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Last year was an amazing year in the world of electric vehicles (EV), and there has been no shortage of eye-catching headlines, from the government’s new plan for 1,000,000 electric cars by 2030, to the Hyundai e-Kona and Tesla Model 3 arriving on our shores, writes University College Cork’s John Hayes
Last year was an amazing year in the world of electric vehicles (EV), and there has been no shortage of eye-catching headlines, from the government’s new plan for 1,000,000 electric cars by 2030, to the Hyundai e-Kona and Tesla Model 3 arriving on our shores, writes University College Cork’s John Hayes.
Tesla has just launched its cybertruck EV, and also recently announced that it made a profit, which is no mean feat in this business. In contrast, James Dyson, of vacuum cleaner fame, decided to drop out of the EV business before he lost way too much money (more than €2 billion at last count).
Speaking of €2 billion, that’s how much Detroit’s General Motors and LG Chem will spend on a new battery plant. Of course, General Motors has just weathered a long strike as it prepares its business for EVs.
Ford has teamed up with Volkswagen to develop EVs and also announced the new hot Mustang EV. Domestically, the ESB has announced the closure of two peat generating stations as it prepares for greater electrification of society, especially for EVs.
On the scientific front, John Goodenough, at the good age of 97, won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for the invention of the lithium-ion battery, the technology which has transformed our world, from smartphones to EVs.
Advantages and disadvantages of EVs
Let’s first note the advantages and disadvantages of all EVs. First, EVs are more efficient than the equivalent petrol or diesel car, and so require less energy to run, and emit less carbon and other toxic pollutants.
Second, the BEVs and PHEVs can be fuelled by renewable energy from the electricity grid, which reduces our dependence on imported fossil fuels and our related carbon emissions.
Third, EVs have automatic transmissions, making them easy and quiet to drive, with fast accelerations due to the electric motor.
Fourth, an amazing feature of an EV is regenerative braking; the electrics can slow down the car and recharge the battery rather than use the brakes.
Fifth, charging the BEV or PHEV using a night-time electricity rate costs only about 1.5c/km! The rate is about twice as high for day-time charging, and over three times as high using the new ESB fast-charging rate.
BEVs have a motor tax of €120. A HEV, such as the Toyota Corolla, costs about 7c/km and comes with a motor tax of €170. On the carbon side, BEVs have indirect emissions of about 60 g/km due to the electricity grid; the number varies depending on the amount and mix of fossil fuels used. The most efficient HEV emits just over 100 g/km.
The principal disadvantage of EVs relates to the range of the BEV. However, battery size has been increasing while cost has been reducing, and so a BEV range of greater than 400 km is common in many models.
We know that the battery degrades with time. Therefore, the range could drop in half in several years under severe weather conditions, such as driving at highway speeds with the heating on in cold sub-zero winter days.
Second, serious environmental concerns remain for the batteries related to the energy and carbon intensity of manufacturing, to the recyclability, and to the sourcing of key materials.
These concerns are being and have to be addressed for the long-term sustainability of EVs. That said, serious environmental concerns have to be addressed for all options of mechanized transportation. The BEV has the key advantage of eliminating toxic tail-pipe emissions.
Note that home charging at night is likely the better environmental option, and that regular fast charging can shorten the life of the battery. The HEV and PHEV can be refuelled at the petrol station using petrol adding range of about 800 km in less than 2 minutes!
Some select models
Given the breadth of vehicles from different manufacturers with wide price ranges, we initially focus on some select models which debuted in 2019. Note that we use the newer WLTP figures published by the manufacturer for the range and emissions.
The Hyundai e-kona debuted in early 2019. The crossover has a large 64 kWh battery with a range of 449 km and a 200 horsepower motor accelerating from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.6 s. The battery comes with an 8 year or 160,000 km warranty. It has no towing capacity. The Hyundai e-Kona retails at €38,630.
Battery EV: The Tesla Model 3 saloon finally arrived in Ireland this summer. With the lowest-cost model retailing at €48,900, it is within the price range for buyers in the luxury market.
The basic model has 54 kWh of battery and a range of 409 km. The basic 283 horsepower motor accelerates the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 5.6 s, while the premium model can do it in 3.4 s. The car can tow up to 900 kg. The battery also comes with an 8 year or 160,000 km warranty.
