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Transportation

BMW Created the Most Efficient Electric Car In the US 258

Posted by timothy
from the turning-the-shaft dept.
cartechboy (2660665) writes "You think of efficient electric car and you probably think of the Tesla Model S, right? Well, you'd be wrong as the Model S is only rated at 89 MPGe. As of today, BMW now has the most efficient electric car sold in the U.S., the 2014 i3. The ratings were just posted to the Internet via a window sticker, and at 124 MPGe combined (138 MPGe city, 111 MPGe highway), the i3 is currently king of the efficiency race. The nearest competitor? The 2013 Scion iQ-EV with a 38 mile range and 121 MPGe rating, but it's not even available to the general public. Other competitors are mostly compliance cars such as the Chevrolet Spark EV and Fiat 500e. So where does that leave us? Well, BMW just won the race, for now. But how long until a competitor takes away that top spot?"
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BMW Created the Most Efficient Electric Car In the US

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  • by avandesande (143899) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:40PM (#46894141) Journal

    for mentioning the range of the scion and none of the other vehicles

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      MPGe is an estimate based on a usage protocol developed by the Gov't. It is good for comparison purposes but it does not really work well in the real world. For example the Tesla S when purchased includes lifetime free charging on Tesla's own superchargers which are using solar power for the most part. That sort of support is beyond the pale of the typical auto manufacturer. But some Tesla's don't use the superchargers so their MPGe may be closer to what the EPA says. As the saying goes, YMMV!

      When you

      • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:20PM (#46894585)
        That's why you just buy the one that looks the coolest and use the numbers to rationalize your choice.
      • by mlts (1038732) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:24PM (#46894631)

        MPGe is like MPG... It is cool for advertising, but in the real world... doesn't mean that much. What really counts is both gpm (or l/km) or even more generally, cost per unit distance. For example, new diesel vehicles are touted as great for mileage. However, if one factors in the repair costs, and the need to use DEF as a second fuel, the gap can close between a TDI vehicle versus a hybrid or even a plain old gasser.

        This can vary for a person. For example, one cow-orker I work with lives fairly close. So, the relatively small range of a Leaf is good enough, since he never really taxes it. However, if the EV was an only vehicle, it might be that the greater CPM of a gasser might be a better fit.

        • So buying a product based on a single statistic where the bigger number wins isn't right for every single person on the planet?

          Wow!

        • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday May 01, 2014 @09:31PM (#46896303)

          For example, new diesel vehicles are touted as great for mileage. However, if one factors in the repair costs, and the need to use DEF as a second fuel, the gap can close between a TDI vehicle versus a hybrid or even a plain old gasser.

          Quit spreading lies and FUD. First of all, most diesels, including many new "clean diesels" (e.g. the VW Golf/Jetta/Beetle) do not use diesel exhaust fluid (DEF)*. Second, there's nothing inherent to diesels that make them have higher repair costs than "plain old gassers" other than the turbo (and lots of new gassers these days -- like the Ford Ecoboost -- have turbos too).

          The real reason why diesels have an undeserved reputation for being expensive to repair is that most of them in the US have been made by VW or Mercedes, but they're expensive to repair because they're German, not because they're diesel!

          (*Even some of the "bluetec" engines do not, in fact, use DEF even though they're named after it.)

          • Repair cost for VW at least varies great per country. Here in the Netherlands a VW Golf has one of the lowest maintenance costs. Many young kids buy a Golf and relatively many of them total it before the tires have worn. This makes the second hand spare parts quite affordable.
            'Round here US cars are expensive to drive. They use far to much fuel (stuff is expensive here: E1.819 per liter (or $9.52/gallon) for simple 95 octane fuel) and the spare parts are expensive.

          • In fact, Diesels require less maintenance than comparable Otto cycle engines simply because they don't have sparkplugs. Everything else is similar between either type of engine.

            • No, but they do have turbochargers, very high pressure (3000 bar) injectors, finicky flywheels and exhaust filters that can get clogged.

              That's quite a lot extra that can go wrong.

