New hydrogen system delivers off-grid electric car charging

New hydrogen system delivers off-grid electric car charging

A British hydrogen company has announced the launch of a new off-grid electric vehicle charger.

Using hydrogen fuel cell technology, the self-contained, zero-emissions system can provide charging anywhere it is needed.

The H-Power EV Charger can be operated completely off-grid or in conjunction with grid power.

It provides a ‘de-risked solution for car park operators to respond rapidly to growing EV demand,’ claims AFC Energy, the company behind the technology.

AFC Energy sees fleet operators, commercial vehicles and car park operators as the key audience for the hydrogen chargers, which are scalable from two to 100 charge points at a single site.

Further applications include motorway service stations, hotels, supermarkets, shopping malls, construction sites, mines and marinas.

‘Constraining mass deployment’

Hydrogen electric charging station

AFC Energy CEO Adam Bond said: “It can no longer be denied that EVs have become part of today’s mainstream automotive experience, but there are many areas where infrastructure is constraining mass deployment.

“Our system is independent of the grid and delivers EV charging in the most remote off-grid locations or in highly populated urban areas where supply is over-subscribed. With this system, we provide a solution to support the industry’s emerging need for a national network of EV charge-points.”

AFC Energy says it can work with all EV charging platforms to provide its system as part of an integrated emission-free charging system.

A prototype of the hydrogen charging system was demonstrated in January following 10 years of fuel cell research and development. A BMW i8 was the first car to be recharged with power generated by a hydrogen fuel cell.

In finished form, the H-Power systems are available in three standard configurations:

 H-Power (L20)H-Power (L160)H-Power (L400+)
Rapid charge points supported2-815-3025-100
Storage capacity (kWh)72-288288360
Recharge rating (kW)20160400+
Available fromDecember 2019June 2020June 2021


Electric car owners can charge for FREE at Tesco

Electric car owners can charge for FREE at Tesco

Last year, Volkswagen announced that it has partnered with Tesco and Pod Point to install more than 2,400 electric car charging bays.

Fast forward 12 months and shoppers will find 7 kW electric car charging points at 100 Tesco stores across the UK.

The charging points are free for shoppers – and they’re not just for Volkswagens. All electric car owners are able to use the free chargers.

Volkswagen visited Tesco in Potters Bar in the new ID.3 electric car – the first time the model has been seen in the UK since its debut in Frankfurt.

Research shows that the average Brit spends 50 minutes a week in a supermarket, although this is likely to be longer in the period leading up to Christmas.

Electric charging at Tesco

Based on the 50-minute average, Tesco shoppers could get around 22.5 miles of free charging. Over the course of a year, this works out at 1,170 miles.

Breaking down barriers

Geraldine Ingham, head of marketing at Volkswagen UK, said: “This fantastic partnership with Tesco and Pod Point makes choosing an electric car even more attractive, allowing people to charge for free, all while going about their daily business.

“And the best bit is that this is not just for Volkswagens – the chargers are designed for any electric car owner to take advantage of.

“We are really pleased to help break down any remaining barriers to opting for an electric car.”

Jason Tarry, Tesco CEO UK and ROI, added: “We’re now well on our way to achieving our ambition of installing more than 2,400 EV charging bays across 600 Tesco stores.

“Providing customers with charging points offers them a sustainable choice and giving them the opportunity to charge their car for free while they shop is another little help to make their lives easier.”

Volkswagen ID.3 at Tesco

The Volkswagen ID.3 made its debut at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, with the first cars set to hit the streets in 2020.

Three battery sizes are available at launch offering between 205 and 340 miles of electric range. Prices will start from £27,000, but the top-end first edition cars are available from £35,000.

In other news, our Tim Pitt is driving the new eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf today. Come back soon for his first drive thoughts and opinions.

Opinion: The wrong people are buying electric cars

The wrong people are buying electric cars

According to a new report, 87 percent of electric car owners in the UK are men and the overwhelming majority of them are aged 45 to 74.

And that’s a big problem for the electric car industry.

