All You Need To Know

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A driver disconnects his electric car from a free recharging station in Oslo, Norway.

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ELECTRIC CARS  –   BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK

As Norway leads on the daily use of electric cars, backed by its government’s wide range of generous incentives and perks, our UK government is slothful. It is plootering about when it comes to establishing a UK-wide battery recharging infrastructure. The UK offers grants as incentive to buy electric but lack of charging points anywhere has slowed sales. Moral: When you want to change people’s habits you need a government to do that, so sucks boo to the thick skulled anti-democratic squad demanding ‘less government’.

Meanwhile, Jaguar announces it’s shifting some production abroad because of Brexit just as it is about to launch its first electric vehicle.

At any rate, BP says it will add rapid charging points for electric cars at its UK petrol stations within months, the latest sign of an oil giant adapting to the rapid growth of battery-powered cars. Petroleum have got the message at last. BP aims to provide motorbike-sized charging units at forecourts to top up cars in half an hour. Half-an-hour. Travelling Edinburgh to London means your one motorway café and toilet stop for sausages, beans and a sticky bun is all it takes to reach your destination. But you’ll need a charger at almost every parking bay for overnight stays.

BP’s Anglo-Dutch rival Shell is also installing charging bays while quietly on a buying spree of electric car infrastructure companies and opened charging points at some of its service stations. There’s a race to own a monopoly.

Regular readers are aware I keep a eye open for new developments in the car world, from VW criminality to what’s new in car technology. I’m asked now and then to explain what electric cars mean. Here is the extent of my knowledge on the subject, currently, so please don’t ask subsidiary questions! 
Audi future performance days

Audi Q7 e-tron 3.0 TDI quattro, drivetrain with battery components

What are the advantages of electric (EV) cars?

Advantages are many: emission’s free; few moving parts therefore less wear and tear; opens up greater interior space, there’s no transmission tunnel; digital everything; supersonic acceleration, almost silent propulsion, but above all, really cheap to run.

Scandinavian nations offer free charging bays. Once Scotland is independent and has its profits from North Sea Oil we can have free public charging bays.

What sort of chargers are there and how much does it cost to recharge?

The easiest way to check the location of public charge points is online at zap-map.com. Motorway networks are covered by Ecotricity, which also has an online map. Public chargers can be free but there’s a tariff for most. Ecotricity charges 15 pence per 1kWh.  An EV with a 40kWh battery and a range of 200 miles would cost around £5 to cover the distance compared with around £20 for a supermini doing 55mpg.

You can charge your car four different way: (1) Slow: A domestic three pin socket will take 12 hours. At today’s rates that’s about £2.85 for 150 miles.  (2) Fast: A home charging point equivalent to a cooker can reduce that to 5 hours. Special fast chargers offer 2 hours. (3) Rapid: Charging at 43kW or 50kW respectively some EVs reach 80% in 30 minutes or so. An account with the supplier is usually needed. (4) Supercharger: A Tesla EV charge the large-capacity batteries to 80% in 30 minutes. Model S and X owners get 100 miles worth (400kWh) of free energy per year. Beyond that, the charge is 20 pence per kWh. At that rate, 1500 miles will cost £90, compared with around £240 to cover the same distance using conventional fuel.

Does rapid charging screw batteries?

The technology is very new, experts are unsure. Experts say daily rapid charging can degrade lithium ion EV batteries. In reality, most EVs are charged at home or work using lower-rate charging and are rapid-charged infrequently. BMW says it is not seeing measurable battery degradation for cars regularly using rapid charging. Tesla says it does a lot to preserve its batteries through software control.

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Honda claim its forthcoming electric cars will have a 15 minute recharge

Will I qualify for an EV grant?

It’s always down to money. A government plug-in grant will knock 35% of the purchase price of a BEV up to a maximum of £4500 for eligible EVs and the government has pledged to maintain support until 2020. The Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme provides a further £500 (or 75% of the cost) to install a home charge point.

How long is the life of an EV battery pack?

How long is a piece of string? The truth is that manufacturers are not sure. Modern production EVs have been around for a relatively short time and all manufacturers offer long battery warranties. Check the warranty and check the small print in the warranty!

Surely EV’s will never replace conventional petrol cars?

The average round trip in the UK is 17 miles, perfect for an affordable EV. It won’t need charging every day. Once recharging points proliferate sales of small EVs will rocket.

