About the Author

Jameson Dow

Jameson has been driving electric vehicles since 2009, and has been writing about them and about clean energy for electrek.co since 2016.

You can contact him at jamie@electrek.co

Jameson Dow's Favorite Gear

March 15

Volvo’s recently unveiled Polestar 1 plug-in hybrid just got one step closer to reality, as they started taking pre-orders today and posted an online configurator allowing interested customers to check out the various color and wheel options available on the car.

We don’t yet know much about the buying process, as Volvo recently said cars from the Polestar brand would primarily be available as a “subscription service” (similar to a lease).  When pressed, Volvo stated that the Polestar 1 would target a price of “130-150,000 Euros” ($160k-$185k).

The deposit is $2,500/€2,500/20,000RMB and is fully refundable.  Pre-orders are available in 18 countries: China, United States, Sweden, Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Portugal, Poland, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Canada.

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March 14

Trump’s embattled EPA head Scott Pruitt has come down on the side of polluters on just about every issue that faces the US, so it is with little surprise that in a recent interview he signaled that he may try to fight back against California’s fuel economy requirements.

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Home Solar Power

March 12

In a live podcast recorded on stage at SXSW, California’s former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger told Politico that he is in talks with several private law firms to sue the oil industry for what he calls “first degree murder.”

Schwarzenegger alleges that because the oil industry has known since 1959 about the climate and health damage their products cause, they should be held liable for that damage. “I don’t think there’s any difference,” says Schwarzenegger, “If you walk into a room and you know you’re going to kill someone, it’s first degree murder; I think it’s the same thing with the oil companies.”

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March 6

Here’s something you don’t see every day: an electric autonomous rideshare concept car from a major automaker.  Oh wait, nevermind, it’s the Geneva Auto Show.  That’s exactly what you see every day.

But this one, Renault’s newest effort, doesn’t seem like it’s just more-of-the-same.  While it’s obviously a concept car, with extra emphasis on “concept,” it truly embraces that concept nature and steps away from the realm of “normal” and into a totally different driving future which actually looks fairly palatable, and even realistic.

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The concepts keep coming out of the Geneva Auto Show this week, with Porsche unveiling a new one this morning – a fully electric sport crossover SUV adaptation of their not-yet-released Mission E.

The headline specs?  Porsche claims that the car will have 600 horsepower, do 0-60 in under 3.5 seconds, go more than 500km/310 miles on a charge, and charge at a rate of 400km/250 miles in 15 minutes.  Like many European announcements, though, these range numbers are based on the NEDC rating system, which is significantly more lenient than EPA numbers – the range would probably be something closer to 240-260 by EPA testing.

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February 28

Hot on the heels of a German court’s decision to allow cities to enforce diesel bans, Italy is also getting into the game.  Rome mayor Virginia Raggi annnounced “Rome has decided to ban the use of diesel cars from its historical center from 2024” at the Women4Climate conference in Mexico City this week.

The primary reasons for the ban are to cut down on pollutants which cause damage to Rome’s important historical landmarks and, of course, to do what Rome can to help stop climate change.

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February 26

Bernie Ecclestone is no stranger to controversial statements.  The 87-year-old former Formula One executive who ran the series for decades can’t go more than a few weeks without voicing an idea about the trajectory of the series which leaves people scratching their heads.  Once, he floated an idea to install sprinklers on tracks to simulate rain-affected races.  More recently, he’s had several complaints about engine noise – he thinks they need to be louder.

But Ecclestone’s most recent statement is the first we’ve found worthy of coverage on Electrek: he now thinks that F1 should go electric, by 2021.

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February 13

BMW has just released pricing for the new BMW i8 Roadster, which goes into production next month, according to BMWBLOG.  The starting price will be $163,300, putting it in position as the most expensive BMW available in the US.

The BMW i8 coupe has also been updated, and will set you back $4,100 more than last year’s model, with a base price of $147,500.  BMW is taking orders now at your local dealership and cars should be hitting dealerships in April or May.

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February 9

Astronomers spot Starman and his Tesla Roadster floating through space

After this week’s planned Falcon Heavy test launch with a Tesla Roadster as ballast, the world was treated to some incredible images of the car, with driver, orbiting the Earth.  Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk had the good sense to attach multiple cameras to the car so everyone could see what was happening up there, and the images did not disappoint.

Now, a couple days later, astronomers at an observatory on the ground have given us a different view of Starman and his Tesla Roadster – a tiny dot speeding along amongst the stars on its journey towards the asteroid belt.

Congratulations to anyone who bought an electric car last year, as today, Congress took action to retroactively extend several tax credits, and among them were credits for EV charging infrastructure, fuel cell vehicles and electric motorcycles.

A lot of people know about the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicle purchases, but there are a number of other incentives available to EV buyers which help to offset initial costs.  These include today’s newly-extended 30% rebate (up to $1,000) on costs associated with the installation of an EV charging station, a 10% credit (up to $2,500) on 2- or 3-wheeled electric vehicles such as electric motorcycles, and a $4,000 credit for the purchase of a new fuel cell vehicle.

These credits had previously expired at the end of 2016, and today were extended retroactively through the end of 2017.  Anyone who purchased an electric motorcycle, a fuel cell vehicle, or spent money on a charging installation in 2017 can qualify for these credits on their 2017 tax return.

**CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that the credit was available for 2018, as the original Senate bill stated.  The bill as passed only extends the credit through the end of 2017, though.  Apparently we will have to wait to see if they ever decide to extend the credit for 2018, compounding the problem mentioned below about retroactive incentives.

