Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Mpumalanga holds Electric Car Race Competition

Mpumalanga holds Electric Car Race Competition
Science learners from schools in and around Mpumalanga have constructed battery and solar operated vehicles to encourage them to venture into car manufacturing in the future. 27 teams took part in a race where the fastest car runs at 30 kilometers per hour to test the endurance of their vehicles. Organisers of the Electric Car Race Competition aim to inspire learners to study Maths and Science.

Here is what’s holding electric cars back in South Africa

Here is what’s holding electric cars back in South Africa
A rather poorly researched negatively biased article full of electric vehicle misconceptions from Business Tech. It seems they're more concerned with the potential drop in the demand for platinum as less ICE vehicles get produced and there is less need for platinum for catalytic converters for them. Below I try and counter their arguments.

  • Time to fill up/charge: It takes say 10 minutes to fill up with petrol and 5 hours for a EV. This means that petrol is 30 times more time efficient.This is simply not true. A Tesla Supercharger station will charge a Tesla Model S battery up to 50% in 20 minutes or 40 minutes to 80%. 50% charge in a Tesla should give you a 200km range. Tesla isn't yet available in South Africa but should be here within a year or two with the Model 3 and at the same time they will no doubt start to roll-out charging infrastructure as they have in the other markets they are active in. What the author means about petrol being 30 times more efficient, I don't know?
  • Range on full tank/charge: Petrol is ~1.5 times more efficient.Hmmmm... once again difficult to fully understand what point the writer is trying to put across. Electric vehicle ranges vary from 135km per charge for a Nissan Leaf to over 500km for the top of the Range Tesla Model S. Obviously someone who busy a Nissan Leaf is someone who doesn't plan doing many journeys over 135km and who's daily motoring will generally be under that mark. If you are never going to do more mileage in a day than the maximum range of your electric vehicle then you have nothing to worry about. Do whatever driving you need to do for the day, come home at night, plug your EV into the mains electricity and then in the morning it's ready to go again.
  • Price: A more affordable electric car has a range of 100 km and takes around 8 hours to fully charge at home, and even these cars are still expensive when compared to similar petrol engines. Tesla’s are 50% more expensive than similar petrol cars.Most people sleep for about 8 hours a night so of course it makes the most sense to charge your electric vehicle at the same time. Admittedly some current electric vehicles such as the two available in South Africa, the Nissan Leaf and BMW i3 do have ranges on 135km and 160km respectively on a single charge. This is probably more than enough range for 95% of the populations motoring needs. However more and more electric vehicles are coming out with ranges of 300km plus. These include the already released Chevy Bolt & Tesla Model S/X, the upcoming Tesla Model 3 and the second generation Nissan Leaf. Prices of electric vehicles are more than a comparative fossil fuel powered one but the initial extra expense will be more than made up for by saving in fuel costs after a few years. Prices of electric cars are coming down all the time and at the same time their ranges are increasing. The Tesla Model 3 should be around the same price as a BMW 3 series of Mercedes C class, so not 50% more expensive.
  • Green: In countries like South Africa (and India, Australia, China etc), where coal is the main source of fuel for power generation, the carbon footprint is roughly equal. The carbon footprint of an electric car In South Africa is five times that of an electric car in Sweden.
    Even if the carbon footprint is roughly equal, it's still better to have electric vehicles than fossil fuel powered vehicles. Besides everything else, power stations don't blow their exhaust gases straight into the faces of pedestrians and other road users, the don't create air and noise pollution in the middle of cities where most people are. At least you'd be able to walk down the side of a busy road without having to shout to make yourself heard over the noise of petrol and diesel engines and without having to breath in exhaust fumes. As electricity gets greener as solar and wind get cheaper then the carbon footprint from all EV's will also drop.
  • Heading off the beaten track (driving in the bush) is out of the question.Chobe Game Reserve in Botswana and Londolozi Game Reserve are already using electric vehicles for game drives.
  • Towing a trailer or a caravan severely restricts range.
    Just like it does with a petrol or diesel vehicle.
  • Back-yard DIY maintenance and servicing is off the table.This has to be the most nonsensical and ignorant argument of them all. An electric vehicle literally needs little or no regular maintenance, apart from topping up the window washer fluid and rotating/replacing the tyres. Compare this to modern ICE vehicles which are so complex nowadays, you have  to get them serviced by the official agents.
  • The anticipated advancements in technology is perversely a negative against buying an electric car today. There are clearly going to be great advances in EV technology in the years and decades to come. However, this will make the (expensive) car that you buy today quickly obsolete. The likelihood is that as with any technological advance, EV’s may become a more affordable alternative much later in its evolution.Quite the opposite is true. If you buy a Tesla for instance, it gets upgrades downloaded via the internet. A good example of this is the Tesla Autopilot self driving system. Most Teslas have the hardware already installed and as the Autopilot software improves, Tesla will automatically update your vehicle. If you were to buy a Tesla today, in a couple of years you'd probably have the option of the same vehicle being able to drive fully autonomously.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New car battery promises instant recharging

New car battery promises instant recharging
Exciting news in an article from Mail & Guardian. The Ifbattery has been developed by a group of researchers at Purdue University in the United States.

Unlike conventional batteries which need to be recharged, and even the quickest car chargers take at least 20 minutes to get a meaningful charge, recharging of the Ifbattery is done by first emptying the batteries used fluid contents and then refilling via a pump with freshly charged fluid.

