Monthly Archives: May 2016

Nissan Leaf by Tower Bridge, London

Electric vehicles are selling in record numbers in the UK

EV sales in the UK are up 23 percent this year.

Nissan Leaf by Tower Bridge, London
Nissan Leaf by Tower Bridge, London

One right-hand-drive nation is going in the right direction when it comes to sales of electric vehicles. The UK recorded 10,496 electric vehicle sales during the first quarter of 2016. This was a quarterly record and a 23 percent jump from last year, according to Autocar Professional. March accounted for 7,144 of those vehicles, a monthly record in itself.

In these sales increases we can see the UK government’s efforts to spur plug-in vehicle demand via its Plug-In Car Grant finally taking effect. Enacted in 2011, that grant reimburses electric-vehicle buyers for up to 35 percent (with a max of 4,500 pounds, or $6,400) of the price of a plug-in car. The UK has set a goal of having every light-duty vehicle on its roads be “ultra-low emission” by 2040.

The UK’s new quarterly sales number is pretty impressive considering there were about 17,000 battery-electric vehicles sold in the first quarter in the US, where there are about five times as many residents. Demand in the UK, which accounts for about a fifth of the European Union’s electric-vehicle sales – second in the EU only to the Netherlands – also appears to be a departure from the rest of Western Europe, where plug-in vehicle sales surged in 2015 but are more mixed this year. Autocar Professional’s sales statistics come from Go Ultra Low and the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). They did not break out sales of any particular EV models.

Still, we do know that Western European sales for the Renault Zoe and Nissan Leaf are up, Tesla Model S demand has grown little, and Volkswagen e-Golf sales are down, according to the European Alternative Fuels Observatory (EAFO). Last year, things were a bit more uniformly positive, as 2015 plug-in vehicle sales jumped more than 80 percent to about 184,000 units.

Source: Autoblog

We can ditch fossil fuels in 10 years, if we want to

Patterns show that the move to cleaner energy would be quick if there was a concerted effort.

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The quest to end the use of fossil fuels might not be as daunting as you think. A University of Sussex study claims that humanity could drop coal and oil within a decade, based largely on historical evidence that many tend to overlook. Professor Benjamin Sovacool notes that energy transitions have happened quickly whenever there was a combination of “strong government intervention” with economic or environmental incentives to switch. It only took 11 years for the Canadian province of Ontario to abandon coal energy, for example, while nuclear power surged to 40 percent of France’s electricity supply within 12 years. In the case of fossil fuels, it’s a combination of climate change worries, dwindling resources and advanced technology that could step up the pace.

The researcher admits that these handovers tend to move slowly if left to their own devices, such as the decades it took for electricity to see widespread adoption. However, Professor Sovacool argues that the mainstream notion that these transitions must happen slowly doesn’t really hold water. They just need a concerted, collaborative effort, he says.

Of course, actually creating that effort is another matter. While electric cars and renewable energy are quickly hitting their stride, there’s also stiff opposition from the fossil fuel industry (and the politicians that protect it) to the sort of regulation that would speed up the use of cleaner power sources. Also, developing countries seldom have the luxury of dropping fossil fuels — it’d cost too much, or leave too many people without reliable electricity. An accelerated transition might not happen until the political and economic advantages are so overwhelming that even the staunchest opponents concede defeat.

Source: Autoblog

Isis has made huge profits from captured oilfields (Image: Getty)

US shale oil peak in 2015

I’m including this as a follow-on to my blog post of last summer: It’s time to call Peak Oil.

The recent EIA drilling productivity reports show a peaking of shale oil production in the main production regions. https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/drilling/

Fig 1: Bakken production change from old/new wells (Image: EIA)
Fig 1: Bakken production change from old/new wells (Image: EIA)

The 1st panel shows that the number of drilling rigs has dropped sharply but the initial well production per rig has increased from 450 b/d to 750 b/d. The 2nd panel depicts the monthly production decline in old wells, which has stabilized at around 60 kb/d. This is the volume needed to keep production flat but the 3rd panel shows that new wells offset only about half of the decline. That is why in panel 4 overall production declines.

