Electric cars.


Forum O. G.
Anybody keeping up with the electric car scene?

It occurred to me the other day that electric cars have a fundamental problem of practicality, even if they had adequate range, there were adequate charging points, etc. One of the bonuses of the internal combustion engine is copious amounts of waste heat which can be vented or used to heat the vehicle. An electric vehicle would have virtually no waste heat to use in this fashion and any additional heating, in the depths of a winter such as we had at the end of last year, would have to come from the battery's energy store, thus compromising the range. It seems to be a basic problem that I don't really see a way past. The vehicles could be a bit better insulated, etc., but it's hard to see today's consumers being enamoured of a comfort level that would be about the same as would have existed in a 1930s side-car..


don't mention the blinds
Clockwork Cars could suffice, however a bloody big key is required.......

Mr X

Well-Known Forumite
There was a fantastic article in the Telegraph, I think, about electric cars. It was a few weeks ago so I no longer have a copy, but the overall conclusion was that electric cars are not a solution.

A few things I can remember:
* as Gramaisc points out, you use a lot of energy heating the interiors, which is completely free with a petrol car, thus reducing the range considerably.
* the statistics the government like to use to try and sell them to you are very biased; they used inefficient petrol cars as a comparison when looking at running costs and came to the conclusion that electric cars are far, far cheaper to run. In actual fact a VW Golf Bluemotion has lower running costs than an electric car (over 4 years), as worked out by the newspaper.
* the government are glossing over the fact that the electricity is being generated mainly by burning coal, and are persisting in selling electric cars as 'carbon free' (which, of course, is wrong anyway; they really mean carbon dioxide free, except they are far from it).
* batteries have a limited lifespan before they need replacing at great expense, both to the owner, and the environment.
* i hope I'm not mis-quoting here, but the figure was something like, if just 50% of car owners switched to electric vehicles the national grid could simply not cope with the increase in demand for power. There would be massive surges in demand at around 9.00 and 5.30 when people get to work and home from work and need to charge their car.

To add to this, people would need to charge their cars more often in the winter, as batteries last for less time in cold conditions, and people need heaters and headlights more in the winter. This is also the time of year when people need more electricity at home. The power stations simply couldn't cope, and alternatives (such as PVs) are not so effective!

I also frequently think when having to cross roads at blind locations 'what if the cars weren't making any noise as they approach me at 30+mph and I can't see them'. It will be even worse if you're blind or partially sighted, and what about children playing in the street outside their houses? Surely the accident rate will go up!?


Forum O. G.
On the noise issue, I vaguely remember this being discussed at EU level a couple of weeks ago, with a view to having a standardised noise for otherwise 'silent' vehicles. The Luas trams in Dublin have a bell for this purpose at present.

The only widespread use of electric vehicles, other than the 'voluntary' use of golf-buggies, is the familiar milk-float, where, as the operator is in and out so often that they rarely are even fitted with doors, the heating issue is ignored.


Well-Known Forumite
I always wondered why more wasn't made of ethanol running cars - it's twenty years or so since i was in Brazil and ~ half the cars ran on it.

It has always seemed bit odd to me that the environmental claims for electric cars are made with little mention of the means of generating the electricity that comes out of the charger, or to the consequences of making/breaking/disposing of the batteries, as if these were trifling concerns.

I can't claim to know much about the technicalities of it, but one thing i do know is that China in particular is rather rampant at the moment in pursuing sources of the rare earth elements needed to make such batteries - mostly in developing countries - and the environmental impact of delivering them is likely to be severe, another side of the story that tends to be overlooked.


Forum O. G.
The energy-efficiency of electric vehicles is nothing to shout about with our current systems. The energy that they use is still the product of systems with efficiencies around 30% from the basic source to the wheels of the car, no better than an internal combustion engined vehicle....

We'll only ever really win with them if we do get loads of solar, wind, tidal, hydro or, if it ever happens, fusion derived energy...

Apparently, Tesco sells E5 petrol ( petrol with a 5% ethanol content ) - I've never noticed it in Stafford, but I've never looked that hard. I'll try to remember next time..


Well-Known Forumite
Gramaisc said:
We'll only ever really win with... , if it ever happens, fusion derived energy...
The Great Leap Forward - without which i personally think we are


It's easy to get all Malthusian about things - and one day he's bound to be right - but technology has saved us thus far (200 years of staving off the inevitable) and this one revolution would be hugely huge enough to give us another century or two i reckons.


