Tag: Electric Cars

Electric Cars Could Soon Be Charged In Seconds With New ‘Flow Battery’

A revolutionary new battery technology could allow electric cars to be fully charged in seconds, instead of the hours it currently takes.

Developed by chemists at the University of Glasgow, the ‘flow battery’ contains a liquid filled with nano molecules that can release energy as either electrical power or hydrogen.

As opposed to its solid form, the liquid nano molecules have two clear benefits for electric cars. The first is that it can store up to ’10 times’ the energy as its solid counterpart. The second is that it could in theory allow electric cars to be charged in seconds.

For example when a car needs to be charged the liquid can simply be pumped out of the vehicle and exchanged for charged liquid in much the same way that you would fill up a car with fuel.

The old battery fluid would then be charged and made ready to be used in another car.

Professor Leroy (Lee) Cronin, the University of Glasgow’s Regius Chair of Chemistry lead the team who made the discovery.

“Our approach will provide a new route to do this electrochemically and could even have application in electric cars where batteries can still take hours to recharge and have limited capacity,” explained Professor Cronin.

While it is becoming quicker and easier to charge an electric car the simple truth is that it can still take several hours to fully recharge a vehicle with a range of only a few hundred miles.

The introduction of new ultra-fast charging stations around the country in the future will help to alleviate this but the team at Glasgow believe that their liquid battery solution could solve the problem permanently.

In addition, because it’s a hybrid system the liquid can be used for both electric cars and hydrogen cars which turn the substance back into electricity.

Renault Zoe 2018 Review: So Good You’ll Forget It’s Electric – HuffPost Verdict

K E Y   P O I N T S

  • The new Renault Zoe 2018 is a fully electric car with a powerful new R110 motor and a real-world range of around 180-miles.

  • It’s the smallest of the electric cars but it’s also the cheapest, with the base Dynamique Nav model costing just £18,420. By comparison Nissan’s cheapest Leaf starts at around £21,990.

  • You get a fantastic amount as standard including a 7-inch touchscreen with TomTom navigation, rear parking sensors, automatic lights, DAB radio, keycard entry system and cruise control.

  • It feels great to drive in the city thanks to its incredibly light, precise steering and perky acceleration at low speeds.

  • The Zoe is less suited to motorways thanks to sluggish performance a high-speeds and some stability issues when hitting bumps or dips.

  • The touchscreen multimedia system is hit and miss. TomTom navigation is great but annoyingly every time you go past a speed camera an audible alert temporarily pauses the music you’re playing. It’s infuriating.

  • Interior feels a bit cheap however the Zoe has a huge boot that beats even the Clio for storage space.

V E R D I C T

The Renault Zoe might not get as much publicity as the Tesla Model S or the Nissan Leaf but it has quietly been winning the public over to the idea of electric cars since 2013.

This new 2018 model is the culmination of years spent working towards what feels like its single objective: for you to forget that you’re driving an electric car.

This new model comes with Renault’s new R110 electric motor and its 40kW battery. Combined this gives you acceleration of 0-60 in 11.9 seconds and a real-world range of around 180-miles.

Despite those sluggish figures the Zoe felt incredibly nippy around the city, thanks in part to that instant acceleration you get from an electric motor.

Where the Zoe struggled was at higher speeds. It is not by any means an overtaking car and putting your foot down on the motorway provides you with only a small speed increase and a very large drop in range.

Renault claim this little five-door supermini has a range of around 186-miles. Over the week it became clear that by keeping the Zoe at low speeds up to around 50-60mph you can easily get 150-160 miles per charge. Go even a few mph higher though and the range can start to drop dramatically, at one point on the A12 we were losing around 2 miles of range for every real-world mile.

This tale of two halves applies to the handling as well. As we drove through London and then Colchester, the Zoe felt in its element. That zippy electric acceleration combined with its effortlessly light steering made navigating both urban centres a complete doddle. The suspension was also very forgiving, absorbing all but the worst road bumps without too much drama.

