News

Biden to build 550,000 EV charging stations and create 1 million clean energy jobs

According to Joe Biden’s website, the US President-Elect intends to ‘make major public investments in automobile infrastructure — including in 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations’, and ‘create millions of jobs producing clean electric power’. 

Although the policy itself isn’t new information, as it was part of his platform as a candidate, Biden’s transportation and energy policies were somewhat overshadowed by… you know, everything else going on during the US election. However, with the news that former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm is the expected pick for Secretary of Energy, that promise looks a lot more hopeful, as Granholm has been a strong voice for the EV movement.

As governor of the auto capital of the US, Michigan, Granholm secured $1.35 billion in federal funding for the state to manufacture electric vehicles and batteries. She sits on the board of electric bus company Proterra, and has pushed for the US to keep pace with China and the EU in electrification, where the nation currently lags behind. Currently, there are about 90,000 public charging plugs in the US – and one-fifth of them are exclusive to Tesla. Biden’s policy, if successful, would multiply that by five times. 

Granholm will be supported by Transportation Secretary pick Pete Buttigieg, whose own platform as a presidential candidate was environmentally focused, also mentioning investment in EVs. But it will still be a tough job for the Biden administration to persuade Congress to pay for the plan, which would cost billions – not only to build hundreds of thousands of charging stations, but also to make major upgrades to the US electricity grid to ensure it has the capacity to handle EV charging. 

We all know how reliable political promises are, but, as with so many other issues, it would at least be a swift U-turn from the Trump administration, which boosted oil and gas in the name of “energy dominance” and rejected electric-friendly policies. 

Currently, the lack of reliable charging across the US is one of the major barriers that keeps the average buyer from considering an electric car, especially outside of major cities. Biden’s policy, coupled with greater availability of affordable EVs for American consumers, would give drivers in the car-dominated land of the free the freedom to make climate-friendly transport decisions.

Nissan’s Ariya EV will be produced for the EU in Japan, not Britain

Accounts vary as to whether the Japanese carmaker cites Brexit as the reason for its decision.

Ah, Brexit: the gift that keeps on giving. Or perhaps taking away. For, as fears of a no-deal outcome loom ever closer, Nikkei Asia has learned that Nissan has already made the decision to ship its newest BEV to European buyers from Japan, instead of making use of its Sunderland plant.

According to Nikkei’s initial report, the company’s decision comes as a direct result of Brexit fears, but Nissan have since disagreed, saying that it was always the plan to produce the Ariya in Japan’s Tochigi plant: 

You take many factors into account when deciding where it is most reasonable to produce a vehicle and these decisions are made years in advance.

Nissan spokeswoman Azusa Momose

The Ariya, coming in 2021, is the first globally available BEV from Nissan since the Leaf was launched in 2010. Expected to cost around £40,000, it’s the company’s first all-electric SUV, with a top range of 310 miles, following in the footsteps of the hugely successful Qashqai and Juke. 

Thanks to an economic partnership agreement, Japan currently has a 7.5% import tariff for automobiles coming to the EU. But a no-deal Brexit would mean that British exports face a steeper 10% tariff. 

The EU is the Sunderland plant’s biggest customer, with over 70% of its cars currently being exported there. Just last week, a Nissan source told the BBC that no-deal would threaten Nissan Europe’s entire business model, and implicitly the continued existence of the Sunderland factory: “There’s no Plan B.” 

The Brexit transition period ends on the 31st of December, and currently, no free trade agreement has been signed. Sunderland, where Nissan employs about 7000 people, voted Leave in 2016 by a margin of 61%.

Aptera Motors crowdfunds over $3 million for the solar-powered EV with a 1000-mile range

You’d be forgiven for thinking this outrageously futuristic three-wheeled beast is a game dev’s creation from Cyberpunk 2077, but it’s the very real Aptera EV – and they just smashed their funding goal to hit the road by 2021.

In a 12-day fundraiser, helped along by a viral video hit, Aptera Motors ended with a total of $3,369,622, raised by over 4000 investors. The company sold out of its two mainline models, the Paradigm and Paradigm+, on the first day of funding (although you can still reserve a custom model with a $100 deposit). 

If the name Aptera sounds familiar, it’s because this isn’t their first time at the rodeo. The startup launched in 2006 with a similar concept, creating a prototype in 2008. But they ran out of money and folded, reimbursing investors when they couldn’t deliver, thanks to a denied loan from the US Department of Energy. This time around, the startup’s relying on crowdfunding and the viral power of their eye-catching design to succeed.

