June 11th, 2016 § Comments Off on Norway: Why do they love electric cars in the Arctic Circle? § permalink
Tromso, a Norwegian city known as the “Gateway to the Arctic”, receives no sunlight for two months of the year.
Yet this remote, beautiful, snowy city is the unlikely focus of the global electric car industry, attracting the attention of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, founder of electric car maker Tesla.
His company has recently opened a showroom there – its most northerly outpost.
Why? Because Norway, it seems, is simply nuts about electric cars.
The country is the world leader in electric cars per capita and has just become the fourth country in the world to have 100,000 of them on the roads.
When you consider the other nations on the list are the US (population: 320 million), Japan (pop. 130 million) and China (pop. 1.35 billion), then that is quite an achievement for this rugged, sparsely populated country of just five million.
Some of its politicians want to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2025, which prompted Musk to tweet: “What an amazingly awesome country. You guys rock!!”
On an earlier visit in April, he attributed a lot of Tesla’s success to the country’s pioneering stance on electric cars.
So how has Norway managed it?
Elisabeth Bryn helps explain the answer. The 56-year-old teacher enjoys driving in the icy streets of Tromso and she can barely contain her excitement as she misses our turn.
“It is such a good feeling to drive a clean car. It means I have a clean conscience and it works out cheaper in the long run,” she tells the BBC.
But it is economic incentive as much as environmental concern that is fuelling the rise in green cars – Norway introduced a raft of generous subsidies to encourage people to go electric.
Electric Car Incentive List
- No purchase taxes
- Exemption from 25% VAT on purchase
- Low annual road tax
- No charges on toll roads or ferries
- Free municipal parking
- Access to bus lanes
- 50% reduction in company car tax
- No VAT on leasing
It launched an aggressive tax policy towards high-polluting cars, while offering zero tax on zero-emission cars. This “polluter pays” policy brought the cost of an electric car into line with a conventionally powered one.
Bryn is clearly shrewd about the numbers and says the entire cost of her car will be recouped within eight years thanks to the tax and fuel savings.
But aren’t people worried about running out of power? Lack of range is the electric car’s Achilles heel after all.
This is where Norway comes into its own, as Bryn demonstrates at a public charging point on an industrial estate out of town.
The electricity being pumped into her car is free.
Norway is fortunate enough to have close to 100% renewable and cheap hydro power production.
According to the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association, even if all three million cars on the country’s roads were electric, they would suck up just 5-6% of the annual hydro power electricity production.
Elisabeth Bryn loves her electric car, but some of her friends worry about flat batteries
Rapid charging points can pump her Nissan Leaf with up to 80% charge in just 30 minutes. Alternatively, Bryn can charge her car at home at a much slower pace overnight.
It helps that Norway is also the biggest oil producer in Western Europe and the world’s third largest exporter of natural gas. In other words, Norway is rich enough to subsidise its electric car lifestyle.
But despite these considerable perks, not everyone is convinced.
In Oslo there are more than 14,000 electric cars – about 30% of the market. But in the more northern reaches – cities like Tromso – enthusiasm has been more muted.
This may be explained by the tough terrain and “range anxiety” – concerns that a flat battery will leave them stranded in arctic conditions.
Can electric cars perform as well in far northern climes?
Studies have shown that electric car performance can deteriorate markedly in extreme cold or hot conditions. And Nissan, whose Leaf model is the biggest selling electric vehicle in Norway, admits that the car’s 124-mile maximum range can fall significantly in icier conditions when the heating, lights and demister are all draining the charge more thirstily.
Bryn says such concerns have put off some of her friends: “They have a cabin deep in the countryside and said they just couldn’t trust an electric car to get them there. They said there just weren’t enough charging points.”
Yet Tesla’s new showroom in Tromso, and the steady growth in the number of public charging points, demonstrates the industry’s commitment to spreading the green message no matter how inhospitable the environment.
And the rest of the world is learning lessons from Norway.
Germany has just announced a €1bn (£784m; $1.1bn) incentive scheme to get more consumers buying electric cars, for example.
Christian Ruoff, publisher of US electric car magazine, Charged, sums it up: “Electric car makers in the US see Norway as a window into the future.
“Norway shows that if governments can make electric cars as affordable as petrol equivalents then motorists, even in the Arctic Circle, will buy them.
“It also busts the myths that electric cars and their batteries are only suitable for cities with more moderate climates like Oslo or San Francisco.”
