UK National electric car charging network opens

Green energy firm Ecotricity announced the launch of a national electric car charging network across the UK yesterday.

In fact, it’s a world first – no other country has a nationwide charging network at present.

Although the networks only half built, with 12 Welcome Break motorway service stations offering the charging points, another 17 are in the pipeline for completion by next year.

Opponents of Electric vehicles will no longer be able to say their range is restrictive.

The charging points, supplied by renewable energy sources, will offer two modes of charging – a normal ‘3 pin’ 13A supply suitable for overnight charging and a ‘7 pin’ 32A supply which Ecotricity reckon will ‘top up’ a car’s charge in around 20 mins, with full charging times of around an hour.

Not all current electric cars are compatible with the fast charge technology, but it’s only a matter of time.

Despite Government subsidies of up to £5,000 towards the cost of a new electric vehicle, many buyers are still put off by the still high cost when compared with their petrol or diesel counterparts.

Just 2,000 cars on UK roads are electric, from 5 current manufacturers.

photo credit: nrmadriversseat

Electric cars are cool…

Style icon Dr Who reckoned Fez’s were cool.

Now radio DJ Mark Goodier has said his kids reckon their new Nissan Leaf electric car is cool too.

But what’s really bought a smile to Mark’s face is the fact that it’s not costing him anything to re-charge his electric car thanks to a solar panel installation on the roof of his garage.

According to the Sunday Mail (Glasgow), it’s the first solar powered vehicle in the UK.

The DJ even reckons there’s enough energy left over from charging his family car, to export back to the Grid, making his overall cost savings around £25,000.

The Leaf (as driven by Mark) has a range of around 100 miles on a full charge and a top speed of 90mph.

photo credit: nikki bean

New Energy tariffs for electric vehicle owners

Yesterday, we reported on how DJ Mark Goodier had not only taken delivery of an all electric Nissan Leaf motor car, but that he was also using a solar panel installation to charge it, saving even more money.

British Gas and NPower have both announced plans to launch new tariffs aimed at encouraging electric car ownership.

British Gas’s tariff which uses a cheaper off-peak tariff reckons owners will pay just £6 to charge their car, compared with a typical petrol cost of over £65 for a 50litre tank.

Based on an average 10,000 miles a year, they reckon the average owner could cut £1,200 from their annual fuel costs.

The tariffs aren’t expected to be available until 2012 but British Gas is apparently trialling the scheme this Summer. Anyone interested in taking part should email evenquiries@britishgas.co.uk.

It’s long been the argument of environmentalists and those in the green energy generation industry that electric vehicles were only truly as green as the energy that powered them and in the longer term, it may pay dividends to get in early, make full use of the feed-in tariffs and generate your own charge via a solar panel array.

photo credit: derek tait

Solar panels can offset electric vehicle charging – ‘greenly’ and cheaply

Electric cars still in their infancy…

The Energy Saving Trust this week reported that British Gas has launched a scheme to install electric car charging points in homes and businesses, in a new deal with Nissan.

Nissan currently produce the Nissan Leaf.

The utility company is also urging owners of electric vehicles to consider charging them with renewable energy.

Using non-renewably generated power means your ‘green’ car isn’t as green as it could be.

In January, we wrote about the Government’s £5000 grant scheme for electric vehicle purchases (click here).

It makes perfect sense to recharge electric vehicles with renewable energy so expect similar tie-ins and deals between utility / solar panel installation companies and electric vehicle manufacturers in the future.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little deal sweetener involved when buying an electric vehicle for discounts off of installing solar panels etc?

Whether you’re installing solar panels to generate electricity for your re-chargeable car or your home, getting an idea of cost is a great first step and our Solar Panel Quoter website can give you just that, in minutes, online without the need for a salesman to call on you.

photo credit: anyjazz65

Finally – Green cars will get Green Electricity

Our regular readers will know that we like to feature articles and stories on green transport – particularly green cars and electric car programmes.

However, the problem with ‘electric cars’ has always been how the electricity that’s used to re-charge them is produced.

In the past, the ‘juice’ has usually come from the usual fossil fuel sources as our own day to day electricity does.

However, a report by Green Wise Business suggests that the ‘green fuel’ situation for electric cars is about to change.

Green Motion (UK) are set to launch a network of electric vehicle re-charging points, where the electricity has been produced by renewable means.

The company is teaming up with Green Energy (UK) plc to provide the energy.

Green Motion’s network has been designed with the flexibility to take on new formats and charging rates as well as providing opportunities for battery diagnostics and online servicing in the future.

photo credit: clyde robinson

£43m electric car initiative has begun.

Just before Christmas, the Government announced the details of the first nine electric cars that are now eligible for a grant of up to £5000 under the subsidy scheme which started on the 1st January.

Buyers of the nine vehicles will be able to get a discount / subsidy of up to £5000.

However, as a BBC report pointed out (read it here), only 3 of the chosen cars are currently available with some not following until 2012.

