Entering the electric era

The BMW i3
The BMW i3

There’s no doubt that we live in an age of motoring evolution, watching history unfold before our eyes. Hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) were once the butt of many motoring columnists’ jokes, discarded as a waste of time or, at their worst, as something which threatened the joy of true motoring. In a way it’s an ironic viewpoint, considering that electric cars have been around almost as long as their counterparts which rely on miniature explosions for propulsion. But they’re steadily gaining a foothold in the modern era, thanks in part to government schemes, the interest of early adopters and increasingly efficient technology.

Decisions, Decisions

Increasing choice is also attracting more buyers across the globe, though uptake in Ireland remains slow, with somewhere in the region of 2,000 EVs sold here over the past few years. The Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe are both affordable, fully electric cars that are comfortable, easy to drive and don’t look like spaceships among their fossil fuel brethren (although the Mitsubishi i-Miev resembles a bug that has crashed into your windscreen at speed). BMW offers two luxury alternatives in the i3 and i8, while Mitsubishi’s plug-in hybrid Outlander melds off-road capabilities with more efficient motoring. At the top of the pile sits the Tesla Model S, a pioneer in the electric vehicle market, though it’s not on sale in Ireland just yet.

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Here Comes the Sun

C-MAXSolarEnergi_03_HRWe here at Car Craic are avid fans of motoring technology, particularly those inventions which are undoubtedly cool (such as the force field system destined to render the windscreen wiper a thing of the past).

Ford’s new concept car – the C-Max Solar Energi – fits a little awkwardly into this genre, despite being an electric car. It is, however, an electric car with a bit of a twist. Ford has announced to the world its intent to develop an electric car which uses solar panels to harness the power of the almighty sun, which does pique the interest a little. Working with Georgia Institute of Technology and a firm from California called SunPower they’ve used a special lens, like a magnifying glass, which directs the sun’s rays onto the panels. This clever little device can also track the movements of the sun at all times, much like the NSA and your browsing history, so that the car can be charged at any time of day there is sunlight, instead of plugging it into a socket.

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