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No new EVs were uncloaked, but a dozen existing electric vehicles were revealed

We were surprised that there weren’t any big new EV announcements at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show, but that doesn’t mean there were no electric vehicles around. Existing EVs seemed to abound.

EVs were found in the AFTERMARKET area, where they were revealed to be in service at the Los Angeles Department of Water (LADWP) connected to an EATON charger, and also were discovered at the Automobile Association of America (AAA), which is also mobilizing emergency charging roadside service vehicles.

EVs were located in the show’s exhibition halls, where they were integrated into auto maker line-ups after already being introduced at previous shows. These included the smart EV, the VW e-golf, and a couple fun Toyota personal mobility EV concepts for the near future.

The EVs were also found in the parking lots, where we discovered the Ford Fusion energi charging at a blink charger.

EVs seem to be on the road to becoming almost as ubiquitous as hybrids are these days, even though no new EVs were heralded at the LA Auto Show.

And which vehicle was the 2014 Green Car of the Year at the show?

Though we don’t want to spoil the end of the video for you, its name is the combination of only one letter and a number less than 10.

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Luxurious e-cars take the high road toward sustainability

Tesla S Ocean white

2015 Tesla S

When researching electric vehicles, today’s eco-friendly minded shopper will find a cornucopia of choices on the market, ranging compact, golf cart-sized cars to mid-sized SUVs.

In fact, there are currently dozens of automakers featuring electric – or electrified – models in their lineups, with styles and options to fit just about any taste. Over the past decade hybrid vehicles have been paving the way by combining gasoline engines with electric motors to extend a car’s fuel mileage without sacrificing distance traveled between fill-ups.

2014 Chevrolet Volt

2014 Chevrolet Volt

Today, nearly every automaker features a hybrid model in its lineup, with many achieving an impressive 40-50 miles per gallon of gas. Plug-in hybrids, such as the Cadillac ELR, Chevrolet Volt, Toyota Prius Plug-in, Porsche Panamera and others, extend that range even further by running on electric-only charge for a short distance – such as driving around town – before the gasoline engine kicks in for longer distances.

But true electric vehicles take the technology a step farther. E-cars rely solely on electricity for power, with no gasoline needed at all. They are charged through electrical outlets – at home or at commercial charging stations – and store the power in batteries built into the vehicle. The battery technology is rapidly developing to be able to provide a longer lasting charge without adding hundreds of pounds of weight to the vehicle.

When it comes to range – the distance that the car travels on a single battery charge – most of today’s electric vehicles are achieving approximately 80-100 miles per change, making them great for around town driving and short commutes. But longer trips – like weekend getaways to Palm Springs or Mammoth Mountain – are virtually out of the question for most e-cars because a mid-trip recharge would be required.

Tesla Model S
There is, however, one e-car automaker that stands out from the crowd when it comes to battery range. Tesla, headed by billionaire visionary and entrepreneur Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and current CEO of SpaceX, is way ahead of the competition.

Tesla interior

Stunning interior of the Tesla S

The Tesla Model S, a luxuriously appointed sedan, is creating a clear case of “range envy” among other e-car makers. With its own, proprietary battery design and rapidly expanding fast charging network, Tesla has achieved a range of 265 miles per charge and a super re-charging time from empty to full in about 20 minutes. This means you can travel from San Diego to Santa Barbara and still have enough battery life left to go shopping and out to dinner before the need to re-charge.

In addition, Tesla’s next car, the P85D, will have two motors and all-wheel drive, giving it rocket-like quickness off the starting line, equal to the McLaren F1 and a slightly farther driving range of 275 miles per charge over the current rear-wheel-drive Model S. For those who prefer safety over high performance, the new Tesla Model S will have an “auto-pilot” feature that allows the car to automatically avoid danger and come close to driving itself. (Starting MSRP: $71,070 to $120,170).

BMW i3
The maker of the “ultimate driving machine” has been flirting with electric power for quite some time, and finally is delivering the all-new BMW i3 hatchback that boasts 170 horsepower and a range of up to 110 miles on an electric charge.

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BMW i3

The i3 is a brand new model to the BMW family sporting a unique design that is sure to turn heads in any parking lot. The sensually curved hatchback is so striking that it collected two of the most prestigious international awards soon after its market launch: the World Car Design of the Year Award as well as the World Green Car Award for 2014.

And while the i3 can be recharged in just about 3.5 hours, BMW recently added a range extender motor option for 2015, a two-gallon on-board gasoline motorcycle engine that kicks in to assist in recharging the batter when it hits a certain (low) level. This option extends the range of the i3 to about 150 miles before a full re-charge is needed. (Starting MSRP: $41,350; rage extender: $3,950). Check out our test drive video here.

