What defines a “green car” can be the source of much discussion among environmentalists, advocates, and actual buyers. Every week Green Car Reports shines a light on the industry with coverage of battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, conventional hybrids, high-efficiency clean diesels, and smaller and more fuel-efficient vehicles in general. Here’s a selection of their stories from last week.
It’s taken electric-car maker Tesla Motors a full 18 months to release details on its first battery-swapping station, which is to open this week in Harris Ranch, California. So far, it’s only a pilot–and if you’re a Tesla Model S driver, you’ll have to be invited to participate. You’ll also have to make an appointment ahead of time, and pay a fee – perhaps something around $50.
Green Car Reports reported on its drive of the 2016 Toyota Mirai hydrogen fuel-cell car. From behind the wheel, it drives something like a Prius hybrid. The Mirai doesn’t have a lot of reserve acceleration at highway speeds–with only 153 horsepower to move the 4,000-pound car–and the new design has also gotten scathing reviews for its looks.
Some good news: In just the past year, electric cars have gotten cleaner–and not surprisingly, it’s all about the grid. In most areas of the country, electrical grids have reduced their average carbon emissions per kilowatt-hour, and that makes driving electric cars a lower-carbon activity per mile. That’s something you’ll never be able to say about gasoline cars.
When GCR visited this year’s New York Motorcycle Show, we came away somewhat disappointed that there was only a single electric motorcycle on display: the Harley-Davidson Livewire concept. It’s an undeniable crowd-pleaser, and for Harley to lend its name to electric bikes is huge. But in previous years, there were several makers showing plug-in motorcycles.
The new 2014 Tesla Model S P85D, the highest-performance all-wheel-drive version of the electric luxury sedan, has made a lot of waves recently. If you want to see just how fast it really is, check out a video that shows how a Tesla Model S P85D simply obliterated a Ferrari in an impromptu drag race. (But, please remember: No street racing! It’s not safe. Honest.)
There’s been a lot of coverage of falling gas prices all across the country. In most states, they’re now one-third lower than they were last year. And many uninformed writers say that will cause electric car sales to fall. But a study from advocacy group Plug-In America shows that it’s simply not true; there’s no correlation between gas prices and plug-in car sales. None.
On the practical side, Green Car Reports weighed in on a simple question: What’s the best electric car for average consumers to buy? The answer–the Nissan Leaf–may not surprise you if you’ve been following the news. The Leaf is by far the best-selling electric car on the planet, and in new technologies, there’s often safety in numbers.
Finally, it turns out that Lexus, the luxury brand founded by Toyota, is keeping an eye on electric-car startup Tesla Motors and its mall stores. It even called those stores, which differ from typical high-pressure dealerships, a ‘clever’ idea. Unfortunately, state laws have long banned Lexus and any other maker with franchised dealers from showing cars in mall stores and then letting buyers order them online directly from the maker. So if you want to buy a Lexus – perhaps one of their growing ranks of hybrids – you still have to go into the dealership and do it the old-fashioned way. Drat.
For more news from Green Car Reports, you can visit the website here. You can also sign up for an e-mail that delivers every story in one neat daily package (just look for “News In Your Inbox” in the right-hand column of any GCR page).