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April, 2005

Branson's blue sky brainwave? No - MG Rover were already planning hybrids!

- Richard Branson's "radical" and "original" idea? That MG Rover should produce hybrids! (Independent on Sunday, 17 April)

Branson's Blue Sky Brainwave   Oh dear Richard...EVUK had already reported in February in some detail that MG Rover - with partners MIRA, Powertrain Ltd. and Pi Technology - were, pre-collapse, set to exhibit their government-funded hybrid concept/prototype in some shape or form(MG TF or saloon?) at the upcoming Clean Energy/Transport Expo(May 5-7 2005) at London's Business Design Centre.
Strange then that Mr. Branson should appear to be claiming the idea as his own in this April 17 article in which he says:

"My solution is a radical one, but would help with what I see as Britain's pending energy crisis. We should steal the green mantle from the Japanese and Americans and become the first European manufacturer of hybrid cars."

MG Rover TF hybrid
MG Rover's TF 200 HPD hybrid - terminally "unplugged"?

Now don't get us wrong - we would have given Branson's green "intervention" an unqualified thumbs-up if he had said something to the Independent to the effect that:

"Many people - who know about these things - have long been calling for a transition to electric and hybrid vehicles: I thought it was high time that influential and wealthy entrepreneurs like myself add their voices to the chorus - and put their money where their...etc. etc."

In other words, while it is good to have the Virgin boss on board at last - it's a pity he's been so late arriving at this particular destination...

Team Fate Yosemite/Explorer plug-in
UCDavies' Team Fate's "Yosemite" Ford Explorer plug-in doubles hybrid fuel economy

Now - what are the odds that Branson's next even bigger idea will be...er...radical 100+ mpg plugin-able hybrids - like the 100+ mpg Ford Explorer hybrid - the "Yosemite" - that Professor Andrew Frank has developed with "Team Fate" at the University of California at Davies(see EVUK report Feb 2005) or the Li-ion-enhanced 125+mpg Prius+ hybrid(see Calcars for photos) that Valence-EnergyCS recently presented at EVS21 in Monaco. (Incidentally, EVS21 has - like the twenty EVS's before it - remained almost completely unreported by a mainstream media that appears incapable of moving beyond endless "concerned" reports about the symptoms and effects of global warming - incapable of focusing instead on solutions and prevention...)

Stelios - Easy EV?   "Easy EV" - à propos airline entrepreneurs.
In 2000 - we succeeded in ambushing Easyjet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou at the posh London launch of the Industry Standard Europe magazine(now defunct..) - and spent three minutes at the bar attempting to persuade him that electric vehicles(rent..lease..manufacture..whatEVer) would offer a great future-proof investment opportunity - especially in London - given the then imminent introduction of Mayor Ken Livingstone's congestion-charging scheme.

Needless to say, Stelios humoured us with his familiar expansive and benign smile and promised - charmingly but unconvincingly - that he would think about it.
So Stelios why not think - blue sky think about it again - indeed why not go one(or two..) better than Sir Richard - fly even higher - with some genuinely "radical" proposals for plugin(able) hybrids and pure battery EV's?

Note: eagle-eyed EVUK'ers may have noticed that an important link(posted in our February news report) to Parliamentary answers re: the UK Govt's back-door/barn door financing of MG Rover" suddenly and mysteriously ceased to function shortly after news of Rover's demise hit the headlines.
Do not despair - we have tracked down this eye-opening little Hansard(UK Parliamentary records) piece again complete with new link: it appears that the original URL - which had worked perfectly - was changed slightly by unseen government hands shortly after the MG Rover collapse was announced at the beginning of April. If this link should mysteriously die again in the next few weeks we will assume that someone may be playing hide and seek with the truth...

Related links:
1) Rover TF 200 HPD hybrid : while it may seem like a contradiction in terms, Rover spokesmen always went out of their way to reassure their ICE-fundamentalist base(as well as petrol-tax-collectors and oil company bosses..?) that the HPD hybrid technology was not about traitorous capitulation to the green lobby eg. boosting fuel economy, reducing emissions levels - but was designed primarily to enhance power, performance, acceleration and muscle (quote) "without increasing the environmental impact".

April, 2005

"Race to the Future" - Watch CNN's electric go-kart report now !

- An adrenalin rush to save the planet?

LadyBird Racing's Becky Beth Cox goes electric   For the past month or so the CNN series "Global Challenges"(Sundays 22.00 CET) has included this fast-paced - and by TV standards - environmentally-liberated report into Gordon Foat's(Green Motorsport) hopefully fast-track crusade to clean up not only racing - but the cars we drive and the energy we use to power them.
Although we did ask ourselves at first if we could justify posting this up as a "News" item - we soon decided that any positive TV coverage of battery electric vehicles - especially out of Britain - is eminently newsworthy simply by virtue of its sheer rarity value.

And what's more, unlike our defiantly ICE-blinkered, loyal-to-oil media and politicians we have no problem whatsoever connecting the luminous dots - compare and contrast - between the headline-hogging endgame currently being played out at MG Rover and the subject of this unusually green, technologically evangelical story from CNN.

(....No - we have little doubt that Rover could have saved itself - and helped save the planet - but it would have required an "abrupt mindset change" - an infinitely more visionary and courageous management team - a "Phoenix-not-Dodo" consortium of Steve Green(Greener Energy") and Gordon Foat "think-alikes" - and a thoroughly "de-ICE'ed" government and media to match. So much for real-world "Vehicle Foresight" in the UK !!)

CNN Global Challenges -battery-powered go-karts   CNN's racey and otherwise inspiring "Global Challenges" report is however slightly spoiled towards the end by the, nowadays, seemingly obligatory inclusion of a conspicous piece of hand-me-down anti-battery/pro-fuel cell spin - you know it's coming the moment the camera begins lurking ominously over an oh-so nasty and dirty little mains plug and lead trailing darkly down to the e-kart's battery charger.
Yes - it's that familiar point you reach in almost every ZEV-related mainstream media report where you feel a sudden uncontrollable urge to scream :
"Well - why don't you sign up for 100% renewable electricity from a top-rated green supplier like Good Energy then!"
...or
"Battery-powered vehicles are more energy-efficient - well-to-wheel - than FCV's ! ...or
"Why can't we have both? Battery and fuel cell vehicles? We somehow manage to live with both noxious petrol and diesel cars don't we ?"

But all credit anyway to Green Motorsport's Gordon Foat and to CNN for this rare example of  joined-up eco-journalism - and for doing what most TV companies - including our own
ICE-fundamentalist ..er..."Kyoto-concerned" BBC, Channel 4, ITV etc. so resolutely refuse to do: bring battery EV's , ZEV's and green micropower right to the heart of the Global Warming debate.

Watch: CNN's electric go-kart/Green Motorsport feature "Race to the Future" - courtesy Ladybird Racing UK.

Related links:
1) MG Rover's much-vaunted breath-of-hot-air 2002 tie-up with China's Brilliance: take an amusing drive down memory lane with this joyous March 2002 BBC report - and weep!

2) ..then contrast that with EVUK's own February 2002 comments on the same Rover-Brilliance news...
...or with our more recent(Feb 2005), pre-collapse, "Rover - throw the rest of us a bone" remarks.

(*Glossary note for non-English / non-jargon speakers:
"ICE" = Internal Combustion Engine!
)

April, 2005

Toshiba's new nano Li-ion for cars etc. - recharge in 60 seconds...and at least 1000 times !

Toshiba Super Charge Nano Li-ion  Toshiba's March 29 press release makes especially encouraging reading thanks to the unusual and welcome emphasis the company places on the potential automotive(albeit "hybrid") applications of its breakthrough nano-cathode lithium technology:

"Initial applications will be in the automotive and industrial sectors, where the slim, small-sized battery will deliver large amounts of energy while requiring only a minute to recharge. For example, the battery's advantages in size, weight and safety highly suit it for a role as an alternative power source for hybrid electric vehicles."

Whilst several other companies and organisations have also announced nano-Lithium advances in recent months(Altair in particular - see Lithium Hotlinks), press releases have - disappointingly - almost always given primary focus to the technology's potential use in portable consumer electronics - mobile phones, laptops, camcorders and the like.
Toshiba say they "will bring the new rechargeable battery to commercial products in 2006" - but at what point the battery will be released for general sale is unclear.

No indications either as to price at this stage - but with the prospect of high volume production for the auto industry coupled with the increasingly fierce space-race-style competition between the world's leading battery manufacturers - you have to say that the Li-ion price-prognosis has never looked so good.

Toshiba Nano Li-ion Perform Chart  On the crucial question of energy density(read "EV range") - although Toshiba do make reference to the Li-ion cell's "high energy density", no precise Wh/kg figure is given. However the comparative performance bubble-charts provided in the press release(click image above) indicate that energy density/capacity is marginally less than the very highest capacity Li-ion cells currently on the market.

See Toshiba 29 March 05 Press Release: "Toshiba's New Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Battery Recharges in Only One Minute".

March, 2005

EVS21 in Monte Carlo(April 2-6): a quick look ahead - and back.

EVS21

EVUK spent several months last year working in close consultation with EVS21 Project Manager Simone Mirza in a concerted effort to ensure maximum battery vehicle representation at the coming exhibition.
It had been clear to us from our initial contact with the organisers in mid-2004 that - as we had feared - hybrids and fuel cell technologies were tending to dominate proceedings: knowledge and appreciation of the wider battery vehicle universe among event co-ordinators appeared fairly minimal at that stage. (No surprise really - this general state of off-the-radar BEV-obliviousness is after all precisely what our media and major automakers have worked so hard to create over the years....)

Now, in 2005, the exhibitors' list looks pretty healthy from a battery vehicle perspective - with a few notable absentees: AC Propulsion(TZero,Scion, Tom Hanks etc?), Wavecrest and, ironically, Monaco-based MDI(Air Car), for instance, appear to have chosen to stay away.
But we are looking forward to breakthrough announcements and revelations from a number of exhibitors - in particular from G-Wiz manufacturer Reva(see below) and Valence(Saphion).

REVA recap:
1) India Times June 2003 - REVA MD Chetan Maini talks of plans for a long-range quick-charge EV(quote):

"While I feel an 80-km run will meet 90 per cent of the customer's requirements, nevertheless, we will also offer options of a 250-km drive charge and other option," he added. Besides, quick charging options would also be available, wherein a buyer can charge up to 80 per cent of the battery in 20 minutes."

2) EVWorld confirms REVA's plans in a March 2005 report "REVA to Debut Next Generation Electric Car"

March, 2005

UK race car & aerospace specialist plans novel zero emission Li-ion hybrid.
(EVUK exclusive)

Intrigued? Puzzled? A hybrid with no tailpipe emissions?

Although we have been sworn to near-total secrecy on this tantalizing development(we cannot name the company in question or be too specific about the technology involved...), we can reveal that:

a) We were recently contacted by a renowned UK and US-based low weight vehicle manufacturer and composites/plastics specialist with extensive race car and aerospace experience. It is the company's first foray into Zero Emission Vehicle territory - you will for instance find no prior references to them(yet!) in the pages of EVUK, EVWorld, Electrifying Times etc.

b) Although the company's ZEV hybrid concept cannot perhaps, in the strictest sense, be described as 100% original and unprecedented, the configuration of component elements being proposed is, to the best of our knowledge, unique and certainly refreshingly innovative. (And no - we're not talking flywheels here...)

c) The company expects to have a Ford-based "mule" conversion trialled and tested by the autumn "at which point we will go public and you will be the first to know".

So fellow EVUK'ers - please continue to watch this space for exclusive breaking mule news later this year...

(Note: we will not confirm or deny any guesswork or speculation as to the identity of the company or the technology being developed - but please feel free to email us with your best guesses!)

March, 2005

Batscap/Bolloré unveil long-range Li-Polymer BlueCar (formerly "VBE1") at Geneva Motor Show.

Batscap BlueCar
Batscap/Bolloré's 200 km/charge, 135 km/h Li-Polymer-powered BlueCar

+++ Hot Breaking News +++

The first pictures and full detailed specifications of the VBE1 - now renamed BlueCar - have now been posted up on the Batscap website - however, at the time of writing, no photos have yet been posted on the Geneva Motor Show site itself.
  (Why on earth not?!  Given that the Kyoto Treaty came into full force just a few days ago - amid much triumphant, US-bashing political and media self-congratulation - ZEV's/EV's should surely now be hogging the limelight and the flashlights...and generally stealing the show here in Europe.)

Dispelling another popular myth, Philippe Guédon - BlueCar designer and creator of the Renault Espace - told the Agence France-Presse that:
"Technically, electric cars are slightly less expensive to manufacture than petrol-powered cars. The problem of cost is primarily a result of low production volume."
(Translated from: Autoactu/AFP)

Also: Dassault Group unveils long-range Renault Scenic-based Cleanova III - yes "III" - see Geneva Motor Show's SVE/Cleanova III pages:

   "With the CLEANOVA III, SVE is now introducing an all-new concept and technology compared to traditional electric vehicles, in particular in terms of range, battery loading time, vehicle performance and driving comfort."

Cleanova III
Dassault's long-range Scenic-based Cleanova III debuts at Geneva Show

See also: EVUK's November 2004 "VBE1" report: "BatScap/Bolloré's low-cost, long-range li-ion VBE1 - an update".

Only EV's Pass Department for Transport's New Green Label Test"
- Kyoto concerns aside - here's one more reason why EV's should now more than ever(theoretically at least..) be enjoying the full glare of the media spotlight here in Britain in particular...

DfT/LowCVP colour Coded Labels - On February 9th EVUK was contacted by BBC TV's Six O'Clock News correspondent "Tom S." seeking photogenic EV's(and drivers) for an imminent news item about Alistair Darling's / the Department for Transport's soon-to-be-launched(Sept 1 2005) colour-coded eco-labels for cars(click image for detail). Only battery electric vehicles, he told us, had been awarded a green colour code rating :

"We're trying to put together a piece on the government's new green labelling scheme for new cars. It would go out tomorrow on the Six O'clock News. The scheme has a rating system from A to F, taking into account C02 emissions and other factors. We're interested that the only cars in the A category are battery electric cars. As a result we were wondering if you could put us in touch with an EV owner who might be prepared to show off his/her car and do a television interview. "

As it turned out though - having duly provided the BBC's man with an (inevitably) shamefully short short-list of UK EV's including the e_Mercury, Steve Green's Jester and even the G-Wiz - we were later told that the planned news item had been indefinitely postponed to make way for yet more late-breaking "Charles and Camilla to Wed" titbits and shenanigans....proving once again that - faced with the choice between the future of the monarchy and the future of the planet - our mainstream(aka sideshow) media will go for the royal nuptials every time...

Alistair Darling with Speaking at the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership Annual Conference, Alistair Darling said:

"The labels will send a clear message to motorists that they can make a real difference by choosing clean, fuel-efficient cars."

The glaring irony here of course is that Britain's car showrooms won't be selling any green-labelled cars for many years to come unless carmakers, car-advertisers and their legions of Clarkson-clone media motor-mouthpieces are also pressured by government into genuinely changing their spots and shaking off their barely concealed contempt for (brace yourselves..) "brown-sandal-wearing, nut-roast-munching, tree-hugging bl**dy environmentalists".(We all know those "labels"..)

Until that happens, green labels will merely serve as a graphic reminder of successive governments' chronic failure to turn green rhetoric and green tokenism into certifiably green - ZEV - showroom product.

Related links:

1) BBC OnLine report "Ratings Show How Green Cars Are".

2) DfT press release "Darling Unveils Cleaner Vehicle Labelling Scheme".

3) The DfT reports that car-buyers' interest in eco-information is very low:
"..the showroom research found that, in practice, environmental information is not of widespread interest to car buyers, and that car labels are not important for car buyers or sales staff as sources of information in practice."

Again - the mainstream media alone has the power(but sadly not the will...) to change all that. So just when will Darling & Co. take on the mainstream media - TV in particular? Our publicly funded, ostensibly publicly accountable, public service BBC - and Top Gear - would be as good a place to start as any...

February, 2005

Rail-free Trams - and other 'non-stop campaign' news.

FAQ(.."frequently" for the past 4-5 weeks that is): just what are these "non-stop campaign activities" of which you speak at the very top of your News page?

Well, to begin with, we have been attempting - with some success - to persuade the good people of the historic, and now Harry Potter-famed, Cathedral City of Gloucester here in the UK of the considerable benefits that could be had from the deployment of the latest generation of ultra-low cost, slim-line electronically-guided Minitrams from Transport Design International as the city gears up for a vital new phase of regeneration and redevelopment.(Note: TDI's unique battery-powered EG trams require no rails or overhead cables.)

TDI EG Minitram
TDI's "one tenth the cost" EG Minitram - available in various shapes and sizes(see below)...

To this end, just before Christmas, we enlisted the help of Britain's 2004 Regional Newspaper of the Year, Gloucesterhire's "The Citizen"(est. readership 90,000) after having first pitched the idea - which we've dubbed the "City Tram" - to a variety of city planners and decision-makers.

And sure enough, a few weeks later, on Jan 4 2005, The Citizen newspaper obliged with an impressive headlining, multi-page, full-colour feature* "City on Track for Return of Trams" outlining our EG tram proposal accompanied by an unexpectedly fulsome editorial "Tram System Could Give Big Boost to City" enthusiastically backing the idea. (*Citizen online = text only)

And as if that wasn't enough - just minutes after the newspaper hit the news-stands at midday - ITV's Central Television News called to ask if we could dash to their local studios to appear in a news item on our EG "City Tram" proposal for broadcast on the early evening news later that same day. And indeed - an hour later EVUK's Paul Govan duly found himself on camera swivelling on a swivel chair - and being told not to swivel - sweaty, shiny, now non-swivelling profile picked out against a backdrop of six TV monitors all simultaneously displaying identical images of TDI's EG tram taken during its successful Stratford trial. Fifteen seconds of fame? This time round we, and TDI's trams, had to make do with less than ten...

TDI EG Minitram Type 2
TDI's EG Minitram in articulated wider-bodied(but still low-cost) form

Of course towns and cities around the globe face, and in many instances, have imaginatively resolved similar transport problems and challenges to those now confronting increasingly gridlocked Gloucestrians.
But up to now the choice has so often been seen largely as being between:
- expensive and inflexible(difficult to re-route/up-root)
   trams/light rail
- yet more uninspiring polluting buses or ... worse still:
- some form of car-lobby-pleasing road expansion programme.

But TDI's NESTA Innovation award-winning technologies offer a novel, clean, low-cost, genuinely blue-sky alternative to all of the above, with the potential to reach places other trams cannot reach - and at a fraction("one tenth" - so they insist..) of the cost.

Stratford on Avon's trial of TDI's unique, lightweight battery-powered trams, for example, received an impressive 98% approval rating from the public(see photo-report) with the result that county officials and planners say they are now seriously considering rolling out a town-wide network there in the future.

London Clean Energy/Transport Expo(May 5-7 2005)
- the French aren't coming..nor, after all, are the Swedes...
Again - à propos those "non-stop campaign activities"...
- As anyone who campaigns for any cause will know, many ideas, many multi-pronged little mini-initiatives, and countless - at first hopeful - email and telephone quests don't in the end pay off...