Technically classed as a ‘motorcycle or auto-cycle’, due to its three wheels, Aptera’s launch video explains the pride they take in their difference from “boxy” cars. The two-seater vehicle was designed with an emphasis on aerodynamics and efficiency, which is how their highest-performing battery can apparently hit an extraordinary range of 1000 miles. Supposedly, the ‘all-wheel drive’ can handle snow and adverse weather, though we’ve yet to hear an objective account of its handling, nor an official safety rating.

The real selling point, however, is Aptera’s “never charge technology”, featuring solar cells all over the body of the vehicle. The claim is that the battery can top itself up while parked in a sunny spot, gaining back up to 40 miles this way – so if you’re an average commuter in the western US, you’d theoretically never have to charge the battery, as the car would perform its own upkeep. 

Of course, as I glance outside at another miserable winter’s day in Britain, this isn’t exactly applicable to a large part of the world, which is why it’s a relief that it can still be charged the regular way at a charging station – or even via a wall outlet, albeit much slower. Still, according to the solar calculator on Aptera’s site, if you live in the southern UK and drive 30 miles a day, you’d need to charge the battery only 3 times a year. That’s undeniably worth the price of admission, if it proves true. 

Aptera’s starting price for their 250-mile range model is $25,900 – about £19,000 – and the top-performing Paradigm+ clocks in at $44,900 (about £33,000), although it’s already sold out. There are a lot of promises to be delivered on when it comes to the reality of this vehicle, and we can’t forget that Aptera Motors have burned out before. But EV technology has come a long way in the past decade, so if you like the idea of turning heads and catching rays in this lightweight, zippy vehicle, you can still put in your $100 reservation to get in on the action.

Amazon reveals the Zoox autonomous e-taxi, with no steering wheel and 16 hours of battery

‘Zoox’ may sound like the villain from a straight-to-VHS Toy Story ripoff, but it’s actually a six-year-old self-driving startup purchased by Amazon in June. They’ve just revealed the prototype of a FSD bi-directional electric taxi, with no steering wheel and a huge battery life.

The vehicle is a mint-green box with large protruding tyres, and looks a bit like a child’s drawing of a car. You’d be forgiven for mistaking it for the Citroen Ami, another not-quite-car that’s looking to change the face of shared transport:

But in a video released on Monday, CEO Aicha Evans and CTO Jesse Levinson demonstrated using their app to hail a prototype Zoox taxi and go for a ride around San Francisco, showcasing their confidence in the vehicle’s autonomous driving. 

Zoox’s taxi features a motor at each end and four-wheel steering, meaning it can travel in either direction, at a maximum of 75 mph. ‘Sensor pods’ on each corner have a 270-degree field of vision. At a mini 3.63m long, the interior is maxed out to allow four passengers seated face-to-face, reminiscent of a train carriage. The battery pack is a massive 133 kWh, which will allow it to drive day and night, for up to 16 hours on a single charge. 

The company has focused on highlighting safety, stating that the Zoox taxi has “over 100 safety innovations not featured in conventional cars”, including an airbag that envelops passengers from all sides. And if needs be, Zoox can take manual control remotely, communicating with passengers in real time. You’ll also have the option to blur images captured by the on-board camera, if privacy is a concern.

Zoox is far from the first to promise fully self-driving taxis in the near future, but as we’ve covered, the gap between aspiration and reality seems to be prolonging delays. “Autonomous driving is hard, because you have to get hundreds, if not thousands, of things right at the very same time. But if you do all that, it actually feels pretty easy,” says Levinson in the video voiceover. Hmm. Profound? 

Currently, the company hasn’t specified when the taxis are going into operation, except that it wouldn’t be as soon as 2021. There’s no confirmed price point as of yet, but it’s described as “affordable”, pitched to compete with Uber and the like. The vehicles are currently being tested in various US cities, so provided that Zoox’s safety promises hold true, it could soon be possible to hail a ride home from a night out without subjecting an unamused driver to your drunken singing.

Fully electric aeroplanes are on the horizon

In Australia, the electrification specialists Magnix have modified the first all-electric, zero-emission drive aircraft approved for national use.

