All posts by Jo Pegram-Mills

Charging an Electric Car: How it is Nothing Like Refuelling a Petrol or Diesel Car

People who have never owned an electric car don’t understand how different charging one is compared to fuelling a petrol or diesel car. Therefore I’m going to explain what charging an electric car is like so that potential owners can understand it better.

Home charging a Nissan Leaf (Image: Nissan)
Home charging a Nissan Leaf (Image: Nissan)

The point I want to get across is that charging an electric car is much easier and more convenient than filling a fossil-fuelled car. That’s an idea that can be difficult to grasp. Now that I’ve upgraded to electric (I’m on my second all-electric car) I could never go back, any more than I’d give up my smartphone and make do with a landline.

Here I’ll concentrate on the ins and outs of home refuelling, and cover charging away from home another time.

Charging System

Most electric cars come with a charging cable (fitted with a 13 Amp plug) that can be used to charge the car; such cables can be bought separately where they are not supplied with the car. One name given to these items is ‘granny cable’ as they can also be used to charge up while visiting relatives.

BMW i3 ‘occasional use’ charging cable (Image: BMW)
BMW i3 ‘occasional use’ charging cable (Image: BMW)

Another name they are given is ‘occasional use cable’ as they are not intended to be used frequently. They will also be slow to charge the car (12 hours or more) as a standard home socket is not capable of providing as much power as the car can potentially take.

Instead most car owners will have a special charge point installed at home to charge their car. This often comes free with a new car. It is typically wired straight into the main house consumer unit. It will be capable of passing higher power than a standard socket – usually either 16 or 32 Amps – and will be designed for frequent use.

Using a third-party ZOE granny cable while visiting my brother (Image: T. Larkum)
Using a third-party ZOE granny cable while visiting my brother (Image: T. Larkum)

These charge points can be installed either inside a garage, or on a garage or other outside wall. Sometimes they’re just put on a post beside the driveway. They are all waterproofed and can be used in all weathers (including heavy rain). They usually come fitted with a tethered cable to match the car but sometimes just have a socket to which the owner can connect different cables, for example if the unit has to charge electric cars with different types of connector. The pros and cons of having a tethered versus untethered charge point are covered elsewhere.

Charging an Electric Car: Frequency

How often does an electric car need to be charged? This is an important question, and is key to why charging is more convenient than conventional refuelling.

The obvious answer, at least to someone used to a conventional car, would be “when it’s empty”. That’s because most people let their cars run low on fuel before refilling. There is no good reason for this; it simply reflects the fact that conventional refuelling is so inconvenient that it is to be avoided whenever possible. It takes time, and usually also involves a diversion from where you actually want to go.

With an electric car you could choose to do the same thing, relying on public charge points, and that can work if you can’t do home charging. However for the majority of electric car owners with a home charge point the easiest thing is simply to charge at home overnight every night.

Charging a Renault ZOE on the drive (Image: Fraunhofer ISE)
Charging a Renault ZOE on the drive (Image: Fraunhofer ISE)

Electric cars use Lithium-Ion batteries, similar to those found in mobile phones (though they have significantly more sophisticated charge management systems than phones and so last longer). Lithium-Ion likes to be kept charged unlike previous technologies (e.g. Nickel-Cadmium batteries) that you were supposed to run down before recharging. Therefore it does no harm to plug in every night and so have the car battery fully charged every morning ready to go.

Using a dedicated high power charge point allows a typical electric car to be charged in about 4 hours. It’s also fine to only partly refill it. Therefore it can be perfectly practical to drive, say 100 miles during the day for work, then go home and – those evenings when it’s useful – top it up for an hour or two and go out again for, say, another 50 miles.

Charging an Electric Car: Process

It’s very easy to charge an electric car once you have a dedicated charge point. If you are lazy, like me, then you have a tethered one with its cable permanently attached so you don’t have to unpack a cable each time. Similarly, I choose to leave mine switched on permanently for convenience.

In this case, charging is as simple as the following:

  • Open the charge point door on the car
  • Uncurl just enough of the charge cable to insert its connector into the car’s charge socket

The car will automatically start to charge when it sees the electrical connection made. It will control the charge and finish it automatically.

On my original Renault ZOE the charge point door was unlocked using a button on the key fob or a switch inside the car. The charge socket was in the nose and so required walking around to it to insert the connector. The total time taken was about 15 seconds; this would also be typical for the Nissan Leaf.

Charging a Nissan Leaf in the garage (Image: Chargemasterplc.com)
Charging a Nissan Leaf in the garage (Image: Chargemasterplc.com)

On my current BMW i3 the charge point door is always unlocked if the car is unlocked, and the charge socket is on the driver’s side. Therefore I can insert the connector after I have parked the car and as I walk out of the garage; there is literally no additional time taken to set the car for charging. The Hyundai IONIQ Electric also has the socket on the rear quarter, though on the passenger side.