We see that in 2015 production from new wells declined abruptly. The intersection point with old wells corresponds to the peak in production. The old wells decline has moderated suggesting that more and more old wells have entered their phase of final, flat production at very low levels.

We see that forecasts by the EIA have been revised downwards since mid of last year. Production at the end of 2017 is expected to increase modestly as a result of rising oil prices.

Conclusion:

The so-called US shale oil revolution got stuck in 2015. The longer oil prices remain low, the more the 2015 peak will establish itself. There are no free-bees here. Pay less for oil and you will get less oil.

Source: Crude Oil Peak

Renault ZOE R240 Battery Capacity – 23.3 kWh Usable, 26 kWh Total

From time to time the question about the real Renault ZOE battery capacity pops up, especially after the French company introduced new longer range R240 version in parallel with previous Q210 edition.

Renault stated that the range (under NEDC) increased from 210 km (130 miles) to 240 km (149 miles) thanks to new in-house developed drivetrain. In real world terms the new R240 ZOE will go a little over 100 miles, whereas the Q210 was more like 88-90 miles.

Basically, range increased by some 14%, but there was no word about battery capacity changes.

Thanks to one of our readers (hat tip to Alex) in a recent story about strong ZOE sales in March, we got a hint about a video with Masato Origuchi from Renault (formerly at Nissan) who revealed battery capacity change at one of presentations in late 2015.

The first generation Renault ZOE had 22 kWh usable energy from the battery, while the new R240 is able to use 23.3 kWh out of nearly 26 kWh. Increase of usable capacity is 5.9%.

In other words, the new, more efficient electric motor wasn’t the only cause of longer range.

Battery cells for Renault ZOE are supplied by LG Chem. Those are 36 Ah, 3.75 V.

Renault enables (like all other manufacturers) only part of the full battery for usage (less than 90%), to extend the durability of the pack.

Source: Inside EVs

Renault ZOE Production

Renault Says ZOE Production Is At 160 Units Per Day

The Flins factory in France is the sole location for production of the Renault ZOE and we’ve now learned that each and every day approximately 160 ZOEs roll off the Flins assembly line.

Renault ZOE Production
Renault ZOE Production

If we assume Renault means 7 days a week, 365 days a year (that’s probably not what Renault intends to mean in its Tweet), then annual production for ZOE would stand at 58,400 units. A rather impressive figure.

However, it’s more likely that Renault’s Tweet is implying a typical five-day work week, with various break here and there for factory overhauls, holiday shutdowns, etc.

In that scenario, the implication would be approximately 200 days per year at 160 units per day, or 32,000 ZOEs produced annually…still a rather decent amount of EVs per year.

Renault itself has previously stated that its production goal for ZOE is 35,000 units this year, up from 20,000 produced last year.

Source: Inside EVs

Volkswagen Awards Success – Passat GTE

Volkswagen is beginning 2016 with victories in a brace of influential industry honours.

news_c-passat-estate_gte_vw

Today (13 January) Volkswagen is receiving two trophies at the renowned What Car? Awards in London with success for both the Passat Estate GTE (Best Electric Car) and new Touran (Best MPV). Meanwhile, the Volkswagen up! takes a ‘price point’ honour in the publication’s Best City Car class.

The class wins in the respected automotive awards – now in their 39th year – continue a positive start to the New Year for the brand in the UK which began with a category victory for the Golf R in The Sunday Times’ Top 100 Cars.

Scoring a win in the Electric Car ‘Best Buy £20,000-£40,000’ category, as well as taking overall honours in the Electric Car class, the expert What Car? judges said of the Passat Estate GTE:

“This really is the kind of hybrid you could use every day without even thinking of it as an EV.

“The Passat GTE mixes a 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine with an electric motor and VW’s six-speed DSG automatic gearbox, and it shifts between the two power sources smoothly. The interior quality is every bit as good as on other Passats, there’s enough room for five adults to sit in comfort, and our preferred edition, the Estate, has a boot that’ll take all but the largest loads.

