6 of the Best 2018 EVS, Both Full Battery Electric and Plug-In Hybrid
By Jim Motavalli
The future of the auto industry is increasingly likely to be electric—although you wouldn't necessarily know that from sales numbers. Just under 200,000 plug-in cars were sold in the United States last year (out of a new-car market of 17.25 million). In California, cars with plugs made up 4.6 percent of the new-car market in 2017, while nationwide the number increased only slightly, to 1.16 percent of total auto sales. But 2018 is shaping up to be better, with 36 percent higher EV sales in the first four months than in the same period the previous year.
Elsewhere, meanwhile, EV sales are booming. Last year China's EV sales were more than three times those of the United States, accounting for nearly half of all plug-in vehicles purchased worldwide. In tiny Norway, thanks to great incentives, more than half of all new-car registrations in 2017 were either hybrid or battery electric.
The United States has a chance to catch up. Amid a welcome proliferation of EV models, the general trend is that most new cars will be offered with a plug-in variant. The consumer today has a lot of good EV choices that are much cleaner than conventional vehicles, even factoring in emissions from the electricity used to charge them. Both range and performance are improving as prices come down. If electric cars can travel 300 miles on a charge—as do some versions of the Tesla Model S and upcoming cars from Volkswagen and Porsche—then the old shibboleth of range anxiety may no longer apply.
Here are six noteworthy 2018 models, both full battery electric and plug-in hybrid. It's important to point out that all these cars come with federal incentives of up to $7,500. Many states offer further financial subsidies as well as perks such as priority parking and single-passenger privileges in HOV lanes. All prices stated below are base prices, without federal and state incentives or destination charges (the cost of shipping the car from manufacturer to dealer).
Toyota Prius Prime
The Prime is a big step up from the first Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid. Based on this model's 25 miles of battery-only range, it will save the average commuter $561 a year in fueling costs, compared with driving the average car. With savings like that, the quirky styling will grow on you. Base price: $27,300. The $33,300 advanced package includes a tablet-like screen and a full range of infotainment and safety technology.
Kia Niro Plug-in-Hybrid
The standard Niro arrived last year, but it's the plug-in hybrid version that has my attention—not least because it offers 26 miles of electric travel (and up to 560 miles of total range) via its 8.9-kilowatt-hour battery pack. The subcompact SUV pairs its electric motor with a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine. There's a really useful cargo capacity of up to 54 cubic feet, and five adults can ride comfortably. Base price: $27,900.
With 238 miles on a charge of its 60-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery, the 200-horsepower Bolt pioneered the affordable long-distance EV. "The Bolt is my third electric vehicle, but the first one that allows me to completely forget about range," a California Bolt driver told me. (A downside of the big battery is a long full-charge time—9.5 hours at 240 volts/32 amps—although drivers rarely start charging on "empty.") The Bolt is futuristic inside and out, handles well, and is very fast off the mark—zero to 60 in less than seven seconds. It has essentially the same value proposition as the Tesla Model 3 but without the long wait. Base price: $37,495.
The Chrysler Pacifica plug-in hybrid minivan is outstanding in its field—but it's the only one in that field. The minivan remains more practical than most SUVs for transporting families and cargo, but it suffers from an unfortunate image problem in a market that celebrates sexier formats. Chrysler is to be commended for taking a leap of faith. The front-drive Pacifica will accommodate seven passengers and has 32 cubic feet of cargo room. The third row of seats can be fully stored in the floor with the press of a button. The Pacifica is rated at the equivalent of 84 miles per gallon in combined driving, or 32 mpg with just its 3.6-liter Atkinson-cycle V6. But it has more than 30 miles of electric-only range, and its 16-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery charges in just two hours on 240-volt power. Base price: $39,995.
Tesla Model 3
If you can get your hands on one, the Tesla Model 3 EV sedan is worth the effort. With similar performance to the vaunted Model S in a more compact package, it's a technological marvel and (compared with other Teslas) something of a bargain—which is why more than 400,000 people are on the list to buy one. Tesla's production line is having teething problems; if you sign up now, the wait will be up to 12 months. The Model 3 is hugely fun to drive and boasts a very futuristic dashboard. Forget instruments—all the functions are on a touch screen that can be updated remotely. Most buyers will opt for the long-range battery, which gives 310 miles on a charge. (In fact, that's the only option in early production.) Base price: $35,000; with long-range battery, $49,000. (Disclosure: Tesla CEO Elon Musk is a major donor to the Sierra Club.)
