LOS ANGELES, November 29, 2015 – Even as climate change is getting alarmingly worse, car manufacturers at this year’s 2015 LA Auto Show unfortunately did not unleash a wave of low- to zero-emissions vehicles to offset the harsh realities of Earth’s carbon overload.
So what is in our electrified transportation future? Here’s a 2015 LA Auto Show green car recap.
Unfortunately, car companies are still touting super fuel efficient gas-powered cars as “green.” This sustainability expert and automotive journalist, however, is not convinced. Fuel efficient vehicles may use much less gas and save the planet from climate-changing carbon emissions, but it doesn’t count any other problems with petrol including violence, war, inequality, corruption and even the release of toxic chemicals (in the refining process and from environmental disasters).
So, when it comes to truly green cars from fully electric to plug-ins to hybrids, here’s the best of all that was green at the 2015 LA Auto Show:
BMW Launches 330 eDrive & ChargeNow DC Fast Charging Program
BMW led the green charge at this year’s show not only by launching its all-new 3 Series “e drive” plug-in hybrid, but by making a huge announcement just days after the show: BMW has joined the American Business Act on Climate Pledge (one of only 154 American companies to do so) to show its commitment to act now on climate change. The “pledge” includes a long list of exactly how BMW is going to increase its use of renewable energies and sustainable products and technologies from its use of solar panels to water usage to creating zero waste.
Going green isn’t new to BMW. In fact, it is the only car company to be listed in the DJSI (Dow Jones Sustainability Index) World and DJSI Europe Indices each year since way back in 1999.
The LA Auto Show launch of its new plug-in vehicles, which look exactly like its other sedans and crossovers, is most exciting news for Bimmer aficionados who are considering a more environmentally-friendly car. It seems the new 330e will satisfy a Bimmer driver’s need for speed as this sexy sedan goes from 0-60 mph in just 5.9 seconds (with a top speed of 140 mph) by using both its 65kW electric motor and a turbocharged four-cylinder powerplant. BMW claims its 330e offers a “total system output of 248 hp and 310 lb. ft. of torque.”
BMW also claims its 330e can drive about 22 miles on all-electric power and, between the two engines, can go around 370 miles on a full charge and a full tank. Available next spring, the 2016 BMW 330e will start at a base MSRP of $44,695.
Two days after debuting its newest plug-in hybrid, BMW of North America announced its “ChargeNow DC Fast Expansion program.”
Partnering with EV charger company EVgo, BMW says it is helping install 500 “direct current” (or DC) fast “combo” chargers around the country. Built to benefit BMW’s all-electric i3 consumers, the EVgo fast charging stations will be available for public use, but will be complimentary (for 24 months from date of enrollment) for i3 drivers who purchase or lease an i3. EVgo says it “expects” to have nearly 50 of these fast chargers installed by the end of the year.
BMW also displayed its entire “emobility” lineup at the show including its fun, fast and funky-in-a-good-way urban i3 vehicle, the futuristic i8 roadster and its electrified X5 xDrive40e.
2016 Chevy Volt Wins Green Car of the Year Award
Not surprisingly given Volkswagen’s “clean diesel” debacle, the 2016 Chevy Volt won this year’s Green Car of the Year Award. Surely, the “new Volt” has all the right ingredients: an updated and very stylish exterior, loads of top notch in-car technology, a comfortable and now five-seat interior and, most important of all, the ability to drive 53 miles on all-electric power. And because The Volt also comes equipped with a 1.5-liter gas-powered engine, this sophisticated mid-sized sedan can take “primary” car status as a never-stop vehicle.
Truly, the Chevrolet Volt deserves to win this prestigious award as the best green car money can buy in a 2016 model year car.
Audi Announces Electrification Program
Audi stunned the media crowd at this year’s show with the announcement of its far-reaching “electrification program.” The company’s American president Scott Keogh claims Audi is committed to achieving “at least 25% of U.S. sales from electric vehicles by 2025” by presenting “a clear roadmap to electrification in the world’s biggest EV market.”