SVE Cleanova II
Cleanova II - "Non!"..to UK Clean Energy/Transport Expo

We have, for instance, been attempting over the past few weeks - so far sadly without much success(you can help by emailing...see below) - to convince three leading French / Axis of Evol-ution EV enterprises - SVE, Batscap/Bolloré and Venturi - to consider bringing their respective groundbreaking Li-ion powered vehicles to congestion-charged London in May for the inaugural Clean Energy and Transport Expo taking place at the Business Design Centre.
As things stand, it does not appear as if the 100+ miles/charge Cleanova II, the circa 150 miles/charge VBE1 or the 106 mph Venturi Fétish will be adorning any UK transport or environmental Expos any time soon...unless perhaps significant numbers of eager EVUK'ers can be persuaded, en masse, to fire off imploring, adoring little emails in the direction of :
press@venturi.fr    Venturi Fétish
contact@batscap.com    VBE1
jean-francois.herchin@wanadoo.fr   Cleanova II:
Jean-François Herchin, Directeur des Programmes SVE

....and perhaps together we can engineer a 'by popular demand' volte-face. If not, it can surely do no harm to let the French know how much we admire their EV's, their flair and their savoir faire...

Venturi Fetish
How long will UK be Fétish-free?

There had been some initial hope too - so the organisers tell us - that the 180 miles/charge, 85 mph Li-ion Volvo 3CC might be taking centre stage at the event. But the Swedes have just recently announced that the 3CC will now be showing(and no doubt stealing the show..) elsewhere in early May.

Needless to say, Toyota will be there with the Prius. But the obvious question arises(though journalists of course refuse to ask it) - namely :
- If Toyota really want to sell and popularize the Prius, why are they not advertising them on TV..or almost anywhere else for that matter?

Perhaps Toyota are about to surprise us all by making a seminal switch to genuine 100+ mpg plug-in(able) hybrids(PIHEV's).
They have certainly been keeping a very close eye on plug-in hybrid trailblazers like Professor Andrew Frank of the University of California at Davies who, as recently
reported in USA Today, has spent more than ten years, together with his engineering students, turning production vehicles into plug-in hybrids using off-the-shelf parts :
"We just built a high-performance plug-in hybrid Ford Explorer," he says. "It's 325 horsepower - 200 of that horsepower is electric and 125 is gasoline. This car goes like a rocket, but still gets double the fuel economy of a regular hybrid. And for the first 50 miles it is all electric - zero emissions."
(See "Team Fate" project for pictures/details.)

Team Fate Yosemite/Explorer plug-in
UCDavies' Team Fate's "Yosemite" Ford Explorer plug-in doubles hybrid fuel economy

So just how then how will MG Rover - who're also attending the London Expo - be hoping to compete with Professor Frank's plugged-in hybrids?
Daihatsu UFE II -Ultra Fuel Efficient And how will Rover's latest efforts - their last chance hybrid saloon/sedan - compare with the super-frugal, and hence conspicuously under-reported, 140-170 mpg Daihatsu UFE II concept(pictured)?

Given that UK-taxpayers have funded Rover's latest venture to the tune of £1.057 million via the DTI's Ultra Low Carbon Car Challenge, we'd like to know to what extent Rover and partners MIRA, Powertrain Ltd. and Pi Technology will simply be re-inventing the hybrid 'wheel' and playing catch-up.
Should we expect a BP-friendly 50 mpg - or a Shell-shocking 100+ ? Who knows, perhaps they too will surprise us all and leap-frog the competition with some form of advanced plug-in technology.

Rover - throw the rest of us a bone!
Perhaps the uniquely creative financial and fund-raising wizards at MG Rover - the miraculously reincarnated "English Patient" - could consider setting up a second stand at the May Expo advising the rest of us on how to secure huge government and private investment - even from the Chinese - and even if you happen to be dogged(like Rover!) by a chronically loss-making track-record...
(See Parliamentary answers re UK Govt's back-door/barn door financing of MG Rover.)

Note: while it's no secret that we're not huge hybrid fans here at EVUK, we do believe - just as many so clearly fear - that PIHEV's could help speed up the transition towards affordable long-range pure battery EV's. And despite the mischievous "You don't have to plug them in" mantra that Toyota's ad-men and EV-hostile journalists love to trott out - the obvious appeal of plug-in-able hybrids is that you don't have to plug them in...unless, that is, you like avoiding petrol-stations.

Anyway, having noted very little EV-grassroots awareness of the upcoming London Expo, we have been busy spreading the word and can report that several small companies contacted by us have now decided to attend - amongst them, we're pleased to report, UK and China-based PML Flightlink - manufacturers of the SOA wheel hub-motors that Steve Green of Greener Energy will likely be using to increase the power and performance of the 4-seater successor to his record-breaking 200 mile/charge, 71 mph Jester EV.
Steve Green is himself still considering reserving space at the event provided he can avoid(again - like Rover..) paying out more than £1000 for the privilege.

But William Mollett of LPB Events(Tel: 0207 751 9998 enq@clean-energy-expo.com ) who is organising this Clean Energy Technology and Investment Expo, told EVUK - after we had pressed him on the point - that he is very keen to ensure that cash-starved small companies and innovators at the cutting-edge of pure battery vehicle innovation are not denied the opportunity to participate in the event in order to attract potential crucial investment:

"All worthy, interested, innovative companies that wish to take a space at the show but are unfunded should contact me as I have a list of DTI contacts from the 'regional development areas' that may be able to help local companies involved with developing technologies in the renewable energy and automotive sectors."

TV's EV Awakening ?

In January two more TV production companies (woah..that makes three in two months..) contacted us here at EVUK seeking EV advice for a variety of vaguely EV-related new programmes or series of a vaguely environmental nature that we're told are in the pipeline. Confidentiality prevents us from being too specific at this point but these are mainstream productions for the likes of the BBC and Channel 4.

We do have to say, though, that we never cease to be amazed at the level of media-reinforced ignorance and misinformation-based hostility that still persists with respect to battery electric vehicles - especially here in the UK - even amongst otherwise highly educated and enlightened individuals such as engineers, academics, educators, politicians, environmental campaigners and, yes, TV company researchers. Milk floats, golf-carts and the Sinclair C5 - it is certainly no accident that, even now, in our judgement over 95% of the UK population still have not progressed beyond these cherished prehistoric comedy stereotypes.(What they don't know they can't want, right?)

Tom Hanks in his Rav4 EV
Ha! Ha! Get a life! An hilariously funny, fast milk-float(yesterday). Photo: EV Guide

Milking the Joke...
However, we do feel fairly confident that we have succeeded in positively influencing one future edition of a very popular TV show in particular which - you guessed it - is to revolve around souped-up(duh!) milk-floats: we have - fingers crossed - persuaded the producers to include at the top of the show a fast & furious whisk through the..er...Crème de la Crème of record-breaking and/or stereotype-crushing EV's such as the Ferrari-thrashing, Porsche-pasting TZero, the 315 mph
Buckeye Bullet, the 106 mph Venturi Fétish as well as(hopefully) Tom Hanks' favourite car the Toyota Rav4 EV. (All too predictably, as far as we could tell, no-one at this particular TV production company had ever heard of any of these EV's...)

Related links:

1) Calcars (San Francisco) - all-round plug-in hybrid specialists/evangelists, quote: "creating the starting point for mass-produced gas-optional or plug-in hybrids." Creators of the PRIUS+ plug-in prototype and Yahoo Discussion Group.

2) Transport Design International(UK) Contact: Martin Pemberton designstudio@tdi.uk.com Tel : (0)1789 490370

3) Daimler Chrysler Sprinter - clever plug-in "Dual Drive" hybrid van. But the 30km/19 mile ZEV/electric mode is disappointing cf. Ford Explorer/Yosemite above.

January, 2005

Thunder Sky defends (temporary?) Li-ion price increases.

Jester EV TS MPower 600W
Steve Green's 200+ miles/charge Jester and Thunder Sky's Mpower 600W e-scooter

Steve Green, designer of the Thunder Sky-powered, UK range record-breaking Jester EV, has been in touch to alert us to the fact that Thunder Sky have recently hiked the price of their high-performance, still relatively low-cost, Li-ion cells.
Steve is now developing (you heard it here first!) a 4-seater, state-of-the-art, in-wheel or hub motor-powered successor to the Jester(..and still looking for sponsors) and tells us he is more than a little concerned at TS's latest move:

"Thunder Sky have just quoted me prices for what I was hoping to order which are nearly 50% higher than they were a couple of months ago. That is a lot of extra money which I don't know if I can find and which also unfortunately plays havoc with commercial cases that we are trying to make. While I may be able to understand why the prices go up, when you're trying to work on a tight budget, it makes a very big difference."

So EVUK contacted Thunder Sky to express our own and Steve Green's concerns. Here's what they told us:

"We understand the customers' concerns very well. In fact, the cycle life of the battery has been increased with the latest technology and of course the performance will be perfect if a BMS(Battery Management System) is added.
Our battery performance will continue to get better and better due to the continuous development of manufacturing techniques. However, it is due to the fact that the material prices for lithium battery in the world have been raised that we have had no choice but to adjust the unit price accordingly.
We hope the situation will return to normal soon and relieve the price pressure, and we will inform you promptly if there is a reduction in the cost of the raw materials. "

We also contacted Dennis Doerffel (REAPSystems UK) who, as well as being organiser of the annual Li-ion/Thunder Sky conferences and co-ordinator of the TS bulk purchase order scheme, also moderates the Yahoo Thunder Sky Discussion Group. Here are his thoughts on the TS price increases:

"Firstly - market forces: obviously if there was anyone making batteries for similar low prices/high performance, Thunder Sky could not afford to increase prices, but unfortunately there(still) isn't ...
And why don't we in Britain get anything done ie. develop SOA Li-ion cells ourselves??
And where are our 17.5% VAT, plus other taxes all going? That, from my point of view, is what's really worth talking about and writing about before we start chasing Thunder Sky over the price increases.
Unfortunately the only people making a lot of money on our last bulk order is the UK government!

Secondly - real cost: The dollar went down a lot and Thunder Sky buys electrode material from Europe - hence their material cost went up, if measured in dollars. The cost did not go up too much if measured in pounds or Euros.
However, I do feel confident of being able to make Thunder Sky batteries available to enthusiasts in the UK for acceptable prices in future. But believe me - I have to offer TS something in return, because a few tens of thousands of pounds do not make small volume customers very interesting to them.

Thunder Sky cell prices went up slightly (in £ terms), but I think only for (very) small volume customers, and that's because Thunder Sky has now realised just how much time they have to spend discussing performance and prices with every single small customer ... time is money, even in China. In the end they are manufacturers and not a sales office.
What I offer them in return is a presence in the scientific world, which potentially delivers major customers to them."

(EVUK Ed: similarly, EVUK has over the last 3 years or so been the loudest and most enthusiastic - not to mention unpaid - cheerleader for Thunder Sky's low-cost, high-performance Li-ion batteries. Type keyword: Thunder in our Homepage Search Box to see what we've done on the company's behalf..)

Related Links:

MSNBC - Thunder Sky's US TV News breakthrough?
- It's no mean feat for any EV company to be mentioned by a mainstream media news outlet - let alone a Chinese enterprise. Many of you may have missed MSNBC's special report(Nov, 04) entitled "China Plugs into Electric Vehicles."
Here's a TS-related extract from that MSNBC report headed Home-grown company:

"Yoshida's experience was with Thunder Sky, a privately held company aggressively trying to market the technology at home and abroad.

CEO Lindo Ho told MSNBC.com that the battery-maker had also caught the attention of a French carmaker.

TS EV2008 Bus

Lithium ion batteries, Ho added, break "the bottleneck" that had plagued electric vehicles, noting that Thunder Sky's bus has a range of 180 miles and a recharge time of just three hours.

The company has also developed an electric scooter with a 95-mile range, 60 mph top speed and a 90 minute recharge time, she said. Plans are to partner with a scooter maker and sell it for around $2,000.

She's even hopeful that within five years electric cars for families could be available, but achieving that, she says, requires government help to develop a charging infrastructure for the public. "

December, 2004

Saphion Gen II Li-ion - poised to charge into lead?

Hyundai Accent EV Hyundai Accent EV
Hyundai Accents(Alternativ, Canada) to be upgraded from lead-acid to Saphion Li-ion. Click photos to enlarge

EVUK was recently contacted by Simon Sheldon of Amberjac Projects - a company appointed to represent Valence Technology Inc. here in the UK. Simon was particularly keen to tell us about Valence's Saphion's second generation(Gen II) Saphion EV/HEV li-ion battery.
- Here are some key extracts from our dialogue and correspondence:

Simon Sheldon(SS): I am operating as a consultant in the field of battery technology for use with EV's and HEV's etc.
I have read with interest a few of the articles on the EVUK website on lithium battery solutions for the EV market. I work closely with Valence Technology on their Saphion (Lithium Iron Phosphate) promoting them in various markets including EV/HEV. If you would like to arrange a discussion for an article I will be only too happy to participate. The feedback we are getting from the EV industry so far is very encouraging as this is a technology available now, not several years down the road.

EVUK: Good to hear from you. I wonder if you could give us your view as to why you think Saphion's Li-ion would be a better option than, let's say, Thunder Sky at this point - especially with respect to cost but also as regards reliability, energy density, performance etc. (Here by the way is a link to a basic description of the Thunder Sky "colloid Cr-F-Li" cells)

And perhaps you could also jog our memory as to who else in the UK or Europe is already testing or using Saphion Li-ion in EV's or prototypes?

SS: Saphion technology represents a major step forward in EV battery technology on several fronts. The full list of advantages are:

1) Safety. No thermal runaway issues when the battery cells are exposed to abuse conditions such as over charge, penetration or crash damage
2) High energy density
3) Fast recharge times, 2C charge on regenerative breaking is no problem
4) High discharge rates of up to 5C, gen 2 Saphion much higher
5) Extremely long life expectancy, for example UPS applications can expect around 10+years in service - that is 3 times lead acid life expectancy (for that application).
6) High number of cycles: 2000 cycles to 80% initial capacity
7) Very tolerant to a wide range of charge voltages and regimes
8) Fast charge capability, for example 2C charge rates
9) Low self discharge
10) Fewer nasties, no heavy metals or toxic metallic materials
11) Excellent float charge characteristics
12) Wide operating temperature range -20 to +60 deg C
13) Very tolerant to a wide range of charge voltages and regimes
14) Good fit with recycling regulations, benign cathode chemistry
15) Good rate performance

Saphion cells use carbon anodes and Lithium-Iron-Phosphate cathodes doped with Magnesium to produce a battery system that is not only safe but also has very good rate capability. Our next generation cathode technology has been developed as a highly conductive system capable of cycling at high rate with good life characteristics. The Saphion cathode system does not decompose until 1000 deg Celsius at which point no Oxygen is released and there is no fire hazard.

EVI Truck  EVI Tram
EVI - trialling Saphion cells in its range of electric trucks, trams and shuttle buses

For a more traditional Lithium system (Lithium-Cobalt-Dioxide) the decomposition temperature is 160 deg Celsius, upon decomposition oxygen is released creating a serious fire issue called "thermal runaway".

Safety is a major concern in automotive EV applications, if a vehicle with a Cobalt-Dioxide system were to suffer a crash and the battery pack was damaged or shorted out there could be a serious fire problem. No such problem would exist with a Saphion EV system, only the normal hazard of lots of energy that you would have with any electrical storage system.

I am aware of the Thunder Sky cells but I do not know exactly what Thunder Sky currently use as anode, cathode and electrolyte and I cannot imagine, and would be very surprised, if they used the above combination. So I cannot comment on how effective their battery system is as far as safety, rate capability and cycle life is concerned. Perhaps you could let me know the basic constituents of their system so that I can give you an opinion?

Systems that contain Coke anodes tend to suffer from low discharge rates and low energy density, when combined with a spinel cathode system the energy density takes a further hit. This is very cheap technology but considered of such poor performance that it is no longer used.

Lithium Perchlorate electrolytes have been extensively researched in the past, about 10 to 15 years ago, and the materials were rejected for use in smaller battery systems due to safety concerns. Lithium Perhchlorate when dry, and everything needs as little moisture as possible in a Lithium battery, is very sensitive to explosion upon shock and vibration and it was considered too hazardous to ship in a battery system, hence the reason it is no longer used by anyone. Large format batteries containing Lithium Perchlorate electrolytes would not be considered by virtually any battery system manufacturer for safety reasons. Just to reinforce this point, I was talking to a leading Lithium battery research scientist a little while ago who told me that he had to give up on researching Lithium Perchlorate as an electrolyte system for his PhD thesis because the explosions in his lab were becoming more expensive and dangerous as time went on.

UEV Electrum Spyder
UEV Electrum Spyder - set to be powered by Saphion?

Spinel cathodes (Lithium-Manganese-Oxide) were developed to overcome some of the thermal runaway issues of a Cobalt-Dioxide system, very few manufacturers have adopted spinel due to low energy density, although it has found some applications in mixed metal oxide cathodes to improve safety. Many manufacturers are talking of the improved safety of mixed metal oxide cathodes but the safety improvements are marginal.

Currently there are three live European Automotive EV applications where our cells will be going on trial and pricing levels have been set. I cannot name them due to me being under non-disclosure agreements with them. There are also five trials(*see 'Related links' below) under way in the USA including development work with the USABC on future battery technology for EV's.

Also we have just started talking to some more major EV/HEV players in Europe and the response we have had, especially from a safety viewpoint, has been tremendous.

Sorry I can't be more specific with company names, these are very big companies that take the secrecy and confidentiality of their projects very seriously and I have worked in the automotive industry long enough to know the ropes as far as leaked information is concerned.

My comments on Lithium Perchlorate electrolytes, and various anode and cathode materials, are facts gathered from the leading scientists in the battery world, properly researched.

If anyone is using a battery system that uses Lithium Perchlorate as an electrolyte (regardless of the manufacturer) they should very seriously consider the implications of doing so and ensure that any battery system carries the appropriate certification for transportation (UN DOT, UL, TUV) and never allow the transport of a cell using a Lithium Perchlorate electrolyte onboard an aircraft.

Battery education has been a major part of my activities over the last two years, ensuring that guidelines for the safe use of Lithium batteries are followed, I can count many multinational companies as my OEM clients as well as contact with several aviation authorities who are increasingly concerned about the transportation of Lithium cells/battery packs onboard aircraft. The incidence of Lithium batteries being transported without the correct testing being performed, without the proper labelling (DG Class 9) and in unsuitable packaging are alarming.

EVIShuttle Bus
EVI - electric shuttle bus

EVUK: I'm guessing that Gen II Saphion may will include some form of nanotech enhancement? So can I ask what your views are or how much you're allowed to say - on the use of nanotechnology, nanomaterials, nanoparticles, nanofibers in EV/HEV Li-ion batteries? (Note to readers: 1 nanometere = 1 billionth of a metre) I realise that this is an especially hot/sensitive subject - but to many EV-watchers nanotechnology could truly open the doors to genuine ZEV viability.

We have been impressed for example by what Altair Nanotechnologies, Taiwan's ITRI(Industrial Technology Research Institute) , SRI International have so far achieved and announced on the subject. So I wonder if, prior to our phone conversation, I could ask you to take a quick look at an especially interesting Small Times press release "Nanomaterials Enable Alternative Energy" and comments made there by SRI's energy cell specialist Subhash Narang. I'd especially appreciate your comments on the following extract:

"By definition, says Narang, the smaller electrolyte particles that allow energy to move faster do not store as much energy as larger particles.

But Narang and other researchers have found ways to combine high energy density with high power using nanotechnology.

In SRI's case, the approach involves using high aspect ratio nanomaterials, or nanofibers. The nanofibers are minutely small in one dimension (about 20 nanometers) so energy flows rapidly across them. But because they are, relatively speaking, long in the other dimension (50 to 200 nanometers) they can store much more energy than nanoparticles with small dimensions all around.

