Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The EVs 'most likely to succeed'

New York Times contributor Jim Motavalli writes in mnn.com about the the top 10 electric cars most likely to succeed in what is admittedly a snapshot in time of the EV industry. 
"It's still early as electric and plug-in hybrid cars roll out, but it's time to call likely winners and losers. The crystal ball is still cloudy on electric and plug-in hybrid cars. They’re still being made in limited numbers, and delivered to very specific test markets. And half the really exciting ones aren’t even here yet. Still, it’s time to make some predictions about what will succeed and what will fail in the marketplace. Here are my top 10 leading candidates, in descending order:
Chevy Volt1. Chevy Volt (right): GM’s $41,000 plug-in hybrid, soon to have a sister car in the more upscale Cadillac ELR (first seen on the auto show circuit as the Converj in 2009). GM has sold 3,200 so far, but the number doesn’t have much to do with demand — production’s been shut down as the company gears up for a capacity of 60,000 a year by 2012.
2. Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid: With an all-electric range of nine to 13 miles, after which it’s a regular Prius, this car should have a lot of fans.
3. Nissan Leaf: Some 4,000 have been sold so far in the U.S., and East Coast customers are still waiting patiently. The price is going up for 2012 — to $38,000 for the SL trim that most customers will want.
4. Tesla Model S: Due next year, this $49,900 electric sedan is half the price of the exotic Roadster, but it has far more utility. On the same platform, Tesla will also offer a Model X crossover that should sell really well.
5. Ford C-Max Energi plug-in hybrid: There is now downside to plug-in hybrids, except maybe their price. This one is headed for the market in 2012, and with 500 miles of range it should be a really practical, fun-to-own car.
6. Ford Focus electric/Toyota RAV4 electric (tie): Take your pick. The 2012 Focus (pictured at top) is an electric version of the redesigned Focus small car, best used as a city car with an 80-mile range. It should offer good performance. The RAV4 is being built with Tesla, and it continues the electric career of the popular crossover (which was briefly on the market around the turn of the millennium as a competitor for the GM EV1). 
Fisker Karma7. Fisker Karma: After many delays, the Karma (at right) is finally on the market. The Karma is a $100,000 plug-in hybrid with Italian supercar good looks (though the BMW veteran designer is actually a Dane). This car has serious glamor going for it, but it has to perform up to the hype.
8. Honda Fit/Toyota iQ city electrics (tie): I love subcompacts, and they make great bases for inexpensive electric cars. These two (both headed for production in 2012) should be evenly matched, and go head to head. I’m really hoping for low prices on these two cars — under $30,000 would be nice, even if it means a smaller battery pack and less than 100 miles of range.
9. BMW i3 Megacity Vehicle: BMW was an early player in the space with its lively Mini-based electric vehicles, and its successor, a plug-in version of the 1-Series. The 2013 BMW i3 is the company’s first all-electric platform, and it’s headed for the road in the world’s super-crowded cities (hence the name). The concept makes sense, since that’s where the world’s population is headed, but only if the price is kept low enough so the middle class (instead of just the super-rich) can afford it.
10. Porsche 918 Spyder plug-in hybrid: Speaking of the super-rich, this car will cost $845,000. Porsche will build just 918 of them when it debuts on Sept. 18, 2013. (They’re into numerology at Porsche.) But even if they sell only a few of them, at that price the company will make money — and reap acres of publicity and the cover of every car magazine.
This list is subject to periodic updates, of course, but this is how I see it now. I predict both the Chevy Volt and the Nissan Leaf will sell in sufficient numbers to make them, if not runaway hits, at least modest successes. They have the greatest consumer awareness, the most utility, the best pricing and are supported by solid dealer and promotional bases. The Fisker Karma and the Tesla Model S are also likely to do well, though both will need to meet high quality and performance standards to stay afloat.
I’m bullish about the Ford Focus electric (which will benefit from the company’s strong reputation and marketing clout) and the BMW Megacity Vehicle (for the same reasons). Audi could do well with limited numbers of high-end performance-oriented electric and plug-in hybrid cars, as could Porsche. I especially like Daimler’s A-Class battery car, though it may not appear in the U.S. or become a regular commercial entry. Chrysler/Fiat’s 500 electric may also be a very small, image-burnishing program.
SmartcarA number of other cars face a tougher time in the market. The Smart car (pictured right) has had a troubled run in the American marketplace, and its “electric drive” version hit the showrooms with a high lease price. A new version is coming, and with Mercedes alone in control it might be a huge improvement. Like Smart, Think (which just survived a near-death experience and now has a Russian owner) has an inherent two-seater limitation, plus a relatively high price. The new owner needs to lower the price, and maybe offer the battery pack in a separate lease offer.
Coda has many hurdles, from a high price to plain-Jane styling. Most of its original executives (including the high-flying CEO, Kevin Czinger) have left, and it’s on indefinite hiatus. Wheego’s ace in the hole is Mike McQuary’s can-do attitude and very low overhead, so it could make it with sales of a few thousand cars a year.
China’s BYD, which intends to import both a battery electric and a plug-in hybrid, has a good chance of making it in the U.S. if it keeps prices low, and brings quality, design and safety up to Western standards (big if). Aptera, well, that one requires a leap of faith. The company, which just returned deposits to customers, is highly dependent on a federal Department of Energy loan that is a bit of a longshot. But Aptera insists it’s still a viable enterprise."

