85% of UK motorists consider buying an EV

85% of UK motorists consider buying an EV

The latest survey by Venson Automotive Solutions in the UK shows that 85% of respondents from a survey in the UK are now seriously considering buying an EV. Reading between the lines, wattEV2Buy finds it significant that range is no longer the deterring factor when prospective buyers are considering buying an EV. For long most respondents to such surveys cited range as overarching reason for not buying an EV. The considerably high percentage of respondents that considers buying an EV also dispell the notion by most auto manufacturers that there is not significant demand for such vehicles. Recently in the USA, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers wrote to President Donald Trump asking him to relax emissions benchmarks forcing them to increase EV production since there is no consumer demand supporting the demand for EV’s.

When one looks at the broader results of the survey, it is clear that a lot still has to be done to educate the general public on the advantages of EV’s. The only real deterrents are the lack of charging infrastructure. As can be expected, over 80% of female respondents cited the lack of charging infrastructure as the main reason putting them off from buying an EV, while only around 50% of males feels the same. A lot is being done by various stakeholders to address the lack of charging infrastructure and this hurdle would be a thing of the past by the end of the decade.

Below is a broader list of results from the survey and wattEv2buy’s take on dispelling the misconceptions.

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Improving range and life of your EV battery pack

Improving range and life of your EV battery pack

Changing your driving style to improve the range of your Electric Vehicle and other battery management tips.

As promised in the blog “My first date with an Electric Vehicle (EV)” I will give a few pointers on efficient driving and battery management to increase range and battery life.

There is nothing more satisfying than leaving home with a range of 150 miles (240km) available, arriving at work 50 minutes later and 35km further with the available range still being the same as when you left. How is this possible you might ask? Well, it is a combination of the engineering and adapting your driving style to suit the battery system. On the engineering front, the reactive braking system charges the battery when you take your foot off the accelerator or when braking. It takes about a day to get used to this style of driving, but once you have mastered the art of anticipating the stop-start traffic you can add (or save) about 15% on the range available from your battery (figures based on my own experience). Not only do you charge your battery during reactive breaking, the engine also serves as a brake instead of you having to use the braking system. All in all the past week’s experience proved to me that an EV is the perfect vehicle for someone who spends a lot of time in traffic.

Changing one’s driving style to suit the battery system is slightly more difficult for most of us. EV’s certainly punishes aggressive driving styles, you can literarily see your battery being drained when accelerating, which is a pity. There is nothing more fun than leaving all the gas-guzzlers in your wake, especially on the pull-away at a robot. To really understand the power of an EV at a pull-away you just have to Google for YouTube clips “Tesla vs. …“ to see how a whole host of supercars struggles against an EV. My favorite is the 2016 Tesla Model X against the 2017 Bentley Bentayga. Make sure to watch the clip to the end. The BMW ConnectedDrive app certainly helps you to change your habits by informing you how efficiently you have completed each trip. My best was 82% and, dare I say it, my worst was 16%.

Here are some pointers on how changing your driving style will increase your range and improve battery life.

  1. Don’t cut corners. A recent study by MIT and the University of Birmingham concluded that taking shortcuts is ineffective. Not only does it add 5 to 8 minutes in your own driving time it also adds to congestion which increases driving time during rush hour on average with 33% for all commuters.
  2. Stick to the Highway. EV’s prefer smooth driving conditions. Stop-start driving, accelerating and driving up hills obviously take more out of your battery.
  3. Use your car comforts sparingly. Heating and cooling drains battery power, I experienced a 15% decrease in range by just changing the heating from 21 °C to 28 °C. Higher end technically spec’d vehicles like the BMW i3 enables you to set your departure time, allowing the cabin to be heated while still on charge. Most EV’s also comes with different drive settings, whereby for instance the heating system could be disabled.
  4. Temperature has an effect on battery discharge. Excessive heat or cold will influence battery life. Lithium-Ion batteries prefer charging and operating in cool temperatures. Normal lab testing and benchmarking is done at around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). Battery operation above or below the laboratory conditions will differ from the manufacturer’s stated range. Apart from changing your driving times away from the midday heat or morning cold, which is not practical in most cases, there is nothing you can do here except to take note that temperature will impact your range. Some EV’s include liquid cooling to protect the battery pack.
  5. State of Charge (SOC) is a big influence on the battery’s life. A battery should not be charged to full and does not like to be at 100% SOC for longer than an hour or two. You will get the most out of your battery pack by keeping the SOC between 30% and 80%.

