LOS ANGELES, November 29, 2014 — Despite increasingly extreme climate change and the ever-more-violent petro dollar, electric and other green car reveals at the 2014 LA Auto Show were disappointingly few.
The one bright spot in this year’s dismal showing of ready-to-drive production electric vehicles (EVs) was Motor Trend’s Car of the Year: the zero emissions 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf (along with the entire fuel efficient VW Golf lineup). A synopsis of all the green car auto offerings (paired with a classic Hollywood blockbuster disaster movie) from the 2014 LA Auto Show:
Independence Day: 2015 Volkswagen e-Golf
Ready to become petro dollar independent, but aren’t too excited with going EV or plug-in hybrid? Volkswagen’s very first all-electric car bolts out of the stratosphere as 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year. Yes, VW’s 2015 e-Golf — along with its Golf 1.8T, Golf GTI and Golf TDI “clean diesel” – is simply that stellar.
On the show floor, Volkswagen’s eGolf stood out amongst a crowd of these compact five-seat wunderkins. The bright white e-Golf exterior of the showroom floor model looks exactly like its petrol-powered brethren except for the blue e-Golf stamp on the haunches and on the hatch. Perhaps the best thing about the newest mass production EV for the North American market is it looks just like any other Golf on the road today. Plus, the VW Golf interior truly feels like a cozy cockpit in every seat. Hopefully, Volkswagen can explode EV sales with this affordable family-friendly runabout, especially in the urban market.And what about price? As with most EVs, e-Golf comes equipped in only one fully-loaded model at a whopping $35,445. So why choose e-Golf over Nissan Leaf, Fiat 500e, Kia Soul EV, Ford Focus Electric or plug-ins like Chevy Volt and Toyota Prius?
CDN’s very own auto columnist and former Motor Trend senior editor Greg Sanchez took the e-Golf for a recent road test.
“The handling, dynamics, and the overall performance of this new e-Golf are exceptional” This veteran automotive journalist was also impressed with the e-Golf’s paddle shifters, which are located on the steering wheel and control the regenerative braking level. “Dialing the regen up or down affects how quickly the car slows down without putting your foot on the brake,” explains Sanchez. “Slowing down faster means the more of the braking energy is used to recharge the battery pack. The net result is more range.”
Yes, VW did create a truly cool zippy electric ride, which is perfect for urban city driving and other fleet applications – for those North American consumers who are ready to go to battle with the evil petrol dollar via all-electric power. What could be better than gliding around town in your solar-powered (if you got em) German-engineered, five-seater hatchback?
Here’s more electrified news and other notable green car enthusiast musings from the 2014 LA Auto Show:
The Core: BMW i3 & i8M
The 2013 LA Auto Show was all about Tesla, but other than VW’s e-Golf, the show for green car freaks seemed to be all about BMW’s all-electric i3 (as well as its sporty and futuristic i8). In fact, the BMW i3 won Green Car Journal’s Green Car of the Year Award, which was handed out in front of a disappointingly small crowd on the show’s second press day. This win is not the i3’s first as this EV has also won top awards in Germany, France and the UK.
Still, BMW can now claim the i3 as the first EV in the premium segment to win this annual green award. Looking like a bubble-like rendition of a family wagon, BMW’s i3 comes equipped with a 125kW (170hp) electric motor. Stepping inside the driver’s cockpit, the showroom model i3 was quirky and yet rather intoxicating with its triad of wood, fabric and plastic textures. The surprisingly deep dash screamed 70s VW bus while the straight dash with matte black surrounds and buttons was reminiscent of BMW’s classic masculine interiors.
Right before diving into the low-slung racer, a “it’s hard to get in” was heard. Actually, getting in was easy and more like sliding rear first into a jet cockpit. Getting out, however, was extremely tricky and could even prove to be embarrassing for those without much knee, thigh or leg strength. The BMW i8 may be the “ultimate electric driving machine”, but it is designed for the nimble.
