Reported EV sales for March 2013 were nearly twice as high as sales for March 2012, according to newly published data. Although EVs represented only one in every 200 new light vehicles sold in March, plug-in sales were at an all-time high and included the highest monthly sales for the Nissan Leaf.
Posts Tagged ‘electric cars’
Although not comparing like with like – the Leaf has been on sale in Britain for 18 months or so now, while the Prius only appeared in September – this is a very interesting breakdown of the sales figures of vehicles bought using the plug-in car grant.
The number of claims made for the Plug-in Car Grant, and validated for payment in the period January 2011 – October 2012 is broken down by vehicle type in the table below:
Ever wondered how electric vehicle insurance premiums are set? So have we.
Apparently it’s not all that different from how they are set for normal petrol and diesel cars. Thatcham – or the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre to give it its full title – provides 70% of the data that insurance companies (which also fund the not-for profit organisation) use to score a vehicle’s insurance risk. The main criteria include:
- Performance (0–60 mph time for petrol cars, and torque for diesel and electric vehicles) and power-to-weight ratio;
- top speed;
- repair times;
- cost of repair;
- new car price; and
- vehicle weight.
Added together, these make up the overall ‘insurance group rating’ (IGR), although the final rating may change to take account of specific vehicle characteristics. IGRs are merely guidelines and insurance companies are free to set their own rate for each vehicle. At the end of the process a vehicle will fall into one of 50 insurance groups.
In the case of electric vehicles, account is taken of uncertainties surrounding the battery technology. A small risk factor is applied to take into account difficulties with salvaging the batteries and simply because of the inexperience with the technology.
To give some examples: the Vauxhall Ampera falls into group 21, as does the Nissan LEAF (which initially fell into group 28 because it didn’t have an alarm system).
One interesting issue with electric vehicles is the risk of electrical faults in the home and, in the worst case scenario, your house burning down. This is covered by home insurance, not vehicle insurance. When thinking about insuring their electric vehicle, potential buyers (or indeed current owners) should therefore look at the ‘total cost of insurance’.
In any case: rest insured, people are thinking about the issues.
Just to prove that there is nothing new under the sun here is a picture of a 1901 Coumbia electric car on display at the Royal Automobile Club.
It might be described as the Renault Twizy of its day: small, fun, battery powered and slightly lacking on the door front!
The car had a top speed of 28mph and its open lead acid batteries gave a range of 45 miles with a recharge possible overnight. It could have been yours for $650. In today’s money that is very roughly £11,500, while the Twizy starts at £6,700 to buy plus battery lease fee of £480 a year.
This vehicle was first bought by Queen Alexandra to drive around the grounds of Sandringham House in Norfolk. It was later purchased by a Mr R G J Nash who made regular use of it in the 1940s when petrol was rationed.
The RAC Brighton to London Future Car Challenge is perhaps the foremost eco-car run in the world.
It is easy to see why. With more than sixty low and ultra-low carbon entries, ranging from production models available in the showroom to prototypes and concept cars, driving from the coast to the capital watched by hundreds of thousands of people, this is a showcase not just of the vehicles of tomorrow but also of today.
But what do the CO2 emission results and energy use data really tell us?
The RAC Foundation’s report The Green Charge has a few of the answers, which were explained and expanded on at the Royal Automobile Club earlier this week (watch a video of the event here). Looking solely at the data collected over the 57-mile course of 2011 Future Car Challenge:
- Electric vehicles used the least amount of energy, thanks to the superior efficiency of their power train.
- Tailpipe emissions were obviously non-existent for EVs, but on a well-to-wheel basis EVs also performed best, followed by plug-in hybrids, conventional hybrids and internal combustion engine cars.
- However these calculations depend very much on the grid carbon intensity and whether you take a rolling average, or take a figure for a specific time of day (at peak hours extra electricity demand is met through the burning of fossil fuels, whereas at night electricity is more likely to be green).
- In terms of fuel costs, EVs were the cheapest to run. This is not due to the supposed cheapness of electricity relative to petrol and diesel (which is not the case as they have roughly the same price per kWh) but due to EVs’ superior power train efficiency.
- An analysis of driving style suggests that average speed over the run had little impact on energy consumption, certainly not as much as variability of speed.
The overall winner was the Gordon Murray Design T.27. It is interesting to note that six out of the top ten most efficient vehicles were small EVs, with an average kerb weight of just under 1,000 kg, 23% less than the 1,300kg average of all participating vehicles.
You can imagine the scene. Electric vehicles suddenly take off and all of a sudden every street and every car park becomes a sea of cables as drivers attach their pride and joy to the mains.
With just 2,500 pure electric cars registered in the UK (out of a total of 28 million cars on the road) clearly we have a long way to go until we reach this stage, yet how we put juice in the batteries is an important thing to address.
If you believe Qualcomm – a telecoms giant that is turning its attention to charging EVs – then induction is the future.
The principle seems simple enough, at least according to Wikipedia:
“Inductive charging uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy between two objects. This is usually done with a charging station. Energy is sent through inductive coupling to an electrical device, which then can use that energy to charge batteries.”
The beauty of the idea is that it is ‘wireless’: there is no physical connection between the charging pad and the receiving equipment. They simply need to be in close proximity.
Qualcomm already has two cars on trial in the UK, and provided the induction charging pad used on the experimental electric Rolls Royce Phantom 102EX. It is also about to partner with taxi firm Addison Lee on a larger-scale trial.
Of course, just because the last part of the process is wireless, that does not mean you don’t need extensive cabling to distribute the electricity, but if induction charging makes the EV experience easier for consumers that has to be worth considering. What also adds to the attraction is that induction charging can work while the car is moving and driving over an induction system embedded in the road. None of this sounds cheap, but we are at that stage of EV development where there’s still everything to play for and standards and protocols are still to be set: amongst manufacturers and between nations.