Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Electric tuk-tuk!

Tokyo-based Terra Motors has introduced an electric tuk-tuk that would save drivers money almost immediately.

The initial focus for rollout is in the Philippines, thanks to some funding from the Asian Development Bank. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is providing $300 million towards a ground breaking project that will replace 100,000 gasoline-burning tricycles in the Philippines with clean, energy efficient electric tricycles, or E-Trikes.

Bollore Bluecar euro 12,000

Undercutting the Renault Zoe, the Bollore Bluecar is a very affordable EV with more interior space for passengers.

The battery is leased for €80 ($103) a month, but that’s still quite a good deal. The Bluecar has a range of 155 miles on a full charge and can travel up to 75 mph. It is also the car used in the Paris Autolib car share scheme.

Better Place R.I.P

Better Place: Cash $34M, Assets $149M. Liabilities $915M.

Tesla: now worth 25% of General Motors.

Enough said.

EV car sharing launches in Seoul

The  Seoul metropolitan government is making electric cars available for rent throughout Seoul under its “Electric Vehicle Sharing” program. Registered drivers can book a Kia Ray EV online for 6,000 won (£3.30 / $5) an hour.

Drivers can pick up their rental car at any of the unmanned parking lots across the city. Charging is free and the rental expenses include insurance costs.

“Car sharing will help ease traffic congestion and environmental pollution given that vehicles are responsible for 58% of air pollutants,” Lee No-seong, deputy director of the Seoul government’s green transportation policy team. Mr. Lee added the program will give Seoul residents a chance to experience all-electric cars, which they haven’t had access to because of high prices and the lack of charging stations.

There are 184 Ray EVs and 212 battery chargers, including 28 high-speed ones, available in Seoul. Dozens of charging stations have been set up in the Gyeonggi and Incheon areas.

As of May 24, 15,000 Seoul residents, mainly in their 20s and 30s, have registered for the program.
“Nine out of 10 users were satisfied with the car’s performance and the competitive costs, but they were not happy with a low mileage of about 90 kilometers per charging and lack of charging stations,” said Mr. Lee.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Beijing targets 50,000 EVs by 2015

The City of Beijing plans to have 50,000 electric cars on the streets by 2015, 30,000 of which will be owned privately,  according to Legal Evening News, a Beijing newspaper.
In addition to the 30,000 private electric vehicles planned for China’s capital city by 2015, there will be 8,000 electric or hybrid public buses — a third of the total number of buses in Beijing.
Plans call for 10,000 electric taxis or government vehicles and 2,000 EVs for uses in logistics, environmental, postal and rental sectors.
To promote electric vehicles, the city and the central government are each offering a 60,000 yuan ($9,800) subsidy to private citizens willing to purchase an electric car. Anyone can sign up to test-drive electric cars on

According to the official People’s Daily newspaper, Beijing’s pilot subsidy plan for private purchases of new energy vehicles has received preliminary approval from the four central ministries including the Ministry of Finance and the National Development and Reform Commission.
Cost is a central concern for consumers considering electric cars. An electric vehicle retails usually for more than 200,000 yuan. With the 120,000 yuan combined government subsidy, a consumer can expect to pay a price roughly equal to the cost of a petrol-powered vehicle
“The front-end cost is about the same, but an electric car and a traditional car have vastly different maintenance costs,” said Xu Heyi, the president of BAIC.
“A traditional car will run around 20,000 kilometers (12,430 miles) per year and cost 20,000 to 30,000 yuan to maintain,” he said. “One of BAIC’s electric cars, however, only costs 12 yuan to run 100 kilometers, so the cost of maintaining an electric car for a year will only be 2,400 yuan.”
Beijing also has four other charging stations and 15 groups of charging posts around the city.In addition, Beijing has just built what it claims is the world’s largest electric car charging station, used to charge up to 400 electric sanitation vehicles per day.
On May 19, the first electric car rental service in Beijing opened in the Wudaokou area of the city as part of the Electric Beijing Partnership Plan, Caixin News, a financial news website, reports. As part of the launch, dozens of EV chargers were installed.
The partnership between Yika Car Rental Service and Beijing Automotive Group, one of China’s largest state-owned automakers, has rolled out the first batch of electric cars, 15 vehicles produced by BAIC.
Across China, the government has set a target of producing and selling 500,000 energy-efficient and alternative-energy vehicles a year by 2015, and five million vehicles by 2020. These goals were announced by China’s State Council in July 2012.

