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Electric vehicles - again

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Terry - Somerset

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We tend to believe that the problems we personally identify are common to all car owners, and that the status quo is precisely that and unlikely ever to change. This is flawed.

The range of personal circumstance is immense - eg:
  • those who could not now, and may find it difficult in the future - hill farmers 20m from town needing large 4WD, sales manager often driving 300+ miles in a day, dispersed family etc
  • those for whom an EV would be fine - 2nd car owners, charging on own drive, city dwellers with short commutes, journeys of more than 100 miles almost non-existent etc.
There will not be a single point at which EV ownership becomes either feasible for all. As the technology (vehicles and charging infrastructure) improves, costs fall with development and volume manufacture, s/h EVs become more readily available etc, the pool of potential owners will increase.

The loss of tax revenues from ICE is but a minor fixable issue. As cars will be internet connected, options include road pricing, tax on charging, tax on ownership, tax on new vehicle purchase etc. The current benefit of low tax on electricity vs high taxes on carbon fuels will probably disappear over time.
 

Martin_S

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" The loss of tax revenues from ICE is but a minor fixable issue. As cars will be internet connected, options include road pricing, tax on charging, tax on ownership, tax on new vehicle purchase etc. The current benefit of low tax on electricity vs high taxes on carbon fuels will probably disappear over time. "

@Terry - Somerset : You are not wrong. If I read the proposals correctly, all home charging units installed after June of this year need a separate smart meter. Hard to see why it would need to be metered separately unless you want to tax it....
 

Martin_S

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@Richard_C - Just an observation on the '£40k barrier' : I bought my MG ZS EV mid-2020, new for just over 20k. I did not intend to - just went for a test drive to see what all the fuss was about. Was instantly sold - made by SAIC in China (one of the 5m+ EV's they built that year), designed as an EV from the start (as opposed to a converted IC) with all the electronics in place to keep it in lane, at the same speed as the car in front and all the other stuff modern software/LIDAR/etc allows plus a whole load of standard items like reversing cameras and the like.

At that sort of price, why does anyone ever buy the old technology and continue to pollute the planet?

Yes - there is lots I'd like to see. Over air updates like Tesla so I can get the car updated without booking it into the garage. Faster DC charging so I could fillup in 15 mins at a 150kW charger instead of being limited to 50kW by the cars electronics, V2H connectivity (Vehicle to home) so I could sign up for cheaper off peak electricity and avoid the expensive 4-10pm period by using my car battery to run the household power during that time and then charge up again when it is cheap at 4am..... But nothing is perfect / you get what you pay for / and in 20 years time all of this will be standard on the most basic vehicles. It is coming....
 

Ozi

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@Ozi You say, " The big issue with emissions from EVs is the method of generating the power to build, use and recycle. all vehicles should be assess on full lifetime emissions. "

Agree completely - you need to watch this:

Excelent video thank you for posting.
This is one of the things that concerns me, and I will say straight away that I don't know as much as I probably should about it. It has always seemed to me that batteries are to some extent a dead end. I can't see them being viable for hgv for example. Battery weight reducing payload, turn around time for charging etc. So it has always seemed to me that hydrogen is the most sensible answer, avoids the problems associated with batteries, range, recharge time, mining the raw materials and so on. But then you have the situation where you aren't going to buy a hydrogen vehicle if there is no where to fill it up, and no one is going to build hydrogen into their forecourts when there are no cars to fill. I suppose my point is that batteries are ok for city use, but beyond that they become less and less attractive. If we decide to use hydrogen for longer haul vehicles, then wouldn't it be sensible to just settle on that technology more or less across the board, and get on with it. As I say something I need to learn more about so would be interested in the views of those who do.
One of the issues with hydrogen - of which I am a great fan - is how it is produced. It can be extracted from gas or coal using steam, a very dirty inefficient process. It can be produced by electrolysis splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen which consumes huge amounts of electricity, it then has to be compressed and transported again using huge amounts of electricity.