      • by ericloewe (2129490) on Friday May 02, 2014 @04:03AM (#46897567)

        As much as I am a fan of Tesla, there is no way in hell that the superchargers get most of their power from their solar panels (unless they only charge a car per day).

  • Range is the issue (Score:5, Informative)

    by stewsters (1406737) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:42PM (#46894151)
    Most of the power is going to hauling a battery around.

    Tesla s has 265 mile range
    i3 has 81 mile range
    Scion iQ-EV has 38 mile range

    I would be curious to see how the numbers hold up if they all were designed for the same range.
    • But the i3 has twice the range as the Scion and is more efficient.

      • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:38PM (#46895237)
        The Scion shouldn't even be mentioned, because it's not a real product [thecarconnection.com]:

        Even dedicated Scion iQ fans are unlikely to see the little electric iQ version; that's because it will only be offered to fleets that can use a very short-distance electric car. Its EPA-rated range of just 38 miles isn't likely to appeal to many buyers, so Toyota's zero-emission "compliance car" will instead be the Toyota RAV4 EV with a range of 103 miles from its Tesla-engineered electric powertrain.

    • by macpacheco (1764378) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:02PM (#46894877)

      You can start by comparing the i3 with a more equivalent Tesla:
      85 kWh = 265 mile range (3.11 miles / kWh)
      60 kWh = 208 mile range (3.47 miles / kWh)
      40 kWh = 160 mile range (4 miles / kWh) should be around 114 mpge
      the 40 kWh Tesla was never produced, too little demand, people want a real electric car, not an expensive toy.

      • by mattack2 (1165421) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @08:01PM (#46895855)

        My smart electric is an expensive toy? About $26500 out the door, but I got $10K back in federal tax rebate (not deduction) and state rebate (not actually a tax rebate, a separate project that simply sent me a check).

        Even without those, it's great not having to go to gas stations, or do oil changes, etc. Plus, I happen to get free charging at work, but I'd buy it even without that.

        • Ok, so I'm biased. I love Tesla, since they are kicking Mercedes, BMW, Audi, ... in the butt big time. It's market share is way higher than LEAF vs similar sized cars.
          Tesla offered the 40kWh model S, there were so little orders they gave customers a software limited 60 kWh pack and withdrawn 40kWh model from the lineup.
          I'm waiting for a LEAF to the manufactured in Brazil.
          Right now a LEAF costs R$ 200k, a Prius costs R$ 120k, a Corolla costs R$ 80k, cause both the LEAF and Prius are imported, with about 50%

          • The problem is that going all electric for many places isn't going to help anything... Many places burn fossil fuels for electricity. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for more electric cars.. just don't think it's necessarily going to improve the environment.. let alone the cost to dispose of the batteries properly. Our electronics waste is poisoning China, and Japan is leaking nuclear waste into the larger environment. There are plenty of issues to work towards improving.

            How do you figure that with increa
            • Depends on where you start from.
              We just don't know how much Tesla is already paying for Li-Ion cells.
              I'll assume that a US$ 100k Tesla Model S 85kWh has 25% margin, 25% Li-ion cell cost, 50% rest.
              That would mean the cells cost US$ 25k. That suggests US$ 300 / kWh for the cells alone.
              If that could half to US$ 150 / kWh, then a good size 40kWh (for a smaller/lighter car) would cost US$ 6000 worth of li-ion cells, perhaps US$ 12k for the whole drive train + complete battery pack. At those prices an EV could co

              • Yes.. I understand that... My meaning is that the li batteries are from scarce resources, and sold in a limited market... More demand means increased prices... Barring improved methods of production or increased competition.. Which for the base materials is unlikely... Prices are likely to go up.
                • by willy_me (212994)
                  Lithium is not that scarce and only make up a small part of the cost of a battery. You are correct about increased demand driving up prices, but once industry increases the supply the prices will be even lower then they were previously.
            • by dave420 (699308)
              Consolidating pollution in the power stations makes it far easier to implement pollution-mitigating upgrades, and batteries can be recycled rather easily. Japan's nuclear accident has nothing to do with this discussion.
    • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:17PM (#46895035)
      The Tesla is a much larger car all around, not just the battery.