2014 Kia Soul EV

Kia World is reporting the Soul EV will be sold globally and feature a battery that will enable it to travel up to 200 km (124 miles) on a single charge, with 0-100 km/h in less than 12 seconds and a top speed of 140 km/h (87 mph).

The Soul EV is expected to go on sale in the first half of 2014 and pricing is expected to start at 40 million KRW ($35,490 / €27,480).

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Tesla Model S 'best car ever'

Consumer Reports is calling the Tesla Model S the best car it has ever tested, scoring 99 out of a possible 100 in the magazine's tests. The score would have been higher but for the fact that the all-electric car does need to stop and recharge during extremely long-distance drives.

"If it could recharge in any gas station in three minutes, this car would score about 110," said Jake Fisher, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports. Fisher called the car's performance in the magazine's performance tests "off the charts."

Depending on price, the Model S has driving range of between 208 and 265 miles. A full charge takes about six hours from an ordinary 240 volt outlet, according to Tesla.

The score of 99 means the Tesla Model S, a sedan that can seat as many as seven people, performed as well or better than any automobile the magazine has ever tested. Prices for the Model S start at about $70,000, not including federal and state tax incentives for electric cars.
The Model S tied for the quietest vehicle the magazine has ever tested, was among the most energy-efficient and had excellent scores for acceleration, braking and ride quality.

Tesla had previously stated a goal of selling 20,000 Model S cars this year and has now raised that goal.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Who are the EV early adopters? reports on a study from Norway that sheds a little light on what kind of person is buying electric cars, and how they drive.
The Institute of Transport Economics in Norway concludes that the typical early-adopter of an electric vehicle is likely to be a man, probably middle-aged, living in or near a big city who has a high income and education level, according to a literature review of various studies from multiple countries. One French study found the early adopters also tended to work in industries that exposed them first hand to EVs before buying one, such as electricians, or government workers in municipalities with EV fleets.
This scan of studies paints a picture that EV adoption is still far from widespread, but that the very act of owning an EV might change the owner’s behavior and government polices can influence the choice to own an EV.
The early-adopters tend to live in households with other cars, hinting that EVs are being used as a second car and potentially replacing public transit use rather than gas driving. 
That said, EV owners drive differently, the researchers conclude. Drivers of electric cars tend to use their EVs for commuting and choose their routes more carefully than gas guzzling drivers, and thus tend to choose toll roads more often too.
Explaining why needs more research, but presumably an EV driver is more aware of wasting mileage out of fear of running out of battery, indicating that fear of running out of energy is a far better incentive to choose the most direct route than having to pay extra for wasted gas. The researchers write: 
"Adjustments drivers have to make when driving an EV include better planning of journeys – due to battery limitations – and adoption of a smooth (non-erratic) driving style. Motives behind the purchase are the special regulatory advantages (such as in Norway), environmental considerations, lower operation costs and simply the convenience and fun it is to drive these vehicles. Taxes and incentives play a large motivating factor in increasing EV adoption, and also guiding who does that adopting."
Much of the study dives into Norwegian EV adoption and the impact of polices there to encourage EV use, such as tax waivers and letting EVs drive in bus lanes. 
In the Norwegian studies, which are more detailed than the international ones cited, people drove more once they got an electric vehicle. That makes some sense considering that each additional mile is cheaper for an EV owner than a gas-powered car. As it turns out, some of that increased driving was due to people who were using EVs as a substitute for public transit.
The literature review also scanned surveys of popular perceptions of EVs across countries and found wide variations with two common negative perceptions: range anxiety and battery charging hassle factors. People didn't want to have to take the time to charge their car, and they feared running out of juice on the road. People who actually own EVs, however, were less likely to cite range worries, according to one French study. Interestingly, price complaints were less commonly cited. 
Positive perceptions were pretty much as one might expect: EVs were credited as being environmentally-friendly and making less noise. They were also associated with easy parking, presumably because in some countries, parking spaces are reserved for EVs to charge in, of parking fees are waived. In Norway, EVs are given free parking permits.
All of this is just a small glimpse at that demographics and behavior of a small group of auto consumers. It's early yet to say who will come to like the electric car. One lesson from this research seems to be how easy it would be to change the face of EV ownership through policy. The more incentives there are to go electric, the more people--and the wider range of people--who will do it. 

