Electric vehicles

VW Brings 2 electric vehicles to the Amelia Island Concours - one old, one new

Two Volkswagen electric vehicles hang out side-by-side in Florida.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

With the pandemic becoming less of an issue as people get vaccinated and head out into the world, beloved automotive events are starting to come back online. One, the Amelia Island Concours D'Elegance, is taking place right now, and features some of the rarest, coolest, and most expensive vehicles in the country.

This year's event will be preceded by a parade of electric vehicles called Taking Charge, which will feature several electrified models. Volkswagen brought two EVs to the event this year, but there's a surprising twist with one of them. The ID.4 electric crossover will take part in the parade, and the other is a rare electrified bus form over 40 years ago.

1978 VW ElektrotransporterEarly EVs had almost no power or range.Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen's brand-new ID.4 electric crossover will participate in the parade. By now, most of you have probably heard about the vehicle, VW's first fully electric crossover. It recently took home 2021 World Car of the Year honors, and is on sale now. The ID.4 is cool, but it's the vintage EV that really caught our eye. The 1978 Elekrotransporter is based on a Volkswagen Type 2, and was originally used by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). VW says that it produced a handful of electrified bus and Golf models in the 1960s and 70s to test the feasibility of EV powertrains and charging. The Electric Power Research Institute snapped up ten buses to test with the TVA at the time.

1978 VW ElektrotransporterThe EV was powered by 24 lead-acid batteries.Volkswagen

The electrified bus carries 24 lead-acid batteries held in a 1,225-pound pack under its floor. The electric motor is bolted directly to the existing gearbox, which is permanently locked in second gear and sends power to the rear wheels. The early electric powertrain only generated 23 horsepower, which gave the bus a top speed of just 48 mph. It did feature an early version of regenerative braking, a feature that is onboard nearly every EV made today.

1978 VW ElektrotransporterThe bus used a combo of electric and existing drivetrain components.Volkswagen

It's easy to draw a line from the old Elektrotransporter to today's VW electric vehicles. The ID.BUZZ concept is the old EV's direct descendent, and will enter production in the EU in 2022. Unlike its grandfather, the ID.BUZZ will produce a combined system output of 225 kW, which equates to around 300 horsepower.

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Updated EV

2023 Nissan Leaf pricing announced

The Leaf got a mild facelift for 2023.

Nissan

Nissan is nearing the release of the Ariya, its first new EV in several years. Even so, the brand hasn't forgotten about its first mass-market EV, the Leaf. It was an early entrant in the space, and has been an efficient, affordable, commuter car for over a decade. The car got a mild facelift for 2023, with updated wheels and exterior styling accents. Today, Nissan announced pricing for the Leaf, which starts at just under $29,000.

2023 Nissan LeafThe Leaf feels lively, despite middling power numbers.Nissan

The base Leaf comes with a 40-kWh battery capable of delivering a 149-mile range. Its 110-kW electric motor produces 147 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. The Leaf SV Plus features a 60-kWh battery for a range of 212 miles. It comes with a 160-kW motor that makes 214 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. Nissan backs all Leaf models with an eight-year/100,000-mile battery warranty.

ProPilot Assist comes standard for the Leaf SV Plus, and brings a full suite of advanced driver aids that include adaptive cruise control, driver alertness features, and a surround-view monitor. All Leaf models get Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane departure warnings, blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alerts, automatic high beams, and rear automatic braking.

2023 Nissan LeafThe Leaf SV Plus offers up to 212 miles of range.Nissan

The new Leaf starts at $28,895, which includes a $1,095 destination charge. The Leaf SV Plus starts at $36,895. The 2023 Nissan Leaf is on sale now, and may be eligible for federal tax credits of up to $7,500. Depending on where you live, you may also be able to receive a state tax credit or other incentives.

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The EQB lands this summer with a not-so-bad starting price.

Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz is pressing ahead with its electrification goals. Following the release of the EQS flagship electric sedan last year, the automaker is readying the EQB, an electric SUV with up to seven seats. Today, Mercedes announced pricing for the vehicle, and it's surprisingly reasonable. Two trim levels will be offered for the EQB in the United States: Exclusive and Pinnacle, and wecould see an AMG variant at some point down the road.

The EQB comes in two variants, including the EQB 300 and EQB 350, both of which come with all-wheel drive. The EQB 300 offers 225 horsepower and the 350 delivers 288 ponies. Those aren't super-serious numbers and they don't have to be. The EQB competes with vehicles like the Volkswagen ID.4, so mind-blowing performance isn't exactly the goal. Mercedes hasn't given range estimates yet, but they should fall in line with the competition.

2023 Mercedes-Benz EQBThe EQB will come in two powertrain variants, each with two trims.Mercedes-Benz

The SUV comes standard with a 10.25-inch configurable digital gauge cluster and a 10.25-inch touchscreen. Mercedes includes a good list of standard safety features, including lane keep assist, blind spot monitoring, and active brake assist. Additionally, the EQB's navigation system routes the vehicle for the best efficiency and can help locate charging stations.

The 2023 Mercedes-Benz EQB 300 starts at $56,800, including a $1,050 destination charge. A range-topping Pinnacle trim is available for $59,350. The EQB 350 starts at $60,350. Mercedes says the SUV will go on sale in summer 2022.

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