If you’re a middle-aged man and you’re not David Beckham or Paul Rudd, you’re about as relevant as Myspace and as influential as a Corby trouser press salesperson on a nudist beach.

Donning a pair of skinny jeans, shaving your receding hairline and hashtagging the hell out of your Instagram posts just won’t cut it. You’re over the hill and the next stop is retirement.

Of all of which means you’re hardly the hip and happening ambassador the electric car needs. Watching you squint through your reading glasses as you struggle to decipher the instructions for the public charging point isn’t a great advert for the EV.

Anyone below the age of 34 will be returning to the sanctuary of a lengthy PCP deal on an A-Class faster than you can say “optional final balloon payment”.

Camden, locked

Mercedes EQC owner

The same report suggests that fewer than five percent of electric car owners are aged 25 to 34. Predictably, hardly anyone under the age of 24 is driving a zero emission car.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Most young people are either struggling to pay off their student loan or saving hard for a deposit on a new home. Even with the promise of lower running costs, an electric car is an expensive luxury they can do without, especially in the age of Uber.

Electric car brochures, advertisements and promotional videos are filled with images of youngsters who look like they’ve arrived straight outta Camden Market and spend most of the day supping mochachinos in artisan coffee shops.

In adland, electric car owners dress like catwalk models to charge their vehicles in exotic locations and stare longingly into the middle distance as they contemplate their significant role in saving the planet.

Fewer Keiths, more dragons

Smart EQ electric owner

The reality is often a middle-aged man called Keith who arrives at a dimly-lit section of a motorway service station to find the charger is blocked by a sales rep eating a Ginsters in an Insignia.

The problem is that it’s only the likes of Keith who can afford to own an electric car. He has the disposal income, the off-street parking and the office car park to make EV ownership a realistic prospect.

For younger drivers who are struggling to make ends meet, live in a second floor apartment and park in a council car park while at work, an EV is less attractive than a compact crossover on a £200 a month PCP deal.

Some joined-up thinking is required. There’s little point incentivising youngsters via cheap PCP deals if the supply can’t keep up with demand and the infrastructure isn’t in place. But nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, so seeing fellow young drivers behind the wheel will be more appealing than the sight of Keith and his reading glasses. Sorry, Keith.

Give an electric car to someone like Emilia Clarke to use for a year and punters will be queuing up like White Walkers at The Wall. Present one to Lily James and you’ll have more baby electric car drivers than you can shake a charging cable at.

Until then, the ‘wrong’ people will continue to drive the electric car industry the wrong way.

3,000 people on waiting list for electric Kia e-Niro

Kia e-Niro waiting list

Joining the list of supercars and sports cars that command long waiting lists is the Kia e-Niro crossover. Three thousand people have put their their names down so far, as demand outstrips supply.

Happily, Kia plans to ramp up production of its new EV. It expects the 3,000 orders to be fulfilled within the first six months of 2020.

Joining the e-Niro in 2020 will be Kia’s new Soul EV, a quirky SUV with the same electric architecture as the Niro. The long-range e-Niro has 280 miles of range and will set you back £34,495 after the Plug-in Car Grant is deducted from the price.

Kia e-Niro waiting list

Those who have yet to order an e-Niro will receive their car no sooner than July 2020. Deliveries of the Soul EV, which opened for orders this last July, are expected to start in April. The Soul is £700 cheaper than the Niro post-grant.

“Since launching e-Niro at the beginning of the year, we have received unprecedented demand which has been a challenge to fulfil,” said Paul Philpott, president and CEO of Kia Motors UK.

“As we enter 2020 with the Soul EV and e-Niro, we and our 190-strong dealer network are ready to meet customer demand for all-electric cars.”

Kia e-Niro waiting list

Demand for electric cars is on the up and the values of second-hand electric cars are holding strong – and increasing in the case of the Renault Zoe.

That’s a marked contrast to the first few years of mainstream electric cars being on sale in the UK, when they depreciated far faster than combustion cars.

Future electric Minis will be built in China

1.5 million households could have electric cars with ease

BMW Group is teaming up with Chinese car manufacturer Great Wall for a new factory, plus the ongoing development of electric cars. The plant in China will produce future fully-electric models from Mini.

