Spin, distortion and Edinburgh by electric car

A great story from Lewis Page in The Register.  You may be familiar with the recent test drive of an electric car from London to Edinburgh carried out by Brian Milligan of the BBC, which took four days and where only public charging points were permitted to be used.

Coverage such as this in EU Referendum, which put the journey into context, led to an outpouring of anger from those who have a vested interest in the market for electric vehicles, and those eco warriors who are determined to see an end to the petroleum powered internal combustion engine.  The industry talking heads immediately criticised the BBC for the choice of car, a converted Mini E which had been created for the purpose of testing and for trials, even though Milligan’s said the car is a mass produced electric vehicle (EV).

To prove that an electric car could perform much better than Milligan’s test suggested, electric car company Tesla found a way to demonstrate that the bad press wasn’t accurate for all electric vehicles. That day, David Peilow, described as an electric-vehicle advocate, picked up a Tesla Roadster at the Tesla store in London and drove it to Edinburgh in a single day.

Peilow took a route up the M6 which was shorter, at just a little over 400 miles. Tesla says he charged up at 240-volt outlets along the way, as needed. The only charge stop described in any detail was during dinner at a Motorway service area in Tebay, about 270 miles north of London. With the Roadster’s seat heaters, Peilow did not suffer from the cold.

Impressive?  Hmmm.

It should be impressive for as Lewis Page points out in The Register, the car used by Tesla for their rebuttal stunt certainly was.  Whereas Milligan had used what will likely turn out to be a mass produced car, Tesla’s Roadster was the ‘Sport’ version – at £88,000 a pop it is a somewhat different animal to the Mini.

Context is everything.  If this was an aviation challenge, it would be like pitting a Cessna 172 against a Learjet and saying the Learjet’s performance was evidence that Cessnas are great medium range cruising aircraft.

Update: In addition to the comments, I reproduce a polite email from one gentleman who read this piece and adds to the debate:


Just read your article.

It was actually a non-sport version he drove but that doesn’t make any difference on the range. Read the first post here


I don’t think it was a stunt by Tesla.  He actually drove a production car (not a prototype that will never be produced) and did it without doing anything unusual to get there.



The point I am making is Tesla’s choice of ‘production’ car.  Surely something akin to the non-production Mini E that was used would have been a genuine comparison.  That is why I consider this to have been a stunt conceived at high speed (excuse the irony) by Tesla’s marketing team who were no doubt worried about the impact on future sales as a result of Milligan’s observations.

34 Responses to “Spin, distortion and Edinburgh by electric car”

  1. 1 Man With a Polish Wife 19/01/2011 at 6:06 pm

    There is something seriously wrong with Mr Milligan’s account of his exploits as summarised at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12138420 . Parts of the story are true, but the errors, inconsistencies and narrative read more like an adventure story, and a badly written one at that.

    The direct journey from London to Edinburgh is but 404 miles. However, Mr Milligan knew in advance that his journey would be 20% longer, 484 miles. And, that apparently is the precise distance he travelled.

    Considering that he incorporated a 38-mile detour at the last minute, to the additional charging point in Berwick, and his published graphic makes no mention of this, then this is indeed a mystery. By adding up point-to-point distances from postcode to postcode, I can account for 474 miles (the originally planned diversions to the charging points equals 436 miles). Presumably, the other 10 miles was achieved by driving around and around a car park in Nottingham.

    However, for Mr Milligan to predict 484 miles and achieve that precisely is simply impossible.

    The errors are significant given the amount of time Mr Milligan had to craft his story. For example, “It’s only day two of my electric mini challenge” on his drive from Milton Keynes to Leicester, but this is supposed to be the second leg of his day one itinerary.

    On his arrival in Nottingham on day two he states as he reached the charging point, “We enter the large Victoria Centre car park (well one of them) and drive round for a good half hour trying to spot one of the two likely plug sockets. Across the gloomy car-park this isn’t easy. However, we finally find an attendant who can help us out.”

    Mr Milligan then goes on to add, “Car-park attendants from all over central Nottingham are summoned by walkie-talkie to come and admire the spectacle of an electric car plugged in to a socket.”

    Questions for Mr Milligan. Did you really manage to correctly guess the car park, yet trust your luck by driving around and around and around for that long before giving up and asking, and have you exaggerated every so lightly on the efficiency of the integrated Nottingham car park walkie-talkie network and their military commanded attendants?