So why do it?
First reason. As you say current battery tech does not work for all of our current transport needs. Some of which we should probably do without (definitely for other people but I might want to see the world and eat veg from the southern hemisphere). JCB are looking to run on hydrogen, no current battery comes close to practical for them.
Second reason. Renewable power does not always arrive when and where you need it. To produce enough consistently will require energy storage. Home, commercial and vehicle batteries will become an increasing part of this, but without sufficient storage it is uneconomical to put in more generation capacity and have to dump the power at times when there is an excess to cover times of shortage. Take a look at this.


1641920264637.png


That's the last 28 days of UK power generation. Notice 16th to 21st December almost no wind and it's winter so solar is almost nil. Ten times as many wind turbines might solve the problem but please NO. If we had double the wind and solar power and could store it in the good times we would be much less dependent on imported Gas. Power stations were responsible for 15.4% of our CO2 last year.

DLDR short answer Hydrogen is expensive and inefficient compared to electricity for transport BUT has a place where batteries don't currently work, it should be rationed for those who need it.

Here's a really unpopular suggestion. Lets assume everyone who can't use public transport will have a small efficient 1/2 seat electric car. Or apply for a permit to have a larger electric vehicle if they have the justification, or if electric doesn't cover justified need they get access to the limited supply of hydrogen. I WOULD NOT WANT TO LIVE IN THAT WORLD so try to do my bit to reduce consumption where I can, currently typing on a computer with a small efficient screen in a cold room with the lights off wearing a jumper and a woolly hat - no tin foil in the hat honest.
 

Ozi

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I know it's hardly a major factor but do the tyres really wear less? Surely one of the major factors contributing to tyre wear is the weight of the vehicle and most battery electrics are damn heavy compared to an equivalent sized petrol or diesel. Not as knowledgeable in this area as I would like to be so maybe I have missed something.
Brakes definitely less wear, tyres it depends, probably not for PHEV or very little difference, probably some advantage for MHEV, SCHy it depends how you drive.
 

Ozi

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I've been thinking "what if" for a couple of years now - when I travel I actively think "what if I was doing this in an all electric car?" I would really like to embrace the future and go all electric when the current cars expire. I have confidence in the cars - not Tesla because of cost and anything that Elton Musk can send over the air software upgrades to is perhaps to be avoided - but I don't have any confidence in the charging network.

We live in a village with 1 outward bus a day (7.34 am) so we have 2 conventional IC engine cars, both a few years old but neither needing to be replaced soon. We can fill up either in any filling station in the UK or Europe. The nozzles fit. It takes 10 minutes max including paying. We can pay by any credit or debit card or cash. I don't need to have a functioning smart phone or phone signal.

Current state of EV charging is a mish-mash of different and seemingly unreliable charging points, each requiring some kind of phone app or account. Takes 40 minutes or more (much more for some). Can I charge up anywhere in UK or Europe - who knows. What does it cost? Who knows - no shiny big signs saying xx pence per KwH, from what I have seen some can be 3x the price of others.

OK then, charge overnight at home. Fine, that gives me a safe useable range of say 200 miles - 250 max unless I buy a Tesla or wait a bit. All my local trips will be fine whatever the range. Day trip for a walk along the coast, 120 miles each way, nope, marginal. Don't really want to spend 20% of my time at the destination at the one slow charging point in near the town, and it often has a queue and if the supermarket is busy the space is used by non ev cars. Visit my daughter - nope, not without finding a charging point, need a top-up charge in both directions. Visit my son, fine one way but won't do both and he lives in a city flat so no chance of charging there. Need to find one in the 'wild west' of commercial charging stations.

(Had a week in Ambleside between lockdowns last year: both EV charging points - only 2, in a major tourist town that boasts of it's net zero target - were out of order all week)

So - an EV would suit over 60% of my journeys but only 10% of my annual miles. That's an important distinction - others will find different answers. If you were running a van mostly in an inner city and doing <100 miles a day it would make a lot of sense to go electric. PHEV is a dead end unless you do very regular journeys like a daily commute within its very limited battery range: you are paying >£10k more than the conventional equivalent and off battery its consumption is worse, if you only do 10% of your miles on battery it's pointless both financially and environmentally.

