Monthly Archives: March 2017

BMW set to launch biggest ever model offensive and second wave of electrification

BMW sold 2.25 million cars across all its brands – BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce in 2016.  But for the first time in eleven years sales at the core BMW brand fell below rival Mercedes-Benz. It is looking to transform and revitalise the company by focusing on new launches, particularly electric vehicles (EVs).  At the annual press conference it announced plans to launch no less than 40 new and revised models.

CEO Harald Krüger said:

‘We are launching the biggest model offensive ever… We have started a transformation unlike anything our company has seen before.’

By 2025, BMW aims for electric and plug-in hybrids to account for 15-25% of overall group sales.  In the short term it is targeting sales of 100,000 EVs by the end of the year.

BMW’s electrification offensive will see a major expansion of its electric base, with the launch of eight plug-in hybrid model options from summer this year. Krüger said:

‘The drive of the hour is the plug-in hybrid.’

Hybrids are widely expected to be needed as a bridge technology to reach CO2 fleet limits alongside all-electric cars.

On the all-electric front, it will continue to focus on its current best-seller the i3 and also new launches for Mini and BMW X3 based on new technological advances since the i3.

Ultimately BMW aims to complete its electric realignment strategy in earnest in a second wave starting from 2019, when it will finally offer its entire catalogue of series models as pure electric cars – in time for incoming EU (and Chinese) regulations.

Source: Autovista Group

Clean disruption of energy & transportation

The industrial age of energy and transportation will be over by 2030. Maybe before.

Exponentially improving technologies such as solar, electric vehicles, and autonomous (self-driving) cars will disrupt and sweep away the energy and transportation industries as we know it. The same Silicon Valley ecosystem that created bit-based technologies that have disrupted atom-based industries is now creating bit- and electron-based technologies that will disrupt atom-based energy industries.

Clean Disruption projections (based on technology cost curves, business model innovation as well as product innovation) show that by 2030:

– All new energy will be provided by solar or wind.
– All new mass-market vehicles will be electric.
– All of these vehicles will be autonomous (self-driving) or semi-autonomous.
– The car market will shrink by 80%.
– Gasoline will be obsolete. Nuclear is already obsolete. Natural Gas and Coal will be obsolete.
– Up to 80% of highways will not be needed.
– Up to 80% of parking spaces will not be needed.
– The concept of individual car ownership will be obsolete.
– The Car Insurance industry will be disrupted. The taxi industry will be obsolete.

Read more: Tony Seba



Car tax to be scrapped for electric vehicles

Car tax is set to be overhauled this April, so what’s changing?

From 1 April 2017 the way car tax is figured out is set to change for any vehicles registered after this date. The change could be seen as good news for owners of electric or hybrid vehicles.

How will the new tax rates affect me?

While measures are being put in place to curb congestion and reduce air pollution with the investment of millions in congestion-cutting technology, could increasing the number of electric cars on the road be the solution?

The government seems to think so as it is introducing a change to the road tax system.

As it stands all vehicles, except for pedal bicycles, are subject to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), also known as road tax. It is split into several bands, based on CO2 emissions but as of 1 April, all electric vehicles will move into band A, which means drivers of electric vehicles will no longer pay road tax.

If this news has you thinking electric cars could be for you but aren’t quite sure which kind to buy, it’s worth noting  plug-in hybrids are also exempt, but not pure hybrids. This is because they still produce emissions, and only vehicles that produce either no emissions or emissions less than 100g/km are exempt from VED.

Further changes to the vehicle tax rates will take effect in April. The tax payable on a new vehicle for the first twelve months will be calculated based on its emissions – the higher the emissions, the higher the tax. This only applies to new vehicles registered after 1 April 2017. All vehicles registered between March 2001 and April 2017 will pay tax based on the old rates.

How can I save money on an electric car?

Buying an electric car can be quite expensive – something which will hopefully change as their popularity increases – but the good news is the plug-in vehicle grant has been extended to March 2018. This gives motorists money towards the cost of an electric vehicle, up to 35% of the cost of the vehicle. The maximum amount given is £4,500.

What it means for owners of diesel and petrol vehicles

It may still be expensive to purchase an electric vehicle, but they are expected to become cheaper over time. According to predictions by analysts at Bloomsberg New Energy Finance, the drop in battery costs could result in them being cheaper overall than petrol or diesel models by as early as 2022. Being exempt from VED will certainly contribute to this.