The result, Narang maintains, is a battery that can deliver about eight times the power of a traditional battery while providing comparable energy. Plus, there's a bonus: The nanoscale dimensions that let energy move rapidly also allow the battery to recharge faster when the energy flow is reversed, a feature that's important for hybrid cars designed to harvest energy from braking and use it to recharge the batteries.

Other organizations are working on the same problem. Ener1, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., is researching enhancements for electrolytes and cathodes, using nano-structured powders for electrolytes and nano-structured, iron-disulfide for cathodes.

The company says that by combining its nano-structured, iron-disulfide cathode with its polymer electrolyte it can provide high energy and a long cycle life. "

SS: I think that there is a lot of very valuable and interesting work going on in the area of nanotechnology.
The problem I have with this is that any development programme that has resulted in laboratory success is not indicative of scaled production of materials. Often the scaling up from lab to larger volume batch production is problematic and can cause many projects to simply fall over.

Nanotechnology may be valuable, but is it really the complete answer to the EV/HEV power problem? There are other issues that need to be addressed before Lithium technology can make the final step in to the larger format world, namely safety, recycling and cycle life issues of the basic chemistry. We can answer all three with existing Saphion technology that is available right now because we're singing from a completely different song sheet as far as basic chemistry is concerned.

Gen 2 Saphion does not strictly adhere to a nanotechnology route to achieve the higher power results we are seeing Small particle size from a special manufacturing process has, however, made the large scale commercial production of phosphates a reality for the first time at economic rates. The structure of Gen 2 Saphions is the factor that is making a real difference to rate capability, this development uses a 3D NASICON structure(see Valence pdf for Nasicon definition) with highly conductive paths made by allowing the lithium-ions to exist in close proximity to each other and aligned perfectly. The material is a complete departure from existing Lithium-Ion thinking in that the cathode chemistry has been developed as a highly conductive material from the ground up, rather than a modification of an existing chemistry to make it do something it was not originally intended to do.

The good news is that standard thinking in cell construction can be used and only minor modifications to electrolytes are needed to handle the likely power outputs, keeping the technology relatively inexpensive. Beefing up the internals is also sometimes required as the power handling limits of the existing cells can easily be reached.

Unfortunately you will have to wait until the Gen 2 material is commercialised for release officially by Valence Technology before we can start openly discussing the technology in detail or reporting on the development. The commercialisation of Gen 2 will happen *** Quarter of **** ****. This is to be kept quiet and confidential for the moment please.(EVUK Ed. Sorry EVUK'ers - we can only tell you that it will be sooner rather than later...)

Whatever is done to improve the performance of existing Lithium (Lithium-Cobalt-Dioxide) chemistry the fundamentals of safety in large formats will continue to plague the progress of Lithium batteries in EV/HEV applications, just a quote from the Small Times nanotech piece you quote:

"The ordinarily inverse relationship between energy and longevity is hardly the only problem plaguing the development of hybrid car batteries. According to Narang, there is a similarly inverse relationship between how much energy a battery can store and its inherent safety.

"The trend in the industry is to pack more and more energy into a smaller volume," he said. As a result, today "were making batteries that have more energy than TNT."

Safety concerns have compelled automakers to rely on less volatile but poorer performing materials for their hybrids. Honda and Toyota currently use nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries in hybrids, despite the fact that lithium-ion (Li-ion) is generally regarded as a better technology.

"Lithium-ion is dangerous in big form factors," said Alexei Andreev, a solid-state physicist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson. He negotiated the companys investment in Solicore Inc., a Florida startup that makes a solid-state electrolyte for batteries. "

With the Saphion range of materials we have, for the first time, got a Lithium cell that does not in anyway suffer the same fire and thermal runaway problems of more traditional Cobalt based Lithium batteries. This enables us to build a battery pack as large as you want.....safely. We are also beyond current technology for load conditions and maximising regen power even with the Gen 1 materials. We can accept a 2C charge easily even at 90% SOC, no other commercially available cell can offer such an attractive range of performance characteristics.

I am going to point you to a link on the Valence website that provides a sneak preview of what Gen II Saphion is going to offer: http://www.valence.com/ISEPS_Valence_Saidi_FL-meeting_0304.pdf
This, by the way, is information generated by the research and development conducted by Dr Jerry Barker and Dr Yazid Saidi, probably two of the most forward-thinking scientists in the world in the field of Lithium technology, and two really nice guys for whom I have a lot of respect. Related links:

1) Alternativ(Canada) - will use Saphion Li-ion in Hyundai Accent EV fleet in place of lead acid. See Auto Channel press release.

2) Electric Vehicles International(EVI) - are evaluating Saphion cells. See Valence press release.

3) Segway Human Transporter range to be extended by Saphion Li-ion cells.

4) Universal Electric Vehicle(UEV) - looking to use Saphion li-ion in its range of EV's - including the Electrum Spyder. See EVUK report.

5) Valence Named As Top 100 Innovator.

6) Saphion & pricing/cost - quote from Valence June 14, 2004 press release: "The transition of manufacturing operations to Asia lowered product and fixed overhead costs and dramatically improved gross margins from year-ago levels."

7) Valence News Archives.

8) Valence(VLNC) Yahoo message board.

December, 2004

Spark - CNN's bright new tech/eco-tech show puts BBC TV to shame.

Just how much longer can BBC TV remain an alternative technology exclusion zone?

Kristie Lu Stout CNN
CNN 'Spark' presenter Kristie Lu Stout

Over the past 10 years or so the business world and our corporate media have succeeded, before and beyond the tech-boom, in narrowly redefining the word "technology", reducing and limiting its meaning to signify "anything related to PC's, mobile phones, consumer electronics, gadgets and games".

The BBC's flagship "technology" show Clickonline is a classic case in point: for whilst the various BBC websites and BBC Online generally do cover the whole technology gamut, BBC domestic television's King Canute-like, increasingly history-obsessed(see below) programme-planners still steadfastly refuse to provide viewers with any future-focused TV programme/show dedicated to innovation and new "technology" in the true broad Oxford English Dictionary(OED) sense of the word and, in particular, continue to demonstrate an overt and, in every sense, unsustainable aversion to green, alternative technologies.

Given that the Government's Chief Science Advisor Sir David King recently famously commented that: "Climate change poses a much greater threat than terrorism" (see BBC Global WarNing report and video) just why is the world's once most respected public service broadcaster still refusing to actively promote and advance green technologies and policies in its domestic public service TV schedules while Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear is gifted two hours of BBC airtime each week?

In spark-ingly stark contrast, CNN's new - sadly only monthly - tech-show Spark (spark@cnn.com Fridays 24.00 and Sundays 21.30 CET - 1hr earlier in UK) so far at least - appears to be attempting to re-appropriate the word "technology" and return it to that original, all-encompassing OED definition.
The latest edition of the programme, for example, features items about the 4-seater GEM electric NEV(well - it's a start!), various forms of renewable energy as well as, of course, the usual almost obligatory Toyota Prius feature.

Note of Caution:
- The few innovation & tech shows that have made it to the small screen in the past have almost always - rather in the manner of politicians seeking (re-)election - tended to set out with a strong environmental, alternative tech message only to dilute it or abandon it altogether once viewers/voters have taken the bait and been hooked or lured in.
Only time will tell if Spark keeps up the eco-zeal over the long haul....

Related links:
- Other recommended, broad definition(ie. non BBC TV-style!) Tech/Eco-Tech TV programmes/shows:

EuroNews 'High Tech' - some excellent multi-lingual video reports are also viewable from the website including museum footage of Camille Jenatzy's "Jamais Contente" which in 1899 set the first land speed record of 66 mph in a streamlined vehicle powered by two 12 volt motors.
A recent lengthy EuroNews EV/ZEV report also featured an interview in London with EBike Central's Neil Watts.
Contact EuroNews.

Tomorrow Today - Deutsche Welle TV's English version of their German language Projekt Zukunft tech show. Broadcast almost every day.
Contact: tomorrow@dw-world.de
(Oh dear BBC: Tomorrow Today...Project Future - this is what the planet urgently needs instead of your endless "All Our Yesterdays" productions...)

Nano - excellent long-running German innovation/tech TV programme already featured many times in EVUK. Broadcast six days a week.
Contact: nano@3sat.de

Note: All of the above mentioned tech/eco-tech shows are available free-to-air on the Astra satellite at 19.2 degrees east.

Finally, given that TV now has demonstrably more power to raise public awareness and stir up pressure for change than any political party on the planet, we strongly urge people to please:

- contact these tech shows, asking for more EV/ZEV coverage and for more reports on those eco-innovations that have not yet made it to market but which are still at the R&D/prototype stage and (probably urgently) in need of publicity and investment.

- let us know (editor@evuk.co.uk) about any other Spark-like tech/eco-tech shows anywhere else in the world - whatever the language - that we may have overlooked.

November, 2004

BatScap/Bolloré's low-cost, long-range li-ion VBE1 - an update

Sorry no pictures yet - but for all regular EVUK'ers out there who may be wondering, as we were, whether the long-range, low-cost BatScap/Bolloré "VBE1" li-ion prototype might - like countless other loudly-trumpeted EV projects - simply fizzle and fade away or face endless postponements(cf. the French MDI Air Car for instance)...we have good news of the 'so far so good variety'(well, it is better than no news!)...

Vincent Bollore
Vincent Bolloré at the launch of the French Government's "Environmental Rendez-Vous" initiative

...Having spotted the 12 November '04 French Government press release "Electric Car: Myth or Reality?"(see below) featuring Vincent Bolloré, we decided it would be a good time to contact BatScap to confirm that the project was indeed going to plan and that the VBE1 was still on schedule to appear at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2005. We were also curious to know if the prototype would be making the short trip south to Monaco for next year's EVS21 in April.
The reply from BatScap was short and sweet but a little surprising with respect to EVS21:

"Whilst we are unable to provide further details regarding progress in the development of our EV, we can confirm it will be launched, as planned, at the Geneva Motor Show in March. However, we do not intend to take it to EVS21 in Monaco."

See French Government(and French language!) press release in which Vincent Bolloré's collaborator, Philippe Guédon(Renault Espace creator and former head of Matra Automobile Engineering - now a subsiduary of Pininfarina) comments, crucially, that:

"The aim is not to limit EV's to big commercial fleet operators but to make them appeal to "Mr & Mrs Everyman"("Monsieur et Madame Tout-le-Monde").

November, 2004

Back To The Future Now? Peter Lyon travels through time in the 250 mph Li-ion Eliica (Auto Express & Daily Mail)

Eliica It may be our imagination - or just plain wishful-wistful thinking - but this latest report by Peter Lyon (Auto Express & Daily Mail) seems a lot more bullish, urgent - even EV-angelical - than the usual token fare ie. as in: "Here's another great greenwash EV no-one wants you to have."

For more see Eliica homepage.

November, 2004

EV / ZEV Broken Promises: EVUK and The Daily Telegraph - Part I
(Part II "EVUK Exchange of Fire with Daily Telegraph" coming soon...)

"Mercedes electric A-Class(120 miles/charge, 77 mph) will not now go on sale until the end of 1999" (BBC Top Gear, 1998):

Mercedes A Class EV & FCV
(Courtesy EV World)

...Mercedes F-Cell/Necar etc "market-ready by 2004"(Channel4 TV, 2001)

Well, it's EV Groundhog Day 2004. We've all heard the same old time-warp script - the promises, the excuses - a thousand times.
Enough already! We decided it was once again time to try and break the media silence before 2005 hits us. So we fired off the letter below to the Daily Telegraph (dtletters@telegraph.co.uk) to vent some spleen.
The next day the paper's motoring editor Peter Hall sent this short but intriguing response:

"Your timing is impeccable. Don't miss our cover story on Saturday".

Hmm...this sounded promising - but would they actually do what journalists never do ie. bite the hand that feeds them and roundly criticise the carmakers for repeatedly failing to deliver the zero-emission electric-drive alternatives to the energy-inefficient Infernal Combustion Engine they have so long promised.

And: would the 'cover story' yet again inform us that "Fuel cells are 'the' future" - rather than "fuel cells will be part of a diverse electric future" and that the "future" needs to happen the day before tomorrow - now in 2004 as promised - and not the day after..the day after...

Andrew English As it turns out, the cover story's author Andrew English - one of two UK motoring journalists for whom we do have a certain respect(Jesse Crosse is the other..) breaks media ranks and delivers one of the most blistering indictments of the motor industry we've ever seen. At the end of the piece ('Feeding The Dragon', 30/10/04) he cuts to the chase and goes straight for the jugular with this final coup de grace:

"From where I stand, with a headache, in Shanghai, it has all turned out to be so much pie in the sky. Sometimes I really hate the car industry."

What a pity Andrew English doesn't extend his condemnation to the carmakers' mercenary accomplices and partners in crime - his fellow ICE-worshipping, loyal-to-oil hacks who, with few exceptions, continue to sing from the same sorry hymn-sheet of ICE-idolatry.

So - here is EVUK's missive to the main(ie. non-motoring section) Letters Pages of the Daily Telegraph:

Re: "Broken promises -electric and fuel cell cars"

Sir,

- Why I wonder do we so rarely, if ever, see letters-to-the-editor, or indeed TV/newspaper reports, taking carmakers to task and demanding to know why alternative-powered electric and fuel cell vehicles have failed to appear in car showrooms as once so confidently promised?

Towards the end of the 1990's I personally was looking forward to purchasing an advanced battery-powered, cheap-to-run Mercedes A-Class EV - as featured around that time on two separate editions of BBC's Top Gear.
However, following a "temporary" setback in 1998 when Jeremy Clarkson himself announced that Mercedes had postponed the launch of the 120 mile per charge, 77 mph car until the end of 1999, the electric Merc sadly failed to materialise at all and those of us relishing the prospect of greener, exhaust-free, energy-efficient, whisper-quiet motoring were left high and dry as Mercedes and the media scurried to bury the whole project.

The message(misleading as it turns out) put out by the world's major carmakers and their legions of loyal media messengers at that time was:
"Forget battery power - fuel cell-powered cars are far better - and they're just around the corner! Expect fuel cell cars in showrooms by 2004!"

But by mid-2002(or thereabouts) the promises abruptly and conspicuously dried up. With no apologies or reference to earlier pledges and predictions we were suddenly being told "not to expect fuel cell cars until 2010 or 2012" - or "not for another ten years at least".
The public, it seems, was simply expected to have completely forgotten that all those "fuel cell cars by 2004" predictions had ever been made by so many eminent automotive "experts".

So, however unpopular the question appears to be in most motoring, media and government circles, I again ask:
Why the broken promises? Why the media silence and apparent complicity?
And why is the British public - as environmentally-concerned and engaged as we purport to be - seemingly not moved to demand credible explanations from carmakers, politicians and, perhaps most importantly, from the media, for all of these broken promises and endless day-after-tomorrow delays?

(Note to editor: We have listed below a number of links to articles and press releases in which most of the major carmakers promise or predict "fuel cell cars market-ready by 2004" or thereabouts. Also included is a link to a detailed article about the battery-powered Mercedes A-Class as described above. Ironically, the Mercedes battery-powered A-Class would, with the technological advances that have occurred since 1997, undoubtedly offer better range, accceleration, reliability and overall performance than almost all current fuel cell vehicle prototypes.)

Yours sincerely,

(EVUK Editors) editor@EVUK.co.uk

Footnote links("Fuel Cells by 2004", Mercedes A-Class EV):

Mercedes battery-powered A-Class compared to Mercedes fuel cell:
http://www.evworld.com/library/carbdetour.pdf

Assorted articles & press releases promising fuel cell cars(FCV's) by 2004-6:

http://www.channel4.com/4car/feature/feature/fuelcellpower-395/fuelcellpower-395.html

CNN Ford Focus by 2004:
http://money.cnn.com/2002/01/08/autos/auto_tech

Various other "fuel cell cars by 2004" promises/pledges:

http://www.canadiandriver.com/previews/ford_fcv.htm

http://www.gsreport.com/articles/art000109.html

http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/transportation/fuelcells.html

Hyundai fleet FCV's by 2004:
http://www.utcfuelcells.com/news/archive/2003-06-26.shtm

Thought for the Day:
"The mainstream media is now even more completely whored out to the car advertisers and to the "keep things as they are" ICE and oil lobbies - than ever it once was to the tobacco industry."
Who said it? We did! Now tell us it ain't so...

October, 2004

Exclusive: Volvo Science Officer Ichiro Sugioka tells us a little more about the 180 mile/charge, 85 mph Li-ion "3CC".

Volvo 3CC
Volvo 3CC - single motor or twin hub motors? What kind of
Li-ion chemistry?

- We had read all the near-identical press releases about the Volvo 3CC but could find no answers to a few fundamental questions - so we contacted Ichiro Sugioka Science Officer at Volvo's Monitoring and Concept Center" based in Camarillo, California.
Here's what he told us:

EVUK: Are you are at liberty to answer one or more of these supplementary questions?

Firstly: the 3CC is front-wheel drive - but is it powered by dual hub motors - which would surely enhance range/performance still further - or just by a single motor?

Secondly: the 3CC's lithium batteries - can you tell us if they are lithium polymer? Are you able to reveal anything more specific about the li-ion formulation or chemistry at all - for example is it lithium manganese or lithium sulphur?

Ichiro: The Volvo 3CC is driven by a single 80 kW AC induction motor.
The lithium-ion batteries in the Volvo 3CC were constructed using standard 18650 sized cells that are commonly used in notebook computers and camcorders.
(Corporate issues currently preclude me from revealing the source or the chemistry of the cells.)

The main challenge was to minimize the numbers of cells in order to minimize, or eliminate, the impact of the batteries on the vehicle interior and minimizing overall cost while still achieving adequate power and energy. This was done by making the vehicle smaller, lighter and more aerodynamic. Weight of the batteries alone is approximately 150 kg.

The Volvo 3CC is an exercise in future-proofed vehicle packaging so it can be adapted to accommodate various fuel and powertrain configurations, not just battery power. As a result, the 3CC was used to evaluate progress in battery development driven by the portable electronics market.
Please note that we made certain compromises to make the 3CC more attractive but it is still a highly environmental car. We feel that the world needs attractive environmental vehicles that will draw more people to do the right thing.

****
So - the GM AUTOnomy..The Ford Model U - and now the Volvo 3CC: so is this concept car deja vu all over again?

Volvo Car Corporation spokesman Dan Werbin, Director Volvo Cars North America says that:
"For Volvo, our participation is not about showing rhetorical concept cars, but to demonstrate do-able ideas about how to deliver sustainable mobility for future generations."

But when(oh-when..) we ask will the "future", the "cars of the future", the "car platforms of the future" ever actually arrive - ever be the cars of today?
When exactly will the future ever be now?

Related links:

1) Michelin Challenge Bibendum(aka 'Bibendum Challenge') - this year in Shanghai(Oct 12-14) where the Volvo 3CC was unveiled.

2) Volvo Cars email: customercare@volvocars.com - why not email Volvo Cars - not to mention your local and national media - and ask when exactly the cars of the future will become the cars of today?

October, 2004

Will Young and "Mr Kwik-Fit" back exhaust-free scooters - could Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey be next? We talk to ScootElectric's Tony Cheverall.

Tom Farmer with ScootElectric Directors
Farmer's Choice - Sir Tom(centre) with ScootElectric's Trevor Dodwell and Malcolm Rash(right)

EVUK: We decided to take another look - and a closer look - at ScootElectric a few weeks ago after spotting a very brief report in Auto Express magazine describing millionaire Kwik-Fit founder(see "The Kwik-Fit Story") Sir Tom Farmer's involvement with the company - it's a report that rather ambiguously (mis-)describes the company's products as "small electric scooters".
Would you not agree that many, if not most, people would interpret this to mean small electric Go-ped-style scooters - as opposed to full-sized "e-Vespas". We have an ongoing problem just knowing what to call these scooters don't we?

