USA: Wireless electric car charging system revealed

April 19th, 2016 § Comments Off on USA: Wireless electric car charging system revealed § permalink

A wireless charging system has been unveiled in the US that has the potential to match the power output of plug-powered fast-chargers and is capable of charging electric cars on the go.

The 20kW wireless charging system, which is already around three times faster than some plug-in alternatives, has been developed over the past three years by the government-backed Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) with Toyota, Cisco Systems, Clemson University and Evatran.

The system has been demonstrated with a Toyota RAV4 fitted with an additional 10kWh battery, with energy transferred from a transmitting plate in the ground to a receiving plate underneath the front of the car, from where it is then transferred to the battery.

“We now have a technology that is moving closer to being ready for the market,” said Madhu Chinthavali, ORNL power electronics team leader.

ORNL says its next target, along with developing the system’s ability to charge a vehicle in motion, is to up the system’s output to produce 50kW, which would match the power of some plug-powered high-speed charging stations.

Wireless charging of electric vehicles in motion is something which is being developed with a focus on commercial vehicles rather than passenger cars, ORNL says.

Commercial EVs, such as buses, which travel on regular routes and stop at predetermined intervals, would benefit most from wireless charging systems integrated into the road, charging them on the move and also when stationary at bus stops.

The cost of implementing the system is a drawback to more widespread use, though, as it could cost up to $2 million (£1.4m) per mile to incorporate the system into roads, according to ORNL, and the system is still some years away from being implemented.

The institute, which benefited from vehicles and guidance from Toyota in the system’s development, expects to reach its 50kW target this year, but it would take a minimum of a100kW system to make wireless charging viable for bigger commercial vehicles.

The fastest charging station currently is Tesla’s Supercharger, which is capable of delivering up to 120kW and an 80% charge in 30 minutes, while the slowest three-point plug 3kW chargers take around 6-8 hours to deliver a full charge.

Wireless charging systems are set to be tested in the UK, with the government committed to reducing CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050, and Nissan has outlined its plans to implement such a system for its cars.


Plug-in car grant extended with extra £400m until March 2018

December 21st, 2015 § Comments Off on Plug-in car grant extended with extra £400m until March 2018 § permalink

The Government have vowed to extend the grants given to electric and hybrid car buyers
The government has announced that it is to extend the grants given to buyers of electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) until March 2018, with the extra £400m package aimed at trebling the number of low-emission vehicles on Britain’s roads.

The grants, administered by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), should mean more than 100,000 car buyers should benefit from the grants.

Those purchasing cars with a battery range of more than 70 miles and CO2 emissions of less than 50g/km will receive a grant of £4,500 off the list price (a reduction of £500 compared to the previous £5,000 grant).

Meanwhile buyers of plug-in hybrids – technology that will become increasingly widespread in the next few years, as manufacturers introduce new models – will qualify for a grant of £2,500 (which is half of the previous £5,000 grant) if it falls into two new categories: Category 2 cars will need to have a range of between 10 and 69 miles and emit no more than 50g/km of CO2, while Category 3 vehicles must have an electric range of at least 20 miles and emit between 50g/km and 75g/km.

Hybrid cars GETTY

At least 100,000 car buyers will benefit from the grants
To get the full benefit of owning an EV, a home charger is vital
David Martell, CEO of Chargemaster
However plug-in hybrids costing over £60,000 will not be eligible for the grant (although full EVs with an electric range of over 70 miles, such as the Tesla Model S, will still qualify).

The grant is part of a total £600m investment in supporting the expansion of low-emission motoring, which also includes funding for chargepoints, grants encouraging low emission buses and taxis, and R&D funding for innovative technology such as lighter vehicles and longer-lasting car batteries.

Transport minister Andrew Jones said: “The UK is a world leader in the uptake of low emission vehicles and the plug-in car grant has been key to that success.

Extending the grant in a sustainable way ensures more than 100,000 people will benefit from financial support when purchasing these cheap-to-run and green cars. We are determined to keep Britain at the forefront of the technology, increasing our support for plug-in vehicles to £600m over the next 5 years to cut emissions, create jobs and support our cutting-edge industries.”

Support for electric charging at the homes of EV and PHEV owners will also continue, but is to be cut in half, a move that some have criticised, suggesting that it will reduce the incentive for plug-in owners, in particular, to have a charger installed.

David Martell, CEO of Chargemaster, a provider and operator of charging points, said: “Reducing support for electric car owners to install a charger at home is premature and a step backwards for UK carbon reduction and the necessary push towards air quality improvement.