If you’re looking to buy a petrol or diesel vehicle, you could start paying up to £450 per month in tax. New vehicles worth over £40,000 will be taxed at the new rates for the first twelve months, after which, petrol and diesel owners will have to pay an additional rate of up to £310 per month.

Expensive as electric vehicles can be, their owners could potentially save money in the long run. Not only will you no longer have to pay expensive fuel prices, but you may well pay absolutely nothing in road tax and could qualify for the plug-in vehicle grant.

Source: Admiral Insurance

Money Box Live: The Cost of Buying a Car

There was an interesting programme on Radio 4 yesterday, it was Money Box Live on the topic of ‘The Cost of Buying a Car’. It’s well worth a listen – there’s a link below, plus the programme summary below that.

It starts with the impressive statistic that 2.7 million cars were sold in the UK last year. It then explains and discusses the various options for financing a new car, particularly PCP and PCH (lease). Some interesting facts were that 70-80% of sales were on PCP, and that 80% of those who take a PCP give the car back at the end.

There are then brief items on used cars (from 18.5 minutes), and on the poor outlook for diesels.

Finally there is a discussion on electric cars (from 20 minutes), with a contributor from the Next Green Car website covering the benefits and savings of going electric – including the tax changes from 1st April.

Overall an interesting and pretty will balanced programme.

iPlayer Radio – Money Box Live

“Louise Cooper looks at the finances of buying a car. New or used? Finance or cash? Electric or hybrid? What do we really need to know about payment plans, motoring costs, and how to buy safely?

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported record sales of new cars in 2016, boosted they say by strong consumer confidence, low-interest finance deals and the launch of several new models. Fleet vehicles accounted for much of the increase with sales to consumers falling for three out of four quarters.

Consumer confidence might be boosting sales but around 86% of private buyers rely on finance agreements to make the purchase, over £18bn was advanced to consumers for new car purchases and a further £13bn for used cars last year say The Finance and Leasing Association. So how does car finance work and how easy is it to compare the actual price of a car with so many different offers, interest rates, deposits and final payments in the mix?

Could you be tempted by the grants and lower mileage costs of running an electric or a hybrid model? Sales of alternatively fuelled vehicles rose by 48.9% in February with 3,308 new registrations. If you’ve switched from petrol or diesel to a low emission car let us know how it compares.

And is it better to buy online, from a dealer or privately? How can you check the history of the car you want to buy?”

Hyundai IONIQ Plug-in hybrid revealed at Geneva 2017

Plug-in hybrid version of Hyundai’s bespoke EV manages 26g/km of CO2 emissions

Hyundai has completed its line-up of bespoke electric and hybrid vehicles by launching the Ioniq Plug-in at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.

Hyundai IONIQ Plug-In Hybrid, Geneva 2017 (image: Auto Express)

The Ionig Plug-in joins the Ioniq Hybrid and Ioniq Electric in the Hyundai range. The new model uses a 1.6-litre petrol engine producing 103bhp and 147Nm, and an electric motor offering 45kW. Hyundai claims the combination can deliver pure-electric range of up to 63km, and drops CO2 emissions to just 26g/km. By comparison, the standard Ioniq Hybrid emits 79g/km – but Toyota’s latest Prius Plug-in manages 22g/km.

As with the Ioniq Hybrid, the Ioniq Plug-in uses a six-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission instead of a CVT or torque converter. It also gets the same suspension configuration as its stablemates, with a multilink set-up at the rear. Hyundai says that despite the Plug-in’s efficiency mantra, it will offer different driving settings, including a Sport mode that will alter the power steering and transmission software.

Hyundai IONIQ Plug-In Hybrid, Geneva 2017 (image: Auto Express)

The exterior design of the Plug-in is, in effect, the same as the regular Hybrid, so it retains that car’s ultra-slippery shape, with an aerodynamic drag co-efficient (Cd) of just 0.24. There’s an additional flap on the front wing, allowing the car to be refuelled as well as recharged – and the Plug-in gets a flash of blue material at the base of its front bumper, instead of the regular Hybrid’s dark grey finish.

Hyundai has not confirmed how long the Ioniq Plug-in will take to complete a full charge – or issued any performance data. Nor has it released a price, but the car is expected to slot in between the Hybrid and the Electric in the line-up – so we’d expect a starting figure of around £24,000

Source: Auto Express 

What IS ‘one-pedal driving’ in an electric car?

