DriveElectric ULEV Experience NHS Nissan e-NV200

‘Try before you buy’ EV scheme coming to UK cities

DriveElectric ULEV Experience NHS Nissan e-NV200

A ‘try before you buy‘ scheme for electric vehicles (EVs) could ‘act as a blueprint’ for cities across the UK. That’s according to the company behind a successful trial in Nottingham.

As part of the project, local businesses and public sector organisations were given chance to experience an electric car or van for up to 30 days. Organisations were offered the opportunity to drive a fleet of EVs including the Hyundai Kona Electric and Kia e-Niro.

In total, 52 organisations have experienced 72 electric car loans over the past 18 months. The result is that 20 electric vehicles have been adopted to date.

Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust trialled the electric Renault Kangoo and Nissan e-NV200 for a month, with the Nissan well received by the organisation. The Trust now operates two e-NV200s, but there’s a potential to add a further 40 electric vans to the fleet.

The scheme was piloted by the Nottingham ULEV Experience project and financed through Nottingham City Council’s Go Ultra Low funding. Leasing company DriveElectric supplied the electric vehicles.

Similar schemes could be rolled out in other cities, particularly those operating Clean Air Zones (CAZ) to improve air quality. The Leeds CAZ will go live in September, with the Birmingham CAZ expected to launch in July.

Budget bonus for EVs

Electric cars could save drivers £40,000

At the recent Budget, chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the government will provide £403 million for the Plug-in Car Grant, extending the scheme to 2022-2023. A further £129.5 million will be provided to extend the grant for vans, taxis and motorcycles.

However, the grant itself has been cut from £3,500 to £3,000, with cars costing £50,000 or more ineligible for the grant.

The Plug-in Van Grant also continues, providing up to a maximum of £8,000 off the price of a plug-in van, and there’s up to £20,000 off the price of large vans and trucks.

Meanwhile, exemption of Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax), for zero emission electric vehicles will continue. What’s more, they are also exempt from the ‘expensive car’ first-year supplement for vehicles costing over £40,000.

‘Need to experience electric’

Mike Potter, managing director of DriveElectric, said: “Most organisations need to experience electric vehicles before making a decision to purchase. Fully-funded month-long EV loans are not readily available through dealerships, manufacturers or any other source.

“Therefore the ‘try before you buy’ EV loans provided by the ULEV Experience have been extremely valuable in filling a gap in the market not offered elsewhere.”

Electric bus town in UK

All change: Britain’s first all-electric bus town is coming

Electric bus town in UK

Local authorities are invited to apply to become the UK’s first all-electric bus town.

If successful, the winning council will receive up to £50 million to pay for a new fleet of electric buses. It’s part of the government’s plan for all UK buses to be fully electric by 2025.

The £50 million fund is part of a total £170 million allocated to improve services and make journeys greener and more reliable.

A £20 million pot is available for the trial of on-demand ride sharing services in rural and suburban areas. In theory, it means that people could catch a bus when and where they want it.

A further £30 million fund is available for local authorities to improve current bus services or restore those that have been lost. Passengers will also benefit from low-cost, high-frequency ‘Superbus’ services, like the one in Cornwall.

But it’s the all-electric bus town proposal that’s likely to grab the headlines. The Department for Transport (DfT) says it wants the winning bidder to act as a role model for other local authorities to follow.

‘All-electric bus town is just the start’

Electric bus town is coming

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Buses carry more people than any other form of public transport in the UK, and with 200 electric buses able to offset 3,700 diesel cars, it is clear they have a crucial role to play in bringing down emissions.

“But Britain’s first all-electric bus town is just the start. Helping deliver on our manifesto promise, this £170 million package will help us to create communities which are cleaner, easier to get around and more environmentally friendly, speeding up journeys and making them more reliable.

“By focusing on efficient and affordable transport, we will make greener journeys the natural choice.”

The news has been welcomed by the Campaign for Better Transport. Chief executive Darren Shirley said: “This is an exciting opportunity to demonstrate the part buses can play in improving air quality in urban areas, increase the output from manufacturers, and contribute to cutting the UK’s carbon emissions.”