      A better comparison to the BMW i3 might be the Fiat 500e [fiatusa.com] (sold only in California). It's even a bit smaller than the BMW, and gets "only" 122/108 MPGe vs the 138/111 for the BMW. So, I do find the BMW impressive. However the Fiat starts at $32K which almost $10K less than the BMW. Making a car light without other sacrifices does require more expensive materials, so I would expect more from the BMW than the Fiat, and evidently it delivers.

      • by bmcage (785177)

        However the Fiat starts at $32K which almost $10K less than the BMW. Making a car light without other sacrifices does require more expensive materials, so I would expect more from the BMW than the Fiat, and evidently it delivers.

        The Fiat boss also said they loose some 5000 on every car sold, which is the reason they are only sold in California as a 'compliance car'. BMW on the other hand sees this as a real product

    • Likewise, it matters how many adults can be comfortably seated. I suspect that I, as a pretty tall guy, could very comfortably sit in the back seat of a Model S, even with tall front-seat occupants with the seats back. (That said, the specs aren't that different, with the BMW having more headroom: http://www.teslamotors.com/mod... [teslamotors.com] vs. http://buyersguide.caranddrive... [caranddriver.com] ).

      As usual, though, apples and oranges!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Macman408 (1308925)

      Most of the power is going to hauling a battery around.

      That's a bit of an exaggeration/misinterpretation. Yes, the battery can be heavy; on a car with a reasonably long range like the Tesla, about a quarter of the weight (1,000-1,300 pounds) is the battery. On the other hand, some of that weight gain is offset by removing things that aren't needed - like the gas tank, fuel pump and hoses, gasoline itself (about 120 pounds for a full 20-gallon tank), as well as other components that aren't needed on an EV. As another example, a V8 engine weighs around 600 pounds

      • by non0score (890022)
        You do understand that the GP/TFA is comparing between electric vehicles, right? That Tesla has to haul around more battery than the BMW i3 electric, and is exactly why the Tesla has more range. I'm not sure what ANY of your reply has to do with the GP/topic. Why did you even mention gasoline?
        • This is Slashdot. Since when is it a requirement to *read* any of previous postings, much less comprehend them or post something that makes any sense whatsoever given the context? ;-)

          Oh well, at least I had the fun of figuring out the gasoline/battery ratio. I had previously calculated that my Prius's battery is basically the equivalent energy storage of two tablespoons of gasoline.

  • by blueturffan (867705) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:43PM (#46894161)

    This BMW is ugly as sin and only has half the range.

    No wireless. Less space than a nomad. Lame

    • At $43k, it's a bit cheaper than the Tesla @ $79k.

      I'd have to charge it at my office, but as a commuter car the BMW seems a lot better fit for my budget / needs than a Tesla.

      • well that's why you buy two bmi i3's tow the spare, and siphon its battery -- duh?

        OR you upgrade to the bmw i5 (or i7 if you're really loaded).

        You'd think on a site for nerds people would realize that the i3 is underpowered, and the performance / price sweet spot is really the i5. (i7 being for the enthusiast market)

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Wow! You aren't kidding. That's Volkswagen Thing ugly.
      • If it works better, it's beautiful.

        What's with people trotting out the "looks ugly" criticism? That means you can't think of anything else, anything just a little more substantive, to criticize?

        • What's with people trotting out the "looks ugly" criticism?

          Because if the goal is to get people driving electric cars, then aesthetics are important.

    • by tompaulco (629533) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:25PM (#46895139) Homepage Journal

      This BMW is ugly as sin and only has half the range.

      Electric cars have to be ugly. If they looked like regular cars, then how would everyone else know how you are sacrificing yourself for the environment?

  • by Scowler (667000) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:50PM (#46894261)
    We shouldn't really expect a full-size luxury car, with a huge range (ie heavy batteries) to hold this title in the first place.
    • by Type44Q (1233630)

      We shouldn't really expect a full-size luxury car, with a huge range (ie heavy batteries) to hold this title in the first place.