One-pedal driving is rather like the experience of owning an electric car: it can be hard to appreciate until you’ve spend time doing it.

The phrase “one-pedal driving” refers to the ability of some electric cars to be driven almost entirely with the accelerator pedal alone.

It’s a feature much prized by owners of Teslas, BMW i3s, and most recently the Chevy Bolt EV.

And it’s something that everyone should know about, even if you don’t own an electric car. Even if perhaps you won’t completely understand why it would be appealing until you experience it.

One-pedal driving combines conventional acceleration, using the right-hand pedal, with a much higher degree of deceleration than in a conventional car.

That means that when a driver lifts off the pedal, the car slows down more quickly than an internal-combustion-powered car would.

It’s not found in every electric car. Some makers give their electric cars an identical driving experience to conventional vehicles, meaning they drive like an automatic-transmission car that never actually shifts.

Once you’ve acclimatized, the only times you hit the brakes is for emergency situations.

It may sound a little strange, but trust us: once you try it, you’ll never go back.

And then you’ll start to wonder why all cars don’t work that way.

Full article: Green Car Reports

Nissan Electric Vehicles for a more resilient world

Nissan Intelligent Mobility is the brand’s blueprint for the future of motoring, targeting zero emissions and zero fatalities. It was first announced exactly a year ago, at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. Since then, significant progress has been made under all three of its pillars – Intelligent Driving, covering advances on how cars are driven; Intelligent Power, which guides developments on how they are powered; and Intelligent Integration, a wider investment strategy on the role vehicles play in society.


The Charge Point Being Installed for my First EV, a Renault ZOE (Image: T. Larkum)

Installing a Charge Point for your Electric Car

There can be a significant lead time in arranging the installation of a charge point so it is best if this gets underway as soon as possible after your new electric car is ordered.

If the car is a new Renault ZOE or Nissan Leaf on PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) then installation of the charge point will be organised by the manufacturer. As part of this deal the manufacturer will specify their preferred charge point.

In most other cases you will need to arrange the installation yourself. We can help you through the process with advice and guidance:

  1. We provide details of the main installation companies below.
  2. Our guide to selecting the most suitable charge point for you is here: Choosing a Charge Point.
  3. Our guide to check on your eligibility for a government grant for the charge point is here: Government Grant for Electric Car Home Charge Point.

If you are a Fuel Included customer then you can of course call or email us at any time for more detailed advice.

Note you may find that a charge point is occasionally referred to by its more technical name ‘Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment’ or EVSE.

Charge Point Installers

The biggest companies making and installing domestic charge points  – let’s call them the ‘Big 3’ – are the following (with links to their website and to our news feed with articles about them):

  1. Chargemaster PLC: Chargemaster website, Chargemaster news items.
  2. POD Point: POD Point website, POD Point news items.
  3. Rolec EV (part of Rolec Services Ltd): Rolec website, Rolec news items.

However, there are many other smaller installers; here’s a brief (not definitive) list:

  1. ChargedEV, nationwide installation partners for Rolec, based near Sheffield.
  2. Charging Solutions Ltd, partner with Chargemaster, based in Wales.
  3. The Phoenix Works, nationwide installers, based near Leeds.
  4. SOL Electrical, install POD Point and Rolec charge points in the South West of England.
  5. EV Charging Solutions, based in the Midlands.
  6. Armstrong Renewables Ltd, install in the North East of England.
  7. New Motion EVSE Ltd, based in London and part of a Dutch group, the largest provider in Europe.


Installation Process

In most cases the installation company is likely to contact you for information on your property, including asking for photographs of your main consumer unit (‘fuse box’) and the preferred location for the charge point. Usually a dedicated cable will be run from the consumer unit to the charge point so sometimes the installer may also ask for information on, and photographs of, the route between the two. Generally an isolator switch will be installed in this new circuit.

The Charge Point Being Installed for my First EV, a Renault ZOE (Image: T. Larkum)
The Charge Point Being Installed for my First EV, a Renault ZOE (Image: T. Larkum)

Typically a standard installation will allow for cabling of up to 20m in length. If the distance is greater than this then there may be an additional cost to the customer (of perhaps £5 per metre). Similarly there may be additional costs if the installation is complex (e.g. passing a cable over a walkway or under a path); these issues are likely to be highlighted by the installer ahead of the installation visit. Sometimes the electrical system in the house will lack a mains isolator switch and this may need to be installed in advance by your electricity supplier; again the installer should flag this ahead of their visit.

