Cars without engines. A great conversion possibility!

If you’re one of the many people waking up to EV ownership and finding that the current vehicles on the market aren’t just cutting the mustard for you, or are two expensive or too slow then converting your vehicle from a petrol engine to an electric motor is a great option.

Sadly though, taking your existing car off the road for the few weeks or even months that it takes to convert to electricity isn’t a practical solution – especially if your vehicle has marketable retail value as a gas-powered vehicle or you want to keep it as a ‘long distance runner’ for the days when you just simply can’t get your EV to drive that 400 mile round trip to see granny in a day.

You’re then left with a situation where you desperately want to convert a car (like so many other EV hopefuls) to get that EV grin, but you realize that the best way to move forward is to source a donor vehicle – one which could happily give up it’s engine for the cause of electric vehicle goodness.

EV conversions can start with a great car with no engine.
EV conversions can start with a great car with no engine.

EVcast 240

Today I was joined in the UK studio by John Honniball, EV-nut, Electronics Engineer and Software Programmer. He explains some of the basic bits and bobs found in an EV, concentrating on controllers and motors. The video recording is below. It’s worth watching as John shows some electronics he’s brought along. However, the sound isn’t…

Ev’ie. Another broken dream?

If you’re a regular visitor to you’ll know that I’ve ran stories on the Electric Car Corporation and their line of converted Citroen C1s, which they call the C1 “Ev’ie”. It all started back in April, when the Citroen Ev’ie jumped onto the market. The team behind the advertising campaign had used a sign-written petrol-powered car for photo shoots and had omitted to change the number plate. It lead to me speculating if the vehicle even existed.

Later on, a test-drive from What Car? appeared, in which the team reviewing it had some issues with acceleration and a battery overheating on the drive. You can watch the video at their website.

I’m not the sort of person to give a company a hard time unnecessarily, and felt that perhaps my initial story was a bit hard on ECCPlc, the makers of the Citroen C1 Ev’ie. So, I arranged a trip down to London to test the Ev’ie for myself. I really wanted the car to blow me away. I so badly wanted the Ev’ie to make me feel all kinds of guilt for being nasty about it in the past without even having driven it. I wanted it to make me love it. But as I quickly found, my relationship with the Ev’ie that wasn’t going to be a plain-sailing one.

The Ev'ie we tested was anything but.
The Ev'ie we tested was anything but.

Read on after the jump for a run-down of the vehicle and our eventful test-drive.

Batteries away!

Continuing the report from the weekend’s work putting Velma the PHEV’s batteries out of sight I’m pleased to report that the physical battery relocation is finished. Velma is drivable again! More after the jump, along with the (almost) finished Prius trunk! Normal PHEV and EV articles will resume tomorrow. Picking up from yesterday’s post –…

Charging discrimination instead of charging for all.

London is often viewed as the EV charging capital of the world. Thanks to the Congestion Charging zone and it’s exemptions for electric and other green vehicles, not to mention the success of the small G-Wiz and similar small electric vehicles London appears, at least on the face of it, to be a brilliant place to be if you want to own an EV.

Not only that, but there’s now over 100 public electric vehicle charging points spread throughout the greater London area. In order to use one, you have to satisfy a series of criteria to ensure that you’re a) an electric vehicle owner and b) that you agree to abide by the fair usage policies the charging points have.

But wait. What’s this? London Boroughs (think of them as small council district within the greater London area) may appear to provide charging points to electric and PHEV vehicle drivers but they’re rather picky about who can use their points.

You can charge in London - but only if youre a local.
You can charge in London - but only if you're a local.

photo by Shiner Clay

More after the jump

The new European plug.

Welcome folks, to the new charging standard for EVs and PHEVs in the European Union. It’s based on a design by Mennekes, and will support a range of charging options for EVs at anything from a standard 13A, 240V supply through to a mighty 400V three-phase, 63A supply.

Best of all, it seems like the Mennekes system is designed with interoperability in mind and may even offer some retro-fitting for suitable vehicles.

With Elektromotive set to roll out a series of upgrades to it’s charging points in the UK to allow for a ‘pay as you go’ charging system (as well as a new version of their Elecktrobay charging station supporting the new standard) there really isn’t a better time to look into going electric.

The uber veritile Plug for plugging in in Europe!
The uber veritile Plug for plugging in in Europe!

More details of the new charge standard after the jump

Range Anxiety? What Range Anxiety?

For new electric vehicle owners, one of the biggest fears (at least at the moment with few charging stations publicly available) is running out of electricity when making a longer-than usual trip. For those of us who have been driving a plug in vehicle for some time the range anxiety is much less because we know the limits of our vehicles. However, any trip to the ‘maximum’ theoretical of our vehicle’s range always spawns nervousness.

After he saw the theoretical range of the Tesla would reach the Yosemite National Park, one adventurous Tesla owner decided to prove the Tesla sales team correct and take a trip out there for himself.

Yes, that's a Tesla in Yosemite National Park
Yes, that's a Tesla in Yosemite National Park

Photo By William A Arnett.

More after the Jump.

Looking ten years into the future of plug ins.

Ten years ago, we were still in the last great EV revolution. The EV1 was still on the road (although GM had by this time decided to no-longer make them), and the general public were getting used to seeing funky charging stations. At least, they were used to that in the select areas of the US where electric vehicles were being used.

Europe too, was undergoing something of a mini-revolution. The french conglomeration of Citroen, Peugeot and Renault were making commercially available electric cars and vans. A few years later, just like the EV1, RAV4EV and Ford Th!nk to name but a few, these vehicles disappeared from the market.

Here we are, in 2009, with lots of exciting developments in the world of plug in vehicles. As someone heavily involved with plug in vehicles it feels to me as if we’re just about to enter a truly golden age of the electric vehicle. But we’ve seen this kind of activity ten years ago. How do we know it’s not going to end in tears again?

Thirty Years ago the Enfield 8000 EV seemed like the future. What does the next 10 years hold for us?
Thirty Years ago the Enfield 8000 EV seemed like the future. What does the next 10 years hold for us?

More after the jump.

It’s official. The iMiev is on it’s way.

According to The Register, the Mitsubishi iMiev will be available in the UK from November. Perfect timing then for those EV enthusiasts with £20,000 to burn and a space on their Christmas list. Sadly, only fifty of the cars will be available at the end of the year. I suspect this will mean that they…

Playing the mileage game.

Former CMO of Tesla Motors Darryl Siry, (now a Senior Analysist of Cleanteach at Peppercom) has called for auto makers to be more clear about the abilities and range of their electric and plug-in vehicles. It’s a subject I‘ve touched on in the past, but felt it worth revisiting considering the excellent article.

It’s a common problem with all EVs on the market today. Like their petrol-powered counterparts, sales teams just can’t help themselves when it comes to providing optimistic range figures for their vehicles. It’s common practice, but as Darryl eloquently argues, it could jeopardize the very heart of the EV industry before it’s fully got off the ground.

The public don’t like being made to feel that they are being lied to. And while, on a purely technical level, no car company is lying when it claims a car can do 56 mpg on it’s urban cycle, or that the range of that funky new EV is a salivating 200 miles. But at the same time the auto industry doesn’t like to tell you the full story.

Just what is a real-world mileage figure?
Just what is a real-world mileage figure?

More after the jump.