      Actually, that's incorrect. Sure, it requires more energy to accelerate a heavier mass up to speed but you get that back when you hit the brakes (regenerative braking). What you don't (This, by the way, is why the Model S can get away with weighing ~600lbs more than my extended-wheelbase 7-series BMW...)

      • by Type44Q (1233630)
        That should have read "what you don't get back are losses due to air (among other things) friction

        Damn keyboard...

      • by Scowler (667000)
        Regenerative braking is great, but it does not have 100% efficiency. (Do most implementations even get 50%?) So added weight still hurts overall mileage.
        • by Type44Q (1233630)

          Do most implementations even get 50%

          My guess is far greater than that, what with today's brushless technology... but that's just a guess. Nonetheless, it's great enough that that weight-adding batterypack is what's going to add range, losses-due-to mass notwithstanding.

  • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:53PM (#46894301) Homepage Journal

    As the subject says ...

    • I believe that is miles per gallon equivalent. The vehicle carries 0 gallons of gas, so that's the best comparison they have.

    • by istartedi (132515)

      Miles per Gallon equivalent is my guess, since there is no direct application of "gallons" when running as a pure EV.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by netsavior (627338)
      the EPA defines a gallon of gasoline as equivalent to 33.7 kWh.

      This is based not really on chemistry or scientific properties of either, but on the cost of gasoline at the pump vs the cost of electricity at your house. http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg... [fueleconomy.gov]

      Basically it is done this way to make it easy to do the math in your head "hey, this costs 1/3 as much to fuel than my current car"
      • by Noah Haders (3621429) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:11PM (#46894489)
        The exact opposite of true. It's just a measure of energy. 33.7 kWh is about 120mj, which is the same as a gallon if gas.
        • What's that in jigawatts?

        • by sribe (304414)

          It's just a measure of energy. 33.7 kWh is about 120mj, which is the same as a gallon if gas.

          Hmm, wow. I knew what it was in principle. I just didn't know that it was that low. 124MPGe, for a guy who can get off-peak power at barely over $0.05/kWh. Wow. Take into account the 10% -15% loss from the charge/discharge of the batteries, and that's roughly equivalent to getting 124MPG and a discount card for $2.00/gallon gasoline.

          Too bad I live in the middle of fucking nowhere, and need all-wheel-drive Oct through Apr, and need good ground clearance. Otherwise it would be tempting as the 2nd car in a 2-

    • by Andy_R (114137)

      Miles per gallon of electricity of course, tell you how far you'll get on a one gallon leyden jar. America is *really* committed to not going metric.

  • Won what race? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FF-Loucks (1671330) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:54PM (#46894309)
    The leaf is $6k less and 115 MPGe. 124 MPGe isn't going to save you $6k over the life of the car.
    • I love my Leaf. Many people's biggest complaint about the car is it's odd exterior looks. Those people will not be impressed by this goofy looking BMW.

      • by PRMan (959735)
        The Leaf is starting to look PRETTY good.
        • Re:Won what race? (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:03PM (#46894891) Homepage

          It's not just a great electric car, it's a great car. But I'm a function over form kind of guy. The bug eye headlights push air out of the way so that at highway speeds the side view mirrors sit in a bubble of low pressure, greatly decreasing air resistance and improving range. The squared off shape allow the interior to seat 4 adults comfortably while leaving a good amount of cargo space.

          You seriously don't know how obnoxious engine noise and gear changes are until you drive without them. It's like floating on a cloud.

          • by dknight (202308)

            unless you *love* engine noise and gear changes, that is

            but I am just into that. there are few sounds that I enjoy more than that of a big V8 or V12 engine

            That said, if you arent into that, I can totally see the appeal of the quiet of the leaf (though I cant get past the looks.. sorry, but that is one ugly ugly car)

            • It would probably be more energy efficient to have a speaker and a computational model to make the sound a petrol car would make given the actions the driver takes. You could have the sound of a Rolls-Royce Merlin engine in your car. Or a jet engine. Or a steam engine.
              That would also allow the obnoxious sound to be loudest inside the car instead of damaging my ears while you drive past my bike.
              It would also allow you to turn it off when you have company in your car and you want to chat while driving.

