Tesla, a US state-supported electric car manufacturer, published dazzling first-quarter financial results for 2013, suggesting the era of the plug-in car may have arrived in earnest.
With almost 5,000 delivered worldwide, the Silicon Valley company's Tesla Model S luxury electric sedan outsold the German top-three, the Audi A8, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes S Class. One of few cars designed specifically as an electric vehicle, the 2012 Model S was named Car of the Year by two major American motoring magazines while Consumer Report pronounced it the best car they had ever tested.
Electric car and electric vehicle component manufacturer Tesla Motors announced a 5m profit for the period, its first in ten years of trading. Revenue increased by an impressive $562m and its gross margin rose nine per cent to 17 per cent, outperforming both Toyota and General Motors.
The Californian company is owned by PayPal founder and transport innovator Elon Musk, whose SpaceX company produced the first commercial capsule ever to dock with the International Space Station. He recently launched the first Supercharger car charging station in the US.
The company used a $465m ‘stimulus' loan from the 2009 Obama administration to rebuild a factory formerly owned by an unsuccessful General Motors/Toyota joint venture. Despite high-profile critics like Mitt Romney, who branded it a ‘loser', Tesla is now valued at nearly $20bn0bn and intends to repay the loan five years early to escape a clause allowing the government to purchase three per cent of shares at $7.54 each. The value of a Tesla share is currently about $90.
A letter to investors refers to a "strong global demand" for the Model S amounting to more than 20,000 orders per year. There are plans to launch a Model X' SUV in 2014 and a cheaper sedan is likely to follow.
With 7,000 of those orders coming from Europe, the biggest market in the world for electric vehicles, we should expect a significant shift in the UK car market. The government is already investing in charging points around the country and offering green incentives. Rising petrol prices could drive even the least environmentally conscious motorist to switch to the right car.
Expected in the UK this summer, the Model S will cost £83,000 and purchasers will be eligible for a £5,000 government Plug-in Grant. A February ‘CAR' review described it as "the single most significant American car for decades". Declaring it a potential game-changer because it fully demonstrates the computerised EV's inherent potential, CAR awarded the Model S five stars for both ‘performance' and ‘feelgood factor'.
In this first quarter, UK registrations of alternatively-fuelled cars are already up 2.9 per cent. Research conducted last year by Motor Trader suggests EVs could account for 20 per cent of the UK car market by 2020.
In November a blogger for Trade Plan Insurance services was already predicting forecourts full of electric vehicles after observing the success of ‘The RAC Brighton to London Future Car Rally'. Motor traders may need to prepare themselves for a changing commercial landscape.
This sponsored content has been provided by Trade Plan Insurance services
It might not sound as exciting as the latest iPad or Xbox console, but home appliances that help you save money and look after the environment are certainly something to get all of a lather about! Many home appliances are leading the way in the domestic eco revolution with innovative technologies helping households cut their energy bills, saving them money and raising their eco profile.
Topping the list of eco innovative brands is Samsung whose trade-marked ecobubbleTM range, which features innovative technology, is designed to help lower energy bills. The ecobubbleTM washing machines use clever bubble technology to wash clothes. You might think that washing with bubbles is nothing new but Samsung's unique machines dissolve water and detergent completely in a bubble generator creating a cushion of foam for a deep and effective clean.
Because of this technology, you can wash clothes effectively at only 15°C, reducing the costs associated with washing at higher temperatures. There's also the quick wash option which means lightly soiled clothes can be washed in 15 minutes, further saving time and energy!
Although the ecobubbleTM techonology will help save money and energy in the short term, it's the added extras which help to make a real difference. The ecobubbleTM's diamond patterned drum means that clothes will be cushioned during a wash, helping them to be better cared for so that they'll last longer. Because of the revolutionary technology used in the machine, the wear and tear is minimised and all machines come with a five year warranty.
Also doing their part to help the environment is Bosch. Their Logixx range includes energy saving technology relevant to its various appliances. For example, the Bosch Logixx washing machine includes ActiveWaterTM technology which measures water usage using flow sensors so the ideal amount of water is used each time, varying according to load size. This clever addition means that if you're just washing a few clothes, the machine recognises this and distributes a smaller amount of water than it would if you were doing a full wash.
Next time you need to buy a new home appliance check out its energy credentials. Clever additions and innovative technology will not only help you save money but will help to keep energy usage at a minimum and help keep the environment healthy. Now that's something to get excited about!