“Best of all, the Passat Estate GTE makes a great potential company car choice thanks to its official CO2 emissions of just 39g/km and a benefit-in-kind tax rate of 5%. It’s easily the best family hybrid we’ve seen to date.”

Awarding the Passat Estate GTE overall honours in its class, the judges added:

“It feels like the sort of executive car that you could drive to and from work on electric power, then turn into a carry-all family car to travel the length of the country at weekends. It has space, a beautifully finished cabin, and succeeds in integrating its technology so well that you needn’t even be aware that it’s there.”

Source: VW

The researchers claim there is now urgent need for a higher qualified workforce to avoid further skills shortages across the electric vehicle sector

Electric cars worth £51bn to UK economy ‘if Government acts now’

The UK Government will lose out on major economic benefits unless it makes a significant investment in upgrading the nation’s electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and upskilling the motor industry, an independent academic report will warn this week.

The report, commissioned by the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI), concludes that the overall economic and social benefit of EVs, connected and autonomous vehicles could be in the region of £51bn per year by 2030, with the potential for 320,000 newly-created industry jobs.

Researchers will present the report’s findings to a cross-party group of MPs on Wednesday (13 April), calling on the Government to focus on protecting the economic growth of the motor industry by acting strategically to make charging low emission cars more convenient for drivers, and ensuring that there are enough skilled technicians to service and repair them.

Loughborough University professor Jim Saker, who will host Wednesday’s Parliamentary meeting, said:

“The UK, by the nature of its size and geography, has a natural advantage in the rapid adoption of vehicles with the new power train technologies, but it is dependent on Government investment to pump prime this initiative.

“Without proper regulation, a skills gap will emerge with only a limited number of technicians working in the franchised sector being able to service and repair new technology vehicles. If this trend is found to be true then it is likely that the independent sector of the retail automotive sector will decline. This will mean that the market will fail to open up and develop to the benefit of the UK economy.”

Read more: Edie.net

Gareth Butterfield spends a week in the all-electric BMW i3

What is it like to live with an electric car? Gareth Butterfield borrows a BMW i3 from Stratstone BMW in Derby to find out

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DAY ONE

I’M sitting in the showroom at Stratstone BMW in Derby waiting to be “logged in” to a car. If this week isn’t going to give me a glimpse into the future of motoring, I don’t know what will.

When I got to the dealership, I wasn’t ushered to a desk with all the regular BMW customers. Because I was picking up an i model I was led off to a newly-built, lavishly appointed area away from the main showroom and offered a seat with the firm’s “i agent”, Chris Whitmore.

It’s clear BMW has invested a small fortune into the i brand. As if trying to justify his opulent surroundings Chris begins explaining how it will soon become a standalone marque – I’m guessing in the same way as Toyota did with Lexus and Nissan did with Infiniti.

Except i will be an all-electric brand, focusing on sustainability and zero emissions but not forgetting BMW’s reputation for an involving driving experience. Alright, Chris, I’m sold. Give me the keys, I want a go.

I’m sent on my way with a smartphone app that tells me my car’s status, a fully-charged i3 and a quick-start guide. The last item I took possession of that had a quick start guide was a television. This car feels a lot cleverer than my television. It’s going to be an interesting week.

Read more: Derby Telegraph

John Osorio of Evolt and Cllr Janet Willis, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Environment, at the charging site in Kendal (Image: Evolt)

Evolt’s Rapid Charging network for EVs sparks the Cumbrian ‘black spot’

Evolt, the Electric Vehicle (EV) charge point supplier, has completed the installation of Cumbria’s first publicly accessible EV Rapid charging network, which is now available for public use.