My view: keep an eye on VW and Audi's urban concepts mentioned earlier in my blog - their single and two seater EVs that will be shown for the first time at the forthcoming Frankfurt International Auto Show.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

mia electric Microbus launches with 3,000 orders

The mia electric microbus is launching in France, Germany and the UK, with a 2012 production run of 4,000 units, increasing to 12,000 in 2014. Franco German company mia claim that 3,000 orders have been received already.

The EVs have been designed by former head of design at Volkswagen Murat Gunak and will be available in three configurations, short wheelbase (3 seater) and two extended models the mia L (four seats) and the mia box van (1500 litre cargo capacity). The models will go on sale in the UK during the first quarter of 2012.

The models - M1 rather than quadricycles - are all powered by an 18kW electric motor situated at the rear of the car, giving the a op speed of 68mph with a 120 to 130km range from the 12kWh lithium ion phosphate batteries, which can be fully charged in five hours.

All three mia variants features a centrally-located driving seat, allowing the driver to enter from either side of the vehicle and providing a good view of the city traffic whilst providing a unique cabin layout with space to mount a tablet computer and iPod.

After the UK Government's £5000 incentive subsidy, the retail price is £22,000 for all three variants. 

EV market to grow 5 x faster than conventional market

According to , cumulative sales of  will reach 5.2million units worldwide by 2017 – an increase from 114,000 vehicles in 2011.
The number includes both plug-in hybrid and  (cumulative sales of   will represent an additional 8.7million vehicles for a combined total of 13.9million units). This means that the market for electrified vehicles is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 19.5 per cent between 2011 and 2017 compared to 3.7 per cent for the vehicle market overall during the same period.

This is more than 5 times as quickly, but still penetration will only reach 3% to 5% in western markets and less than 2% globally, or 1,342,067 vehicles annually by 2017.

Meanwhile, British Gas, which has teamed up with Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions (so that when you lease your EV British Gas will install your home charging unit), claim that for the next decade, half of all UK EVs will be leased. 

British Gas is also claiming that it will control 70% of the UK charging market by 2012.

Monday, 22 August 2011

VW single seat electric car

VW are poised to showcase their first single seat electric car at the Frankfurt Auto Show, which will be sold together with a package of electricity and charging infrastructure. Kerb weight is just 838 pounds (380 kg). Wow.

Watch this space, this could be very big news.
Only problem is, it's diesel not electric? Surely not...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

EV charging breakthrough: minutes not hours

According to PhysOrg.com researchers at US company Nanotek Instruments Inc., and its subsidiary Angstron Materials, Inc., in Dayton, Ohio, have developed a new paradigm for designing energy storage devices that could reduce recharge time for EVs from hours to less than a minute. 

The researchers call the new devices "graphene surface-enabled lithium ion-exchanging cells," or more simply, "surface-mediated cells" (SMCs). They can deliver a power density of 100 kW/kgcell, which is 100 times higher than that of commercial Li-ion batteries and 10 times higher than that of supercapacitors. In addition, the new cells can store an  of 160 Wh/kgcell, which is comparable to commercial Li-ion batteries and 30 times higher than that of conventional supercapacitors.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Famous quotes

 "I do not believe in electric cars and my company will never make one" Luca di Montezemolo, Chairman of Ferrari, 2011.