Out on the motorway and it’s a different story. Hit a dip or bump at around 65mph and you’ll be acutely aware of it. The car’s light steering also starts to play against it as well, taking away some of that connection to the road’s surface.

The Zoe’s interior is simple, modern and feels like it was made for handling everyday life. There’s acres of plastic so while it doesn’t exactly look premium, it does feel capable of handling trainers up on the dashboard or the occasional spilled drink.

The seats are comfy enough however one thing that almost immediately annoyed me is the fact that you can’t change the height of the driver’s seat. It’s a baffling omission, especially when you then can’t change the angle of the TFT colour display behind the wheel.

This meant that for most of the journey I had to ever so slightly dip my head just to see what my current range was.

The Zoe comes with a 7-inch multimedia system with TomTom navigation as standard. On paper it’s a great package, but in reality the system is very hit and miss.

The positives are that the screen is bright, responsive and relatively easy to use. You also get Android Auto which means if you have a compatible Android smartphone you can use a whole range of apps through the car from Spotify to Google Maps. Sadly there’s no Apple CarPlay support.

The TomTom navigation system is excellent, if a little fiddly to use. It also comes with a number strange quirks the most annoying of which is the speed camera warning system.

Any time you have audio playing (in our case an iPhone through a USB cable) the car will temporarily pause the audio to play a loud alert when you get near a speed camera, it then goes silent for three seconds and finally resumes the music. After just a few speed cameras this becomes quite remarkably annoying.

I did eventually turn it off, however you then have to do it every single time you get into the car. Yes it’s a small issue but it’s one that becomes annoying very quickly.

What we can very much recommend is the optional £350 Bose sound system. Considering how much high-end sound systems cost on most cars this not only feels pretty reasonable, but it sounds absolutely superb. Small warning though, it does take up a little bit of space in the boot for the bass speaker.

Located behind the Renault badge at the front is a Type-2 connector for charging. Our model charges from 0-100% in a little over 7 hours using the installed wall socket at home. That goes down to just 4 hours if you use a 11kW public charger and just 2 hours 40 mins if you use the 22kW rapid chargers found in most service stations.

If you want an even quicker charge time at those service stations you can pay £750 extra for Renault’s Q90 Chameleon charger which supports up to 43kW and a charging time of 1 hour 50 minutes.

Finally, one of the reasons the Zoe is cheaper than its rivals is because you don’t actually own the battery. Instead you’re leasing it from Renault for around £59 per month.

Yes that’s a lot of money but when you factor in weekly fuel costs (just £5 to charge the Zoe) and the fact that Renault will service or replace the battery for free should it fail you’re actually getting a pretty good deal.

S P E C I F I C A T I O N S

  • Car tested: Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav R110 Z.E.40
  • Engine: 40kWh battery
  • Range: 186-miles
  • Top Speed: 89mph
  • 0-60mph: 11.9 sec
  • Cost: The model I drove costs £19,770
  • Features: This model came with metallic paint (£650), Bose premium sound system (£350), 17-inch alloy wheels (£310) and purple interior touch pack (£175) as added options.

T A K E   H O M E   M E S S A G E

The Renault Zoe isn’t perfect. It struggles on the motorway, features some questionable interior design decisions and has a multimedia system that’s obsessed with speed cameras.

What it gets right though far outweighs these negatives. It’s absolutely fantastic for everyday driving, whether it’s the school run, going shopping or popping into town. The light steering, instant speed and fantastic boot space mean that for 99% of the time you’re driving it you’ll forget that this is an electric car. 

Instead this is a brilliant little supermini that’s great for the environment and thanks to its low charging costs, could be just as great for your finances over the long run.

Road Signs Could Be Ditched And Beamed Straight To Your Car

Highways England are reportedly trialling an innovative new system where instead of using physical road signs, all the traffic information is beamed straight to your car.

The technology works using the next generation of phone signals known as 5G and would allow cars to be given the latest speed limits, accident warnings and the latest traffic information.

Physical road signs might be vital, but according to Auto Express, Highways England believes that this new system could make the roads safer to use,

Many modern cars now have digital dashboards and touchscreens and can be updated with live information at a moments notice.

