A plea to all EV makers. Learn how to sell a car…

If you’re wondering about the title of this post It’s quite simple. I’m fed up dealing with all the excuses that car companies make when trying to sell EVs. It’s not going to make them popular. Plus it gives the Jeremy Clarksons of the world ammunition in their mission to hate anything without a V8 and a huge exhaust. And who can blame them. When so many in the EV world make silly claims about their cars or silly excuses about how they perform.

I’ve been thinking about this post for quite some time, ever since I went for a test-drive for an EV in London and found that the company offering the test drive were about as professional as buying a car from a dodgy guy in a pub car-park. Why? It was poor organisation, delivery and knowledge. Oh, and a car which was nearly empty. Not good publicity. (They’ve since improved greatly).

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…

Detroit Electric announces a (rough) price guide.

The Detroit Electric company appeared on CNN yesterday to announce that they plan to bring not one, but two EVs to market by 2010.

Appearing on the CNN Corner Office Detroit Electric CEO, Albert Lam, announced the pricing and range of the two EVs that his company plans to launch in 2010.

Detroit Electric's planned 2010 model. Nice looks!
Detroit Electric's planned 2010 model. Nice looks!

At the moment the company are offering two versions of the same car.

  • The “City Range”
    100 Mile Range
    $23,000-$26,000 US
  • The “Extended Range”
    200 Miles Per Charge
    $28,000-$33,000 US

At that price, it certainly looks a good deal. The spec sheet is impressive too, with a top speed of well over 100 mph and a 0-60 time of less than 8 seconds. The car’s specs on the website look really good. There’s little mention on the website though of ordering or who will stock it. Nor where you can go for a test-drive.

CNN video after the jump, plus more about Detroit Electric

280 miles in the Car Jeremy Clarkson claimed 80….

Tesla motors are good at crushing stereotypes. They did it back in 2007 when the Tesla Roadster was unleashed on the general population. It was fast, sexy, efficient and the new plaything for those web 2.0 millionaires. It also generated enough interest that many EV enthusiasts contemplated pawning everything from their grandmother and their dog to their limited edition Star Wars box set to get one. Me included. Although I must admit at this point that it wasn’t any of the above… it was my mortgage. Okay, only for a split second, but it was there.

So, imagine my absolute joy when I opened up my mail this morning. It contained in it some news that the team of Tesla Roadsters taking place in the 2009 Rallye Monte Carlo d’Energies Alternatives finished the rally on a single charge, with over 40 indicated miles remaining on the car’s energy gauge. The course length? 241 miles.

The Tesla.
Photo by Nikki Bloomfield of www.aminorjourney.com

More after the jump, along with details of how the Top Gear team have egg on their faces

Come and meet some friendly EVers in Farifax, VA tomorrow!

If you’re around the greater DC area and would like to meet me and some of the other EV and hybrid enthusiasts in the area then why not join us at Bertucci’s restaurant, VA, 22182 tomorrow. We’ll be meeting with the local EVA-DC group, who have kindly arranged this event. If you want to come…

GM and the PUMA. Wait till you have a better prototype, eh?

For serious EV enthusiasts who want full size vehicles which go fast and far there’s nothing more irritating than a joke EV making the headlines. It’s important for car makers to get new and exciting electric vehicles out in the public eye, but only if the vehicles in question give EVs a good name. But to put it bluntly the GM/Segway PUMA prototype looked no more than a complete joke when it hit the news earlier this week.

Segway/GMs prototype PUMA doesnt win any beauty prizes.
Segway/GM's prototype PUMA doesn't win any beauty prizes.

Unveiled as an early prototype at the New York Autoshow, the little two-wheeled, self balancing personal transport vehicle can carry two people at up to 30 mph around town for up to 35 miles.

More after the jump

Drive Smarter to get a Smarter Car

So you want an EV but you’re put off by the stupidly expensive price tag. You’re caught in a lease or finance plan with your current car and don’t have the money to get out. But you really want that new plug in. Or perhaps you’re one of the tens of thousands who have signed up for the Volt, the iMiev or maybe even one of those Smart EDs. Point is, although those vehicles aren’t available to the general public yet it’s a good time to save some cash up so you can afford to buy that greener, cleaner car sooner.

Car made from Money!
Car made from Money!

Photo by Michael Tyas

It’s probably easy for me to say. After all, I have been driving electric vehicles and hybrids now for nearly one-third of my driving life. But stick with me, because some of the techniques I use to maximize my range (and thus minimize the amount of money I spend on travel) come from my days driving classic cars and cycling.

So, even if you don’t have an electric or PHEV, you can use smart driving to help save money now. Not only that, but these techniques are essential following when for when you do have that smarter EV or PHEV. No matter what your fuel type, these will help you greatly. Below is part one of my two part guide to driving smarter to get a smarter car.

Tips and tricks after the jump!