It means that many plug-in hybrid vehicle drivers will simply not bother fitting a charger at home and run their cars on fossil fuel instead. To get the full benefit of owning an EV, a home charger is vital.”

“Support for home charging offers much better value for money than many other areas that OLEV spends its resources on. It is also most regrettable that this change has been made giving little more than two months’ notice.”

“Until now, the UK government has led the way in supporting charging at home. This move is difficult to understand when the market is still fragile and only just starting to gain momentum.

It is even more surprising considering government’s recent announcement that it will allocate £600m to support ultra-low emission vehicles over the next six years. To reduce its annual support for charging at home from £12m to £7.5m is unfortunate at this stage of the development of the market.”

As Seen on

Kudos: Heathrow Airport increases fleet of electric cars in bid to improve CO2 emissions

November 25th, 2015 § Comments Off on Kudos: Heathrow Airport increases fleet of electric cars in bid to improve CO2 emissions § permalink

Danielle Paton, from Langley, is a member of the sustainability transport team at the airport and is featured in a video which was released this week.

In the video Danielle explains Heathrow’s 2020 ambition for every car and small van used within the airport to be ‘electric or plug-in hybrid’.

One change that has already been made is switching its pool car fleet, which is used by workers to get around the airport, from diesel to electric.

“We have lots of environment challenges at Heathrow and I am helping with plans to improve CO2 emissions,” Danielle said.

“Encouraging people to leave their cars at home is a challenge but we are working to show people the savings they can make if they opt for an alternative mode of transport.

“However the main focus of the video is to show what we are working towards and what we have done to lower emissions at Heathrow.”

Heathrow already has one of the largest fleets of electric airside vehicles in Europe with almost all of its 830 baggage tugs being electric.

The airport has also committed £5m to its electric vehicle charging infrastructure and are trialling a specialised rapid charger which would allow vehicles to be charged quickly.

New: BMW 3-series plug-in hybrid

November 6th, 2015 § Comments Off on New: BMW 3-series plug-in hybrid § permalink

The BMW 330e plug-in hybrid promises powerful performance, typical BMW driving experience – and ability to travel all electrically for a certain stretch.
  BMW says 25 miles range on the easier going European NEDC test cycle is possible. How far this may mean under U.S. EPA testing is not stated, but range somewhere in the teens is likely.

Meanwhile, 0-60 mph performance can be as quick as 5.9 seconds. Due to make its North American Debut next month in LA, the PHEV with its 7.6-kilowatt-hour battery appears to be a significant step up in eco performance from the outgoing ActiveHybrid3 regular hybrid.

Performance ability is derived from a “Twin Power” turbo four serving up 214 pounds-feet of torque merged with a “cutting edge” electric motor adding in 184 pounds-feet. Total system power is rated 252 horsepower and CO2 emissions under NEDC is 49-44 g/km. This super low emission profile is with battery assist, and unstated is the car’s emissions in regular hybrid mode.

Total electric plus gas range is stated as 373 miles (600 km), and power is pureed through an eight-speed Steptronic automotic transmission.

“The arrangement of the electric motor in front of the transmission allows the transmission ratios to be used in all-electric mode as well,” says BMW, “This means a torque converter can be omitted, which partially cancels out the extra weight of the additional drive unit.”

The car offers three driving modes: AUTO eDRIVE, MAX eDRIVE and SAVE BATTERY.

The default AUTO eDRIVE uses the engine and electric motor together, and an all-electric top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h).

A second drive mode is MAX eDRIVE which uses electric power only. Here top e-speed is 75 mph (120 km/h) and the touted “25 mile” raqnge (under NEDC) is promised. Per blended PHEV practice, the engine can cut in at any time the accelerator is pushed down beyond its kickdown position. Full acceleration therefore is with gas assist.

The third drive mode is called SAVE BATTERY. This sustains charge by sparing the battery for later.

The rest of the car, says BMW is pure adrenaline laced luxury performance BMW 3-Series.

Joining the 330e in making a North American debut at the LA Auto Show will be also the BMW M4 GTS, BMW X1, and BMW 7 Series.

BMW has several more plug-in cars in the works, and we expect more news ongoing.

Amazed: UK To Test Wireless Charging Lanes For Electric Cars

August 13th, 2015 § Comments Off on Amazed: UK To Test Wireless Charging Lanes For Electric Cars § permalink

A graphic of what the scheme could look like if introduced on the UK's motorways

It’s hoped the technology will help cut CO2 emissions Pic: Highways England

New technology is being tested by Highways England that could allow electric car owners to charge as they drive.