    However, en route earlier from Leicester we were informed, “At one stage the display says I have 18 miles charge left in the battery, and it’s nearly 20 miles to Nottingham.” But, according to the report, the Mini received a full eight hours overnight charge in Leicester and the distance from there to Nottingham is just 28 miles to begin with. Must have been a mighty traffic jam that morning to use up nearly all the juice in just eight miles. He doesn’t mention it though. What he does say is, “But then my little Mini is apt to be a little vague in the mornings. Just when I need precision.” Perhaps there is another reason!

    Could Mr Milligan actually have spent the night in Milton Keynes. He notes, “And there’s not a lot to pass the time at Mercedes, other than a rather fine collection of chick lit in the company canteen. Not feeling up to Penny Vincenzi, I check the battery levels again.” If he had found reason to spend the night there during his six-hour wait, then this would account for his day two error mentioned above. Curiouser and curiouser…

    As well as the range readings, the biggest clue to the discrepancies between the ‘story’ and reality are in the distances given for the overnight posts. Night two should have been spent in York at 232 miles, whereas the narrative gives 181 miles, i.e. Sheffield. For day three, the stopover is supposedly at Wark 350 miles, but the narrative gives 285 miles, i.e. Stockton. There are no explanations given as to why.

    Mr Milligan states that he arrived at Edinburgh Castle “late at night”. He had a very long journey to complete on day four: two legs of 68 and 59 miles from Wark to Edinburgh via Berwick. Three of the previous legs had been around 55 miles, and Mr Milligan had repeatedly complained about “range anxiety” with barely enough charge to complete these journeys. However, they were mainly on motorway standard roads with slight inclines. For the last two legs, the car would have had to endure cross country motoring on minor roads with many bends and inclines, as well as more traffic lights, etc. Hardly conclusive to improved performance.

    I find it hard to believe that the Mini completed these two legs under its own steam with just the one top up in Berwick. If Mr Milligan left Wark at 7:00am (on day two he mentions that he is on the M1 at 7:30am) then why did he arrive “late at night”. The driving time for the two legs is given as just over three hours. With an eight-hour charge, the journey should have been possible in 12 hours, however slowly he was driving, meaning that Mr Milligan would have arrived in Edinburgh at 7:00pm. Why did he need at least five hours more – if he arrived at (say) midnight. We need to know what happened – did he get one, or most probably two extra charge ups at willing garages somewhere – after all, all you need is access to a plug.

    And when Mr Milligan arrived in Edinburgh, could the car do the homewards journey under its own steam. No, there aren’t any public charging points in Edinburgh – so why choose that destination in the first place.

    None of the reports on the BBC web site cover Mr Milligan’s interview on the BBC Breakfast show on Friday 14 January at 7:25am. Here he finally acknowledges the costs and inconvenience of the overnight stays through a passing reference to the many comments received on the story, but all he really says is that the electricity would have cost around £10. (Note: It is illegal to charge for an electric charge point for three years from installation according to the regulations governing their installation, which is why they are free at the moment). Does anyone have a transcript of this broadcast or a recording of it, as it would be useful to capture what was actually said?

    On the subject of overnight stays, he makes no mention of how far away from each charging point is his overnight hostelry, and how does he get to them, and absolutely no mention of these costs. Does he walk to each hotel with all his luggage or do the production team give him a lift. He doesn’t include this down time in his calculations, but by my reckoning he travelled for 87 hours (minimum) for the 484 miles, giving 5.5 miles per hour – not the 6 miles per hour given. Why be petty and count travelling and charging time only – his stops were governed by car park opening hours, so he could not just turn up somewhere at three in the morning.

    As the direct route is only 404 miles, then his true average speed is less than five miles per hour, and I can walk that fast (yes, I know I would need to stop, etc.) and these comments are just another means of highlighting the absurdity of the whole experiment.

    So how does Mr Milligan sum up his adventure:


    “A journey which proves that the electric car can now cover long distances which reinforces its claim on the future.”

  2. 2 Barry 19/01/2011 at 6:53 pm

    Tesla v Mini-e – It’s like comparing chalk and apples.

    The Mini is a relatively normal car turned into an electric one – relatively heavy chassis and body. The Tesla being built along similar lines to Lotus sports cars is naturally much lighter allowing for significantly more battery weight to be carried.

    Tesla – 1235kg of which 450kg is batteries.
    Mini E – 1465kg of which 260kg is batteries.