Meanwhile the BBC website has also filed a report on who drives electric cars:

Owners talk of the cars being fun to drive and being much cheaper to run than petrol or diesel. They can also be more environmentally friendly if the power they use is generated by renewable energy.
However, anyone living in a flat, or even a terraced house without a drive, could find them impractical to charge. And once fully-charged pure electric vehicles are usually not practical for long journeys, as there are very few fast-charge points.
So, who drives electric cars and what do they think?

Charlie Fraser drives a Renault Twizy

Charlie Fraser drives a Renault Twizy
Charlie wants to be a racing car driver but for now he has to be more practical in his choice of vehicle.
The 21-year-old from Paisley drives the Renault Twizy, a two-seat electric vehicle.
He says: "I think it is the future and it was a much cheaper option than anything else."
Charlie says he gets a range of 35 to 40 miles from a full-charge but he is lucky to be able to power-up the car for free at Braehead shopping centre, where he works.
He says it takes about three-and-a-half hours to charge so it is usually topped up by the end of the day.
The Twizy is very much the compact end of the electric car market.
It is a two-seater, but Charlie explains: "If you have got a passenger in it does not really have room to store anything."
At almost £7,000, it is not exactly cheap but Charlie reckons it works out better value than getting the bus or the train.
And he says it is fun to drive.
"People don't think much of it at first but once they have been in it, it changes their mind.
"For around town you can squeeze through places and get places other people can't.
"From 20 to 30 mph it is really quite nippy. When you are pulling off, because it is silent, the first thing you notice is the movement not the noise of the engine. You just move."

Callum Burnett drives a Mitsubishi i-MiEV and a Nissan Leaf

callum burnett
Callum Burnett and his family have three electric vehicles, which they charge at his farm near Insch in Aberdeenshire.
Callum, 65, and his son Robert, 30, run Nissan Leafs and they also have a Mitsubishi i-MiEV.
"The iMiEV was bought as a second car," Callum says.
"We were short of a car for my wife to drive to work and back and wanted something really small.
"We found we could buy it through the business and there was a tax advantage.
"She uses it for a 30-odd mile commute backwards and forwards to work."
He says they soon found they were not using their diesel car at all.
"It was sitting for months on end. Everyone would just prefer to use the i-MiEV."
So he bought another electric car, the Nissan Leaf, which is larger than the i-MiEV and has a longer range.
Callum says the range which the cars can travel varies according to the conditions and the way they are driven.
Of the Leaf, Callum says: "You can get 80-odd miles if you drive it carefully. If you drive it hard, just like a petrol car, you can halve the consumption quite easily."
Callum's son Robert works at Aberdeen harbour and does a 30-mile drive into work and the same back in his Nissan Leaf.
Robert's work has installed a plug-in point so he can charge it and this gives him extra range if he wants to use it in the evenings.
However, Callum says that the current infrastructure for charging means that his son would not attempt a long journey.

Andrew Bissell drives a Tesla roadster

Andrew Bissell drives a Tesla roadster
It is a pure electric car but it is also a high-performance sports car and has a price tag to match.
Andrew says: "It's an electric sports car which was made in Norfolk on the Lotus production line, the same production line which makes the Lotus elite.
"The car is designed by Tesla in California but actually it was made in Britain and it's got about a 200-mile useable range every day between charges and it does 0 to 60 in under four seconds. So it is a fairly quick car."
Electric cars tend to have good acceleration because all the power goes to driving the car but this one is extremely fast.
Andrew says it is a fun car to drive but he also had wanted the extra range that the 53kWh battery could provide.
He says: "I wanted to be able to go far because I wanted to be able to do everything I normally do.
"If someone says they want a meeting with me in Aberdeen or Perth, Glasgow or Newcastle, from my base near Edinburgh, I want to be able to jump in the car and go."
He adds: "I could have solved the problem by buying a plug-in hybrid like the Vauxhall Ampera but they weren't available three years ago when I bought this. At the time it was the only choice."
The cost of the car might be high but the costs of running it are nowhere near as much as an equivalent petrol sports car.
Instead of something in the region 20p per mile for a petrol car Andrew says he uses off-peak electricity at a rate of 7.5p per kWh.
At 3 miles per kw/h that is a cost of roughly 2.5p per mile.
Electricity pricing rates vary enormously as does the amount of power used per mile but it would be difficult for electric cars to currently work out more expensive on the price of fuel alone.
Andrew says he bought the car because he was excited by the technology but admits it is not a "completely rational choice".

