Thursday, 12 November 2015

This blog is now closed

This EV blog is now closed, however I am still tweeting @keith__johnston and you can email me at or skype me at keith.johnston1, or view my LinkedIn profile Keith Johnston, The Business of Electric Vehicles.

Monday, 21 September 2015

UK: August EV sales back on track

After a dip in July, the surge in UK EV sales is back on track, with BEVs (pure electric) up nearly 29% YOY and 64% YTD; and PHEVs (plug-in hybrids) up 105% YOY and 383% YTD.

Monday, 24 August 2015

UK Europe's 5th most traffic congested country, London worst city

LONDON, UK – 24 August 2015: INRIX, a leading provider of real-time traffic information and connected driving services, has published its Traffic Scorecard Report revealing UK drivers wasted an average of 30 hours in congestion during 2014. The UK climbed one place to fifth in the list of Europe’s most congested countries, although UK motorists spent 21 fewer hours in traffic than those in Belgium, Europe’s most congested country, where drivers spent 51 hours stuck in gridlock in 2014.
 The UK economy grew by 2.8% last year, its highest rise since 2006 and faster than any other major developed country and double the European Union average of 1.4%[1]. Levels of unemployment also decreased in 2014 by 21% from 2013[2]. These factors, which are driving up consumer spending as well as spurring roadwork and construction projects nationwide, had a big impact on traffic with an increase of private and commercial vehicles on the road and more people commuting to work by car.
Traffic congestion was up in 14 of the 18 UK metropolitan areas in 2014, compared to 9 in 18 in 2013. The biggest increases in congestion were seen in North Staffordshire (+37%) and Greater Coventry (+33%) where drivers sat idle in traffic for 26 and 28 hours respectively. Rising congestion levels in the Coventry area were the result of extensive, long-term roadwork schemes such as Tollbar Island[3].
Population growth and urbanisation are key drivers of congestion, and the UK’s population grew by 491,100 last year, reaching a record high. London’s population also experienced high growth in 2014, increasing by 122,100 people[4]. This contributed to drivers in the capital spending 96 hours on average stuck in traffic, 14 hours more than in 2013, resulting in London becoming Europe’s most congested city. 
UK’s ten most congested metropolitan areas in 2014 (ranked by annual hours wasted):
RankUK Metropolitan AreaHours Wasted in 2014Change from 2013 (in hours)
1London commute zone9614
2Gr. Manchester526
4Gr. Belfast376
5Gr. Birmingham373
6S. Nottinghamshire35-4
7Avon & N. Somerset306
9Coventry & Warwickshire287
10N. Staffordshire267

Monday, 10 August 2015

Survey of 10,000 EV drivers

10,000 EV Drivers Can’t Be Wrong… But They Can Be Different (CleanTechnica Exclusive Interview)

The Ford Motor Company has just come out with a new survey of electric vehicle drivers and the big number has been rippling through the Intertubes: more than 90% of EV drivers love their EVs and will stick with electric for their next car. That certainly vindicates the EV driving experience in general, but there are some intriguing details behind that number, mainly having to do with the difference between different types of EVs.
For that story, we turn to Stephanie Janczak, Manager of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Technology at Ford, who graciously spent some time on the phone with CleanTechnica to dig into the details of the new survey.

EV Drivers By The Numbers
The purpose of the survey was to gain a better understanding of just how and why people are integrating electric vehicles into their lives.
Ford commissioned the EV custom survey firm PlugInsights for the survey, so let’s take a quick look at that company first.
PlugInsights draws from a panel of EV drivers primarily located in the US, and samples are weighted according to the latest available monthly sales figures. As the maker of the charging station app PlugShare, the company has a keen interest in helping auto manufacturers grow the EV marketplace:

PlugInsights’ mission is to amplify the voice of the driver to automakers, utilities, regulators, charging networks, financial analysts, and the rest of the plug-in car industry. We want the insights we uncover to light the road ahead for those who are creating tomorrow’s electric vehicles and services.

We’re guessing that Ford culled some particularly useful marketing information from the new survey that it’s not going to share with the competition, so not with us either. However, the numbers released publicly look great for the overall EV market. The breakdown is that 92% of battery electric vehicle (BEV) owners and 94% of plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) owners plan to buy another EV in the future.

More Good Numbers For EV Drivers
Janczak broke those numbers down for us a little more. Among the 92% of BEV drivers who said they would buy another EV, the primary choice was another BEV. The driving experience (“instant power,” as Janczak expresses it) was cited along with an appreciation of clean technology.
While BEV owners tended to say they would stay with full battery technology for a future EV purchase, PHEV owners were more inclined to switch to BEV for their next electric car.