Reminds me of another quote:

“Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, US Patent Office, 1899.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

1 billion vehicles and counting

WardsAuto.com reports that he number of vehicles in operation worldwide surpassed the 1 billion-unit mark in 2010 for the first time ever.

According to Ward’s research, which looked at government-reported registrations and historical vehicle-population trends, global registrations jumped from 980 million units in 2009 to 1.015 billion in 2010.
The figures reflect the approximate number of cars, light-, medium- and heavy-duty trucks and buses registered worldwide, but that does not include off-road, heavy-duty vehicles.
The 3.6% rise in vehicle population was the largest percentage increase since 2000, while the 35.6 million year-to-year unit increase was the second-biggest increase in overall volume ever.

The market explosion in China played a major role in overall vehicle population growth in 2010, with registrations jumping 27.5%. Total vehicles in operation in the country climbed by more than 16.8 million units, to slightly more than 78 million, accounting for nearly half the year’s global increase.

India’s vehicle population underwent the second-largest growth rate, up 8.9% to 20.8 million units, compared with 19.1 million in 2009. The leap in registrations gave China the world’s second-largest vehicle population, pushing it ahead of Japan, with 73.9 million units, for the first time. Brazil experienced the second largest volume increase after China, with 2.5 million additional vehicle registrations in 2010. US registrations grew less than 1% last year, but the country's 239.8m units continued to constitute the largest vehicle population in the world.Vehicles in operation in 2010 equated roughly to a ratio of 1:6.75 vehicles to people among a world population of 6.9 billion, compared with 1:6.63 in 2009. But the distribution was not equal, even among the biggest markets.

In the U.S., the ratio was 1:1.3 among a population of almost 310 million – the highest vehicle-to-person ratio in the world. Italy was second with 1:1.45. France, Japan, and the U.K. followed, all of which fell in the 1:1.7 range.

In China, the ratio was 1:17.2 among the country’s more than 1.3 billion people. India, the world’s second most-populous nation with 1.17 billion people, saw a ratio of 1:56.3.
The world vehicle population in 2010 passed the 1 billion-unit mark 24 years after reaching 500 million in 1986. Prior to that, the vehicle population doubled roughly every 10 years from 1950 to 1970, when it first reached the 250 million-unit threshold.

In case we forget, the single biggest environmental threat from carbon emissions from transport is the rate of increase in car ownership worldwide, which is increasing the total number of miles driven each year. This is far outstripping the rate at which well-to-wheel emissions are being reduced and is one more wake up call for governments of the urgent need to decarbonise transport through electrification.

The really scary thing is that by 2020 - 2030 we are on course to have not 1 but 2 billion vehicles on the road. 

The argument for conventionally fuelled vehicles is over. They are unsustainable. We need to reduce carbon emissions by 90% by 2050 and the only way to get there is through electrification.  

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Can this be true?

According to figures released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration on 24th of June, 2011, last year US oil refineries purchased 46,227 million Kilowatt-hours from electricity companies in the USA.
Assuming that a) in the US 43% of oil is used for cars (the figure most often quoted on the internet forums) and b) a Nissan Leaf does 3.4 miles per kWh, and c) an electric car travels on average 10,000 miles per year, then the electricity alone used just to refine the oil for use in conventional cars is sufficient to power nearly 7m electric cars, or more than half of the new cars sold each year in the US.
Can this be true????

Smart moves from e-cars to e-mobility

The 2012 third generation Smart ForTwo Electric Drive will offer an upgraded drivetrain that gives improved acceleration, top speed and range, with sales commencing in 30 markets from Q2 next year.

The 2012 model will feature a new 73 hp electric motor jointly developed by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch.  0-37 mph (0-60 km/h) time is reduced by 1.5 seconds to 5.0 seconds. Top speed increases from 62 mph (100 km/h) to 75 mph (120 km/h). A new lithium-ion battery pack produced by Deutsche ACCUmotive, replaces the Tesla-supplied unit.

The capacity of the battery has increased from 16.5 kW/h to 17.7 kW/h in a move that provides the new Fortwo Electric Drive with a 5-mile increase in range over the older model at a claimed 87 miles. Smart claims a recharge time of eight hours on a 220-volt European socket, or just under an hour using the car's onboard high-ampere charger. 

Production is planned to be increased to over 10,000 units. The earlier model's production was capped at just 2,000 units.

Smart will also be launching a superbly styled e-Bike featuring a 400 watt li-ion battery, as part of its strategy to offer a range of personal city mobility products. 

