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Bonkers Blog June 2018

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26 June - Electric Bexley

Bexley Council is asking residents to submit its ideas for an electric vehicle charging network. I’m not sure why any Council should be expected to provide fuelling points for BEV's (Battery Electric Vehicles) but in fact Bexley is a little behind the curve, several Councils already have a few in place, and in conjunction with private enterprise may even make a profit from it.

Presumably government thinks ‘green’ motoring should be encouraged, in Scotland most charging points are free.

I decided six months ago that when the seven year warranty on my car expires in the middle of next year I would go electric. Having studied the market very carefully I am no longer sure that I will.

Tesla ChargerMy interest was sparked by my son who is closely involved with the development of electric and autonomous vehicles and has been out in London in such a vehicle - something rather more advanced than an ordinary car. He has a Tesla on order for himself. (Photo 1.)

‘Autonomous’ is a currently a very long way from being driverless of course.

On financial grounds I don’t actually do enough motoring to justify a car at all which is why my present car is a cheap one bought new for under £10,000. Since then I have realised that if I do not spend my money the government will thieve it so I may as well waste it myself.

Even so I balk at the idea of spending well over £20,000, close to £30,000 probably, for a rather ordinary car that may not do much more than 100 miles on a full charge in the depths of winter. The batteries do not like extreme cold or extreme heat and the most popular car, the Nissan Leaf, has no battery temperature regulation. If you drive fast it not only drains the battery quickly it makes the battery hot and then it cannot be charged quickly for fear of damaging it.

You can imagine the cost of making an internal combustion engine with its hundreds of moving parts but an electric motor is just a magnet and some wires spinning around. No fuel injection, no gearbox. Simple, so why so expensive?

With any fast developing technology it is always jam tomorrow. Lots of new BEVs are on the horizon but a new Hyundai which will make an appearance in Europe any day now will cost more than twice what the petrol engined version does and the batteries are becoming relatively cheap. There will only be a few thousand of these new Hyundais for sale so orders might take a year to be fulfilled. No incentive to buy at all.

Add a few options and even a small BEV takes you through the £40,000 tax barrier and you say goodbye to the free Road Tax. The tiny and quirky BMW i3 (Photo 2) will set you back around £43,000.

To get a decent driving range from the cheaper BEVs you must trundle around at no more than a steady 50 m.p.h. on the motorway and slipstream a lorry. Even then a Leaf would not get to my son’s place in one hop so I would have to waste at least half an hour on the motorway services for a top up. A near three hour journey becomes unacceptably long.

And there is no guarantee that the top up would be available. The power connectors are not standardised and I know of four different ones. Someone might already be using the required charger or it may be blocked by e parked combustion engine car. Most likely it would be out of order. Up to half are apparently.

A BEV suits a high mileage driver who will save a fortune in fuel costs but for it to make sense the miles would have to be in and around town so as not to be too far from a charger and a back up charger. All electric cars can charge from a 13 amp socket so if you have your own drive and never go far from home an electric car is viable.

The problems disappear if you buy a Tesla because they can do about 300 miles on a charge and the Tesla charger network is fairly widespread and currently free. You won't get one under £85k. new and the Jaguar i-pace, once you have added a few options is not much cheaper.

Secondhand Teslas hold their value reasonably well but out of warranty will cost a fortune to repair - if you can get hold of the spare parts.

Rule me out.

I like the idea of instant torque, the more expensive electric cars will get from 0-62 m.p.h. in around four seconds, some more like two. The cheaper models are comparatively ordinary.

I hope Bexley Council can find a partner who will install some charging points that charge a reasonable price. Juice is 30 pence per Kilowatt Hour at my local Shell garage plus a connection charge and a £10 fine for charging too slowly. Not attractive at all.

Note: There was supposed to be a very different sort of blog today but an old lady in East Ham managed to find the fuse box that supplies her kitchen with electricity, decided it was something new and unknown and turned it off. Then reported the fridge was broken!


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