I don't see any of this being thought through - and what about when we all have EVs, will the local power networks cope with every house overnight charging, will places like service stations be able to offer any kind of service on busy days like start of school holidays. Will every hotel, holiday cottage, campsite, be able to offer charging?

Government has set a target for ending the sale of IC engined cars and expects the free market to sort out charging. So far they have created a patchwork mess. We needed public investment and public sector planning to create water, sewage, phone and electricity networks (all of which were given away at way below asset value to kick start the private utilities beloved of Thatcher). Roads are for the most part state assets. To make this all work, we need state planned and maybe state owned charging networks.

I'm pretty sure we will end up with one small local EV and one IC engine car, but not until EV prices come down a bit and not until we really need to change. To go to both being EVs I will need much more reassurance that I will be able to get to my destination on long trips. I don't mind a 30 minute charging time every 3 hours - but I do mind having to search around for a charger and search around for a way to pay.

Give me a decent charging service and I will place the order for an EV tomorrow.
Can I say I don't like the PHEV concept, some are better than others but they do have one thing going for them. They have a smaller IC engine than the IC only equivalent as to accelerate they use both motors. The advantage of this is that the IC motor spends more of it's working life running at a higher proportion of it's maximum output where it operates more efficiently and in stop start traffic when battery power permits they run electric greatly reducing the emissions on city streets. I much prefer self charging hybrids and would ban the sale of any car not at least MHEV. Scratch that last comment, I would just set a minimum fuel economy and raise it each year, let the manufacturers reach it any way they chose.
 

Ozi

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I read something recently by someone who had owned an EV for a few years, and this is exactly what he did. He would make a short trip, come home, and plug the car in to recharge it. He now says this cycling the battery between, say, 100% and 80% was the wrong thing to do; it would have been better for the battery to let the charge drop lower before recharging it. Because he did not do that the maximum battery capacity had dropped considerably.
I don't know if more modern batteries would suffer from the same issue, but it could be worth checking the optimal recharge strategy.
Better than they used to be but the problem still exsists
 

Ozi

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Sitting in a moving Caterham next to an artic I can assure you it is :)
Always wanted a 7, built a Dutton Phaeton as that was what my budget ran to. Fondly remember being blown onto the hard shoulder by passing lorries.
 

Jameshow

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Can I say I don't like the PHEV concept, some are better than others but they do have one thing going for them. They have a smaller IC engine than the IC only equivalent as to accelerate they use both motors. The advantage of this is that the IC motor spends more of it's working life running at a higher proportion of it's maximum output where it operates more efficiently and in stop start traffic when battery power permits they run electric greatly reducing the emissions on city streets. I much prefer self charging hybrids and would ban the sale of any car not at least MHEV. Scratch that last comment, I would just set a minimum fuel economy and raise it each year, let the manufacturers reach it any way they chose.
Why do you prefer self charging hybrids?

All they do is increase your mpg somewhat.

At least with a phev you can plug it in and drive say 30miles on electric alone?

Cheers James
 

Cabinetman

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I have a question, if you think about an old-fashioned racing cycle with a 5 speed derailleur block on the back wheel. And compare it to an electric vehicle (Which normally doesn’t have a gearbox it’s just a direct drive) the electric vehicle is always in fifth gear, on a bicycle this is difficult to start off from standing start with, and needs quite a lot of energy to get going. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to have gears on an electric vehicle? A car is quite a heavy lump to get moving particularly uphill. And yes I know they work perfectly well without a gearbox just thinking if it would help extend the range. Ian
 

Ozi

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Why do you prefer self charging hybrids?

All they do is increase your mpg somewhat.

At least with a phev you can plug it in and drive say 30miles on electric alone?