Many modern cars already use primitive versions of this technology to pull through the latest speed limits whether it’s beamed to the car or recognised by the car’s sign-recognition cameras.

The trial will take place from 2018 all the way through to December 2025 on the A2 and M2 on the way to Dover.

Sadly the public won’t be able to take advantage of the technology, instead specially equipped vehicles will be travelling up and down the motorway testing it for accuracy, reliability and more.

In much the same way that fibre optic broadband is considered the next generation of internet speeds, 5G will soon replace 4G as the future of mobile networks.

With companies like EE working on the infrastructure and handset manufacturers like LG and Samsung working on 5G smartphones the technology might not be as far off as 2025.

Cars however have a habit of moving at a much slower pace than smartphones, so while Highways England might be testing a 5G connected car now it’s unlikely we’ll see them tearing down road signs any time soon.

That being said, if the trial is a success and the advent of self-driving cars it’s not a future that can be completely ruled out.

Road Signs Could Be Ditched And Beamed Straight To Your Car

Highways England are reportedly trialling an innovative new system where instead of using physical road signs, all the traffic information is beamed straight to your car.

The technology works using the next generation of phone signals known as 5G and would allow cars to be given the latest speed limits, accident warnings and the latest traffic information.

Physical road signs might be vital, but according to Auto Express, Highways England believes that this new system could make the roads safer to use,

Many modern cars now have digital dashboards and touchscreens and can be updated with live information at a moments notice.

Many modern cars already use primitive versions of this technology to pull through the latest speed limits whether it’s beamed to the car or recognised by the car’s sign-recognition cameras.

The trial will take place from 2018 all the way through to December 2025 on the A2 and M2 on the way to Dover.

Sadly the public won’t be able to take advantage of the technology, instead specially equipped vehicles will be travelling up and down the motorway testing it for accuracy, reliability and more.

In much the same way that fibre optic broadband is considered the next generation of internet speeds, 5G will soon replace 4G as the future of mobile networks.

With companies like EE working on the infrastructure and handset manufacturers like LG and Samsung working on 5G smartphones the technology might not be as far off as 2025.

Cars however have a habit of moving at a much slower pace than smartphones, so while Highways England might be testing a 5G connected car now it’s unlikely we’ll see them tearing down road signs any time soon.

That being said, if the trial is a success and the advent of self-driving cars it’s not a future that can be completely ruled out.

Volvo’s First Fully Electric Car Will Have A 350-Mile Range

Volvo’s COO Jonathan Goodman has finally spilled some of the beans about the company’s highly-anticipated first fully electric car.

Speaking to Autocar, the executive revealed that rather than use Volvo’s branding, the Tesla-rival will reportedly be called the Polestar 2 with a design that’s heavily based on the company’s stunning 40.2 concept.

It will reportedly boast an impressive 400bhp and feature a 350-mile range putting it ahead of the Model 3 and even Jaguar’s brand-new I-Pace SUV.

Despite these rather enviable figures Goodman says it will still only cost between £30,000-£50,000 placing it smack bang in the middle bracket of the current electric car lineup.

While £30,000 isn’t exactly budget, it does put the Polestar 2 in contention with the likes of Tesla’s Model 3 and even at a squeeze Nissan’s top-of-the-range Leaf.

The Swedish carmaker has been particularly bold in its plans to adopt electric vehicles, promising that starting next year it would only make and sell new cars that are either fully electric or feature a hybrid motor. No other established car brand has made that claim.

The Polestar 2 then will just be the first of what will be a new range of electrified vehicles from the Swedish car manufacturer.

Earlier this year Volvo unveiled the Polestar 1, a stunning hybrid interpretation of the classic American muscle car featuring a combined electric motor and petrol engine that will give it 600bhp.

This is no novelty hybrid engine either thanks to a large 34kWh battery that will give the Polestar 1 almost 93-miles of purely electric range should you want to go all-in on the eco-friendly driving.