Although its sounds restrictive but in reality driving style has a bigger impact on a gas-guzzler from a financial perspective. Apart from the fuel cost, parts need to be serviced and replaced much more frequently than that of EV’s. In the end, it’s all just a mindset change of which you will reap the benefits of both the value of the battery and charging cost.

Wynand Goosen

Wynand Goosen

Contributor

Wynand studied his MBA in San Francisco where he was exposed to the fields of Service Science, Gamification, and Renewables, which he combined to create wattEV2buy and the award winning web app Ekoguru. Wynand is an energy storage expert and has modeled, designed and presented various solutions utilizing lithium-ion and other electrochemical technologies. In his spare time, Wynand is the author of a children’s book series and started a new project called “Career 180”.

Range Anxiety? What’s that?

Range Anxiety? What’s that?

I am glad to report that range anxiety is only a short-term infliction for a novice EV driver. It took only two days to overcome the fear, which I realize know is born out of ignorance or a lack of experience. I feel so confident now that I am even prepared to take up a challenge to drive the 1400km to Johannesburg, which I estimate could be done in two days.

Granted, I am driving a BMW i3 REx, which can be classified as a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), giving you that added a sense of security. Over the last four days, I have only used the combustion motor on the first day to maintain the battery’s charge level, more our of fear than necessity. In fact, the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) devised a measurement, called a utility factor to compare how different PHEV’s are used. The utility factor is a projection of the share of miles that will be driven using electricity by an average driver in full electric or blended modes for PHEV’s. The Toyota Prius, for instance, has a utility factor of only 29%, while the Chevy Volt has a utility factor of 66%. The BMW i3 REx has a utility factor of 83%, supporting my experience.

Naysayers will try and detract potential or novice EV drivers by stating that an emerging market like South Africa does not have the necessary infrastructure of charging stations to support the adoption of EV’s. I was shocked that the sales manager of one of the large luxury brands used this argument on me today when I tried to find out what EV’s of PHEV’s they have locally. He argued his brand only supplied the best technological solutions. Really? Not a good claim to make if the only PHEV in the parking area was that of your competitor. I sometimes wonder why people, in general, depend on the word of a sales representative to make crucial buying decisions. This manager knew nothing about EV’s but he was prepared to take a position against it and most buyers would have based their decision purely on his knowledge. I digress. Granted, we do not have the fast charging network to support long distance traveling, but as mentioned in my post on range anxiety, only a few people need to travel more than 100km’s a day, at the least making the case for an EV as a second family vehicle. I found that there is no real need for charging stations to detract you from your buying decision. During this last week, I traveled 70km a day to and from work, leaving me with ample range to travel about three days in total before re-fueling. When home I plug the vehicle into my normal wall outlet overnight to recharge the +/- 10kWh I used. In any case, there is already some charging stations planned or being constructed in South Africa. A recent article estimated that globally charging stations would be a $12.6Bln industry by 2022, which would attract entrepreneurs or large corporates to provide the service locally.

Perceived high electricity rates impacting on charging cost is another favorite counter argument for EV’s. South Africans don’t like to hear that our electricity is cheap, however, compared to international standards it is still very cheap. Currently, the average base charge per kWh in Europe of 0.22 equates to R3.74 at the current exchange rate, compared to about R2.30 in Cape Town. Charging 10kWh would cost around R23, which is far less than the estimated R80 per day I spend on fuel for the same distance. WattEV2Buy provides a great tool to measure the cost of charging and comparing the cost for the different EVs and PHEV’s.

Another favorite argument by naysayers is that an EV’s battery pack only last for a couple of years and a replacing a pack are expensive. Most EV manufacturers currently provide an 8 year / 150000km warranty of the battery pack. Eight years is a very long time in the life of any technology. Added to which, if one take into consideration the huge increase in lithium-ion manufacturing capacity over the next three years, you can expect big price decreases in the kWh price of batteries. Just in the last year lithium-ion battery, cell cost decreased from above $600/kWh to $145/kWh negotiated for the Chevrolet Bolt battery pack from LG-Chem. Furthermore, a couple of business plans already exist for the second live of EV batteries as stationary solutions for grid or battery home systems. Both Nissan and BMW have already announced efforts to create second life products, giving some value to the battery pack when it needs replacement. Internationally efforts are also afoot to utilize EV batteries as part of the smart grid, providing EV users an income from their batteries for being a demand response asset when charging or even as backup power for one’s own home. There are even some manufacturers that lease the battery, so you would only buy the “shell” of the vehicle, Citroen and Renault provide this service. Some critique to this business model is that some drivers are skeptical that the vehicle could be disabled should they miss a payment.