Tony: Yes, what we really need is a generic name that conveys the full-size nature of the product. All ideas from your readers gratefully received! We use the term 'e-scooters' but that's still open to misinterpretation - so we usually end up saying 'like Vespas with plugs'. In our advertising we always show images of the product to establish we're not in the 'pavement scooter' scene.

EVUK: Anyway, as I was saying, after reading about Sir Tom Farmer's involvement with ScootElectric we decided to investigate further and sent off for your Enterprise Investment Scheme prospectus - what a revelation - and what a contrast between the company's website - which is rather understated and jokey(especially the intro animation) - and this EIS prospectus.

Tony: Glad you liked the prospectus, which by necessity needs to contain a lot of 'heavy' information. I think we managed to present it in a clear and concise way. Of course, it helps that the central theme is so compelling.
As for the website, I must take issue with your view that is 'jokey'. The inspiration was Honda's Power of Dreams campaign, taking big ideas and conveying them in a way that is informative, entertaining and easy to absorb.
ScootElectric SamWe receive a lot of positive comment about the animation at the start of our website, and Sam (left) the smart e-scooter rider will feature increasingly in our advertising. We never preach about the need to 'go green'. We merely present the practical and economic benefits of switching out of cars and into scooters and then highlight the quality of life advantages of 'e-riding': zero emissions, maximum fun.

EVUK: The company really does appear to be something of a clean, green EU-wide corporate heavyweight-in-the-making - in contrast to the many lean, cash-starved and largely idealism-powered one-man ebike/escooter bedroom start-ups out there.
- How many EV start-ups can boast a "Logistics Director", a "Marketing and Communications Director", a "Finance Director", an "Engineering Director" as well as a "Mobility Director"?
We are also very impressed by the company's clear commitment to next generation advanced batteries and and to other cutting-edge EV innovations such as high-efficiency, high-torque hub-motor technology.

Tony: Thanks. We strive to be professional in everything we do, and that's one of the reasons Sir Tom Farmer came on board. We take a keen interest in EV technology as we plan to be around for quite some time.

EVUK: When will the li-ion powered Raider 80 be available in the UK/Europe? And the Li-ion version of the Evader EV200?

Raider 80
Lithium-powered Raider 80 - 50 miles/charge, 50 mph...due end '04. (Exclusive photo!)

Tony: We hope to receive our first lithium-ion Raider prototype before the end of 2004. We're still talking to Evader about representation in the UK, so I can't comment on the EV200 other than to say it looks a great machine.

EVUK: We were also pleasantly surprised to see that ScootElectric has close links with the battery development team at Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute(ITRI). As we reported last year ITRI are at the forefront of Li-ion nano-battery development - can you reveal anything to us on the that score - is the ITRI road-testing "nano-Li-ion" in electric bikes, scooters or EV's to your knowledge?

Tony: ITRI are currently testing five sample Li-ion e-scooters. The tests began on September 1 and should be complete by the end of November 30, by which time the scooters will have clocked up 12,500km of road testing between them. The samples have been submitted by one of our suppliers.
The test scooters are not equipped with nano-batteries but charge times should be significantly less than lead acid.

EVUK: When do you predict that the new improved hub motor from Raider mentioned in the prospectus (better acceleration and hill-climbing) will appear in that company's line of e-scooters?

Tony: Tests are going well but have uncovered 'spikes' in the torque curve. Although full torque is produced almost instantly, torque delivery is uneven which can result in jerky acceleration. However, this does not appear to be a major problem and the issue should be resolved by the end of 2004.

EVUK: On the question of pricing, you say, to quote the prospectus again:
"The Group's products currently compete in the 50cc class, where model prices start at £753 and rise to £2,199."

So given that Scootelectric's e-scooters range in price from £2,150 to £3,200 - in other words more or less double the cost of equivalent petrol scooters - the inevitable question arises(we're playing devil's advocate here of course - we're definitely on your side!) : - Just how do you persuade prospective customers and shareholders to accept not only far higher retail prices but also to take on board the risk inherent in buying into an emerging technology developed and manufactured by relatively new, small fledgling companies?
To put it bluntly - just how do you persuade people not to say:
"Better the devil-you-know - ie. a low-cost 50cc fossil-fuelled scooter from an long-established, trusted company like, say, Peugeot - than a relatively high-priced, new-tech, green machine from a company with no real proven track-record that might possibly not be around in 3-4 years?"

Tony: Our full-size scooters are only twice the price of generally poorly made Far Eastern imports. The premium over mainstream scooters is actually not that great, and we can demonstrate lower whole-of-life costs: no petrol, no road tax and virtually no maintenance.
The Energy Saving Trust's £200 grant is also helpful, though we would like to see it at least doubled to really kick-start consumer interest.

EVT4000e
The award-winning direct drive EVT 4000e - up to 45 miles/charge

Since the prospectus was published, we have taken on the concession for the Powershift-approved eGO Helio, which costs £1100 after the grant, and we have gone live with the EVT 4000e(Electric Vehicle Technologies), which we sell for £1,950. We are in the process of putting all our models through Powershift testing.

Some of the companies behind this new technology are indeed "fledgling" - but there are also some very well established producers, the likes of JI-EE Industry (Magic) whose core market is OE automotive equipment. As you know, our Taiwanese partners also benefit from the colossal development work done at ITRI, putting them at the cutting edge of battery and electric motor development.

As for the marketing challenge, we do not set out to conquest die-hard petrol-scooter riders, rather suburban and city commuters who can appreciate the simple pleasure of getting from A to B without a great deal of cost or stress. Given the mandate for local authorities to source 'green' vehicles for their fleets, we feel there is tremendous potential in that area, and considering the high retail price and limited performance of four-wheel mobility vehicles, there is certainly also an opportunity for us to sell Trikes to people with a partial disability or poor sense of balance.

Time will tell if we're still around in 3-4 years but I can tell you our business is geared to an AIM flotation within the next 18 months and we envisage dominating a market that is certain to grow.

EVUK: Until a few weeks ago one of your suppliers, Evader USA, were showing their EV100 and EV150 scooters priced at remarkably low prices - just $999 and $1199 respectively. (Rather worryingly all price details appear now to have been removed from the company's website - see footnote below).
Did ScootElectric ever consider stocking these ultra-low-cost, budget Evader models. And if not, why not?

Tony: We haven't yet concluded our conversations with Evader about representation, so I don't really want to comment on their product and pricing strategy. All I will say is that we expect any road-going electric scooter to have good all-round performance - acceleration, top speed, hill-climbing ability and range - and it's encouraging to see the work Evader is putting in on motors and controllers. Consumers are prepared to pay the going rate for an electric scooter that does the job.

EVUK: Again, according to the company prospectus, public awareness of the ScootElectric brand "has been achieved through exposure of the Group's products on television and radio, in a variety of national newspapers, in more than 100 regional newspapers and in a range of magazines and media events."

You would not agree with us then that only a tiny percentage - in our view probably less than 2-3% - of the population are even aware of the existence or concept of battery-powered Vespa-style scoooters?
We have never for example in the countless TV & radio reports, discussions, phone-ins etc on the hot topic of congestion, pollution and global warming heard electric scooters/e-Vespas so much as mentioned - the public and journalists still seem to believe they are thinking imaginatively and right out of the box when suggesting people switch(..or should that be "Swap"..?) to petrol-powered scooters!

So do you not agree that there is still a vast void of e-scooter awareness out there?

Tony: Yes, I share your sense of frustration about media coverage - but I believe ScootElectric has done a tremendous amount of high-quality work in this area, and the signs are that we are slowly getting through.
Of course, there is still much to do and we have set aside a significant budget to continue our awareness programme. What would really help is more commitment from central and local government.
For a start, I would like to see the Energy Saving Trust be more vocal about its mission and start promoting some of the technology featured on its Powershift Register.
On a local level, we would like to see recharging points and concessions for EV users. The recent "In Town Without My Car" Day presented an excellent opportunity to really get behind the notion of 'smart commuting' but it received little coverage. But in our own home town of Colchester, which participated in the event for the first time this year, life - and traffic - carried on pretty much as usual (ie. gridlocked) while we shunted into an off-street to demonstrate our solution to the problem!

EVUK: Do you know of any instance where e-scooters have featured or even been mentioned on national TV?

Tony:Yes. We showed one of our scooters on ITV's "This Morning" programme a while back. We've also been on some satellite channels, including BBC News 24.
Part of our media plan for 2005 will involve greater focus on national TV exposure.

EVUK: Celebrity endorsement:
- Would ScootElectric consider engaging an A- or B-list celebrity to endorse ScootElectric's e-scooters and/or electric e-Vespas in general?

Gwyneth Paltrow

For example: UK-residing Gwyneth Paltrow is now pretty famous for riding around London on a petrol-powered scooter - this may be pure fantasy on our part but could Sir Tom perhaps not have a gentle word in Ms. Paltrow's ear?(I think you might enjoy this Sky News report about Gwyneth and her scooter).

Kevin Spacey 


And another London-residing anglophile - Kevin Spacey - who's a fan of electric Zappy scooters(see EVUK's Spacey/Zappy report) - might be another willing candidate!

Will Young Oxygen- Will Young breathes easy again on new Oxygen Will Young helmeted

Tony: Yes. Did you know Pop Idol Will Young rides an Oxygen, supplied by one of our London dealers? He was pictured in "Heat" magazine taking it for a spin. We'd like Will to be to us what Jamie Oliver is to petrol scooters.
I'll also follow up your suggestion about Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey - though the latter may want an American Beauty. I know Evader have their eyes on someone special because I've put them in touch with his agent. Watch this space.

EVUK: Looking to the longer term challenge - when - and what will it take - do you believe before e-scooters become a genuinely affordable and attractive option for all those teenagers that currently tear around so many European - especially Mediterranean - towns and cities on their noisy, smelly petrol scooters?

Tony: If it's a challenge to convert tearaway teenagers to electric scooters, then it's a challenge we happily decline.
But to address the central point you make, about affordability and desire, then I believe we are already on the road to achieving those virtues. One of the quickest ways to get people talking about (and buying) electric scooters is to make them so cool that they're a must-have, and we're encouraging our manufacturers to focus much more on design and technology.
There's no reason for an electric scooter to be a Cinderella item, and advances in batteries, motors and controllers will give designers more scope to distinguish our models from their petrol rivals.
With increased demand, production and competition, ex-factory prices will fall.

EVUK: And finally...in the even longer term: would you rule out any possibility that ScootlElectric might one day consider expanding its product range from two wheels to four - form e-scooters to four-wheeled EV's - for example electric ATV's and eventually, as the technology matures, even electric cars?

Tony: We never rule out anything! If we can fulfil our ambition to build ScootElectric into a respected and trusted brand - something that cannot happen overnight - then I believe we will have permission to move into other areas of the zero-emission personal transport market.

Related links/Footnotes:

1) Will Young's original electric scooter - as reported by The Sun newspaper - was stolen in Aug 04, but as mis-reported by The Sun and others, it was not an "Eco 909" but a ScootElectric "Oxygen". Tony Cheverall explains:
"It was replaced by another Oxygen. In fact, before he bought the Oxygen, he tried a Magic and loved it. On the way over to see a mate, he was spotted by fans and chased down the street. He pulled up outside his friend's and ran in the house, leaving the keys in the 'ignition'. Of course, they were taken as a souvenir, which meant we had to replace the barrel!"
(You can just see the word "Oxygen" behind Will's knee!)

2) ScootElectric has also forged close ties with the world renowned Community Carbon Reduction Project (CRed) based at University of East Anglia - as well as with Good Energy - a leading provider of renewable energy. ScootElectric also has a servicing agreement with NSN (National Service Network) - a nationwide chain of over 500 standards-based independent garages.

3) Kwik-Fit founder Sir Tom Farmer backs ScootElectric - read the full story

4) Petrol-scooter fan Gwyneth Paltrow talks to The Independent about the state of her planet. But shouldn't she now copy Tom Hanks' fine example and go that extra "Green Mile" - go the whole hog - and make the switch to clean, efficient, whisper-quiet electric power?
EVUK has been reliably informed(again - see our Tom Hanks report...) by a very highly-placed Hollywood actor/environmentalist/EV-pioneer and Simpsons guest-star...that "Gwyneth Paltrow and her mother, Blythe Danner, already have an electric RAV-4". Oh - and he should know - he helped her get hold of them!(See Environmental Media Assoc. Press Release.)

5) Click here to see House of Lords-a-leaping..onto ScootElectric gear! Your Electric Representatives - several MP's and Peers, led by EV-trailblazing Lord Palmer, now zip around Westminster on e-scooters purchased from ScootElectric.

6) Evader USA (Prices: EV100 -$999 ?? EV150 -$1199 ??) tell us that the price guidelines have not changed and that they have decided to remove prices from their website following requests from distributors - especially in Europe - asking for greater pricing "flexibility". (So don't be surprised if $999 becomes Euros 1500..?)

7) Reminder: the range record-breaking French "Scooler" e-scooter(Belfort to Dijon - an official 102 miles/charge...see press reports) - is still looking for investors and development partners.

September, 2004

UK Li-ion Conference(Aug 28, 04) Update

To all those seeking more information on this year's event - we suggest the following three options:

- See Dennis Doerffel's REAPsystems Conference webpages.

- Join Thunder Sky/Li-ion Yahoo Discussion Group.

- Purchase copy of Conference CD!(See Conference webpage link above)

August, 2004

Solarvan's Thunder Sky upgrade - creator Peter Perkins updates us one year on...

- plus 'Rays of Hope' and 'Olympic EV Challenges'...

Solar Van
Solarvan - solar flair plus Thunder Sky range

We couldn't help but notice how little publicity the Solarvan's Sept '03 lithium ion upgrade had attracted so we decided to ask the talented and tenacious Peter Perkins(webmaster@solarvan.co.uk) to fill us in and shed some more light on his ever-evolving Bedford Rascal SEV.

We began by asking how the Thunder Sky("TS") batteries had been performing since they were fitted 11 months ago...

Peter Perkins: Pretty Well. I rarely go below 50% state-of-charge. I try hard not to abuse them.

EVUK: Are there any signs yet of any degradation in power and range from the TS cells - and how many miles have the TS cells taken you to date - ie. since 30th September 2003 ?

Peter: No problems so far with power or balancing. I've only done about 1,500 miles with the li-ion cells so far though. I would estimate range at about 100 miles max at 30mph - pretty good given that the Rascal has the drag curve of a brick . Range at more normal speeds would be a lot less. I built my van for low speed cruising and range, I rarely go above 40mph. I would use something much more aerodynamic if I was aiming for 50-60mph cruising speeds.

EVUK: The Yahoo Thunder Sky discussion group talk about certain recharging problems with the TS cells - what's your experience, your solution?

Peter: I've not had any particular problems except building my own Battery Management System. I use a Zivan Ng3 20A charger so I charge gently - less than the TS recommended 60A charge.

EVUK: Did you purchase the Thunder Sky batteries through Dennis Doerffel's (REAPsystems UK) TS bulk purchase scheme?

Peter: Yes - and I will be attending the Thunder Sky li-ion conference with the van at the end of August.

EVUK: Are you also of the opinion that the constant trickle charge from the solar cells will actually help keep the TS cells in tip-top condition and boost their life expectancy? That is, do you believe the TS cells(or any batteries) in fact benefit from this continuous(daylight) trickle charge?

Solar Van
No - it's not a wind-up: the turbine is not attached when driving!

Peter: Well, I certainly hope so - but I have no real evidence to back this up at present. I implemented the trickle-charging because I already had the cells on the vehicle. I needed to use the power or it would be wasted. Trickle-charging is an issue though - Dennis (Doerffel) believes constant charging when cells are already full may be harmful. In view of that I try to leave my van about 80% charged with some headroom to absorb the solar input without overcharging them.

EVUK : Two questions on the Solara cells: Firstly - is there any particular reason why you chose the Solara brand?

Peter: Not really. I chose them as they are thin(2mm), light and semi-flexible. They're bent to the slight curve of the vehicle roof. Also the sizes available gave me most coverage of my vehicle roof.

EVUK: And secondly: you say that the 60 volt solar cells (quote) " would require only a small amount of work to upgrade to 120 volts". "Work" - yes - but what about cost?

Peter: The upgrade/work cost me nothing as I have 10x12volts panels. With lead-acid I used them in two parallel strings of five cells giving 60V.
Now I use them all in series giving 120v. Just a small wiring change required. However, I only get half the current now of course.

EVUK: Have you consulted closely with other UK lithium ion/Thunder Sky EV DIY'ers at all - such as Steve Green of Jester fame and the above-mentioned Dennis Doerffel? BTW: Steve Green recently returned from visiting Thunder Sky in China - see EVUK report). And are you signed up with the Yahoo Thunder Sky discussion group?

Peter: Yes - I am in frequent contact with Dennis and other Battery Vehicle Society members. I don't think I have spoken to Steve. Yes, I monitor many groups including the various Yahoo discussion groups.

EVUK : You say that the batteries could be hidden under the floor - if you were to do this AND keep another batch of batteries above floor - do you think it would be relatively easy to get the range up to around 150 miles?

Peter: Yes. In fact with careful planning you could probably get enough batteries under the floor in my vehicle to give 150 mile range. 60x200ah cells would do that I'm sure.

EVUK: Regenerative braking - Steve Green has some kind of regen braking in his Thunder Sky li-ion Jester - so have you ever considered tinkering with regen braking?

Peter: I have considered it, but I live in a very rural area I hardly ever use the brakes! It would be difficult to implement with my series motor as well.
It's not worth my bothering. If I lived in the city/town then, yes, I would implement regen.

EVUK : Have you seen what the guys at FEVT (and others) have done by combining TS cells with ultracapacitors(namely Maxwell Boostcap) ?

Peter: Yes, I exchange e-mails now and again with Viktor (Tikhonov) who has been installing some in his ACRX in US. It's very interesting - but I think if you get big enough cells then that might not be necessary! I recommend minimum 200ah cells for any EV system AC or DC. I am a bit worried about capacitors in an accident as well. Ultracaps might go off like a bomb if internally shorted. If li-ion fail, you might get a spectacular vehicle fire, but probably not instantly!

EVUK : Do you find yourself ever eyeing up other vehicles that have large roof areas and thinking what a great basis they too would make for a solar electric conversion? Not just other commercial vans - how's about a solar-wind camper-van or a solar-wind version of the famed Veggievan? Or a "Solar MPV" / People Carrier ?
Cars like the very popular Renault Espace, for example, would make great "Solar-MPV's", don't you think?

Peter: Possibly, but useful power from solar panels is low - especially here in the north of England. I might get a couple of miles a day from mine on a good day. They need to double in efficiency and half in price before that becomes a serious possibility.(We're not half as pessimistic - see "Rays of Hope" below.)

EVUK: What about the future? You say in the Sept 2002 Carkeys article(quote):

" I'm not interested in making cars for other people, unless someone comes along with a ludicrous amount of money,"

So have you had any interesting offers or imaginative suggestions at all recently that you might follow up?

Peter: I have had e-mails from people all over the world. Finland, India, South America offering to perhaps build my van. I am not sure how serious these enquiries were. I am not in a position to exploit it yet. Technology needs more work.(Again - see "Rays of Hope" below.)

EVUK: Are you planning any more changes or upgrades at all for the Solarvan?

Peter: Yes - BMS version II ! More compact, completely solid state, able to be produced for others etc etc Improved software.