Half Of Young People Are Ready To Embrace The Electric Car ‘Revolution’

Younger people are far more likely to want to buy an electric car but are being put off by “barriers” to running them, new research by the AA has suggested. 

Half of drivers aged 25-34 said they’d like to own an electric car, compared to 40% aged 18-24 and 40% aged 35-44, the AA said.

The proportion reduced to a third of people aged 45-54 and just a quarter of people aged over 65, indicating younger drivers are far more likely to adopt electric cars. Overall, 35% of all respondents said they expected to own an electric car within 10 years. 

“The younger generation in particular are ready to embrace the electric revolution,” Edmund King, AA president said.

However, the AA said the “vast majority” of people surveyed think there aren’t enough public charging points, and three quarters worry an electric car can’t go far enough on a single charge and are also too expensive. 

The government plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 as part of its Road to Zero strategy to cut down on sometimes dangerously high air pollution. Currently, alternatively-fuelled vehicles, such as hybrids and pure electrics, hold just 5.5% of the UK’s new car market.

But as the AA research indicates, a lack of charging points could be a problem.

The mass market appeal of ultra-green vehicles may be restricted without widespread, reliable and easy-to-use charging points, a separate recent report by RAC warned.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling set out a range of proposals earlier this week aimed at addressing this, including plans to assess whether new homes and offices should be required to install charging points as standard and whether street lights should be fitted with charging points.

King added: “In order to meet the government’s Road to Zero targets a concerted effort is required to demonstrate the benefits of electric vehicles and dispel some of the myths.

“The range, charging speed and charging point infrastructure are all on the increase. There needs to be a more concerted effort by us all to sell the benefits of electric vehicles.

“The electric vehicle revolution hasn’t perhaps taken off as quickly as we would have liked but now we have a firm commitment to the charging infrastructure.”

Electric Cars Are The Future. Here’s Why You Should Be An Early Adopter

The chances of your next car being electric are pretty high.

The Government has committed to prohibiting the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040 – although there’s serious motivation to bring this forward, with a March 2018 report from Vivid Economics on behalf of the WWF predicting that a 2030 phase out could result in the UK could becoming the dominant location of electric vehicle (EV) sales in Europe. Right now, Norway are the ones to beat – in 2017 nearly a third of all new cars sold in the country were petrol-free. 

And this is all good news in terms of cutting our carbon: the majority of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions now come from transport, which contribute 26% of our total, according to the latest Government figures.

Adopting more eco-friendly cars is a key part of the puzzle, when it comes to meeting climate targets – the Government’s advisory Committee on Climate Change has previously said that transport emissions need to fall 44% by 2030 to keep the UK on track to meet its goals.

Change is happening. UK sales of EVs have risen 11% on last year, there were 1.2 million EVs in use globally in 2016 andThe Bloomberg New Energy Finance report 2017 stated that: “Tumbling battery prices mean that EVs will have lower lifetime costs, and will be cheaper to buy, than internal combustion engine (ICE) cars in most countries by 2025-29.” All good news. 

As to the benefits of switching to an EV? They’re serious. Liverpool-based EV driver Chris Dankshas owned three petrol-free cars and says he would never return to a gas-powered model.

I drive around 20,000 miles a year, and with the ever-rising price of petrol, it was costing me a lot of money each month to fill up my car. I now own a Tesla, and it costs me around £2-3 to fill my car,” he told HuffPost UK. Add on to this the fact that there is no road tax on EVs and it’s clear that there are serious savings to be made.

(On this, theGo Ultra Low campaign – a national effort to encourage the adoption of EVs – is an invaluable resource when it comes to seeing the benefits of going green, as well as where to charge up – plus information on the potential of EVs for UK business.)

Another reason to get on the EV hype early? The chance to try a whole other way of transport. Step up: electric motorbikes.

Richard Jordan, director of Super Soco, supplies 22 motorcycle dealers with his brand, which has been dubbedthe ’Tesla of motorbikes.

“Our bikes are legally the same as a 50cc motorbike, so they’re light, nimble and nippy through traffic – the ideal commuting machine.”