    Both are impractical for the same reasons – not much space or payload and the practicalities of charging would rule them out for many people.

    How fast can a battery be charged? The issue of current is one that I had wondered about. With some roller coaster rides they launch the carriage with a linear motor. Large flywheels are employ to take energy from the grid relatively slowly and then dump it very quickly. This stops the operation of the roller coaster from destabilising the electricity network. Something similar would work for cars to be recharged rapidly at home I guess, though you’d probably be needing capacitors rather than batteries. Have the flywheel building up overnight and then ‘fill’ the car up in the morning.

  3. 3 AJC 19/01/2011 at 7:39 pm

    Why wasn’t this challenge given to the Top Gear team? I can just picture Clarkson venting his fury on either car with something far more substantial than John Cleese used in the car beating scene.

  4. 4 Delphius 19/01/2011 at 8:24 pm

    I made a few disparaging comments about battery powered cars on my blog (okay, I called them a technological dead end) and I’m attracting a few comments from eco-loons on my blog.

    Not one of them can tell me how charging infrastructure available to all can be installed, nor can they tell me how poor people are supposed to afford the change to electric power, nor why being punitively taxed for owning a fossil fueled car you can’t afford to give up is isn’t unfair.

    They appear to conveniently disregard the complexities of getting electricity from the mains into the cars and how introducing a regime to promote battery power will disenfranchise a large section of the population.

    When you mention other alternatives like hydrogen power, the real agenda for proponents of battery powered vehicles becomes apparent: a rabid hatred of the petrochemical companies.

    No matter that hydrogen could be used in internal combustion engines and burnt with minimal emissions, providing an almost zero emission stopgap until mass-market fuel cell technology becomes viable. No matter that adopting this strategy and promoting it with a low-tax regime for hydrogen technology would allow hydrogen fuel delivery infrastructure to be installed ready for the time when it becomes the predominant energy source. But no, all the BPV proponents see is petrochemical giants cracking hydrocarbons to produce hydrogen.

  5. 5 peter geany 20/01/2011 at 12:35 am

    The biggest problem with hydrogen is the energy required to produce it. Whilst using it as fuel whether in combustion or in a fuel cell produces no pollution, it probably takes three times the energy input to delivered energy as real work if used in a combustion engine and possible 2 to 2.5 times if used as a fuel cell. So hydrogen for now is confined to specialist applications that can justify its high energy production cost. Mainstream it will not be until we manage to change the laws of physics.

    By the way burning methane CH4 produces no pollution in theory, CH4 + 2O2 = 2H2O + CO2 . And in theory this applies to petrol and diesel. It’s just unfortunate that 78% of the atmosphere is nitrogen and this tends to form some nasty Oxides of nitrogen during combustion as a by-product, and this is the stuff that gives the brown smog when that other nasty thing sunlight shines on it. But we have come a long way over the last 30 years and especially from the compression ignition or diesel engine nasty emissions are at incredibly low levels, for which the hard workings engineers receive scant credit.

  6. 6 dg 20/01/2011 at 4:57 am

    The Tesla used wasn’t a “sport” model, so it wasn’t quite as expensive. But that’s not the point. Tesla is already developing a sedan which will have the same or better range depending on battery pack, at half the price of the Roadster. Effective and affordable electric cars are coming, it’s just a matter of time.

    Also for 99% of all driving you do not need “charging infrastructure”. You need a 220V outlet in your garage. Only when you need to go on a long road trip will you need “infrastructure”.

  7. 7 David Peilow 20/01/2011 at 6:15 am

    I may have driven the EV equivalent of a Learjet, but far from saying the “Cessna” Mini is the way forward, I’m actually saying we are at the equivalent of the dawn of the jet age. Pretty soon EVs will be as cheap and ubiquitous as Easyjet.

  8. 8 Autonomous Mind 20/01/2011 at 8:59 am

    DG, if the Tesla was not a sport model then I’m sure you will elicit a correction. Feel free to tell us the cost of the Roadster used.

    What is your definition of an ‘effective’ electric car? I drive around 600 miles a week and every other week have to complete a 300 mile round trip on top of that. What electric car will enable me to do that AND be available for me to undertake a ‘drop of the hat’ trip if required by a client?

    David, welcome. Isn’t it the case that when an EV is recharging it is unavailable for use? Wasn’t your comparison journey unrealistic, using as you did what amounts to the diamond standard of EV that is well outside the price range of the vast majority of motorists? Why did you not use an ordinary production vehicle?