The Cessna 208 Caravan is a nine-seater aircraft, usually used for pilot training, commuter flights, and freight. So it’s hardly a jumbo jet, but Magnix’s modified version of the Caravan already set records as the largest electric plane ever to complete its maiden flight without a hitch last May in the US. The Australian modification needs to complete certification by the country’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which is likely to take them until 2023. When completed, though, it would mean partner Sydney Seaplanes could use an electric Cessna in place of an ordinary one at any given time. 

So far, so inconsequential-sounding, if small domestic flights in Oz don’t play a major role in your life, which I suspect is the case for most of us. The significant bit, basically, is that at the moment, electric planes are generally only privately available. Slovenian maker Pipistrel is on the forefront of developments, with their Velis Electro two-seater becoming the first electric plane to receive European approval earlier this year, and the Alpha Electro similarly approved for purchase in the US (provided you already have a pilot’s license and $140,000 going spare). 

If the Cessna passes its two-year test, it would set a precedent for completely electric planes approved for use on a regular commercial basis – one we’d hope other nations would follow. 2020 has seen an increase in electromobility interest from airlines, probably anticipating further carbon restrictions in the near future. JetBlue has invested $250 million into electric aviation over the last three years, and EasyJet has plans for a fleet of electric planes covering shorter routes by 2030. Even the US military has its boot in the door, providing funding and testing for electric cargo drones. 

Much like cars, it’s expected that electric planes will eventually work out cheaper, thanks to fewer moving parts, less maintenance, and of course electricity working out much cheaper than jet fuel. But building all-new planes and getting them approved is an unsurprisingly lengthy and expensive process. 

There have already been a few bumps in the road. Eviation’s all-electric Alice prototype caught fire during ground tests in January, likely due to overheating batteries – which we guess is better than bursting into flames in the sky, but still a bit alarming.

And, of course, even successful models like the Cessna are only suitable for short flights in small aircrafts, which don’t make up the majority of the aviation industry’s net 2% contribution to global CO2 emissions. As such, it’s probably hybrids that will make the real difference to airline travel – but we’ve got a long way to go before any of this is the norm.

Tesla’s new leasing information has subtle implications about self-driving taxi reality

Tesla sent an email to all its leasees last night, announcing a “new leasing experience” to be launched in the next few months.

Currently, only car owners are able to manage their ownership through the Account portal on the EV giant’s website, but the mass email states that they are “moving the lease experience” to a similar platform. This means that from early 2021, Tesla leaseholders will be able to make their payments online, extend or transfer their lease, and – most significantly – purchase their car at the end of it.

The direct lease programme was launched shortly after the Model S was released, and was then expanded to include Tesla’s other vehicles. Currently, holders of a Model S or X are able to buy their vehicles at the end of their lease, as is standard, but Models 3 and Y had to be returned – as they were intended to be used for the fleet of self-driving taxis that Elon Musk promised would be on the road in 2020. 

Now, the fact that Model 3 and Y leasees have been told they can also buy their vehicles suggests that, like so many of Elon’s promises, this goal has been quietly pushed back, if not totally set aside. 

Speaking in April 2019, the Tesla CEO assured investors and analysts that the taxi service would be approved and on the road by the end of this year. Although some devotees think a big announcement could still be coming before 2020 is up, there’s no denying time is running out. 

Earlier this year, Tesla did release an extremely select beta for their FSD (Full Self-Driving) mode. And on the 29th November, Elon replied to a concerned fan on twitter asking about its wider release:

Probably going to a wider beta in ~2 weeks

@elonmusk

As of the time of writing, that two weeks is nearly up. Of course, it’s possible this announcement is still imminent, but it’s not much of a stretch to say Elon has a history of vast overconfidence. Equally, on the leasing front, Tesla could have simply sent out a general email that doesn’t apply to all leasees, and might still have big plans for Models 3 and Y.

Tesla has been promising FSD is just around the corner for many years, and the reality is that getting it to a point where it’s safe enough to be approved on actual roads would be an incredibly complex, unprecedented endeavour. But hey, there are still 20 days left in 2020 – we’re sure they’ll sort it out. 

The UK’s first fully electric service station is now open

Gridserve’s Electric Forecourt®, the first service station in the UK entirely for electric vehicles, has opened near Braintree in Essex. Powered by renewable energy, with a host of conveniences and the ability to lease an EV on site, it’s intended as the first of 100 such sites to roll out across the country over the next five years. 