Mercedes B-Class Electric

Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric
For those desiring to include a second e-vehicle to their garage, the Mercedes B-Class Electric Drive fills the need for an efficient around town commuter, perfect for dropping the kids off at school, trips to the golf course or shopping with friends, all without sipping a single drop of gasoline. The B-Class, which rolls into limited U.S. markets in 2015, is a practical, yet luxurious five-door crossover that can accommodate people and packages as well as any small SUV, yet can travel up to 85 miles on a single charge.

Inside, the B-Class is all Mercedes with premium features befitting a Benz, including hand-finished leather and wood, driving assists that watch your blind spot, prevent collisions and even allow you to park your car hands-free. (Starting MSRP: $41,450)

2015 Soul EV

2015 Kia Soul EV

Other fully-electric cars currently on the market include the Kia Soul EV, Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Spark EV, Fiat 500e, Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Smart Electric, Toyota RAV4 EV, Honda Fit EV, and the Volkswagen E-Golf. All of these models achieve between 80-100 miles per battery charge, making them best for short-to-medium commutes and daily driving duties. If your needs carry you further afield, then you might want to consider a plug-in hybrid.

So pack up your bags and hit the road, and be sure to smile as you watch your last gas station fade into the past. Go electric!

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Lexus NX 300h – Hybrid with “Kickdown”

The Lexus NX 300h hybrid version features a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle gas engine with a new automatic transmission and E-Four proactive all-weather drive system and a kickdown feature (to place the transmission into a lower gear) for improved mileage. Marking the sixth – count ’em SIX – hybrid in the Lexus lineup, the NX 300h uses an electric motor to drive the rear axle while the front axle is propelled by either gasoline, electric or a mixture of both for optimum power and performance.

The E-Four saves energy and fuel by only using the all-wheel drive when needed. By sensing when there is a loss of traction of the front wheels, the system reduces the electric power to the traction motor in the transaxle and increases the supply to the motor in the rear axle. In addition, the rear motor acts as a generator when the NX is in regenerative braking mode, increasing the amount of kinetic energy recovered.

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Sierra Club helps you find EV rebates and tax credits

2013 Nissan LEAF

Have you been wondering about the economics of electric vehicles? There is an easy way to find out how much you can expect to receive in rebates and tax credits if you purchase an EV. The Sierra Club offers it to you at http://content.sierraclub.org/evguide/go-electric, where they also have a helpful article about EV “Myth vs. Realty.”

The Sierra Club has also partnered with Plug-In America to co-sponsor the 2014 National Drive Electric Week from September 15th through the 21st. To see what events are planned around the nation, check out https://driveelectricweek.org/index.php.

And if you really want to settle in with some in-depth tech reading about electric vehicle charging, smart micro grids, and more, have a look at http://smartgrid.ucla.edu/publications.html.

All charged up? Ready to go EV? We hope so.

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Honda’s 2015 Hydrogen FCEV

Honda, as well as Toyota and GM, intend to have hydrogen fuel cell powered electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

Japanese auto buyers will be the first to receive Honda’s new hydrogen vehicles, however the FCEV’s should be available to U.S. buyers in 2016.

In what quantity? That’s yet to be discovered. Perhaps instructive, the current Honda fuel cell electric vehicle, the FCX Clarity has had a production run somewhere north of 200, but only 40 or so have been sold in the U.S.

The Clarity has a 250 mile range. Jessica Fini of Honda North America tells one of our correspondents, Michael Boehm, that the FCEV vehicle Honda will have in 2015 will exceed that range, but would not yet provide an exact estimate.

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Electric BMW i3 Test Drive at 2013 LA Auto Show

by Dean Adams Curtis

Inspired by a panel discussion about the future of sustainable mobility hosted in mid-November by UCLA’s Smart Grid Energy Research Center and the German American Business Association, which featured stimulating discussions by representatives of the BMW leadership team, as well as by Dr. Rajit Gadh of UCLA and others, Green Family Car asked the panel’s moderator Michael Boehm, founder of the Advanced Sustainability Institute, to meet the following day at the 2013 LA Auto Show for a test drive of BMW’s new i3 electric vehicle.

We’re particularly impressed by the fact that the fun-to-drive i3 EV’s are produced at German assembly plants which get all their energy from renewable sources like on-site windmills. These plants get their carbon fiber on big spools after it is cooked in an assembly line of electric ovens at a new U.S. plant in Moses Lake, Washington, which gets all its electricity from Grand Coulee Dam hydropower.

Examining the i3 story closely reveals that this new EV entry has been designed from scratch for maximum sustainability, as well as emission-free agile driving, following on the heels of BMW’s ActiveE electric sedans, many of which are rolling on the streets of San Francisco for rent and easy, fully-charged pickup, provided by BMW’s Drive Now subsidiary. The ActiveE electric sedans inherited lessons learned during a rollout of BMW-owned Mini electric vehicles, the MiniEs, which were created rapidly using off-the shelf components to thrust BMW into the center of the field of EV play.