    It does seem rather daft to suggest we are at the dawn of a jet age for EVs when the performance and battery life of the vehicles guarantees a regression in motoring capability.

    While it is all well and good focusing on metropolitan car journeys when are EV enthusiasts and advocates going to recognise that rural driving covers considerably longer distances and presents problems for recharging?

    Forgive me for treating your prediction of EVs becoming ‘as cheap and ubiquitous as Easyjet’. We have heard similar claims in the past for everything from nuclear power to conventional cars. I wonder how the maintenance costs will start to stack up when power packs need replacing or develop faults.

  9. 9 AJC 20/01/2011 at 11:03 am

    “Only when you need to go on a long road trip will you need “infrastructure””,

    Reminiscent of the Pony Express or long distance stage coaches!

  10. 10 peter geany 20/01/2011 at 11:46 am

    What is the point of an electric car? Some may think the answer is obvious, but I’m not so sure. In my early day as a young engineer back in the 70’s and 80’s it was to remove harmful exhaust emissions from confined spaces where they could kill you, or to help improve air quality in a congested urban environment. Today we don’t need electric vehicle to perform these tasks as today’s internal combustion engines are almost zero emission. This applies especially to diesels where certain models are able to be used in underground mining operations, despite the uninformed media always depicting diesel engines as heavily polluting.

    So what are today aims? It cannot be to improve air overall air quality, as the burning of coal and even Gas in power stations is not cleaner than the modern diesel engine. It cannot be for greater efficiency, because if we strip out the fuel duty there is not much between a small car and that Mini. Any differences in theoretical efficiency of electric vehicles are lost in transmission of the power. So what is the point of them, what are they saving us.

    CO2 I here everyone scream. OH no they don’t! We burn hydrocarbon fuel to generate the electricity stupid, something that is not going to change in my lifetime, or that of my children’s. Besides which as we all know but some cannot accept CO2 is not a pollutant, and nor does it drive the climate.

    In engineering if you ignore the facts you are doomed to failure. Too many of our current green projects are ignoring basic engineering facts, and too many projects are driven by opportunistic enterprises managed by people with little understanding of application engineering. The development of the electric car is not driven by need as it once was, but by political dictate in the face of contrary engineering evidence, and is only appearing due to subsidies.

  11. 11 Barry 20/01/2011 at 12:43 pm

    AM said: “We have heard similar claims in the past for everything from nuclear power to conventional cars.”

    And Segway!

    Tesla’s homepage is titled Premium Electric Vehicles. The Model S isn’t going to change that.

    The issue of where do you charge your car if you haven’t got a garage is a vexing one. The range of these vehicles makes them useful in towns and cities but lots of people there don’t have garages. Urban populations also have the benefit of good public transport so why would they get a very expensive car?

  12. 12 Chris 20/01/2011 at 12:55 pm

    Milligan’s test was crap anyway. At one point he stopped at a supermarket but was moaning about the fact that the software in the charging point limits each user to 2 hours. But happily for the beeb the software was changed especially for them so he could charge over night.

    Except if a normal person parks in a supermarket car park for more than 2 hours they get given an unenforceable private parking ticket demanding £30-60.

  13. 13 JRP3 20/01/2011 at 1:22 pm

    As was pointed out in the teslamotorsclub discussion the real take away from this is the same trip could be made even faster in the 100 mile LEAF with a few proper fast charge stations in place. You don’t need a high dollar EV you need a slightly better charge infrastructure, which is coming. Regardless, EV’s work fine right now for the large number of people who realize they don’t actually “need” to drive 100’s of miles on a whim.

  14. 14 Autonomous Mind 20/01/2011 at 1:26 pm

    But JRP3, what about the many of us who have to drive 100s of miles for our living and to stay in contact with family?

  15. 15 TheRagingTory 20/01/2011 at 4:28 pm

    “To prove that an electric car could perform much better than Milligan’s test suggested, electric car company Tesla found a way to demonstrate that the bad press wasn’t accurate for all electric vehicles.”

    I think it would be fair to say that Tesla proved that the Mini-E is not representative of the current electrical car market, which was their goal.
    The Roadster isnt exactly a standard car, but unlike the mini, it is actualy driven by semi sane people in the real world.