The Forecourt boasts 36 rapid chargers which cover the whole range of electric cars, and even features “future-proof” chargers that can go up to 350KW – far beyond the needs of any current vehicle except possibly the Porsche Taycan. It’s also competitively priced at 24p/kwh, and will reportedly be even cheaper for subscribers to their future membership scheme. 

Right now, though, you can drive up, plug in, and pay instantly with contactless. Then it’s just a matter of kicking back and enjoying the shiny on-site amenities. Along with the essentials – toilets and free WiFi – there’s also a Costa, WH Smith, Booths, Gourmade, and a post office to browse, as well as a kids’ play area, business meeting pods, and even a “wellbeing area” where you can counteract some of those sedentary hours on an electricity-generating exercise bike. 

Gridserve Founder and CEO Toddington Harper told Fully Charged’s Robert Llewellyn that their aim isn’t just to remove one of the biggest roadblocks to adopting electricity – range and charging anxiety – but to make charging into a positive experience, both cheaper and more enjoyable than filling up an ICE car. 

What we’re trying to do is … use the window of time that we have on this planet, while we’re in a position to do something about it, to do our very best to prevent runaway climate change. And to do that, people need to be the change.

Toddington Harper

The site is powered by a network of hybrid solar farms which produces 10 GWh of energy a year, as well as on-site overheard solar panels and a 6 MWh battery for when the sun isn’t shining. (For perspective, that’s enough to power the average EV for 24,000 miles, so you’re probably covered.) They’re able to make income by selling excess energy back to the grid when demand isn’t high. 

ICE drivers will be welcome too, with 24 bays available, and a broad range of EVs are on display at the on-site showroom for lease, with charging included in the price. Additionally, Gridserve have committed to planting 100 trees for every vehicle they lease, which they’ve calculated to be carbon-neutral. 

Gridserve and Hitachi Capital UK Plc. are planning to roll out 100 more Electric Forecourt stations across the country over the next five years, with a £1 billion budget. That’s some seriously ambitious speed, but if successful, it would totally change the landscape of nationwide EV accessibility – not to mention cost, if prices stay as low. 

Although turning the hallmark of mediocrity that is the service station into an actively enjoyable experience is probably a bit optimistic, what Gridserve are bringing is exactly what the electric movement needs: low-cost services that aren’t a headache to access. You have to admire them for walking the walk. So for those of us outside Essex, bring on the other 99!

The car they don’t want you to buy – Dacia Spring Electric

The Dacia Spring Electric is here to change the way we drive in cities. It’s an electric car with a small footprint, but a big old heart… and a big boot too. In this video, Rich covers all the vital stats and info on a car that could become to cars what Lime Bikes are to bicycles.

Rather than a typical cute hatchback, this Romanian city car is an SUV crossover. Still, it’s no-nonsense, accessible, and incredibly affordable. With a brake horsepower of 44 – yep, that’s 44, not 144 – a range of 140 miles, and a 78mph maximum, the Spring Electric might sound limited. But this isn’t the car for your cross-country road trip, it’s the car with the boot space for your big Tesco run. Why burn the planet’s resources to sit in traffic?

Dacia’s slogan is ‘You do the maths’, and if we’ve done ours right, it’s the cheapest electric car on the European market. What’s more, we think they may be claiming that come its release in Spring 2021, it’ll be the cheapest car on the market, period – not just electric. If so, this would be huge for bringing in new buyers switching over from ICE. 

However, the one catch is that the Spring Electric is only being released in Spring for shared ownership and rideshares – you won’t be able to buy one until Autumn. But do you really need to own a car? It seems part of Dacia’s solution to a growing problem would be the normalisation of hopping in for a quick trip when you need it, then leaving it to charge for the next person. 

So no, the Spring Electric is nothing extraordinary. But it is reliable and affordable, and it’s necessary steps like these that will make it easier to change the wasteful way we’re currently using vehicles.

Is the VW ID.3 good enough to outsell the Tesla Model 3?

5 months ago, we made a video in which we declared that the new VW ID.3 could well go on to become the most important car of this decade. In this video, we finally put one to the test – and find out whether or not we were totally full of s**t.

Volkswagen have lofty goals for the ID.3, so named because it’s meant to represent the third generation of VW, with the Beetle and Golf being the previous two. No pressure, then. They intend it to sell tons, meaning it needs to be totally inoffensive, but still good. So is it?