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


Opinion: Why must we go back for the future?

Morris JE electric van

‘A retro-styled electric masterpiece’, reads one headline for the Morris JE van. ‘Brilliantly retro’, says another. ‘Retro-cute’ and ‘the cutest electric van I’ve ever seen’ concludes this quartet of rather gushing and sickly-sweet intros.

I’m sorry, but I’m just not buying it. Quite literally, given the fact that the JE van is expected to sell for around £60,000 in 2021.

It’s a ‘reimagining of the original [and] iconic’ J-type van, says Morris Commercial, before describing the 1950s classic as ‘unapologetically distinctive’.

What’s the obsession with reimagining stuff from our past? What next, a reimagining of other distinctive elements of 1950s Britain, such as polio, pea-soupers and women tied to the twin-tub washing machine?

Mind you, there’s no knowing what Britain will look like two years from now.

Putting aside the pros and cons of electric vehicles for a moment, shouldn’t the designs be forward-thinking, progressive and challenging? I’m not sure a van that looks like something Mr Tumble might drive is going to do much for the EV market.

Morris JE van

The company claims it will appeal to a wide range of customers, but the list is exhausting, if not exhaustive.

Small boutique businesses, larger corporate fleets, luxury and lifestyle brands, the hospitality industry, the sport and leisure industry, high-end manufacturing, the events industry and green logistics.

And… breathe. Anyone for a game of monkey tennis?

Of those, who is going to want to drop £60k on Mr Tumble’s company wheels? I can’t see an artisan coffee company ditching the H-van for one of these. Is a fleet buyer going to say “no thank you” to the resources and support of Volkswagen, Renault, Nissan and the like?

The figures don’t add up. A range of 200 miles and a one-tonne payload might look acceptable in 2019, but the technology should have moved on by 2021. The LDV EV30 boasts another name from Britain’s ‘glorious past’, 200 miles of range and a one-tonne payload. The price? Rumoured to be in the region of £30,000.

Morris Commercial says it will create “an individuality in a market where dull, generic design is normal”. Which is one way of justifying an exorbitant price tag and a dashboard that looks straight outta LazyTown.

Vans are ‘dull’ and ‘generic’ because that’s what the market wants. These vehicles are built to do a job on time, reliably, efficiently and without fuss. Sure, there’s a place for vans without ‘clean me‘ perma-scrawled into the dirt on the back doors – I know folk who love their vans more than their family car.

It’s just that most vans I see look like they’ve been used as target practice at the local paintballing centre within a few months of hitting the road. How is the JE’s carbon-fibre body going to withstand even the lightest of damage?

I don’t doubt the hard work that’s gone into creating this ‘masterpiece’. But harking back to a bygone era hints at a lack of creativity and an absence of ideas. Besides, I have a feeling the ‘retro-cute’ market will be swallowed up by Volkswagen’s Buzz Cargo thingy.

I could be wrong (and it wouldn’t be the first time). Maybe the commercial sector is waiting for Mr Tumble to roll into LazyTown in a blaze of zero emission glory. Me, I’m just waiting for someone to unearth a barn-find Bedford CF Electric.

‘Second life‘ batteries used to power Renault electric boat

Black Swan electric boat in Paris

Renault has partnered with Seine Alliance and Green-Vision to launch the first all-electric boat powered by ‘second life’ batteries.

The Black Swan can carry up to eight passengers and is powered by four batteries removed from Renault electric cars. They power a pair of 20kW electric motors to deliver two hours of cruising. A full charge takes two to three hours.

The boat – a converted Italian craft – was originally powered by an internal combustion engine. With the inner workings removed, the Black Swan weighs 278kg less than before.

Stainless steel housings have been designed for the batteries to ensure safe, water-tight operating conditions. It is hoped that electric boats can improve air quality and reduce noise pollution in and around inner-city rivers.

The Black Swan has been demonstrated on the River Seine in Paris and is a precursor to what Renault is calling a “new generation of boats”. Its electric car batteries are reconditioned and repurposed to give them a ‘second life’.