    “Also for 99% of all driving you do not need “charging infrastructure”. You need a 220V outlet in your garage. Only when you need to go on a long road trip will you need “infrastructure”.”

    Do you know what proportion of homes dont have a garage?
    Or even a drive?
    Even new dwellings, thanks to planning laws, rarely have adjoining parking.

    “CO2 I here everyone scream. OH no they don’t! We burn hydrocarbon fuel to generate the electricity stupid, something that is not going to change in my lifetime,”

    Its my understanding that a Tesla Roadster, charged by a coal burning power station, emits less CO2 than a modern diesel.

  16. 16 JRP3 20/01/2011 at 6:17 pm

    You probably need a PHEV such as the Volt to do regular long distance driving. If a large segment of the population that can use an EV does so that takes a lot of supply pressure off of liquid fuel, keeping prices down. Something that die hard petrol heads seem to miss, more EV’s should mean cheaper petrol for those who still use it.

  17. 17 David Peilow 20/01/2011 at 6:27 pm

    I agree on the point re rural driving, but I suspect even the most rural driver isn’t 100 miles from the shops.

    However, that is not the point. My point is that in 2012 we will get an EV that can drive for 4 hours on the motorway and then recharge when you have lunch. You can then do another 4 hours and recharge during tea. Repeat ad infinitum. This really is no different to a long trip in a petrol car.

    Sure it costs the same as a BMW 5 series but the running costs are minimal and there are a lot of 5 series, E-class, Audi A6, etc on the road so a sizeable minority can afford it.

    The car is being tested now and the fast chargers will appear across the UK this year. It will be followed by an even more affordable model in 3 years. And that’s just Tesla’s road map.

    Throw in the news that Tesla’s supplier, Panasonic, has even better batteries going into production and things get even more interesting.

    That is what I mean by equivalent of a dawn of new jet age, if we are going to use the aviation analogy.

  18. 18 David Peilow 20/01/2011 at 6:44 pm

    And by the way, the Mini-E can recharge from the same type of fast charger as my (borrowed) Tesla. I know some in the US have even made a simple plug adapter for it. I’m willing to bet that the Mini can actually be driven up to Scotland in one day.

    I’m also 100% certain that the 23 grand Nissan LEAF (yes I know it’s a cr@p name) will also do the trip in a day and if anyone from Nissan wants to lend me one when they are on sale, I’ll prove it.

  19. 19 peter geany 20/01/2011 at 10:42 pm

    I just can’t get over how naive electric car advocates are about fuel costs and running cost. Hands-up if anyone of you are automotive engineers, and more especially application engineers. Not very many of you I bet, and it shows. 30 years’ experience comes in handy because I don’t get taken in by all the BS that abounds about this subject.

    Number one if anyone thinks for one second electricity for automotive use will remain duty free they are living in La La land. I have previous personal experience of the forked tongue of this countries government that shamelessly reversed a promise on duty for gas powered heavy vehicles. Secondly those who still think CO2 matters have to take account of the transmissions lose for the electricity and the efficiency of the power plants. That evens out the score vs a diesel powered car.

    Number three the batteries will have a shorter life when fast charged, and the replacement costs will be horrendous, just as they are now. There is no competition in the market place for batteries and that is likely to remain so. Licenced manufacture is not the same as true choice. No choice = high prices.

    Manufacturers are relying on governments mandating the use of EVs, or artificially pricing hydrocarbon fuels out of the market. Throughout history the market and technology has driven change. Right now we are nowhere near that situation, with the technology not able to compete on cost, or performance, and is why it will fail to gain the traction its advocates believe.

    And no one has answered my previous question. What is the use of an electric vehicle going to achieve over the use of a modern internal combustion engine powered car? What material change to our environment are we going to see??????

    By the way we could squeeze another 30% fuel economy out of the diesel engine powered car by the use of turbo compounding and further refining the combustion process. This is dependent to an extent on a more realistic attitude now to further reducing NOx from the exhaust stream. I am of the firm belief we are firmly into the realm of diminishing returns here and need to concentrate exclusively on reducing fuel consumption.