Appearance-wise, it’s a bit stubby, although that’s thanks to the new electric-dedicated MEB platform. It allows for a short overhang with no need for an engine, and wheels out to the edges, meaning more cabin space inside, as well as great visibility with a super-wide windscreen. But the ID.3 still has the obligatory fancy electric touch, in this case with eyeball-like LED headlights which rotate to greet you when you unlock. 

What the MEB also allows for is a variety of models. The top-tier one clocks in at 201bhp, with a 336-mile range, and costs under £40,000 – Tesla Model 3 money, in other words. The entry-level alternative has 148bhp, a 263-mile range (very respectable), and is less than £30,000. (And the one we’re testing is the first edition, which comes somewhere in between – but that’s irrelevant since they’re already sold out.)

Inside, there’s tons of space, with a large boot, and nice airy Honda E vibes. Storage-wise, it’s excellent. You’ve got USB ports for the front and back seats, a great phone holder with wireless charging, and the driving control display moves with the wheel, which is a nice touch. Then there’s the ‘ID Light’ – an LED bar which pulses across the bottom of the windscreen, with various colours and patterns that have different indications (e.g. red when you’re about to rear end someone). 

What’s most surprising about the cabin is that there are almost no physical buttons. Everything’s adjusted via touch screen or voice control (although the voice control, like almost all such aspirational tech, works better in theory than practise). This would work if the touch screen sliders were intuitive, but they’re not. The same goes for the infotainment system; once you’re used to these features, they work, but they’re not that beginner-friendly.

On to the driving – it’s both easy and fun, with the platform advantages from the MEB providing nice low weight, and suspension that’s firm but not too firm. There’s tons of steering lock, and rear-wheel drive which feels right. It’s quick, but not Tesla quick, achieving 0-60 in about 7 seconds. 

Overall: although Jack wasn’t sure about the ID.3 at first, it grew on him fast. VW seem to have oddly dropped the ball on a few things they should be good at – the simple cabins that made the Golf so successful come to mind – but they’ve done really well at the difficult bits. Get past the odd controls, and it’s a really well-rounded car with everything that matters most: a competitive price, lots of space, well-built, a great range, and easy to drive. 

As a plus, the MEB platform is set to underpin tons of future EVs from VW, which hopefully means the problem areas will be easy fixes. If you’re mulling over getting one, it might be worth waiting until the next release, when they’re likely to have ironed out the details – for example a few more buttons.

We think the ID.3 has the potential to do hugely well, and it’s already outselling Tesla’s Model 3 in such electric-forward countries as Norway and the Netherlands. We’re sticking by our resolution that this could well be the defining EV of the decade. Agree? Disagree? Sound off in the comments on Youtube with your thoughts. 

WARNING: This video will make you want a Super73 RX

As the viewer of this Super73 RX video, you assume full responsibility if you end up coveting one after watching. Viewing is at the viewer’s risk. 

Kol, Eilis and Jack took the new Super73 RX for a spin in Central London, pulling wheelies and taking epic photos. Shout out to Fully Charged bike shop for letting us take the Super73s for a spin. 

On a quest to find the best spots for moody and dramatic Instagram shots in the London rain, the team first stopped in at Fully Charged and learned the difference between the two models they’d be testing out – the Super73 S2 and its newer iteration, the RX. Here are the basics:

S2

£3,300

Front suspension 

Custom S73 fat tyres

75+mile range

1200W motor

RX

£4,100

Full suspension

Custom S73 fat tyres

75+mile range

2000W motor

The main difference is the RX’s back suspension providing an even smoother ride, but it also has a more powerful motor. It’s important to note that the throttle for both models – the part that makes them go without any pedalling – is illegal in the UK, but nonetheless they’re both amazing bikes to ride.

But on to the really important stuff: how cool can you look posing on them for Instagram shots? We tested out a few different locations, starting with a moody low-down city shot of Jack on the RX, then a dramatic angle for Eilis on the S2 at the Barbican. Finally, cameraman Kol showed off his serious skills on the RX, culminating in this impressive wheelie shot. 

Here’s the three shots we ended up with. We think they’re all killer, but we’re a bit biased, so let us know which you think is the best in the comments on Youtube or Instagram.

If the title of this article is correct, and you’re interested in grabbing one, pay our mates at Fully Charged a visit – https://www.fullycharged.com/ Use the code ELECTRO50 at checkout to get £50 worth of accessories FOC when you spend over £1000.