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Earth Day: A History of Vehicle Sustainability

Reducing the amount of plastic we use, spending less time in the shower, swapping fast fashion with second-hand; these are but some of the things we’re advised on to combat concerns surrounding the future of the planet. Due to the Earth’s negative reaction to rising levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases, it is imperative that the global community implements effective measures to negate the growing pressure on our planet’s resources. The Paris Agreement, a treaty signed by 190 countries (as of 2021) to limit global temperatures rising, is an important step in the right direction but the topic of environment conservation has been on the grapevine for many years. Celebrated every year on 22nd April, the origins of “Earth Day” were established by a tale of ecological disaster. In 1969, a devastating oil spill in California prompted Senator Gaylord Nelson to intercede against the damages rendered by Industrialisation, and thus, the counterculture movement ,Earth Day, was born to educate and rally the population to protect Mother Earth. The movement has established itself on the world stage, followed in 141 countries, highlighting the ecological issue to over 200 million people.    Both established and up-and-coming brands in the automotive industry have committed to sustainability plans, the rising consumer demands’ leading to an increased output of electric vehicles (EV). To celebrate the 52nd anniversary of Earth Day, Pocket Box looks at the history of EVs and how they have developed through time.  Contrary to popular belief, the inception of electric vehicles came about in the 19th century, pre-dating the invention of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicles, the petrol model which became the mainstream vehicle of the 20th Century. While it is disputed, it is thought to be Hungarian experimentalist, Ányos Jedlik, who kickstarted the electrification of mobility. Jedlik was obsessed with the power of electricity and its ability to simplify life for humans, and so in 1828, created an electromagnetic device and attached it to a model car, which he also designed, and is still functioning to this day.  Jedlik’s innovation led the way for the development of more sophisticated models of electric vehicles throughout the 19th century. Not long after, the Scotsman, Robert Anderson, developed the first full-sized electric vehicle in 1832. Removing the horse (obviously), Anderson strapped a crude oil powered battery under a carriage, enabling his pioneering locomotive to pick up speeds of up to 12 km/h. Moreover, Anderson’s idea was tweaked by French inventor, Gustave Trouvé, who in 1880, attached a several rechargeable lead batteries to a tricycle and cruised round the streets of Paris at an average of 18 km/h, with a range of approximately 25 kilometres. While their usage wasn’t widespread, statistics show that roughly 38% of vehicles were electrified within the U.S.; 40% were steam engines and just 28% were petrol. However, the popularity of EVs in the late 19th and early 20th century began to dwindle due to two things; Henry Ford and the discovery of oil. While oil wasn’t a new item on the market, the discovery of oil reserves in America cheapened the cost of petrol and made petrol-powered vehicles more affordable for the everyday household. Combining this with the introduction of Henry Ford’s efficient production line for the Ford Model T, allowing for the world’s first affordable vehicle, and the dream powering EVs needed to be recharged.  Fast forward and ICE vehicles dominated the automotive market for the majority of the 20th century. That was until just before the turn of the millennium when Toyota introduced and mass produced the Toyota Prius in 1997, marketing it as the world’s first hybrid EV when it hit global markets in 2000. The “rEVolution” as we know it today began in 2003 when Martin Eberhand and Marc Tarpenning saw an opportunity; they took it. Tesla Motors was founded and they began working on developing vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries. Upon seeing the success of Tesla, nearly every established motoring company hopped on the electrification wagon and now, most have committed to sustainability for the future.     As governments around the world commit to tackle climate change, the adoption of electric vehicles looks to increase. The U.K. government’s commitment to cease the sale of ICE vehicles by 2030 was followed by numerous companies including Mercedes, Honda and Land Rover. Moreover, by the turn of the next decade, the International Energy Agency (IEA) predicted that electric vehicles will account for 7% of the global vehicle fleet, roughly 145 million on the roads.    As the world becomes more educated about the harmful effects of our current system of motoring, the future of automobility and the atmosphere looks to go green.