At the moment, car buyers have a choice of the Mitsubishi i_MiEV, the Smart fortwo electric drive and the Peugeot iOn

Critics have claimed that the prices of the new models will make them unattractive to new car buyers – the Mitsubishi is £24,000 after the £5000 subsidy.

The Government also announced new locations getting a share of £20m to build networks of charging points in the Midlands, Greater Manchester, the east of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

This compliments charging stations schemes in London, Milton Keynes and the north-east of England.

Brighton recently completed its own network of charging points.

For me, whilst electric vehicles may ‘appear’ more environmentally friendly, there are three big issues that still need to be addressed:

1) The cost of electric vehicles against similar sized conventional fuelled models.

2) The distance they can travel on a full charge and the re-charging time / availability of charging point networks.

3) The electricity we’re charging them with hasn’t been produced from renewable sources.

What’s your take? Are electric vehicles the next ‘white elephant’? Do you expect sales to be good or bad? We’d love to know – leave your comment here.

photo credit: frank hebbert

Infrastructure first – green cars afterwards – in Brighton & Hove

Like 101 Dalmatians where Roger is humming his latest tune and reminds his wife – “melody first”, so it must be the same when you’re trying to encourage a green vehicle solution.

It’s all very well having an electric car but if there’s nowhere to recharge, then it becomes about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

The problem comes in funding a recharging network, sufficient enough to put potential users minds at rest that they will be able to recharge during a journey, and encourage purchase.

So I felt a little sorry for Brighton & Hove officials who have plans to complete a 16 charging point installation scheme by the end of this year.

Despite the fact that so far (reportedly), there are only 3 electric cars in the vicinity.

Still, at least they won’t have to queue at the ‘pumps’.

photo credit: landkaproperty

New London congestion charge rules will clobber ‘green’ prius

“is it me or does the Congestion Charge symbol
look like the Mysterons on Captain Scarlett?”

I was reading a piece about the dramatic fall of electric cars in the UK – down by 90% in 2009 compared with 2007 peak year.

That drop means just 55 ‘green cars’ were registered during 2009.

For anyone thinking that ‘green cars’ were going to revolutionise road transport in the UK and provide an answer to the gas guzzling petrol heads, it’s a bitter blow.

And as if that wasn’t bad enough, buried away at the bottom of the piece was a line about the Mayor of London’s confirmation of new congestion charge rules, that means vehicles like the 1st generation Toyota Prius will not be eligible for escaping the congestion charge.

That could affect 60,000 owners of hybrid cars. That’s the real story here – not a bunch of manufacturers charging £28k for their latest electric car offering.

Now who’s putting the boot in?

photo credit: surprise truck

Electric and Hybrid cars – small sales still make big difference

Whilst reading GreenBeat the other day, I came across an article related to electric cars and hybrid vehicles and how a report in another American publication had, in the author’s eyes, missed several points.

What struck me reading the article is that amongst the industry news of who’s producing what models and when they’ll be available to buy etc, compared against the production hurdles of bringing a new vehicle to market (on average 5 years), was a lot of detail about current buying habits, that could address many of the concerns surrounding alternatively fuelled cars.

As the commentator points out, the issue of range and the necessity of being able to ‘just go’ rather than waiting for a vehicle to charge e.g a midnight dash to the hospital, which puts many people off buying hybrid or electric vehicles is really mute.

He goes on to explain that when you look at the general car habits of families, they very often have two (or more cars) and whilst it would make perfect sense to make one of those an electric vehicle, logistics alone would probably still make the other vehicle purchase a traditional fuel burning one.

He argues that families will plan their outings with regards to what vehicle they use with the same consideration as they do now – number of seats, terrain, distance etc.

And when you look at the sheer numbers of vehicles presently on the roads, then even a 1% shift to hybrid or electric powered cars makes a huge difference, and one that will only increase.

Producers are currently talking about a 2% of global sales being hybrid/electric cars by 2020 – that’s still 2 million vehicles and some analysts are predicting a 10% uptake / shift once the world loses the “baggage” of the hybrid “label”.

It’s certainly thought provoking stuff and filled me with enormous hope. You can read the full article here.

photo credit: treehugger

Electric car charging station programme may escape cuts


Further to our post last week about the number of electric car grants being cut by the Government (see more here), I spotted this snippet in the Guardian a few days later.

Basically, the Government’s spending review is rumoured to be saving the Plugged-in Places scheme, whereby the groundwork would be laid for charging points across the UK.

The Guardian understands that the plans have been approved in principle although details of funding and logistics have yet to be confirmed.

With London, Milton Keynes and the North East already enjoying a share of an £8.8million match fund from the Department of Transport, the motor industry and electric car manufacturers in particular are watching very closely after putting the Government under pressure and could reverse their decisions to build / locate electric car plants in the UK if the charging scheme doesn’t get the backing.

There are apparently just 100 charging points currently in the UK.

Read the Guardian’s full report by clicking here. It’s well worth a read.

photo credit: whatleydude