I can honesty say that for me, apart from price there is no real argument for not switching to an EV or PHEV at the least. Elon Musk has done humanity a big favor by bringing EV adoption forward. It forced all the large manufacturers to review their EV strategies. Up to 2014, there was still widespread skepticism on the future of EV’s. If one review the vehicle manufacturers strategies in 2016 as summarized on wattEV2buy, it is clear that most have changed course for PHEV’s and EV’s. Now the majority of big auto brands have a planned product mix of around 50% PHEV’s and EV’s by 2020.

There is only limited time left to classify yourself as an early adopter, within two years the decision to buy an EV would be mainstream and promoted by the marketing departments of all automakers.

In the next blog we look at how to get the most out of your EV’s battery and extending range.

Wynand Goosen

Wynand Goosen

Contributor

Wynand studied his MBA in San Francisco where he was exposed to the fields of Service Science, Gamification and Renewables, which he combined to create wattEV2buy and the award winning web app Ekoguru. Wynand is a energy storage expert and has modeled, designed and presented various solutions utilizing lithium-ion and other electrochemical technologies. In his spare time Wynand is the author of a children’s book series and started a new project called “Career 180”.

Range Anxiety

Range Anxiety

Range anxiety is probably the most common hurdle to overcome for all new Electric Vehicle (EV) owners or prospective owners. Terms like “bricking”, used when your EV is as useful as a brick when running out of energy on the highway springs to mind. Well, I can certainly attest to the fear associated with range anxiety. I am test-driving my first EV next week, an awesome BMW i3, sponsored by the friendly folks at Forsdicks BMW Tygervalley.

The fear is keeping me up at night and remains with me in my waking hours over the last couple of days. The only time I experienced range anxiety in a diesel vehicle was when we took a safari in Botswana. We trekked for 3 weeks with no fuel available in a 600mile radius, and the fuel that was available was not of the required quality, clogging my fuel filter on the way back to Cape Town. But situations like that are extreme for most vehicle owners and they have to cast their minds back to a time when they were students to recall what range anxiety felt like. Having to fuel with the couple of cents that was left after a night out.

Questions like how far the distance between my office and home is, or how would rush hour traffic influence the vehicle’s range, consume my mind. Suddenly I also remember that the power in my house was not of the right amperage for the coffee machine I bought. At the time I did not know what it meant because I failed woodwork with Julius Malema. Now it’s all coming back to me, and I fully understand what amperage is, and that I sold the coffee machine for a reason – not having an amperage of 20amps on the plug points.

When I Googled “car charging stations in cape town” I had to scroll down on the result page, past Cape Cod and some other “Town’s” to find out that there are some in South Africa, being built in Sandton, a cool 1400km (875 miles) from where I live. How I wish I were back in San Francisco, where you had a better chance of finding a charging station than a petrol station in the city. When I did the calculations the BMW i3 would be perfect for my situation, it has a 128km (80 miles) range, which is more than enough for the 36.4km ONE WAY I have to travel to and from town. Suddenly my fear is amplified, as I realize it is equal to nearly 80km a day. What happens if the car is not fully charged when I leave home in the morning? I am also acutely aware that it is winter, and a battery loses its charge quicker in the cold.

Getting back to reality, and my date with a cool BMW i3 tomorrow. I recently read that a study by the US Department of Transport found that 95% of all single-trip journeys is below 50km (30 miles) and 98% below 80km (50 miles), with only 1% above 112km (70 miles). So it is clear that the vehicle manufacturers all targets this sweet spot with Tesla setting the benchmark on the longer distances, with a 400km (250 miles) distance.

I can also take comfort in the fact that BMW, the largest vehicle manufacturer in the world and its clever engineers will not design a product that will leave its driver’s with a car that is as useful as “brick”.

All I need to do to make the next week a great experience is to have a mind shift, from how vehicles were used up to now to how vehicles would be used from now into the future.

Follow my experience as a new EV driver with the BMW i3 over the next couple of days on wattEV2buy.com and join the revolution.

 

Wynand Goosen

Wynand Goosen

Contributor

Wynand studied his MBA in San Francisco where he was exposed to the fields of Service Science, Gamification and Renewables, which he combined to create wattEV2buy and the award winning web app Ekoguru. Wynand is a energy storage expert and has modeled, designed and presented various solutions utilizing lithium-ion and other electrochemical technologies. In his spare time Wynand is the author of a children’s book series and started a new project called “Career 180”.