Charging a BMW i3 on the drive (Image: BMW)
Charging a BMW i3 on the drive (Image: BMW)

People sometimes ask me how long it takes to charge my car. They probably expect to hear me say ‘4 hours’ or whatever, but actually it takes me personally no time at all, not a single minute. That’s because I don’t care how long it takes for the battery to fill up while I’m in the house (and probably asleep).

Charging a Hyundai IONIQ Electric on the drive (Image: T. Heale)
Charging a Hyundai IONIQ Electric on the drive (Image: T. Heale)

With my i3 having a range of about 120 miles, and my commute being 45 miles, it’s not even a problem if I forget to charge for a day or two. However, like with your smartphone, making charging it a daily routine is generally the best option.

Summary

One of the great things I love about a car that’s electric is no longer having to spend time fuelling it. It’s just 100% full every morning when I get in, as if by magic. I certainly don’t miss having to travel to petrol stations, often standing in the dark and rain, to hand over large amounts of money.

Now instead I fuel the car myself using renewable energy. During the week I charge it from wind (courtesy of our renewable electricity supplier) and a fill-up costs about £2.50. At the weekend I can charge it from our solar panels for free.

Source: Fuel Included Blog

Renault Zoe leads 49% sales jump in EV sales in Europe during first quarter 2017

According to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association, alternative fuel vehicles (AFV’s) in the Europe Union are off to a very strong start in the first quarter of this year, increasing their numbers sold by 37.6% to 212,945 vehicles.

Renault ZOE ZE40

Hybrid vehicles (HEV) showed the biggest growth with 61.2% versus the same period last year, now counting 111,006 units. Electrically chargeable vehicles (ECV = BEV and plug-in hybrids) grew with 29.9% from 36,322 units sold in Q1, 2016 to 47,196 units in Q1, 2017. This includes 49% growth for “battery-only” (BEV’s) to 24,592 units sold and 13% growth for the plug-in hybrids (21,644 units). The U.S. market showed a similar growth of 49% for electric car sales to 40,700 units sold in the first quarter according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The American car market is about 16% larger.

All the major markets in the EU added many new AFV registrations over the first three months. Spain showed the largest increase (+87.4%) over the first quarter of 2017 followed by Germany (+67.5%), the UK (+29.9%), France (+24.8%) and Italy (17.2$). The growth in Italy is due in large part to the recovery in LPG-fuelled (natural gas) cars, but for the other markets, the growth is mostly the result of strong sales in electrically chargeable vehicles (ECV’s or BEV’s) and hybrid-electric (plug-in hybrids).

New passenger car registrations by alternative fuel type in the European Union during the first quarter of 2017.

Looking at electric- or battery-only car sales in Europe reported by the European Alternative Fuels Observatory, we see that the improved Renault Zoe is the number one seller by far, followed by the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Tesla Model S and X and the others.

Read more: Electrek via Fuel Included News

After Record Surge In Q1, Renault ZOE Sales Slow In April Due To Brake Issue

The introduction of a new longer-range Renault ZOE 40 Z.E. with 41 kWh battery and 300 km (186 miles) of real world range has translated into “higher highs” being set for sale…until this month.

April disappointed with just around 1,690 ZOE deliveries (a drop of 14.5% year-over-year).

In general, overall Renault electric car – mostly relied on ZOE – also decreased to 1,931 (down 18%).

Thankfully, sources indicate that April’s hiccup was not demand-related, but rather build-related.

And while we don’t ever wish for production flaws, or recalls, deliveries during the month where muted thanks to a defective part installed on cars produced before April 19th.

The repair (to do with locking the vehicle in parking mode using the handbrake) apparently isn’t the most simple fix, reportedly taking from 6-8 hours to rectify, and the company says it will likely take until the end of June to work all the issues out of the system.

New vehicles now coming of Renault’s Flins assembly line are not effected, but it may take another month to see sales rebound and return to previous trajectories.

With that said, and after four months, Renault has still sold nearly 12,000 electric cars (excluding Twizy), which is 29% more than year ago.

Source: Inside EVs via Fuel Included News

JLR and UK government announce national EV battery hub plans

As part of the UK’s ambitions to become a leading hub for the development of electric vehicles (EVs), Britain’s biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and the UK government have announced plans for the establishment of the core UK hub for EV battery production and development.

Joined by academics and business leaders for the announcement on Tuesday, the central UK players aim to create the National Battery Prototyping Centre (NBPC) in Coventry, which will become the home for EV development and testing in the UK.

UK automotive aims for the national test centre acting as a catapult for large-scale battery production at the historic centre of the UK auto industry. The city of Coventry is already home to the main London Taxi Company EV factory and major JLR research facilities at Warwick University. It also forms part of the key connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) cluster in the country, which stretches from Birmingham and Oxford to London.

