All posts by Jo

London ups congestion charge on older cars

Brexit be damned. In an effort to comply with European Union pollution regulations, London says that later this year it will begin levying a £10 (about $12.50) charge on older cars if they want to drive in the city’s core.

Though not an outright ban on cars, the fee is a step toward creating the

“toughest emission standard of any major city,”

said London mayor Sadiq Khan in a release issued to members of the media.

London plans to implement the new charge on October 23, 2017, the 14th anniversary of the city’s first congestion fee. The city estimates that the fee will apply to about 10,000 vehicles driven into central London on weekdays.

The new “T-charge” is in addition to a £11.50 fee (£10 with automatic payments) that is already collected on all cars driven into central London between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on weekdays. While the existing charge applies to nearly all motor vehicles, the T-charge will be levied on cars that do not comply with at least the Euro-4 emissions standards. Broadly speaking, Euro-4 cars date from 2005 or later.

That’s not to say that the new T-charge is not without its detractors. The Telegraph calls it

” a tax on the city’s poorest motorists.”

Khan has also said his administration is investigating a diesel scrapping scheme to pull older, polluting vehicles off of the road and that it is accelerating plans for a separate Ultra Low Emissions Zone that would charge an even larger amount of money to higher emissions vehicles.

Source: The Car Connection

Electric Cars and why this technophobe has one

I’m a 34 year old woman who is not naturally drawn to technology and yet I am an early adopter of the electric car.

I try to live a simple life, and there is little I enjoy more than a bit of nostalgia and switching off from the modern world, so it was a bit of a surprise to some of my friends and family when I decided to get an electric car.

The truth is, that it’s actually not much different to driving a regular car, except you’re considering your fuel consumption differently and of course you are saving the environment, and those are good things to concern yourself with, right?!

I took my mum and sisters to the spa the other week, it was the first time my older sister had been in the car and she was sceptical “are we going to get there and back OK, is there enough charge” she must have said this at least 4 times before she forgot about range and concerned herself with other aspects of the car. She was like a kid with a new toy, pressing the touch screen display, asking “what does this do”, “what does that do”, then noticing how silently the car moves and yet how quick it is off the mark. She was impressed. On the way home she noticed the remaining range “36 miles, oh we’ll get home on that” – she was getting it.  More at ease and enjoying the ride she asked if I wanted any money towards fuel, I laughed and said “well the journey cost less than £1, so I think I’ll let you off” – she was speechless.

‘Getting over’ the technology aspect of the car is very easy, there isn’t actually much to learn, in fact the car itself makes driving and running it very simple, and I do love a simple life 😊

2017 set to be landmark year for electric cars

The future is bright for electric cars in 2017, as new figures released recently indicate that more than 100,000 plug-in cars could be on UK roads by the middle of this year.

This prediction is fuelled by record numbers of electric car registrations in 2016, with volumes rising 29% on the previous 12 months. In fact, every quarter of 2016 produced year-on-year growth, with the total number of EVs on UK roads now at more than 87,000.

More and more UK drivers are becoming switched on to the cost-saving benefits and convenience of electric motoring, which resulted in 36,907 electric vehicles being registered between January and December last year, a number that’s set to grow this year.

The ever-increasing selection of electric cars available in the UK is another factor aiding the rise in the market. More than 35 plug-in models are available at the moment, which is four times the number on the market just five years ago.

Plug-in hybrids were particularly popular in 2016, as registrations rose by over 40%. Models such as the BMW 330e, Volkswagen Golf GTE and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron proved to be among the most in-demand.

Source: Go Ultra Low

Mass adoption of electric cars will send diesel extinct in UK, experts predict

Diesel technology is set to be a thing of the past, UK car industry executives believe.

The plan is to invest in the technology needed for battery electric vehicles over the next five years, according to 93% of executives while 62% felt that dieselis losing its importance for manufacturers.

Figures from KPMG’s annual global automotive executive survey also show that 90% of executives expect battery electric vehicles to dominate the marketplace by 2025.

Big shift expected in the next decade. Getty Images

John Leech, of KPMG, said:

“Improvements in the cost and range of battery technology, coupled with growing concern over the emission of both carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides from diesel engines, means that almost the whole automotive industry believes that the mass adoption of electric cars will happen during the next decade.”

Senior executives working for vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, dealers, financial and mobility service providers plus car users took part in the survey.

Some 74% of executives thought more than half of car owners today would not want to own a vehicle.

Researchers believe there will be fewer cars and therefore less money to be made from building vehicles in the future as people may opt to use, rent or pay for a car service rather than to own a car.

This was not feared as a looming problem because 85% of executives were convinced their company might make more money by providing new digital services than by selling cars alone.

Mr Leech said:

“Carmakers plan to sell a myriad of new digital services to vehicle users. Today car makers already make substantial profits from the sale of consumer finance and annual vehicle insurance but this will grow in the future as innovative services such as remote vehicle monitoring and the integration of the car as a focal point in people’s ever more connected lifestyles are demanded by consumers.”