“Cost per mile is tiny – around 1p – so commuting into London costs under 10p, compared with a travelcard cost of around £7 per day [based on a weekly card]. The battery is removable, so can be charged from the wall at work, or at home.”

As to any downsides? For Nayan Patel, an engineer in autonomy, advanced sensing and electrical research at Jaguar Land Rover, one issue around moving to EVs is the question of charging. 

“The number of charging locations in the UK desperately needs improving. Due to the limited miles available per charge, more frequent charging spots are needed,” Patel, who is also developing an A-level electronics course at Learn Dojo, told HuffPost UK. (There are currently 14,344 charging points in the UK, according to ZapMap, which monitors the country’s network of charging connectors. The points serve around 132,000 vehicles.)

“There have been discussions about charging lanes, which would allow drivers to drive across a specially made road which allows wireless charging, but this would require more infrastructure,” she added. 

So: getting an EV is great, with the only potential barrier in place being a current lack of charging points. But this slight niggle could present an innovative way to upgrade how green your business is.

Energy provider E.ON is already offering charging solutions, which are all powered by renewable energy, designed for businesses with destination charging. We’re talking retailers, hotel and leisure destinations and large car parks, looking for larger numbers of charging points, to satisfy the increase in demand.

Not only does this mean being a part of the switch to electric, but they’re also a chance for businesses to showcase sustainable practices by transitioning to cleaner energy.

As to what Danks would say to anyone thinking about going electric and creating an EV charging hub?

“Go for it. Say ‘goodbye’ to exhaust fumes and ‘hello’ to zero road tax.”

Electric Cars: How Long Do They Take To Charge And How Much Does It Cost?

Buying a new electric car is a huge decision, not least because they’re still so expensive.

Unlike petrol or diesel cars, charging plays an important role in the purchase. Electric cars take hours to fully charge, while a petrol car which can be filled up in minutes.

Then there’s the question of how much the vehicle costs to charge. With so many different charging companies dotted around the country it can be difficult to know the definitive cost of charging your car compared to plugging it in at home. 

The good news is that whether you’re out and about or at home, charging an electric car is much cheaper than paying for fuel. So while this new world can take a bit of getting used it, it’s absolutely worth it in the long run.

In order to take advantage of this though, you will have to get your head around how electric car charging works. It’s a bit fiddly, but once you understand it the whole process will feel like second nature.

Charging speed

In the UK there are four types of charging speed, each gives you increasing amounts of electricity and so in turn will charge your car faster. They supports various types of plugs as well, as sadly they’re not all the same.

3.7kW and 7kW: These are the most common types of charger and can be found in homes, car parks, street parking and in supermarket car parks. All electric cars can use these, you might need an adaptor but you’ll get one with the car. 

22kW: This is a much faster form of charging but is rarer to find. They’ll often be located in dedicated petrol stations or motorway service stations.

43kW: This one of the fastest speeds available for anyone who just has a standard Type 2 connector. If you want to go faster you’ll need a car that supports either CCS or CHAdeMO.

50kW: This is the upper limit currently for any car that isn’t a Tesla. Only cars that have CCS or CHAdeMO can support 50kW. They’re rare, and are usually only found in motorway service stations or in special charging locations within a city.

120kW: This speed is only available to Tesla vehicles (currently) and it’s only available if you use one of Tesla’s 40+ Supercharger stations which are dotted around the country.

Charging connectors

There are four types of charging connector depending on which car you use. Don’t panic they’re usually all compatible with each other in some way and if they do the car manufacturer provides all the adaptors you’ll need. 

Important: Which charging connector you’ve got will determine which charging speed you can use.

Type 2

This is by far the most common type of plug, it’s found in everything from the BMW i3 to the Tesla Model S. Type 2 supports everything up to 22Kw.

CCS

This is essentially Type 2 but with an additional port beneath it for rapid charging. Any car that supports CCS supports 3kW, 7kW, 22kW and 50kW.