This sponsored content was provided by Appliances Online
17 Apr 2013
People try to combat high energy bills by keeping the heating to a minimum, blocking drafts and making mindful efforts to not waste electricity, but yet energy bills can still often surprise us.
Households could save themselves over £2,000 a year if they were to invest in energy saving features. Solar panels, combi-boilers and cavity wall insulation are just some of the features that could help a household keep their pennies in their pockets.
With recent stats indicating that energy and water bills have increased by 79 per cent in five years, now is the time to start looking at what measures can be taken to safeguard against these rising energy costs, for now and for the future.
To find out how much you could save, check out this helpful tool from windows and doors experts, Safestyle UK: http://www.safestyle-windows.co.uk/saving-energy/
Research and content provided by Safestyle UK
Meeting the twin global challenges of more people and dwindling resources are the key issues facing house-builders today. But with over nine billion people estimated to be on our increasingly resource-scarce planet by 2050, these issues are expected to be even more critical in the future.
This situation is exacerbated by the dramatic rise of new middle classes across the world, all demanding higher standards of living - wanting air-conditioned and comfortable houses, cars, computers and the latest communication equipment.
Rapid urbanisation is also driving change - it is estimated that every week a new city of 1.5 million people will have to be built over the coming decades to meet this demand. And by 2030, 70 per cent of the world's population will live in mega-cities. Perhaps more significantly though there are approximately two billion people today that do not live in decent houses, that do not have access to electricity or safe drinking water and sanitation.
If we are to improve the lives of these groups and if we are to meet the demands of the new middle classes and an increasingly urban population, what changes need to happen?
Many commentators believe that the answers lie in the creation of so-called smart cities that encourage economic development, modernize infrastructures and create a new urban model. The development of these cities which offer smart housing, smart grids, smart transport and smart agriculture is a great challenge but also a big opportunity for business and society at large.
Looking in more detail at the housing sector, in the developed world the process of retro-fitting to upgrade and improve resource efficiency will be very important. And providing effective insulation, access to renewable energy and supplying clever water recycling systems will ultimately need to become standard for all housing.
But perhaps the greatest challenge (and opportunity) lies in new housing - the majority of which will be constructed in the emerging economies. For instance in China, the government wants to facilitate the expansion of Beijing's population from 20 to 40 million, whilst still maintaining the same footprint.
The sustainability aspect of this plan has been implemented not because the government officials are environmental activists, but because they know that they have no other option. Beijing will simply not be habitable in the future without measures such as these. This plan will largely be achieved through new legislation and tightened regulations. To be a successful house-builder in Beijing, you will need to build houses which are much more energy efficient, using more renewable materials and providing access to renewable energies.
Across the globe environmental legislation is increasing and this is impacting the sector. In the EU, the European Climate Change Programme (ECCP) has set 2020 targets of a 20 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions versus 1990 levels, a commitment that is being implemented through binding legislation. At the same time, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme puts a cap on carbon dioxide emissions, simultaneously creating a huge trading market for carbon allowances.
Standards such as the BRE Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) measurement rating system for green buildings in the UK, LEED in North America, Green Star in Australia, and HQE in France are also helping to drive significant changes in the housing sector.
As house-builders grapple with the demands placed on them to develop more sustainable housing, they will increasingly look to their suppliers to help them meet this challenge. So whether you are a cement provider, a renewable energy supplier, a glazing company or a paint and coatings company like AkzoNobel, there are great opportunities to play a key role within this sustainability drive.
Historically though it has been quite difficult for building companies to work effectively with their suppliers as they often have to deal with over 150 of them for any one project.
Suppliers that offer more integrated solutions, bundling many different solutions together, will stand to benefit.
Over time, house-builders will come to rely on fewer suppliers who are able to make a significant overall contribution to the environmental performance of a building. Taking this further, different suppliers who can work together in partnership have the potential to provide a very powerful proposition, taking care of a significant proportion of a house's sustainability criteria. And it will be those suppliers that take a pro-active approach to bundling products together, that are prepared to work with other companies that will ultimately reap the rewards.
As a supplier to this industry what we must ask ourselves is, how can we work towards its changing needs? If the housing sector is to become energy and carbon neutral with full recyclability of raw materials then at AkzoNobel we need to produce insulation materials, wood protection materials and heat reflective materials to service this sector. And if we look more widely through the lens of innovation, and work together with our customers, the transformation to an energy-efficient, low carbon economy is certainly possible.