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.
April 5th, 2016 § Comments Off on Tesla VS Dyson, as the latter Challenges Tesla With $1.4 Billion Battery Tech Investment § permalink
Dyson, the U.K. producer of innovative vacuum cleaners and hand dryers, will spend 1 billion pounds ($1.44 billion) on battery development over the next five years as it increases its efforts to expand into new sectors.
It follows a 2015 acquisition of Satki3, a U.S. maker of solid-state lithium-ion batteries, for $90 million. Dyson Ltd. had previously invested $15 million in the Michigan firm, which said it has found a way to produce batteries with twice the energy storage potential of standard lithium-ion models, at a half to a third of the cost.
Dyson’s battery efforts also received a lift from the U.K.’s 2016 budget, announced last week. As part of the package, the British government awarded Dyson a 16-million-pound grant to undertake research on longer-lasting batteries. The grant came from a regional development fund.
Batteries are a key component in Dyson’s cordless vacuum cleaners, a category that grew 66 percent globally in 2015 and in which Dyson currently holds about a 25 percent share of the market, the company said in an e-mailed statement.
While the immediate application for new batteries would probably be in Dyson’s existing cordless products, they have potential uses in everything from electric cars to tablet computers. In moving into the battery field, Dyson is taking on the likes of Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors, which is also developing advanced cells to power vehicles and home appliances.
March 24th, 2016 § Comments Off on Will we See an Electric Jaguar by 2018? § permalink
By RoundAndTrack read original post here.
Electric cars are one of the big things in the auto industry right now, and it looks like Jaguar will be joining the club soon.
Speaking to AutoGuide today, Ian Callum said an electric Jag is probably coming sooner than we would think.
“Within two years, we’ll have something that’s not driven by a petrol engine,” he said before joking that the car would be instead be powered by “just a couple of hamsters.”
A representative from Jaguar wouldn’t clarify what kind of electric car it would be, but did say it’s inevitable considering the direction the rest of the industry is heading. She also said we could probably guess which models will get electrified first.
Presumably, that would mean the F-Pace and the XJ will be first to go, while the F-Type is safe from battery power (at least for now). AutoGuide has also uncovered trademarks Jaguar filed for an I-Type and an I-Pace, which points to an electrified F-Type—and an electrified F-Pace—coming at some point.
Assuming Callum is correct, look for the first concept car to show up in the next year or so.
March 15th, 2016 § Comments Off on Baby steps: Affordability of Electric Cars Expected to Increase Rapidly § permalink
By 2022 it may be possible to buy an electric vehicle for the same amount as a vehicle powered by a traditional petrol or diesel engine, according to a report published by Bloomberg Business this month.
At the moment the biggest barrier to wider EV adoption is arguably their high asking price. And with infrastructural improvements and technological upgrades, this type of eco-friendly vehicle is becoming more practical by the day, leaving the upfront cost as an enduring issue.
But if analysts are accurate in their predictions, it could be just six years before the choice between EVs and other cars is not affected by such considerations.
The main reason that EVs are comparatively costly today is that the batteries required to power them still put a significant burden on the total expense of the vehicle. But the report points out that battery prices have fallen by just over a third in the past 12 months and are likely to continue to tumble as demand rises and the technology involved in manufacturing them improves.
In 2015 there was a 60 per cent increase in the number of EVs sold internationally. And within 25 years they are expected to account for 35 per cent of the market as a whole.
This suggests that petrol- and diesel-powered cars will still be in the majority by 2040, or hybrids will account for the rest of the market. But ultimately it seems like complete EV dominance is only a matter of time.
Today less than a single percentage point of the new car market is made up of EVs. But as battery prices slide southwards, the predictions made in the report suggest that a major up-tick in sales is just around the corner.
While this is great news for drivers who want to reduce the harmful emissions their motoring activities produce without feeling the sting in their wallets, there are other economic considerations involved with the rise of EVs.
Specifically, it is the industries built around supplying the fossil fuels that power current cars which are likely to suffer. And analysts believe that by 2023 the need for oil will have dropped by up to two million barrels per day.
For companies and indeed entire countries which rely on the demand for oil to survive and thrive, this could be a significant issue. Some are even warning of a looming crisis which will come if steps are not taken today to ensure that the falling need for oil is balanced by investment in other areas.