The trials are the first of their kind and will test how the technology would work on the country’s motorways and major A roads, allowing drivers of ultra-low emission vehicles to travel long distances without needing to stop and charge the car’s battery.

Electric and hybrid car sales are on the rise in Britain with a total of 9,046 ultra-low emission vehicles registered in the first quarter of 2015 – a rise of 366% from the same period in 2014.

Graph showing the rise in sales of low emission and electric vehicles

There has been a surge in the sale of low emission vehicles this year.

The Government hopes that the new technology could entice more drivers who may be put off by the current distribution of charging points.

Off-road trials of the Dynamic Wireless Power Transfer technology will begin later this year after a procurement process.

Video: GoUltraLow Campaign Success

The trials will involve fitting vehicles with wireless technology and testing the equipment, installed underneath the road, to replicate motorway conditions.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “The potential to recharge low emission vehicles on the move offers exciting possibilities.

“The Government is already committing £500m over the next five years to keep Britain at the forefront of this technology, which will help boost jobs and growth in the sector.

“As this study shows, we continue to explore options on how to improve journeys and make low-emission vehicles accessible to families and businesses.”

The trials are expected to last for approximately 18 months and, subject to the results, could be followed by road trials.

As well as investigating the potential of wireless power, Highways England also says it’s committed in the longer-term to installing plug-in charging points every 20 miles on the motorway network as part of the Government’s Road Investment Strategy.

The UK Government has committed itself to reducing CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050.

In 2013, 25% of UK CO2 emissions were from transport, so there is a drive to increase the use of Low Carbon Vehicles.


Both Birmingham and Liverpool airports join Electric Highway

July 14th, 2015 § Comments Off on Both Birmingham and Liverpool airports join Electric Highway § permalink

Birmingham Airport and Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport have become the first two British airports to join the Electric Highway.
The two airports now offer fast charging for electric motorists as part of the network of charging stations run by utility firm Ecotricity, which now covers almost the entire motorway network in Britain.

Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity, said: “Installing pumps at airports such as Liverpool and Birmingham is the next phase of our national network which enables electric cars to drive the length and breadth of Britain. Now e-drivers can charge up at the airport if they’re picking up, dropping off, or on their way in and out of the country.”

Andrew Dutton, Liverpool John Lennon Airport’s head of environment, said: “Liverpool John Lennon Airport is proud to play a small part in the electric car revolution. The journey to the airport can be one of the major contributors to CO2 emissions associated with our business.

“By installing this charging point we are now giving those customers with electric or hybrid cars the opportunity to use these vehicles on a potential lengthy journey to the airport, relaxed in the knowledge that we have a charging point for them to use for their return journey home. Just as important though, this will also help to reduce CO2 emissions.”

Jo Lloyd, commercial director at Birmingham Airport, added: “We’re always looking at new and innovative ways of improving the passenger experience at Birmingham Airport, which is why we have installed these electric charging points.

“The growing popularity of electric and hybrid cars means it is vital we provide the facilities that will enable our passengers to travel to-and-from the airport as easily as possible. We’re extremely proud to support this green form of energy and the obvious benefits it brings to the environment.”

Cheapest Electric car Lease: Renault Twizy from £125.36 + VAT/Mth 36month optin 10k/annum

July 13th, 2015 § Comments Off on Cheapest Electric car Lease: Renault Twizy from £125.36 + VAT/Mth 36month optin 10k/annum § permalink

13kW Expression 2dr Auto Lease

Renault Twizy


Technical Information:

  • Insurance: Group 10A
  • Engine power: 17 PS
  • Fuel consumption: N mpg (combined)
  • CO2 emissions: 0 g/km
  • Max occupancy: 2 seats



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Now that you have a vehicle in mind please specify the contract length, the mileage you would need per annum and whether or not you would like maintenance included. This will change the price quoted. When you’re happy with the profile delivery options and customisation of your TWIZY.


Budget 2015: new road repair fund and car tax overhaul

July 11th, 2015 § Comments Off on Budget 2015: new road repair fund and car tax overhaul § permalink

George Osborne announces a new road improvement fund with VED car tax paying directly for road repairs

“Every single penny” raised by vehicle excise duty will go into a new road fund to pay exclusively for highways maintenance by the end of the decade. George Osborne revealed the creation of the road fund in his July 8 Budget in one of the biggest reforms to motoring in recent years.

Osborne said: “We will create a new roads fund from the end of this decade and every single penny raised in vehicle excise duty will go into that fund to pay for roads. The tax paid on people’s cars will be used on the roads they drive on. It’s a fairer tax system for motorists.”

Vehicle excise duty will also be overhauled from 2017 because figures show that under the current scheme three quarters of all new cars would be exempt.