CHAdeMO

This is a rival rapid charging pin and is found on the Nissan Leaf ad on Peugeot electric vehicles. If your car uses CHAdeMO it’s likely to support 3kW, 7kW, 22kW and 50kW but you’ll just be using a different plug.

Tesla

Tesla uses a standard Type 2 connector but because they have their own exclusive Supercharger stations the Tesla can support charging speeds up to a whopping 120kW.

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

It completely depends on the type of car (and charging port) but thankfully with such a limited amount of electric car models on the road, it’s relatively easy to work out a rough charging time for each car.

The new Nissan Leaf takes around 7.5 hours to fully charge using just a 7kW charger. If you use CHAdeMO then you’ll go from 20-80% in around an hour.

BMW’s new i3 can charge fully in around 4 hours through a 7.4kW charger at home. Of course thanks to its fast-charging CCS port you can charge it even faster at a service station or compatible CCS charging outlet.

The Tesla Model S 75D takes around 8 hours to charge fully using Tesla’s Wall Charger at home. If you’re using one of the Supercharger stations that plummets to under 2 hours.

If you’re thinking of going for Jaguar’s new I-Pace then it’ll take around 12 hours to fully charge. Again the I-Pace does support rapid charging so if you’re at a service station or car park it’s likely it’ll be much, much quicker. The I-Pace does support 100kW charging speeds when it finally arrives in the UK.

How much does it cost to charge an electric car?

So this will vary greatly depending on the type of car you have and the size of its battery.

For example charging network Pod Point claims that the average electric car costs around £3.64 to charge at home. While this certainly applies to a smaller car like the 30kW Nissan Leaf, the 90kW Tesla Model S sets you back around £9.00 for a full recharge.

That’s still considerably cheaper than filling up a petrol station but as you’ll soon discover, charging outside of the home can start to cost more and more.

Here’s the pricing for some of the major charging networks in the UK:

Chargemaster:

With over 6,000 charging points around the UK, Chargemaster are by far the largest. Through their POLAR app you can pay £7.85 per month and then get free charging at over 80% of their chargers. For the 20% that cost money it’s priced at 9p per kWh.

Ecotricity:

Again, you’ll need to download an app in order to access their charging stations. Once you’re signed up though it’s 30p per unit of energy with a maximum charging time of 45 minutes.

Pod Point:

Pod Point are one of the largest providers with over 2,000 charging points dotted all over the country. Even better, 90% of their chargers are free to use, including their 50kW rapid chargers. The 10% that do charge will vary in price but Pod Point says their upper limit is 24p per kWh. To access their network all you need to do is download the Open Charge App.

Charge Your Car:

Charge your car is one of the largest pay-as-you-go charging networks in the UK. There’s no monthly fee, you simply sign up online, you then get a contactless card and simply tap every time you charge. You’re then billed via Direct Debit only for the electricity you use out and about.

Tesla Supercharger:

Tesla owners receive 400kWh of free supercharging every year (around 1000 miles), after that you pay only for the amount of electricity you use each time you plug in.

For example 300 miles of charge on the Tesla Model S costs around £18, still significantly cheaper than using petrol or diesel.

Shell Recharge:

Shell’s petrol stations have started offering rapid electric car charging through their own PAYG scheme called Shell Recharge. It’s not cheap though, setting you back 49p per kWh. This is by far the most expensive charging option so we definitely wouldn’t consider this an everyday option.

Thousands Of New Electric Car Charging Points To Be Installed Around The UK

Charging your electric car when you’re away from home is about to get a lot easier.

The government is set to announce new plans to install potentially hundreds of thousands of electric car charging points across the country as part of the government’s Road to Zero strategy to cut down on air pollution.

The charging points would be installed in on-street parking areas and on UK roads.

The plan, being unveiled by transport secretary Chris Grayling, is to make it easier to recharge electric vehicles than refuel petrol or diesel models. In addition to new charging points there are also plans to start installing charging points in new homes and businesses as standard.

The government is also expected to outline more details of its ban on sales of new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040. Alternatively-fuelled vehicles, such as hybrids and pure electrics, held just 5.5% of the UK’s new car market in the first six months of the year, compared with 4.2% during the same period in 2017.

