The year 2015 will see the strengthening of the market for electric vehicles (EVs); both pure electric and plug-in hybrids. With over 17,000 EVs already on UK roads, Next Green Car forecasts almost 40,000 will be in use by the end of the year.
New low emission petrol and diesel models will also be launched in 2015 with a shift to petrol cars reflecting the increasing concern about air quality. While diesel vehicles can offer lower CO2 emissions, petrol units provide lower NOx and particulates which are associated with poor respiratory health in urban areas. Look out for fuel-frugal petrol two- and three-cylinder turbo engines which can now offer the driving performance of larger engines.
As noted by Dr Ben Lane, Managing Editor of Next Green Car: “2015 will see a continuing roll out of battery electric and plug-in hybrid models as UK motorists become more accustomed to electric drive-trains. This year will be the year when EVs start to considered as ‘normal’.
“If an electric car isn’t right for your driving requirements, an ever increasing choice of sub-100 gCO2/km petrol and diesel models will become available with zero car tax and high MPG. You will need to choose a conventional model wisely, however, as the official MPG figures of some brands are increasingly at odds with the real-world fuel economy data.”
To mark a year which will bring high quality, high-tech, low emission models to UK showrooms, the following ‘Top 10’ list highlights some of the most important models due for launch and delivery in 2015.
1: Volkswagen twin-up! – Plug-in Hybrid – CO2: 27 g/km
The twin-up!’s 55kW powertrain consists of a 0.8 litre TDI diesel engine working in conjunction with a 35kW electric motor. The energy storage system includes a lithium-ion battery (energy capacity: 8.6 kWh), a conventional 12V battery for on-board electrics, and a 33 litre capacity fuel tank.
On the official test cycle, the twin-up! delivers a combined fuel economy of over 250 MPG with a CO2 emissions of just 27 g/km. In zero-emission operation the PHEV can cover a range of 31 miles and is anything but a slouch: the twin-up! accelerates up to 62 mph in 15.7 seconds and has an all-electric top speed of 80 mph. Pricing to be announced.
2: Smart fortwo 1.0 start/stop – Petrol – CO2: 93 g/km – NGC: 26
3: SKODA Fabia 1.4 TDI – Diesel – CO2: 88 g/km – NGC: 25
4: Kia Soul EV – Electric – CO2: 0 g/km – NGC: 32 (14)**
The new Soul EV is the result of almost 30 years of research and development into the feasibility of electric vehicles at Kia and it shows. A 27 kWh lithium-ion battery gives the Soul EV an official range of 132 miles beating everything but the Model S. As you’d expect for an electric car, the Soul EV is quiet and perfect for nipping around town. Unlike most other EVs, however, it also scores highly on the use of low impact materials including bio-degradable plastic, bio-foam and bio-fabric which are all used in the interior. Zero tail-pipe emissions mean zero London Congestion Charge and zero car tax (Vehicle Excise Duty). Priced from £24,995 the Soul EV isn’t cheap but it does come with Kia’s class-leading 7-year warranty.
**If powered using renewable (e.g. wind, solar) electricity
5: Mazda2 1.5 SKYACTIV-D – Diesel – CO2: 89 g/km – NGC: 27
6: Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive – CO2: 0 g/km
The Mercedes-Tesla relationship is evident (and welcome) in the B-Class ED with the drive-train and battery pack coming from the California-based company. Capable of 125 miles per full charge, the B-Class ED provides electric motoring in a quality package with more reserved styling than some other brands such as the BMWi range. While the motors can deliver up to 179 bhp (Sport mode), two other driving modes are available: ‘Economy’, where power is limited to 131 bhp; and ‘Economy Plus’ with just 87 bhp and a maximum speed of 70 mph. Expected to be priced from around £27,000.
7: VW Passat GTE – Plug-in Hybrid – CO2:
Now in its eighth incarnation, the new Passat range includes the GTE, the first Passat with a plug-in hybrid drive. Powered by a turbocharged direct injection petrol engine (TSI) and an 85kW electric motor, the GTE is capable (on the official test) of over 141 MPG (petrol) and 13.0 kWh/100km (electric) with CO2 emission of under 45 g/km. On a full tank and fully recharged 9.9 kWh lithium-ion battery, the new PHEV has a total driving range of over 620 miles. In ‘E-Mode’, the Passat GTE can also cover a distance of up to 31 miles with zero emissions. AC charging options include standard (or ‘slow’) charging at 2.3 kW from a domestic socket in 4.25 hours or an optional a home 3.6 kW charger which provides a full charge in 2.5 hours. Anticipated pricing from around £20,000.
8: VOLVO XC90 – Plug-in Hybrid – CO2: TBC* g/km
No doubt encouraged by the huge success of the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Volvo will bring its own plug-in SUV to market in 2015, in addition to the usual range of petrol and diesel engines. While all will offer four-wheel drive, for the first time there will also be a front-wheel drive option. The XC90 PHEV will also feature a collection of entertainment and safety technology including a 9.3 inch screen compatible with Apple’s new CarPlay interface and Volvo’s new collision avoidance system. The XC90 range is priced from £45,750.
9: Toyota Mirai FCV – Hydrogen Fuel Cell – CO2: 0 g/km
10: Tesla Model X – Electric – CO2: 0 g/km
Originally scheduled for 2013, Tesla recently announced that the eagerly anticipated Model X crossover will be launched in the third quarter of 2015. Despite being larger than the Model S, the all-wheel electric drive will give the Model X a similar level of performance (that’s 0 to 60 mph in around 5.9 seconds!). With 10% additional weight, the expected driving range will be slightly less; around 170 miles for the 60 kWh battery pack or 230 miles for 85 kWh battery. One the striking features of the next Tesla will be its rear ‘Falcon’ doors which open upwards instead of swinging outward. Final pricing has yet to be announced. Although its been a while in coming, with the new Model X, Tesla is unlikely to disappoint.
Read more: Next Green Car