“Today we are taking the next step in our collaboration,” said Klaus Fröhlich, head of development at BMW.

“With the BMW Group as a pioneer in the field of electromobility and Great Wall as a major player and expert in industrialisation in the Chinese market, we are joining forces for development and production of the future electric Mini and new Great Wall models.”

Spotlight Automotive LimitedBMW Great Wall Spotlight Automotive electric Mini

The joint venture is called Spotlight Automotive Limited. The plant will be able to produce 160,000 cars a year, employ around 3,000 people and mean a joint investment of £550 million.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Mini’s Oxford home is being retired. In BMW’s words, ‘Mini Plant Oxford will remain the heart and home of Mini manufacturing, while the Spotlight Automotive joint venture will provide additional capacity and flexibility’.

“This joint venture will enable us to produce a larger number of Mini-brand fully electric vehicles at attractive conditions for the world market,” Dr. Nicolas Peter, head of finance at BMW.

“This is also an important strategic step for the Mini brand. The joint venture with Great Wall underlines the enormous importance of the Chinese market for us.”

One million BMW EVs on the road by 2021Mini Nurburgring no brakes

BMW Group will have five electric cars in its portfolio by the end of 2021, by which time it hopes to have sold one million EVs and hybrids. 

Joining the new Mini Electric are the existing BMW i3, plus the iX3, iNext and i4.

Diesel v petrol v electric: How far can you go on £5?

How far will a £5 get you?The question over what fuel type should power your next car can get confusing. From grams per kilometre, to NOx, to CO2, understanding the best fuel for our cars is a tall order.

Adding to the confusion is electric cars. If you can’t tell the difference between a kilowatt and a kilobyte (the latter is a measurement of digital file sizes), a different way of comparing is needed.

So here’s a comparison in language everyone can understand. How far can you go on five pounds?

How far can you go on £5?

How far will a £5 get you?

Carwow has compared exactly how far you can get on £5, in terms of petrol, diesel, electricity, and indeed public transport.

The car buying platform established the average costs of each by comparing fuel and public transport costs in 10 of the UK’s major cities. Figures for respective variants of the Volkswagen Golf were used. What did the researchers find?

Leading the way is electric. Charge your electric car to the value of £5, and you’ll go 102 miles on average. That’s good news for the 35 percent of Brits who say their biggest worry is getting stranded in an electric car.

Just as the cost of a litre of petrol varies from station to station, so too can the cost of electricity – often far more so. The methodology uses ‘regional electricity prices’ to establish price per KWH, combining that with the Golf’s distance driven per kWh to establish the per-£5 mileage value.

Compare that to second-placed diesel, and you’re nearly DOUBLING your distance. Put in £5 of diesel and on average, you’ll go around 56.5 miles.

Things get worse from there for petrol, the train and the bus. On average, £5 takes you 49.6 miles in a petrol car, 20 miles on a train and just 12.6 miles via bus.

How far will a £5 get you?

“Some people might be surprised to see that you can travel pretty much double the distance in an electric car than you can with diesel or petrol, but you can’t argue with the data,” said Mat Watson of Carwow.

“That said, ‘range anxiety’ is understandable, particularly as the main battery operated tech the average person will be familiar with is the mobile phone. The good news is there are already more charging stations than petrol stations in the UK, a fact almost half of the country (49 percent) are unaware of.

“Undoubtedly more needs to be done when it comes to educating people about electric cars, their benefits and their feasibility.”

Electric car charging winners and losers

Watson conceded the decision to buy an alternative fuel vehicle will be a personal one, based on where you live and how much local investment there has been to charging infrastructure. “The roll-out has not been even,” but progress is being made.

“We hope our findings will help, because it really does seem that in years to come, we could be together in electric dreams.”

New garage finder tool for electric vehicle owners

Electric car garage finder tool

A new service will make it easier for motorists to find a garage to repair and service their electric car.

The Motor Ombudsman has added a new layer to its online Garage Finder service. With the help of a dedicated symbol, EV owners can find local accredited businesses.