Launching the government’s plans to boost take-up of the technology, Mr Grayling will say: “The Road to Zero Strategy, combined with the measures we’ve already introduced, will mean Britain now has one of the most comprehensive support packages for zero-emission vehicles in the world.

“We want the UK to become the best country in the world in which to develop and manufacture zero-emission vehicles.

“The prize is not just a cleaner and healthier environment but a UK economy fit for the future and the chance to win a substantial slice of a market estimated to be worth up to £7.6 trillion by 2050.”

A study for motoring research charity the RAC Foundation has found that growth in electric car use could be stalled by limitations in the public charging network. The mass market appeal of ultra-green vehicles may be restricted without widespread, reliable and easy-to-use charging points, the report warned.

Also, separate AA research shows that eight out of 10 drivers see the lack of charging points as a stumbling block for them to buy an electric vehicle. The motoring firm’s president Edmund King said: “A big push on a range of slow, fast and rapid charging points should help overcome this hurdle.”

“The challenge is then for manufacturers to make a car worth buying.

“These Road to Vision Zero proposals are a step in the right direction but there is still much to do to wean drivers off petrol and diesel cars.”

To find out more about what else you can do to reduce your air pollution footprint, check out our handy guide

BP Will Install ‘Ultra-Fast’ Electric Charging Points In Its Petrol Stations

BP has announced that it is buying Chargemaster, the UK’s largest electric charging network. While big news, the more interesting revelation is that in doing so it will start rolling out new ‘ultra-fast’ charging points across its entire network of petrol stations.

Charging is perhaps the weakest link for electric cars so if you’ve been sat on the fence about whether to buy one or not, this might be the news that sways you.

Chargemaster already has a network of around 6,500 charging points located at motorway services, NCP car parks, supermarket car parks and more. Many of these however are just standard charging ports, which mean you’re probably going to be sat waiting for a while if you plan on going anywhere far.

As a solution, BP says it will start rolling out a new range of 150kW ultra-fast charging stations that will be able to give you 100 miles of range in just 10 minutes.

Over the next 12 months the company will start installing these at its 1,200 service stations dotted around the UK.

While Chargemaster is the name that owns the network, customers will actually use them by signing up to the POLAR network.

By paying a monthly fee, POLAR customers can then access the entire network which ranges from free charging stations to some that will charge you per kWh.

According to BP POLAR already has around 40,000 customers whoever that’s expected to rise dramatically over the next decade as it predicts that there will be around 12 million electric cars on UK roads by 2040.

BP aren’t the only company investing in rapid charging technologies either. Swiss firm ABB claims it has built the world’s fastest charging solution that can provide a whopping 200km in just eight minutes.

Of course one of the biggest problems is many early electric cars simply can’t support this. However with huge brands like BMW, VW and Audi all signed up to a common ultra-fast charging standard this could be about to change sooner rather than later.

Tesla Has Now Burned Through A Record Amount Of Money

Tesla has had both the best and worst quarter in its history after it revealed it had burned through a record $745.3m in cash.The electric car company has struggled to reach profitability since its launch due to huge R&D costs and production h…

Nissan Leaf 2018: The Electric Car That’s More Affordable – HuffPost Verdict

K E Y   P O I N T S

  • The new Nissan Leaf is a fully electric car comes with a range of 235-miles.

  • Unlike other electric cars the Leaf feels within the realms of affordability: it starts at £21,990, compared with say BMW’s i3 which starts at around £33,000.

  • It also comes with something called e-Pedal. This allows ‘one pedal driving’ by braking as you release your foot off the accelerator. It is incredibly weird to start with but once you get the hang of it it genuinely changed my driving style to be more economical. 

  • The Leaf can come with Nissan’s self-driving technology, ProPILOT, which will accelerate, brake and even steer while the car is on the motorway or in slow-moving traffic. It’s brilliant – as good as any other self-driving technology we’ve tested.