At the other end of the spectrum, there are expectations surrounding the rise in EV ownership in terms of how this will impact the electricity infrastructure of the UK and other developed nations. With more people charging up their cars at home or while parked elsewhere, the demand for power will only increase.
Globally the amount of power drawn annually by EVs could be equal to a tenth of all electricity generated around the world in 2015. This annual total of 1900 terrawatt-hours of consumption is not likely to be hit until 2040, but it gives an indication of the scale of the challenge that electricity providers are going to face.
This will no doubt lead to debates about the resources which are consumed in order to provide the electricity to charge EVs. Because getting rid of a petrol-guzzling car only to replace it with an EV that plugs into a mains connection supplied by a power station that burns coal will seem like a less than perfect solution to many motorists.
Questions about the mining processes and economic impact of extracting the minerals required to build the batteries which are found within EVs also exist. But in the long term there is no doubt that vehicles must shift away from a reliance on fossil fuels, since non-renewable resources are necessarily limited and unsustainable.
December 21st, 2015 § Comments Off on Swatch says it has a better electric car battery § permalink
Swatch, the innovative Swiss company known mostly for its stylish watches, made an attempt to build an electric car way back in the 80’s. That effort was a dismal failure, mostly because the timing was all wrong. The only batteries available then were of the traditional lead acid variety. No one had even thought of using a lithium ion battery to power an electric car back then. » Read the rest of this entry «
November 25th, 2015 § Comments Off on independent.ie: “We’re not serious enough on electric cars”. I concur. § permalink
As Published on idependent.ie
Everyone lauds the attempts being made to have more electric cars on our roads. There are major drawbacks, of course, with range anxiety prime among them – though with a little bit of management in an urban environment that can be just about coped with now.
But, without in any way detracting from the effort, we should still bear in mind that electric cars are not emissions free.
Well, most of them aren’t. Most rely on power generated somewhere else. And generating that power can invoke considerable emissions. I think we lose sight of that.
I read somewhere recently that an electric car can use as much electricity in one charge as your average fridge does in six weeks. Which is a fair bit if you are charging it every day.
But that shouldn’t be regarded as a downer. Why not use the goal of significantly reducing the environmental impact of power for electric cars as an incentive to produce them more efficiently?
And why not encourage wider use of electric cars by making it even more worthwhile to have one?
All sorts of proposals have been made for Ireland (where monetary incentives are quite generous) such as free parking, tolls etc.
But there is a lethargy about our official approach to them and the numbers sold bear that out. Either we are serious or we are not. And I don’t think we are. We require a different sort of commitment.
I’m prompted to say so on the basis of charges that are coming down the line. This is a great juncture for the Government to step in and say: “We’re going to back electric cars to the hilt and here’s how.”
That would show real intent.
* Speaking of range anxiety . . . BMW is anxious to play down reports its BMW i3 electric car is ready to go further in the not-too-distant future.
Reports suggested it has developed a new higher-density battery that will extend the range to 200km instead of the current 160kmh. But a spokeswoman in Ireland said it was just press speculation.
* On a different electric-car tack . . . Tesla is recalling every Model S that has been bought so far after discovering a fault with a passenger’s seatbelt.
It recently found a Model S in Europe with “a front seatbelt that was not properly connected to the outboard lap pre-tensioner”.
There was no crash or injuries but Tesla says: “However, in the event of a crash, a seatbelt in this condition would not provide full protection.”
* Despite its travails, Volkswagen is pushing ahead with plans for an electric Phaeton to rival the likes of the Tesla Model S. But it will be three or four years down the line.
* Moving away from electrics . . . Toyota here is claimingit is first in Ireland to fit an advanced safety system as standard to a city car. Its ‘Safety Sense’ technology pack will be on the AYGO. The company says there is “no extra cost to the driver”.
* Good to see Jaguar Land Rover here expanding its retail network with the appointment of the Joe Duffy Group as North Dublin’s Jaguar dealer for Sales and Aftersales at HB Dennis.
Based in Airside Motor Park, Swords, the HB Dennis outlet is also a Land Rover dealership.
* And speaking of Land Rover: production of the great Defender will end early next year.
November 14th, 2015 § Comments Off on London: New electric car-charging bays as Hammersmith council steps up fight against pollution § permalink
The battle against pollution is being stepped up with the introduction of 40 new electric car-charging bays across Hammersmith and Fulham by end of next year.Planning applications for 10 new on-street car-charging points, each with two bays, have been submitted to H&F by service providers Source London Network, with applications for a further 10 charging points expected to follow shortly.