  • The Spark EV isn't a compliance car, it's available for sale, today, even in non-California emissions states (though they have only sold 369 as of end of April so I guess it misses one of their metrics on a technicality). That article is 2 years old.

  • Whatevs, yo (Score:4, Interesting)

    by garote (682822) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:09PM (#46894459) Homepage

    I've been getting five or six times this efficiency for years!

    "A person riding a bicycle at 15 miles per hour (24 km per hour) burns 0.049 calories per pound per minute. So a 175-pound (77-kg) person burns 515 calories in an hour, or about 34 calories per mile (about 21 calories per km). A gallon of gasoline (about 4 liters) contains about 31,000 calories. If a person could drink gasoline, then a person could ride about 912 miles on a gallon of gas (about 360 km per liter).
    ( Source: HowStuffWorks website )

    • And this is relevant to people who drive cars how? Don't get me wrong, I love bikes, they're just not a realistic option for everyone and all situations.
      • Re:Whatevs, yo (Score:5, Interesting)

        by unrtst (777550) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:47PM (#46894791)

        And this is relevant to people who drive cars how? Don't get me wrong, I love bikes, they're just not a realistic option for everyone and all situations.

        Seems pretty relevant since so many comments are about what MPGe means, and we're (mostly) all geeks.
        It's also relevant since the range of these things (38 miles for the Scion; 81 for the BMW) are less than my overweight ass can do on a bike in a day... especially on that low end, it's very relevant. If you can go no further than 38 miles without a recharge, then you're probably not trying to push that envelope and, in many cases, you'd be doing a round trip (go somewhere, do something, get home, probably shooting for less than 30 miles). That's well within the biking sweet spot.

        You can't carry as much luggage (though the scion really doesn't hold much either), and you can't easily have a passenger, and rain and other inclement situations suck a lot more, and it can be slightly more scary to ride one on the highway than the scion, but bikes have a much better MPG*, similar range, and significantly lower sticker price and TCO.

        I'm glad garote posted that... I've always been a bit curious about that figure. My hunch, when I was riding a LOT, was that I wasn't really saving any money because my calories cost way more than a gallon of gas, and my intake went up significantly. This approaches an answer to that question... not exactly the same question, but interesting.

        • I am an avid biker and although I cant counter your points completely I must argue against them.

          You can't carry as much luggage

          Velobobiles [flevobike.nl] have a surprising amount of cargo space. That is only the Orca, as it seems to have about the most of the production models I know but Quest [velomobiel.nl] has sufficient for my daily needs. If I need more I borrow a car (I would rent if borrowing wasn't possible).

          and you can't easily have a passenger,

          2 person velomobile prototype [blogspot.com] is under development.

          rain and other inclement situations suck a lot more

          While still true, I have a hood on my bike. This keeps rain out and makes the bike a bit more aerodyn

      • by garote (682822)

        Well, neither are cars. I can't fit one through a door for example. :D

        Aside from just being playful (sorry if you don't enjoy that sort of thing) , the point I was making was that there is a hell of a lot of room for improvement even still, and people might benefit from a wider perspective in that the answer _may_ not be to buy a shiny new car, but to buy a shiny new bicycle instead.

    • by Bryan Ischo (893) *

      How many Calories would you expend on a bicycle to peddle it fast enough to go 60 MPH?

      I found a chart that showed that a 180 lb person at 16 - 19 MPH cycling uses 981 Calories. Your efficiency figure is cut by almost half just going up to ~20 MPH. I suspect that a person pedalling at 60 MPH would actually be less energy efficient than "912 MPG", if it were even possible.

      • by garote (682822)

        I'm sure a cyclist's efficiency drops dramatically with 60mph of wind! You could mitigate that with a fairing and a fancy recumbent bicycle. (Cyclists have actually achieved that speed, with such equipment.) But they kept that up for a matter of minutes, not hours.

        That said, you can always put your chosen system on top by messing with the parameters.