Locost Lotus 7
Peter Perkins' next project? A li-ion "locost" Lotus 7 ?

Over the winter I am thinking of building a "locost" Li-Ion electric kit-car similar to a Lotus 7 but much cheaper and lighter!! That should give excellent performance and range - though possibly not comfort!

EVUK: In your Solarvan video(watch Windows or Real Player version) you say that some people may regard you as an eccentric - don't you agree then that they'd soon change their tune if you were to go that extra distance and join forces with others and turn a one-off wonder into a mass-produced, cheap-to-run, planet-friendly and congestion-charge-beating best-seller?

Peter: Of course and especially if the world's oil problems get any worse..

EVUK: A question about video and media interest in the Solarvan: the video's extemely professional - who made it? I guess from the references in the video to the upcoming "new batteries" that it was shot just before the TS cells were installed in Sept 03?

Peter: Correct. A German film crew came over after seeing the vehicle website, and shot it for an international satellite TV motoring program called Lynx? It's been seen around the world a few times, and generated loads of hits on the web site.

EVUK: Have national or local TV ever broadcast a report about it? The BBC for instance(feel the sarcasm!)?
And is the Carkeys piece the highest profile report so far on the Solarvan?

Peter: No, it's had no coverage on "normal" TV. I've been in a few local/regional papers with it. There was a little survey on the Top Gear site at one time asking for viewers' votes on my vehicle in their "Buff it or bin it poll"

EVUK: Thanks Peter - a lot of questions I know - but we're very curious people here at EVUK!

- Rays of hope and the Real-World Solar Challenge -

        Sunpower's low-cost, 21% efficient A-300 solar cells(available later this year) are already around a third more efficient than the Solarvan's Solara cells .

        What's more the vehicle's PV surface area could be further increased by adding a separate, perhaps folding and/or freestanding, PV array. A lightweight PV panel could easily double as a camper-van style sun canopy or awning whenever the vehicle is parked up in suitable locations. Let's also not forget that much of the developed and developing world is a whole lot sunnier and brighter than Peter Perkins' North Yorkshire!

And thinking beyond the Solarvan, the effectiveness - as opposed to the efficiency of the "EV-PV" cells - could be significantly enhanced by using a lightweight, low-drag, aerodynamic base vehicle and by employing highly efficient dual hub motors. (Steve Green of Greener Energy tells us he is now considering replacing the single Advanced DC motor in his 200 mile/charge, 71 mph Jester EV with the latest modular hub motors from UK/China-based company PML Flightlink: "An enormous improvement in overall drive efficiency" says Steve.)

        A "Commuter Class" event is to be staged at next year's(2005) World Solar Challenge in Australia "to encourage practical cars that can be used for commuting without polluting."
Not before time - for what ultimately is the point of years/decades of these fun-in-the-sun wacky races they call "brain sport" if no real practical EV's - solar-assisted or not - ever appear in car-showrooms? What a pity this real-world "commuting without polluting" event wasn't added to the Solar Challenge - and to similar events - from the very beginning.

Kestrel EV
UNSA's Kestrel - more solar flair extraordinaire..

One very promising contender - one shining light - is the University of South Australia's Kestrel which is designed - and we hope destined - to bring solar race technology into the real world at last. Here's an extract from the Kestrel team's inspiring mission statement:

"While solar racing cars can travel 750km in a day at more than 90km/h, powered only by sunlight, most of us still drive around town in cars that are big, heavy, noisy, and polluting.
The aim of this project is to design, develop, build and demonstrate a practical low-mass commuter vehicle powered entirely by non-polluting renewable energy.

The most prominent feature of the Kestrel is the electric drive, and photovoltaic panels. This means that energy is taken from a natural source, the sun, and converted to clean power. Although the car can fully charge in only a couple of hours on mains power, solar panels on the roof ensure a steady power supply.

Construction materials are a lightweight honeycomb with carbon fibre panels. It has a range of 150 km(Reasonable range - we'd call that "Commuter Plus Class" - putting a little "fun" in "functional". EVUK Ed.). It uses lithium ion batteries and drives two motors of about 20kw each.

Gull-wing(Kestrel? Ed.) doors hinged at the centre spine allow easy and wide access - also reducing door weight.

Immense research has gone into aerodynamic development and as such, the Kestrel has a drag coefficient far better than any other road car. A major feature of this is the smooth under-tray, mathematically calculated to maintain neutral lift and minimal drag. This is possible because of its electric drive and as such eliminates the need for the usual mechanics that clutter the underside of a normal car, such as gearbox, driveline, differential, etc. "

Akasol Chili
Akasol 'Chili' - red hot solar power!

        Akasol(Germany) - the lightweight, low-drag, monocoque "Chili" EV embodies an almost identical engineering and environmental design philosophy to UNSA's Kestrel - and gull-winged doors to boot!

Ashiya Solar EV
Ashiya University's 'Sky Ace Tiga' - Phaethon 2004 victor

       Phaethon 2004 Solar Vehicle Race & Rally - part of the Greek Cultural Olympiad 2004. Won by Ashiya University's(Japan) Sky Ace Tiga. Ignored by Britain's (..and most of the world's) mainstream media. So see Phaethon 2004's own Press Releases.

According to the Phaethon race & rally organisers:

"The event sends a strong and clear message to the world for the necessity of protecting the environment from destructive human activities. The Olympic Ideal calls for the respect of man as he functions within his natural environment.
Phaethon 2004 expresses precisely the Olympic Ideal and points out that, the same Sun, that ignites the Olympic Flame, can also be a source of inexhaustible energy for humanity."

Sadly, and all-too predictably however, this high-minded Clean Vehicle message has not been translated to the Olympic Games themselves as we once again see petrol-powered, exhaust-drizzling, camera-bikes, support vehicles, media "cattle-trucks" and even 4x4's weaving their way between finely-tuned, aerobically-hypersensitive road-race runners, walkers and cyclists.
No, not a ZEV - or even a hybrid - in sight...starved, as ever, of the oxygen of publicity. The same was true in Sydney - so will the 2008 Beijing Games be any different?? (Come on Oxygen SpA, Vectrix USA, Evader et al - isn't it time to take on an Olympic EV Challenge?)

        Adiante 2004 - following the Phaethon 2004 rally, the world-beating Solar Race vehicle Nuna II travelled 6500 km through 15 European countries to promote zero-emission vehicle technologies and renewable energy. Again - an event ignored by Britain's (..and the world's) mainstream media.

       Solarmobil - leading German EV/Solar EV sites and one of our firm favourites. "Solar EV" is more loosely defined in Germany to encompass any low-mass, aerodynamic electric vehicles powered by solar or any other 100% renewable energy source - whether on-board or not. And why not?! Hurdle the language barrier with Roland Reichel's superbly illustrated "EV Essentials and History".

Horlacher Sport
Horlacher Sport - 541 km range record in 1992

        Horlacher Sport - a lightweight, aerodynamic, visually stunning EV - way ahead of its time. Set a world EV single-charge distance record of 541 km in 1992(the same year as the Kyoto Protocol was born - maybe it should have been renamed the Horlacher "Kyoto"?).

        Solectria Sunrise - a very sunny name and - after achieving a record-breaking 373 miles/charge in 1996 - theoretically a very bright and sunny prospect. Solectria Sunrise EVBut since 1996 it's been more a case of Solectria Sunset or Solar Eclipsed - than Solectria Sunrise.

        Dr Derck Schlettwein and his team of nanotechnology specialists at Oldenburg University have developed micro-thin, low-cost PV materials(light-absorbing dyes, semiconducting) which they say can be invisibly laminated onto a vehicle's bodywork and windows generating enough electricity to reduce overall energy consumption by up to a third.(See German "Nano" TV report).

The road to "Light EV" enlightenment - from dinosaur-tech depths to Olympian heights demands the stamina of an endurance athlete. The challenge is Herculean and the opposition immense. Governments and the media spend billions promoting the Olympic Ideal and chasing the Olympic Dream in sport - but not in the cars we drive or the buildings we inhabit.
The truth is that the real-world solar challenge is not so much technological as it is political, commercial and financial - and will remain so as long as carmakers and their government and media servants - not to mention motorists themselves - so steadfastly refuse to see the light.
For some light but relevant relief:

Naked Gun 2 1/2, The Smell of Fear(1991) - solar energy, solar electric cars and a far-from far-fetched plot to sabotage them feature in this comedy classic starring ZAPWORLD patron Leslie Nielsen. Lieutenant Drebin (Nielsen) is out to foil a conspiracy to prevent a solar energy advocate from influencing George Bush Sr.'s Energy Policy. So why not rent the video/DVD and then ask yourselves(and your politicians/media) why little or nothing has changed since 1991...

Leslie Nielsen.

August, 2004

Steve Green's 'state visit' to Thunder Sky, China - full story/travelogue

Mao TS Electric Limo
Steve Green with Chairman Mao's electrified limos

- including an all-electric, back-to-the-future Chairman Mao limo-ride...

Jester li-ion EV Steve Green, creator of the 200 mile/charge, Thunder Sky-powered Jester EV and founder of Greener Energy, has just filed this exclusive report following his recent return from a backpacking holiday-of-a-lifetime:

- Our visit to China was not a business trip: my wife and I had been wanting to go for some time and the opportunity arose to spend a few months backpacking round China and returning home on the Trans-Siberian railway.
We'd both decided to give up work but I still have a strong interest in electric vehicles as well as in certain specialist measurement techniques that my company had developed for the electric power generating industry. It also just so happens that the large company that my small company was subcontracted to on the measurement techniques have considerable interest in China and want these techniques to be used on power stations in China. Thus we thought that we could enhance our view of China if we could arrange to meet some real Chinese during our trip.

So we planned to fly into Hong Kong and work our way roughly up the middle of China leaving on the Trans-Siberian from Beijing. Shenzhen was more or less on our route and I was keen to see the Thunder Sky(TS) operation. I had emailed them before we set off from the UK emphasizing I was on holiday, not business, and with my wife - and they gave me a phone number to call to arrange the visit.

So you can imagine our surprise when my wife and I turned up hot and sweaty with our dusty backpacks at Shenzhen station and were shown to an enormous black car equipped with flags on the front bumpers. Although we were not a visiting president's entourage there was plenty of room in the back for a large gathering.
Anyway, we set off across town at a very brisk pace (in China that is very fast..) weaving in and out of the dense traffic. Our driver did not speak a great deal of English but we learnt on arrival at the TS offices that the car was powered by TS batteries. In fact it was one of two cars that had been hand-built for Chairman Mao and had been bought by the company as demonstrators.(VIP treatment for backpackers in a futuristic ex-Chairman Mao limo - how surreal is that?! EVUK Ed.).

We were shown to the conference room where we were introduced to Linda Ho, the elegant Chief Executive Officer of TS, who soon took pity on us not being used to the temperature and humidity in Shenzhen and rearranged the meeting in her very large and modern office. In this office the air-conditioning kept the atmosphere delightfully cool making it much easier to concentrate on technicalities. Fortunately Ms Ho has excellent English, although Chung Hing Ka, the inventor of the TS patented battery, does not - in fact his English was about the same level as my Chinese.

TS Electric Buses
Yes - they're electric! Thunder Sky's 43-seater coaches

But with Linda Ho acting as interpreter we managed to discuss our application of their batteries, some battery characteristics and some of the charging and discharging problems that some(but by no means all..) early adopters have experienced. From the discussion it was apparent that TS have not yet solved all the problems associated with automated charging of multi-cell battery packs and the charging stations illustrated in the TS brochures and website are not yet available.

However, the vehicles they use to illustrate their batteries in operation were all available for inspection. In fact they were keen for me to try them, offering to let me drive any of them. They seemed particularly keen for me to have a drive of one of their 43 seater, air-conditioned luxury coaches. With my driving skills and the Chinese traffic I declined as gracefully as I could, but it has to be said they were very impressive and with a claimed 400 km range with air-conditioning turned on! A real alternative to the coaches that we see everyday standing around with their engines running and belching out diesel fumes. But I did get to drive one of the scooters as well as a small car.

TS Electric Scooter TS Electric Car

All of the vehicles they had on show were produced by TS as demonstrators for their Lithium battery technology (either converted from more ordinary electric vehicles or from IC-engined vehicles) and as they pointed they are battery producers not vehicle manufacturers - more's the pity. We were also shown some of their battery packs under test and awaiting dispatch.

They did show me an architectural model of their new purpose built factory and facilities but I forget exactly when they said they would be moving there - though I think it was later this year or the beginning of next.

Anyway, my impression was they had all been very happy to see us especially because of my work on the Jester with their batteries - and certainly when I gave Mr. Chung my card - with its picture of the Jester on the back - he was delighted and really chortled at the sight of it.

All too soon we had to leave as we had an overnight train to catch but we got to ride in yet another electric coach - a 20- seater this time (OK - Mao's car wasn't that big!). Again it was nipping in and out of that Chinese traffic with the sort of acceleration and performance anyone would be proud of.

As a footnote I should add that during the rest of our time in China we saw loads of electric bikes and electric scooters, which, though not a huge percentage of the total two-wheelers, still represents a large market. I don't think we saw any electric cars or coaches but it's difficult to be certain of course.

Like all of you at EVUK, I am desperately keen to see some movement on the EV front and look forward to seeing a viable EV on the market and available to all. So I've been trying to contact electric car manufacturers in China and will also be looking at the Haixingma sports EV you mention, but so far my enquiries have not been very successful. However, judging by the response from your article about the Jester, I have no doubt that there is public demand if I can just find a way of getting the Jester and other decent EV's produced and whilst in China I was also looking to find leads on actually getting cars manufactured there.

(Steve Green, August 2004)

Thunder Sky homepage

August, 2004

Chinese electric sports convertible from Haixingma
- is it for real?

HXM Sports EV

- Well, we certainly hope so..but we don't know so for sure. Yet.
Haixingma Electromotor Co. have contacted us to tell us about their range of EV's - which includes e-bikes, e-scooters ...but most jaw-droppingly of all - this sublime, no name sports convertible.
- But the company have so far been more than a little EVasive as to the vehicle's exact specifications - refusing as yet to be drawn on such minor details as battery range, battery type, top speed and recharge time!!

- So we can only tell you(and Haixingma if you're listening..) about the kind of performance we'd like to see from this racy little open question open-top EV: 150+ miles per charge, 75+ mph and the whole package powered (probably)by advanced li-ion and(probably) by Thunder Sky Cr-F-Li - given that both companies just happen to be located in Guangdong Province.

- So a note of optimism and a note of caution: it may just be that we're being taken for a ride here but, heck, at least:

a) it's an environmentally-friendly ride ...and
b) we get to showcase the kind of EV that would fly out of showrooms - if price and performance are right.

- In the meantime, while our own enquiries continue, why not join in the fact-finding foray by emailing Haixingma at: hxm@hxm.com.cn

Related links:

1) Chinese Ministry of Science & Technology(MOST) developing new generation of Lithium-powered electric vehicles before 2008 Olympiad - see Lithium Hotlinks.

2) EV's, China and the "Axis of EVolution" - see EVUK report.

July, 2004

BBC1 "Global WarNing" Special(28-30 Jul) - is the Beeb biting the bullet at last?
- Or are they still dodging it?

( Update! Here's our post-show review/verdict)

- The signs are not good: from the BBC website programme description it would appear, yet again, that the entire focus of this 3 x half hour, far-from-primetime(12.30 pm ie. mid-day) Climate Change Special will be on effects and causes - not on solutions, not on action...not on eco-innovation, eco-technologies and eco-initiatives in the UK or around the globe.
- So prepare, I suppose, for yet more footage of melting glaciers, floods, extreme weather - interspersed with interviews with concerned climatologists in exotic locations...
Here's that BBC website "Global WarNing" programme description:

"A BBC News special presented by Sian Williams and Bill Turnbull looking at how climate change is already having an impact on people's lives across the globe.

The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, says 'the single biggest long-term problem we face as a world is the issue of climate change. The evidence now is overwhelming.' BBC correspondents will report live from those remote parts of the world which are already being affected by our changing weather, including China, Alaska, Spain and the Maldive Islands.
They'll examine the evidence that melting glaciers, rising sea levels and expanding deserts are already having an impact on the environment, tourism and economic growth. The BBC Weather Centre will provide forecasts on how the world's climate could change over the next few decades and senior scientists will discuss the latest research on why the world is getting hotter. "

Update! Here's our post-show review/verdict:

The first two editions were exactly as we expected and predicted - but in the final instalment things began to warm up - even heat up - as the focus finally shifted from effects and symptoms (and blaming America..) to solutions such as alternative energy, clean(er) vehicles etc.
But the BBC must surely now turn up the heat and take this to the next level with a weekly (near-)primetime TV show devoted entirely to eco-innovation and eco-innovators in Britain and around the world. (Come on - fossil-fuelled Top Gear gets an hour a week Sunday primetime!)
And here are a couple of programme titles to play with:

"The Day After Tomorrow's World"

"Eco Innovation Nation"

July, 2004

EVUK in the Washington Post - July 11, ' 04.
- "Poor Sales Job Drained Battery Power" claims Post motoring correspondent...

(Our riposte: yes -but it's often been a deliberately poor and reluctant "sales job" by automakers...)

- On July 9th EVUK was contacted by the Washington Post's automotive columnist Warren Brown - just a couple of days before the deadline for an EV-themed piece the journalist was preparing for the Sunday July 11th edition of the paper:

"I'm Warren Brown, the automotive columnist for The Washington Post in Washington, D.C., USA. I'm working on an opinion piece for Sunday, July 11" Brown wrote, "Theme: The electric car is not dead. It's just been marketed poorly - ie. as a mass-market entity."

Warren Brown

"In reality" he continued, "it is the perfect niche-market vehicle, quite viable for small communities, such as college and corporate campuses, or U.S. towns, such as little South Padre Island, Texas.
Conventional ICE's simply are not needed in those places. EV's would make a nice substitute.
I know that Electric Vehicles UK is dedicated to "real, long-range (as in distance?)" EVs and my piece will reflect that sentiment.
I'd appreciate your input as quickly as possible...."
--Warren Brown

Woah! Like a blood-rad rag to a bull: it was that good ole' "keep-it-niche/know your place" argument again.
So we duly fired off the following feedback in a last-minute attempt to steer the Post journalist away from the dreaded niche cliché:

Warren,

- Our input may now be too late for your deadline - not to mention way too brutally frank - but we won't pass up this chance to at least try to demolish the ultra-typical EV-stereotypes, and "myth-perceptions" already unmistakably revealed in your brief outline for the upcoming Post article..

I'm sorry to have to break it to you, Warren, but I think you really should recognize that it is the automakers and their oil industry allies who would like to limit (and boy have they succeeded..) the EV's appeal to a small unthreatening 'niche' market. The reality is that with the latest EV technologies and batteries - not to mention further exciting developments on the horizon - there is absolutely no non-political reason why long-range, freeway-capable, high-performance, cheap-to-run(very), family-sized EV's should not be designed and mass-produced to appeal to a mainstream market - especially in a world threatened by wars-for-oil, oil-price volatility and climate change...

You say: "The electric car is not dead. It's just been marketed poorly--as a mass-market entity".

- Sadly, it's often been deliberately poorly marketed precisely in order to preserve its niche-only appeal.

How many TV ads for the Toyota RAV4 EV or the Honda EV Plus or the GM EV1 do you recall for instance??
How come 99.99% of the planet have never heard of the RAV4 EV?(In Britain we don't even have ads for the Toyota hybrids...)