The new facilities are being considered in response to growing demand from residents as the popularity of low and zero-emission cars continues to rise in Hammersmith and Fulham, with numbers tripling year on year.
H&F revealed earlier this year that air pollution kills more than 200 people in the borough every year.
And before that, a cycling group carried out tests which revealed pollution on the in the borough was worse than thought, with children being hit hardest .
Cllr Wesley Harcourt is head of transport and environment at the council. He said: “We are committed to improving air quality by driving-down harmful emissions in H&F. These new on-street charging points will help power the welcome growth of low-emission vehicles in the borough.
“More residents using electric cars will see a reduction in CO2, NOx and particulate matter emissions that have detrimental effects on health and the environment.”
The first ten charging points, if granted planning permission, should be installed in early 2016, with the remaining ten expected to be up-and-running before the end of the year.
With Westfield shopping centre having 40 charging bays in its car park, it will bring the total in the borough to 80 by the end of 2016.
Residents who are keen to have a charging point in their street can notify the council online. If sufficient requests are made the H&F will investigate installing one.
November 6th, 2015 § Comments Off on Bit of both: BMW X5 XDRIVE40E PLUG-IN HYBRID (2015) 85mpg § permalink
BMW’S X5 was one of the pioneers of family friendly off-roaders. Tall, spacious and bristling with gadgets, it’s a familiar sight the world over, from Austrian ski resorts to American freeways and outside school gates in the home counties.
The one in the picture may look like its predecessors but it is different. At 70mph there is no sound to be heard other than a gentle rustle of wind and the remote hiss of tyres on asphalt. It is, frankly, amazing. The quiet is so enveloping that the voices of passengers drop to a hushed murmur.
This is the new BMW X5 xDrive40e plug-in hybrid — no noise, no vibration and no petrol being guzzled, even hustling us down the motorway at the legal limit.
Plug-in hybrids, in case you hadn’t noticed, are all the rage. Audi, Mitsubishi, Porsche and Volvo are using the tech to help sell SUVs. And BMW — which already has several in its range, including the desirable i8 sports car — is harnessing the technology to help ease the conscience, and tax bill, of drivers.
In this case the system teams up a 2-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine with a synchronous electric motor for a combined power output of 308bhp. The key here is that this X5 features a large lithium-ion battery pack that can deliver a pure electric range of up to 19 miles. Top speed on battery alone is 75mph, although you will seriously reduce the range at that pace.
The X5 has three primary hybrid modes. Get in and start off without selecting anything, as you would in an ordinary X5, and the system will default to Auto eDrive. In this setting it behaves like any old hybrid, using a combination of electric and petrol motivation depending on what you’re doing with your right foot. Mash the throttle pedal to the floor and you’ll get every ounce of power the petrol engine and electric motor can muster, but if you’re pootling around town, the system will give you silent, pure-electric motoring.
So this is the mode for people who don’t want to think about modes; just let the car sort everything out. What you end up with is a fantastically refined SUV — the transition from pure electric running to petrol and electric is seamless. Often the only way to tell that the engine has joined proceedings is to keep an eye on the rev counter, which leaps into life when the car reckons you need a bit of poke.
You really have to charge it as much as possible, because if you run around on zero battery you’ve just got a needlessly heavy SUV that’ll get a fraction of the fuel mileage an equivalent diesel will
And it does have a decent turn of performance when you want it; for such a large car, 0-62mph in just 6.8 seconds is good going, by any measure. Power is fed through a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, and this X5 has permanent four-wheel drive.
If you select Max eDrive the X5 plug-in operates in pure electric mode; it will engage the petrol engine only if you suddenly find you need maximum beans. Around town it works really well — exploiting gaps in traffic is quite good fun as the torque of the electric motor is all there instantly.
The third setting, Save Battery, is self-explanatory; if you’re on a motorway and expect to be driving in a city centre where you might want pure electric motoring, this mode will maintain or even top up a minimum level of charge, which will give you a reasonable range of urban miles under electric power. It’s a handy feature, but the X5 is inefficient in that mode, especially if the engine is acting as a generator to top up the battery at the same time it is powering the car. You’ll feel more sinner than saint using it.