And if you feel that you need more than the 80 to 100 mile range that BMW predicts you will get with your i3, you’re able to purchase a range extender, one of BMW’s small motorcycle engines, that uses gas from a two-gallon gas tank to create electrons to recharge your batteries.

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Honda Accord’s family of fuel-efficient models win Green Car of the Year Award

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Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of Automobile Operations at American Honda and the 2014 Honda Accord.

The Honda Accord is the 2014 Green Car of the Year.

In fact, it’s not just one model of the ever-popular Accord that wins the award — it’s the family of three, four-cylinder, fuel-efficient Accords.

LOS ANGELES — The 2014 Honda Accord, America’s top-selling car with retail car customers, has been named the “2014 Green Car of the Year” by Green Car Journal. The award recognizes the class-leading environmental performance of the Accord family of vehicles, including the fuel-efficient and low emissions Accord 4-cylinder and V-6 Coupe and Sedan, the EPA-rated 50 mpg city Accord Hybrid and the EPA-rated 115 MPGe combined Accord Plug-in Hybrid.

“Led by the 2014 Accord Hybrid, the entire Accord lineup really embodies the promise of the Honda brand to deliver both fun-to-drive enjoyment and outstanding fuel efficiency at the highest level,” said Mike Accavitti, senior vice president of Automobile Operations at American Honda. “I want to say thank you to Green Car Journal, not just for honoring Accord, but for shining a spotlight on the environment and our shared vision for an ultra-low carbon future.”

2014 Green Car of the Year jurors selected the Accord as the winning model for many reasons, not the least of which is its ability to offer an efficient choice for a wide range of buyers, from those seeking better fuel efficiency in a conventionally powered model to those desiring the milestone efficiency of a world-class hybrid or plug-in hybrid. In addition to the “Green Car of the Year” honor, the Accord was earlier honored as one of Green Car Journal’s ‘Top 5 Green Cars for 2014’ and additionally earned the magazine’s ‘Green Car Product of Excellence’ distinction.

The 2014 Accord is the second Honda brand vehicle named as “Green Car of the Year” in the past three years, joining the 2012 Civic Natural Gas, which netted the distinction in 2011.

According to Accavitti, winning the Green Car of the Year Award signals a new era at Honda that focuses on a broad range of alternative technology.

“What you’re seeing at Honda is a development and innovation of our hybrid technology.

“We are one of the only manufacturers that have . . . a natural gas car, a battery car, a plug-in car, three different types of hybrids and an internal combustion car. ”

We have the one-motor system that we offer now in our Insight and the brand new two-motor system that we offer in the Accord Hybrid, again delivering great fuel efficiency. It’s a different, new solution and I encourage you to learn more about the Accord Hybrid because it’s not what the other guys’ got. It’s a new solution that enables us to achieve best-in-class fuel economy.”

But that doesn’t mean Honda is focused on just hybrid technology, said Accavitti.

2014 Honda Accord group.

The Honda Accord family includes fuel efficient 4-cylinder and 6-clyinder models, a 4-cylinder gas/electric hybrid and a plug-in hybrid sedan.

“We showed yesterday that our vision for the future is fuel cell technology, but we are not hanging our hat on just one specific technology,” he explained. “At Honda, we have a portfolio of alternative fuel technologies that we are developing right now. We are one of the only manufacturers that have, on the road now, a natural gas car, a battery car, a plug-in car, three different types of hybrids and an internal combustion car. So we feel that wherever the market goes we will be in a real good position to take advantage of it.”

The 2014 Honda Accord lineup features Honda’s innovative Earth Dreams Technology powertrains, including Honda’s next-generation 2.4-liter, direct-injected 4-cylinder engine with continuously variable transmission or 6-speed manual transmission. The Accord Plug-In, with an 115 MPGe combined EPA fuel-economy rating, and the Accord Hybrid Sedan, with a class-leading 50 mpg EPA city fuel-economy rating, are powered an all-new highly efficient Atkinson cycle engine and two-motor hybrid system2. Fuel efficiency is the best ever for Accord in the EPA Midsize class, with 4-cylinder models earning a 36 mpg highway EPA rating and the V-6 models garnering a 34 mpg highway EPA rating.

In addition to fuel economy ratings leadership, the Accord has continually led the industry in meeting strict emissions standards. The Accord Plug-In is the first vehicle to achieve SULEV 20 emissions standards, with the lowest tailpipe emissions of any ICE vehicle currently available. Additionally the Accord was the first vehicle to meet ULEV (1998) and SULEV (2000) emissions standards.

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