Since many households have more than one car, the survey also delved into second-car ownership. The survey found that, among EV owners, the second car ownership rate topped 90%, and the second car tended to be a gasmobile.
Second-car owners said they tended to use the gasmobile for longer trips, which, according to Janczek, suggests that improvements in battery range will prompt EV owners to replace their second car with an EV, too.

The survey supported that view, and in addition it showed that the tendency for PHEV owners to switch to BEV holds true when it comes to the second car. Among the PHEV owners who also own a gasmobile, 73% said that, when it comes to replacing their gasmobile, they were pretty much split on either a PHEV or a BEV.

EVs & Solar Energy
The real question is why BEV owners are not interested in switching down to PHEV, while PHEV owners tend to switch up to BEV. Janczek spotted a few clues in the survey.

The survey showed that BEV drivers tend to be more aware of, and concerned about, global warming issues, and have chosen electric as part of their lifestyle decision-making. PHEV drivers, in contrast, are attracted primarily by the potential for saving money.

We’re thinking that the group of PHEV drivers who plan on switching to BEV includes a fair number who are attracted by an even greater money-saving potential, as well as some who are developing a keener awareness of the environmental impacts of their personal mobility choices. Of course, with “instant power” as a top attraction PHEV drivers have tasted, they may simply want to drive on electricity more.

According to Janczak, Ford is particularly interested in the relationship between solar ownership and EV ownership as a lifestyle choice, and the survey validates the company’s solar-based lifestyle initiatives.

When asked about their use of solar energy, 83% of EV drivers said they had solar panels at home already or would consider installing them in order to get a true zero-emission driving experience.

Solar adoption at home is important because, as long as fossil fuel power plants continue to supply electricity to the grid, grid-connected EV drivers will be at least partly fossil-powered.

As that 83% figure shows, there is considerable overlap between EV ownership and solar acceptance, which Janczak attributes to an awareness of global warming issues. That supports the idea that EV ownership is part of a “complete lifestyle” focused on reducing emissions.

Janczak also notes that, as far as the chicken-and-egg sequence goes, adopting solar at home doesn’t necessarily come before the purchase of an EV, but the two are related.

You’re Going To See More Connectivity
All in all, the EV driver survey validated the idea that future vehicle ownership will be part of a more holistic, connected, electric-based mobile lifestyle powered by renewable energy.

On the consumer end, Ford has already begun to integrate solar into its MyEnergi package, while integrating vehicle ownership, ride sharing, and mass transit through a suite of connectivity-based initiatives.

Ford has also been highlighting wind and solar-enabled EV charging at selected dealerships, and it has been ramping up its corporate sustainability measures with more solar among many other initiatives, including the introduction of biodegradable car parts.

Though the EV driver survey yielded no real surprises in terms of raw numbers, Janczak said that the passion expressed by EV owners in the survey is another factor supporting the trend toward a more sustainable model for personal mobility.

Friday, 7 August 2015

The UK government wants you to ditch petrol and diesel Figures have been released on how much going for an ultra-low emissions vehicle could save you as part of an initiative designed to wean consumers off petrol and diesel.

The average British driver currently spends 12p per mile on fuel, which could be cut to 2p per mile by going for a hybrid or all-electric car. Apply that saving to the 31.6 million cars in the UK, factor in road tax and that's £24.5 billion motorists are squandering away every year.

The figures come from a consortium of car manufacturers including BMW, Nissan, Renault, Toyota, Vauxhall and the government as part of an initiative called Go Ultra Low, which was setup to dispel myths surrounding electric and hybrid car ownership.

Go Ultra Low campaign head Hetal Shah said: “After buying a house, a car is the second most expensive purchase that most of us will ever make.

"With fuel costs from just 2p-per-mile, no road tax, no congestion charge and free parking in many locations, electric cars certainly present a compelling proposition. Put simply: the more you drive, the more you save.”

The report says you would only need to drive 7.500 miles a year or 140 miles a week to see the costs mitigated, but there's just one problem. Even with the government grant of £5,000 given to vehicles that meet a certain emissions target, they are far pricier than diesel or petrol equivalents.

So although it may reduce your fuel bills and save the planet, you could use the money you would have spent on a pricier electric car on petrol and diesel. The payback time for an average driver is going to be measured in years, unfortunately ─ and that's before you even consider the residuals on a car filled with expensive to replace batteries.

