Electric Vehicles

Renault gives every resident of one town in France a free car

The Renault Zoe has gotten more range for the 2020 model year

Photo courtesy of Renault

Appy, France is located on the southern tip of France, just miles from the border with Spain. It's an isolated space in the Occitaine region - a remote and mountainous place with gorgeous scenery but little reason to be a permanent residence for those building a career.

It's so sparsely populated that there were no marriages in the town for a period of 64 years - 1946 to 2010. The population hovers somewhere in the mid 20s. In 2016 there were 26 residents, down from a high of 32 in 2013.

Appy, France Appy is a one-road-in, one-road-out town.Photo courtesy of Renault

Though there aren't many residents, each one of them has been given a new Renault Zoe to use for three years. The Zoe is an all-electric model that offers 245 miles of range (WLTP) from its 52-kilowatt-hour battery. It can be charged to 90 miles of range in just 30 minutes with a DC charger. It comes standard with a home charger.

The five-door supermini car is already popular in Europe - over 100,000 are on the streets. The publicity stunt by Renault is a move to show that the push toward an electrified future is not just for those living in urban areas. To date, over 300,000 electric Renaults have been sold.

To accommodate the shift to all electric vehicles, a public charger will be installed in the town. Despite its low population and dense, yet small, city center, Appy is surrounded by steep mountains and winding roads - an atypical challenge for the car.

As part of the deal, town residents will be offering feedback to Renault about the models during their tenure.

The Renault Zoe has had its battery power updated for the 2020 model year. It features recycled materials in the cabin. It is part of a larger electrified lineup that includes the Clio, Twingo, Captur, and Mégane.

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New electric pickup truck

Ford F-150 Lightning will charge other EVs

The F-150 Lightning and F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid offer charging abilities for other EVs.

Ford

This year is the year of the electric truck, as there have been several new models announced and two released. The Ford F-150 Lightning won’t be here until next year, but today, Ford outlined the truck’s impressive electric power capabilities. Even the F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid truck has plenty to like and offers many of the same benefits.

Ford Electric Trucks Both trucks feature an onboard generator.Ford

The F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid and F-150 Lightning offer charging capabilities that can help another EV owner out in a pinch. Ford says the vehicles can add up to 20 miles of range per hour to the Mustang Mach-E with RWD and up to 13 miles of charging hour for the F-150 Lightning. The trucks deliver Level 2 charging speeds, and the PowerBoost Hybrid’s available 7.2-kilowatt Pro Power Onboard generator can power tools and other equipment, while the F-150 Lightning will debut with an available 9.6 kilowatt generator.

The F-150 PowerBoost Hybrid saw action as a generator during last year’s major winter storms in Texas and elsewhere. As owners’ homes lost power, their trucks were able to step in and handle power duties for small appliances and even home heating systems. The move to include the capability in the upcoming F-150 Lightning is a smart one, as many automakers include some degree of power output for their EVs, but a truck’s life is filled with times when a power source is a big bonus.

Ford Electric Trucks Level 2 charging speeds are possible.Ford

These are neat features, to be sure, but they’re not just a novelty. Ford notes that the F-150 Lightning can power an average home for up to thre days in the event of a major power outlet. Without the need to carry a large engine under its hood, the truck also features a massive front trunk, or frunk, that offers multiple power outlets on top of a lockable 14 cubic-foot storage space.

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Electric vehicle concepts

Nissan shows off new concepts and plans for future EVs

Nissan showed off a group of funky concept vehicles at the announcement.

Nissan

Nissan is approaching the release of Ariya, its brand-new EV, but there are plans for much more in the automaker’s near future. Today, the Japanese company announced Nissan Ambition 2030, its plan to develop electrified vehicles and become a more sustainable company. Beyond new vehicles, the roadmap includes investments in battery recycling and charging infrastructure, new battery tech, and more widespread safety technologies.

Nissan Ambition 2030 The automaker plans for 50 percent electrification by 2030.Nissan

Nissan’s plans include 23 new electrified models by 2030. The target covers 15 new EVs and a target of 50 percent electrification. The automaker says it plans to launch a proprietary solid-state battery by 2028, and notes that it will develop a pilot production facility in Yokohama, Japan by 2024. Solid state technologies are not yet commercially viable but will offer faster charging times and better energy densities than lithium ion battery packs.

Nissan Surf-Out Concept Surf-Out is a concept truck with super funky styling.Nissan

While the focus was on the news of its electrification plans, Nissan’s concept vehicles stole the show. The Surf-Out concept truck features a long, low cargo surface and unique all-terrain tires. Typical of concept cars, the Surf-Out’s styling and design are over-the-top. The cabin is surrounded on three sides by glass and open to the bed in the rear. Instead of a grille, there’s a glass panel with an illuminated Nissan logo. It's unlikely Surf-Out or the other concepts shown will make it to production unchanged, but they show that the automaker is looking to explore bold designs with its electrified vehicles.

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