John Mckenzie drives a Vauxhall Ampera

John Mckenzie
"It is not a hybrid," says John Mckenzie, a 38-year-old helicopter pilot who owns a farm near Dingwall in Ross-shire.
The Ampera is an Extended Range Electric Vehicle (E-Rev). The selling point of the E-rev is that is cuts out "range anxiety" because if the electric charge in the battery runs low the car can use petrol to generate more.
John says: "Petrol never drives the wheels. It is always electric that drives the wheels.
"The petrol drives the generator which makes electricity which turns the electric motors."
John says his regular commute to Inverness airport can be done purely on battery power.
However, he often flies from Cumbernauld airport and Edinburgh and this distance would not be possible in most electric cars.
With the Ampera he can drive 50 miles and then switch to petrol.
John adds: "I have driven the Nissan Leaf and the G-Wiz but I couldn't purchase one of these cars knowing that I would be constantly looking at how many miles to go and knowing I could miss a flight because I had run out of electricity."
He says even when they put in charging points along the A9 he would have to stop and wait for too long to make the journey practical.
John says he wants to be environmentally friendly and is generating his own renewable energy from solar, wind and hydro schemes on his farm but there also has to be an economic consideration.
"I am very passionate about Scotland and the environment but at the same time I can't put myself on the breadline by being silly and having a car that runs out of fuel or stretching myself."
He bought the car through his business and the high price of the Ampera - more than £32,000 after the £5,000 government grant - is partially offset by it being 100% tax deductible and having zero road tax.
John says the technology is getting better and batteries are lasting longer.
"It is like mobile phones," he says.
"They used to weigh 2kg and now look, technology moves fast. Somebody will probably come up with a battery the size of a few Duracells and it will power the car for hours on end.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Leaf 2nd best selling car in Norway

ThegreenCarWebsite reports that Nissan's fully electric LEAF supermini became the second-best selling car in Norway last month, selling 455 models in April.
In total 495 electric cars sold in the country last month, giving electric vehicles a 3.5 per cent overall market share. In total, Norway had more than 11,000 electric cars on the road-impressive for a country with a population of just five million.
Nissan LEAFs in Norway: Selling like affordable, zero emission cars
It's long been the case that Norway was Nissan's biggest European market for its first electric vehicle, where the small family car was the 13th best selling car in 2012, and had climbed to 5th place in March 2013 but last month's results push Nissan to new highs.
What makes electric cars so popular in the country is that they qualify for exemption to VAT and purchase tax so that they cost around the same as a conventional car. In addition, electric vehicles benefit from other incentives such as exemption to toll charges, permission to drive in bus lanes and free parking and charging in public car parks.
Norway also recently confirmed that these incentives will remain in place until at least 2018-or until at least 50,000 zero-emission cars are on the road-giving consumers confidence to go out and buy a battery-powered car.
"It is historic to have an electric car model as number two on the sales statistics. It shows that Norwegians have great faith in electric cars," says Snorre Sletvold, President of the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, "Norwegians have embraced the electric car."
With over 500,000 Norwegian households currently running two cars, most could easily switch one to a battery powered model. According to the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, Norwegians typically drive just 42km (26 miles) a day-easily within the means of today's electric cars.

5 myths about EVs

Chris Paine talks to The Washington Post: the troubles of electric-car-maker Fisker Automotive have fueled another round of debate about whether plug-ins can live up to their promises. The California start-up, which had already halted production and laid off most of its employees, missed a federal loan payment Monday and told a congressional hearing on Wednesday that it may not be able to avoid bankruptcy.

This is probably the end of the road for Fisker. But definitely not for electric cars. Let me dispel some of the myths.