Go Ultra Low pointed out that most manufacturers have cracked range anxiety or at least made it less of a problem, thanks to electric cars routinely having a range of up to 124 miles. Tesla's Model S, for instance, can offer 300 miles on a single charge.

Electric and hybrid cars that have CO2 emissions of 75g/km or less are exempt from vehicle excise duty (aka road tax) and are exempt from London's congestion charge.

The government will end the £5,000 when 50,000 grants have been awarded. After that a new scheme will be introduced, but it is unclear what it will entail and if it will offer the same level of financial incentive. 2,000 grants were claimed in January 2015 alone and estimates suggest it could dry up before 2017 based on the current and expected rate of adoption.

As the technologies for electric cars drop it may well make sense to leave traditional fuels behind and charge our cars at home, but right now that initial lump sum is a luxury for most. It seems, then, the government should make the incentive bigger if it really wants to see a change.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

UK: July EV Data

PHEVs continue their surge, BEVs fall back slightly YOY, overall the UK market continues to surge.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

USA: The Three Major Trends Driving Accelerating Change In Energy and Vehicles Yesterday, the Obama administration issued its Clean Power Plan setting out a clear direction for greenhouse gas emissions reductions from the U.S. power sector. The plan, long under way and the subject of the most extensive consultations the EPA has ever undertaken, is a bold step to overcome congressional inaction to address climate change. In my view, although a federal cap and trade or carbon tax combined with strong efficiency regulations and measures to support renewables would have been preferable, the Clean Power Plan is a huge and important step in the right direction.

However, not everyone shares the arguments supporting the urgent need for this plan. Republicans, the fossil fuel industry, and coal-producing states argue that the plan will lead to a massive increase in electricity prices, that it will put the reliability of our electricity grid at risk, and that it will costs jobs and hurt the competitiveness of the U.S. economy. Nothing is further from the truth. This plan will help the U.S. embark on an energy transformation putting it on the path towards a clean, prosperous, and secure low-carbon future.

The pace of change in our energy system is rapidly accelerating. Three major trends are driving that change:

1) rapidly falling costs for renewables
2) vehicle electrification
3) the explosion in big data and information technology (IT).


Over the past five years, we have seen a boom in solar resulting from the rapidly falling costs of PV modules. Solar photovoltaics have a learning curve of 24 percent, meaning that their costs come down by 24 percent every time installed capacity doubles. But solar is not the only clean energy technology that shows a pattern of such dramatic cost improvements. For onshore wind the rate is 14 percent, and for battery storage more recently the cost reduction trend appears to be above 20 percent. We often struggle to imagine the long-term impact of consistent compounding. With compounding reductions in costs, renewable technologies become cheaper year after year after year, and as a result their competitiveness vis-a-vis fossil fuels in the very near future is no longer in doubt.


A second major trend is only just emerging but doing so rapidly. Electric cars are quickly becoming sexy and soon they will be cheap as well. Tesla’s next model—the forthcoming Model 3—promises to be as fast as a Porsche 911, with a range of 300 miles, and a cost of $35,000 but with very little in fuel and maintenance costs. And the trend is not just towards electrification. In fact, the breakthroughs under way in autonomous (self-driving) cars, integrated mobility-as-a-service concepts, and new business models in the shared economy are likely to have an even bigger impact on the automotive sector, moving us quickly away from gasoline-powered internal combustion engines.


The last trend may well be even more key. For a very long time, RMI has argued that our most-cost-effective energy resource is in fact energy efficiency. Efficiency is now being combined with big data and IT to make our energy demand not just leaner but also smarter. As we deploy IT to manage our energy demand, we will see massive opportunities to integrate renewables, smart appliances, and electricity-based HVAC technologies into intelligent and responsive electrical grids. This newly efficient and responsive demand system will be able to match to supply when it is available and if need be store energy when required.


Together these three trends are setting off a profound energy revolution. When solar-generated electrons become ubiquitous, abundant, and cheap; are stored more easily; are driving a new mobility world; and are matched by smarter on-demand energy use, then economic competitiveness is no longer based on simply burning cheap fossil fuels, but rather on innovation, on the integration of the IT and energy arenas, and on the faster deployment of new integrated solutions at scale. This is in fact the energy future that the Clean Power Plan helps to bring about.