Renault electric boat

Gilles Normand, senior vice president of electric vehicles at Renault, said: “We are proud of having contributed to the Black Swan project alongside Seine Alliance and Green-Vision.

“Once again, this approach has shown that, used in a second life as energy storage units, the batteries from our electric vehicles represent an essential lever for the acceleration of the energy transition.”

It is hoped that the Black Swan will be pressed into active service in the first quarter of 2020, once the necessary government permits have been obtained.

Didier Spade, chairman of Seine Alliance, added: “As host to the Olympic Games in 2024, Paris has a duty to provide innovative solutions for the environment.

“Seine has already shown itself to be exemplary in respect of energy performances in the transport sector. Our company has once again brought an electric boat project to fruition with the aim of raising the awareness of all of the river’s users.”

Electric car charging

Electric charging locations now outnumber petrol stations

Electric car charging

The Department for Transport (TfL) has published a ‘league table’ illustrating the country’s public electric car charging infrastructure.

There are now more charging locations than petrol stations, it says, but there are still over 100 local authorities with fewer than 10 public charging devices per 100,000 people.

New figures show that there are 15,000 charging devices across the country, equating to 22,500 places to charge.

London leads the way, with almost 4,000 public electric charging points installed in the region. Scotland has more than 1,500, with the North West, South East and South West just behind.

’The new normal’

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “Your postcode should play no part in how easy it is to use an electric car, and I’m determined electric vehicles become the new normal for drivers.

“It’s good news there are now more charging locations than petrol stations, but the clear gaps in provision are disappointing. I urge local councils to take advantage of all the government support on offer to help ensure drivers in their area don’t miss out.

“To help increase the provision of charging locations, the government is offering grants for the installation of charge-points on the street, in work and at home. We are also offering grants to lower the upfront cost of these cars so everyone is able to experience the benefits.”

Funding is available

Minister for the Future of Transport George Freeman added: “Mapping charge-points and producing a league table of availability by council area is intended to raise awareness.

“There are now more than 22,500 public charge-points and at least one rapid charge-point at over 95 percent of all motorway services areas.

“To help level up the country, we’ve recently doubled the funding available for councils to build charge-points on residential streets.”

Funding for charging points is available via a number of schemes, including:

  • A £5 million on-street residential charge-point scheme.
  • Workplace charging scheme, offering £500 per charge-point socket and £10,000 per business.
  • Electric vehicle homecharge scheme, offering £500 per socket.

Data for the ‘league table’ is sourced from Zap-Map. The information can be viewed here.

Germany to get ONE MILLION electric car chargers by 2030

Angela Merkel wants one million charging points

Angela Merkel wants Germany to have ONE MILLION electric charging stations by 2030.

In a video message on Sunday, the German chancellor said investment in charging stations would encourage demand for electric cars and accelerate the shift away from petrol and diesel vehicles.

Germany currently has around 21,000 charging stations, while the UK has around 10,000, according to the latest Zap-Map figures.

“For this purpose, we want to create a million charging points by the year 2030 and the industry will have to participate in this effort, that is what we will be talking about,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast.

Today, the German Chancellor will hold meetings with senior industry executives, parts suppliers and labour unions on how to boost sales of all-electric vehicles.

Topics will include investment in the electric car charging network, manufacturers and the government sharing the cost of subsidies for the purchase of electric cars, plus investment in hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

There are also concerns that Germany faces a surplus of car industry workers, as fewer employees are required to build electric cars.

“We want to take our specialist workers along on the road to a modern, climate-friendly future,” Merkel said.

Angela Merkel Porsche Panamera e-Hybrid

A poor charging infrastructure, high purchase prices and limited range are three of the most common reasons cited for drivers not making the switch to electric cars.

Germany is at the forefront of a new generation of electric vehicles. Before this evening’s meeting, Angela Merkel will visit the Volkswagen factory in Zwickau to mark the start of production of the new ID.3 – the company’s first mass market all-electric vehicle.