But to satisfy the requirement of their customers, suppliers must also ensure their own house is in order - they must become much more energy and resource efficient in their own operations. And this must happen across the whole value chain - from their own suppliers through to their own operations and processes. They must become much less dependent on fossil fuel based energy and the non-renewable raw materials used in products.
Today at AkzoNobel 33 per cent of our energy comes from renewable sources (hydropower, solar, wind and biomass) and the aim is to increase this to 45 per cent over the next decade. Already 10 per cent of the raw materials that AkzoNobel uses come from renewable sources and we want to increase that share in order to be less dependent.
Increasing our own operational efficiency is also a vital part of this process and at AkzoNobel we have a dedicated operational eco-efficiency program designed to significantly improve our performance in this area.
This initiative forms part of a commitment over the past ten years from AkzoNobel to improve the energy and resource efficiency of every area of the business, from operating processes to compliance issues. However we recognise the need to accelerate our commitment to address the key mega trends that our customers in the housing sector are experiencing (as described above). This is why a new accelerated approach, announced as part of the company's corporate strategy update on 20 Feb, has been developed with the aim of creating ‘more value from fewer resources'.
Ambitions for 2020 have been defined as part of this approach including a target to reduce carbon emissions by 25-30 per cent per ton of product and a commitment to produce 20 per cent of our revenue from eco-premium products, by 2020 (base 2012). Of course none of this can be achieved without working together in partnership with suppliers, customers and other business partners.
Ultimately by collaborating effectively across the whole value chain, we can accelerate the path toward becoming truly resource and energy efficient.
Andre Veneman is corporate director of sustainability and HSE at AkzoNobel
This sponsored content was provided by AkzoNobel
In recent years conservationists have become heavily involved in land use planning processes, since the development of houses and other buildings now have such a large impact on every aspect of the landscape. The sad truth is that for every acre of land which is protected, many more are lost to poorly planned development.
The development of new buildings is further encroaching on parks and protected areas as building land can cost up to 40 per cent of the price of a new home. For this reason, many speculators are currently taking to purchasing cheaper land without planning close to building boundaries in the hope that the relevant authorities will eventually crumble to the pressure.
Though the precise number of species considered at risk of extinction is unknown, the drivers behind species loss are generally increasing. These include land conversion and degradation, pollution, and climate change. What's more, the human population continues to grow and with that, consumption is growing - most of which is unsustainable.
If such ecological problems are to be resolved, conservationists and land planners need to work together. It is a question of the planning community making use of the tools and services available to them to improve the prospects for the preservation of biodiversity.
Land planning has occurred at many different scales across the country, from offering audits to homeowners and developers to offering surveys to woodland owners. Whilst communities understand the importance of protecting the natural environment, conservationists and land planners have made little use of the local planning process to work towards the better protection of biodiversity.
Habitat loss is one of the most significant threats to biodiversity. The loss, degradation and alteration of habitats are the primary factors for the decline in numbers of wildlife and plants. Habitat destruction and loss of biodiversity is not confined to species-rich areas like the Tropics but can occur in the United Kingdom too.
The rise of uncontrolled growth, which is often referred to as sprawl, risks the fragmentation of land, the loss of habitats and diminishing biodiversity.
Whilst the huge impact that sprawl has on biodiversity and habitat is scary on a large scale, there is much being done by arboricultural and ecology consultants like Arbtech to help protect species and provide a more consistent approach to planning applications.
The legislation in the United Kingdom dictates that tree, bat, and ecology surveys must be carried out in order to protect certain species of wild plants, birds, and animals.
ODPM Circular 06/05 - a central government planning policy document that specifically deals with biodiversity and conservation - clearly sets out the fact that local planning officers must draw applicants' attention to the conservation and enhancement of habitats and protected species through the results of ecological surveys before planning applications can be accepted.
Protected Species Scoping Surveys, Phase 1 Habitat Surveys and Tree Surveys all demonstrate to the local authorities that homeowners and developers have embraced the government's policies and thus have made protected species a material consideration throughout the design process.
In turn, carrying out these surveys ensures that the planning office cannot reject a planning application on the grounds of insufficient information provided.
Conservation planning offers a powerful way to address the needs of wildlife and plants whilst incorporating the goals of biodiversity and habitat preservation. Homeowners and developers have come to consider wildlife and natural resources through the tools and services that consultants that Arbtech can offer.
This sponsored content was provided by Arbtech
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