No - carmakers and their loyal-to-oil commercial and political allies know full well(and fear..) that if battery EV's are designed and marketed to appeal to the masses they will be able to be produced at high volume and therefore much lower cost - and, what's more, once real mass-production begins, further innovation will be accelerated as is always the case with any other emerging technology or product as it expands 'beyond niche'.
(cf. PC's, mobile phones, and any manner of consumer audio-video equipment - not to mention, historically, the ICE itself: the real exponential, Moore's Law-style innovation happens after you break through the niche barrier....).

Anyway, exactly what picture of an electric vehicle do you, Warren, have in your mind's eye?
- The Toyota RAV4 EV?
- Or the Bolloré /EDF 'VBE1' (range up to 187 miles, top speed 81 mph) to be unveiled at next year's Geneva Motor Show??
- Or the AC Propulsion TZero (0-6- in 3.6 secs, 290 miles per charge..and less than $US5.00 to charge) or indeed their recently announced Toyota Scion conversion - dubbed the "Hankster"(as in "Tom") ?
- Or the upcoming UEV (Universal Electric Vehicle) GDA-4 EV - a 4-door, long-range, 80 mph luxury sedan?
- Or Electrovaya's mini-SUV EV?

And when, Warren, you say:
"In reality, it is the perfect niche-market vehicle, quite viable for small communities, such as college and corporate campuses, or U.S. towns, such as little South Padre Island, Texas.Conventional ICE's simply are not needed in those places. EV's would make a nice substitute."

...you really do appear to be dutifully thinking precisely in terms of those beloved EV-stereotypes that the carmakers, oil companies and governments would have you (..and the car-buying public at large) believe in. They all know - as most informed EV-watchers do - that if the 'EV genie' is ever allowed out of the bottle it could and should escape way, way 'beyond niche'. " (End)

So that was our pre-publication input for the Post's man: to find out if we succeeded in influencing Warren Brown's finished article(we fancy we did, a little ...and thanks to the Post for the free EVUK plug. ..)

- Now read the full July 11th Washington Post piece:
"Poor Sales Job Drained Battery Power" (simple registration needed).

- For registration-refuseniks, here's a brief extract from the article's conclusion:
"The media declared the electric car dead. They were wrong. Overlooked were the noble, continuing efforts of a company now simply known as ZAP (Zero Air Pollution)....ZAP is pushing the idea of neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), and that makes perfect sense considering that most electric cars and trucks still fall short of their fossil-fueled counterparts...."

"In the NEV format, cars such as ZAP's Intimidator LUV (light-utility vehicle) are marketed as low-speed, short-distance, easy-park automobiles. The Intimidator...is a bug-shaped, canopied oddity, something akin to a golf cart. Its low speed and relatively low weight...restricts its use to urban streets. But it makes sense for personal transportation around college and corporate campuses, retirement communities, or small towns...."

"..But there probably will come a time when battery-powered cars.... can compete effectively with conventional gasoline cars in terms of driving range and costs. Companies such as AC Propulsion Inc., based in San Dimas, Calif., are working on that possibility."

"..But until that time comes, the ZAP NEV approach is the best way to keep the battery-powered car alive. It's basic common sense. You market a product based on its strengths, as opposed to its weaknesses." (End W/Post article)

GM Zafira FCV
FCV's: far more weaknesses, obstacles than battery EV's...

Mmmh...market on strengths not weaknesses? So where does that leave fuel cell vehicles('FCV's')?
Heavy, sluggish, hugely expensive to build and run and decidedly inefficient (well-to-wheel) in comparison to pure battery EV's - no, FCV's are certainly not being marketed - or hyped - according to their strengths rather than their many, many weaknesses...

Sorry, but the evidence is overwhelming...the list endless. Here's another classic "for instance": when in 1999 the Mitsubishi FTO li-ion EV was driven a record-breaking 2,142 km in 24 hours(see EVUK News) it was of course ignored by the Western press -yet when GM's Zafira FCV was recently driven 9,696 km in...38 days(!!) it was hailed as a major triumph by the same kowtowing media...

Mitsubishi FTO
Mitsubishi FTO EV - 2,142 km in 24 hours...in 1999.

- And finally, why was the Toyota RAV4 EV for example never sold at all - much less marketed - in $5-a-gallon Britain/Europe - based on what, for most people, would be its No.1 strength, namely its ultra-low running costs? Where were the media reports or ads in Europe telling drivers how cheap to run the RAV4 EV was compared to petrol-powered cars? Or how great it is to wake up every morning with a "full tank" of electricity with no need to waste time and cash at petrol-pumps?

No - nice try Warren - but it's the systematic misrepresentation and marginalization of electric vehicles by a politically and corporately embedded media that's kept EV's in the slow lane and driven investors away - even more so here in Europe than in the States.

July, 2004

The electrifying Electrum Spyder - we talk to UEV's Greg & Diana Lane.
- plus Operation "Spyder Web-Watch"
(see below)

Electrum Spyder

The Spyder's looks are eye-popping...its specs are pretty spectacular and the UEV - Universal Electric Vehicle - website(incl. Spyder video) is simply superb - so where's the Spyder-mania? Why, we wondered, is the web not simply crawling with Spyder references?

"Electrum Spyder" v. "Monkeys on roller skates"- a Google comparison:

- Try it for yourselves - Google search count as of  01 Jul '04:
- Keywords: "Electrum Spyder"  gives just 27 results
- Keywords: "Monkey on roller-skates"28 results!

So why on earth are...rollerskating monkeys generating more internet heat than this stunning, stereotype-demolishing, state-of-the-art stealthy Spyder-on-wheels?

Just take a look at the prototype Spyder's sizzling specs:
- 300 miles per charge range (projected) with lithium batteries. 150 miles/charge and 0-60 mph in 7 seconds with Evercel nickel zinc.
Now, we understand of course why the mainstream media would be ignoring this dangerously seductive, planet-friendly Spyder - but why the near-invisible Spyder web-presence?
Our emails to UEV remained unanswered - so was the company even still operating? There was nothing else for it -so we picked up the phone, called California and spoke to UEV co-founder Greg Lane.
And here's what he told us:
"There may not be many references to us on the internet as yet - but we have had a mountain of emails recently -so my apologies for not getting round to responding yet.
But the good news is that everything is on track and looking good and production is set to go ahead before the end of the year. It's been a deliberate decision not to look for major publicity so far - but that will change as we get nearer to production at year end."

And here is an extract from our subsequent correspondence with UEV's Diana Lane:

EVUK: Great to talk to Greg yesterday. As I said, my first-and-foremost reason for phoning was to establish that the company and the whole UEV enterprise is indeed still actually operating and flourishing! Google, as I said, is very 'quiet' on those two keywords "Electrum Spyder" - which was very baffling given the cutting-edge technology, beautiful vehicles and flexible, open-minded company philosophy that the UEV website describes.

UEV(Diana Lane): We are not only operating and flourishing -but our intentions are to be in production by the end of the year!

EVUK: Am I right in assuming that investors have now fully signed up with UEV? Also: as production is set to begin soon - would you expect to be issuing an official press release in the next few weeks...or months ?

UEV: We are not fully signed up with investors. We have cities ready to sign up for our municipality vehicles and then we will begin production of the consumer vehicles.(ie.the Spyder and the GDA-4 - a 4-door luxury sedan)

EVUK: We're wondering what li-ion batteries and configurations you are contemplating using for the li-ion version of the Spyder? In your "Are You Afraid of Spyders?" news piece you say that
"The lithium battery is generating a lot of excitement in the industry"

- the problem of course is that, so far, with the notable exception of one manufacturer, namely Thunder Sky of China, li-ion prices are still pretty prohibitive.

Hence my earlier question: have you looked at all at the impressive battery-range and performance that several companies and individuals(FEVT, Greener Energy's Jester EV, MetricMind for example) have been able to achieve by combining Thunder Sky's CR-F-Li batteries with quality ultracapacitors - specifically Maxwell BoostCap?
This Thunder Sky / ultracapacitor approach would obviously not offer the same supercar performance, say, of the $200,000 TZero's 6,800 mini li-ion cells - but would appear to significantly outperform nickel zinc - with a relatively insignificant increase in cost - especially at Thunder Sky's bulk-puchase prices.
Your comments? What sell-price was envisaged for the li-ion version of the Spyder?

UEV: We are working with Valence and others on pricing, however we have not made a final decision on suppliers.

EVUK: This next 'wishful-thinking-aloud' question is prompted not least by the company's California location: do you have any plans to hook up with any Hollywood Celebrities at all - a la Tom Hanks and AC Propulsion?

UEV: We are not in a position to drop names. Yes, we have been contacted by some Hollywood Celebrities that are interested in our vehicles. However until we begin production they are on a waiting-list like everyone else.

DiCaprio

EVUK: I was thinking more of celebrity endorsement and celebritybackers rather just potential star-buyers. For example - please indulge us here - humour us if you will - for a moment: if I can just pluck an 'A'-list name not-so-randomly out of the air - we have visions of EV-fan and eco-activist Leonardo DiCaprio touring round next year's Earth Day venues in grand style in an open-top Electrum Spyder - bumper-to-bumper perhaps with Hanks in a TZero or 'Hankster'....

UEV: We are right there with you!!

DiCaprio in GEM
DiCaprio at wheel of GEM NEV

EVUK: DiCaprio currently zips around the neighborhood in a GEM NEV - a worthy and eminently practical little car in sensible and sedate resorts & communities to be sure - but just imagine how many new EV fans and Spyder-admirers could be born out of a DiCaprio / UEV tie-up!!
Leonardo DiCaprio - in a starring role as an all-new green Spyder-man?(See DiCaprio's excellent official eco-website - including his Global WarNing pages and eco-foundation).
Finally, do you have plans at all to attend next year's EVS21 in Monte Carlo? We hope so!!

UEV: Yes, we are planning to be there if time permits.

So come on everyone - forget Spider Man II - let's hear it for Spyder-mania - it's sure to run & run...

Operation Spyder Web-Watch.
- join with us as we Google-track the - surely inevitably - ever-growing Spyder web-presence over the coming weeks and months:

---Google Search Count---
"Electrum Spyder" "Monkey on Roller Skates"

Jul 01                      28                       29
Jul 15                      29                       30
Jul 29                      30                       32
- we will be updating this Google Search count initially every 2 weeks, then every month for the next six months or so.
Watch this space - and watch the 'Spyder Web' grow!!"

June, 2004

International Conference for Renewable Energies in Bonn is virtually ignored by US-UK mainstream media.

- Despite oil and petrol price volatility, despite wars for oil, oil-linked conflict and terrorism, despite global warming and, yes, despite Hollywood's "The Day After Tomorrow" - the mainstream media in the US and UK appear to have collectively decided to all-but ignore this high-powered make-or-break "Weg Vom Oel"("Away From Oil") eco-event attended by many of the world's leading politicians and environmental organisations and enterprises.

By contrast, German TV, radio and newspapers have provided almost round-the-clock coverage. Here's just one fine example(in English!) from Deutsche Welle TV: Ushering in a "New Age" of Renewable Energy.

The International Conference for Renewable Energies - website includes links to the International Action Programme and Political Declaration.

(It could be of course that the BBC's flagship(so they say) 'environmental' programme CountryFile - or indeed Jeremy Clarkson's Top Gear team - are currently busy preparing fulsome "Away From Oil" reports from the conference to be aired at a later date. Holding of breath not recommended however.)

June, 2004

FEVT(Finland) develop Thunder Sky/BoostCap EV Packs

(Note: This is not so much a News item as an adjunct to our Thunder Sky conference/MetricMind piece below. )

Ahead of the pack?
FEVT - Finn EV Tech - have succeeded in developing fully integrated, computer-managed so-called "Energy Packs" and "Power Packs" which cleverly and optimally combine the energy density and stability of Thunder Sky Li-ion with the on-demand power of Maxwell BoostCap ultracapacitors(cf. MetricMind Li-ion conversion).
The FEVT Thunder Sky/BoostCap system is still in its trial phase - so no final word on cost as yet.

See also:
1) Photos of FEVT's trial vehicles: Clio etc. & Minibus.

2) Comments by FEVT R&D Manager Jukka Jrvinen re: Energy Packs, Power Packs etc. in EV Digest Discussion Group Archive(Msg. No.1, May 24, 2004).

3) Thunder Sky Li-ion EV Discussion Group.

May, 2004

Li-ion EV DIY'ers: UK Li-ion Conference -plus ultimate Li-ion Conversion Guide
- REAP Systems(UK) & MetricMind(US)

- We first heard of Southampton University-based Dennis Doerffel a few years back when his work as a postgraduate research student developing and promoting Lithium/ICE hybrid technology was briefly reported by Auto Express magazine. Needless to say, we immediately contacted Herr Doerffel, predictably commenting (something like):

"Lithium hybrid technology is quite 'nice' - but wouldn't pure lithium ion battery drive - with No Internal Combustion Engine - be even 'nicer'??"
- Dennis Doerffel's(REAP Systems) second Li-ion EV/DIY Conference takes place in Sparsholt nr. Winchester, Hampshire UK on Sat Aug 28, 2004 and costs just £70 incl. refreshments - or a mere 35 if eligible for discount.
Just as impressive as the conference itself though has been the setting up of a lithium battery (Thunder Sky) bulk purchase co-operative, enabling individuals and small enterprises to significantly reduce import costs(see REAP Systems 'Background' pages).

MetricMind Engineering - no connection(*see note below) with REAP Systems - is based in eco-friendly Portland, Oregon and have provided what must be the ultimate(..but no expense spared!) Thunder Sky li-ion DIY conversion guide. Superb, step-by-step detailed guide with close-up photography. Their impassioned anti-oil/pro-battery EV introduction is also music to our ever EV-angelical ears.
*Note: Victor Tikhonov of MetricMind has also set up a Thunder Sky bulk purchase scheme in the US.

May, 2004

Now Watch: CBS (& Sky) News Ford Ranger EV report
- thanks to Dave Raboy(Ford Ranger EV driver) and EVUK's assorted respondents: we nailed it!..

Ford Ranger EV Our fellow EV-insurgent Bill Moore of EV World may have just pipped us to the
post(ing) in getting this CBS News video link(see below) out there and headlined -but credit where credit's due:
- it was ourselves - pat on the back - EVUK who got this particular ball rolling, bouncing and eventually now slam-dunked..
- just for the record..
... ten days ago, you may recall, we sent a shout-out to all our EV contacts in the US and UK asking:

"Did anyone record last night's(11 May) CBS(relayed in UK by Sky News..) Evening News report on Ford's plans to scrap/crush al l remaining Ranger EV's?"

...well to cut a long story(& email-trail..) short, we were eventually contacted - thanks to US-based EV-angelists Doug & Bill Korthof - by the lawyer acting against Ford on behalf of Dave Raboy - the first of the disgruntled Ford Ranger EV lessees and would-be owners featured in the CBS report.
- so..bear with us..we immediately contacted Dave who told us that he was so impressed and persuaded by our exceedingly keen response and interest that he would straightaway set about posting his own and very personal(he's in it!) video recording of the CBS TV report onto his soon-to-be-launched website www.dontcrush.com (as in "don't crush our Ford Ranger EV's").

....so here is that hard-won CBS/Sky News video - courtesy Dave Raboy et al.

We - EVUK - would also like to personally thank Doug and Bill Korthof who gave us the original crucial lead to Nora Quinn, the lawyer acting on behalf of Dave Raboy.
Here's our original 'shout-out' from May 12 - again just for the record:

".. A shout-out - help!
- we're trying to find out if anyone recorded last Tuesday's (11 May) excellent - and extremely unusual - CBS Evening News item regarding Ford's efforts to take confiscate and destroy all its electric Ford Rangers. CBS News is broadcast here in the UK by Sky News at 12.30 am(half past midnight).

- Of course it's not the fact that Ford(cf. GM EV1) are taking back and scrapping all their EV's that's remarkable about this TV report of course - it's the fact that CBS actually included a positive story about battery EV's as a major story in its globally-broadcast TV Evening News.

What's even more remarkable was that the report was very critical in tone and language of Ford's decision to requisition all of the remaining Ford Ranger EV's. One disgruntled 'owner' called Ford's decision "criminal" ... another commented that the Ranger EV "needed no Middle East oil". Wow - wh en gas prices get high enough even the mainstream media(or is it just CBS..cf Hanks/Letterman?) is willing to tear up the corporately correct anti-EV taboos and rule-book. Well - in the US that is. Sky News normally repeat the CBS News again at 05.30 am - but this time they didn't! Drat - and I had my video recorder ready to record it!

The CBS News reporter also pointed out that the Ford Ranger EV owners never need stop by the gas-station where prices are now, by US standards, sky high.

We were also shown archive footage from 1999 in which the then Ford Chairman sang the praises of battery electric vehicles - heralding them as the car of the future.

And the very fact that the report was featured as the "hook" item ie. kept until the very end of the broadcast - confirms that CBS and the media in general know full well that there is in reality enormous public interest out there for alternative-powered, cheap-to-run vehicle - battery EV's in particular.

So - did anyone record this extremely unusual - almost subversive - 3-4 minute CBS Evening News report - relayed on Sky News?? Or does any one know anyone who might have? (BTW: We've searched CBS Evening News webpages incl. their recent video report archive offerings - but can find no trace or transcript of the Ford Ranger EV report! Curious - plenty about the Mexican Air Force UFO sightings - nothing/nada about EV's. Are EV's now even more taboo than UFO's?!)."

May, 2004

E-Times affirms EVUK Hanks-ACP scoop..with first 'Hankster' pics & more..

Scepticism greeted our mysteriously exclusive story identifying AC Propulsion(ACP) as the EV company anonymously alluded to by Tom Hanks in his March 22 Letterman appearance.
Understandable scepticism perhaps: why on earth should a bunch of UK-based EV-upstarts know more about Hanks' EV plans than most US EV-insiders? Well - we were not exaggerating when we described our intelligence source as a "distinguished, highly-placed Hollywood actor/environmentalist" - but we're still not revealing our sources(aka celeb name-dropping)!

So -see Electrifying Times report Earth Day in Beverly Hills confirming our original and exclusive (yes indeed!) Hanks ACP story.

May, 2004

UK EV Discussion Group kicks off - EVeryone's invited!

- Long-time EV-fan, activist and frustrated would-be electric car owner-driver Brian McMillan has contacted us to let us know he's set up a new Yahoo EV Discussion Group.
Although everyone's welcome to sign up and join the fray - Brian tells us one of his aims as moderator will be to keep the focus on EV activism - ie. getting the truth out about EV and battery technology and generally breaking through all the EV hostility and misinformation out there.
Like us, Brian doesn't want to see another insular techie talking shop:
"Being a non-technical type I'm really most interested in trying to make progress in terms of putting pressure on the car manufacturers(and the media!?)in the UK to sell us viable electric cars. For the minute, it seems to make more sense to keep the technical stuff on the DIY EV Cars discussion group and the news about commercially available cars and pressure group action on this one."

So why not join up...and start re-volting now!
To get a flavour of the EV group's goals, vibe, attitude etc - take a look at these early postings:
1) Brian McMillan's 'Welcome' message - click
2) Our own (EVUK's) opening salvos: 1 & 2
3) Ralph Nader, GE & the (anno)1968 300 mile/charge EV concept - click

April, 2004

Steven Seagal Backs EV cause, buys ebikes
- So ebikes are for wimps are they?