Once complete, the plant in Zwickau will be Europe’s largest factory exclusively building electric cars, building 330,000 cars every year.

Stephen Weil, the prime minister for Lower Saxony, home of Volkswagen, wants to see 100,000 public charging points in place by 2021.

“An extremely demanding time lies ahead for the German automotive industry that must be accompanied actively by policymakers,” he said.

100 miles in 10 minutes: new ultra-fast EV chargers arrive in UK

EON Ultra-fast chargers in Birmingham

In a boost to electric car owners, E.ON has switched on its first ultra-fast electric vehicle charging points in the UK.

The pair of 175kW charge points are located on the site of the former Armada public house, just off the M6 on the outskirts of Birmingham.

Ultra-fast charging delivers up to 100 miles of electric car range in just 10 minutes.

They support both CCS and CHAdeMO connectors, making them suitable for the vast majority of electric vehicles in the UK. They’re the first of 180 ultra-fast chargers promised by the firm by 2020.

To use the charging points, customers have the option of paying by contactless or their smartphone, using the E.ON Drive app, or logging on to the E.ON EV Pay website for pay-as-you-go access.

E.ON ultra-fast charging in Birmingham

‘Landmark year’

Michael Lewis, chief executive of E.ON UK, said: “These new ultra-fast chargers are our first of their type in the UK and will give further support to the growing number of drivers moving away from fossil fuels towards electric vehicles.

“Whether it’s at home, at work, or out and about we’re developing the solutions to help drivers run their vehicles conveniently and with confidence.”

EON first ultra-fast chargers in UK

Poppy Welch, head of Go Ultra Low, added: “This announcement is the latest development in what has been a landmark year for the UK’s charging infrastructure

“With the UK already being home to one of Europe’s largest rapid charging networks, and a steady increase of charge points across both rural and urban locations, these additions from E.ON will now make it even easier for electric motorists to charge up on the go.”

BP Chargemaster unveiled its first 150kW ultra-fast electric charging point at the Fully Charged Live Show at Silverstone in June. The target is to have 100 units live at 50 BP forecourts by the end of the year.

Click here for a guide to electric car charging points.

Green number plates opinion

Green number plates: the answer to a question nobody asked?

Green number plates opinion

Green number plates: the answer to a question that was never asked or another step on the way to the normalisation of electric cars?

By 2030, the government wants between 50 and 70 percent of new cars sold to be ultra low emission. There’s a long way to go: year to date, battery electric vehicle sales account for a 1.3 percent market share, albeit up 122.1 percent on the same period in 2018.

The will is there, with a growing number of consumers expecting to buy or lease an electric car within the next five years. But barriers remain.

Limited driving range, an inadequate charging network and high list prices are common complaints and reasons not to adopt. These won’t be obstacles forever.

Next-generation EVs can offer 300 miles of range, the supply of rapid chargers is up 43 percent, and the likes of the Vauxhall Corsa-e, Peugeot e-208 and MG ZS EV have the potential to bring a new breed of mainstream customers to the EV party.

‘Do as I do’

Green number plate on electric car

So how do green number plates support the mass adoption of electric vehicles?

The government says they offer a “very visible way of distinguishing such vehicles and raising their profile”, arguing that they will “help inform road-users and normalise the idea of clean vehicles”.

Around half of all respondents in a recent survey said the visibility of electric cars on the road is a key factor in the normalisation of the technology. Electric versions of the 208 and Corsa could look too similar to the conventional versions to stand out. Right now, the EV sector needs vehicles to act like mobile billboards – a kind of ‘do as I do’ or ‘follow my leader’ approach.

In this context, the proposed green number plates don’t go far enough. Rather than replacing the traditional yellow and white plates with a green background, the government’s preferred option is for a green flash on the left hand side of the plate.

A green background is unlikely to work, it says, because to make it suitable for ANPR, it would need to be a shade that is less visible to the human eye, reducing the awareness benefits. It would also be slower to implement.