  20. 20 JRP3 21/01/2011 at 12:15 am

    Since I drive an EV that I converted I know what the driving costs are, pennies. I also know I won’t have to deal with oil changes, exhaust system replacements, radiator flushes/replacements, emission control repairs, belts, hoses, and probably not brakes since regen does most of the deceleration. Batteries are constantly getting cheaper and better. Yes fast charging can shorten pack life, however fast charging will be a rare occurrence, I never do it and don’t need it. Most people drive less than 40 miles a day, effectively shallow cycling a 100+ mile pack, which greatly extends pack life. Actual transmission losses are small and real emissions are totally dependent upon what the grid mix is in your area. The grid needs to get cleaner with or without EV’s, they will simply benefit from that change, which petrol never can. As petroleum costs continue to increase the costs become even more favorable for an EV, as they are produced in volume prices will drop and again costs will improve even more.

  21. 21 David Peilow 21/01/2011 at 7:39 am

    @Peter Geany

    Care to tell us your expertise?

    I think your comment that modern internal combustion engines are practically emission free says it all.

    I have worked through the numbers, including transmission losses, and the result is that the Tesla is cleaner than a Prius and will only get more so as our proportion of renewables grows.

    You are quite right that we are into diminishing returns – in what we can get from the ICE.

  22. 22 TheRagingTory 21/01/2011 at 8:14 am

    Peter Geany
    “Secondly those who still think CO2 matters have to take account of the transmissions lose for the electricity and the efficiency of the power plants. That evens out the score vs a diesel powered car. ”

    From what I’ve read on the Tesla Website (yes, hardly an unbiased source) a Roadster running on coal generated electricity still emits less CO2 per mile than a modern diesel.

    “Right now we are nowhere near that situation, with the technology not able to compete on cost, or performance, and is why it will fail to gain the traction its advocates believe”
    The Tesla Roadster did a lap in 127.2
    The Aston Martin DB9 did it in 127.1
    The Audi R8 got a 124.4

    Seems to be competing on cost and performance pretty well in that segment.

    “And no one has answered my previous question. What is the use of an electric vehicle going to achieve over the use of a modern internal combustion engine powered car? What material change to our environment are we going to see??????”
    That depends on a number of factors, do you believe in man bear pig or peak oil, do you like the idea of a car that doesnt break down and doesnt need a service ect.

    “By the way we could squeeze another 30% fuel economy out of the diesel engine powered car by the use of turbo compounding and further refining the combustion process. This is dependent to an extent on a more realistic attitude now to further reducing NOx from the exhaust stream. I am of the firm belief we are firmly into the realm of diminishing returns here and need to concentrate exclusively on reducing fuel consumption.”
    Funnily enough, I agree, a modern diesel wipes the floor with any current electric vehicle in 99% of cases and will continue to do so for the forseable future.
    However, battery technology is improving much quicker than diesel technology and electric vehicles have quite a lot of scope to radicaly alter what a car is.

    For example, independant motors mounted next to or inside each wheel allows us to remove the current engine along with the gear box and transmission gear and, well, everything.

    The electric car could be to the petrol car what the 747 is to glueing bird feathers onto your arms and jumping off cliffs.
    Might not be of course.

  23. 23 peter geany 21/01/2011 at 9:34 am

    David Peilow

    “Care to tell us your expertise?

    I think your comment that modern internal combustion engines are practically emission free says it all.”

    You would do well to check your facts before calling into question my expertise. I speak only for myself and do not represent any manufacturer, (they are too busy with political correctness and seeing how much subsidy they can fleece out of our Governments), but I have spent 25 years working in it mostly will one of the world’s largest manufactures.

    It’s not that I’m against electric vehicles; on the contrary they have their place. I’m totally against false comparisons, the notion we have to drive EV or the earth is going to be destroyed etc. I’m against the hidden taxes we are paying for domestic power to subsidies renewable energy schemes that don’t produce a return. And your electric sports car is about as far away from what the bus driver in Derby could afford as the notion that the BNP will form the next Government. At the moment the Government is using the stick to move energy use. That has never worked and never will. It is currently throttling the economy.

    I ask the simple question again. What material difference is the electric car going to make to our environment? And answer the question about road user duty on electricity for automotive use. Think smart meter and all the intrusion this will bring. Those of you pushing this agenda are blinded by BS and do not have your thinking caps on. I think the term is joined up thinking.