This follows a recent survey that found 84 percent of people would not know where to take an electric vehicle for servicing.

Bill Fennell, chief ombudsman and managing director at The Motor Ombudsman, said: “Sales of electric vehicles are fast gathering pace, and they all need to be serviced and maintained in accordance with recommended manufacturer guidelines.

“Our research showed that there was an inherent need to make it quicker and easier for repairers to make motorists aware that they can service electric vehicles, and for owners to be able to easily find a business where they can take their car in.

“The new facility on our Garage Finder responds to both of these requirements, and therefore we expect it to be an extremely popular addition.”

Bright sparks

Fake spark plugs in Australia

The Motor Ombudsman’s survey of 1,903 motorists highlighted a lack of understanding of how an annual service for an electric vehicle differs to that of a conventional car.

Only 12 percent said they would be able to distinguish between the two.

Two-thirds of those surveyed were able to correctly identify that brakes and tyres would be checked during an annual service. Meanwhile, 60 percent correctly identified that the suspension would looked at, and 63 percent were aware that wipers are part of a service.

In contrast, 40 percent incorrectly said the air filter would be checked. An oil change was mentioned by 30 percent of the respondents, while the car’s timing belt (29 percent), emissions (26 percent) and spark plugs (26 percent) were also mentioned.

The Motor Ombudsman Garage Finder can be found here.

Used electric cars are going UP in value

Electric cars demand and value 2019

New research by Cargurus has highlighted the rising popularity of electric cars in 2019. Bucking all conventional trends with regard to mainstream consumer vehicles, some electric cars have actually increased in value.

Using online used car listings data, Cargurus has looked at prices for the four most popular electric vehicles on its site: the BMW i3, Nissan Leaf, Renault Zoe and Tesla Model S.

Comparing prices for the last three years, since the start of 2017, months-long streaks of maintained and even increased value were observed. Near-on universally, electric cars outperformed their petrol and diesel-powered equivalents in terms of value retention.

The 2015 Zoe was the champion of the value stakes. Since January 2017, it has risen 18 percent in value, from £6,425, to £7,612. Since this January, it’s gained 14 percent. An equivalent-age oil-burning hatch lost 22 percent of its value over three years, from £9,165 to £7,160.

Electric cars demand and value 2019

It’s not quite such a triumphant story for the likes of the BMW i3: 2015 models lost 14 percent on average over the last 2.5 years, from £17,445 in April 2017, to £15,006 in November 2019. That said, it has gained one percent over the course of this year overall.

In January 2019, this age of i3 on average was worth £14,800. For comparison, an equivalent-age Mini lost 18 percent of its value between April 2017 and now, and 14 percent over the last year.

Find the full table below, where it seems that the more expensive the electric cars get, the less well they fare. Cargurus has a theory on this.

Electric versus normal car values

Jan 2017
Jan 2019
Nov 2019
Value change  since Jan 2017
Value change Jan-Nov 2019
Electric supermini car
Renault Zoe (2015 model year)
Petrol/diesel equivalent
Ford Fiesta (2015 model year)
Electric premium supermini car
BMW i3 (2014 model year)
(Apr 2017)
-14% (since Apr 2017)
Petrol/diesel equivalent
Mini hatchback (2015 model year)
(Apr 2017)
-18% (since Apr 2017)
Electric family car
Nissan Leaf (2015 model year)
Petrol/diesel equivalent
Volkswagen Golf (2015 model year)
Electric luxury car
Tesla Model S (2015 model year)
£57,746 (Oct 2017)
-29% (since Oct 2017)
Petrol/diesel equivalent
Mercedes-Benz S-Class (2015 model year)
£50,783 (Oct 2017)
-37% (since Oct 2017)

Cargurus says that as electric cars have grown out of their infancy over the last couple of years, and popularity has grown, this value anomaly is the result. In 2017, electric cars were arguably less desirable than they are now.

As public awareness, faith and interest in electric cars has increased, so has demand, and so the disproportionate loss of value the Zoe experienced when it was new, has near-enough reversed. Demand for new electric cars is up, too, even given their increased expense. Year to date, SMMT figures show that demand has increased by 125 percent.

