It’s been an electric week for motoring. A fleet of 100 electric vehicles — most of them built in Britain — was ferrying VIPs at the UEFA Champions League in Berlin last Sunday where Spain’s FC Barcelona triumphed over Italy’s Juventus at the German capital’s Olympic stadium.
Nissan has taken over from Ford as the main motoring sponsor of the UEFA Champions League with a new four-year deal. So I spoke to the car giant’s top brass about their ambitious plans for the second generation of their all electric Leaf — built in Britain at the firm’s Sunderland factory — with a sharper look and critically a longer range.
So-called ‘range-anxiety’ — fear of running out of juice — is one of the main barriers to the wider take up of cars you can charge form your home.
The second generation of the electric Leaf (pictured) has a sharper look, it has been built in Britain at the firm’s Sunderland factory
Despite a boom in plug-in hybrid petrol-electric cars, Nissan Europe’s electric vehicle boss Jean Pierre Diernaz is almost evangelistic in his belief that pure electric is the way forward.
‘Plug-in hybrid is good technology, but it’s like being half pregnant. You either are or you are not,’ he said.
So Nissan is sticking to the pure electric route. He predicts demand for electric cars will soar as more cities across Europe and elsewhere bring in ‘ultra low emission zones’. Air quality will be the driving force for change.
‘It used to be people saying they wanted to save the planet,’ said Mr Diernaz. ‘Now it’s people worried about their health and that of their families.’ So far, Sunderland has built 33,000 electric Leaf cars since January 2013. And it has sold 2,410 in Britain in 2015.
Nissan’s senior vice-president for sales and marketing, Guillaume Cartier, was coy about the cost of the four-year UEFA deal, but you can bet it would buy a Premier League football club or two. The firm wants to boost its market share across Europe from 4.2 per cent to 5 per cent by 2017, or 1 million cars a year.
Sales of electric and other ‘green’ cars have soared as drivers take advantage of low tax and running costs — and a £5,000 grant, new figures from the Department of Transport reveal. A total of 9,046 new ultra low emission vehicles were registered in the first three months of 2015 — up five-fold from 1,789 in the first quarter of 2014.
Motorists have been keen to switch to plug-in electric hybrid cars such as the Mitsubishi Outlander, whose batteries can be charged at home, but which also have petrol engines should the electric power run out of range. Such vehicles have a huge road tax and company car tax advantage.
Householders are being targeted by gangs who use their address as a front from which to make fake motor insurance claims, according to a report.
It comes as the number of scam claims has soared by nearly a third (28 per cent) with motor injury fraud accounting for two thirds of all bogus claims.
In one case, in Norwich, fraudsters set up hundreds of policies using addresses without the knowledge of householders, insurance giant Aviva revealed.
Fortunately, staff spotted the bogus claims and cancelled the policies. In total, this one ring generated 157 claims with an value of more than £3 million.
A frugal Audi A6 has accelerated into the Guinness Book of Records by driving through 14 countries on a single tank of fuel.
Backed by the RAC, racing driver Rebecca Jackson and her co-driver drove an Audi A6 ultra 1,158.9 miles almost non-stop for nearly 28 hours from the Netherlands to Hungary, passing through Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia averaging 75.9 mpg from the 73-l tank, the most efficient A6 ever. See #RecordRoadTrip
There was also a buzz of excitement yesterday as a new plug-in battery-powered hire cars scheme was launched in London.
It’s part of a £100 million electric vehicle revolution to turn London into the ‘green driving’ capital.
Responsibility for transforming the use of electric cars has been given to French firm Bolloré, which launched the Autolib scheme in Paris that is now used by 220,000 drivers.
BlueSolutions is a new plug-in battery-powered hire cars scheme that has already been dubbed ‘Boris Cars’
It has already been dubbed ‘Boris Cars’ after London Mayor Boris Johnson.
The ambitious plans involve a overhaul of the capital’s charging points and the start of an electric car-sharing service by early next year.
Julien Varin, communications director for Bolloré’s green technology arm BlueSolutions, said he expected the scheme to be popular with young Londoners who struggle to afford a car.
‘Lots of people aged 18 to 25 are using the cars to go out for the evening. They might use them to go to a nightclub, dinner or the theatre,’ he said.
A right-hand-drive version of the Autolib cars painted in ‘double-decker bus red’ was revealed yesterday by Vincent Bolloré, the operator’s chairman and chief executive, as he announced plans for 6,000 charging points across London and 3,000 battery-powered cars by 2018.
A fleet of about 50 cars, each with a range of up to 150 miles, will be launched by the start of 2016 and available to rent for about £5 per half hour.