Electric cars

  Wilham 01:25 05 Sep 2008

I pondered on my next car being electric. I split the options into two groups... The first contains small dumpy electric cars, each carrying a weight of batteries to attain an acceptable range in miles, and speed in mph, around 50 and 50 resp'ly.

If I had one of these I'd be terrified of running out of power. Yes, I know there is a reserve mileage dial on the dash. but it only begins with 50. Batteries lose capacity with age, and lose power when very cold,... it doesn't bolster confidence.

The supposedly good news is that there are already 40 EV recharging points in car parks, mainly around London, and the electricity is usually free to registered users. The number will grow, as will charging outlets at filling stations. But when I queue to fill up my present Megane at the pump I find customers to take no more than five minutes a turn. Compare this with the four hours for a quick EV charge (8hr is normal period). There's a problem.

The hybrids make the second group. This has a petrol engine that powers an electric generator that charges the batts that drive the motor(s) that propels the car. The commonest hybrid is the Toyota Prius. It has space inside, it is more comfortable, and its speed and range are nearer what we expect from ordinary cars.

The downside is that Prius power only comes from petrol. Its 61.5mpg is bettered by the latest economy common rail diesels. Roughly 70% of our electric mains power comes from fossil fuel, and does that with energy conversion about 80% efficient. The Prius is unlikely to utilise 50% energy conversion, and because it cannot be charged from the mains, IMHO it loses claim to be green.

All is not lost. I discovered on the web the Renault Kangoo Electric. 70 miles range, 70 mph top speed. Rang my Renauld dealer...
"Sorry, it's not imported into this country"
I'm a long-standing customer, I bent their arm..
" Even if we were able to get one it would be LHD."
I'm still impressed with the specs. The first version has an optional add-on 10kw petrol generator to boost range to 120 miles, and in emergency can propel car if batts fail. Better still is the new Kangoo Elec Hybrid which appears to answer my Prius reservations. It has a li-ion batt with life 40 yr....?

This thread was prompted by my inability to find a Kangoo Electric seller. I did not expect this reply within the EU from Renault France...

"Dear member, Unfortunately, l' access to this object was blocked because of legal restrictions into force in certain countries." (Babel trans.)
Some links...

click here

click here

  interzone55 10:58 05 Sep 2008

Continuing on from fourm member's point.

With the pathetic range of most of these cars you have to live in an urban area. Due to expemption from congestion charge they're particularly attractive to people who live in and around London.

This begs a question, if you don't have off-street parking how on earth do you charge the car - do you run an extension cable from you house to the pavement?

Also, some of the newer cars, such as the fantastic looking Tesla Roadster have a fast charge option which boosts the batteries to 80% in about 1 hour, but this needs 3-phase power, anyone have this facility at home?

  WhiteTruckMan 11:23 05 Sep 2008

with electric cars is that they are fay from emission free. Unless they charge from wind or solar, when you plug them in you are merely transferring your pollution somewhere else- to the power station that produces the electricity in the first place. This is something conveniently overlooked by the smug zero emmisions brigade. That combined with the costs of producing the cars in the first place plus the end of life problems associated with the batteries make things a little less clear in my opinion.

Our solution has been a small common rail diesel which consistently reaches 80+ mpg, is of completely conventional construction and cost just over 6 1/2k (three weeks ago). And its exempt from congestion charge-not that thats an issue for us just yet.


  Wilham 13:05 05 Sep 2008

fourm member
I agree with you. Your post makes me realise an ambiguity with 'range'. To a petrol car it would mean the furthest I could go before refill. In same context an electric car with specified range 50 miles would keep within 25 miles to get home.

You are right about public transport. I think we have become over-reliant on our private cars, and we go to extraordinary lengths to preserve that dependency.

alan 14
The cable across the pavement situation happened before. Cars perked on the highway needed sidelights switched on all hours of darkness. That was UK law just after WW2.

When private cars appeared again on the roads people in terraced homes began to run cables to their cars. I remember wires from upstair windows stretched to top of street lamps and down to the cars. It was a public danger, and the law was changed to allow unlit cars at night within 50 yd of a lighted lamp post.

Your comment on the London congestion charge is apt. In time it is expected to happen in most cities and large towns.


  interzone55 13:05 05 Sep 2008

" This is something conveniently overlooked by the smug zero emmisions brigade"

this isn't true, the media overlook this fact, but green campaigners don't.

You mention batteries, this is another thing that is overlooked by many people.

Most electric & hybid cars use Lithium-ion batteries, much like a big notebook battery. How long does a notebook battery last before it no longer takes sufficient charge? Somewhere between 3 & 5 years is my guess.

Now when you notebook battery dies you either buy a new one for about £80, change the laptop if you're ready to upgrade, or use it on mains only.

What are you going to do when the time comes to change the £7,000 worth of batteries in your Prius. I'm willing to bet that in most cases the whole car will hit the scrap heap - now how's that for green?

  DieSse 22:44 05 Sep 2008

Whilst electric (and hydrogen)powered vehicles will become viable as transport - and less polluting in themselves - what many people overlook is that batteries and hydrogen are not primary fuel technologies, they are energy transfer and storage technologies.

Both need electric generating capacity to produce the stored energy to power the vehicles.

So they'll need a big increase in primary electric generating capacity to charge the batteries, and produce the hydrogen.

Where's the planning for that then?

  oresome 22:48 05 Sep 2008

Where's the planning for that then?

We are waiting for the French to play ball and show us how to produce nuclear energy.

  DieSse 23:06 05 Sep 2008

"We are waiting for the French to play ball and show us how to produce nuclear energy."

Exactly (or the Italians, or Canadians - or even perhaps the Iranians, they seem to be finding out how to do it!)- pathetic innit?

  Jim Thing 23:10 05 Sep 2008

I think anyone who has lived on the continent and visited this country by car will confirm that driving a left-hander in UK is no big deal once you get used to it. The main disadvantage is whenever you have to assess whether to overtake a huge truck on a rural road, where you have to stick half of your car out into the oncoming traffic in order to see whether there is any (if you see what I mean).

Getting a Renault Kangoo Electric serviced in this country is another matter entirely, of course...

  Pesala 09:22 06 Sep 2008

Batteries are warranteed for 100,000 miles.

Batteries are recycled by the company.

Electric cars are 80% efficient compared to 20% for fossil fuel vehicles, so the pollution is much less and also easier to clean up at the power station. You can, of course, also use green sources of electrical power. Over the next decade, elecricity generation will undoubtedly become less polluting.

click here

  Quickbeam 10:25 06 Sep 2008

"do you run an extension cable from you house to the pavement?"

That would bring about a whole new crime wave involving the theft of electricity.

The obvious way to make electric cars more acceptable would be if they all had a standardised power pack that could easily be exchanged at a power exchange point.

I don't think we're ready for them yet though...

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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