        For example: BMW's 2014 i3 has a 38 mile range, but I've been known to go over a hundred miles on a bicycle in one day. So, factor in two charge cycles, and

    • "A person riding a bicycle at 15 miles per hour (24 km per hour) burns 0.049 calories per pound per minute. So a 175-pound (77-kg) person burns 515 calories in an hour, or about 34 calories per mile (about 21 calories per km). A gallon of gasoline (about 4 liters) contains about 31,000 calories. If a person could drink gasoline, then a person could ride about 912 miles on a gallon of gas (about 360 km per liter).

      A moped with a 50cc engine can do over 140 miles per gallon at much higher speed. Since fuel consumption is strongly related to the speed, I'm sure you could get more mileage at 15mph, especially if you design a moped for that speed. And most people will have a hard time riding a bicycle at 15mph for any length of time.

  • by jamesl (106902) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:30PM (#46894683)

    German auto brand Volkswagen's XL1, which it claims is the most fuel-efficient production car ever made, has been named the winner of the Transport category at Designs of the Year 2014.
    http://www.dezeen.com/2014/05/... [dezeen.com]

    You may have seen this advert in the Goodwood Festival of Speed programme and are wondering how we determined that the XL1 was the worldâ(TM)s most fuel-efficient hybrid production vehicle.
    http://www.volkswagen.co.uk/ab... [volkswagen.co.uk]

    And it's a looker.

    • by iluvcapra (782887)

      And it's a looker.

      No car with rear wheel fairings is a looker.

    • by mjwx (966435)

      And it's a looker.

      And it's a VW.

      That means range is irrelevant because something will have broken before the batteries are empty.

  • by jamesl (106902)

    It would be nice to know how many of these super electric cars have to be sold for the manufacturer to break even. With and without the tax credits.

    Tesla lost $74 million on sales just short of $2 billion in 2013. Cumulative losses from 2009 through 2013 were about $935 million.
    http://quote.morningstar.com/s... [morningstar.com]

  • More importantly... (Score:5, Informative)

    by timeOday (582209) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @06:45PM (#46895311)
    The BMW didn't win by chance, but because it is based on a totally different construction method [cars.com] to makes it lighter:

    What makes the i3 different from every other car on the market is under the skin - it's almost entirely made out of plastic. This is no ordinary plastic, mind you - it's carbon-fiber-reinforced plastic. It's basically the same stuff used to make Formula One cars and stealth bombers. What's remarkable about the i3 is that it's the first mass-market car made out of carbon fiber. There's no metal in the car's body - all the bumpers, doors and skins are plastic as well. The only major metal parts are the drive unit and suspension components. The result is a four-seat, four-door city car that weighs only about 2,700 pounds - or nearly 500 pounds less than a BMW 1 Series.

    This actually quite a bold and innovative new product. It's a shame they made it so ugly. I'm really curious to see crash test results.

  • On sheer ability to refuel quickly for long trips. It's the ultimate solution. Eliminate daily gas usage, but keep it available for long trips. Perfect.

  • BMW won nothing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by horza (87255) on Friday May 02, 2014 @01:26AM (#46897155) Homepage

    BMW won nothing. Tesla won the electric car race by creating a car that has the range of a normal car, is faster than a normal car, and looks as good as any normal car. This is why it is scoring so high in consumer reports that cover ALL cars, not just electric vehicles.

    The BMW i3 has 1/3 of the range, does 0-60 in twice the time (7 seconds), and looks fugly. In my city we have dozens of public cars like this all over the city that anybody can jump into and use for €8/hour. I am sure lots of companies will buy it for staff than need to do local runs. Probably got a good market in local governments, councils and utility companies. Being one of the slowest production cars ever to hit the road will probably mean low insurance cost.

    It's apples and oranges. A bicycle is more efficient than either. It doesn't do the same job though.

    Phillip.

  • I'm not much interested in MPGe, or range, or any of that silliness, while fascinating.

    The real question that should be asked is CO2 emissions per mile, and then compare to vehicles like the hybrids.

    Efficiency and range of electric cars is utterly meaningless unless there's a carbon footprint size attached to these vehicles. We need to be striving for less pollution above all else.

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