The 2017 system will see new cars paying based on updated emissions ratings that take new technology such as hybrids and pure-electric cars into account. After the first year, there will be three duty bands – zero emission, standard and premium.

Diesel motorway pollution smog traffic

No extra revenue will be raised by the new system but Osborne believes it’ll be “more secure” and fairer, too.

Osborne said it’s not right that those who can afford new cars pay no tax while those who can only afford as used vehicle have to shell out for tax when both are using the roads.

Fuel duty will also be frozen for the rest of the year, as previously announced, while the time limit on having the first MoT carried out will be stretched from three to four years, saving motorists “billions”.

Budget 2015: reaction

Commenting on the budget, Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “The Chancellor has seen the writing on the wall. His VED income is set to fall sharply as cars get greener and he has acted to avoid that. Costs for many drivers will rise, but two things help offset the financial pain. One is that new car prices have dropped in real terms over many years and the other is that money raised from VED will be ring-fenced for road investment, something not seen since the 1930s.”

New VED road tax bands from April 2017

The new VED rates affect cars registered from 1 April 2017. The first year rates will continue to be set according to CO2 emissions although only zero-emission cars will be exempt from paying.

After the first year, a flat standard rate of £140 a year applies – although zero-emission vehicles continue to be free. Cars with a list price above £40,000 will attract a supplement of £310 on their standard charge for the first five years. All cars that were first registered before the new system comes into effect remain on the existing VED scale which will not change.

VED tax bands: April 2017 onwards: table

VED car tax bands for cars first registered from 2017 onwards
Emissions (g/km of CO2) First year rate Standard rate
0 £0 £0
1-50 £10 £140
51-75 £25
76-90 £100
91-100 £120
101-110 £140
111-130 £160
131-150 £200
151-170 £500
171-190 £800
191-225 £1,200
226-255 £1,700
Over 255 £2,000
Cars above £40,000 pay £310 annual supplement for five years

 History of Vehicle Excise Duty in the UK

  • • 1889Vehicle Excise Duty first introduced.
  • • 1909 – In the ‘People’s Budget’ David Lloyd George announced that the proceeds of VED would be used to fund the building and maintenance of the road network.
  • • 1920 – The terms Road Fund and Road Fund Licence came into existence.
  • • 1936 – Ring-fencing of the Road Fund ended by the Finance Act.
  • • 2014 – 69% of new cars registered in Great Britain were exempt from VED in their first year on the road because they emitted CO2 of less than 131g/km and fell into bands A-D.
  • • 2013/14VED raised £6.1 billion with the money going into the Treasury’s general consolidated fund.
  • • 2017 – New cars to be charged VED with no first year exemption with new rates emissions ratings introduced for updated tech.
  • • 2020 – By the end of the decade, all VED paid will be ring-fenced and used for road building, maintenance and repairs.

What do you think of the changes affecting motorists in the 2015 budget? Let us know in the comments section below…

Excellent news: Airport installs Merseyside’s first rapid car charging point

June 10th, 2015 § Comments Off on Excellent news: Airport installs Merseyside’s first rapid car charging point § permalink

LIVERPOOL John Lennon Airport has installed Merseyside’s first rapid charging point for electric vehicles in partnership with green energy company Ecotricity.

The facility is part of Ecotricity’s Electric Highway which forms part of the UK’s national network of electric charging stations.

Powered with 100% renewable energy from sun and wind power, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles cars such as the Mitsubishi Outlander hybrid or Nissan’s fully electric LEAF, can recharge in 20 to 30mins – about the time it takes to have a cup of coffee.

The new charging point is free to use and located in one of the Airport car parks, close to the terminal building.

Whilst use of the service is primarily aimed at passengers using the Airport, it is available for anyone to use, with access to its location free of parking charges too.

Andrew Dutton, LJLA’s head of environment, said: “We are proud to play a small part in the electric car revolution.

“The journey to the airport can be one of the major contributors to CO2 emissions associated with our business.

“By installing this charging point we are now giving those customers with electric or hybrid cars the opportunity to use these vehicles on a potential lengthy journey to the airport, relaxed in the knowledge that we have a charging point for them to use for their return journey home. Just as important though, this will also help to reduce CO2 emissions.”

Mercedes S500 Plug-in Hybrid due in 2015 (20 Miles Max EV Range)

June 4th, 2015 § Comments Off on Mercedes S500 Plug-in Hybrid due in 2015 (20 Miles Max EV Range) § permalink

There are a few particular stats concerning the new Mercedes S500 Plug-in Hybrid that grab your attention when skimming the spec sheet. Namely, combined fuel consumption of 100.9mpg, CO2 emissions of 65g/km and 0-62mph in 5.2 seconds.