Driving 400 miles, from (say) mid-England to Edinburgh takes around five hours in an economic Ford Fiesta cruising at 70mph on the motorways and using less than a tank of fuel. At the moment only a Tesla EV is capable of reaching Edinburgh without a recharging stop. However, the new higher-capacity batteries coming on stream will make a significant difference. As the technology improves and recharging times drop, the future is rosy.

EVs don’t seem to hold their value

A small market and uncertainty about battery replacement cost worry used car buyers, plus the anti-EV trolls are still doing their best to deprecate electric cars. It’s up to car makers to offer cast iron residuals.

How much will a new battery cost?

EV manufacturers hate that question. Battery packs comprise a number of modules made up of individual cells. Modules can be replaced but a complete new Nissan Leaf battery costs £4100.04 plus labour, (two to three hours) and VAT, including an £820 cash-back on the old battery. Tests show some EVs approaching 200,000 miles on the original batteries and some high-mileage customers have lost only one bar on the 12-bar capacity display. Four bars must be lost before the warranty kicks in. But as usually, the more expensive the car, the more expensive the battery. A BMW i3 battery is £9926.40 including VAT, pretty well the price of a new engine, but battery pack prices are falling.

Can I rent a battery?

Leasing a small 22kWh battery at 9000 miles over three years costs half that amount of buying one and removes any question of battery liability.

I don’t want a ton of cables everywhere!

Charge points can be tethered – with a permanently attached cable – or untethered, that is, sockets only, so you need a cable. Think of a cable stored in the boot as a spare wheel.

Should I buy an electric car?

Buy a small vehicle for city use. For long journeys take the train rather than also owning a petrol driven car. Pretty soon you will see, (not hear) EVs everywhere. When your neighbour has one you will want the luxury version to show you have greater status in the community. That’s how it’s been since the car was invented, indeed, since the carriage was invented! Queen Elizabeth doesn’t ride around on a Ducati motorbike.

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Siemens, the people who make your oven and fridge, are working on this, battery and solar powered. And yes we do get sunshine in Scotland

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7 Responses to All You Need To Know

  1. diabloandco says:

    Grouse , there is a ‘knew’ that should be a ‘new’ and if Lizzie rode a Ducati and not a BSA or Triumph I think some folk might be a wee bittie upset.
    The silence of electric vehicles is a tad bothersome – I think they should add noise for the deaf , the demented , the inattentive , the wired for sound and the young.

  2. Grouse Beater says:

    Fixed! Ta. I nearly had Lizzie on a Brough Superior!

  3. alister801 says:

    Charging is free in Scotia at most charge points via
    http://chargeplacescotland.org/
    EVA Scotland members have been driving EVs in Scotland for many years.
    http://www.eva.scot
    Join our electric community!
    @EVA_Scotland

  4. Hugh Wallace says:

    The young are so wired into headphones you would have to make electric cars so bloody loud the rest of us would have to resort to ear defenders!

    This lack of infrastructure reminds me of going to live in New Zealand in 1982 and being amazed that Grandpa used gas instead of petrol. And by gas I mean Compressed Natural Gas, not American petrol. Thing was, Grandpa had the option of retro-fitting either CNG or LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas) to his petrol car because at that time (I don’t know about now) all petrol stations offered one or the other option (maybe both, I don’t remember). Coming back to Scotland in 1990 I was again amazed that one couldn’t buy gas in many places and was essentially limited to petrol or diesel cars. My amazement has evaporated that in 2018 we still can’t realistically operate gas powered cars in most places away from heavily urbanised areas.

  5. Lanark says:

    Honda’s engineering genius in electric vehicles and also fuel cell cars bodes well for the future. Meanwhile VW are gassing monkeys………..

  6. Marconatrix says:

    Very interesting. Believe it or not my first ‘proper job’ was as a drawing-office filing clerk at a firm that made electric vehicles. Tucked away at the back of an odd draw were futuristic car designs not unlike some of those in your article. Alas, the days when batteries would have a practical power/weight ratio, and there’d be electric motors efficient enough to compete with the infernal combustion engine was still far off. They made milk floats mostly plus the odd ‘special’ for the Cheshire salt mines … 🙂

  7. Rob Wright says:

    I say go drive an ev and most will be quickly converted. It’s so much more refined than a gas car. It is still enjoyable and different enough to be a new experience. It’s the future without a doubt. i3 owner !!

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