Source: The Independent Online

Milton Keynes pushes ahead with Go Ultra Low City programme

Electric Vehicle consultancy, Zero Carbon Futures, has been appointed as project manager to Milton Keynes Council to support the delivery of their Go Ultra Low City programme.

The appointment follows the announcement last year that Milton Keynes has been awarded £9 million from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles’ Go Ultra Low City Scheme. The funding is to support the city to become a showcase of what can be done to encourage the uptake of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles.

Following a competitive tender process, Zero Carbon Futures has been commissioned to oversee the project’s key strands including the EV Experience Centre, EV charge point infrastructure and innovation as well as work on the Highways to support the programme.

Brian Matthews, Head of Transport Innovation, at Milton Keynes Council, said:

“We had a number of exceptionally strong tender submissions for the project management contract however Zero Carbon Futures’ expertise and knowledge of the industry really stood out. The company will be a critical friend for the project throughout its five years.”

Zero Carbon Futures has been involved in a number of high profile electric vehicle projects such as the Rapid Charge Network, Plugged in Places and My Electric Avenue and has overseen the development of charge point networks across the UK including at motorway service stations. The company has also developed a number of electric vehicle marketing and promotional campaigns to encourage residents and businesses to consider making the switch to electric.

Dr Colin Herron, Managing Director at Zero Carbon Futures, said:

“Milton Keynes put forward an exceptionally strong bid to become a Go Ultra Low City and we are delighted to be working with the Council to support its delivery. This is a significant programme which will make a demonstrable difference to electric vehicle uptake in the City and we hope that our expertise will provide real added value to the Council.”

Read more: Zero Carbon Futures

Nissan Leaf

Car Tax, the new VED rules explained

An overhaul of UK car tax rules will increase the cost of motoring – but not if you’re buying a Nissan LEAF

On April 1, the system for taxing new cars in the UK, known as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), is being radically overhauled (click here for details). The revamp will make it more expensive to run certain types of low-emissions cars – but the Nissan LEAF, the world’s best-selling electric car, will remain exempt from tax.

Nissan Leaf

If you’re confused by the changes, or uncertain of what they mean if you’re considering buying a new car, here’s a quick guide.

How car tax works now

The amount of VED you currently pay is based on your car’s CO2 emissions. There are 13 VED bands: vehicles that emit between 0 and 130g/km of CO2 (think electric vehicles and certain hybrids) don’t pay any VED in their first year. After that, vehicles that emit 101-120g/km of CO2 have to pay between £10 and £30. The duty jumps from there, to at least £100 for cars that emit 121g/km of CO2 or more.

What’s changing

From April 1, only vehicles that produce no emissions while driving, such as the Nissan LEAF, will be exempt from VED in year one. Vehicles that produce 1-50 g/km of CO2 pay £10; those that emit 51-75 g/km pay £25. VED then leaps to £100 for vehicles that emit 76-90 g/km. From year two on, CO2-producing vehicles costing less than £40,000 pay an annual rate of £140 – with a £310 premium for cars that cost more than £40,000.

Zero emissions, zero tax

Cars that produce 0g/km of CO2 and cost less than £40,000 will remain exempt from VED for their lifetime. The fully-equipped, five-seat electric Nissan LEAF falls into that category – and it’s also exempt from congestion charges. So as well as fuel costs of as little as 2p a mile, buying a safe and reliable LEAF could save you hundreds of pounds in tax.

When it comes to fuel efficiency, the British-built Nissan LEAF remains ahead of the pack – because it uses no combustible fuel at all.

Read more: What Car?



Geneva ’17: Why the Zoe e-sport was the most important car at the show

This pocket rocket draws tech straight from the championship-winning Renault e.dams Formula E machines.

ZOE E-Sport at Geneva Motor Show
ZOE E-Sport at Geneva Motor Show

Our prayers have been answered!

We’ve been warbling on for years now about how there’s been a distinct lack of small, fun electric cars to bolster a cool, youthful appearance of these future-fuelled machines.

But finally, FINALLY, Renault has attempted to fill in the gaps by unveiling an EV hot hatch concept at this year’s Geneva Motor Show, in the form of the Zoe e-sport.

Strictly a concept car for now, the pumped-up version of the popular electric supermini ticks all the right boxes for us here at EV Performance towers. Time to get more excited about EVs…!

“The brief for the Renault ZOE e-sport concept couldn’t have been simpler: ‘Have fun!’. So we came up with something midway between a production model and a racing car… It’s perfect for lovers of extreme driving sensations!”

said Stéphane Janin, Director of Concept Car Design for the firm.

ZOE E-Sport at Geneva Motor Show
ZOE E-Sport at Geneva Motor Show

Although it might be a million miles away from a production model, it’s absolutely fantastic to see a firm such as Renault addressing the fun side of electric cars. It’s all too easy to be overwhelmed with range statistics and kW figures in this crazy world of electric cars, so it’s nice to see some serious hints at performance models potentially being in the pipeline in the coming years.

Read more: EV Performance 

Windfarm (Image:UNK)

Google set to reach 100% renewable energy in 2017

In December 2016, Google announced that they are set to reach 100% renewable energy to power everything such as their offices and server farms. 