The X5’s cabin is still a good place to spend time, with comfortable seats and masses of space in the back. But if you need seven seats, it’ll have to be a non-hybrid X5, as the rear-mounted battery pack means a third row of chairs can’t be fitted. There is also restricted luggage space — 150 litres less with the rear seats down — although subjectively, the boot still looks quite capacious.
The plug-in X5 is heavier than its diesel equivalent, but because all the extra weight is low the car doesn’t feel unwieldy. You can hurry along a B-road, using its torque to slingshot out of corners, but ultimately, you’ll get early understeer if you’re caning it. And why would you want to do that in a big SUV?
As well as a choice of hybrid power modes, the plug-in X5 gets different driving settings, in common with other models in the range, that adjust throttle response, steering weight and gearshift speed. And while the steering is a little light, it’s perfectly suited in this application; the combination of easy torque response, refined transmission and quiet, smooth running makes the plug-in X5 a relaxing driving experience.
There’s something strangely satisfying about running this car on electric. Not in a polar bear-saving, Swampy kind of way; it’s just a brilliantly relaxing, smooth and quiet way of getting around
It would be a good commuter car for those with a journey combining motorways and city centres. And low CO2 emissions bring the usual tax breaks, although at 77g/km it just misses out on the London congestion charge limit of 75g/km. So close, but no cigar.
There is, though, an obvious drawback to owning a plug-in hybrid. You really have to charge it as much as possible, because if you run around on zero battery you’ve just got a needlessly heavy SUV that’ll get a fraction of the fuel mileage an equivalent diesel will. For the record, the claimed combined fuel consumption for this plug-in SUV is 85.6mpg.
First Drive review: BMW X5 xDrive40e
There are more public charging points, that’s true — and some of them even function — but for most, it’ll be charging at home or at work that’ll be the most sensible routine. That all sounds a hassle, but bear in mind that you can fully charge the X5’s battery on a domestic socket in just under four hours.
I made my last run to Munich airport — about 20 miles — mainly on electric power. And there’s something strangely satisfying about doing that. Not in a polar bear-saving, Swampy kind of way; it’s just a brilliantly relaxing, smooth and quiet way of getting around, in a car that’s as far removed from the ridiculous Reva G-Wiz as possible.
Then, on the last stretch of A-road, I gave it maximum right foot for a glorious surge of acceleration, which was hugely amusing. Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
2015 BMW X5 xDrive40e rivals
Volvo XC90 T8 Momentum, £59,995 (view cars for sale)
For Beautiful interior; great on the road
Against Expensive compared with rivals
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV 2.0 GX5hs, £45,054 (view cars for sale)
For Affordable; impressive range
Against Comparatively low power; performance is on the leisurely side
September 15th, 2015 § Comments Off on Less Energy-Intensive Heating For Electric Cars Demonstrated At Frankfurt Auto Show § permalink
Less Energy-Intensive Heating For Electric Cars Demonstrated At Frankfurt Auto ShowFilm-based heating system for electric cars from Fraunhofer Institute
Onboard accessories can be a major drag on the efficiency of cars.
While it’s hard to imagine a new car being sold without heating or air conditioning, these systems draw a not-insignificant amount of power.
And electric cars particularly, that can have a negative impact on range.
Researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute hope to mitigate that impact with a prototype heating system to be demonstrated at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show.
The system uses a “film-based panel” that researchers claim is more efficient than conventional electric heaters.
The film is coated with a thin layer of conductive carbon nanotubes (CNTs). When electricity flows through the film, the CNTs create resistance, generating heat.
Because the film is only a few micrometers thick, and flexible, it can be applied directly to surfaces like door panels.
This helps reduce weight, and allows heat to be more efficiently dispersed into the cabin, researchers say.
Heat is distributed evenly over the entire surface of the film, and those surfaces cool down very quickly when the system is shut off, they claim.
Replacing conventional heaters with this setup could also be a boon to those in charge of packaging car interiors, in theory.
Many electric cars currently rely more heavily on heated seats and steering wheels–rather than full cabin heating–to cut energy consumption and maintain range.
But the Fraunhofer researchers claim a more expansive heating system is actually more necessary in electric cars, because less heat is generated by the powertrain, compared to an internal-combustion car.
For the prototype system, sheets of film were cut into strips, and then glued to door panels.
But researchers hope to eventually develop a spray-on film, which could be applied more quickly and more evenly.
However, this technology will likely remain in the laboratory for now.
No manufacturers have publicly shown interest in it, and promising test results do not inevitably lead to commercial viability.