They’re not a misprint – this is the greenest S-class yet, with a 3.0-litre petrol-fuelled V6 joined by a 114bhp electric motor taking its energy from a big lithium-ion battery pack in the boot. It’s also the first of a raft of new plug-in Mercs, with 10 further hybrids planned by 2017.

Mercedes Benz S500 PHEV Plugin Hybrid via

Mercedes Benz S500 PHEV Plugin Hybrid via

Mercedes Benz S500 PHEV Plugin Hybrid via

Mercedes Benz S500 PHEV Plugin Hybrid via

Hold on. Aren’t there hybrid versions of the Mercedes S-class already?

Yes, the petrol-electric S400 and the diesel-electric S300 BlueTec. In their case, though, the electric motor’s job is more to take the edge off the combustion engine’s consumption and augment its performance than provide much in the way of meaningful zero-emissions mileage.

The S500 Plug-in Hybrid can manage far more than a bit of low-speed gliding around car parks. A much bigger battery pack (and the ability to plug it into the mains or a faster wallbox charger to pre-charge it) means it can manage up to 20 miles on electric power alone before the petrol engine kicks in. That said, on our initial 11-mile drive at low speeds through city streets the V6 whirred into life just around the corner from our destination.

Charging takes around two hours at a wallbox or between two hours 45 minutes and four hours through the mains, via a socket in the rear bumper.

What’s the Mercedes S500 Plug-in like to drive?

Just as imperious as the non-hybrid limo models, but with the added serenity of near-silence when running in electric mode.

There are occasionally a few more noticeable clunks and shunts from the seven-speed transmission than you might ideally like but otherwise this is as refined as luxury travel gets. Adaptive air suspension ensures ride quality is suitably smooth and when you touch the brake pedal the system does a decent job of overlapping the mechanical brakes and electric motor deceleration unobtrusively.

For what it’s worth, this car is jolly fast too: when both the electric motor and the V6 put their heads together there’s a total of 436bhp and enough performance for enthusiastic chauffeurs to pin their passengers far into the S-class’s cushioned head rests.

There are four driving modes to choose from: E-mode (electric power only), E-save (uses as little battery power as possible), Charge (charges the battery as you drive) and Hybrid (the default mode, which does a little of everything).

Mercedes S500 Plug-in technology highlights

Being an S-Class, it’s rammed with clever and complicated tech. A party piece Mercedes seems particularly proud of is the car’s ability to turn the local topography to its advantage; for example, if you’ve programmed a hilly route into the sat-nav the S500 will use the electric motor to help the car uphill and flatten the battery as much as possible so it can recharge on the way down. Equally, the system will make sure you get to urban areas with as much charge as possible so you can make the most of the electric motor.

There’s also a ‘haptic accelerator pedal’. If you’ve set the transmission to Economy+ mode, on downhill stretches or when following traffic a series of pulses through the throttle pedal tells you that you should really take your foot off the gas to allow the drivetrain to coast or regenerate energy. That’s right, the hybrid S-Class is sentient to the point where it will essentially chide you for tailgating.

You can also set the interior temperature before you climb in via your smartphone, which can be linked to the climate control and heated seats, steering wheel and armrest. The app will even tell you how much charge is left in the battery from the comfort of your front room.

Any downsides?

A sizeable chunk of boot space is lost to a doorstep-shaped ledge that covers the big battery pack and the plug-in S-class is available in long-wheelbase form only – but it’s otherwise identical to any other model in the range. It does carry a more heavyweight price tag though, at around £17,000 more than an S350 BlueTec diesel.

The jury’s out on the exact extent you’d be saving the planet by choosing the plug-in. That spec sheet-dominating 65g/km CO2 figure owes a little to the rather generous way hybrids’ emissions are calculated by the EU (the electric-only range is carried wholesale into the calculations), since the engine generates 149g/km of CO2.

On a separate note, the twin-screen S-Class dashboard is beginning to look a little dated already – maybe Merc has a more elegant instrument panel in the pipeline for when facelift time rolls around.


You’d hesitate to call it ‘green’ wholeheartedly, but the Mercedes-Benz S500 Plug-in’s efficiency figures are undeniably impressive. For buyers with largely city-based driving habits and access to charging infrastructure, it’s arguably the pick of the range.

Most buyers will forgo the faffing with power cables and plump for the more affordable S350 diesel, though. The S500 Plug-in is expected to make up around 3-5% of S-class sales in the UK.

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