Without the awareness, what’s the point? The government says cars with green number plates could enjoy access to bus lanes or low emission vehicle lanes, reduced rate parking and entry to electric charging bays. But aren’t these enforceable by ANPR cameras?

Enter a bus lane or low emission zone in a non-compliant diesel and you can look forward to a PCN (Penalty Charge Notice) gracing your door mat within a few days. Slapping a green sticker on your diesel car’s number plate isn’t going to stop that.

On the subject of bus lanes, isn’t the plan to grant access to electric cars missing the point? As the adoption of electric cars increases, won’t this cause congestion, reducing the benefit of using public transport? In the short term, it’s likely to raise the blood pressure of commuters queuing to get into town while a bus lane sits empty alongside them.

One thing that isn’t immediately obvious in much of the online coverage is that the government is unlikely to make green plates compulsory. Instead, it would prefer a non-mandatory but opt out approach, where the plates are encouraged but not essential.

Green, black and white

electric cars in London ULEV

This has the potential to cause confusion, especially when it comes to local authorities offering free parking or access to certain roads to electric vehicles. Would a zero emission car without a green number plate be fined for using a free parking space? If EVs are exempt anyway, what’s the use of the green plates, aside from building awareness?

One obvious benefit is that it should be easier to identify cars that shouldn’t be parked in an electric charging bay. This might shame some drivers into parking elsewhere, although, once again, if the green plates aren’t mandatory, who’s to say that the driver hasn’t opted out?

As for awareness, the government will need to launch a campaign to support the rollout of the green number plates. If a consumer isn’t informed or bothered about the increasing number of electric cars, a thin green band on the side of a number plate isn’t going to catch their eye.

Maybe the government would be better served investing in a campaign that promotes and raises awareness of the growing electric charging network, while further incentivising the adoption of electric vehicles. Seeing friends and family switching to EVs will do more for the industry than a green number plate.

Green number plates might be the answer to a question nobody asked, but finding the solution is far from black and white. You have until 14 January to share your views.

Only 1 in 5 drivers in favour of green number plates

Green number plate on electric car

Only a fifth of UK drivers support the introduction of green number plates for zero emission cars.

This news comes as the government launches a consultation that it says will “turbo-charge the zero emission revolution”. It believes green number plates will raise awareness of electric vehicles and stimulate sales.

It also says local authorities will be given powers to incentivise and reward electric car drivers, such as allowing cars with green number plates to enter bus lanes and to pay less for parking.

The government highlights a similar scheme in Ontario, Canada, where drivers of electric cars were given free access to toll lanes and high occupancy vehicle lanes. The province saw an increase in EV registrations during the trial.

’Badge of honour’

green car number plate

But there are concerns that the green number plates could become a ‘badge of honour’, possibly resulting in a divide between EV drivers and those in traditional petrol and diesel vehicles.

RAC head of roads policy, Nicholas Lyes, said: “While the sentiment seems right, there are question marks as to whether drivers would see this as a badge of honour or alternatively it could foster resentment among existing drivers of petrol and diesel vehicles.

“On the face of it, drivers we’ve questioned don’t seem too impressed – only a fifth think it’s a good idea and the majority said the number plates wouldn’t have the effect of making them any more likely to switch to an electric vehicle.

“Incentives may make a difference in the short term and the possibility of free parking and the permission to use bus lanes at certain times could encourage some to switch. However, many drivers remain cool on the idea even with this encouragement.”

‘Positive and exciting’

The government is seeking views from the industry and public, right down to the design of the number plates. Three proposals are on the table: a fully green number plate with black lettering, the addition of a green flash on the exiting yellow and white plates, or the addition of a green dot or symbol.

Green number plates

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: “The UK is in the driving seat of global efforts to tackle vehicle emissions and climate change and improve air quality, but we want to accelerate our progress.

“Green number plates are a really positive and exciting way to help everyone recognise the increasing number of electric vehicles on our roads.

“By increasing awareness of these vehicles and the benefits they bring to their drivers and our environment, we will turbo-charge the zero emission revolution.”

The consultation opens today and closes on 14 January 2020.