Deep Impact: Mitsubishi’s XR-PHEV Concept
Mitsubishi comet-landed its wacky iMiEV electric car but the ailing car maker has blazed a trail to EV glory with its recent MiEV Evolution III win at the Pikes Peak Challenge and its launch of the jaw-dropping concept plug-in hybrid, XR-PHEV. This Batmobile-like electric-gas vehicle is fortunately not too far off the mark from entering production status. This new Mitsubishi seems to be a cross between a plug-in Volt and the astronaut-like BMW i8 with some Mazda racing design thrown in for good measure.
Apocalypse Now Double Feature: At the LA Auto Show, Mitsubishi claimed its impressive XR-PHEV concept can power a house for several days after a natural disaster. Could an EV really work as a post-Armageddon energy source? Yes. This automotive journalist has road tested most of today’s production EV cars and can confirm that a fully-charged lithium ion battery big enough for a street vehicle can, in fact, power many devices at once for several days if the vehicle is not driven. (Plus, vehicles are increasingly becoming wireless hot spots so EVs could become mobile electric infotainment sources at any time and most especially during emergencies.)
Flood! 2015 Chevrolet Volt
Hopefully, Chevy dealers will have a flood of new customers for the next gen 2016 Chevrolet Volt, which won’t be revealed until the Detroit Auto Show in early January. GM claims its four-seater Volt is the best-selling plug-in vehicle (both electric and gas) in America with 65,000 cars sold by this past summer. The Volt compact sedan’s fun-to-drive characteristics, top notch technology and never-stop performance make it a good choice for an every day green car. Need more reasons to consider Volt? Kelly Blue Book recently named the 2015 Chevy Volt as its Best Electric/Hybrid Buy.
The Perfect Storm: 2015 Nissan Leaf
Nissan’s all-electric Leaf is so perfect that it was only mentioned in passing during Nissan’s flashy LA Auto Show production. However, Nissan did announce its latest Leaf model has shattered records for EV sales in the USA. Leaf’s perfection comes from its zippy drive, pleasant handling, ergonomic interior, excellent utility, long driving range and mostly, its affordable price.
In fact, the Renault-Nissan Alliance recently announced it has sold more than 200,000 EVs around the world with an incredible 58% market share for all zero emissions cars. Renault-Nissan says this represents 200 million litres of petro fuel and 450 million kg of CO2 that has not been emitted into the Earth’s atmosphere (and oceans).
Crash: Ford’s 2015 Green Lineup
Ford’s three-pronged electrification program (2015 C-Max Energi plug-in, 2015 Fusion Energi plug-in, all-electric Focus Electric) didn’t reveal any big changes nor much excitement at the show, but the company did reveal an exciting partnership with the Sierra Club. Called “Drive Green for Life,” the program offers a $750 rebate on a SunPower residential solar system to power a brand new electrified Ford. As well, SunPower will donate $500 to the Sierra Club for each solar system install through this go-totally-sustainable energy program.
Pompeii: 2016 Fiat 500X
Fiat unveiled its new gas-powered crossover, the 2016 Fiat 500X, in a cheeky and artistic Italian style. The first explosive question we asked head to Fiat’s global branding Olivier Francois was: “Do you have any plans for an all-electric 500X?” He quickly shook his head and said emphatically: “No.” That’s too bad because this Cinquecento-inspired mini CUV would make for one dynamic EV. Still, one of the best and most fun-to-drive EVs on the road today is the 2015 Fiat 500e.
Not Ready for The Poseidon Adventure?
While the green “reveals” at the 2014 LA Auto Show weren’t as exciting or as numerous as in years past, the world’s top car makers are beginning to see the electric light at the end of the production car rainbow with more affordable versions of classic cars like VW’s sexy Golf.
North American consumers CAN have an affordable green car AND drive every day too — and you can even power your mobile and some household items in an emergency from your electric car’s heavy duty lithium ion battery pack (which is hopefully connected to your off-grid solar panel or wind turbine).
What could be a better deal for any impending planetary apocalypse? Make a resolution to take an EV test drive in 2015 (or before!) and you could be on your way to helping change your mind on sticking with gas-only solutions.