Page 1 of 3

Good link to convert EV skeptics

Posted: Sat Jul 28, 2007 9:08 pm
by Julia Pigworthy
We may be excited about upcoming EVs for the public like the 2-seater New Th!nk City (62mph 110 mile range) and Smart ForTwoEV (72mph 70 mile range), but as many on this forum know, the Toyota Rav4 EV had seating for 5, a range of 100-140miles and a motorway speed of 70-odd mph.
Please send this link to friends and most importantly those yet to be convinced of EV capabilities, it has images with short testimonials from Rav4 EV drivers, some of which have passed 100,000 miles with practically zero maintenance, zero petrol and of course zero emissions.
Many have solar panels that sell more energy back to the grid than they buy to charge their cars, meaning driving their cars on solar is actually making them a nice profit!

I realise Im preaching to the converted, so please spread the 'good news' to those who need to hear about it! Lets make a UK law that says it is illegal for Toyota to refuse to supply a non-polluting Rav4 EV to anyone prepared to pay in advance for it.

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2007 8:26 am
by aminorjourney
It's an interesting dilema isn't it? Do we ask the car companies to produce EVs through market demand or do we legislate like CARB did in CA in the 90s?

I think it's a case in point that large car companies do need to be involved with the furthering development, manufacture and mass production of all-electric or plug-in hybrids. However, I can also see it from the side of the small business owner or startup company hoping to produce a high-quality product in small enough volumes to keep quality and support high.

Having driven a RAV4 EV in the states last year I can honestly say that it has been to date the most fantastic EV experience I've ever had. The vehicle drives like a regular car and just feels 'right'. I didn't have to make any compromises about how I drove or where I drove. It just worked. I did shoot a video while I was there but sadly I've been inundated with work and problems with the video editing suite I use so haven't yet done any more on it.

Legislature can be a great way of getting things done. However, it also can breed a lot of resentment. Think of how the car companies reacted in CA when CARB produced the zero-emissions mandate. The whole EV movement was put back ten years when the car companies crushed the EV1, the RAV4 EV, the EV Plus, the S10, the Ranger, the Th!nk. .... I could go on.

I would consider myself a bit of a grass-roots pro-EV lobyist. I'm working at the moment to find funding to actually start a co-ordinated, well appointed lobying of EU and UK government to try and get at least some form of Pro-EV policy going.

What do I mean? Do I mean legislature requiring car companies to produce EVs?

Not necessarily. As most of you will know, I spend most of my spare time (and a fair bit of my work time) talking about and showing off EVs. Without exception those who have a little spin in my EV or our Prius have positive things to say. They love the idea of cheap motoring; they love the fact that the car accelerates quickly and doesn't make much noise; they love the idea of never having to queue for petrol. However, very often they hate the fact that most UK EVs are tiny - that they have a limited top speed and a limited range.

So we're left with the following problem: There are some amazing EVs out there, mainly custom built or imported from other countries. There's a whole load of town cars; most of which turn Joe Public off buying one because of speed/weight/or comfort constrictions. In short, the EVs we have in the UK don't quite cut the mustard quite yet when it comes to longer trips.

I don't nessesarily think that legislature forcing car companies to produce an EV is going to work. What I do think may work is legislature to make alternative fuel vehicles (EVs being part of that) markedly cheaper to own and use. All kinds of initiatives could be carried out, from charging infrastructure improvements nationwide to congestion charging in all major cities with EV, PHEV, and ULEV exemptions to tax credits for anyone buying or running an EV.

If the consumer is stimulated correctly by being given incentives and well-informed information about the why the hows and the how much I think that would have many more positive effects than pure legislature requiring Zero emission cars or EVs.

So, back to the question. Legislature could do a lot for the EV cause but it could also cause it harm. My preferred route would be lobbying government and industry alike to create suitably large incentives to own an EV and let the consumer do the rest. Oh, and also educate. I would absolutely love to travel the UK educating on EVs. (More on that later)

Hope my post isn't too rambling, but from my experience with the RAV4 EV I seriously hope we don't repeat the same debacle here with poor communication between legislature, car companies and the government. Relying on the consumer with suitable education and incentives seems to me to be a better solution.


P.S. Perhaps finding a stinkingly good EV from a Japenese, Chinese or Indian firm would be another good way of getting Western car companies plugging in!

Mandates force environmental responsibility.