Loud protests that accelerating the transition to the energy technologies of the future will increase electricity bills will soon be recognized as a fallacy of the past. In fact, not only has the EPA estimated that the average household will spend $80 less under its plan, there are now two independent studies (from Georgia Tech and Synapse Energy Economics) that point in the same direction. Their findings are in line with RMI’s analysis in Reinventing Fire, which found that a clean energy future could yield a $5 trillion net present value savings.

Now of course, if your bottom line, your current job, or your PAC contributions depend on carrying on with the fossil-fuel-based technologies of the past, then this is not an appealing outlook. In fact, you can see why some would want to oppose the shift to a better, cleaner, and more-cost-effective energy future. But what that perspective ignores is the long-term impact on competitiveness of sticking too long with outdated industries. In fact, Europe has made a massive bet that over the long run an energy-efficient, renewables-based future will be the winner. And China is investing massively in positioning itself to be the leader of the solar, wind, and efficiency technologies of the future.

So we have a choice. We could extend the life expectancy of a fossil-based energy system that is rapidly loosing momentum, or we can bet on the future of a smart, efficient, and renewable future. The Clean Power Plan will undoubtedly turn out to be a crucial legacy when it comes to climate change. But equally important, one day we will also recognize the wisdom and courage of the Clean Power Plan for America’s economic competitiveness.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

UK: millions of second cars could be electric

In late June, during the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership conference in the UK, Edmund King, the UK Automobile Association president, presented his thoughts on why he believes millions of second cars in households could be electric.

According to King,
74% of AA members park their cars overnight off the road and on their own land (58% on the driveway, 16% in the garage) where, potentially, they could be charged overnight.
50% of 18,688 respondents in AA Populus survey in April have access to two or more cars, 12% of them drive the ‘second’ car.
Second cars are more likely to have access to charging, 79% v 74% overall.
Second cars are less likely to be used for long journeys: never drive between 100 and 200 miles a trip – 25% v 15% overall, never drive 200+ miles a trip – 38% v 25% overall.

The UK Automobile Association says that 2.5 million second cars could be electric and rely solely on home charging.

King says that second cars differ from first cars in the following ways:
Slightly lower range expectation from an electric vehicle – 105 miles per charge v 109 overall.
Slightly lower expectations of reliability and safety.
Slightly less concerned about charging time.
Less likely to be concerned by the cost of battery replacement.
Less likely to be concerned by possibility of increased taxation.

So, your first car might still be ICE, but it’s quite likely that a second car being electric would fit your needs.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Imagining The Future With Driverless Cars 7:00 am. My alarm is yelling at me. I shower and get ready for the workday ahead. Hands need shaking and a deal needs closing with Mr. Bigwig. My phone vibrates notifying me that my car is arriving in 5 minutes.
There are many cars I could use to get around. They used to be called “driverless cars” and then “AutoCars” but once virtually every vehicle on the road became autonomous they were simply referred to as “cars.” Some people actually own their own car. The majority, like me, pay monthly for access to a basic commuter.
Commuter cars charge based on the number of miles traveled, specific city taxes, insurance (still required for some reason), and any incidents and damage charges. I have a separate bill for the one-off special occasion cars. Google’s car is one of the best as far as price due to ads subsidizing the cost and all of the included entertainment features.
The car is scheduled to pick me up at 8:00 am every day. Sometimes it’s a few minutes late. If I’m more than 5 minutes late getting into the car I’ll be charged a fee, have to wait for the next car to pick me up, and my rating will be docked. Currently, I have a 4.8/5 star rating. This means I’ve almost never caused damage to the car and I’m rarely late. A good rating means cars will arrive faster, I’ll be allowed to ride in newer, cleaner cars and my monthly rates will be car low