Flash-Back to the Future! New DeLorean Teaser Sparks EV Intrigue

Delorean DMC-12

The year is 2022, 7 years after 2015 when Back to the Future 2 was set, and we’re still waiting for the popularisation of hover vehicles… *sigh*… but for now, we can get excited about the unveiling of a teasing new trailer from DeLorean as the brand’s regeneration means a potentially new take on the iconic vehicle. The trailer is brief and mysterious, with the brand tantalising audiences with the tagline – “The Future Was Never Promised”, as the now U.S. based company pays homage to the Back to the Future franchise, which immortalised the car as a cult-classic in pop culture. While there is a lack of details surrounding the vehicle, it’s predicted release is 2023, the max speed is expected to exceed the 88mph Doc Brown insisted necessary for time travel (Spoilers: the only possibility travelling that speed will present is a speeding ticket!). The 15 second teaser shows off the stainless steel car’s instantly recognisable winged-doors, illuminated by a current of bright light. While DeLorean can’t offer time travel as an available upgrade upon purchase, the symbolism emanating from the advertisement, and the hashtag “#DeloreanEVovled” used by the brand’s official twitter account upon its release, all but hints at the company’s rebranding for the electrification of the transport of the future. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EnAQclTEc10 The current DeLorean Motor Company (DMC) was reborn in 1995 under Liverpudlian, Stephen Wynne, who will hope that he can maintain success this time round unlike that of the disastrous ownership of John Delorean, the company’s namesake. Founded in 1975 and setting up shop in Northern Ireland, the infamous tenure saw the automaker only produce 9,000 vehicles during operation, only to go bankrupt by 1982 due to technical issues with the car, with its founder becoming embroiled in a drug trafficking scandal as he tried to save the company. With a global promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, there is major hope in the sustainability of electric vehicles. However, once the ‘Great Scott(’s)’ die down surrounding the revelation of the modernised DeLorean, one question will arise: now that it’s back, does it have a future in the increasingly competitive EV market?

Pilot Scheme Could Recharge EV Owners’ Pockets

Renewable Energy

A radical new scheme, introduced by the National Grid in partnership with Octopus Energy, is being piloted on an initial 135 households across England and Wales. As the announcement by Ofgem in early February sees energy prices rise by 56% from last year due to the global energy crisis, the idea behind the scheme seeks to offset the pressure on the U.K.’s infrastructure, which will see the National Grid extract energy from electric vehicles (EVs) during times of high demand and energy shortages. EVs with a Vehicle to Grid (V2G) battery will be able to take advantage of the fact that the cars spend most of the day parked. As such, those vehicles with V2G batteries can negate the strain by balancing the grid through the vehicle’s battery’s stored energy, directing energy back to the vehicle to recharge the battery so it is ready for usage when needed. Additionally, vehicles may be used to power homes during hours of peak demand and set the vehicle to recharge during hours of non-peak demand, such as early morning hours. It has been reported that those involved in the scheme will be able to earn up to 60p per hour for the energy they send to the grid.  As the year 2035 approaches, in which the U.K. promised to eliminate the sale of emission producing vehicles, the success of the National Grid pilot scheme could give an insight into the plan to subsidise rising energy cost as well as balance the growing demands for effective EV infrastructure. Julian Leslie, the chief engineer at the network operator National Grid ESO, hinted about mass adoption, suggesting that “if we can get 10 million vehicles doing vehicle-to-grid, then fantastic.”

Big 5 EV makers VS Big 5 Automakers – Comparing the most expensive and cheapest models on the market