This article was funded by the Sierra Club's Electric Vehicles Initiative (sc.org/evguide).
This article appeared in the September/October 2018 edition with the headline "A 2018 Buyer's Guide for Cars with Plugs."
Reposted with permission from our media associate SIERRA Magazine.
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Where Does the Deficiency Begin?<p>Nobody knows exactly how much vitamin D a person actually needs. The question of when a deficiency starts is correspondingly controversial. However, vitamin D is becoming increasingly popular.Not only is the pseudo-scientific literature on the "sun vitamin" experiencing an upswing, but the number of published studies has also increased enormously in recent years. For example, in 2019 <a href="https://academic.oup.com/edrv/article/40/4/1109/5126915" target="_blank">a study found that</a> Vitamin D is responsible for keeping the skeleton functional and is associated with cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and various types of cancer. <br></p>
An All-Rounder<p>Vitamin D levels in the body rise and fall according to sun exposure. If sufficient UV rays reach the skin, the body is able to produce the vitamin itself. However, the human body only derives an estimated 10 to 20 percent of its daily requirement from food.</p><p>The vitamin D that we synthesize from sunlight or food is not biologically active at first. Before the kidneys can produce the biologically active form of the vitamin, known as calcitriol, and release it into the blood, some metabolic processes must take place beforehand.</p><p>In addition, many organs have receptors to which the precursor of calcitriol binds. Further, this substance is also present in blood.</p><p>From this precursor, the organs then produce calcitriol themselves, which the body then uses for countless other processes in the body. This form of vitamin D thus regulates insulin secretion, inhibits tumor growth, and promotes the formation of red blood cells as well as the survival and activity of macrophages, which are important for the <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/5/7/2502/htm" target="_blank">immune system.</a></p>
Low Vitamin D, Severe COVID-19 Disease?<p>A research study carried out <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352364620300067?via%3Dihub" target="_blank">at the University of Hohenheim</a> has now established a link between vitamin D deficiency, certain previous diseases, and severe cases of COVID-19.</p><p>According to the study, "there is a lot of evidence that several non-communicable diseases (high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome) are associated with low vitamin D plasma levels. These comorbidities, together with the often accompanying vitamin D deficiency, increase the risk of severe COVID-19 events."</p><p>"This statement is completely correct," said Martin Fassnacht, head of endocrinology at the University Hospital of Würzburg. However, he qualifies that it is a pure association, "i.e. a mere observation that these events occur together.</p><p>Dr. Fassnacht is very critical of the hype surrounding vitamin D, but not because he denies the vitamin serves important functions. However, studies on humans have not been able to show that vitamin D has the healing powers many often propagate.</p><p>Fassnacht says, "If you take a closer look, the hopes that the administration of vitamin D has a healing effect have not been confirmed so far."</p>
Association Versus Intervention Studies<p>Many studies on the vitamin are association or observational studies. "By definition, these studies cannot prove the causal relationship, but only point to mere correlations," said Fassnacht. The physician tries to illustrate this with an example:</p><p>"Imagine two groups of 80-year-olds. One group is spry, active and does sports. If you compare them with another group living in nursing homes, the difference in vitamin D levels will be dramatic. Life expectancy would also be extremely different."</p><p>But to try to explain the difference in fitness by vitamin D status alone is far too simplistic. "Vitamin D levels are a good measure of how sick someone is. But not more," says Fassnacht. </p><p>According to Fassnacht, none of the intervention studies carried out to date -- that specifically examined the effect of vitamin D on various diseases -- has been able to confirm the previous association and laboratory studies or the presumed positive effect of vitamin D.</p>
Further Research Is Needed<p>"If a coronavirus infection is suspected, it is therefore absolutely necessary to check the vitamin D status and quickly correct any possible deficit," said the recommendation of the paper published by the University of Hohenheim.</p><p>"Studies are underway to see whether vitamin D helps in COVID-19 infection, but I personally do not believe that this is really the case," says endocrinologist Fassnacht. Nevertheless, he says it is of course useful to carry out these studies.<br></p><p>"I don't want to rule out that there are actually subgroups of people who benefit from an additional vitamin D dose," he says. After all, this has been proven to be the case with a severe deficit.</p><p>In view of the study situation, Fassnacht does not think much of preventive, nationwide vitamin D substitutes. "My belief that the vitamin helps somewhere is very low. But, of course, I can be wrong."</p>
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