JLR CEO Ralf Speth said the founding of the national battery centre would help JLR to commit to building electric vehicles in the UK, as is wishes to do. Its all-electric I-PACE SUV, which is set to beat rivals to market launching in 2018, will be made in Austria, and JLR has also gone overseas to Slovakia for a new production plant for its conventional vehicles. Speth says that in order for it to springboard major production in the UK, it requires considerable improvements to UK-based capabilities, including in pilot testing, support from science (often through universities) and in the UK’s energy supply (with UK energy being some of the most expensive in the world). At least in the first two areas, the UK government now looks set to deliver.

Read more: Autovista Group via Fuel Included News

Renault Kangoo Z.E. 2017 review

The Kangoo Z.E. is the all-electric, zero emissions version of Renault’s smallest van

The Renault Kangoo ZE is the electric version of the Kangoo, Renault’s smallest van. Like the diesel version, it’s available in standard, Maxi and Maxi Crew body styles. In reality the only difference between the diesel and ZE (Zero Emissions) version is the fact there’s an electric motor under the bonnet instead of an engine, and a battery pack under the load area where the fuel tank would normally be.

Renault Kangoo ZE

The Kangoo ZE has a payload of 650kg, which is the same for the Maxi ZE, while the two versions have a load volume of 3.4 and 4 cubic metres respectively. This pair are two-seaters, while the Maxi Crew ZE has five seats.

Prices start from around £16,500, thanks to a Government Plug-In Car Grant of up to £8,000, while Renault offers two purchase options; you can either buy the Kangoo ZE outright, or buy the van and hire the batteries to help keep costs in check and eliminate any concerns about the batteries losing their longevity.

Power for the Kangoo ZE comes from a 44kW electric motor, which is the equivalent of 60bhp from a conventional engine. While that means the ZE has less power than any of the conventional Kangoo range (and 0-62mph takes a laborious 20.3 seconds), it doesn’t feel slow, thanks to a healthy 226Nm of torque (only the more powerful dCi 110 does better), and this torque is available as soon as you put your foot on the accelerator, so it really does nip away from the traffic lights.

Renault claims a range of 106 miles for the Kangoo ZE – it’s the same for the Kangoo Maxi, and is the same quoted for the Kangoo’s main rival, the Nissan e-NV200 – but in the real-world you can expect a range of around 75 miles on a full charge.

Read more: Auto Express via Fuel Included News

Electric vehicles to cost the same as conventional cars by 2018

The cost of owning an electric car will fall to the same level as petrol-powered vehicles next year, according to bold new analysis from UBS which will send shockwaves through the automobile industry.

Chevy Bolt

Experts from the investment bank’s “evidence lab” made the prediction after tearing apart one of the current generation of electric cars to examine the economics of electric vehicles (EVs).

They found that costs of producing EVs were far lower than previously thought but there is still great potential to make further savings, driving down the price of electric cars.

As a result, UBS forecasts that the

“total cost of consumer ownership can reach parity with combustion engines from 2018”,

with this likely to happen in Europe first.

“This will create an inflexion point for demand,”

the analysts said.

“We raise our 2025 forecast for EV sales by ~50pc to 14.2m – 14pc of global car sales.”

If the prediction comes to pass, traditional car industry giants could face ruin. Germany’s Volkswagen Group – the world’s biggest car company – is racing to catch up with rivals’ investment levels in electric drivetrains, the components which deliver the power into the wheels, having largely ignored the technology in the past.

UBS’s research was to help understand what it called the

“most disruptive car category since the Model T Ford”.

The findings are based on its deconstruction of a Chevy Bolt, which it considered to be “the world’s first mass-market EV, with a range of more than 200 miles”.

UBS’s analysts deconstructed the Chevy Bolt (Image: UBS)

The 2017 car – which cost $37,000 – was taken apart piece by piece and the parts analysed. UBS said that the Bolt’s electric drive was $4,600 cheaper to produce than thought,

“with much cost reduction potential left”.

 “We estimate that GM (which produces the Bolt) loses $7,400 in earnings before interest, and tax on every Bolt sold today, mainly due to a lack of scale.”

Read more: The Telegraph via Fuel Included News

Watch Renault Zoe E-Sport Concept, Formula E Racer Cruise Paris

The Renault eDams team currently leads the Formula E standings and its racers Sebastien Buemi and Nicolas Prost currently sit in first and third in the Driver’s Championship, respectively.

Since the next race of the season is in Paris on May 20, the crew is celebrating the strong performance in its home country by holding a parade of electric vehicles through the City of Light. The Renault eDams R.S. 16 race car and Zoe e-Sport Concept lead the procession in this video.