The Ifbattery uses a mixture of water, ethanol, aluminium and zinc to cause a chemical reaction. The article says that existing petrol pumps could be retrofitted to refill batteries instead of petrol and diesel tanks. The emptied contents of the flat battery could also be recharged to be used again.

If this technology comes to fruition it would mean that recharging an electric car would take no longer than filling up with petrol. Unlike fossil fuels though, the chemical mixture being used will be fully recyclable and will be recharged and used to fill another battery. It appears to have all the benefits of an electric vehicle with all the benefits of an ICE vehicle. It's also something that gives the oil companies an incentive to get behind electric vehicles. They will still be able to keep their chains of filling stations and instead of pumping gas they'll be pumping battery fluid. Everyone appears to be a winner.

This technology would really be a benefit to countries like South Africa where major cities are far apart and at the moment there are very few charging points and as far as I know there are no charging stations on the major intercity routes.

The group of researchers working on this revolutionary battery at the moment only amounts to three people. They are looking for funding to further their research. Hopefully this won't be the last we hear of the Ifbattery.

My favourite EV related YouTube channels

Some of the YouTube channels I have discovered about electric cars. Descriptions copied from the associated YouTube page.

James Cooke My daily VLOG about all things tech. Well mainly Tesla and Drones actually... for now!

Now You Know Now You Know is a educational technology YouTube channel creating unique videos on everything from Tesla and other electric cars, to vermicomposting and banana ice cream. We use everything from drones and GoPros to our Tesla Model X to show you the world from a different perspective Zac & Jesse, along with their trusty side-kicks Bobby & Brent, are trying to leave the planet just a wee bit better than how they found it by making videos packed full of information, motivation and mirth.

Transport Evolved Welcome to the official YouTube Channel for Transport Evolved, the daily multi-media news site for the latest news in the world of greener, cleaner, safer, smarter transport.

Fully Charged Fully Charged is a weekly + series produced and hosted by Robert Llewellyn (Red Dwarf, Scrapheap Challenge, Carpool). It's not only about electric cars, bikes, boats and planes but how we generate and even own the electricity to power these machines. From looking behind the myths of renewable energy, to seeking the truth about conventional generation Robert Llewellyn demonstrates what the future could have in store for us all.

Like Tesla How is it living with the Model X? Are those doors actually functional? Are the white seats really stain resistant? In our Like Tesla family videos you'll get to see how life really is owning the Tesla Model X and living with an EV. Enjoy!

Teslanomics Hola everyone! I'm Ben Sullins and here at Teslanomics we look at the economics behind everones' favorite EV, Solar, Battery and Tunneling? Company :) Every week I break down data about someting Tesla related to see what the data really shows. From time to time I'll do reviews of Tesla related products, apps, and even other EVs. So if you like looking at the charts and love Tessla, I'd love for you to join the community!

Monday, June 12, 2017

BMW SA seeks greater govt commitment for EV expansion in SA

BMW SA seeks greater govt commitment for EV expansion in SA
CEO for BMW in Sub-Saharan Africa, Tim Abbott has called on the government to give more commitment to electric vehicles to increase consumer confidence in them.

According to Creamer Media's Engineering News BMW would like to see legislation favouring electric vehicles as well as government investment in charging infrastructure.

At present BMW SA has 54 EV charging stations and are reviewing new sites for more chargers in Gautang and Kwazulu Natal.

Pros and cons of electric vehicles in SA - reader

Pros and cons of electric vehicles in SA - reader
Excellent article by Wheels24 reader Dewald Carsterns on the advantages and disadvantages of owning an electric vehicle. Quite rightly the advantages Dewald lists far outnumber the disadvantages. I won't spoil it by going into too much detail. You can read and enjoy the full list here.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Is BMW i8 & i3 Selling Like Hotcakes in South Africa?

Is BMW i8 & i3 Selling Like Hotcakes in South Africa?
Tech Financials look at the sales of the battery electric BMW i3 and the PHEV BMW i8 in South Africa.
Since market introduction in March 2015, a total of 419 BMW i models have been delivered to customers in South Africa, according to BMW South Africa. They said in a statement that the BMW i3 alone has sold 203 units, making it the most successful EV, while the BMW i8 ranks first among PHEVs with a total of 216 units delivered to customers.
Though not mind blowing figures, they are significant amounts. It equates to just under 10 of each model per month the past two and a bit years. Considering the i3 comes in around about R600,000, depending on the variant and the i8 is a wallet lightening R1,750,000, I'd say sales are pretty impressive.

Possibly aiding sales is the commitment BMW have put into charging infrastructure in the country. They have so far 54 charging stations and have signed a memorandum of understanding with Nissan, the only other local manufacturer offering a fully electric vehicle, to jointly expand the local charging network.

This shows that both companies are showing a long term commitment to plug-in electric vehicles in South Africa. There won't be, nor should there be, mass sales of electric vehicles until the charging infrastructure is in place first. When the consumer buys an electric vehicle, he or she needs to know there are ample places to charge their vehicle. Nobody is going to buy an electric car if they don't know where they're going to be able to charge it. The last thing the electric car cause needs is frustrated consumers not being able to locate chargers or having to queue to use a charger because there are insufficient numbers of chargers.

Friday, June 2, 2017

BMW vs Mercedes - Hybrid vs Hybrid - Electric Range Challenge

BMW vs Mercedes - Hybrid vs Hybrid - Electric Range Challenge compare two PHEV (plug-in hybrid vehicles, the BMW 330e and the Mercedes C350e. They attempt to drive both 20km through Cape Town traffic on battery electric power only without having to resort to using the petrol engine.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

May in rear-view

A selection of articles from the past month.