Posted: Sun Jul 29, 2007 11:25 pm
by Julia Pigworthy
The only reason they were able to reacquire the EVs in CA and crush them is because they were careful to let few if any be sold to the public. The lease-only option gave them time to apply corporate pressure and overturn the mandate, which when overturned conveniently translated into "we wont re-lease or sell you the cars you are willing to buy with no strings, in fact we will take them away and delete them from existence to prevent people leaving our petrol cars".
I dont think mandating industry's product choices is a good idea normally, UNLESS they are deliberately witholding/blocking products that dont pollute and forcing people to choose from products that ALL pollute. The Rav4 is an existing production model and can be created as an EV with minimal fuss by Toyota, but if they force the consumer to choose from polluting products ONLY and deliberately discontinue their clean model, then there must be a case there somewhere for a person to say "Toyota are witholding a clean car in favour of offering only expensive to maintain polluting cars for no reason other than to protect their profits by deliberately polluting the air. Is it so different from a company profiteering by producing something that results in industrial waste being dumped into a river as opposed to something that makes less profit but doesnt dump waste into a river? Whats the difference?
Put simply, where can I buy a motorway-capable zero-emission family car in the UK? Companies making billions from petrol cars must be forced to offer their EXISTING electric vehicle options, as driven by Californians with minimal fuss for years, or be prevented from doing business in the UK. Only the large companies need be mandated, new start-ups and smaller producers could be exempted at first.

I look forward to seeing miserable salesmen looking at Ford Kas and Fiestas sitting unwanted on forecourts while the Th!nk City sells out and has long waiting lists of eager buyers. Including myself after I sell/junk my Ford Mondeo, which I use as a commuter car 8 miles each day. In an EV with 100 miles per charge or more it would be about one recharge every 10-14 days excluding socialising, or once a week to keep it above 20% charge. Assuming 100 recharges a year my battery will last at least 10 years on 1000 recharges, with diminishing range after that until I replace the battery at a cost of £5k ish (less than buying a whole new car as per usual with clapped-out petrol engines). Improved battery tech will only extend range, top speeds and longevity in time for my next replacemtent, which might even outlive me personally!

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 8:36 am
by qdos
I've not had any of my cars have 'clapped out engines'. It's the boddies which rust away, the engines go on and on. In fact I've several times built cars using old vehicles who's bodies have died. The one I have currently is based on 1972 donor mechanics. and it's not a banger by any streatch of the imagination It can actually outrun a V8 Esprit Turbo and a BMW M3 and it's made from parts off cars you can find on any street in the country.

We realy don't need legislation, this country has far too much of it already far far too much. The truth is that the legislation has stiffled development of alternate transport, what it protects is the established big corporations, not you and I.

Electric vehicles are gradually becoming more common, just visit London and see the numbers of Gwizes. If you want to force the car manufacturers to build electric cars just keep going into the showrooms and asking for one. It will happen eventually and I think it will be comming pretty soon.

Failing that keep watching the forum and the main site you'll find that EVs are actually here and there's more of them comming. I know this for a fact I've sat in several which one day soon I hope you will be able to see too. :wink:

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 11:59 am
by geekygrilli
I agree with qdos, its normally the body that goes before the engine, which is frustrating if you're after a donor car!
I've never had a car die on me because of the engine, I've had a Volvo thats done more than 180,000miles and my 20 yr old Toyota MR2 had 160,000 on the clock when i sold it last week (for more than I bought it for 5 years ago!)

I would definitely buy a mass produce EV, if it were economically viable. I think £7000 is too much for a G-wiz considering its build quality and range. My wife and I will still 'need' two more cars.

The G-wiz, Th!nk, and FourTwo are only 2 seaters, in reality, and are no good for my small family (my daughter is about to turn 1). I just sold my 2 seater as it was impractical. My cinquecento is exactly what we need, it will move all 3 of us in, out and around London with no problems (I hope).

I used to be a design engineer for a large Japanese car maker (Nissan), and we were only doing the very minimum to keep up with emmisions legislation. In fact keeping up with the targets was very much seen as firefighting, not really a planned thing. There was always a panic at some point in teh development about meeting targets.

Cars are getting heavier, mainly because of safety requirements, but also because of unrequired technology being thrown at them. The latest generation micra is 100kg heavier than the last, and no more efficient in real terms.
There was hardly any funding going into development of Zero Emission vehicles.

I think we do need a new legilation, like then one that was meant to happen in LA, and the government needs to take a strong stance on it. xx% of all new cars sales must be zero emission by year xxxx, or each manufacturer must pay a substantial fine (more than the development costs of an EV).

I know Nissan UK (NTCE) would easily be able to develop a EV version of the Micra. They have all the resources there, some of the best electronic engineers in the country, all the test facilities and prototype equipment. And the car can be made in Sunderland. Nissan, combined with Renault have massive buying power. Its possibe to do it, PSA have done it with the Berlingo.

If the company doesn't want to develop it; the push needs to come from the engineers, like with the first golf gti, which was made after hours by a small team. I for one, would be there designing and building the car in the evenings, as would many others.