Electric cars demand and value 2019

“Our data shows that the residual values of EVs have turned a corner as an increasing number of buyers are starting to take advantage of the benefits of electric motoring, such as the low running costs and easy driving manners of cars like the Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe,” said Chris Knapman, Cargurus editor.

“With the market changing so quickly it can be hard to judge what’s a fair deal, which is why the price analysis and deal ratings offered by CarGurus are such powerful tools. With this technology to hand, consumers wanting to move into the world of electric motoring can feel confident of paying a fair price.”

Elon Musk says ‘bring it on’ to Cybertruck tug-of-war rematch

Ford v Tesla Elon Musk challenge

Elon Musk has responded to Ford’s request for an ‘apples-to-apples’ truck tug of war. The Tesla CEO said “bring it on”, after the Sundeep Madra, vice president of Ford X at Ford Motor Company, threw down the gauntlet yesterday.

The reason for the rematch? A video of the Cybertruck winning a tug of war with an F-150 pick-up has been criticised for being unfairly tipped in the trapezoidal Tesla’s favour.

The F-150 in question was either a rear-wheel-drive model, or was in rear-wheel-drive mode. In short, with power going to all four wheels, it could have had the advantage.

Not quite the convincing proof that the Cybertruck is “better than an F-150” as Musk claims.

Interestingly, Madra said Tesla should send Ford a Cybertruck with which to perform the new tug-of-war. For all Musk’s retaliatory bravado, we’d be highly surprised if he does that.

It might not be an issue anyway, given that Ford itself has qualified Madra’s challenge as ‘tongue-in-cheek’ in a statement to InsideEVs. Will the rematch happen at all, if it was all Twitter posturing?

It’s not like Ford has much to prove. A few months ago, it released a video of a prototype electric F-150 towing one million pounds (453,592kg) of laden freight train.

Other manufacturers have poked fun at Tesla, too. In response to the Cybertruck’s rocky reveal, BMW showed off its armoured X5, saying it ‘comes with bulletproof windows and offers splinter protection in case it gets hit by a metal ball’.

Of course, that refers to the Cybertruck’s ‘unbreakable’ windows that broke on stage, causing Musk to blurt expletives.

Nissan works with EU to encourage electric car uptake

Nissan climate change

Nissan is taking a broader look at how drivers can be encouraged to switch to electric cars. The company has led a White Paper, working with the European Innovation partnership on Smart Cities and Communities, to ‘accelerate towards more sustainable societies

A large part of the programme, also supported by the European Commission, concerns battery technology. It covers how batteries have use beyond their time in a car (‘second life’), plus how can EVs can work with the electricity grid, rather than just pulling energy from it.

Cheaper electric cars for more buyersNissan climate change

Nissan is keen to see better incentives for mid-range EVs, like its Leaf hatchback. While self-serving, it argues that lower costs, and potentially larger incentives, are required to get more people to go electric. 

Nissan is also suggesting tax incentives based on EV owners’ environmental impact, and rewards for power put back into the grid.

Leading by example

Nissan wants public services and authorities to play a part, too. Low-emission zones are a big part of the plan, in order to encourage people to make the jump to EVs.

Nissan climate change

Nissan also suggests procedures for smart charging installation should be improved. It proposes incentivised, or ideally mandatory, installation of renewable energy tech and smart charging in new buildings. 

The big picture is the so-called ‘smart city’, with car charging wherever drivers need it, housing equipped with renewables energy sources and so on. This is the future, says Nissan.

Nissan climate change

“To meet the challenges Europe faces we need a fundamental rethink on how mobility and energy policies are designed,” said Friederike Kienitz of Nissan Europe.

“While Nissan brought mass battery technology to Europe when it pioneered the Nissan Leaf 10 years ago, it is clear from this paper that this is about more than just Nissan or electric vehicles. There is much work to be done if Europe is to achieve its goal of being carbon neutral by 2050, and this white paper sets out how to get there at the national, regional and municipal level.”