LOGOS

As the world’s auto-market begins to see major change on an industrial scale, not seen since the revolutionised automotive assembly production line by Henry Ford in 1913, the electrifying excitement surrounding the growth of the up-and-coming Electric Vehicle (EV) market means that buyers have a multitude of motors to choose from. As of 2020, more than 20 countries, provinces and states globally, mostly in Europe and North America, proposed to phase out new sales of Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) passenger cars or to only sell new electric models in the 2025–2050 time frame. The rising competition of EV automakers is already felt by traditional car manufacturers, many of whom now offer or are developing their own models suitable for the EV market. Pocket Box takes a look at the 5 biggest EV companies in terms of market capitalisation, examining the most expensive and the cheapest models produced by each corporation, and comparing them to the top 5 cheapest and most expensive vehicles on offer by the 5 biggest automakers. (N.B. Some models not on offer to the U.K. market yet).   Biggest EV Companies- Cheapest VS Most Expensive Models   5.) Xpeng  a.) P5: Founded in 2014, the Chinese manufacturer is a newcomer to the world of electric cars, however, their ever-growing presence has made a big impact thus far, their open market value coming in at $31.56 billion. The Xpeng P5 Sedan was launched in China in October 2021 and is yet to be made available on a global scale, with plans to reach the European market in 2022. He Xiaopeng, Chairman & CEO of XPeng commented: With the P5, we have delivered a new level in sophistication and technological advancement for smart EVs in China, at a competitive price point. We believe this is an age of intelligence, and that intelligence will redefine mobility as a whole. As per the Chinese regulator, the ranges offered are quite substantial; between 460 km, 550 km and 600 km per litre. It also takes just 40 minutes to charge from 30 to 80 per cent. With 208bhp and the ability to do 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds, the P5’s price range comes in at a minimum of $25,000 (£18,454), as Xpeng looks to rival Tesla’s Model 3 when it is released for the first time to the world.   b.) P7: The high-tech equipment attached to the Xpeng P7 has brought the car price to $49,370 (£36,440), but buyers will be getting up-to-date EV technology: including 31 autonomous driving sensors;12 ultrasonic sensors; 10 autonomous driving high-sensitivity cameras and sub-systems; 5 high-precision millimetre wave radars and 4 autonomous driving surround-view cameras. All of which gives the XPeng P7 omnidirectional perception to supervise the changing surrounding environment. All versions of the P7 are powered by a 263bhp electric motor driving the rear wheels, with the Performance version adding a 161bhp motor to the front. The single-motor Super Long Range model, which uses an 81kWh battery pack, is capable of delivering 439 miles before needing to recharge, having the capability to go 0-62mph in 6.7 seconds.   4.) NIO  a.) ES6 SUV: The company website states that the vehicle is an “all-round smart electric SUV with an impressive 4.7-second sprint from 0 to 100 km/h and a NEDC range up to 610 km, the ES6 comes as a sophisticated and progressive mobile living space.” Moreover, the SUV is equipped with NIO’S in-house developed NIO Pilot, empowered by Mobileye EyeQ4, boasting over 20 driver assistance features and supports firmware-over-the-air updates. The Chinese company’s goal is to serve users in more than 25 countries and regions worldwide by 2025, including the United States, Western Europe, Australia and New Zealand. With the vehicle’s price starting at $55,000 (£40,585) and an increasing market cap of $31.15 billion, we may begin to see more cars made by the world’s 4th biggest EV company on the roads soon, watch this space.    b.) EP9: The EP9 can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 2.7 seconds, 200 km/h (124 mph) in 7.1 seconds, and 300 km/h (186 mph) in 15.9 seconds, as demonstrated by Richard Hammond in Amazon Prime’s, The Grand Tour. The car can achieve a top speed of 350 km/h (217 mph).  While not considered road-legal, the car’s battery can last up to 427 km (265 miles) before it needs to be charged. Recharging takes 45 minutes, and battery replacement takes 8 minutes as the batteries need to be removed when recharged. Designed for the racetrack only, this EV supercar will set you back a cool $3.48 million dollars (£2.54 million), but be quick to purchase one as VIO only intends to make an additional 10 for public use, after 6 were purchased by VIO investors upon their release.    3.) Lucid Motors  a.) Air Pure: The American motoring manufacturers, with a net market share of $44.4 Billion, have been on the market since 2007, originally under the name Atieva, with a sole focus on building electric vehicle batteries and powertrains for other vehicle manufacturers. However, they announced their intentions to develop all-electric, high-performance luxury vehicles back in 2016. In November 2020, the Lucid Air Pure, the cheapest model on offer, was announced with 406 miles (653 km) of projected range and 480 horsepower (360 kW) and a starting price of $77,400 (£57,103).  The Lucid Air Pure is currently in production and it is expected to reach U.K. consumers by December 2022.   b.) Air Dream: The Lucid Air Dream is the top-of-the-line model offered by Lucid Motors and is produced in 2 editions; Dream Edition P is optimised for speed and performance, while the Dream Edition R maximises range, with both models enabling a top speed of 168mph, enabled by the dual motors powering four wheel drive. The two models both come in priced at $160,000 (£118,042), with the Edition R able to do 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds, this is an electric luxury sedan that can drive 481-520 EPA-certified miles on a single charge, whereas

“Watt” Next – Could Surging Energy Bills Short Circuit U.K. EV Plan?