1. The electric car is dead.

This myth is partly my fault, perpetuated by the title of my 2006 documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car?" The signs back then weren't promising. Under pressure from car companies and other lobbyists, California rolled back its Zero-Emission Vehicle mandate, which had helped get nearly 5,000 electric cars on the road. The change in the regulation freed carmakers to round up the cars they had leased - and then surreptitiously crush them.

Thankfully, it takes more than a crusher to kill a technology. Today, almost all the major automakers, along with a cast of new players, are investing in and building plug-in cars. California's mandate has also made a comeback, and other states are considering similar rules.

Fisker's struggles can be attributed, in part, to the fact that start-ups in any industry have a high rate of failure, and launching a start-up in the automotive sector is especially expensive. That makes it all the more impressive that Fisker's rival Tesla turned a quarterly profit this year.

A new report from IEE, part of the Edison Foundation, projects that between 5 million and 30 million electric cars will be on U.S. roads by 2035. "The electrification of the vehicle fleet is a foregone conclusion," says former GM vice chairman (and former electric-car-basher) Bob Lutz.

Economics, politics and technology all played a role in the turnaround. Soaring gas prices in 2008 got everyone complaining. U.S. manufacturers, stuck with large inventories of low-mileage SUVs and facing bankruptcy, watched with envy as Toyota rode the buzz from its Prius hybrid to become the world's No. 1 carmaker. The chief executives of Detroit's Big Three further reassessed after being chastised for flying corporate jets to congressional bailout hearings in November 2008. When they returned to Washington two weeks later, they arrived in electric hybrids. Since then, partly with the help of government loans (some already repaid), electric-car technology has made big strides.

2. Electric cars can't get people where they need to go.

I've been driving electric cars for 15 years and have yet to run out of power. But ask people what their biggest hesitation is about electric vehicles, and they're most likely to say something about the cars leaving them stranded. This myth is so pervasive that General Motors applied to trademark the name for it: "range anxiety." A controversial New York Times test drive in February of Tesla's Model S, which ended up needing a tow to a charging station, seemed to confirm the fear.

 But that test drive - covering more than 500 miles in temperatures as low as 10 degrees - was not your everyday trip. The average American drives fewer than 40 miles a day. That's well within the 75-mile-plus range of most electric cars. And while batteries do run down faster in extreme cold, on a normal day Tesla's Model S can go as far as 265 miles on a single charge.

The answer to range anxiety for many carmakers is the plug-in hybrid, an electric car with a backup gasoline engine. The Chevrolet Volt, the Toyota Prius Plug-In and the Ford C-Max Energi all use electric power for the first 20 to 50 miles (or most daily trips) and then switch to gasoline for longer trips.

3. Charging is a headache.

Charging an electric car can be as simple as plugging it into a wall outlet. But AC outlet charging is slow, taking between eight and 24 hours. So it's not usually the method of first resort.

That's why most plug-ins are sold with charging docks that work in a home garage and can charge a car in four to eight hours, allowing drivers to treat their cars like their cellphones: topping them off periodically or charging them up overnight.

I didn't have my own garage when I first leased an electric car, so I often used a public charging station within walking distance of my home. There are now 5,734 public stations in the United States, many with multiple charging points. The newest generation will charge your car nearly 10 times faster than home stations and 50 times faster than an AC outlet. Tesla just installed several of these supercharger stations on the East and West coasts, and Nissan recently announced plans to install 500 in the coming months.

4. Electric cars aren't any better for the environment.

Electric cars have clear environmental benefits: They don't require gasoline, they don't pollute from tailpipes, and they operate at 80 percent efficiency (vs. about 20 percent for internal-combustion engines).

Skeptics will cite a 2012 report from the Union of Concerned Scientists as evidence that electric cars aren't as green as some people make them out to be. That study correctly notes that autos powered by coal-generated electricity are little better for the environment than small gas-powered cars. But the same report concludes that "consumers should feel confident that driving an electric vehicle yields lower global warming emissions than the average new compact gasoline-powered vehicle." That's because only 39 percent of U.S. electricity comes from coal. With the retirement of old power plants and the addition of cleaner energy sources, electric cars will have even greater advantages for the environment.