This simple move helps to reposition and reaffirm the Smart brand within urban mobility, whilst differentiating and making the Smart brand a lot cooler. I like it.

Pricing has not been announced.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Audi Urban Concept

Audi will be showcasing its lightweight Urban Concept EV at the forthcoming Frankfurt International Auto show in September.

It features a sliding canopy entry, a 1 + 1 staggered seating arrangement and a carbon fibre reinforced polymer shell for strength and lightness.

The Audi is 3200mm long, 1700mm wide and just 1200mm tall and a sub-500kg kerbweight. A short unofficial video is available and here is the official Audi trailer. 

First the Renault Twizy, now this. Maybe the G-Wiz will turn out to have been the first step towards the future of urban mobility after all....

[Update: CGI photos]

Ford Focus: the 'solar powered' EV

USA Today reports that Ford are planning to green its brand by marketing the Ford Focus electric in the US as a 'solar powered car' by teaming up with SunPower to sell a solar p/v home energy system through Ford dealerships.

The solar photovoltaic panels will not charge the Focus directly but will of course be mounted on the roof of the owner's house, in order to provide sufficient energy equivalent to 1,000 miles of driving each month.

To generate enough solar power for an electric-car offset, the system will have about 147 square feet of roof panels — about 11 panels that are 4 feet by 2 feet. The 2.5-kilowatt system will produce about 3,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

Installation will be by Best Buy's Geek Squad at a total cost of about US$10,000. The price of the Focus has not been announced yet although sales are due to commence later this year in the US in selected states.

Here in the UK many G-Wiz and several Leaf owners have a similar set up and are already driving 'emission free for free'.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Market forecasts missing zinc-air arrival

Autoblog.green report that Japanese research firm Fuji Keizai Group forecasts combined sales of plug-in hybrid, electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles will hit 32.1 million units worldwide in 2025. Fuji Kezai says that sales of these electrified vehicles will climb to 5.46 million units in 2015, a six-fold increase compared to the approximately 900,000 electrified vehicles sold worldwide in 2010.
Fuji Keizai breaks down its 32.1 million unit figure like this:
  • Standard hybrid vehicles: 13.86 million
  • Plug-in hybrids: 11.48 million
  • Pure electric vehicles: 5.75 million
  • Fuel cell vehicles: 1 million
Now, we should take this forecast, like all other EV forecasts, with a pinch of salt. The analysts never seem to get it right and I do not believe that hydrogen is going mainstream, not least because according to Craig Shields, Editor of 2GreenEnergy.com writing in TheEnergyCollective.comUS firm Eos Energy Systems has recently announced that it will release its rechargeable zinc-air battery for US$165 per kWh - and may make lithium-ion one of the most short lived of fuel carriers. 

Let's not get too excited yet as there have been many false dawns along the EV highway so far. But definitely one to watch then.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