With both society and the economy struggling for some form of normality post-pandemic, the gloom looks set to continue as a fresh blow dealt by the U.K.’s regulatory body, as The Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem), announced that energy prices will continue to rise. This disclosure is in relation to the energy price cap, a biannual review introduced in 2019 to limit rates at which energy suppliers can charge consumers; reaching an all-time high of £1,277 in October 2021, and is due to reach £1,971 by April 2022. Expected to affect around 22 million households, and as of 2019 an estimated figure of 3.4 million in England alone were affected by “fuel poverty”, with this year promising a continuum of recent hardships for even more as the overall cost of living rises.  The source of this inflation is influenced by several economic and geopolitical factors: adverse weather conditions and an increased demand for energy resources over lockdown across the globe (particularly in Europe), coupled with a period of decarbonisation and a lack of generated renewable energy reserves, meant that Russia’s hesitancy over supplying gas to the rest of the continent due to a desire to push approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was felt even harder on a global scale. Russia has faced growing criticism for this approach, notably by European Commission Vice President, Valdis Dombrovskis, who stated that “unfortunately, this problem of weaponisation of gas flows is not new”. Furthermore, the U.K.’s over-dependency on imported gas, with government statistics indicating it accounts for 50% of its gas reserves with a third of the country’s electrical generation supported by gas, bide as reasoning for exposing its citizens to an increase of energy bills. As the government scrambles to alleviate growing pressures on the taxpayer, the “Ten Point Plan for a Green Revolution” looks to face uncertainty. So, “watt” next for the future of electric vehicles (EV)? Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) convey that there was a 76.3% increase in the amount of EVs bought in 2021 in comparison to 2020. However, electric vehicle owners will invariably feel the effects of energy prices in general, as the rise in the cost of EV charging correlates with current electrical trends. While the initial retail cost of an EV is more than a carbon-fuelled vehicle on average, the cost of refuelling looked to benefit those that switched to a more environmentally-friendly vehicle, with the average price per kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity in the U.K. being at around 24p as of September 2021. Now, experts predict that it could cost 69p by April 2022. Moreover, a spokesperson for Energy UK, the trade association for the energy industry, said that if problems remain and energy prices increase more generally, retailer investment in such technology is less likely and ultimately may hinder the policies in place to ensure that the U.K is an emissions-free country by 2050. However, there are positives to take for those with interests in electrified transport. Energy UK also remarked that these unprecedented times were “an exceptional period… and long term, electricity will be cheaper”. One way energy prices could be placated, as well as alleviating growing demands for appropriate EV infrastructure, is down to the fact that the batteries used in EVs and in national power networks are “energy source agnostic” according to experts. This enables the potential for the harvest of a multitude of energy resources to run them; be it solar, hydroelectric or nuclear power. With the development of eco-friendly energy infrastructure and an expected increase in the amount of renewable energy sources fitted in private residences, one can be hopeful for the future of electric vehicles, promising our pockets and our planet a greener future.

Tech Giants Look Set to Electrify the EV Game

Sony Vision S

The competitive automotive industry; with 14 major car corporations owning up to 60 global auto brands including the likes of Volkswagen, Ford and BMW, looks set to become increasingly more competitive due to the rise of global demands for the reduction of CO2 and greenhouse gas emissions. With the climate crisis remaining at the forefront of governmental thought, the vehicular supply and demand chain looks set to be dictated by the electrification of transport. Planned initiatives by both the U.K. and U.S. governments to reduce the number of combustion-engine vehicles in use by 2030 and 2035, respectively, rousing car manufacturers look to get ahead of their competitors. Bentley made an announcement that they would be an ‘EV-only’ brand by 2030 while the Renault Nissan Mitsubishi Alliance pumped approximately $26 billion into a roadmap which details their goals to develop 35 new EV models by the same year. While Tesla remains the undisputed leader in the world of vehicular sustainability, Tech conglomerates seek to steal their market share with developments being made by Apple, Microsoft and Sony to enter the automotive business.  Microsoft, along with Virgin, are already on their way in establishing themselves within the self-driving industry in 2022, with investments made in Wayve, a U.K. based autonomous vehicle start-up company attempting to design autonomous driving technology through the medium of AI. Microsoft are not industry newcomers, however, with a partnership arranged between the company and Volkswagen back in 2021 to build a dedicated cloud-based platform specifically created for future autonomous car systems.  Meanwhile, the likes of Apple and Sony look to go one step further than their counterparts at Microsoft with potential designs of a branded vehicle in development by both corporations. Apple, and their ‘iCar’ project, codenamed ‘Titan’, has been shrouded in secrecy since its revelation back in 2018. It is reported that there is uncertainty about whether Apple intends to release a new car design, which “would give Tesla a run for their money”, or if they are designing autonomous driving software similar to Microsoft’s involvement with Volkswagen. There is more information surrounding Sony’s mission for domestic domination, as they seek to establish themselves in both your living room and your driveway. The Playstation giants launched their EV branch, Sony Mobility, at the unveiling of the Vision-S 02 at CES 2022, the SUV equivalent of the Vision-S saloon model disclosed back in 2020. Sony chairman, Kenichiro Yoshida, confirms this vision for the future of mobility and states the project “has been developed on a foundation of safety, adaptability and entertainment”. Despite there being no confirmed release date, if developments continue, not only will future owners of Sony vehicles be able to drive safely without human intervention, their PS5 will be road-worthy too!