All posts by Trevor Larkum

Smart unveiled its latest ForTwo Cabrio at the Frankfurt show

SMART Electric Drive | Fully Charged

This is the 260th episode of Fully Charged and just possibly, the very first proper, informative and clear car review. This is very much down to the talent and experience of Jonny Smith, his first time on the series (but definitely not the last).

After watching this, I know I have to up my game, I’m so thrilled Jonny could do this show with us and I’m really intrigued to hear your reaction.

Thank you Smart for flying Jonny and Mark out to Toulouse and organising the cars.

Government Grant for Electric Car Home Charge Point

This is a summary of the UK Government’s scheme for subsidising home charge points for electric cars, known as the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS).

It has been kept relatively simple; if you need detailed guidance you should consult the original document (linked at the bottom).

1. Most plug-in vehicle owners carry out most charging at home.

2. Customers who are the registered keeper or have primary use of an eligible electric vehicle may receive up to 75% (capped at £500, inc VAT) off the total capital costs of the chargepoint and associated installation costs.

3. The key features of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme are as follows:

  • The grant is a 75% contribution towards the cost of one chargepoint and its
    installation up to a maximum of £500 (including VAT) per household/eligible
  • Customers must provide evidence of being the primary user of an eligible electric vehicle or have a vehicle on order in order to be able to qualify for the grant.
  • The date of installation must not be more than 4 months ahead of the date
    of delivery or start date of vehicle use.

4. The grant covers up to 75% of the eligible costs of chargepoint installation, the
customer form requires confirmation of who is paying the balance of the
installation costs.

5. The grant for 75% must be claimed against an approved chargepoint and
made on your behalf by a chargepoint installer which has been authorised
by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).

6. You must have off street parking facilities suitable for chargepoint installation (a survey prior to installation should be conducted by your installer). If you do not have off street parking, your Local Authority may be able to help via a central Government grant.

7. The authorised chargepoint installer will claim the 75% (capped at £500) on your behalf. How the remaining cost is to be met should be agreed with your installer prior to installation. In any event, you should satisfy yourself whether you are expected to pay the remaining cost, and if not who will be paying for it, before the installation takes place. The grant will only be paid in arrears (i.e. once installation is complete).

8. No more than 2 chargepoints can be funded at one property irrespective of how many vehicles are registered there.

Source: EVHS – Guidance for Customers: November 2016

Use pram covers ‘to protect babies from air pollution’ during school run

Parents should use pram covers to protect babies and young children from harmful air pollution during the school run, researchers suggest.

Traffic lights and bus stops were pollution hotspots and there were higher levels of pollution in the morning compared with the afternoon, the University of Surrey study said.

Young children are more at risk because their bodies are small and developing.

And they could be breathing in damaging substances, the study said.

A recent World Health Organization report said that 570,000 children under the age of five died every year from illnesses that could be linked to pollution.

The Surrey research, published in Environmental Pollution, was based on measurements from air monitoring equipment inside toddlers’ prams being pushed to and from schools during drop-off and pick-up times.

Scientists looked at pollution levels in prams during 64 trips, covering about 50 miles (80km), in Guildford.

Bus stops and traffic lights were the worst places for being exposed to the tiny particles from exhaust fumes and tyres that can get into the bloodstream.

And there were more of these harmful particles in the air during morning drop-off times, when traffic was at its busiest.

Dr Prashant Kumar, lead study author from the University of Surrey, said his findings were a warning to parents.

“Young children are far more susceptible to pollution than adults, due to their immature and developing systems and lower body weight,” he said.

“Essentially, children could be at risk of breathing in some nasty and harmful chemical species such as iron, aluminium and silica that form together the particles of various size ranges.”

Dr Kumar said the best way to stop this happening was to use a barrier between children in prams and the emissions from vehicle exhausts, especially at traffic lights, crossroads and bus stops.

He said his research team was also trying to find a way to clean the air around children sitting in their prams.

Source: BBC

Tesla Model X (Image: Tesla)

Emirates Electric Road Trip | Fully Charged

The Emirates Electric Road Trip was an amazing experience.
A combination of educational exercise, motivation to open new charging stations throughout the Emirates and a wonderful tour of an incredible area of the world.
The Emirates are investing more in renewables than you can literally poke a stick at.
They extract huge amounts of oil that they sell to us and they are using the money to create a long term, viable and sustainable energy infrastructure.
Okay, and they are building some ridiculously tall towers.

The EVRT team are organising a pan-European trip later this year. Details here:

BMW i3

New BMW i3 the best electric car this side of a Tesla

Not cheap, but charming, fun and with seriously practical performance and range.

It’s funny how perceptions change. When I was young in a sepia-toned world the drivers who were on the receiving end of most abuse were those behind the wheels of BMWs. Arrogant, aggressive and antagonistic with an addiction to tailgating was the accepted caricature of this firm’s car owners.