The installation itself will take less than a day (it can be as little as an hour). You will need to be in attendance and the electricity supply will be turned off for much of the work.

After the installation is complete you will likely be asked to sign off on the work (and will be given a set of keys to the charge point if it is key protected). You should test the charge point as soon as possible by connecting your car, ideally while the engineer is still present in case it shows up any issues.

PS: I have previously described the installation of my charge point in detail here and here.

Taster test of the new Renault ZOE

While the LEAF from sister brand Nissan continues to grab all the headlines associated with it being first to the party, the ZOE has built itself a loyal following since the car’s launch in 2012 and was the best-selling electric car in Europe in 2015.

What is it? The latest version of the Renault ZOE electric supermini.
Key features: New battery increases official range to 250 miles. New top trim level, updates across range.
Our view: The Renault ZOE is a definite contender amongst its electric rivals, particularly considering its versatile purchase options and now its range.
Type of review: Taster test.

For 2017 Renault has introduced a facelift for the ZOE, the major headline of which is a new 41kWh battery. This is almost double the capacity of the original 22kWh battery and pushes the ZOE’s official range to 250 miles.

Longest range

While Renault claims that this gives the ZOE the longest range of any mainstream electric vehicle, we are also told that the car’s ‘real-world’ range between charges is now between 124 miles in extreme cold and 186 miles in ‘temperate’, in other words typical, conditions. This of course makes the ZOE a very practical car indeed – how often does the average motorist clock up more than 186 miles in a day?

Renault ZOE – the look

The biggest difference between the Renault ZOE and its great rival the Nissan LEAF, in this writer’s opinion, is in exterior looks. The LEAF, with its squared-off, slanted rear end, looks different enough to be identified as such, an electric car. The ZOE, however, looks just like any other supermini – it could just as easily be a traditional petrol/diesel sister to the Clio and Twingo and is very closely related to the former.

On the road

This is not a fast car, its 0-62mph time over 13 seconds, but it feels nippy in its natural environment of urban streets. At speeds under around 40mph the torque of the electric motor is at its most efficient, and the ZOE reaches 30mph in a mere four seconds.

It’s much less fun at high speeds, on a motorway for example, because above 60mph it seriously struggles for pace. Steep gradients cause similar issues, it will get up them, but not in any hurry.

Buying a ZOE

Electric cars are not cheap and on the surface the ZOE is no different, but there is a way to spread the cost. Renault offers the option of either buying the car and battery outright, or leasing the battery and paying a monthly fee that varies based on one’s expected mileage. This also answers those concerned about the staying power of the battery, though Renault does offer a five-year/60,000-mile warranty that includes the battery retaining at least 75 per cent of its original capacity.


The Renault ZOE won’t write headlines for its roadholding and handling but in the urban environment that electric cars are excepted to populate it becomes a leading contender. With its practical purchase options it should be considered by anyone wanting to go electric.

Read more: The Car Expert

UK breaks solar energy record on sunny March weekend

Last weekend’s sunny weather was not only good for beers, barbecues and bees, but also drove solar power to break a new UK record.

For the first time ever, the amount of electricity demanded by homes and businesses in the afternoon on Saturday was lower than it was in the night, because solar panels on rooftops and in fields cut demand so much.

National Grid, which runs the transmission network, described the moment as a

“huge milestone”

The company sees the solar power generated on the distribution networks – or local roads of the system – as reduced electricity demand.

The sunshine meant that solar power produced six times more electricity than the country’s coal-fired power stations on Saturday.

Continued good weather saw solar power generate significant amounts of power on Sunday and Monday too, when it was providing around 15% of electricity generation. Demand on Sunday afternoon was also lower than on Sunday night.

Duncan Burt, who manages daily operations at National Grid, said:

“Demand being lower in the afternoon than overnight really is turning the hard and fast rules of the past upside down. It’s another fascinating sign of the huge changes we are seeing in Britain’s energy scene”.

Electricity demand usually peaks around 4pm to 6pm at this time of year, as people return home from work, with demand lower still at weekends. But the early hours of the morning are usually the quietest for the Berkshire control centre that monitors the grid, so a reversal is dramatic.

For the first time, on Saturday 25 March 2017, electricity demand in Great Britain was lower during the afternoon than it was overnight due to high solar generation.

Read more: The Guardian