All posts by Jo Pegram-Mills

Charging points for electric cars could be made available across South West Wales

More charging points could be made available across South West Wales to cater for an increase in electric cars

An electric car show in Swansea has prompted calls for electric car chargers to be placed over Wales

More charging points could be made available across South West Wales to cater for an increase in the use of electric cars.

A Clean Air Roadshow organised by Swansea Council took place in Castle Square on Saturday to showcase electric and hydrogen vehicle technology.

Electric cars owned by the authority and Swansea University were on display, as well as a battery-powered one-man from the 1980s car known as the Sinclair C5, while there were also live shows from Titan the friendly robot.

Following the event Swansea Council announced it is exploring the concept of introducing more charging points in collaboration other public bodies in South West Wales.

Martin Nicholls, director of place at Swansea Council, said:

“The Clean Air Roadshow was a great success, with many thousands of visitors coming along to Castle Square from across South Wales and beyond on the day to discover electric and hydrogen vehicle technology.

“With the profile of this type of technology being raised, it’s important we explore how we can help in terms of ensuring the right infrastructure is in place to support it.

“That’s why we’re working closely alongside our local authority, university and health board partners across the region on a study that could see more electric vehicle charging points in place in future all the way from Neath Port Talbot and through the Swansea Bay City Region to Pembrokeshire.

“We support technology of this kind because it’s sustainable and helps Swansea cut its carbon footprint as we look to become a greener, more environmentally aware city.

“We already have a number of electric vehicles in our council fleet, which are used by staff in departments including recycling and corporate building and property services. These numbers are due to grow over coming months.

“This builds on the work that’s already on-going to promote and improve other forms of sustainable transport in Swansea, including cycling.”

An electric car show in Swansea has prompted calls for electric car chargers to be placed over Wales

Source: Wales Online via Fuel Included News

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

Scientists say the pace of sea level rise has nearly tripled since 1990

A new scientific analysis finds that the Earth’s oceans are rising nearly three times as rapidly as they were throughout most of the 20th century, one of the strongest indications yet that a much feared trend of not just sea level rise, but its acceleration, is now underway.

An iceberg is pictured in the western Antarctic peninsula in March 2016. (Eitan Abramovich/AFP/Getty Images)

“We have a much stronger acceleration in sea level rise than formerly thought,”

said Sönke Dangendorf, a researcher with the University of Siegen in Germany who led the study along with scientists at institutions in Spain, France, Norway and the Netherlands.

Their paper, just out in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, isn’t the first to find that the rate of rising seas is itself increasing — but it finds a bigger rate of increase than in past studies. The new paper concludes that before 1990, oceans were rising at about 1.1 millimeters per year, or just 0.43 inches per decade. From 1993 through 2012, though, it finds that they rose at 3.1 millimeters per year, or 1.22 inches per decade.

The cause, said Dangendorf, is that sea level rise throughout much of the 20th century was driven by the melting of land-based glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms, but sea level rise in the 21st century has now, on top of that, added in major contributions from the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica.

“The sea level rise is now three times as fast as before 1990,”

Dangendorf said.

Studying the changing rate of sea level rise is complicated by the fact that scientists only have a precise satellite record of its rate going back to the early 1990s. Before that, the records rely on tide gauges spread around the world in various locations.

But sea level rise varies widely in different places, due to the rising and sinking of land, large-scale gravitational effects on the waters of the globe and other local factors.

Source: The Washington Post via Fuel Included News

People are really starting to embrace electric cars

Sales of green vehicles in the US and Europe are spiking.

As with any new transportation technology, it’s not as simple as building your first vehicle and expecting the whole world to change. And yet, it appears as if the world is finally cottoning on to this whole electric cars are better and cheaper to run thing.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association has revealed that EV sales in the first quarter of 2017 are spiking. Overall, sales of so-called “Alternative Fuel Vehicles” have increased by an overall 37.6 percent compared to the first quarter of 2016.

