement, and even the Defra Twitter account was silent. No mainstream media organisation covered the report.

One leading climate expert accused the Government of “trying to sneak it out” without people noticing, saying he was “astonished” at the way its publication was handled.

In the report, the Government admitted there were a number of “urgent priorities” that needed to be addressed.

It said it largely agreed with experts’ warnings about the effects of climate change on the UK.

These included two “high-risk” issues: the damage expected to be caused by flooding and coastal erosion; and the effect of rising temperatures on people’s health.

The report concluded that the number of heat-related deaths in the UK “could more than double by the 2050s from a current baseline of around 2,000 per year”.

It said “urgent action” should be taken to address overheating in homes, public buildings and cities generally, and called for further research into the effect on workers’ productivity.

The Government also recognised that climate change “will present significant risks to the availability and supply of food in the UK”, the report said, partly because of extreme weather in some of the world’s main food-growing regions.

The report also said the public water supply could be affected by shortages and that the natural environment could be degraded.

Read more: Independent

2017 set to be landmark year for electric cars

The future is bright for electric cars in 2017, as new figures released recently indicate that more than 100,000 plug-in cars could be on UK roads by the middle of this year.

This prediction is fuelled by record numbers of electric car registrations in 2016, with volumes rising 29% on the previous 12 months. In fact, every quarter of 2016 produced year-on-year growth, with the total number of EVs on UK roads now at more than 87,000.

More and more UK drivers are becoming switched on to the cost-saving benefits and convenience of electric motoring, which resulted in 36,907 electric vehicles being registered between January and December last year, a number that’s set to grow this year.

The ever-increasing selection of electric cars available in the UK is another factor aiding the rise in the market. More than 35 plug-in models are available at the moment, which is four times the number on the market just five years ago.

Plug-in hybrids were particularly popular in 2016, as registrations rose by over 40%. Models such as the BMW 330e, Volkswagen Golf GTE and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron proved to be among the most in-demand.

Source: Go Ultra Low

Electric cars can be a very effective way to save you money on motoring (Image: Go Ultra Low)

Electric vehicles feature in ‘post-Brexit’ strategy

The government has placed electric vehicles at the heart of a green paper outlining its ‘post-Brexit’ Industrial Strategy for the UK today (23 January).

Car exhaust (Image: BBC)
Car exhaust (Image: BBC)

Launched by Prime Minister Theresa May, the Strategy focuses on designing a smart grid and the roll out of public charging points for the vehicles to bring about ‘affordable energy and clean growth’.

The government’s Industrial Strategy will be overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Science (BEIS) and is founded on ’10 pillars’ which the government’s evidence shows will drive growth in UK business.

In her foreword, the Prime Minister confirms the Industrial Strategy is a ‘critical part’ of the government’s plan for ‘post-Brexit Britain’ and will see ministers take on a ‘new, active role’ rather than ‘leaving businesses to get on with the job’.

Electric Vehicles

The report cites battery technology in the automotive sector as one of the main focuses of the Strategy – with the government’s chief science advisor, Sir Mark Walport, to review the case for a new research institution by early 2017.

It states:

“Electric vehicles are less polluting and cheaper to run, and have the potential to provide electricity storage and demand flexibility that could provide benefits to consumers and our electricity system. Drawing together these battery, energy storage and grid technologies is sensible because step-changes in innovation will likely involve all of them.

“For example smart grids that respond to the demands of consumers could potentially use new battery technologies, particularly storage in electric vehicles, to deliver power efficiently and at lower cost.”

The paper goes on to note the government is already testing the use of new grid technologies in various locations around the country ‘in preparation for the shift to electric vehicles’, and is investing £600 million in support to accelerate the transition to ultra low emission vehicles.

Low Emission Vehicles (LEV)

On changes to energy infrastructure, the paper notes:

“The Office for Low Emission Vehicles is leading work across the Government to improve our understanding of the system impacts and opportunities of the shift to electric vehicles.

“We are also exploring the potential opportunities offered by hydrogen fuel technologies across multiple applications, including heating, energy storage and transportation.”

The government will consult with businesses over its proposed Industrial Strategy in the weeks to come.

Source: Air Quality News

Tesla Model S P100D: Face Bending Acceleration

The additional driving range is welcome, but the range-topping Model S’s increase in performance is overkill, even if it is very entertaining

What is it?

The Tesla Model S P100D gets its moniker thanks to the addition of a 100kWh battery. It’s a hardware upgrade for Elon Musk’s company, which can usually be relied upon for an almost constant supply of revisions and software upgrades over the air.

If the official figures for the Model S P100D are to be believed, a range of 381 miles is available from a fully charged battery. Even taking into account the kind nature of official NEDC tests, the real-world range of this electric vehicle should comfortably exceed 250 miles if you drive carefully.

The trouble is that being careful is trickier than you might think. As well as increasing the range, Tesla has increased the Model S’s performance to hypercar-hassling levels. A software update for cars with the Ludicrous Speed upgrade (standard on the P100D) now means you can access Ludicrous Plus mode.

This additional technology comes at a hefty price. Allied to a recent 5% price hike blamed on Brexit, the P100D costs £132,700 not including the Government green car subsidy. In other words, it costs nearly twice as much as the basic rear-wheel-drive Model S 60 model.

What’s it like?

We could start this section by talking about the increased range, but let’s face it:

face-bending acceleration is far more interesting.

Three power levels are available: Sport if you’re ferrying your in-laws around, Ludicrous if you want to scare your passengers, and Ludicrous Plus if you want to give someone a mild panic attack.

To engage Ludicrous Plus, you need to hold the icon for Ludicrous mode on the touchscreen for a few seconds before releasing it. You then get a Star Wars-style animation of what a warp drive might look like. Select the ‘Yes, bring it on’ icon (not the one marked ‘No, I want my Mommy’), and you can finally get full power.

At this point, it doesn’t really matter if you use launch control or just flatten the throttle pedal, because the way the Tesla gains speed is borderline scary. If you’re not careful, your head is thrown back against the seat’s head rest violently as your mind attempts to make sense of what’s happening.

Read more: Autocar