It’s become routine for major automakers to declare their annual focus in the early months of each year, often at expos or events like the Consumer Electronics Show, which took place from January 6th through 9th. There, companies like General Motors and Volkswagen unveiled various green-thinking transportation ideas, providing consumers with an in-depth peek at what could represent green transportation in the coming months and years ahead. What was revealed showed a focus on electric vehicles and technology, with the younger demographic in mind.
With US auto sales hitting a record 17.47 million in 2015 — an increase of 5.7 percent from 2014 — it's apparent that the automobile industry is here to stay, likely being propelled in part by low gas prices.
Still, automobile makers continue to focus on the younger demographic (ages 18-29), a group that is more concerned about global warming than older adults are, according to a Gallup poll. It’s this environmental attentiveness in addition to tech savviness that makes this younger niche a natural fit for the electric car movement, which is expected to be in full stride by the time many in this demographic can afford a car.
Smartphone-linked car systems are rapidly becoming the norm, showing the type of integration concept automobile makers have their focus on. In addition, the prospect of offering affordable electric cars to a generation seems poised to be the most environmentally-aware manufacturing movement to date.
One talked-about reveal at the Consumer Electronics Show was the Chevrolet Bolt, which is promoted as being the first plug-in electric car that can go long distances and is relatively affordable (priced around $30,000 after government rebates). That’s a price affordable enough to still leave wallet space for essential tools like vehicle adhesive and sealer.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra showed off the car during the show, touting a battery range of around 200 miles and technologically-inclined features like a mapping system that includes routes to electric charging stations. As expected, smartphone compatibility via Apple CarPlay and Android Audio is there as well. "The Bolt delivers on our promise of low price, high range and an unparalleled level of connectivity," Barra noted. Many in the industry view the Bolt as General Motors' response to Tesla Motors' Model 3 vehicle, expected to begin production in 2017.
Another big reveal at the show came via Volkswagen, where brand chief — Herbert Diess — began by addressing the audience with an apology for the diesel emissions scandal (the Justice Department is currently suing them for billions). Once he finished the apology, he unveiled the company's BUDD-e electric van, which has a nostalgic reminiscence of microbuses of the '60s. It's certainly modern though, with at least a 233-mile range, smartphone integration and a voice control system.
For those wondering how long it will take to charge the Budd-e, VW says that a special charging system can charge the van's 101-kWh battery pack to 80 percent in just 30 minutes. With a top speed of 93mph and 124.1-inch wheelbase, the BUDD-e electric van certainly won’t be lacking in either aesthetics or power.
In addition to driverless vehicle showcases from several other automobile makers, the offerings from both General Motors and Volkswagen impressed green transportation enthusiasts — showing a commitment to relatively affordable electric vehicles that can help usher the niche into the mainstream.
Photo by Inhabitat.
James White is green builder and home improvement blogger who focuses on sustainable living via his family blog Homey Improvements. He also enjoys sharing his recent discoveries with DIY projects, home tips and organic gardening. James is "Alaska Grown" but now resides in Pennsylvania. Connect with him on Twitter at @DIYfolks. Read all of James' MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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