Mercedes revealed its self-driving car this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (with video). From the L0s Angeles Times we learn the F 015 Luxury in Motion concept car envisions how luxury self-driving cars might look and feel some 15 years in the future. Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes-Benz cars, said “The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport, and will ultimately become a mobile living space.” The company sees this version of its dream car as  a rechargeable hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

At over 17ft long, the Mercedes is roughly the length of a Cadillac Escalade SUV, but sits low as a family sedan.

Inside, four people sit facing one another in lounge-style chairs that swivel 30 degree when the suicide-style doors open. The two front chairs also swivel to face the windshield in the event that manual driving is necessary.

The car’s autonomous systems are guided by stereo cameras, radar, and ultrasonic sensors. LEDs in the headlights and grille light up blue if the car is being driven autonomously, white if a human is driving.

…Both experts and automakers say it isn’t a question of if these vehicles hit the road, it’s when. 

Cycle World evaluates the electric motorcycle. Part 1 is here, Part 2 is here, Part 3 is here, Part 4 is here, and Part 5 is here. See also the same source for Electric Motorcycle Reality Check.

Gas2 introduces us to 15 new EVs for 2015.

Forbes reviews the past year for the success of the electric car globally. The conclusion: it was not a good year for EV sales when considered as a percentage of total light vehicle sales in regions like the US, China and Western Europe.

So far, the negatives of electric vehicles appear to outweigh the positives in the minds of individual consumers. Despite the media hype, electric cars have not yet grabbed a meaningful share in any of the three major auto markets — North America, Western Europe or China — which collectively account for 57 percent of the total global auto market. Moreover, declining oil prices and the increase in energy supply caused by the development of shale gas reserves threaten to halt any momentum that may have been achieved in recent years when oil was trading above $100 per barrel. At the current price of $66 per barrel, with no bottom yet in sight, the economics of electric vehicles to the consumer have become significantly less attractive in just the past few months.

 The Globe and Mail tells the story of why one family in a cold climate pulled the plug on owning an  electric vehicle.

What I failed to realize, however, was that driving an electric vehicle was not like normal driving: It required thinking ahead about charging options, the distances we’d be travelling, and the cold, which can greatly reduce the battery’s range…Those cold hands from Day 1 have turned into cold feet now that we’ve seen how battery range depletes in winter weather. Unfortunately, the EVs currently available in our price range simply don’t have the battery range we need for daily driving. We’re not giving up our goal of greener driving, but we’re ready to explore other options.

Clean Technica explains why plug-in hybrid electric cars (PHEVs) are included in the definition of electric cars. (PHEVs have a gasoline tank and engine that can extend the range if the driver needs a bit of help driving further.)

Green Car Reports informs us China is extending its electric vehicle financial incentives. China’s current incentives scheme expires in 2015, but a new program will replace it and continue to 2020. Under new draft rules, owners of “new-energy vehicles”–including electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen fuel-cell cars–will be able to receive subsidies of up to 55,000 yuan ($8,834 US). The new rules will only provide subsidies for domestic brands. See also Clean Technica, China Puts Billions Into Electric Cars & EV Charging Stations.

According to The Green Car, Mercedes is introducing a new app called ‘Charge&Pay for Mercedes-Benz’ which will allow drivers of electric Mercedes and smart cars to find and pay for charging amenities regardless of which charging station operator runs the charging facility. It is available to download free of charge for iOS and Android operating systems starting in Germany, and then expanded to other markets.  The new app will work with Paypal to make the whole process of paying for charging, quick and simple for Benz drivers. Owners of Mercedes EVs can avoid the costly and time-consuming exercise of signing up for multiple charging networks, using their phone to pay only for the charging they require, anytime, anywhere.

plugincars discusses Quick Charging of Electric Cars.

Energy & Environment tells us about the European electric superhighway. A public and private consortium of companies are building the European Long-distance Electric Clean Transport Road Infrastructure Corridor, or ELECTRIC. By the end of this year it will create an open-access, fast-charging EV corridor along the major motorways connecting Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands via a total of 155 charging points. It is hoped the corridor will help accelerate electric vehicle sales in the European Union Member States involved. The firs charging stations are already in place and ready to use in Denmark and the Netherlands.

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