Times have changed though. BMW, for all its massive sales success in Ireland in the past 15 years, now has a slightly less combative image, one of classiness and desirability with a little less of the disdain from those unable to afford one.

BMW i3
BMW i3

With the i3, there is the chance for BMW to slip seamlessly into full-on caring and sharing mode. The little electric car has been around since 2014, but had failed to make much of a dent in Irish buyers’ collective consciousness, mostly down to a combination of being small, with a big price tag and, well, electric.

For all the talk of Ireland being a perfect test case for the introduction of electric motoring, few brave souls have taken on the mantle of early adopter. A combination of cost, lack of infrastructure and that ever-present spectre of range anxiety has held people back.


Well, BMW has answered that in part by boosting the range of the i3 to a much more acceptable level. While the lithium-ion battery pack hasn’t been made physically larger, it has increased in capacity, to a very healthy 33kWh (up from 22kWh) and the i3’s part-carbon-fibre structure, light but strong and costing BMW several fortunes to develop, was always there to make the most of any extra range.

In fact, one-charge range climbed to 300km on the European NEDC (New European Driving Cycle), but cognisant that the official test has been thoroughly undermined in the public eye, BMW says 200km is a more realistic day-to-day figure.

So it proves. A writer must write of what they know, so I can only speak of how the i3 performed on my own regular driving cycle, but it is significantly improved.

I was testing the ‘REX’ version, the range-extender, which uses a tiny two-cylinder moped engine and a seven-litre tank of petrol to keep the batteries alive should you run out of charge with mileage still to go to get home. It adds, generally, around 100-120km of extra range, easing many the furrowed brow.

Read more: Irish Times

Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Image: POD Point)

Choosing a Charge Point

When buying an electric car it is nearly always worthwhile to get a dedicated charge point installed at home.

It’s more convenient than an ‘occasional use’ or ‘granny’ (13 Amp) charge cable because you don’t need to reel it up and put it away each time.

Home Charging a Renault ZOE with a Dedicated Charge Point (Image: Charging Solutions)
Charging a Renault ZOE with a Home Charge Point (Image: Charging Solutions)

It will also be significantly faster because a dedicated charge point can provide more power without the risk of overheating. Also some electric cars, such as the Renault ZOE, don’t come with such a cable and buying one yourself can be very expensive (£500+).

The good news is that the installation of domestic charge points is subsidised by the UK government.

There are 3 decisions to be made when selecting the type of charge point for your car:

  • Tethered or Untethered
  • Connector Types
  • Power Level


Tethered or Untethered

There is usually the choice of a ‘tethered’ cable (it is fixed to the charge point) or an ‘untethered’ cable (it plugs into and can be removed from the charge point).

Untethered and tethered charge points (Image: Chargemaster)
Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Image: Chargemaster)

Untethered has the advantage of allowing different cables to be connected (for example you can use the same charge point for a Nissan Leaf and a Renault ZOE). However, most people choose tethered because it avoids the inconvenience of connecting a cable whenever you need to charge (usually daily). It also reduces the risk of the cable being stolen.

A charge point with a tethered cable will usually cost more than an untethered one (typically about £50 more) because of the cost of its cable.

Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Image: POD Point)
Untethered and Tethered Charge Points (Images: POD Point)

If you choose untethered you will need to use your own cable to connect to the car; it is the same cable that would be used to connect to a public charging point. It may come free with the car, for example the Renault ZOE or the Nissan Leaf with the 6.6kW charge option come with one. Otherwise you will need to buy one (we can advise you on suppliers).


Connector Types

All untethered domestic charge points supplied in the UK come with a Type 2 socket on the charge point, just as all public charge points now have (or at least officially should have) Type 2 sockets. Similarly all charge cables have a Type 2 plug at the charge point end.

If the cable is tethered then you need to tell the installer the type of plug you want at the car end. This will depend on the car:

  • Type 1 socket: Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Kia Soul EV
  • Type 2 socket: Renault ZOE, BMW i3, VW e-Golf and Hyundai IONIQ

The Type 2 or ‘Mennekes’ connector is the official standard in Europe and should eventually replace the Type 1.


Power Level

A dedicated charge point can provide higher powers than a typical occasional use charging cable which will run at 10 Amps, equivalent at 230 Volts to 2.3 kilowatts. The charge will take place at the highest power that both the charge point can provide and the car can use.

There are two common power levels:

  • 16A = 3.5kW: This is the maximum charge level of the Nissan Leaf 3.3kW, the Mitsubishi Outlander and the VW e-Golf.
  • 30A/32A = 7kW: This is the maximum charge level of the Nissan Leaf 6.6kW, BMW i3, Kia Soul EV and Hyundai IONIQ. The standard Renault ZOE can use this level, in fact anything up to 22kW.