  • For an electric car the media system feels agonisingly dated. The screen is low resolution, slow to respond and the SatNav looks like something you’d find in Windows 95.

  • The interior won’t win any design awards but it is functional and there’s plenty of storage space for four.

  • The boot is HUGE, even with giant charging cables snaking around it.

V E R D I C T

Before Elon Musk wowed us all with the Tesla Model S there was the 2010 Nissan Leaf. It wasn’t perfect, in fact when I drove it from London to Essex it was a terrifying experience that involved religiously sticking to 55mph and keeping the AC permanently off for fear that I would run out of electricity. Oh and driving it was like sailing a bathtub through treacle.

Yet it had its charm, it cost pennies to run and for those forward-thinkers not driving epic distances everyday, it offered a way of saving money.

Almost a decade later there’s a new Nissan leaf: it now has a range of 235-miles, can be charged to 80% in just 40mins, and can drive itself even in slow-moving city centres. 

Although it feels pretty good when you’re driving yourself. The steering is sharp and light while, thanks to the Leaf’s powerful electric motor, it has a seriously zippy 0-60mph. The ride is firm but not uncomfortable and actually sounds truly silent when you drive. It’s blissful. (Unless maybe you’re a cyclist or a pedestrian keeping an ear out.)

As you can see this new Nissan Leaf looks a lot better than the old one. Gone is the old design and instead this looks more like a hot hatchback than what is ostensibly a large family car.

Inside, the Leaf is slightly less wow and considerably more sensible. Too sensible in fact. Nissan appears to have completely forgotten the concept that just because something is affordable, doesn’t mean it has to be unexciting.

The interior looks and feels about as futuristic as Windows 95, which is a real shame. Considering the industry’s desire to actively move people over to electric cars, this feels like a missed opportunity.

There is half a digital screen behind the wheel which offers a glimmer of technological hope, but is actually quite confusing to navigate. And the screen in the centre console is not great. Car manufacturers who won’t use high-resolution touchscreen displays for their cars are frustrating: it’s not technically difficult, yet so many skimp on the display. The result is something that’s low-resolution and really slow to respond.

Thankfully the Leaf supports CarPlay and Android Auto so you can run both Apple and Google’s own operating system through the screen by plugging your phone in via USB. I would 100% recommend doing this.

The car’s range is well over 180-200 miles in everyday use. Thanks to fast-charging dotted around London (the fast-charging network is actually pretty good around the UK) and the fact it takes less than 7 hours to charge overnight, I never found myself worrying about range in the week I drove the Leaf.

The car’s extra driving features such as ProPILOT are also impressive – this car can essentially drive itself in traffic. It’s a fantastically lazy thing to do but if you’re someone who spends hours in traffic during rush hour, it could be a shining ray of light you’ve been waiting for. What’s as impressive is that it’s actually only a £400 extra on the Leaf’s mid-range N-Connecta model and standard on the top-of-the-range Tekna. 

The e-Pedal, which turns the accelerator into a brake when you pull your foot back, feels deeply odd to begin with. But you do get used to it, and the premise is that you can do everything with one foot. 

S P E C I F I C A T I O N S

  • Car tested: Nissan Leaf Tekna
  • Engine: 40kWh battery
  • Range: 235 miles NEDC
  • Top Speed: 89.5mph
  • 0-60mph: 7.9 sec
  • Cost: The model I drove costs £28,755 OTR
  • Features: This model came with ProPILOT which gives the car partially self-driving abilities on motorways and on roads. It’s standard with the Tekna model but a £400 extra on N-Connecta.

T A K E   H O M E   M E S S A G E

Nissan have accomplished something special with the Leaf. Despite its uninspiring interior, after a week driving it, I’m genuinely excited for the future of electric vehicles.

Somehow Nissan has managed to create a fully-electric car that has a range of 200+ miles, great storage, the ability to self-drive in the cities and on the motorway – AND the entry-level model starts at around £21,000. For comparison, the Tesla Model S I drove to Glasgow cost over £100,000.

If Nissan can offer that value for money, then I can’t wait to see what the competition have got up their sleeves.