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February 7

One fear of current Tesla owners, who have had to deal with long waits for certain service visits in the past, was that a huge influx of Model 3s would swamp service centers, causing even longer waits for basic service appointments.  These are reasonable concerns, since Tesla has only ever delivered on the order of 100,000 cars a year so far, and are targeting 500,000 cars a year for the Model 3 once production gets up to snuff.

In anticipation of this, Tesla has been working to add significant service capacity this year.  Today in Tesla’s Q4 earnings report, they gave us an update on their progress by noting that they have doubled service capacity over the course of the last year both through opening new locations and increasing productivity by 50% in existing locations.  Most interestingly, Tesla noted that their Mobile Service trucks are already responsible for 30% of service jobs in North America.

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February 1

Tesla’s referral program got a midnight update today, just after the scheduled end of the previous round, which was due to end yesterday but has been extended three months.  Buyers who use an owner’s Tesla referral code on a new Model S or X will receive unlimited supercharging, and owners who refer a new buyer will get various awards based on the number of referrals they get, capping out at 5.  The program now runs through April 30th.

Tesla Solar is still included in the program as well.  New buyers get an additional 5-year warranty on a Tesla Solar installation and referrers receive $400 cash or $750 in Tesla credit for the first four referrals, and a Founders Series Powerwall 2 for the fifth Solar referral.

The one new prize in this phase of the program is a chance to drive a Tesla Semi.  This one has a lower barrier to entry – anyone who signs up for the Tesla newsletter through an owner’s code enters that owner and themselves into a weekly raffle giving both a chance to drive a Tesla Semi in a “race” around Tesla’s test track.   There will even be additional prizes for the driver with the best track time.

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January 8

On December 29th, 2017, I took delivery of one of the first non-employee Tesla Model 3s.  This was a day which many of us early EV drivers have been awaiting for a long time – the realization of Tesla’s “secret master plan” announced more than ten years ago.

A lot has happened between then and now, and the industry has changed significantly.  At the time, basically the only electric cars on the road in the United States were DIY projects, golf-cart-like “neighborhood electric vehicles,” and the few first-generation RAV4 EVs which had made their way into private hands. GM had recently crushed its stockpile of lease -only EV1s.

The “plan” was that Tesla would be an example for the rest of the industry, that they would release a great car and other manufacturers would follow upon seeing that example. The plan would mean more competition as other manufacturers would try to make better and better EVs until they reached parity and eventually surpassed gasoline.

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January 6

SONDORS, the company behind the impressively-priced $500 electric bike which had one of the most successful kickstarters ever, is now taking pre-orders for their three-wheeled, crowdsourced “Model SONDORS” electric car.  The pre-order reservations, which cost just $100, are available on their website and will secure your place in line to get one of the early cars.  The fee is fully refundable, minus a $3.30 transaction fee, and if you choose to buy the car when it is eventually available, your $100 will be applied to the price of the car upon making your order.

The car is intended to start at just $10,000 and have options for 75, 150, and 200 mile range battery packs.  It will have three seats, quick electric performance with a 0-60 of 5-8 seconds (presumably depending on battery pack), and be sold online with direct customer delivery.  Sondors is targeting 2019 to start delivering vehicles, assuming fundraising goals are met on time.

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January 4

Last week we asked you for questions about our Model 3, and after a few days of testing I’m here to provide answers to as many of them as I can.

I covered a few things about the car in my first impressions post, and will go over more in a larger review post later, but I want to hit a list of many of the questions our readers asked us.  I’ll mostly stick to short answers with bullet points, because there were so many hundreds of comments on our post that it will be impossible to get all of them in one go.

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Model 3s are finally getting delivered to non-employees – we got ours last week – which means an end to the NDAs and no-reselling agreements Tesla made employees agree to in order to get priority delivery of the car.

As a result, now that owners have their cars and can do what they want with them, some of them are trying to make a little side cash on Turo, a website where owners can rent their cars out for a daily fee.

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January 1

Tesla has finally started shipping Model 3 in significant numbers, and as a Roadster owner, an early reservation holder and a California resident, I’ve been lucky enough to get one of the first batches of cars sent to non-employees, and have been spending the last two days driving it, giving test rides, and trying to figure out everything I can about the car over the course of this busy holiday weekend.

Without getting too into the weeds (yet), I want to share some of my early impressions.  I’ll post more details in the coming days and weeks of ownership.

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December 14, 2017

We “found a dilapidated train, restored it, and are powering it with a 4.6 billion year old power source” is how Jeremy Holmes, development director of the Byron Bay Railroad Company succinctly summarized the mission of the world’s first solar-powered train project.  The train, designed to be powered fully by solar panels and electric motors, goes into service this weekend, with a short 3km route near a resort in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia.

The railroad company has been set up as a nonprofit, and has partnered with several local companies including ELMOFO, a high-performance EV builder who made this awesome electric Radical SR8.

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December 13, 2017

Roborace, the autonomous race series hoping to debut soon as a support race for Formula E, took the opportunity at Formula E’s season opener to run their DevBots around the Hong Kong ePrix track to see how they would fare.  They’ve done this before with varying degrees of success, but this time they added a new twist – they put Nicki Shields, Formula E’s pit lane reporter, into the car’s vestigial driver’s seat to see if she could do a faster lap than the computer.

Do we have to fear our robot overlords yet, or do we still have a few more software updates left between us and armageddon?

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December 8, 2017

In advance of the January launch of the New 2018 Nissan LEAF, which just started US production this week at Nissan’s plant in Tennessee, Nissan invited us out to Napa Valley to get some seat time with the new car.

Nissan says that this car is intended to fill the “white space” between the previous generation of entry-level, compliance EVs, typically with ~100 miles of range, and newer “long-range” offerings from Tesla and Chevrolet.  In our time with the car, we found that it fills this space admirably and seems to offer great value at the right price when compared to competing vehicles.

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