That map begins with the launch later this year of Audi’s A3 Sportback e-tron plug-in hybrid sedan. Keogh also announced other future electrified models in the works including the 2018 Audi e-tron Quattro SUV. Audi also outlined its support of an EV charging infrastructure by “developing a nationwide 150W fast charging network” just in time for its 2018 e-tron quattro SUV launch. Bravo Audi!
Volkswagen Wows with Golf GTE Sport Plug-In Hybrid
VW’s diesel debacle didn’t slow down the world’s No. 1-selling car manufacturer from making a big announcement with the launch of its racing inspired Golf GTE Sport. This cool-looking concept car, so claims VW, is powered by a 395 hp plug-in hybrid system. VW says its Golf GTE Sport is powered by not only one, but two electric motors as well as a “World Rally Championship turbocharged engine” and an “innovative all-wheel-drive system.”
The car was built to “bridge the gap between road and racing cars” as it accelerates from 0-62 mph in just 4.3 seconds and tops out at 174 mph on the track. When all three motors are working together, VW claims the GTE Sport gets 118 mpg.
However, the Golf GTE Sport can also be driven solely on “e-mode” (or only in electric power) for just 31 miles. While this feat may not be impressive to green car experts, especially as Chevy’s Volt can now almost double that number, it’s a start in what will hopefully become a more green Volkswagen, especially after admitting to faking its diesel emissions output numbers.
Hyundai Launches 2016 Hyundai Sonata Plug-In Hybrid
Hyundai announced its first and only plug-in hybrid model so far is already available at “select dealerships” for a base MSRP of $34,600. The 2016 Sonata Plug-In Hybrid is chock full of Hyundai’s stylish design, quality build, loads of standard luxury features and advanced technologies plus this award-winning sedan gets 27 miles on all-electric power. Perfect for commuters, the new Sonata Plug-In never stops and yet provides an environmental friendliness for those who are ready to go green with their transportation without sacrificing anything.
Nissan Installs 90 New EV Chargers in Paris
Nissan may not have debuted a new environmentally-friendly vehicle, but it did announce this: The Renault-Nissan Alliance is installing 90 new charge spots for electric vehicles in and around Paris for the Conference of Parties (or the COP21 global summit on climate change) from Nov. 30-Dec. 11. The mega car company has partnered with French energy provider EDF, Schneider Electric, Aéroports de Paris, Paris City Council and SNCF (France’s national railway company) to refuel the more than 200 EVs serving the summit’s VIPs. “Electric vehicles are the only existing, practical and affordable transportation solution to our planet’s environmental challenges, and they are available today, “says Renault-Nissan chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Expanding the EV infrastructure is mandatory for any city or state that’s serious about environmental stewardship.” After the conference, 14 quick chargers will remain in place for public use including two at Charles de Gaulle Airport, two on the Paris périphérique highway and one at Paris’ Orly Airport.
Volvo Goes Consciously Clean
Volvo snubbed its nose at the planet by not revealing any electrified vehicle, but announcing a “Consciously Clean” program to provide a “waterless car cleaning solution” for Californians trying hard to conserve water during California’s current drought.
Previously, Volvo had challenged Californians to save up to 18 million gallons of water by not washing their cars whatsoever in a program the Swedish car company billed as #DrivingDirty. Perhaps Volvo should worry less about California’s water problem and consider launching a true EV before its Scandinavian glaciers melt.
Fiat Displays Custom Star Wars “Stormtrooper” 500e
Fiat unveiled its retro 2017 124 Spider at this year’s show, but this green car auto expert’s eyes could not be dissuaded from the custom painted “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” Stormtrooper 500e.
In partnership with Lucasfilm, this Star Wars-inspired 500e, so says Fiat, was “inspired by the armor of the First Order Legion” with its black-and-white body.
Fiat says both the windshield and side windows were equipped with custom wraps to give that unmistakable First Order visor and helmet look. Inside, the interior is not surprisingly completely black and white with even more Star Wars emblazoned logos and First Order insignias.
Surely, this dismal showing of “green” vehicles at this year’s LA Auto Show would make any enviro head depressed. Perhaps next year, auto manufacturers will reveal truly environmentally-friendly cars at what is supposed to be the most exciting “green” event in the world’s auto show circuit.