BBC / Top Gear criticised yet again on EV reporting

Jeremy Clarkson: Top Sneer

George Monbiot writing in The Guardian.co.uk is the latest in a long line of journalists to take issue with the way BBC Top Gear report on electric cars:
"What distinguishes the BBC from the rest of this country's media? There's the lack of advertising, and the lack of a proprietor with specific business interests to defend. But perhaps the most important factor is its editorial guidelines, which are supposed to ensure that the corporation achieves "the highest standards of due accuracy and impartiality and strive[s] to avoid knowingly and materially misleading our audiences."
Here's a few of the things they say:
"Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest."
"We will be rigorous in establishing the truth of the story and well informed when explaining it. Our specialist expertise will bring authority and analysis to the complex world in which we live."
"We will be open in acknowledging mistakes when they are made and encourage a culture of willingness to learn from them."
Woe betide the producer or presenter who breaches these guidelines. Unless, that is, they work for Top Gear. If so, they are permitted to drive a coach and horses – or a Hummer H3 - through them whenever they please.
Take, for example, Top Gear's line on electric cars. Casting aside any pretence of impartiality or rigour, it has set out to show that electric cars are useless. If the facts don't fit, it bends them until they do.
It's currently being sued by electric car maker Tesla after claiming, among other allegations, that the Roadster's true range is only 55 miles per charge (rather than 211), and that it unexpectedly ran out of charge. Tesla says "the breakdowns were staged and the statements are untrue". But the BBC keeps syndicating the episode to other networks. So much for "acknowledging mistakes when they are made".
Now it's been caught red-handed faking another trial, in this case of theNissan LEAF.
Last Sunday, an episode of Top Gear showed Jeremy Clarkson and James May setting off for Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire, 60 miles away. The car unexpectedly ran out of charge when they got to Lincoln, and had to be pushed. They concluded that "electric cars are not the future".
But it wasn't unexpected: Nissan has a monitoring device in the car which transmits information on the state of the battery. This shows that, while the company delivered the car to Top Gear fully charged, the programme-makers ran the battery down before Clarkson and May set off, until only 40% of the charge was left. Moreover, they must have known this, as the electronic display tells the driver how many miles' worth of electricity they have, and the sat-nav tells them if they don't have enough charge to reach their destination. In this case it told them – before they set out on their 60-mile journey – that they had 30 miles' worth of electricity. But, as Ben Webster of the Times reported earlier this week, "at no point were viewers told that the battery had been more than half empty at the start of the trip."
It gets worse. As Webster points out, in order to stage a breakdown in Lincoln, "it appeared that the Leaf was driven in loops for more than 10 miles in Lincoln until the battery was flat."
When Jeremy Clarkson was challenged about this, he admitted that he knew the car had only a small charge before he set out. But, he said: "That's how TV works". Not on the BBC it isn't, or not unless your programme is called Top Gear.
Top Gear's response, by its executive producer Andy Wilman, is a masterpiece of distraction and obfuscation. He insists that the programme wasn't testing the range claims of the vehicles, and nor did it state that the vehicles wouldn't achieve their claimed range. But the point is that it creates the strong impression that the car ran out of juice unexpectedly, leaving the presenters stranded in Lincoln, a city with no public charging points.
Yes, this is an entertainment programme, yes it's larking about, and sometimes it's very funny. But none of this exempts it from the BBC's guidelines and the duty not to fake the facts.
The issue is made all the more potent by the fact that Top Gear has a political agenda. It's a mouthpiece for an extreme form of libertarianism and individualism. It derides attempts to protect the environment, and promotes the kind of driving that threatens other people's peace and other people's lives. It often creates the impression that the rules and restraints which seek to protect us from each other are there to be broken.
This is dangerous territory. Boy racers, in many parts of the countryside, are among the greatest hazards to local people's lives. Where I live, in rural mid-Wales, the roads are treated as race tracks. Many of the young lads who use them compete to see who can clock up the fastest speeds on a given stretch. The consequences are terrible: a series of hideous crashes involving young men and women driving too fast, which kill other people or maim them for life. In the latest horror, just down the road from where I live, a young man bumped another car through a fence and into a reservoir. Four of the five passengers drowned.
Of course I'm not blaming only Top Gear for this, but it plays a major role in creating a comfort zone within which edgy driving is considered acceptable, even admirable. Top Gear's political agenda also persists in stark contradiction to BBC rules on impartiality.
So how does it get away with it? It's simple. It makes the BBC a fortune. Both the 15th and 16th series of Top Gear were among the top five TV programmes sold internationally by BBC Worldwide over the last financial year. Another section of the editorial guidelines tells us that "our audiences should be confident that our decisions are not influenced by outside interests, political or commercial pressures". But in this case we can't be. I suggest that it is purely because of commercial pressures that Top Gear is allowed to rig the evidence, fake its trials, pour petrol over the BBC's standards and put a match to them. The money drives all before it."

At least there is a debate of sorts going on, which is an opportunity for views to be aired. It's just a shame that the BBC has become so unbalanced in its reporting, something I thought I would never say.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Top Gear: true lies

Robert Lllewellyn has picked up on an important point made during last weekend's Top Gear programme on electric cars: their attack on car batteries.

He puts it eloquently as always in his Llewblog: " Mr Clarkson went on to explain that as well as being prohibitively expensive to buy, these cars were prohibitively expensive to drive. He suggested they could cost as much as £8.50 to charge the battery. At this point I admit my relaxed ears pricked up.

£8.50, that sounds like a lot. Where did they get that figure from?

£8.50 to charge the Nissan Leaf’s 24 kWh battery means the electricity costs 36p per kWh. So the researchers at Top Gear must have searched long and hard to find the most expensive daytime tariff they could, I’ve searched and I couldn’t find anything like 36p per kilowatt hour but I have to accept you could find it somewhere.

According to the plethora of energy comparison websites, the average cost of daytime electricity is between 14 and 18 pence per kWh meaning a full battery would cost £4.23 if you charge in the daytime, working out at 4p a mile as opposed to 12p per mile for a traditional car doing 50mpg.

I charge the Nissan Leaf at night when the cost is under 5p per kWh, which works out at £1.20 for 100 miles, which means it’s costing me fractionally over 1p a mile to drive the car.

However, I’m sure you can pay more if you want and the Top Gear script writers will have underlined that, and Andy Wilman the producer will have insisted to Mr Clarkson that it was imperative that he say, “It can cost £8.50 to charge this car to drive 100 miles.’

 ‘We all know batteries are rubbish’ said the apparently knowledgeable Mr May, ‘they always run out.’

What, as opposed to a petrol tank that stays perpetually full?

So the official TG line is now, electric cars are fine, it’s just batteries which are useless. It’s a line that, judging from my Twitter stream alone has clearly struck a chord.

Is it true?

I think there is ample evidence to say it is very far from true. The batteries in the Nissan Leaf are extraordinary, they are a step change in technology. If, after say 100-150,000 miles the batteries range starts to decrease, Nissan will re-furbish the battery for much less than the £19,000 figure so casually bandied about in the Tory press recently

Nissan will re-furbish batteries in the UK, at the plant in Sunderland where the batteries are made. They will re-cycle 97% of the materials and fit the re-furbished battery back into the car and it will be as good as new, for another 150,000 miles.

While it is true that no one yet knows exactly how long a modern electric car battery will last, (they’ve not been in use long enough) we are beginning to get a good idea of their longevity.

Once again I will refer to Paul Scott’s Toyota RAV E4 in California which has now travelled over 120,000 miles on the original battery pack and it’s showing no signs of failure. Also worth pointing out that in the time he’s driven the car, Mr Scott had to replace wiper blades and one shock absorber. The maintenance costs of that vehicle are so low as to register as zero.

The ending of the Top Gear section on electric cars was a little tragic. Three men whose lives revolve around internal combustion engines and burning rubber facing the now universally accepted truth that we are going to face a chronic shortage of the fuel we all depend on.

They stood there like confused rabbits with no idea of a solution other than saying ‘hydrogen mumble mumble.’ That’s just it. ‘Hydrogen mumble mumble’ is not a very convincing solution.

Meanwhile, all around the world actual engineers and scientists are working on viable, economic and sustainable solutions to this truly appalling prospect with dedication and enthusiasm. 

Petrol currently costs £6.26 per gallon. @ 50 mpg, £12.53 per 100 miles.

Diesel currently costs £6.72 per gallon. @ 50 mpg, £13.44 per 100 miles.

Electricity = max 20p per kWh. @ 100 miles for 24 kWh, £4.80 per 100 miles."

I would like to add one point. I see many online comments that Top Gear  is 'just entertainment'. This is both incorrect and to miss the point. Top Gear is intentionally misinforming and misleading the public. Technically and of course after consultation with the legal team they tell the truth, but never the whole truth. And they influence public opinion, particularly the lazy majority who unquestioningly repeat Clarkson and May's 'facts'. It is right that they should be held to account and that as a result, space created for a replacement to Top Gear, a programme which informs truthfully as well as entertains.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Shenzhen EV charging network up and running

Just in: Shenzhen have announced an EV charging network comprising of 57 charging stations and 850 charging points.

The network will be used by the 286 electric buses, 1750 hybrid electric buses and 300 electric taxis now in operation.

Congratulations, actions always speak louder than words!

Mini E EV final test results published

According to VerdictOnCars.co.uk Mini has revealed the final results of its electric car trial, and has announced that the 40 cars it evaluated covered a combined 250,000 miles over the 12 month period of the assessment.