Cheers James
True but you're carrying both transmissions around all the time. Also as a safety (crash test) engineer they are difficult to package and increase the weight range on platforms while reducing crush stroke making my job harder, don't start me on big wheels. Self charging gives you the other benefits of PHEV, the batteries and motors are much lighter and real world battery life and usage are optimized, while many PHEV users hardly ever charge the batteries odd as that sounds when you look at how much they pay for the system, I'm not saying they are bad but to me self charging is a better compromise while full electric evolves.
 

Ozi

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I have a question, if you think about an old-fashioned racing cycle with a 5 speed derailleur block on the back wheel. And compare it to an electric vehicle (Which normally doesn’t have a gearbox it’s just a direct drive) the electric vehicle is always in fifth gear, on a bicycle this is difficult to start off from standing start with, and needs quite a lot of energy to get going. Wouldn’t it be more efficient to have gears on an electric vehicle? A car is quite a heavy lump to get moving particularly uphill. And yes I know they work perfectly well without a gearbox just thinking if it would help extend the range. Ian
The torque and efficiency curves for an electric motor are very flat by comparison to an IC engine, plus even the best gearbox has losses and weight
 

Doris

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I read something recently by someone who had owned an EV for a few years, and this is exactly what he did. He would make a short trip, come home, and plug the car in to recharge it. He now says this cycling the battery between, say, 100% and 80% was the wrong thing to do; it would have been better for the battery to let the charge drop lower before recharging it. Because he did not do that the maximum battery capacity had dropped considerably.

I asked my mechanic why my battery at best is only 80% charged and if there may be a fault with the batteries. He said that the power management system makes sure that the battery is never fully charged in order to preserve its lifespan. The battery tends to discharge as much energy as it can if say I drive down a hill or down an A road by powering the car with both petrol and the electric motor.

I think if you asked the average driver to decide on how to manage the life of their battery it may not last as long....
 

Richard_C

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The Chinese MG EV for £20k (Cecil Kimber might approve, he was all about affordability) mentioned above looked like a good answer for some needs. Had a quick look, shade under £30K now for basic one, that's a big price hike in less than 2 years. Nevertheless if we can have affordable, if slightly basic, EVs it will tempt many including me to change at least one family car.

Here's a thought: buy 2 budget EVs and a car trailer. One each (assuming a couple who each want their own car at home) in normal use but for long trips put EV2 on the trailer, drag it behind EV1, 250 miles into trip swap them. 500 mile range and 2 cars when you need them, all for less than a long range Tesla🤔
 

Jameshow

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20k if brought nearly new...

When towing the range drops like brick... You wouldn't save much, just increased hassle!
 

Richard_C

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Ah, good way to buy cars, that's what I have done in recent years. Keep for 5 years or so, depreciation well controlled.

I suspect pre owned EVs are pretty rare now.
 

GarF

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I'd like to know how the power grid, locally, would cope if everyone on my street decided to go electric. I find it hard to believe that the substation wouldn't melt if everyone wanted a full recharge at 6.30pm.
 

Jameshow

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If 30m people use electric cars at 8000miles per year AVG using 2800kwh (edf website) does that mean we will use 84,000,000,000 KW of electricity which is 84GW???

Maximum we have ever used is 64gw and now sits at 42gw?

Not to mention gshp /ashp we are meant to be changing too....
 

Terry - Somerset

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Current distribution infrastructure and generation capacity would be inadequate to cope with a demand spike which assumes all cars are EV and being charged simultaneously - however:
  • it will be two decades before substantially all private cars are EV - time for capacity to evolve to meet demand.
  • a fully charged EV with a 60kWH battery will run for 180-240 miles - about average mileage. So a full charge once a week, or part charge two/three times a week is more likely.
  • EVs will be internet enabled and I suspect variable pricing whilst charging will be introduced. This will incentivise charging outside peak periods.
So the probability of entire streets deciding to charge all cars at the same time on a single evening is implausible. If they did - power cut!
 
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