Friday, July 21, 2017

Eskom establishes large-scale battery test and demonstration facility

Eskom establishes large-scale battery test and demonstration facility
Not actual electric vehicle news but EV related news. Creamer Media's Engineering News reports that South African power utility Eskom has unveiled a battery testing and demonstration facility at Eskom’s Research and Innovation Centre in Rosherville, Johannesburg. The purpose of this facility is to compare different types of battery storage to help support the grid and also store renewable energy sources such as solar.

This will be especially relevant for the inevitable imminent increase in the number of electric vehicles on the roads. One of the common criticisms of electric vehicles by South Africans is that our power grid has been notoriously unreliable over the past decade. Obviously for electric cars to be viable a reliable source of electricity is vital. With Eskom now looking at power storage systems it looks like we are on the way to having a more stable grid.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

On-The-Air (14/07/2017)

On-The-Air (14/07/2017)
A very pro-mining interview with Martin Creamer, publishing editor of Engineering News and Mining Weekly clean energy vehicles. In particular he is championing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles because they, like catalytic converters for internal combustion engines, require platinum which South Africa is by far the biggest producer of.

As I've said many times before hydrogen fuel cell vehicles make very little sense. Unlike battery electric vehicles that can be charged anywhere there is a electric plug socket, fuel cell vehicles need to be filled at a pump, at the moment there are very few of these, and most of them are concentrated in either California or Japan. Creamer claims in the interview that fuel cell cars can get a range of 500km, the latest fully electric Tesla Model S already has a 500km+ range so why is there the need for the added complexity of a fuel cell when a simple battery electric powertrain is capable of the same range.

Battery technology is also improving at an exponential rate and at the same time prices of battery cells are dropping. Where around $35,000 would only get you an electric car with roughly 100 mile range a year ago, it will now get you one with over 200 mile range in the case of the Chevy Bolt and the new Tesla Model 3. Before the end of the year the new Nissan Leaf should also be offering a similar range at a similar price to these two. At this rate it won't be too long before the average affordable electric car has a plus 300 mile (500km) range.

Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will also require regular servicing due to the added complexity whereas battery electric vehicles require virtually no major maintenance checks.

In the end the consumer will decide and no doubt they will decide they would rather have the simplicity and low running costs of an electric vehicle.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Plans in California and China will change SA’s car choices

Plans in California and China will change SA’s car choices
Insightful article from News24. South Africa makes up only 0.68% of the global car market and because of this, whatever direction the global car market goes, we will have to follow.

China accounts for about 40% of the world's new car market and California sells roughly half the total number of light vehicle sold in the entire US. Representatives from California recently met with their Chinese counterparts to discuss how they can cooperate in accelerating the deployment of zero-emission cars, trucks and buses.

The Chinese Youxia X is one of the more
elegant electric cars being built in China.
With these two markets being so large and important to the world's car manufacturers it goes without saying that manufacturers will build suitable vehicles that comply with the regulatory demands of these regions. In other words California and China are going to force the auto industry to go electric and the rest of the world will be obliged to follow suit.

The South African car manufacturing industry and government should be paying close attention to this and take it upon themselves to roll-out adequate charging infrastructure before the inevitable mass arrival on our roads of electric vehicles. Obviously it's not going to happen overnight but at least they can start putting charging points along major routes and incentivising places such as shopping mall's restaurants and hotels to put in destination chargers so electric vehicle owners can charge up their cars while visiting such establishments.