Every year people search Google trillions of times and upload over 400 hours of YouTube every minute! All of that takes a very large amount of processing power which means a lot of electricity is needed.

Windfarm (Image:UNK)

“I’m thrilled to announce that in 2017 Google will reach 100% renewable energy for our global operations — including both our data centers and offices. We were one of the first corporations to create large-scale, long-term contracts to buy renewable energy directly; we signed our first agreement to purchase all the electricity from a 114-megawatt wind farm in Iowa, in 2010. Today, we are the world’s largest corporate buyer of renewable power, with commitments reaching 2.6 gigawatts (2,600 megawatts) of wind and solar energy. That’s bigger than many large utilities and more than twice as much as the 1.21 gigawatts it took to send Marty McFly back to the future.”

Urs Hölze, Google’s Senior Vice President of Technical Infrastructure.

Google operates in an environmentally sustainable way which is one of its core values since its founding. This is a very good value and one we should all follow. Whatever your thoughts are on global warming, we all know that pollution is a bad thing for us and the environment.

Science tells us that tackling climate change is an urgent worldwide issue and that we must take steps in doing our own individual bit for the environment.

Read more: Medium. Phil Leach

Zoe Battery Recovery (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)

Driving style (example shown in Renault ZOE 22kWh)

One thing any existing or soon to be, Electric Vehicle driver should always bear in mind is ‘Driving Style’, this can sometimes, quite dramatically, impact your expected range.

Electric Vehicles are smart, they analyse your driving style and take this into account when estimating your expected range. If you are a rapid accelerator and tend to brake hard, you might find that your estimated range will drop quite low. I certainly have a tendency to forget this and simply enjoy the ride a bit too much when I’m doing short journeys, I find myself in this situation quite a lot.

But it can easily be rectified, you simply need to adjust your driving style, drive more economically and with a bit more consideration, soon you won’t realise you’re doing it and the car will give you better range expectations. The good news is that this is easy to do by just reacting to the feedback that the acceleration indicator on the dashboard gives you.

Your Visual Guide to Acceleration

Zoe Accelerating (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)
Zoe Accelerating (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)

When you use rapid acceleration/peddle to the metal, it shows as many Yellow bars.

If you find you are constantly in yellow, be prepared to see your estimated range drop quite considerably.

ZOE gradual acceleration (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)
ZOE gradual acceleration (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)

When you start driving more economically, with gradual acceleration, you can see this as fewer Green bars.

Get the most out of your range, try and stay within the green bars. If you switch to Eco mode the car will help you do this by restricting your maximum acceleration.

Success! Your range will become more predictable and consistent.

Your Visual Guide to Regenerative Braking

Regenerative Braking, also known as Battery Recovery is the clever trick where an Electric Vehicle reverses the behaviour of an electric motor. Instead of using electricity from the battery to create car motion, it uses the motion of the car to create electricity and recharge the battery. This results in the car slowing down.

Zoe Battery Recovery (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)
Zoe Battery Recovery (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)

So, the battery recovery allows the car to slow itself when the road allows, and shows visually as Blue bars.

You will also notice the battery bar on the left gives a visual indication that a recharge is taking place. As a result, your range will sometimes increase the longer the car is moving without acceleration.

ZOE Display (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)
ZOE Display (Image: Jo Pegram-Mills)

An especially nice surprise is finishing your journey with more range than you started with. This can actually happen if you dramatically change your driving style during your journey, or if you do short trips. It’s a very satisfying moment and often results in excessive smugness.

ZOE on Charge (image: UNK)

The beginning of the end for the infernal combustion engine

WHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: After many false dawns, 2016 was the year electric cars showed they are on a path to rapidly replacing the infernal combustion engine.

There are now more than half a million battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on Europe’s roads, and annual sales are expected to top 1.5% of the market for the first time. While the figures are modest, Dieselgate has created an EV earthquake, shaking carmakers from their complacency.

Renault ZOE
Renault ZOE

The Paris Motor Show was a turning point. Volkswagen launched its “revolutionary” I.D concept and announced it aspired to a quarter of its sales being electric by 2025. Mercedes launched an equivalent Generation EQ concept range, announcing it was “flipping the switch”, which was backed up with an €11 billion investment. Opel confirmed the launch of the 300km range Ampera-e; Renault and BMW announced upgrades of the Zoe and i3, both with significantly longer ranges; and Renault commented:

“Our vision of the electric market is that it is not a niche market.”

Also, around a quarter of Mitsubishi sales can be plugged in and 7% of Porsche’s.

The U-turn in European carmakers’ attitude has resulted from a combination of market, technology and policy changes. Dieselgate has brought about much needed realism that outside Europe the tiny 5% share of new diesel cars will in the future decline, not grow.

In Europe, the scandal is stiffening the resolve of regulators to effectively enforce better tests that commence in 2017. Several countries, including France, are also increasing fuel excise duties and cities are proposing to ban or charge diesels or all combustion cars. UBS shockingly forecast diesel sales will fall to just 10% of the market by 2025 from 50% today.

Read more: Transport & Environment