The higher power reduces the charge time so a typical EV battery will charge in about 8 hours at 16A but in about 4 hours at 32A.

It may be best to install the highest power charge point you can afford; even if your current car can’t use all the power, the next one almost certainly will be able to.

Kia Niro PHEV, Plug In Hybrid, Geneva Motorshow 2017 (Image: Kia)

Crossover Practicality from New Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid

  • Niro Plug-in Hybrid model on sale across Europe during Q3 2017
  • 8.9 kWh High-capacity lithium-polymer battery pack and 1.6-litre GDI engine
  • Development engineers target pure-electric range over 55 kilometres
  • CO2 emissions targeted to fall below 30 g/km
  • Plug-in Hybrid crossover offers 324-litre cargo space and spacious cabin
  • Advanced energy-saving measures and unique styling features
  • Optional Towing Pack with 1,300 kg capacity

Kia Motors has today unveiled the Niro Plug-in Hybrid at the Geneva International Motor Show. The new derivative combines high versatility and crossover design appeal with maximum fuel efficiency from its advanced new plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The Niro Plug-in Hybrid will go on sale across Europe during Q3 2017, pairing an economical 1.6-litre GDI (gasoline direct injection) engine with a 8.9kWh high-capacity lithium-polymer battery pack. The latest addition to Kia’s hybrid crossover range substantially reduces emissions over the more conventional Niro hybrid – engineers are targeting CO2 emissions below 30 g/km (combined, New European Driving Cycle) and a zero-emissions pure-electric driving range of over 55 kilometres. Final electric range and CO2 emissions figures will be published closer to the car’s on-sale date.

Kia Niro PHEV, Plug In Hybrid, Geneva Motorshow 2017 (Image: Kia)
Kia Niro PHEV, Plug In Hybrid, Geneva Motorshow 2017 (Image: Kia)

Michael Cole, Chief Operating Officer, Kia Motors Europe, commented:

“Annual sales of plug-in hybrid models in Europe are expected to grow to more than 600,000 units by the end of 2023, while the crossover market is also forecast to expand in the coming years. There is a clear demand from customers for a vehicle which combines the practicality and ‘cool’ image of a compact crossover with the ultra-low emissions of an advanced plug-in powertrain. The Niro Plug-in Hybrid will be the only car on the market to offer this combination.”

“The Niro Plug-in Hybrid is one of the latest low-emissions cars from Kia which will help the company achieve its global target for 2020 – to improve fuel efficiency by 25% compared with 2014 levels.”

The Niro Plug-in Hybrid is one of two low-emissions vehicles unveiled by Kia at the Geneva International Motor Show, alongside the new Optima Sportswagon Plug-in Hybrid.

Read more: Kia Press Office

This is a screenshot of a video featuring the all-new Nissan Leaf EV (Image: HouseBear/YouTube)

Tweet Confirms Global Release of the new Nissan Leaf

Nissan has taken to social networking and microblogging site Twitter to announce the reveal of its next-generation all-electric vehicle.

The Japanese auto manufacturer tweeted on Friday, March 10, that the company’s all-new Nissan Leaf EV will be officially revealed in September and will go on sale before the year ends.

This is a screenshot of a video featuring the all-new Nissan Leaf EV (Image: HouseBear/YouTube)
This is a screenshot of a video featuring the all-new Nissan Leaf EV (Image: HouseBear/YouTube)

Nissan tweets about the official release of its all-new Nissan Leaf. A September unveiling of its new Leaf means that excited fans could possibly see the all-electric vehicle at the Frankfurt Motor Show. The design of Nissan’s all-new EV is said to take inspiration from the IDS concept. The IDS concept debuted at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show.

The Japanese auto manufacturer’s tweet specifically said that the all-new Leaf “will be globally revealed” in September. The tweet also mentioned that the vehicle will “go on sale before the end of the year.”

The current Leaf model has a range of 107 miles on a single charge. The next generation model is said to have increased mile range, possibly close to the Chevrolet Bolt EV’s range of 238 miles.

Asked if the all-new Nissan Leaf electric vehicle would be able to compete with Chevrolet’s Bolt EV at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show, Nissan research and advance engineering Vice President Takao Asami answered,

“We can get to 200 or even 300. We can.” He further added, “The question is cost.”

The technology behind of the electric vehicle will most likely be the same one on the Renaut Zoe EV. The Renaut Zoe EV debuted at the Paris Motor Show in the previous year. The electric vehicle uses a lithium-ion battery pack supplied by LG Chem who also supplied Chevrolet with the Bolt EV’s battery. The Renaut Zoe EV, however, only boasts of a humble range of 189 miles compared to the Bolt EV.

Source: Auto World News