Seagal ebike
- Try telling that to mystical Hollywood martial arts and tough-guy action hero Steven Seagal.
Paul Markham of Thailand-based Ecobrand Exim International - EV entrepreneur and distributor of the Harrier all-terrain ebike(based on the Ecolux Tornado - see below) - has contacted EVUK to report that the actor and Zen-devotee recently paid a visit to Exim's offices in Bangyai to place an order for various evehicles/ebikes/escooters for his 30,000 acre California ranch.
He writes:

"I'm just sending you some photos taken with Steven Seagal recently while he was in Thailand. I first met Seagal last year by accident at the Bangkok Motor Show Gala Dinner(plus Miss Motor Show Competition Beauty Contest!) and he was impressed by my environmental cause here and commitment to evehicles etc.
I was one of the few foreigners there and Steven walked past my table and asked what I did in Thailand. I answered that we assemble and market electric bicycles and vehicle concepts here and he said(quote):
"You are a man after my own heart - an environmentalist" (Zen-vironmentalist? EVUK Ed.)

- and asked me to go to the Sheraton Hotel the next week and sit down and discuss my work a nd his beliefs regarding the environment etc. We had several meetings as he was filming his latest movie 'Belly of the Beast' in Thailand at the time.Seagal sofa

He bought several evehicles/escooters from us for his 30,000 acre ranch in Siskiyou California and has offered to be put up on our website supporting our aims etc. and wants to help market the concept around the world.

He also bought some of my Terrano twin-motor escooters and has asked me to develop a large electric ATV which could seat maybe two and carry animal feed etc behind on a rack.(EVUK Ed: like the hunky but expensive Dunel electric ATV?)
I will be selling the next generation Harrier EMTB(ebike) with alloy frame and Ni-MH batteries(more range, lighter, faster charge) around the world direct -mainly to the US though.

The ebike business is very tough in Thailand as they still don't really care about pollution even after my six plus years of trying. Import duty is 60% here on ebikes and parts - in the UK it's only 2.5%!! ".

- Regular EVUK'ers will know that we have been long-time and unabashed fans of Seagal's anti-Big Oil eco-action movie 'On Deadly Ground' - a film in which the eco-stereotype-demolishing Seagal pulls no punches as he hits home one of the film's key messages:
..namely, that the world's carmakers, media and governments remain disastrously ICE-& oil-rigged and have always done everything in their collective power to minimise and stymie public interest in/demand for viable, affordable ZEV's - especially the pure battery variety.
Related Links:

1) Harrier video-clip - from French ebike company Velo Electrique who market the Harrier as the 'Futuro'.
2) Royal Parks Police take delivery of custom Harrier ebike from Ecolux UK - see EVUK photo- report
3) On Deadly Ground audio - listen to Seagal's great 3-minute anti-Big Oil, anti-ICE tirade at end of film(which is accompanied in the movie itself by original eco-documentary footage).
4) Ecolux UK - main UK retailer and agent for Tornado ebike on which Exim's Harrier is based. The company's two trailblazing, ever-innovative, ex-speedway co-founders designed and continue to upgrade the best-selling Tornado plus a whole range of escooters and evehicles. They tell us they will soon - if a little behind schedule - be offering a whole new range of ultra-high-spec, lightweight, advanced battery ebikes and escooters.(Note: Ebike Central in Holland Park, Central London, also stock the Ecolux bikes)
5) Eco-Brand Exim International - see above!
6) Medicine Lake video clip and article - Seagal joins real-life campaign to protect sacred(not yet deadly) ground - and water - near his Siskiyou County ranch. A magical, mesmerizing, zentrancing little Big Mountain mind-trip through unknown California. Zenjoy!

April, 2004

Tom Hanks' Electric Company('Hankster' EV?) - watch Dave Letterman Show clips now!
Hanks border=- Hanks appears on Letterman Show to plug electric vehicles(..and his new film Ladykillers)
Clip 1(short) CBS
Clip 2(extended) EV Charger News

Firstly - thanks Hanks for daring to 'come out' on live, globally franchised TV as an unapologetic, full-blown practising EV-angelist and RAV4 EV devotee.

Secondly - EVUK has been reliably informed(ie. our suspicions were confirmed..) by a very highly-placed Hollywood actor/environmentalist/EV-pioneer and Simpsons guest-star(*see 'Even Hotter Breaking News' below) that AC Propulsion(ACP) is indeed the company in question and that the Toyota Scion(an acquired taste -be patient!) is the car to be converted.

Thirdly - oh dear..what a pity about the meagre 100 Green Miles per charge battery range.
Compare and contrast: ACP's 280 miles per charge(mpc) high-priced li-ion TZero, Steve Green's low-cost 204 mpc Thunder Sky li-ion Jester EV - and now the 100 mpc Scion/Hankster EV - sadly offering no improvement in range on Tom's favourite EV the Toyota RAV4 - launched more than 5 years ago.
But wait! What is this we hear on the grapEVine from Santa Monica EV Party organiser and RAV4 EV-man-about-town, Paul Scott? (..from his posting of 11 Oct 2003):

"Based on conversations with Tom Gage(ACP), the following is to beconsidered real:
Once the development stage is completed, AC Propulsion's goal isto offer (to the public) their entry level Scion conversion, withsimilar range, and double the acceleration of a Rav4 EV, at thesame price as a Rav4 EV. Upgrades like double range (andacceleration), cruise control and such, will be an additionalcharge." Click here for Paul Scott's full posting.

Tom Hanks joked with Letterman that there's no money to be made from electric vehicles. Why is that? Simple: Battery range too low - price too high.
So c'mon Tom. Why not offer a whole range of li-ion battery options:
A Hankster 100 (100 miles)..an 'ICE'-melting Hankster 150 and an 'ICE'-crushing Hankster 200 ? And in five years' time - who knows - an 'ICE'-breaking Hankster 300 Turbo to scare the living daylights out of....
...BUT WAIT AGAIN...EVEN HOTTER BREAKING NEWS...has just arrived in our Inbox folks! Our distinguished Hollywood actor/eco-activist contact - who tells us he actually "scored" Tom his first RAV4 EV - has just answered our EV-angelist prayers as we write - he tells us:
"I'm sorry that Tom didn't mention it, but AC Propulsion will be making vehicles with different ranges, in case someone wants a cheaper around-town car. They will offer a car with a 300+ mile range, as well. See ACP's "Summary Plan for Production of EV's".

Confused? It's simple - you can now disregard all our earlier whining comments about 'meagre 100 mile range'. We blame Tom for not mentioning the planned longer range options - esp. in his 'stuck half-way to Vegas' jibe. The man was obviously/understandably more focused on getting laughs than on pitching EV's...)

*Summary Plan - sorry folks: we have reluctantly - and hopefully temporarily - deactivated this apparently sensitive link after receiving(19 Apr 04) the following message from AC Propulsion President Tom Gage:
"...Can I ask you to please remove the link as my lawyers advise that this is necessary to avoid appearance of soliciting investors in a way notapproved by our SEC(Securities and Exchange Commission - financial regulators) in this country.
Thank you. I appreciate your attention and keep up the good work.
- Tom Gage "

March, 2004

Japan's battery-powered r-EV-ival - is a lithium dawn about to break?


Mitsubishi Eclipse EV

- Can the revival last? Is it for real - or just for show(s)?
- Will we ever see Mitsubishi's "Exciting EV's" (their words -see below) at a Tokyo - or better still - Kyoto Motor Show?
- And just what exactly is the range of the Subaru R1e's manganese li-ion batteries?

Well, we'll answer the last question first - partly because the others are near-impossible to answer. But as always we'll do what we can to illuminate, motivate, activate - and help make this revival happen.We hope our fellow EVUK'ers will (continue to..) do likewise.

So what exactly is the R1e's battery-range? Why the big mystery?
- Subaru appear to have been deliberately avoiding the whole question of R1e's battery-range and no-one in the global EV community had much of a clue either....so we contacted Mike Whelan, National Manager, Corporate Communications Subaru of America, Inc. - who also did not know! However, Mr. Whelan did immediately offer to contact his Subaru colleagues in Japan...and got back to us the next day with the following official response:

"The projected range for the R1e is 100km(62.5 miles) based on the 10/15 mode which is the Japanese technical standard".


Subaru R1e

Oh dear - most EV-watchers will find this 'projected'(?) battery range monumentally disapppointing. And baffling too - given that, for example, the li-ion Nissan Altra and the NiMH Toyota Rav4 EV's - both launched five(!) years ago - already had official battery ranges of 125 miles.
So 100 km? 62 miles!? Most of us are now hoping for and expecting something in excess of 250 km per charge fr om the latest generation of li-ion batteries.

Now to that other unknown: the longevity of the Japanese EV revival. Is it a new dawn and will it last? Will it have legs - or will the wheels come off again? The signs are very encouraging this time - so let's take a look at some of the supporting evidence beginning with our favourite five Japanese li-ion prototypes/concepts:

- Mitsubishi Eclipse - 400+ km on a single charge
- Mitsubishi FTO-EV - 2,142 km in 24 hours
- Keio University's Kaz li-on limo plus their smaller, even faster Eliica - at 315 km/h now the world's fastest electric car(car not vehicle - that honour belongs unofficially to Ohio State University's Buckeye Bullet at 274 mph and officially, still, to White Lightning's 245 mph. See below)
- Subaru's stunning R1e concept EV

So might Japan someday join with evangelical China("green Olympiad" 2008, Thunder Sky etc) - not to mention..
.. ever-ready and evergreen Canada(Electrovaya, Avestor etc) to form a fearsome and formidable new..."Axis of EVolution"?

What seems certain is that EV-resurgents everywhere appear determined to fight on: it will certainly be entertaining to see how the growing threat is met by US and EU carmakers now that they have all but pulled the plug on battery EV's - the most energy-efficient vehicles of all...


Mitsubishi FTO EV

Finally, for those of you who may have missed the memorably non-existent mainstream media headlines not celebrating the electrifying goings-on in Kyoto country, here's a summary of relevant links:

1) Mitsubishi Eclipse EV: 400+ km/charge achieved at Japan's Shikoku EV Rally 2001 - see detailed photo-report. Plus Mitsubishi's 2003 Eclipse update.

2) Mitsubishi FTO-EV: 2,142 km in 24 hours in 1999 - world record noted by Guinness Book of Records. See photo-report(there scroll to last page):"New EV Distance World Record".

3) "Exciting EV's" - 2003 report by Mitsubishi's lithium EV development team.

4) "Japan's EV Resurgence" - EV World report. Society of Automotive Engineers(SAE) comes back to battery power..plus "Concepts from Toyota".

5) Japan EV Club - includes Yokohama Formula EV photos.

6) "780 km on a single charge!" "Mitsubishi Eclipse Breaks World Distance Record For A Single Battery Charge!" - this Japan Corporate News report makes fine reading - though sadly they got it wrong: 780 km is the distance around the island of Shikoku.

7) Kaz and Eliica - Tokyo Motor Show 2003 detailed photo-report - with full specifications of both vehicles. March 13-14 2004 is the date set for the Eliica's next attempt to set a new official World Electric Land Speed Record of 400 km/h(kph) - see latest press release and photo.

++ BREAKING NEWS! ++ BREAKING NEWS! ++
Jester - Breaking News Update!(Mar 'O4)
: EVUK gets li-ion Jester EV onto Italian TV...and onto cover of Italian EV magazine 'El ectric Motor News.' Click to view!

February, 2004

Jester li-ion EV sets UK range record*.
- Partners and investors sought - worldwide!

(*for a fully roadworthy battery-powered passenger vehicle)

Jester EV

Steve Green (steve@greenerenergy.com) of Hampshire-based Progressive Energy Technologies(PET) has contacted us to report that his now fully "li-ionized" Jester EV has exceeded all his expectations and that his daughter - also Green by name and green by nature - was so impressed that she and her equally ecological fiance insisted on borrowing it for their recent wedding send-off(see photo - was it an ecomenical ceremony?).

Jester EV

Steve, a former engineer with the CEGB(Central Electricity Generating Board) told EVUK:

"I have been road-trialling a set of Thunder Sky Lithium batteries in the car for more than a year now and they have been performing very well. I finally got the official testing carried out by AEA Technology so that we now have official urban cycle and extra urban cycle power consumption tests ( tested to BS EN 1986-1:1997). The attachment shows the car on the rolling road. These tests showed as follows:

Extra urban cycle: 255 km/156 miles
Urban cycle: 326 km/ 204 miles
Urban cycle power consumption: 0.121 kWh/km
Extra urban cycle power consumption: 0.155 kwh/km
Maximum speed measured during tests: 114 kmh/71 mph
Useable energy stored in batteries: 39.6 kWh
Motor: Advanced DC with Regenerative Braking

Pretty impressive I think you'll agree. But we believe that with further investment and even better, more state-of-the-art components we could go on to enhance the overall performance - speed, acceleration, range - by a further 10-15% and get to 250 miles per charge and 80 mph. For example, by using even more sophisticated regen braking and gearing and an even higher-spec motor. And then there's the possibility of using dual hub motors of course.

The Energy Saving Trust and TransportEnergy, which are part of the Department for Transport( DfT), who were helping fund the tests seemed surprised - even embarrassed - by the results. They told me they couldn't really find anything to compare them with and, frankly, they don't seem especially keen to help further. As you know only too well the DfT are very keen on hybrids of course because, well, I guess it suits the big players and the petrochem interests and the Treasury(petrol-tax etc.) and keeps the whole crank and piston industry alive - as well as the mindset that goes with it.

I know I could sell these cars - and a four seat version - particularly in London with the congestion charge weighing on people's minds.
If I could make a reasonable quantity, say 10-50 a year the price would really start looking good. It's difficult to say what the sell-price would be: I built this prototype for less than 6000 so a fair ball-park guesstimate would be somewhere in the region of 15k - allowing for labour, VAT, return to investors, a little profit etc. Anyway - that's around 10 Jesters for the price of one TZero !
Unfortunately, though, I'm not a salesman or a marketing executive and so far don't have the production capability. So I am urgently looking for joint-venture partners and investors: I'd consider setting up production facilities just about anywhere in the world(but especially in Europe and the US) if the conditions and the people were right."

The very latest on the li-ion Jester:

Jester EV

We have spoken to Steve a few times over the last few days about the new li-ion Jester project and where things go from here. Here are a few extracts from our conversations and correspondence:

EVUK: we obviously love the new Jester because it shatters all the EV stereotypes but could you also envisage applying the technology to other vehicle types? For instance , have EST or the Carbon Trust said that they would be more interested in funding a more functional or mainstream vehicle than the Jester - something less fun-oriented like, say, a long-range(150+ miles) Berlingo-style van - or something like the e-Ka or even a taxi? Diversify the way the MDI Air Car people plan to?

- Obviously this isn't to say you'd be abandoning the Jester - but I suppose it's understandable that EST and other investors might say that a fun car like the Jester will not appeal to everyday commuters so would do little if anything to reduce (inner city) pollution.

Steve: Obviously the same Jester technology could be applied to other vehicles like taxis and I agree that there would be a demand for a small tradesman-type electric van with real range...Berlingo-size or microvan-size like the Aixam vehicles which are also superlight of course(see photo). I would be quite keen to build something based on a small car like the Suzuki Swift or the Aixam cars or vans - in addition to the Jester.

Aixam Minivan
Aixam Minivan: no 'Green' version..yet

EVUK: Westminster Council are very keen on EV's and invited us to an Electric Vehicle Roadshow last year where the 'big deal' star attractions were the 50 mile/charge G-Whiz and a Berlingo - they'd definitely appreciate something with double or triple the range...

Steve: I went to the launch of the EST's "Ultra Low Carbon Challenge" last year. As you may know this is a 10 million challenge to build a prototype capable of production in the near to medium term , but they've set a target range of 1000 miles per refuel and 75mpg which basically dictates hybrids. I imagine the money will go to the major players(EVUK Ed: indeed it has - all hybrids..with Rover top of the list!)
I asked the Transport Minister Alistair Darling why the funding initiative seemed to preclude battery powered vehicles, but of course I didn't get a straight or sensible answer even though I could show that our emissions - including electricity generation at current pollutant levels - were half of the DfT's 2010 target levels.

Jester EV.

EVUK: ...and of course with the Jester technology if you sign up for green energy you've got yourself a genuine ZEV now - something that fuel cell vehicles won't likely be offering for another 10-15 years. And who knows what you'll have to pay for 100% renewable hydrogen?

Steve: That's right. Anyway, I had actually offered to exhibit the Jester at the event but after an enthusiastic response from some 'innocent' underling on the phone, the word eventually came down that there wouldn't be room (not true as it turned out..) alongside the other exhibits which strangely did include a 45 mile range fuel cell taxi that cost a fortune to produce and no doubt uses hydrogen or methanol from fossil fuel sources.
I must admit I got pretty fed up with having to constantly chase after reluctant people who're obviously driven by other hidden agendas and short-term political priorities.

EVUK: Well, it's no surprise that Michael Meacher(ex-Environment Minister) eventually threw in the towell or that even the Government's Chief Science Advisor (Prof David King) found that his calls to phase out the Internal Combustion Engine fell on stone-deaf ears.We're all still being ICE'd out.

Related links:

EST/TransportEnergy

Thunder Sky (Oh dear...people will begin to suspect we have an 'arrangement' with this leader of the li-ion 'pack.' For better or worse - not so!)

January, 2004

Just in!: Thunder Sky's photo-packed lithium-EV product chart and price-list. (Note: not available at Thunder Sky.com!)

- includes 200 miles per charge Thunder Sky'ed Citroens - with and without air-conditioning - plus long-range e-Vespas, buses, coaches and e-bikes.

...But when, many EV-watchers are asking, are we likely to see a Thunder Sky-enhanced, long-range(120+ miles) version of the modestly successful 50 miles per charge, niche-market(still!) ni-cad Citroen Berlingo Electrique(pictured)?


Impact Distribution's(London) congestion-charge-free ni-cad Berlingo.

Links:
Thunder Sky Product Chart (Click on 'Enlarge' icon for full size)
Thunder Sky Price List
Thunder Sky.com (..no product chart or price-list!!)

January, 2004

EVMC - Monte Carlo International Electric, Hybrid & Fuel Cell Show 2004(April 1-4)

- plus "The Village of Cities"

- EVUK has been contacted by French seminar and conference organisers MITI asking if we would help publicize this year's upcoming EVMC ('Electric Vehicle Monte Carlo') show.
Note: EVMC/MITI will also be organising EVS21 to be held in Monte Carlo in 2005. See list of exhibitors.

November, 2003

Alel SCOOLER e-Vespa sets 102 mile(165 km) range record.
(Update ( Dec '03): EU inertia as Vectrix USA prepares to cash in on European e-scooter/e-Vespa market - see Vectrix press release).
Meanwhile - here in oh-so pro-Kyoto Europe - Alel's Philippe Borges is still seeking government and private backers for his range-record-breaking, groundbreaking(... and 2000 Euros cheaper!!) SCOOLER e-Vespa. Au secours! )

Vive La Vespa Revolution!

Isn't it amazing just how far a little French flair and savoir faire can go?
Forget military might - this is what we call superpower.

New photos - new record. So far this incredible achievement has only been reported in the French press - but, like so much ground-breaking EV-innovation, it certainly merits media attention worldwide - asap!
Alel's Philippe Borges tells EVUK that the company is also looking to produce a lithium-powered(Thunder Sky) version of the Scooler - so 150+ miles and/or an even lighter Scooler could certainly be on the horizon.

See French newspaper reports. "Road Range Record for Scooler LR - Belfort to Dijon."

See also: earlier EVUK article: "Alel seeks investors"

Alel Homepage (not to be confused with "El Al" - the Israeli airline...)
Email: vehiculeselectriques@free.fr
Note: Investors, partners and (Hollywood)celebrity endorsements are still being sought!

September, 2003

TZERO sensation : li-ion Ferrari-zapper cracks 300 miles/charge & 0-60 in 3.7 secs.
(So - that'd be London to Birmingham -and back- for less than a tenner...)


