Monday, 30 December 2013

The No.1 reason why EVs are about to take off reports from the US: There are a ton of reasons why electric cars should be the dominant type of car on our roads — reasons why you should really ditch your gasmobile for an electric car

Some of those reasons would slowly sway portions of the market. But logic doesn’t often prevail in the marketplace — love, enthusiasm, and emotional desires do. And that’s actually why I think electric cars will quickly come to dominate the market….
I wish I could say it’s no secret, but it actually is something like a secret that electric cars are simply way more enjoyable to drive than gasmobiles. It’s common for people to think of golf carts or small, dinky vehicles when they think of electric cars. Only 22% of respondents in a recent nationwide study said they were familiar with the Tesla Model S, only 31% said that they were familiar with the Nissan Leaf, the highest-selling electric car in the world.
If so many people haven’t even heard of the vehicles, you know that they and others don’t realize how much nicer they are to drive. Mainstream media reporters, most of whom have never driven a modern electric car themselves, certainly aren’t communicating this to the public.
But word of mouth can be a powerful sales force, and word gets around increasingly fast as an awesome product starts to gain market share. We’ve seen this time and time again.
The rise of the computer. The rise of the laptop. The rise of the phone. The rise of the cell phone. The rise of the smartphone. The rise of the CD player. The rise of the iPod. The rise of email. The rise of the tablet. These things don’t happen overnight, but the growth occurs exponentially and proves a ton of “change skeptics” wrong within a relatively short period of time.
In the case of electric cars, you hear this story over and over again: “I was just planning to use the electric car for [insert some practical, routine purpose], but then I found myself never wanting to drive my [insert higher-end car model].”

Over and over again, you hear people saying: “I could never go back to gas cars now.”
This quote from an early investor in Tesla after testing out an early Roadster is extreme and refers to a prime Tesla product, but it still captures the essence of the story at all electric vehicle price levels: ”What the hell did you do to my Porsche? I just spent a quarter of a million dollars on this thing, and it sucks now!”
Of course, it’s not the car guys or the $250,000 Porsche guys who need to adopt electric cars in order to help us stop global warming, cut air pollution, cut energy insecurity and fuel price spikes. It’s the huge middle class. Also, notably, it’s women, since they dominate the decision-making process on family expenditures. After I had already decided to write this article and put the title in, I actually ran across a new GM-Volt Forum post that I think tells us where we’re headed:

Losing ‘my’ Volt?

My wife normally drives a CTS-V.
More and more, she asks if the Volt is charged. Of course it is.
Once more, she takes the Volt instead of the Caddy. Nothing to 
do with Saving The Baby Seals, and she has a full tank in Cad.
I think she likes driving it more.
This is what will cause the EV market to take off. Fun to drive.
Note that the Cadillac CTS-V is a luxury sedan priced between$65,000 and $73,000. The Chevy Volt, before tax credits or rebates, starts at $34,185. After the federal tax credit, the starting price is $26,685.
I said it before, and I’ll say it again… and again, and again: electric cars are totally awesome to drive compared to gas cars. I hope you do the same and help to spread the good word!

Friday, 27 December 2013

Mind boggling Consequences In Wake Of Battery Price Drops report that about a century ago the nascent automotive industry started out by producing electric vehicles. Even big names such as Porsche started their business on a pure-electric basis. In the hundred-year hiccup that followed we have burned billions of tons of fossil fuel, but the clean times of pure electric are returning.
The trigger to this all is simple: affordable batteries. Just as the television business was turned upside-down by the prices of flat-panel TVs in the 90’s and similarly the solar business by plummeting panel prices in the decade thereafter, we are now in a transition period where battery prices are dropping by 20-30% each year. The consequences for the automotive industry are mind boggling.
Battery prices are the main cost drivers of electric vehicles. Last year Volkswagen stated that it would be possible to manufacture a 100% electric vehicle more cheaply than a car with a combustion engine within three years.
Three years ago it was a challenge to produce an electric vehicle with a 300km range for an affordable price. Well, we have seen what happened to the stock price of Tesla Motors after the successful introduction of the Tesla-S – a 300-km range electric vehicle, which is outselling Porsche and Audi in California at the moment.
In China there is an additional market driver: megacity air pollution. The large metropolitan areas are turning into smog centers and the Chinese government has decided to invest massively and switch quickly to e-mobility. The result is the establishment of tens of new companies to produce e-bikes, e-cars, e-buses and batteries.
With the arrival of long-range affordable electric vehicles the challenges to the charging infrastructure increase proportionally. Charging power must go up, both at home and in public charging stations.
Over the last 5 years the e-mobility industry has converged around three global fast charge standards. Europe/USA have selected the ‘’Combo’’ standard, China has selected the ‘’GB/T’’ standard and Japan has selected the ‘’Chademo’’ standard. The selection of standards is the result of a five year political and strategic dance among governments and automotive players, but the dust has settled and the markets can begin to takeoff.
ABB is contributing to this critical stage in the market with its Terra 53 charging platform, the world’s first to meet all DC fast-charging standards. With its multi-standard architecture and near-term option to cascade the stations to higher power, the Terra 53 is ideal for highway and city centers, fueling stations, fleets, and other infrastructure investors who are interested in the growing EV charging market. In addition to that, ABB is launching high-power DC home chargers to enable overnight charging of large-battery vehicles, which would otherwise take a weekend or two to charge from an ordinary home-socket – times are changing.
National networks such as the one announced by the Netherlands this past summer will bring fast charging stations to within 50 km of all of the country’s 16.7 million people. To put that into perspective, 16.7 million people is about the size of Shenzhen, and that’s only one Chinese city…
The automotive industry has to switch, and switch quickly. Batteries will do to the automotive industry what flat panels did to TV and PV-panels to the solar business.

China's Kandi Machine


European readers may be quite familiar with the concept of a tower full of tiny vehicles, dispensing them to people below. Smart used just such a building to store its vehicles at Smart dealerships all around Europe when the vehicle was first released.
Now, China is using a similar system for tiny electric cars as part of a car sharing service hoping to make China's smog-choked streets just a little cleaner.
China has long struggled with smoggy streets but the issue became much more public when the country hosted the Olympic Games back in 2008. Several athletes complained about the pollution and such problems have only become more public since--in the past year, Chinese cities have broken all manner of "highest smog ever recorded" records.
Not all the pollution is down to road traffic, though some cities have limited the sale of cars and others have incorporated pollution taxes.
But cleaning up road transportation is a real goal in China right now, and systems like the electric car sharing program from Kandi Technologies Group are the first steps towards that goal.
Like the Smart dispensers seen across Europe, Kandi's cars--two-seat, 75-mile range electric vehicles--are stored in big towers that dispense Kandis like... well, candy.
Building upwards solves one of the issues associated with China's pollution and traffic problems, that of a lack of space to park. The cars are simply stored in big towers where they're charged up, and other cars are plucked from their pigeonhole to serve the needs of other customers.
It operates largely like the similar bike-sharing operation in the city of Hangzhou, the largest of its type in the world. Customers can select a car from the tower and drive across the city, where it's deposited in another.
Kandi electric car (Image: Kandi Technologies Group)
Kandi electric car (Image: Kandi Technologies Group)
It costs just $3.25 an hour to rent one of the vehicles, which are much safer than the electric and non-electric bicycles and scooters that many residents use to get around the city.
How quickly the system will grow depends on how Hangzhou's drivers take to the idea, but the company has big plans--it aims to have 750 of the towers across the city in the next four years, and 100,000 vehicles to fill them. That would be achieved through a 50-50 joint venture with huge Chinese automaker, Geely Automotive.
It's a project with massive potential, and could be perfectly placed to benefit from a Chinese populace more and more able to afford their own vehicles--or those looking to switch from more basic transportation such as scooters.
If businesses such as Kandi can prevent a rise in city center pollution before it gets any worse--or even reduce the current issues, then those unusual car vending machines are likely to become a familiar sight in China.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Futurist predicts 2016 EV tipping point

Futurist Lars Thomsen thinks that electric cars are such a disruptive technology that they will make gasoline cars obsolete--starting in 2016, or much earlier than most other analysts suggest.
Thomsen delivered a speech this past September, at the 25th International AVL Conference “Engine & Environment” in Graz, Austria, that's contained in the clip above. 

Thomsen suggests that electric cars are a sufficiently disruptive technology that they will lead to quick behavior changes by consumers in the market for automobiles. 
He uses the example of Nokia as a cautionary tale, noting that less than 10 years ago, that company dominated the world market for mobile phones.
In June 2007, Apple released its first-generation iPhone, a radical new entry from a company that for three decades had confined itself to personal computers and portable music devices. The iPhone was such a radical rethinking of what a phone should be and how it should operate--essentially a small Internet-connected computer, operated via a touchscreen, that also provided voice calls--that it completely reset the market's vision of what a "mobile phone" should be. It was only a handful of early adopters who were initially excited about Apple's entry into a tough, low-margin industry dependent on volume and price competition. Little more than a year later, the first version of the Android mobile-phone operating system was released. Five years later, most readers of this site will know the outcome: Phones running either Android or Apple iOS dominate the mobile market in the developed world, and Nokia has plummeted so far that its mobile business was recently sold to Microsoft.

While the scale, cost, and product cycles of the global vehicle and mobile-phone businesses are very different, Thomsen suggests that electric cars--which now excite only early adopters--could prompt similar changes in the auto market.
For more on his views, a translation of a Die Zeit article from last month provides a few nuggets.
Tesla may well be the tipping point, he says, showing that a radically new model is not only possible, but something that buyers will eagerly embrace.
You can drive companies out of business if they they [are] sleepy," he says in the translated article.
He points to the long list of television makers globally who went out of business as tube TVs gave way to flat screens.
And then there's Kodak, which invented digital photography, but failed to profit from it and went through bankruptcy, taking with it tens of thousands of jobs in its upstate New York hometown as well as the rest of the world.

Is the auto industry at a similar point? Battery prices will fall, he says, and public charging infrastructure will continue to be installed. "As early as 2016," the futurist predicts, demand for vehicles powered by internal-combustion engines "will decline massively"--with even demand for hybrid cars collapsing by 2018.
In that scenario, he notes, government rules to boost gas mileage and reduce carbon emissions will become meaningless as battery-powered zero-emission vehicles proliferate.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Tesla targets BMW with Model X

Tesla– is planning an assault on the compact executive saloon company car market.
Tesla says its next generation of electric cars will be 3 Series sized.
Here’s the glitzy Model S sports saloon with its likely market in the background
This follows the launch of the Tesla Model S, a four-door sports saloon with hatchback versatility and seven seat capabilitiy, that can sprint to 60mph in 4.2 seconds but has a range of 300 miles.
Tesla will follow the Model S with production of the Model X – an SUV style estate car that starts production in 2014 and is slated to appear in the UK late 2014/early 2015.
A key feature of the Model X are the doors which open upwards – Tesla calls them ‘Falcon wing doors’ – for easy access to the interior.
“Our strategy has been to enter the market from the top with the Generation 2 Model S and then increase our volume and reach with a Generation 3 car that will be 3 Series sized,” confirmed Davide Ghione, EU fleet sales manager, Tesla.
Hand in hand with the Tesla business car presence in the SME company car market is the roll out of ‘supercharging’ stations, where owners can recharge in 20 minutes to provide a 150 mile charge. For free and for life.
Starting 2014, these supercharging stations will be rolled out along key motorway corridors, such as London to Cardiff and London to Manchester, and will be spaced every 150 miles.
before long you will be able to drive from England to Spain for free using our supercharging stations
“We have more extensive corridors in Europe,” confirmed Ghione, “but before long you will be able to drive from England to Spain for free using our supercharging stations.”
Prices for the Tesla Model S start from £49,900, including government grant.
Recently Tesla opened the new London Store Tesla in the Westfield Shopping Centre in west London.

Cars are incredibly inefficient converters of energy.

Of the 26.7 quads of energy going into transportation, barely a fifth of it is doing useful stuff, the rest is wasted. The idea of pushing a ton of metal to move 200 pounds of flesh is just insanely inefficient. This doesn't even account for the energy used in maintaining the infrastructure and building the roads; It is an inherently stupid way to design a transportation system. So what can we do:

1. Embrace urbanism.

The fact is, people are getting in their cars to go from place to place, not drive in circles for fun. We have to make it possible to survive without the car, and that means greater density and local shopping. It does NOT mean everyone has to live in New York or London or Mumbai or Shanghai and in high rise buildings; many of our small towns and cities are eminently walkable.

2. Do everything possible to promote walking, bikes, electric bikes and (small) electric cars, mopeds, buses, light rail, subways, anything that moves more human and less iron.

Gasoline is problem 1 and Electricity is problem 2. Anything that moves more human per unit of energy is an improvement. Anything that reduces the distance human has to move, such as working from home, promoting main streets and supporting local business, is also a big help.
Move to cities with rail and canals and water and hydro power and moderate climates that don't need as much air conditioning, the major electrical draw.
Finally, less really is more. Smaller (electric cars powered by sustainable energy), smaller houses on smaller lots, apartments instead of detached houses; smaller fridges and washing machines; you can only increase efficiency so much; at some point we have to downsize our expectations.

Nissan Leaf to Be Made in China

Recent Chinese media reports indicate that the Nissan Leaf will soon be launched in China under the Venucia sub brand name from Dongfeng-Nissan. 

As we have learned a long time ago, the Leaf will be renamed for the Chinese market where it will be named the Venucia E30, or ‘Qi Chen’ in Chinese. What is surprising is that the Leaf/e30 is exceptionally close to being produced in China, reports indicate that the model will be on sale in April 2014 in the Beijing and Shanghai areas, and will receive government subsidies of around 100,000RMB owing to municipal subsidies along with central government subsidies. 

Whilst mass EV sales seem a long way off, it seems that some companies are preparing to get the EV ball rolling quite fast.

What cars do men and women buy?

According to, the differences between men and women have mystified psychoanalysts, philosophers and divorce lawyers. Perhaps the keys to solving this age-old mystery are is in fact keys — car keys.
Want to understand the male psyche, its anxieties and inadequacies? Just look at the cars disproportionately driven by men: The car with the most skewed ratio of male to female drivers is none other than the Lamborghini. A staggering 93% of the owners of that Italian luxury sports car are men. The car with the highest rate of ownership among women, meanwhile, is the fuel-efficient Mini, according to a survey of nearly 10 million car registrations conducted for MarketWatch by
“Women car shoppers tend to be more pragmatic, so the value brands are at the top,” Cadlwell says. Vehicles like compact crossovers and compact cars tend to also score high with women.” But the highest ownership rate for women among any car is still less than 50%: 49% of Minis and Kias are registered to women, according to the Edmunds data. In some cases though, Caldwell notes, these vehicles are registered to the male heads of household. Men may also do a little more car shopping than women. Male and female buyers on Kelley Blue Book’s site are split around 60/40, says Arthur Henry, manager of Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence. (Plus, some 60% of KBB customers are married.)
Mini, Kia, Fiat, Mitsubishi and Hyundai are the top five brands that skew the most female, according new data from price-comparison website — although it should be noted that none are actually majority owned by women. More than 90% of the owners of Lamborghini, McClaren and Ferraris meanwhile are men, and Aston Martin, Fisker and Lotus, Ram, Maserati, Rolls Royce and Tesla have male ownership rates of over 80%. The results seem to suggest that men are more concerned with power and prestige than their pocketbook, says Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds. “Brands with high male percentage tend to be more performance-oriented,” she says.
What’s more, men are more likely to consider a vehicle from domestic American manufacturers or European luxury brands, while female new-car shoppers are more likely to choose an imported car, according to a separate study of 13,000 U.S. adults by auto-pricing publisher Kelley Blue Book’s Market Intelligence division. Some 76% of women look for safety features versus just 61% of men, the study found, “and Honda and Toyota have a strong perception among consumers for both fuel efficiency and safety,” Henry says.
Though it’s hard to make generalizations about consumer taste, Men appear to choose their cars as they would choose a watch or cologne, Henry says, based on how it makes them feel and the image it presents to the world. For instance, brands with a rich heritage like Lincoln, Buick, Cadillac and Mercedes-Benz particularly draw the attention of older men, Henry says. (Men are 17% more likely than women to shop for a Lincoln, KBB’s study found.) Many of them grew up with the automaker as an aspirational luxury brand, he says. Perhaps less surprisingly, brands that promote themselves as being “rugged” in advertising campaigns draw the interest of men of all ages, he says.

Women, on the other hand, tend to choose cars based on fuel-efficiency and price. Some 72% of women say they’ll consider affordability in their next purchase compared with 50% of men, according to a survey by Kelley Blue Book, while 67% of women are more likely to consider fuel-efficient cars — such as Kia, Mini, Mazda and Honda — versus 48% of men. And women appear to prefer less flashy colours: They’re 9% more likely to choose silver or brown models, while men are 12% more likely to go for cars in red and orange, according to an analysis of buyers by used-car dealing site 

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Tesla to expand production by 35,000 vehicles

Tesla Motors is gearing up for increased production over the next few years with the aid of healthy tax breaks from its home state of California. It will reportedly save the company as much as $34.7 million on the purchase of $415 million of new manufacturing equipment and would allow Tesla to expand annual production by 35,000 vehicles. California ordinarily taxes the purchase of manufacturing equipment, but grants exemptions for clean technology companies in order to stimulate growth.

Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki Ready Electric Vehicles For India

Tata eMO-C Concept
Tata Electric eMO-C Concept
InsideEVs reports that the government in India has dragged its heels for some time now in getting an               incentive program in place for electric vehicles.
ICE Version of Tata Magic
ICE Version of Tata Magic – Tata is Expected to 
Launch an EV Version of This Vehicle
This heel dragging has meant that only Mahindra Reva took the step of offering an EV for sale there, while other local automakers avoid the plug in.  This situation appears as though it’ll change soon.
Both Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki (both local Indian automakers) are now gearing up to enter the EV segment just as soon as that government incentive is in place.
The Indian government says the incentive will be there in Spring 2014.
ICE Version of Maruti Eeco
ICE Version of Maruti Eeco – Maruti 
Says This Will Get Electrified
Tata and Maruti haven’t fully committed to EVs though.  Both will first take part in an EV trial program before evaluating whether or not they should begin mass production.
On the flip side sits Mahindra Reva.  Mahindra already has its e20 on sale in India.  This EV will be followed by 3 or 4 more electric models bearing the Mahindra badge just as soon as the government get that incentive program going.
It’s believed that in April 2014 the incentive will by in full swing.  As for how much will offered by vehicle, that remains a mystery.  We do know that India plans to set         aside $3.2 billion US in total for the program, but we don’t have a per-vehicle figure, nor do we have details                on how the program will work.

Thursday, 19 December 2013

France's Bollore to take over Source London charging network

Transport for London (TfL) has announced today that IER has been selected to take over the management and operation of Source London, the capital’s electric vehicle (EV) charge point network and membership scheme.
The French organisation, which is a subsidiary of the Bolloré Group, will take over the scheme from summer 2014. IER will be responsible for all ‘back office’ functions including handling enquiries and membership registrations, from its UK offices. By working with new and existing Source London partners, IER aim to expand the charging network and provide a strong long-term commitment to EV drivers in London.
IER has extensive experience of implementing and operating EV schemes based on its role in delivering the Paris Autolib which was launched in 2011. It currently has over 30,000 active subscribers making between 6,000 and 10,000 car journeys each day.
IER’s vision for Source London is to build on the legacy of what has been achieved so far while also introducing new value added services that will meet the needs of scheme partners and members in the long term. Their new proposals include the introduction of “Pay As You Go” charging, identifying new opportunities to expand the scheme across London, revenue sharing with partners and increased marketing/promotion of the scheme.
TfL with work closely with IER and scheme partners to ensure a smooth transition to the new operator.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Denmark: national fast charging network

ABB is set to build a Danish national electric vehicle charging network.

Denmark's ambitious hopes to position itself as one of Europe's leading electric car markets is to get another boost, after engineering company ABB announced that it has been selected to deploy a further 50 charging points across the country.
The Swiss conglomerate confirmed yesterday that is has signed a deal with Danish electric charging network operator CLEVER to install 50 CCS (Combo) compatible DC fast chargers, taking the total number of chargers the company will deploy in the country to 100.
The first CLEVER DC fast charger at a Shell petrol station in Denmark was inaugurated earlier this month by the Danish Minister of Transport, Pia Olsen Dyhr, and additional fast chargers are set to follow next year in response to growing demand from fast-charge compatible vehicles, such as the VW e-UP! and BMW i3.The deal, the value of which was undisclosed, follows the earlier rollout of 50 ABB charging points across the country at the start of this year and will mean that the network provides both AC and DC charging facilities.
The rollout of fast chargers is widely seen as critical to the success of the fast-expanding electric vehicle market, as it will allow motorists to recharge their cars, typically to around 80 per cent capacity, in less than 30 minutes.
"CLEVER's strategy is to follow the car and that's why we, as Denmark's leading electric-mobility operator, establish charging stations for all types of electric vehicles available in the Danish market," said CLEVER chief executive, Lars Bording, in a statement. "This means that you can always be sure that there are fast-charging stations in our network to match your electric vehicle. Electric vehicles and charging go together, and it is critical that we deliver a charging infrastructure which is compatible and reliable."

Monday, 16 December 2013

Tesla prepares to enter China Tesla Motors has launched its Chinese site,, as it prepares to sell its electric cars, the Model S and Model X, in China. The site is currently taking pre-orders with with a reservation fee of RMB 250,000, or about USD $41,000 USD. The company has set a February 2014 roll-out date for both vehicles in China.
The site follows the opening of Tesla Motors’ showroom in Beijing last month. At that time, the China Daily reported that the Model S will cost between $146,000 and $200,000, due to the steep taxes that China levies on imports. In the U.S., each Model S is priced between $71,000 to $120,000 depending on its specs, while in Europe that range is $98,000 to $162,000.
Tesla Motors started taking pre-orders for the Model S in August at its showroom and it already had a Chinese Web presence in the form of its Tesla brand page on microblogging platform Sina Weibo. The personal Weibo account of Tesla China general manager Kingston Chang has also been a key information outlet. Chang worked at Bentley China before joining Tesla Motors in March.
The site’s domain name is based on the Chinese pronunciation of Tesla. The domain was registered in 2006 by a company based in Guangzhou that claimed it was using the URL to support its own research, even though the site is currently blank. says the company will offer incentives to attract local buyers despite the steep premium they have to pay for Tesla cars. As in the U.S., Tesla will try to attract a niche segment of affluent, environmentally-conscious early adopters. Its Beijing showroom is located in Parkview Green, an upscale shopping center that was also the first mixed-use commercial building in China to be certified LEED platinum, making it a neat fit for Tesla’s marketing strategy.
In China, Tesla’s potential selling points include the safety record of its vehicles. Mainland China’s wealthiest cities–Shanghai and Beijing–also suffer from poor air quality, which will help make Tesla’s cars stand out from other high-end auto manufacturers like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche.
But Tesla still faces several significant challenges. For one thing, it needs to build a charging infrastructure across China. It also competes with Chinese manufacturers, like BYD and Kandi, that have received support from the government to make electric vehicles.
CEO Elon Musk has said he is realistic about the challenges of entering China. In the company’s May 2013 earnings call, Musk described the country as the “wild card” of its international expansion strategy. One in four reservations for Tesla’s electric vehicles currently come from outside the U.S.
“I think we will see probably at least 10,000 units a year from demand in Europe and then at least 5,000 in Asia,” Musk said. “But I mean, that could be, obviously, a much bigger number and China is kind of a wild card here.”

UK not spending its EV subsidies

The FT reports that the UK is lagging behind its own targets for spending to support electric car use, prompting calls for more to be done to keep pace with other countries.
The coalition government has made much of its commitment to environmentally friendly initiatives, but spending on infrastructure and incentives for electric, non-polluting vehicles has failed to match promises.

The UK’s failure to invest in vital infrastructure such as an easily accessible, widespread network of charging points is a serious block to demand, automobile industry executives have said.

Many in the industry believe that, in the long term, electric cars will replace oil-powered vehicles, but consumer fears about charging the cars, and the distance that one charge will allow them to drive – so-called “range anxiety” – are stumbling blocks for sales.Just a third of the £400m promised between 2010 and 2015 to support uptake has been spent or earmarked for projects, according to government figures.

“There is a disconnect between the rhetoric, which is supportive, and the actions,” an industry official told the Financial Times. “The key thing is infrastructure. And this is the main area of disappointment,” said the official. “You’re looking around, and saying ‘I can’t see any chargers anywhere’, and therefore you have range anxiety.”

UK drivers bought just 2,538 electric cars in the first nine months of the year. In Norway, a country with a population less than a tenth of Britain, double that number was sold. In France, the figure was 6,300.

Britain is keen to market itself as a “centre of excellence” for high-tech cars, and Nissan has made the country its European manufacturing location for its all-electric Leaf model, the world’s biggest-selling electric car.

But the UK fell below France last month to become the Leaf’s third-largest European market, meaning the majority of the British-built electric cars are shipped abroad.
Of the 87,000 Leafs sold worldwide, including 16,000 in Europe, only 3,000 have been sold in the UK. Electric cars are not offered as an option for official vehicles to UK government ministers, who have the choice of a Jaguar or a hybrid Toyota Prius.
The government pledged £400m to supporting the vehicles in the UK in the five years to March 2015. But as of 30 September 2013, only £92m had been spent, including only £16m on infrastructure such as public charging points.

A further £44m has been committed for projects up to March 2015. Of this, £12m will be on infrastructure, according to data from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles, a government body.

Britain has about 5,000 public car charging points – most of which take more than four hours to charge a battery. Crucially, only 220 are rapid chargers, which can replenish most of a battery’s charge in about 20 minutes, making them far more useful for drivers.
Eight out of 10 Britons think the government should be doing more to make owning an electric vehicle affordable, according to a recent survey by Auto Trader magazine; seven out of 10 want more charging points.

The UK offers buyers a £5,000 rebate off the price of an electric car, with £25m of rebates provided so far.

“There are no government targets for electric car sales,” said a spokesman for the Department for Transport. “The number of people who are signing up for our plug-in car grant continues to rise, which is good news for the environment, the economy and consumers.”

“The coalition government’s ongoing investment in ultra-low emission vehicles is helping to transform the UK into a world leader in this industry,” the spokesman added.

Lem Bingley of Green test drives the i3:

BMW i3 side view

BMW i3 electric car
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Good: Quick, quiet and a delight to drive
Bad: Monster screen pillars, tiny boot
Price: from £25,680
Hidden beneath London’s Park Lane is an underground car park bristling with Ferraris, Astons and Bentleys. But they’re not getting a second look today because tucked away in a corner sits a brand new BMW i3 electric car. 

Built from carbon fibre and aluminium, it out-exotics the lot of them. And I’ve got the key. 

Or to be more truthful my minder from BMW has the key, clearly worried that I might disappear over the horizon in her new car and not come back. First impressions suggest this could be a real risk.

BMW i3 in London traffic

Up the ramp, out into Park Lane’s unrelenting river of steel, and BMW’s first mega-city-car feels instantly in its element. Squash the accelerator and the car launches itself bodily forward like a salmon up a weir. Urge is instant, without a trace of hesitation. Despite skinny tyres and some slippery winter asphalt, the upfront torque of electric propulsion still makes itself felt. No car I’ve yet driven is better able to nip into a short-lived gap between blundering buses and erratic taxis. 

The on-paper figures of 170bhp, 250Nm and 1,195kg all look impressive enough, but it’s still arresting to learn how briskly they translate into motion along a busy street. 

Lift off again and the reaction is equally instant, though not quite as beguiling. BMW has set up the i3 to aggressively recapture energy, which means it slows down quite abruptly whenever you step off the pedals. It feels horribly like someone else is pressing the brake without your prior agreement. 

No doubt this approach is highly efficient, ensuring that as little energy as possible is wasted even by drivers with especially heavy feet, but it is disconcerting and takes getting used to. I’d prefer to be able to tweak this setting, or indeed to choose a gliding mode, but if there is a means to adjust the regeneration level I couldn’t find it.

BMW i3 mode switch and iDrive controller

The console between the front seats does yield control over many options, via a standard BMW touch-sensitive, twist-and-prod controller combined with a wide, high-contrast central screen. There’s also a rocker switch providing easy access to a trio of driving modes. BMW’s usual Sport option is absent but there is Comfort, Eco Pro and Eco Pro+ to choose among. 

The main impact of each mode is on driving range between charges, with BMW saying 80 to 100 miles is realistic in Comfort, an extra 12 or so is unlocked by Eco Pro mode, and another 13 miles on top when driven in Pro+. Throttle response is dialled back as you step through the options, while the aircon and heating will also go into hibernation mode to save energy when you arrive at the most miserly setting.

I had expected the three personalities to feel like transmogrifying from hare to tortoise to slug, but in practice the switch between setups seems much more subtle. Even in Eco Pro+ mode, the i3 will still respond to a prod of throttle as if it’s been poked with a stick – at least until it hits a wall at 56mph, a barrier put in place to save energy. The other two modes will bring you to heel only at 93mph. 

When it comes to eking out extra miles, it’s a shame that BMW hasn’t made more of the digital instrument screen in front of the steering wheel. It doesn’t provide much in the way of visual feedback to assist the driver – a bold colour change you might monitor from the corner of an eye would be a blessing. 

BMW i3 instrument panel

The bigger satnav screen does helpfully show the limit of where you might reach on currently available charge, in either Comfort or Eco Pro+ setting, with the projected range varying according to the roads in that particular direction. In general, go faster and you’ll run out of charge within a shorter distance, so the limit from my Central London starting point is notably curtailed along the route of the M4, for example – which ranks among the speedier ways out of town. 

On the move, the i3 offers a level of hush unmatched by any other vehicle I’ve driven – it’s silent even by electric car standards, with very little sound from the rear-mounted motor and no creaks or squeaks at all. 

BMW i3 satnav screen showing range predictions

The library-grade silence comes despite a ride that can feel a little sharp at times. But evidently there’s enough wheel movement – or tall enough tyres – to ease away most lumps and bumps. You’d need to be an unforgiving critic to complain, even across the capital’s cratered streets. 

The quiet, smooth approach extends to the steering, which is light and effortless, surprisingly so for a BMW. This softness presumably reflects the i3’s urban remit, where easy parking trumps accurate cornering. And with no bulky engine under the bonnet, there’s room even for the tall, 19-inch standard wheels to nip inward and provide a properly tight turning circle. Though not quite up to black cab standards, the i3 will still U-turn in spots where other cars might demand a three-point fuss, which is always handy in the city. 

BMW i3 rear view on the move

There is a big lump of electric motor under the boot floor, however, meaning a high load lip and a meagre luggage compartment of just 260 litres. At least the rear seats are easy to flop forwards from behind the car, while getting at the back of the cabin from the side is simple – there’s no central pillar, providing a big gap and easy access to strap in kids (or dump a coat and camera bag in my case). The rear door, hinged at the back, can be swung aside once the front has been opened. 

Back seat passengers, especially short ones, will appreciate the i3’s scooped window line, which helps to lend the car an airy feel inside. The deeper window also makes the i3 look as ungainly as an indignant ostrich from the outside, but at least over-the-shoulder vision is excellent. 

BMW i3 front interior

Sadly the same can’t be said in all directions. The broad, curved screen pillars could hide a double-decker or two at T-junctions, which is a disappointment given that vision is otherwise outstanding. The view ahead is helped by an elevated eyeline, compared to most other hatchbacks and city cars. 

You sit tall because you’re perched above a thick layer of lithium-ion batteries of course, which lie nestled under the floor within the protective frame of the i3’s aluminium chassis. The pack holds 20kWh of energy and is kept at optimum temperature with liquid coolant, so should survive the eight years and 100,000 miles of BMW’s battery warranty. The rest of the car must make do with three years’ cover, albeit for unlimited miles.

The structure of the car above the chassis is high-tech carbon fibre, decorated with bolt-on plastic panels. Open a door or lift the hatchback and you can see the carbon frame ringing the edges of the aperture. It’s not the glossy, uniform chequerboard of stuck-on fake carbon fibre but a dull, irregular, honest-looking substance. I like that you’re reminded of that underlying material every time you open a door. 

BMW i3 satnav showing charging locations

Inside, it’s refreshing to see recycled materials in evidence across the tops of the doors and in the sweep of dashboard below the windscreen – although the mottled grey does look a little unfinished and won’t be to everyone’s taste. Most surfaces designed to be touched are a delight, however – such as the satin-finish metal door releases, helpfully lit by LED. 

On first acquaintance, BMW’s new electric car proves utterly charming. It does have noticeable flaws, and I ought to reserve judgement until I’ve driven it for longer and on a wider variety of roads. But right now, it feels like the best electric car for the city I’ve ever driven, bar none. 
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Sunday, 15 December 2013

EV subsidies coming to India

India's Only EV Available to Buy Today - Mahindra Reva e20

India’s Only EV Available to Buy Today – Mahindra Reva e20
EVNews: Not too long ago, India’s Mahindra Reva, the nation’s only EV maker, announced it would scale back its EV efforts due to the government’s inability to move forward with implementing promised incentives for plug-in vehicles.
Mahindra Maxximo Electric - Planned for Future Launch
Mahindra Maxximo Electric –
Planned for Future Launch
The government had been dragging its heel for seemingly forever on getting incentives in place to make EVs more affordable.  This angered Mahindra Reva, so much so that it basically put on hold the upcoming launches of 3 more EVs (Mahindra Reva does currently sell 1 electric vehicle in India: e20).
Well, the government responded by saying an incentive package is coming, but now it won’t be here until April 2014 (India’s government originally promised that incentives would be in place by March 2013).
The incentives expected to be in place next April are less than previously promised, but something is better than nothing.  As theFinancial Times reports:
“On an average about Rs 2,000 crore will be provided as incentive, which is a big sum. We are trying to tie-up with the finance ministry, as to how best we can tie-up on incentives. The first two years, it will be low, we have to manage with the budgetary provision, but in the years to come, once the Indian economy will grow faster and the incentive will be higher, government will be much more liberal in offering incentive.”
Now, it should be noted that Rs 2,000 crore ($320 million US) is the total amount expected to initially be set aside for all EVs purchases.  That amounts to roughly 1/5 what India stated it would put away for EVs in the past.  It’s still a sizeable figure though, so let’s hope India makes good on its promise this time around.