Those figures seem to mirror Bloomberg’s research into the state of the US electric market, which has seen demand trend northward. In the same period, American sales of electric vehicles jumped 49 percent, with sales totaling 40,700.

As heartwarming as the stats are, it’s worth noting that the law of small numbers makes them sound a little more impressive than they actually are. For instance, Germany’s 117 percent rise in EV sales reflects a jump from 2,332 cars in Q1 2016 to 5,060 now.

Around a quarter of European greenhouse gas emissions come from transportation, as well as it being the primary cause of air pollution in cities. So there’s something of an imperative to get on with getting everyone to make the switch, which should be helped by cheaper, newer EVs, like the Renault Zoe.

Source: Engadget via Fuel Included News

China, India plans for electric cars threaten to cut petrol demand

SINGAPORE/KUALA LUMPUR: Demand for petrol in Asia may peak much earlier than expected as millions of people in China and India buy electric vehicles over the next decade, threatening wrenching change for the oil industry, oil and auto company executives warned.

They said refiners should prepare for a future in which petrol, their biggest source of revenue, will be much less of a cash cow.

Change is being prompted by policy moves in India and China, where governments are trying to rein in rampant pollution, cut oil imports, and compete for a slice of the fast-growing green car market.

Refiners should prepare for a future in which petrol, their biggest source of revenue, will be much less of a cash cow as electric vehicles gain traction. — Reuters

In its “road map”, released in April, China said it wants alternative fuel vehicles to account for at least one-fifth of the 35 million annual vehicle sales projected by 2025.

India is considering even more radical action, with an influential government think-tank drafting plans in support of electrifying all vehicles in the country by 2032, according to government and industry sources interviewed by Reuters late last week.

“We will see a clear shift to electric cars. It’s driven by legislation so electric cars are coming, it’s not a niche anymore,”

Wilco Stark, vice president for strategy and product planning at German car maker Daimler, told Reuters.

Stark and other executives were interviewed during the Asia Oil & Gas Conference in Kuala Lumpur this week.

Daimler sees electric vehicles contributing 15% to 20% of its overall sales by 2025 and at least an additional 10% of sales coming from hybrids, he said.

Electric cars currently make up less than 2% of the global car fleet, and any faster-than-expected growth in that percentage will materially impact oil demand and the refining business.

Source: The Star Online via Fuel Included News

Air pollution kills more people in the UK than in Sweden, US and Mexico

WHO figures show people in Britain are more likely to die from dirty air than those living in some other comparable countries

People in the UK are 64 times as likely to die of air pollution as those in Sweden and twice as likely as those in the US, figures from the World Health Organisation reveal.

A face mask placed on the statue of Queen Victoria opposite Buckingham Palace to highlight air pollution. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Britain, which has a mortality rate for air pollution of 25.7 for every 100,000 people, was also beaten by Brazil and Mexico – and it trailed far behind Sweden, the cleanest nation in the EU, with a rate of 0.4.

The US rate was 12.1 for every 100,000, Brazil’s was 15.8 and Mexico’s was 23.5, while Argentina was at 24.6.

The figures are revealed in the WHO World Health Statistics 2017 report, published on Wednesday, which says substantially reducing the number of deaths globally from air pollution is a key target.

The report reveals outdoor air pollution caused an estimated 3 million deaths worldwide, most of these in low- and middle-income countries.

Wealthy European nations had high levels of air pollution from fine particulate matter. The UK had an average of 12.4 micrograms of fine particulate pollutants (PM 2.5) for each cubic metre of air, which includes pollution from traffic, industry, oil and wood burning and power plants in urban areas. This is higher than the pollutant levels of 5.9 in Sweden, 9.9 in Spain and 12.6 in France. Germany had higher levels of particulate pollution than the UK at 14.4 and Poland’s was 25.4.

Dr Penny Woods, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said the report confirmed that deaths from air pollution were higher in the UK than many other comparable countries.

 

Read more: The Guardian via Fuel Included News

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

News and comment on the Renault ZOE electric car – quiet, lively, and non-polluting for £300 per month including fuel.