Well-Known Forumite
I think the best electric car for real-world drivers at the moment is the "range-extender" car which runs on electric most of the time, & can be recharged at night, but also has a small petrol engine which can act as a generator to keep you going if you havent got enough battery for a long journey. See this latest road test of the Vauxhall Ampera: http://www.autocar.co.uk/CarReviews/FirstDrives/Vauxhall-Ampera-16-kWh/257959/

Eliminates the worry of running out of charge especially on cold winter days as already pointed out. I would consider one if they were cheaper, & I guess as the technology becomes more widespread, the costs will come down, just like any new technology.

One big drawback is that there are a lot of households in this country without drives, so a car that needs plugging in overnight is not an option for many people- you cant really have cables trailing all over the pavements to peoples cars parked in the street.


Forum O. G.
ddub1984 said:
One big drawback is that there are a lot of households in this country without drives, so a car that needs plugging in overnight is not an option for many people- you cant really have cables trailing all over the pavements to peoples cars parked in the street.
"Wireless" street charging is possible, though it would require organised street parking, and it would be useful for the system to be able to recognise individual vehicles. That said, it's taken thirty years for the Council to fail to supply a residents' parking scheme in Castletown, so we might as well ignore this possibility.....


wanna see my snake?
Sod electric, I want a ghost car! If I ever win the lottery I'll get one made of a vw camper* :D

* After being suprised I won the lottery without entering.


Well-Known Forumite
Quite an interesting piece/Roadtest on two electric cars on last weeks TopGear.
The only interesting bit in that increasingly dreary show in fact.
It seemed free of the usual teenage histrionics from Clarkson and still managed to reach the conclusion that they are doomed.

Unless we cover every mile of motorway with a roof of chickenwire like the Dodgem cars have and stick a bloody great (presumably) Nuclear powerstation at the end.

£30k for a electric runabout!!!

My Name is URL

Well-Known Forumite
Saw that, I quite like Top Gear anyway but thought that was a good piece.

I agree though its crazy.

Worked out the other day, 10,000 miles per year in fuel terms is about £1000. An electric car would do it for about £100....

Over 10 years the fuel cost would be £10,000 but the electric cost would be £1000... sounds a huge difference.

However a nice Golf costs £20k, an electric car costs £30k... so electric car is more expensive.

The electric cars on Top Gear had nothing on a £20k golf either, more comparable to a £10k Fiesta maybe so big savings in that case.

Thats without factoring in:
- fuel = petrol stations everywhere, electric charging stations = not many places (excluding every home in country except your own and a few friends / relatives
- fuel refill = 5 mins max, electric full charge = 8/10/12 hours
- the 10p per mile cost for electric cars I used was quoted on the news, however Top Gear disagreed with this and beleived it to be a lot more.
- Top Gear quoted the batteries on these cars as lasting 3 to 10 years depending on how you treat it. The manufacturers wouldn't quote a cost for new batteries but "an expert" quoted £7k.... OUCH!!!!


vroom vroom!
Lucky for me - I drive our All Electric Car Peugeot iOn , therefore no panic buying on my part, just plug in, charge and off I go. :dance:...
Out of interest what is the cost/mile in one of those? Does the efficiency change much between urban/rural like petrol?

simply the cost is approx £2 for full charge which is on average 80 - 90 mile range.
The electric is de-pleated by turning on the heating etc (not the electric windows and radio though) by how much I am unsure but i haven't had to use it with it being warmer weather.

As anything brand new there is a lot of work to be done to get it right i.e. Charge point infrastructure etc. However its a start and everything has to have a starting point somewhere is its lifespan.

The vehicle itself runs smoothly and the amount of power in it for an electric vehicle is super. The target market is more aimed at businesses at the moment rather than private use although it is available to that market.

The immediate future for this type of vehicle is Diesel/Hybrid Technology which is available in the Peugeot 3008 and soon available in the Peugeot 508 and 508SW range. With many of Peugeot Van ranges with Stop/Start technology too Peugeot are making a significant effort to become eco friendly and are fully committed this developing this technology further.

Admin Edit: Posts moved to more appropriate thread.


wanna see my snake?
£2 for 90 miles is pretty damn good, in fact better than my first 125 did and fuel was 43p a litre back then! Added bonus of no queues to fill up, but I'm not sure this car would be aimed at sheeple anyway. What does it cost to buy, and what sort of insurance group? I'm assuming its no tax?

Lots of questions from a confirmed non-driver I know, but I'm interested in how the technology has progressed.