Another environmental concern is about batteries. Won't they end up in landfills like billions of disposable batteries do? The answer is no. Even gasoline-car batteries avoid that fate when they are exchanged and recycled. And electric-car batteries are valuable as energy-storage devices after life on the road. Backup power systems for utilities, businesses and homes create a secondary market for these batteries before their elements are recycled.

5. Most people will never be able to afford an electric car.

At $102,000, the base price of a 2012 Fisker Karma was clearly beyond the reach of most drivers. Tesla, too, was critiqued for the assumptions built into its recent claim that a Model S could be leased for $500 a month. (The Washington Post calculated that the monthly cost would be closer to $1,000.)

But these two luxury cars have targeted the high-end market. By contrast, the cost of leasing a Nissan Leaf ($199 a month with $1,999 down) is equivalent to leasing a compact gasoline car such as the Mazda3 - except you don't have to pay for gas.

Keeping electric car sticker prices from dropping right now are low production volumes and the cost of batteries. But a 2012 McKinsey report estimates that the price of lithium-ion batteries could fall dramatically by 2020.

As the cost of electric-car technology trends downward and the price of oil trends upward, electric cars should prove the more affordable and, based on my experience, more enjoyable choice.

Chris Paine is a filmmaker whose documentaries include "Who Killed the Electric Car?", "Charge" and "Revenge of the Electric Car."

Tesla sells 5,000 EVs, makes profit of $11m in Q1

The Economist reports that Elon Musk, Tesla’s boss has announced a profit of $11.2m in the first quarter on unexpectedly strong demand for its new Model S sedan (pictured above). The results were well above the forecasts of even the most optimistic analysts; Tesla made a profit despite repaying $13m of the $465m it has borrowed from America’s Department of Energy. 
All 5,000 of the battery-electric vehicles Tesla produced during the first quarter were sold in the United States.  But as it gears up to expand its overseas markets later this year, Mr Musk is signalling that things could get even better. The company now forecasts that it will produce 21,000 sedans in 2013, a 5% increase over its initial estimate, and anticipates shipping 5,000 to Europe and another 1,000 to Asia.
In a letter to shareholders, Mr Musk noted that a “stabilised” manufacturing operation has helped reduce the number of man hours needed to produce a vehicle by 40% since the end of last year. Just as importantly, customers have been opting for the more expensive versions of the Model S, including one with a range of almost nearly 300 miles (480km), more than three times that of most of its competitors, including Nissan’s Leaf. Tesla has now decided to drop the basic model of its sedan.
Mr Musk has been very visible in recent months, among other things announcing innovative new programmes that are designed to reduce concerns about electric propulsion. These include a “no-fault” battery warranty and a guaranteed minimum price for trade-ins. On May 9th, Consumer Reports gave the Model S a 99 out of 100-point rating, the highest score in six years and matched only once before by the Lexus LS600.

North West England infrastructure scheme launched

The Greater Manchester Electric Vehicle (GMEV) scheme - a new electric vehicle charging point network and pay as you go programme, led by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) - has been launched. The GMEV scheme will be operated by Charge Your Car (CYC) a leader in EV charging networks (a company that I work for and was involved in launching) as part of its growing national network. CYC will manage the payments and access to the GMEV scheme on behalf of TfGM and promote the network to al EV drivers in the UK via its live status map on the CYC website and from July, the CYC multi-function app.
The scheme has received £1.7million of support from  the Office for Low Emission Vehicle’s (OLEV) funded ‘Plugged In Places’ scheme, as well as a further £1m from the combined authorities' allocated transport budget.
TfGM is working with the Greater Manchester local authorities to identify locations and install a range of charge points for EVs, which will be operational in the summer.
The locations will be across the 10 districts providing commuters with the infrastructure to charge electric vehicles.
Customers wishing to use the charging bays will be able to do so from July. They will be able to either register through the TfGM website and then receive an access card in the post, or simply pay as you go either by phone or by mobile app.
The scheme pricing is yet to be confirmed, but users will pay a flat rate per hour to recharge their vehicle.
To recharge a typical EV (7kwh/32amp capability) fully in a GMEV bay will take around three - four hours and cost no more that £6. This will enable an EV driver to travel around 100 miles.
GMEV charging bays (7kwh/32amp) are capable of charging a typical EV in approximately three – four hours, which is three times faster than charging at home.