The results also showed that the Mini Es covered an average daily distance of 29.7 miles - further than the conventionally powered 'control' cars that BMW also sent out to see how usage compared (presumably because the trialists were enjoying the cars). The petrol-powered Mini Coopers and BMW 116is covered an average of 26.5 miles, slightly more than the 25 miles Mini claims is the national average.
Because of this, and the average single trip distance, eight out of 10 of those that took part in the test said that 80 percent of their journeys could be done in the Mini E. If the Mini had come with rear seats and a bigger boot, then nine out of 10 trialists said they would have been able to do all of their trips in the electric car.
The survey found that they charged the cars at home, and on average fewer than three times a week. While this was as much to do with making the most of cheap night-time electricity tariffs as it was with the lack of a charging infrastructure, 82 percent of testers said it was "essential" for a network of charging points to be established.
This was contradicted however, as range anxiety appeared not to be a significant issue, with some of the respondents doing long trips on a regular basis. One driver did more than one trip of 88 miles in cold winter weather.
The highest mileage put onto an individual car by one driver was 7954 miles in a six month period, while the average distance was 3,226.
Nearly all of the 138 drivers that took part said they would consider buying an electric car in the future - 96 percent said they would do so at one point, while 30 percent said they would consider buying one in the next year. 51 percent said they would happily pay more for an EV.
The Mini E was a two-seater adaptation of the standard Mini, which is powered by a 201bhp electric motor that should be fully chargeable in 3.5 hours, and could achieve 112 miles between charging.

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London's environment director, said that the study will also shape policy decisions, adding that Boris Johnson's plans to expand the Source London charging point infrastructure will address many of the concerns raised.
"Electric driving technology is coming on leaps and bounds, but people naturally still have questions and concerns," he said.
"Research such as this ... into real-life experiences is invaluable as it debunks some common myths and underscores why electric vehicles are perfect for urban driving."

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Free EV car stickers

In response to the latest Top Gear reporting of electric vehicles, Belgian comedian and TV presenter of science and technology programmes Lieven Scheire has designed this bumper sticker for your car. Lieven has also designed a charge port sticker.

If you would like one, please contact Lieven directly at sticker@scheire.be

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Top Gear: would you like a free EV charging post?

If you follow the electric vehicle debate on Twitter, then you may have noticed @zerocarbonworld, the Twitter moniker of a charity formed by Kevin Sharpe.

Established in 2009, the charity set up the UK's first charging network under its Charging Stations Everywhere initiative. The idea is simple: Zero Carbon World will donate a charging station to your organisation, office, home, restaurant, hotel (you get the idea) free of charge. The goal is to build a network of open i.e. not smart card based charging points across the UK and eventually worldwide in order to promote and facilitate the use of electric vehicles.

I hope the Zero Carbon World network is a big success. Then we might put an end to the Top Gear nonsense about running out of charge in an EV.

Maybe the Top Gear team would like to request a free charging point for their Surrey test track? (Just saying).

For more information, visit  Zero Carbon World website.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Top Gear kill off electric car sales in UK - for now.

Very clever.

Last night the BBC Top Gear programme effectively killed off electric car sales in the UK - for now. For the hundreds of motorists who have been looking at electric cars with interest, uncomfortable with their current carbon emissions, but with concerns regarding range anxiety, their minds have now been made up. Don't buy an electric car.

Top Gear understand the power of an image and the sight of the Nissan Leaf and the Peugeot ion running completely out of charge and then being pushed, well that was the coup de grace for EV sales in this country in 2011.

The old trick of damning with faint praise and 'balanced' reporting worked well. The gentle suggestion that EVs are cool but that batteries will never work as a fuel carrier and that fuel cells are the future put enough doubt into our minds. Brilliant. Game over.

Or is it?

Of course not, the challenge just became a little harder that's all. At least now any smugness over the Leaf has been blown away. EVs will still sell in future, because petrol will continue to become scarcer and so more expensive. EVs will sell because climate change is not going away as an issue. EVs will sell because battery range will increase and 32 amp fast charging will become possible on all EVs, to supplement overnight standard 16 amp charging. EVs will sell because manufacturers will now be forced to build and then price EVs competitively compared to conventionally fuelled cars. And finally, EVs will sell because the government will be forced to introduce stricter measures that nudge and support manufacturers in this direction.

I hope that the consequence of last night's programme will be to stimulate fresh thinking on EVs and challenge us. So thank you Top Gear, that was just the kicking that we need to try harder to make EVs more appealing to motorists.

It will be interesting to see what impact the more competitively priced Renault ZE range will have on EV sales, with the Fluence and soon the Zoe being introduced for sale. Meanwhile, it is time for the UK government to rethink its carbon reduction strategy for transport - I suggest that from March 2012 they use what's left of the Plugged In '20% up to £5,000' incentive only for EVs priced under £15,000.

That would put the emphasis on city cars, second cars for the family, commuter cars and cars used for the school run, shopping and local leisure. In other words, let's fit the incentives to the technology - including its current limitations - and focus everyone on the benefits and advantages of EVs rather than their disadvantages.