  24. 24 mat 21/01/2011 at 10:13 am

    How do I some one who can just about afford to keep a classic 85 VW Scirocco on the road [much greener then buying energy wasteful new cars !] get on to this great EV revolution?.
    Will they be subsidised for the poorer ?.
    will the electricity they use be ?.
    Would the work needed to fit the charging point outside to my property be covered by a charity or will a man from the council do it for free?.
    I need to know if I ever win the lottery and get rich enough to indulge my greenish side! would the batteries be covered when they fail? as you would have to be wealthy with some of the figures for replacement I have seen !.
    Will it be faster then my old ZX10 or more fun in the real world?
    Because unless these questions are sorted then the EV cannot work in my world ,30 miles just to a petrol station/poss charging point 60 to the nearest big town! not really any good for a car that only does 100miles or so !.
    Maybe it the plan that the poor get forced off the roads when were gone you won’t need all the charging infrastructure and can get to park outside M&S and indulge in their fairtrade nut loaf more easily cool! a win win for the lucky ones up there in the elite!
    or in my case on to the once a day mini bus loose my job and my house and the freedom to go to the next town!
    Maybe i can get a horse and cart? and enter the brave new 18th century world again !.

  25. 25 JRP3 21/01/2011 at 12:58 pm

    Mat, I don’t remember ever being able to afford the newest technology when it first came out, and I don’t remember thinking it would fail simply because I couldn’t buy it at that time.

    PG, It’s pretty obvious what benefit an EV can have for the environment since they are already cleaner even when powered from coal. There are also ways to clean up coal and neutralize the CO2 emissions such as Calera http://calera.com/

  26. 26 peter geany 21/01/2011 at 2:48 pm

    JRP3 I’m a bit slow today so I would appreciate you listing out the material differences that Electric cars are going to make to our lives. “It’s obvious” would not cut it in a GCSE exam, and I suspect doesn’t cut for many others reading this.

    As for CO2, again there is NO empirical evidence that it is harmful. We would all die without it, and if you knew your biology you would know that O2 oxygen can be highly poisonous to our cells, so maybe we should ban it. And as water vapour is 95% of the greenhouse effect are we going to ban that as well.

    So let’s all start again and think carefully. What real benefit are EVs going to bring us in their current state of development?

  27. 27 Dave 21/01/2011 at 8:33 pm

    Peter: You keep asking the same question about the benefits of an EV. I’m not sure any answer will satisfy you but in the US at least, going towards EVs can help us get off foreign oil. I don’t think any serious people are saying going to EVs will solve every environmental problem and make the world a happy place. They have their role and this will only increase in the future as battery technology improves.
    They’re also a blast to drive. Tons on torque, fast and don’t make much noise. The best thing I’ve found is that I never have to go to a gas station and that I leave my garage with a “full tank” each morning.
    As for CO2, a vast majority of climate scientists say it does matter. If you’re not inclined to believe them, I’m not sure any additional evidence will matter. Could they be wrong? Sure but that’s the beauty of science. They never have claimed to be perfect and always leave themselves to be challenged with evidence that disproves their case.

  28. 28 JRP3 21/01/2011 at 9:46 pm

    Dave pretty well summed it up. If you don’t think CO2 matters then your whole emissions compared to diesel doesn’t really hold up at all. Tailpipe emissions blowing into your face are always going to be worse for any ICE vehicle than remote power plant emissions related to EV use. The ability to get power from a variety of fuel sources other than petroleum also give EV’s an advantage over ICE vehicles for many reasons. It really is obvious and if you can’t see it then you simply don’t want to for some reason.

  29. 29 peter geany 22/01/2011 at 10:03 am

    Dave & JRP3: Now we are getting somewhere. Read my second post about what EVs were originally intended for. I have no doubt that those who need a city runabout will find the EVs of the next decade just what they need. And batteries may indeed improve to give the EV a 12 hour range. But let’s not kid ourselves as to who holds the patents for batteries and how much real free completion there will be that is necessary to drive prices down. And always for those of us in the UK at least, there is the spectre of duty on the energy to replace that lost on our current fuels.

    All I am trying to do is remove the BS that surrounds this whole subject, debunk the idea that EVs are a silver bullet for the environment, and ensure that they are not subsidised at the expense of other forms of transport.

    As for US dependence on foreign oil; that is an entirely self-inflicted wound and for a country with some of the worlds most advanced technology, it pains me to say you currently have some of the world’s worst politicians. I guess the only place they are worse is in the UK and EU.

    The one thing the world does not have at present is a shortage of energy sources. There are thousands of years’ worth of nuclear energy, hundreds of years of hydrocarbon based fuel, and probably much more that can be done to develop solar energy. Just think, if all electricity was generated by nuclear, not only would there be completion to make the nuclear cycle safer(thorium) and cheaper, but it would break dependence on Coal and gas leaving those fuels for useses for which they are far more valuable than just burning, stretching their availability out to thousands of years. This is where the debate should be. EV’s would just naturally follow on from this situation, not the square peg in a round hole situation we currently have.