Read more: Motor 1 via Fuel Included News

Cash-strapped councils breaking the law on air pollution, documents reveal

Exclusive poll for The Independent shows public – and most Conservative voters – back banning the most-polluting cars from city centres as pressure builds on the Government

It has been described as a “public health emergency” responsible for tens of thousands of deaths every year, but dozens of local councils have been failing to report on air pollution as required by law for years.

The revelation, based on documents obtained under Freedom of Information rules, casts doubt on local authorities’ ability to play their part in the Government’s new draft Air Quality Plan – its third attempt to meet minimum safety standards after repeatedly being taken to court by campaigners.

Ministers had sought to delay publication of the plan until after the general election, with a Government lawyer arguing it would drop a “controversial bomb” on the campaign.

But a judge ordered ministers to comply with a court-ordered deadline and the resultant plan was duly derided as “feeble” and “much weaker” than expected.

Public concern about air pollution has been growing. A new survey for The Independent found the majority of the public is now in favour of banning the most-polluting vehicles from city centres.

Some 51 per cent of respondents agreed with this suggestion, with only 15 per cent against and the remainder not expressing a view, pollsters ORB said.

The Government’s latest Air Quality Plan sought to pass the buck to a large degree to councils, saying they were “best placed to take the lead”.

However, the council documents, obtained by the DeSmog UK environmental news website, show that local authorities have already been failing to carry out the current requirements, suggesting they would struggle to cope with further responsibilities without extra funding.

Of the 77 councils contacted, 59 had not made air pollution reports, which must be produced under the 1995 Environment Act, available to the public.

After the website got in touch with the councils, 34 authorities were found to have gaps in their reporting between 2011 and 2016, although some said they were still in the process of producing reports covering last year. If this is a representative sample, it would mean 44 per cent of councils in the country are failing to properly monitor and assess the extent of air pollution.

Mat Hope, deputy editor of DeSmog UK, said:

“I think it shows local councils need resources to be able to deal with this problem properly.

“I think the councils themselves are doing what they can, but with the current budget constraints it’s clear they are likely to struggle with the extra obligations under the new Air Quality Plan.

“The Government needs to think very hard about the resources they are putting behind this.”

Read more: The Independent via Fuel Included News

Qualcomm can charge EVs while they’re moving

A new track can simultaneously charge two cars driving in opposite directions.

Renault Kangoo EV used in Qualcomm’s tests. Qualcomm

Forget about better batteries, what if you could just drive your EV forever? Qualcomm just showed off technology called dynamic electric vehicle charging (DEVC) that juices an EV via road-embedded wireless charging hardware while you’re driving. During the demonstration, two Renault Kangoo vehicles equipped with Qualcomm’s “Halo” DEVC receivers were charged simultaneously while moving down a 100 meter test track.

Based on Qualcomm’s wireless electric charging (WEVC) tech, the track can charge vehicles driving at highway speeds in both directions (both in forward and reverse) at 20 kW max. If it works, the tech could be used in a system that lets you call a car using a smartphone, get picked up where you are and be whisked to your destination autonomously (as shown in the animated video, below).

 

Qualcomm will now hand its DEVC charging system to Vedecom, which

“will evaluate the operation, safety and efficiency of energy transfer to the vehicles for a wide range of practical scenarios, including vehicle identification and authorization on entering the track, power level agreement between track and vehicle, speed and alignment of vehicle along the track.”

Read more: engadget via Fuel Included News

Charging Points In Lviv Most Of All Prepared For Starting Sales Of Renault Electric Cars

KYIV. May 17 (Interfax-Ukraine) – Checks of infrastructure of charging points in three cities where sales of Renault electric cars (Kyiv, Lviv and Odesa) have showed that Lviv is most of all prepared for it where 90% of points (out of 22 points) are operating well, Renault Ukraine said in a press release last week.

The check of infrastructure before the start of sales and the opportunities for comfortable and safe exploitation of Renault electric cars in the city was conducted in line with the brand requirements.

A team consisting of three representatives of the Renault headquarters conducted the ZOE tour in Ukraine during two weeks. Two Renault ZOE cars which travel for up to 400 km per charge arrived from France tested charging points in three cities and their 50 km radius.

According to the conclusions of the experts, despite the largest charging point chain for electric cars in Kyiv (63 points), only 65% of the points were able to charge Renault ZOE well, and in Odesa only 65% out of 17 points were able to charge the car.

According to the rules of the brand, Renault electric cars can be sold only in the cities where the urban infrastructure charges cars well in at least 80% of cases.

“Renault is preparing a report for each checked point that would be sent to the point operator. After confirming the correction of errors by the operators Renault would make the repeated ZOE tour to check the points that did not charge the car during the first tour and points installed after the first tour,”

the company said.

Renault Ukraine said that the electric car fleet by 2016 reached over 2,000 cars, while most charging points do not meet European standards and failed to pass the European certification.

Source: ULIE