Having Cars Drive You

I step into the car and sleepily nod to the other commuters already seated and heading into the city. Almost everyone commutes. Living far outside of the city is not an issue when you can work and entertain yourself the entire way. I could choose to ride solo but riding with others is much more affordable. The tax for entering the city on a solo car is outrageous. Every city has a tax on all cars to prevent congestion in the city and to makeup for the lack of funds from the highway patrol of the past.
The door automatically closes as I sit down and settle in for the 54 minute ride ahead.
This car is pretty typical. You won’t find a steering wheel, shifters, brake pedals, airbags, seat belts or really any of the “features” of the death boxes of the past. This car also doesn’t even have a windshield. It has plastic windows on all sides but lacks wraparound glass common on antique cars. There is an emergency button to pull over immediately.
There is a touch panel in the middle of the car. When not in use, the panel scrolls through advertisements and discounts to local eateries and stores. It can be a little annoying at times but without it the Google Car wouldn’t be one the cheapest options. I mostly tune it out. Once in a while the advertisements come in handy. I’m hungry and Google knows my favorite places to eat within a few minutes of my location.
Most of the interactions for this car occur through an app on my phone or tablet. Google’s app is called Google Go. It allows me to change the climate for my seating area, view the route, select entertainment or add in a new destination. When riding with other passengers, new destinations or entertainment require their approval. I ride with the same passengers most days so it’s rare when a detour is needed and we tend to keep to ourselves. If a detour is needed and deemed too long by the other passengers you can be dropped off in an area with low risk of accident and crime and picked up by another car within minutes.
We are zooming along a 6-lane highway. In the morning, the highway uses 5 of the lanes for those entering the city and one for the cars leaving. On the way home, the lanes will switch to prevent any congestion when leaving the city. Nothing really changes other than the direction of the cars. It’s not like there are traffic signs, medians, guardrails or any other “safety precautions” to reposition. Usually we travel behind the road trains (“semi’s” or “trucks”). It’s more efficient for smaller vehicles to draft behind larger vehicles.
Traffic is cruising smoothly at 70 mph — bumper to bumper and door to door. There’s a fast lane to the left that sustains 100 mph. It costs extra but it’s helpful if I’m late.
The cars aren’t perfect but they are getting better. Once in a while there will be a minor issue: repairs to the road, a suicidal deer, making way for an emergency bullet car (bullet cars are allowed to travel much faster than regular cars), or because your car had a mechanical problem. Even the newest cars can still have issues. While rare, it costs you a few minutes while you wait for another car to pick you up. And let’s not mention the car hack that caused all that ruckus a couple of years back.
There are never traffic jams although traffic slows to about 40 mph once we get into the city. When cars need to come to a full stop in the city they will resume by accelerating together in perfect unison.
As we enter the city, traffic slows as the cars stop to drop off their passengers. Cities are much more compact than they once were and also much larger. It’s funny to think that cities used to be full of pavement. Cars sat idly during the day waiting patiently like my dog wagging its tail at the front door. Parking lots are now skyscrapers. There are a couple large battery swap stations on the outskirts of the city which resemble a parking lot though nothing like the vast concrete deserts of yesteryear.
During the day the car never sits in one place for more than about 20 minutes. Many cars will get a rest at night during off-peak hours in one of the car elevators where the cleaning bots scurry to ensure the car is ready for the next day’s customers.
After 54 minutes, we arrive at our drop-off point. We all exit the car and it zips off to pick up the nearest rider. I enter the office to chat with colleagues and prepare for my sales meeting with Mr. Bigwig. I’ll need a fancier car for this. First impressions are important. I can’t have the client thinking I’m an everyday Joe.
There are many types of cars. There is the common cheap commuter car, along with a typical a mid-range, and the luxury style. There are also sleeping cars, party cars, entertainment cars, romantic cars, and a wide range of other niche designs and features. Once in a while after a long night I’ll splurge on the “hangover car” to the office the next morning: no windows, a recliner, the soft sounds of nature and an Advil dispenser; the only way to travel on those days.
Taking out my phone, I open Google Now, “Grab me an empty luxury car with a full bar for a meeting.”
Luxury car
The nearest available luxury car with these specifications is 8 minutes away. Google Now knows that when I mention the word “meeting” to find a car with at least two seats facing each other and a screen for presentations. Behind me is a full bar. I make myself a cocktail on the way which is charged to my account. We arrive at Mr. Bigwig’s place of work and he gets in the car. It’s only 15 minutes to our lunch destination but it’s enough time to start the pitch. I turn on the screens on the side of the car and start talking numbers.
Damn. That meeting was a disaster. Looks like I won’t be getting any business from Mr. Bigwig. Oh well, you can’t win them all. After a short stint at the office, I change into some gym shorts and decide to take an exercise car on the way home to release some pent-up energy.
“Grab me an exercise car with a bike.”
As I step onto the bike the doors shut behind me. Screens surround me and ask what scenery I would prefer for my ride. I decided on the Irish countryside to unwind from the hectic day. The kids will be dropped off by a car soon and the groceries will be arriving shortly thereafter. The family has a full weekend planned. We’re taking a recreation car up to the mountains for a camping trip. It’s a 12-hour drive so we will leave after dinner and sleep on the way.
In the morning, I will wake up and switch the recreation car into manual mode and get behind the wheel. I’ll hit the gas and drive ourselves to a desolate off-road camping spot.