Instead, i'm here in a pokey little workshop making my own. If I get a viable, sensible looking car, capable of carrying 3/4 people for £2000 it will be an amazing.

Whats the purpose of driving an EV?
For me its to reduce local emissions. I drove into London the other day from the M11 and onto the A406, it was late on a sunday evening, and I could see the horrible filth hanging in the air over the city. And I have to bring my daughter up in this sort of environment! Its got to change.

I think that once my car is finished I can convince 2 of my brothers to build one too, and possibly my parents (we're all engineers!), and then some of the family on my in-laws side. Alot of my mates live in London and have cars which they only really use for the shopping and local commutes. If these people see a real car actually working, being used properly they will be convince, i am sure. But someone has to take the risk and show them its worth it (ie. me!)

I think from what i have learned in this build I can do a high quality conversion of say a 106 for £3000 in parts in a working week. If someone can buy a proper EV with 4 seats for £4000 ready to go they'll be very intersted. (not that I intens to make a business from this - i'm busy enough as it is, but if 10 people made firm orders then i'd do it)

Surely, if we're (I'm) doing it for the environment, then 're-cycling' old cars is the best thing to do, rather than using all new components to make new ones?

As a side, i would be interested in helping your 'lobying' (i've never lobied before - it sounds fun!)

(sorry its a bit long and disjointed; I've been adding bits all morning)

Mandate is unfortunately necessary

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 7:03 pm
by Julia Pigworthy
Unfortunately mandates are the only way to get EVs produced by the big car companies, as evidenced by Californias mandate. They made them because they had to (and to compete they wanted to make the best EV they could) but they didnt let people buy them to allow time to fight the mandate, and then once overturned they forced willing purchasers to give the cars back and systematically destroyed them to prevent drivers having them.

Petrol car companies have little incentive to make EVs cos they make too much money repairing petrol cars. No petrol car company will choose to make a low-to-zero maintenance product that might mean rarely if ever visiting a garage ever again. or needing to buy a replacement car due to the high cost of maintaining an older car.

Most new petrol cars develop problems after about 5 years (or sooner), with major servicing and replacement parts being necessary more often than not. After this time MOTs and servicing can cost up to £200 in a good year and between £500-£1000 in an expensive year when the many parts that move against each other wear out. EVs dont provide this gravy train for the manufacturer. Car mechanics may be able to maintain cars on the cheap, but Joe Public has to spend a fortune year on year just to get cars over 5 years old through their annual MOT.

Most average cars being sold with over 100,000 miles on the clock go for barely £500, and the bodywork is usually in one piece with relatively easy to fix problems like patches of rust etc, while it is a certainty that at that mileage, the engine is about 3-6 months from going fizz-bang.

EVs do not depreciate like petrol cars do, so replacing the car is not a major concren. The big concern is battery replacement, which doesnt fizz-bang, it simply reduces the range and speed of the vehicle without actually stopping working. THe depreciation cost of a battery is more attractive than the depreciation cost of a whole motor car, and replacing a battery once every 50,000-100,000 miles is as difficult as changing a tyre, albeit a heavy one. Plus low-mileage users may never need to replace their battery, meaning you buy one car for life with tyre replacements and annual safety checks only required.

2 seater EVs can replace all single occupancy cars for the daily commute. I would expect that if each family had one petrol/diesel saloon, all the other cars could be electric, in our own household my dad has an MX5, my mum has a Corsa and I have a Mondeo, and we all drive separately or in pairs. If we keep one of the petrol cars as a shared long-range vehicle we can replace the other two with nippy EVs for all trips under 100 miles or so, which is about 29 days of each month for us.

Larger families will have to wait, or if the mandate comes out they can buy a Toyota Rav4 EV with the spaciousness of a 4x4, no reduction in performance and range of 120 miles or so (see links at top of forum). For trips across the country the option to hire a car is cheaper than owning a petrol car that does a long range trip once every other week (or less).

Start a driving calendar and record your mileage each day. Count how many days in one year you need to travel over 100 miles, and then ask if its worth owning a petrol car just for those long-distance trips. Then ask if its worth the whole family owning 2 or 3 petrol cars for those long-distance trips when 2nd/3rd cars could be electric cars.

My primary incentives for EVs in the UK? Devalue Islamic Oil and deprive oil-producing states of their ability to hold our cars hostage, having a car when the oil runs out and costs a bomb (literally), being able to harness nature to fuel my car for free and ultimately eliminate the need for our most polluting power stations by having homes generating a significant percentage of green electricity for the grid, and having a quiet, clean environment to live in.

Ideal scenario today? One Tesla, one Rav4 EV and one new Th!nk City. Talk to anyone who owned an EV in California - they find it impossible to go back to petrol because it's a backwards evolutionary step.