Li-ion TZERO

AC Propulsion's wildly successful battery..er..volte face goes down a storm in the US - so how long can Britain's media ignore it?

Our first reaction - for what it's worth - to the news that AC Propulsion(ACP) had decided to construct an 'unleaded' li-ion-powered version of the TZERO was an entirely understandable chorus of:
"At last! / We told you so ! / What took you so long?!"

How so?

- Well, between 1999 and 2001 EVUK contacted ACP on no less than three occasions asking if/when the company intended moving from lead-acid to lithium ion(or even NiMH) only to be told - in no uncertain terms - that lead-acid was and would remain ACP's battery of choice for the long-term.

Indeed, it's fair to say - and on the record - that "way back then" ACP were almost contemptuously dismissive of both li-ion and NiMH and consistently and emphatically ruled out both options as being non-viable for a long time to come.

Lithium, especially, was nowhere on ACP's r adar as recently as 2001. Just for the record - see Thomas Gage's(ACP President) impassioned Jan 2000 defence of lead acid in:
"Lead Acid Batteries: Key to Electric Vehicle Commercialization"

Our second reaction - for what it's worth - to the li-ion TZERO's 300 mile range/0-60 in 3.7 breakthrough was and is to ask:

- Just how long will the UK's hydrogen-hyping, BEV-bashing mainstream media be able to avoid or resist reporting this landmark, stereotype-shattering news to Britain's scandalously misinformed, ICE-blinkered public?

blueangel jetC'mon on guys - come on all you G-Force-junkie motoring journos: the New York Times compares the TZERO's instant torque acceleration to a US Navy Blue Angel jet - so why not throw away the "Fuel cells are the Future" script-cum-diktat" and book your TZERO test-drive now?!

Strange isn't it - if Toyota or Honda had produced a fuel cell vehicle with anything remotely approaching the real-world performance, range, acceleration, high energy-efficiency, low weight(1970lbs v. Honda FCX's 3713lbs!), low running-cost and (relatively)low production cost of the TZERO - it would cause immediate and obligatory headline-ripples all around the globe.

So why not email a journalist? If any esteemed loyal EVUK'ers like the idea of a massive G-Force smacking the rear end of a (UK)motoring journalist then why not email them a TZERO heads-up? Here're some prime 'targets':

- Top Gear(they did test drive the 'old' short-range TZERO...) top.gear@bbc.co.uk
- Auto Express : editorial@autoexpress.co.uk
- Sunday Times Driving Supplement: drivingletters@sunday-times.co.uk
- Daily Telegraph's 'Honest John' driving correspondent: honestjohn.motoring@telegraph.co.uk

We suggest an email along the lines of: "Forget your Sinclair C5/C6 comedy headlines - if the TZERO doesn't wipe the smile off your face and wrap it round your ears - nothing will!".

Related links:
1) Watch Li-ion TZero in action courtesy Discovery Channel, Canada. That's right - it's EV-resurgent Canada again - see Canada and the "Axis of EVolution".

2) AC Propulsion homepage - recently updated with full li-ion TZERO details.

3) AC Propulsion's older, 'slower' lead acid TZERO outpaces a Ferrari, pastes a Porsche and crushes a Corvette.

4) Lexus 2054 - lithium-powered superstar of Tom Cruise's blockbuster 'Minority Report'.

5) Lithium future: you think the li-ion TZERO is already mindblowing enough? Well, you ain't seen nothin' yet - according to Sandia National Labs(US Gov): "More powerful, longer-lasting lithium batteries on the horizon with Sandia-developed materials breakthrough." See Lithium Hotlinks for more.

September, 2003

General Wesley Clark & Hollywood director Rob Reiner to speak at EVS20.

(Newsflash just received(Sept'03) from EVS20 organisers Electric Drive)

We've just added MORE "STAR POWER" to the EVS agenda!


.

- Wesley Clark: ex-military(dove not hawk...) renaissance man turned e-bike/e-drive CEO(Wavecrest) - now a potential (high potential!) US Presidential contender. (See 'Draftclark2004' campaign website.)

- Rob Reiner: Hollywood director (Spinal Tap, When Harry Met Sally etc. etc.).

Renowned Hollywood director, producer and electric drive advocate Rob Reiner; former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO and CNN military analyst General Wesley Clark; and President and CEO of Ballard Power Systems, the world's leading automotive fuel cell manufacturer, Dennis Campbell are joining the already stellar line-up of speakers for the EVS-20 Opening Plenary Session. New additions to the Closing Plenary Session include the Director of the Honda Research & Development Co. Tomohiko Kawanabe and Sam Bonasso , Acting Administrator for the RSPA at the U.S. Department of Transportation. To learn about ALL of the notable keynote and plenary speakers, please see the attached press release.

Why is EVS-20 the ONLY "Must Attend" Event for 2003?

1. 215 Technical Presentations providing the most up-to-date and comprehensive technical, market and policy information on all facets of the dawning era of electric drive. Whether you're interested in battery, hybrid and/or fuel cell electric vehicles, fuels and infrastructure, or the status and impact of international governmental action on the industry, EVS-20 will deliver! Visit http://www.evs20.org/onlinebrochure.html RIGHT NOW to download a conference brochure or browse through the site for detailed and up-to-the minute info on every facet of the Symposium.

2. Largest Industry Exposition in 2003 featuring major international auto manufacturers, energy providers, technology developers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers, and government agencies. Check out the impressive list of exhibitors http://www.evs20.org/symposium-plenary.html on our 50,000 square foot show floor and you'll see that EVS-20 is the place to conduct business with the world's leading electric drive companies and concerns.

3. Pre & Post Conference Events offering delegates the opportunity to expand their business and learning in unique forums, from workshops focusing on key industry technologies and issues, to "EVS-20 PUBLIC DAYS" where you can interact with thousands of Southern Californians who will visit the show floor and test drive the latest in battery, hybrid and fuel cell cars, scooters, bikes and other equipment.

4. Largest & Most Diverse "Ride'n'Drive" ever assembled offering delegates the chance to test drive the latest in on-road battery, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles on part of the world renowned Long Beach Grand Prix course; the opportunity to hop on an array of electric-powered bikes and scooters; and an opportunity to cruise in low speed and off-road electric vehicles on a protected course.

5. Fabulous Venue in Long Beach, California offering seaside views, premier hotel accommodations, fun and unique social events, and access to some of the world's most famous tourist sites, from Disneyland to the Hollywood Hills!

To register for EVS20, click here!

August, 2003

Battery Vehicle Society Event Looks To Lithium Ion Future


Paul Compton's(BVS) Scirocco EV

The UK's Battery Vehicle Society has asked if we would draw atttention to their upcoming annual all-battery-electric jamboree to be held this year from Sept 12-15 at the Gaia Energy Centre in beautiful North Cornwall(S.West UK).
Well, we're only too pleased to oblige (see BVS pre-press release below) - especially given that two of the top themes on the agenda there this year are(quote):

"Engineering the way forward with lithium ion" and
"Moving on from the lead-acid benchmark".

- Subjects very close to our hearts as all regular EVUK'ers will know(see Lithium Hotlinks)

Finally - jumping from BVS to EVS for a moment - November's long-anticipated EVS20 in Long Beach California will also be allocating some(but not enough..) tokenistic time and space - amid all the inevitable corporate hydrogen and hybrid hype - to focus on pure battery vehicle developments and in particular lithium and lithium polymer research breakthroughs. See EVS Agenda 1, Agenda 2, and the tellingly titled Small Lectures Series ...

In any event - i.e. BVS or EVS - Britain's national media are as usual unlikely to be attending or reporting back en masse - despite their recent touching "concerns" about the latest spate of extreme weather and climate change.

- Here are the details of BVS's Gaia Energy Centre Event as posted to us by Ian Gordon(BVS Chairman):

We wonder if you might be interested in a forthcoming Battery Vehicle Society Event, and to read about our recent "Green Vehicle Day".

A brief summary appears below, with the full Press Release available as attachments on request, by e-mail or post. We would be delighted if you would agree to add these to your website, or to link to ours.

CORNWALL EVENT - The Battery Vehicle S ociety is the only active UK Electric Vehicle society, and includes many members with a professional experience of EVs. This year its main meeting is 12 - 15 Sep in Cornwall.

On Saturday afternoon 13 September at the Gaia Energy Centre Delabole N. Cornwall there will be 6 talks on 'Electric Vehicles in the 21st Century'. These include: Moving on from the lead-acid benchmark; talks on EV development, including a long-distance vehicle and a high speed EV, and practical approach to converting vehicles to battery operation; Engineering the way forward with Lithium-ion; Putting 'carbon' into perspective. Other activities include a practical demonstration of EV's and relevant visits.

More details can be obtained from the Battery Vehicle Society; to join costs just 12 per annum (concessions 8) and entitles the member our Society bi-monthly publication "The Battery Vehicle Review".

For further information please contact:

Ian Gordon (BVS Chairman) or Alan Ward (BVS Vice Chairman) at the addresses below, or other BVS committee members, see http://www.bvs.org.uk

Ian Gordon, 26 College Glade, Caerleon NP18 3TB
Tel: 01633 421190 or 07711 108160, gordon.ian@ic24.net;
Alan Ward, Coasters Cottage, Hermitage, Dorchester DT2 7BB
Tel: 01963 210449, dorset2wards@hotmail.com)

August, 2003

TH!NK confirms new look, new range City EV: 100% more style, 45% (only!?) more range.

Th!nk City EVTH!NK Norway's Michael Eimstad recently contacted EVUK to update us on the TH!NK City EV following the sale of the company to Kamkorp last year.

There is good news and bad to report: the old bathtub-boring design has thankfully been abandoned in favour of the new look, sexed-up version but contrary to earlier reports (se e EVWorld/Romerikes Blad interview with Kamkorp's Bernd Winkler) of a possible extended 200km or even 300km range, we are now told that a far more modest 125km (78 miles) will be on offer. This is rather disappointing but it does represent a 45%(or so) increase in range on the original and should enable drivers to attempt the occasional mini-escape or mini-break from the city at weekends for example. i.e. it could now be more than just a short-hop city runaround for some drivers...

Here's Michael Eimstad's update in full:

Hello EVUK!

After Ford's decision to pull out of Think last fall, Think Nordic was sold to Kamkorp Microelectronics in February 2003. Much of the development work on the new vehicle was completed prior to the sale, but Kamkorp has access to some very efficient drivetrain technology which we are working to implement. Because of the delay in the sale and the extra engineering work to integrate the new systems, the new Think city will not be launched until 2004.

While the exact technical specifications are not yet settled, the car will be a two-seater, electric vehicle with a driving range of up to 125 km and a top speed of 100 kph. (I'm not sure where you heard that the car will have a range of 200 km, but that is not the case). The car will be well equipped, featuring power steering, ABS braking, driver and passenger airbags, air-conditioning, electric windows and mirrors and central locking. You can see pictures of it on: http://www.multinett.no/reinert/bilder/think/thinkenglish.html.

We hope you can be patient with us while we work on the new model and thank you for your interest!

Best regards,
Michael Eimstad
PR and Marketing Consultant
Think Nordic AS
Strmsveien 195,
N-0668 Oslo, NORWAY
Dir.: +47 23 24 56 26
Tel.: +47 23 24 56 00
Fax: +47 23 24 56 01
Tel.: +47 93 42 23 25
mei@think.no
www.think.no
www.thinkev.com
See EVUK report(Dec, 2002): "TH!NK City takeover-makeover: 200km+ range breakthrough in prospect".

May, 2003

Hot Baking News! 'Pizza' e-scooter delivers 100 km*.

Range will take some topping! (But see tasty footnote below).

Domino Pizza escooter We recently received the following pre- press release mailshot from Raffaello Locatelli of Oxygen SpA, Italian-based manufacturers of the acclaimed Lepton Vespa-style electric scooter :

Sir/Madam,

- we are receiving a lot of attention from our latest version of our scooter (100 km range - see *note below). We will be in production in October 2003 and we are taking orders now. A final prototype will be in the US next week and it will be shown at the International Domino's convention. The Domino's people in Holland have tested two prototypes for the last three weeks and they are ecstatic.Domino's PR agency is very active with all the media and our product has received a lot of press.

We have a solution for the "LAST MILE" problem of web commerce.

See our all-new(June 2003) cargo scooter website!

You may want to contact our distributor in Holland. He can provide all the Domino's details .

His contact info:

Frank van Oirschot | managing director | Granturismo mobility

Grote Houtstraat 176-178 | 2011 SZ Haarlem | Netherlands

www.granturismomobility.com

www.elektrischescooter.nl

Tel +31 (0)23 5519295

Regards,

Raffaello Locatelli

* Note: 100 km range achieved under ideal test conditions i.e. flat surface, negligible wind. Realworld range is stated as 80km/50 miles per charge(..still way ahead of competition).

Q from EVUK Editor: At less than 30p per recharge, will this mean cheaper pizzas?!

Tasty Footnote: A leading London-based EV enterprise - sorry no names...we're sworn to secrecy - has also now just sent us photos of a stunning and futuristic-looking Vespa-style e-scooter prototype that it claims will achieve 150 km per charge! They're not going public yet but they tell us we'll be the first to know when they do. So watch this space! Oxygen Post escooter

February, 2003

Rolling Stones, Bill Clinton in Global Warming concert.

"Turn Up The Heat - Fight Global Warming"

Yes - Global Warming instead of Global Warring - now why, we wonder, did Mick choose to invite Clinton and not Bush? Mmmmm.....

Strange - isn't it - that most of our mainstream media either completely ignored this unprecedented free Rolling Stones concert specifically aimed at putting Global Warming back onto the media's radar screens - or else conspicuously and predictably under-reported the event. (See Ananova multi-photo report and Leonardo Di Caprio/NRDC report)

Of course it wasn't so long ago that a visit by Bill Clinton to the Vikram electric vehicle company in India was fully 100% ignored by the non-internet TV/print media. See Electrifying Times photo-report - from which we've selected the following Clinton classic:
"The most effective way of loving our children in this age of eco-awareness would be to give them an environment which is free of pollution."

No doubt the George Dubbya GlobalWarring equivalent wisdom would doubtless translate into:
"The most effective way of loving our children in this age of evil-doers would be to give them an environment which is free of evil-doing."

Global Warming or Global Warring - you choose!

February, 2003

Chinese Co. claims 444 km range for lithium-EV saloon - their electric buses are pretty impressive too! Photos just in!

Zhengzhou Jiayuan Electric Vehicles Science & Technology Co., Ltd - or "Jiayuan Ltd". Contact: E-mail: jiayuan-ev@163.net Click here for full contact details.

China Saloon EV- EVUK was recently contacted by this company with a (very lengthy!) press release and full, extensive details of its Electric Vehicle Development Program. (As reported last year, the Chinese Goverment has wisely decided not to put all its eggs in the fuel cell ZEV-basket - but will also be investing heavily in the rapid development of advanced (lithium) battery-powered electric vehicles - see EVUK full report and China Daily News report "Chinese Government to Push Electric Car Development". )

The following is an extract from the above-mentioned Jiayuan Ltd Press Release:

"In order to maint ain the energy security of our state, improve the environment ofthe atmosphere, enhance the competition of our automobile industry in the world,the Department of Science and Technology set up the Electromotion Automobile Project.

We plan to specialize in the industrialisation of electric vehicles and we are trying to make great progress in the key battery technology of electric vehicles, system integration technology and entire car technology, which makes us the leader in the field of the electric vehicle with the objective of accelerating the development of the Chinese automobile industry. We also plan to develop high performance power storage batteries with electronic management systems and electro-mechanical drive-systems with digital control systems, and help to establish the electric vehicle accessory industry.

The State believes that the key challenge is to improve automobile technology and relieve the current energy problem. The electric vehicle industry is a new field that is gaining special attention from the State. It has great profit potential.

China EV Bus

Our company is the first enterprise to produce a prototype electric bus and electric saloon car.

We believe the successful operation of the project will bring high profit to investors if the realization of the industrialization is successful.The total number of electric buses in the big cities of our country will reach 30,000 per year and electric taxis will reach 300,000. It can be estimated that at the beginning of the project, our company can produce3,000 electric bus chasses per year, the sales income will reach $140,000,000 per year, the retail profit can reach $30,000,000. In the middle of the projectwe can produce 6,000 electric bus chasses and 10,000 electric autobusdrive-system assemblies. The sales income will reach $520,000,000 per year, and the retail profit will reach $100,000,000.

Zhengzhou Jiayuan Electromotion Automobile Ltd. is the first enterp rise capable of producing electric cars and saloon cars in our country. And the prototypes of these two products have been tested by the test center of the No.2 Automobile Manufacture. The saloon cars have run almost 300,000km. The originator, Li Jiuxue, developed the first electric saloon cars successfully in 1996. The look and appearance of the prototype cars reflects world design trends . The efficiency is 97% atrating power when output of the power is constant. The efficiency of the electromotor is 93.4%, which compares favourably with the leaders in the field. .

At present, the prototype of the Jiayuan electric saloon car which uses an 11KW AC electromotor can run 444.7 km on a single charge(lithium battery) - maximum speed: 97km/h(verified by the No.2 Automobile Manufacture).
If a 22-25KW electromotor is used, the top speed can reach over 140km/h and the range is reduced by 5% to 422 km."

Zhengzhou Jiayuan Electric Vehicles Science & Technology Co., LtdADD:No.9 Yinping Road National Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone Zhengzhou, China.

Contact: Lihui Tel: 86 25 4718030 Fax: 86 25 4720382 E-mail: jiayuan-ev@163.net
http://www.jiayuan.21trader.com/

January, 2003

Nu Age/NuPower - another EV alliance announces breakthrough battery technology.(Jan,2003)

Nu Age / NuPowr / SMI are promising great things in long-range electric vehicle performance - here's(probably) the tastiest extract from their recent Lycos Finance Press Release:

"Essentially the use of this (Lithium Ion) Power System in our electric vehicles cuts the weight of the battery packs up to 75%, doubles or triples the range and speed compar ed to any on the market today or any that may consider competing with our products, and cuts the recharge time by up to 75%."

See full, original Lycos Finance Press Release.

Related links:

1) Nu Age Electric

2) Electric Lexus 2054 - NuPowr's Chaz Haba(formerly of Planet Electric(USA) - now defunct) also provided Lithium Polymer batteries for the electric Lexus 2054(see EVUK picture report ) featured in the Tom Cruise blockbuster 'Minority Report'. Chaz Haba also recently joined forces with famed ex-Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca - producer of the lithium-powered EVGLOBAL mini-ebike not to mention the mastermind behind the Ford Mustang of course...

January, 2003

ZAP EVZAP announces triple-performance, freeway-capable EV's at Las Vegas Show.(Jan 2003)

- ZAP also says it will be unveiling a new technology that appears to triple("200 miles per charge") the performance of battery-powered vehicles. .

ZAP subsidiary Voltage Vehicles has joined forces with a European-based group involved in the design and manufacturing of electric cars and utility vehicles.
Riccardo Coles from the European consortium says in a Zapworld press release(Jan 2, 2003): "We feel the timing for electric cars is now. There has never been more of a need throughout the world for clean transportation technologies. According to air quality studies, pure electrics are much more efficient and produce much less pollution than other technologies, including the new hybrids ".

Coles does add, unfortunately, that initial sales will be centred on America and Canada. Now - call us naive, call us Eurocentric, call us impatient - but at EVUK we are, not for the first time, more than a little flummoxed by this all-too-familiar America first EV-marketing strategy. (When has it ever worked?!) