We have a winner! (And details of next months’ giveaway!)

A few weeks ago I announced the first prize giveaway on www.aminorjourney.com. Anyone who followed me on Twitter was automatically entered into a free prize-draw to win a copy of Sherry Boschert’s excellent book, Plug-In Hybrids: The cars which will recharge America .

I had a total of 109 people enter into this competition and using TwitRand I was able to select a winner from my Twitter followers at random. The computer chose Dan Morril (@morrildl) of San Francisco as the lucky winner. Congratulations, Dan! A copy of Sherry’s book is winging it’s way to you very shortly.


For those who weren’t lucky enough to win a copy of Sherry’s book then don’t despair. Next months’ giveaway is equally as cool. Details after the jump!

Yazaki, J1772, the Europeans and the new charging order.

Last week at the 2009 SAE World Congress the final plans were bashed out for a new way to charge plug in vehicles. Sadly it’s not an inductive one like the oh-so-simple charge paddles which were used on cars like the EV1 and RAV4EV to name but a few. No, this new standard is a good old-fashioned mechanical plug. You plug your car in and up to 30 Amps at either 120 or 240V flows into your car. Neat.

The latest version of the charging standard, called J1772, will include a five prong plug, capable of allowing communication between the external charger and the car charging. The Volt is rumored to be using it and Tesla have already signed up to make it standard on their cars. But it’ll only be used in the USA. Europe, in it’s own special way, has gone a different route, with a three-prong design capable of up to 80Amps at 240V. Unfortunately, the European standard is three-phase, meaning that it is unlikely to work in most European domestic situations without a complete home re-wire.

Yazaki aren't new to charging plugs. This is their previous plug, used on the early Toyota RAV4EVs
Yazaki aren't new to charging plugs. This is their previous plug, used on the early Toyota RAV4EVs

Fast charging is great, but does this spell the end for the DIY converter, or those of us who already drive cars with standard domestic plugs? And when you scratch the surface we risk looking at a future where charging plugs are far from standard. With the European standard and US standard finalized, are car companies now going to play nice and only ever use one of two EV charging plugs. What about cross-continent imports? And will those of us with cars now be able to retrofit our cars?

A Japanese Rav4EV appears on UK ebay… What?

This isn’t a proper post, but I just discovered this RAV4EV on ebay UK. Of course, RAV4 EVs are available in the USA, but they often go for prices well above $50,000. And of course, they have the steering-wheel on the left. That fact often puts people off buying and importing one. The current price…

Nice Car Split. MEGA take over. MyCar goes elsewhere.

This one happened a while ago, but I didn’t actually get a chance to post about it until today, when I put two and two together to make six.

Until the end of 2008 the Nice Car Company were viewed by many as the rivals to Goingreen, the UK agent for the funny little Indian electric car, the Reva (or G-Wiz, as it’s known here).

The Nice Car company had a very nice showroom and office in the western side of the Capital, and had some pretty nice cars too. Okay. I can’t keep up this NIce talk. I’ll just stop being silly and carry on as normal now. I promise.

Anyway, back to the story. The Nice Car Company not only were the agents for the MEGA Truck and MEGA City, (which many people affectionately called the “Nice car”) but also sold Vectrix electric Motorbikes. At last year’s London Motor show the Nice Car Company launched a whole range of EVs, including an impressive conversion of a Fiat 500 which they planned to lease to customers rather than sell. They also planned to sell the MyCar, which Nice Car Company Founder, Julian Wilford, assured me I would just go crazy for. On arriving at the motorshow last year I had to admit to him that, after looking at it, I’d rather have owned the original Mega City. It just looked more conventional and I’d test-driven one a year or so earlier (and liked it). I liked it better than the MyCar. But at least others did hail the MyCar as the latest in EV must-have. The Nice Car Company were also showcasing an MPV style vehicle, the Zeo, which I quite liked the look of. It was touted to do 50 mph+ and a decent range too. It would have made an ideal vehicle to replace my City El with (before I decided on a plug in prius, that is). Heck, it’d still be better than a plug in Prius if I could have actually owned one – as I would never have had to fill up with fuel, but I digress. Take a look at some MyCar butt.

MyCar. Well not MY car. Id rather have a MEGA City, thanks.
MyCar. Well not MY car. I'd rather have a MEGA City, thanks.

Photo by Nikki Bloomfield, www.aminorjourney.com

What does this have to do with a company who went bust in December, after sales reportedly went below one car per week? Well, it appears that both the Nice Car company is back up and running but also that the co-founder of the company has gone to pastures new, and taken his MyCar with him…

It’s nice to have the support, but why not convert too?

Today’s post has been rattling around in my head for the past week or so after a couple of comments to previous posts I’d made really got me thinking along with some really intense discussions with various EVers this week. Big thanks to Joe Lado, my good friend Pyoor Kate and Andrew Bissell for getting me thinking. What about? Well, about the future of plug-ins in the UK.

See, it’s long been my thought that EV conversions have to play a part in the future of plug in vehicles. How else are we going to get the 33 million or more vehicles on the roads of the UK switched to greener fuels? Scrapping them all isn’t an option. At £2,000 per pop, (in a scheme similar to those held in Germany and Ireland) I simply don’t see the money being there. Someone would have to fund it. As Pyoor Kate put it when I chatted to her earlier today, £2,000 to force coerce people into scrapping working vehicles to switch to newer vehicles may be a great idea on the face of it, but what if those vehicles don’t need replacing. What if they’re mechanically pretty sound?

Not all old cars should end up like this. They could become plug ins!!!
Not all old cars should end up like this. They could become EVs!

Photo by Ekai

Details of a better deal for encouraging EV and PHEV takeup after the jump

UK government finally publicy announces support for Plug ins, but from 2011.

At a rather subdued Knockhill race-track in Scotland, UK Business Secretary Lord Mandelson and UK Transport Minister Geoff Hoon announced a plan to support Plug In vehicles, not only buying them but “Building them”.

Mr Hoon and Lord Mandelson also had the privaledge to take one of BMW’s Mini E around the Scottish track, publising the Government’s plans to offer a subsidy of between £2,000 and £5,000 to car owners wishing to buy a new EV or PHEV from 2011 onwards. The plan also includes a £20m kitty to pay for the installation of more charging points and infrastrucutre to help Brits go green. Mr Hoon said “”The scale of incentives we’re announcing today will mean that an electric car is a real option for motorists as well as helping to make the UK a world leader in low carbon transport.”

EVs charging at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol
EVs charging at Cribbs Causeway, Bristol

Photo by John Honniball

More thoughts on this news after the jump