  30. 30 Dave 22/01/2011 at 1:23 pm

    I agree. We have a horrible energy policy in the US and going towards clean sources/non-oil based sources of energy would be great. Oil is currently subsidized in the US so I think subsidizing EVs makes sense. If people in the US were to pay the true price of oil, I think market forces would steer people towards EVs without and subsidies.

    I still don’t understand your comment “today’s internal combustion engines are almost zero emission.” Besides shifting emissions away from major population centers (even if all EVs are powered by 100% coal plants), it’s easier to regulate emissions on one coal plant than 10,000 cars. Thanks.

  31. 31 JRP3 22/01/2011 at 1:37 pm

    Since the Chinese have recreated most of the lithium formulations available patent issues are pretty much non existent. There are so many different companies working on different lithium formulations around the world it would be impossible for the technology to be locked up as happened with NiMH batteries. The batteries we have now are already good enough for 200+ mile range EV’s. Couple that with a network of fast charge stations and the range limitation largely disappears. Your own points about nuclear energy simply reinforces the strength of EV’s, they can be powered from a variety of sustainable and local sources, something no ICE can claim. EV’s can work for millions of people right now, and every mile traveled on electricity is one less mile traveled on petroleum. EV adoption should be encouraged for all those who can do so right now, no need to wait. We have to start somewhere.

  32. 32 mat 22/01/2011 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t remember ever being able to afford the newest technology when it first came out, and I don’t remember thinking it would fail simply because I couldn’t buy it at that time!”

    I don’t think you seem to get the scale of the problem! a free view box is a few pounds an I pod a few hundred! we are talking about thousands possibly tens of thousands of pounds !
    Tesla roadster £86,950
    Nissan Leaf’s £23,350
    Cars are the most expensive purchase we make after houses I got my car off e bay for £250 so how long will I have to wait until EV’s get that cheap 10 years 20 and what state will the batteries be in by then!.
    So I ask again are you willing to pay more tax for me to have subsidised motoring? maybe you can use the £43 million subsidy for electric vehicles from the government to pay for free cars for the poor or are you happy for those who do not have access to the thousands of pounds required to be pushed off the road ?

  33. 33 peter geany 22/01/2011 at 5:09 pm

    Dave my comment about emissions ignores CO2 which is not an emission but the natural bi product of combustion. It is naturally occurring and man-made CO2 is but a tiny fraction of the natural CO2 created every year.

    Real emissions on the other hand are those that form because the additional heat and pressure in the combustion chamber don’t allow for perfect combustion. With electronic controls and after treatment we have reduced these to the pointy at which I believe it is impossible to measure the effect they would have on our environment. The most notice able example of this is oxides of nitrogen that form due to excess oxygen reacting with Nitrogen (78% of the atmosphere) in the combustion chamber. These compounds usually referred to as NOx are responsible for the majority of smog. Emissions of NOx from a modern diesel are expressed in grams per KWh. A combination of better control of combustion and exhaust after treatment means they are to all intents and purposes reduced to zero.

  34. 34 JRP3 23/01/2011 at 2:13 pm

    Mat your arguments are rather self serving. I can’t afford a new EV either, so I built my own for much less, many people have done the same. As more production EV’s are built the used market will grow and prices will drop. The fact is that the unsubsidized price of a LEAF is $33K and the average cost of a new car in the US is $28K so they are pretty close. The truth is that your financial situation would not seem to allow you to afford any new vehicle, so why single out EV’s? Look at flat panel TV’s, the first 50 inch screen I saw at Best Buy was $10K, now they are less than $2K and I bought a 40 inch unit for $600. New technology always costs more, that’s just the way it works. As more people buy and use EV’s less gas will be consumed which will drive the price down for those who do use it. Since gas vehicles will be less desirable the prices for them will also drop.

    The fact remains that controlling emissions and efficiency from a single large source, power plants, is more effective than trying to control emissions from millions of smaller sources in various and unknown states of repair. The tested mileage and emissions of my vehicle are quite different than the reality, especially in cold weather and short trips where it never gets to full operating temperature. A large generating plant is a more efficient user of fuel than a small ICE stopping and starting under various conditions.

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