John Osorio of Evolt and Cllr Janet Willis, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Environment, at the charging site in Kendal (Image: Evolt)
John Osorio of Evolt and Cllr Janet Willis, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member for Environment, at the charging site in Kendal (Image: Evolt)

Nine locations across the county now benefit from a top-of-the-range Evolt 50Kw Rapid Charger that can efficiently charge an EV within 30 minutes. A further Evolt 7Kw Fast Charger, ideal for quick ‘top-ups’ during short stay visits, has also been installed at four of those sites (Carlisle, Kendal, Workington and Keswick). The other five sites are comprised of Whitehaven, Ulverston, Kirkby Stephen, Kirkby Lonsdale and Ambleside.

Evolt, which is a division of the APT Controls Group, won a competitive tender to supply its charge points from Cumbria County Council in November 2015.

Councillor Janet Willis, Cumbria County Council Cabinet member responsible for Environment, explains that Cumbria now provides a low carbon transport solution:

“Up until now there have been limited charging facilities in Cumbria,” she says. “I’m sure this project will help open up the county to more electric vehicle drivers and make a real difference, both in Cumbria and nationally.”

The installation process included three stages: firstly, initial civil works including excavation and inserting power cables, ensuring the power infrastructure is in place; secondly the physical charge points’ installation; and finally their connection to a back office management system that remotely monitors each charge point. After testing, the charge points have been made ready for public use.

Justin Meyer, General Manager of Evolt, explains its chargers will positively impact the lives of EV and Hybrid drivers in and around Cumbria:

“The new network will drive forward EV activity in the region, with the infrastructure actively supporting the ambitions of an ever-increasing industry.”

Suzanne Burgess of Solway Renewables initially proposed that the Council should seek funding from OLEV:

“There has been significant interest surrounding the charging network, and it will make a substantial difference to individuals, small business and the tourist industry that is hugely important for Cumbria,” she says. “It’s time to get the word out that Cumbria is open to electric vehicle drivers.”

Source: Evolt Press Release

A battery upgrade for the BMW i3 sees range almost doubled

New BMW i3 gets 195 mile range

A new version of BMW’s i3 has been announced, improving the range of the electric supermini to 195 miles. The i3 94Ah model will replace the current 60Ah version this summer with a battery capacity of 33 kWh.

A battery upgrade for the BMW i3 sees range almost doubled
A battery upgrade for the BMW i3 sees range almost doubled

As Nissan has done with its Leaf 24 and 30 kWh models, BMW has kept the battery dimensions the same to prevent reengineering the model. Instead, it has worked on improving the battery technology to deliver more than a 50 per cent increase in range on the NEDC test.

BMW quotes a 195 range in everyday driving from a full charge with the air conditioning on, while the i3 battery electric vehicle (BEV) will complete the 0-62mph sprint in 7.3 seconds thanks to its 170hp electric motor.

The i3’s battery is made up of eight modules with 12 cells in each and the capacity increase has been attained through the use of optimising cell packaging internally, using more electrolyte and adapting the active material.

BMW offers an eight-year / 100,000 mile warranty on the battery and customers can specify an optional heating system to get the battery up to its optimum operating temperature of 20 degrees Celsius before heading off.

Average power consumption is rated at 12.6 kWh/100km for the BEV, and 11.3 kWh/100km for the i3 REX range extender version. The latter will achieve an equivalent 470.8 MPG and, because of the larger battery, has seen a 1 g/km CO2 reduction to 12 g/km compared to the previous model. BMW quotes a range of 276 miles.

AC multiphase charging allows for 3.7, 7.4 or 11 kW and will charge the i3 BEV in less than three hours despite having a larger battery capacity than before. Rapid DC charging capability comes as standard.

Although there have been no engineering changes barring the battery, specifications have changed, with the Protonic Blue previously reserved for the i8 now available on the new i3 for example. Interior trims are available as separate options for greater levels of customisation, with an Atelier package joining the Loft, Lodge and Suite trims. A focus on using renewable and eco-friendly materials has been carried over from the existing model.

Prices start at £27,830 for the i3 BEV and £30,980 for the i3 REX – both include the £4,500 UK Government Plug-in Car Grant – and the new models are available from July 2016.

Source: Next Green Car