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 7:43 pm
by geekygrilli
Obviously i'd be happy to have a 2 seater if it were a Tesla; I'm sure I could make it work logistically :D

Thats a good point about the log of miles per day. I'll start doing it - and get my friends and family to do it too.

In my family we have a Nissan Note (petrol 56-reg), Berlingo (diesel Y-reg) and nearly a 4 seater EV.

I think we can do away with the Note; we use the Berlingo when going on holidays and family days out, it has more space and its more economical. I sometimes need the Berlingo for work all over the UK and sometimes into Europe, but there have been no days in the last year where my wife and I both need to go on long journeys.

I just have to prove the EV's reliability and range first. If it is as good as I hope my wife has suggested to sale the Note.

I do think that if people actually study their requirements they don't need a vehicle with range of more than 60-70 miles. Or if they do need it now and then, they can probably car share.

Right then, where do i sign up to 'changing the world'?

Sums it up really

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 8:11 pm
by Julia Pigworthy
I think thats the way to make it happen for a lot of people - log the daily mileage and then see how many days in a year travel over 100 miles in a day (not including stops of 6-8 hours when a pre-arranged recharge location makes a longer journey viable on electric).
Large families and long-range drivers will still need a long range petrol/diesel car :( But families with two or more cars are unlikely to all need to travel long range on the same day, so a shared long-range car could be the answer.
Houses with driveways standing empty could make some coin on the side by registering their property as a recharge point. Once enough EVs are on the road and enough households are offering their services the petrol stations wont be able to ignore the customers they're losing and will have to provide a recharge facility. Considering the time required to recharge in these early stages of the EV industry we should follow the Californians lead and use restaurants, coffeebars, cinemas and shops as our recharge locations. The time factor for refuelling then becomes convenient as it means instead of wasting 10 minutes at the petrol station and queueing for a spare pump, you park up in town as usual and the car fuels itself while you go about your business or have fun with your friends. If parking is always accompanied by recharging, the car will always be full.

Quick question: how many people put only £5 in the tank with each fill? I know a few friends who religiously run on near-empty while I always fill mine once/twice a month, so we often debate the pros and cons of reduced visits to the petrol station versus lighter weight from less fuel in the tank lol. Anyway assuming a fiver of petrol grants 50 miles or so, that means half the range of the new 100+ mile/charge EVs on their way. I bet they would be able to make the move to an EV and simply share/hire a petrol car for long journeys or maybe (Gasp!) take a train/plane like we used to do in romantic days of old.

I want to buy a Phoenixmotors SUV from the states, but until that becomes possible I'll be saving for a Th!nk! Pheonix would make so much more money selling their cars here in the UK!

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 10:03 pm
by qdos
I disagree about the mandate it's simply not necessary. It's people that need to be informed and made aware of what is available.

The mileage thing is a problem. EVs currently don't do the sort of miles people habitually are used to doing between refills. BUT what you can do is point out that you don't need to make a special journey to 'fiill up' and you can in fact 'fill up' anywhere. Who'd have thought you could have your own fuel station in your own back garden or indeed at your work and come to think of it at your parent's house or even your friends house too. Good lord EV fuel stations are absoloutely everywhere!!!! Where's the problem in filling up? There isn't one.

I drive a variety of micro cars and when you try it after only a couple of days you realise how silly it is to keep driving back and forth in a great big family saloon built for 5+ passengers it's such a waste. So what you do instead is use different cars for different tasks. You can keep your big staus symbol if you like and keep it clean and smart for those special show off ocassions. you could Hire a brand new car when you need to go on a journey. There's no end of options available. You just need to think outside of this box which the Car sales folk love to put you into.

Then you need to tell the Sales guys what YOU want not what is the best comprimise as to what's available and what gets one up on the Jones's. Try it sometime it's very liberating

:D I think we're all thinking much the same way

Sales guys wont listen

Posted: Mon Jul 30, 2007 10:39 pm
by Julia Pigworthy
Sales guys act dumb when you ask them about their own companies discontinued EVs. They try to argue that they never existed, or were a failed experiment, etc, and will say anything to get you to accept that you can only choose a petrol/diesel car, or a hybrid car that does not have a plug to recharge the battery and thus is still 100% petrol/diesel albeit with better fuel economy.
Besides I am pledging myself to the 'No Plug? No Deal!' campaign whereby if salesmen do not offer any plug-innable cars with even partial electric range then I rtefuse to help them shift their polluting cars. I want rows of unwanted stock on the forecourts to try and send the message that the consumer wants an alternative and is sick to the backteeth of being landed with yet another brand new petrol car.
When petrol/diesel cars dont sell, and they see Th!nk and Smart EVs whizzing by, they'll cotton on soon enough.