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Sunderland and Estonia emerge as unlikely role models for London’s EV hopes

With the take-up of electric vehicles in London “slower than first anticipated”, Alex Blackburne looks at what happened to Boris Johnson’s ‘100,000 electric vehicles as soon as possible’ pledge, and why the capital should look up to Sunderland and Estonia.

Politics is mostly about talking a good game it seems. Shock horror, I know. But after nearly three years since London Mayor Boris Johnson promised that there would, as soon as possible, be 100,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on the capital’s streets, there is currently just 0.006% of that figure.



With the take-up of electric vehicles in London “slower than first anticipated”, Alex Blackburne looks at what happened to Boris Johnson’s ‘100,000 electric vehicles as soon as possible’ pledge, and why the capital should look up to Sunderland and Estonia.

Politics is mostly about talking a good game it seems. Shock horror, I know. But after nearly three years since London Mayor Boris Johnson promised that there would, as soon as possible, be 100,000 electric vehicles (EVs) on the capital’s streets, there is currently just 0.006% of that figure.

Yes, that’s right. According to a report by the London Assembly, in that time, just 588 fully electric vehicles have been added to the transport tally in the Big Smoke.

This means that the clichéd but equally witty headline of, ‘London: the not-so-Big Smoke’ cannot be used to describe the capital’s remarkable advances in EV production. Such a shame.

Let’s not be too critical; Johnson’s sneaky end-of-sentence add-on – “as soon as possible” – covers his back in a sense. But the Mayor has now set other targets.

He wants 1,000 EVs and 25,000 charge points (currently 400) by 2015. That’s do-able. But for a leading global city like London – arguably the financial capital of the world – is that really as ambitious as it can go?

Other smaller cities across Europe are continuing to overshadow it with their EV exploits.

Sunderland, a North East city with under 4% of London’s population, is on its way to become the UK capital for EVs, after transport minister Norman Baker announced funding for zero-emission vans.

Baker commented on the North East’s “very positive future” in the EV industry, after launching the UK’s first low carbon vehicle academy in Washington, Sunderland.

In Continental Europe, Estonia is emerging as a frontrunner in the EV race. Better known (or not) for kiiking and its beautiful women, Estonia has attracted the Swiss power and automation group, ABB, to kick off an innovative scheme in the country. It is to install Europe’s largest EV fast-charging network, which is sure to propel the state from Baltic obscurity to technological innovator.

Scheduled to be operational by the end of this year, the network is able to fully charge EVs in 15 to 30 minutes, with stations placed 50km apart across the country.

Back in December, Blue & Green Tomorrow asked whether the UK could mimic France’s EV revolution. The answer was, unequivocally, not yet.

But a step forward from our cousins across the Channel might just be what is needed to spur London on. Boris Johnson, take note.

The London Assembly report questions whether or not his 2009 targets are even applicable now.

It says, “Accelerating EV use in London will hinge on three key factors, two of which the Mayor has a considerable degree of influence over: developing a recognisable and easily accessible charging infrastructure; and improving on the level of information available on EVs and making access to it easier.

The third, access to EVs, will be driven by the market”.

So, how long will it be before we’re calling London ‘the Big Whirr’ instead of ‘the Big Smoke’?

Hopefully not long at all, but there is still a long way to go.

It might take a push from Sunderland or an innovation from Estonia to push EVs to the front of Johnson’s mind (or one of the other five candidates’ running at this year’s election for that matter).

One of the points that the London Assembly makes is that not enough people are aware of the possibilities of EVs.

You should have a look, because the long term advantages of such an investment are wondrous.

It’s possible to invest in sustainable transport. Ask your financial adviser about it, or fill in our online form and we’ll show you how.

Picture source: Birmingham News Room


Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family



Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace --

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By --

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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