The benefit of the HEV is that the car combines the improved efficiencies of the EV with the easy fuelling and range of a petrol car. Prices start from €26,920.
Plug-in Hybrid EV: The Kia Niro PHEV crossover has made a splash in Ireland in 2019 and sells at €32,494. The advantage of the PHEV is that it can be charged at home and can drive as a BEV using the battery only for about 50 km, which is the average daily commute in Ireland.
Going beyond the 50 km is not a problem as the 1.6 L engine kicks in and the vehicle runs as a HEV. The battery comes with a 7 year or 150,000 km warranty.
These examples will get you started on thinking about your EV buying journey. Consider the factors discussed here plus such factors as seating (mostly 5, but it can vary), storage space for shopping or golf clubs, and how easy it is to wire your home for charging.
The EV list for early 2020
The following alphabetical list is a starting reference for EVs on the market in early 2020. The model and base price are typically quoted. The vehicle type is shown as coupe (c), crossover (x), estate (e), hatchback (h), liftback (l), saloon (s) or SUV (V).
Please note that there may be errors or omissions, and that there will be variations due to delivery charges, etc. New vehicle launches are fast and furious in the EV world, and so check with the dealers as to prices, new and premium models, and variations for 2020 and beyond!
Audi e-tron (V) €91,750; BMW i3 (h, four-seater) €35,760, Mini Cooper (h, four-seater) €27,200; Hyundai Ioniq (s) €34,850, Kona (x) €38,630; Jaguar I-Pace (x) €82,895; Kia Niro (x) €37,495, Soul (x) €37,495; Mercedes Benz EQC (V) €81,950; Nissan Leaf (h) €30,890; Opel Corsa (h); Peugeot 208 (h) €27,334; Renault Zoe (h) €26,990; Tesla Model 3 (s) €48,900, Model S (s) €89,800, Model X (V) €95,500; Volkswagen e-Golf (h) €32,250.
Ford Mondeo (s, e) €34,080; Honda CR-V (V) €41,650; Hyundai Kona (x) €28,495; Lexus CT (h) €34,750, ES (s) € 49,950, IS (s) €47,525, LC (c) €114,575, LS (s) €115,345, NX (x) €49,000, RC (c) €58,525, RX (V) €70,750, UX (x) €40,200; Toyota Camry (s) €39,950, Corolla (h, s, e) €26,390, C-HR (V) €30,260, Prius (l, e) €33,075, RAV4 (V) €36,900, Yaris (h) €22,385.
Plug-in Hybrid EV:
BMW 225xe (h) €38,100, 330e (s) €43,070, 530e (s) €53,000, 745e (s) €93,800, i8 (c) €134,500, Mini Cooper Countryman (x) €39,000; Ford Kuga (V); Kia Niro (x) €32,494; Mercedes Benz E300 (s) €58,110, S560e (s) €109,410; Mitsubishi Outlander (V) €39,900; Opel Grandland X (V) €36,500; Peugeot 3008 (V); Porsche Panamera (s, e) €120,000; Skoda Superb (s) €41,000; Volkswagen Golf (h) €41,450, Passat (s) €46,495; Range Rover Sport (V) €96,805, Vogue (V) €138,015, Autobiography (V) €163,855;Volvo S60 (s) €55,068, S90 (s) €70,004, V60 (e) €61,300, V90 (e) €73,295, XC40 (x) €46,885, XC60 (x) €65,984, XC90 (V) €85,647.
Battery EV Range *
Audi e-tron: 417 km
BMW i3: 310 km
BMW i3s: 285 km
Mini Cooper: 232 km
Hyundai Ioniq: 311 km
Hyundai Kona: 449 km
Jaguar I-Pace: 470 km
Kia Niro: 455 km
Kia Soul: 452 km
Mercedes Benz EQC: 417 km
Nissan Leaf: 270 km
Nissan Leaf e+: 385 km
Opel Corsa: 330 km
Peugeot 208: 340 km
Renault Zoe: 395 km
Tesla Model 3
Standard Plus: 409 km
Long Range AWD: 560 km
Performance: 530 km
Standard Plus: 409 km
Long Range: 610 km
Standard Plus: 487 km
Long Range: 507 km
Volkswagen e-Golf: 230 km
* The range values are based on the newer WLTP standard, rather than the old NEDC, and are obtained from www.ev-database.uk, a good UK reference on the subject.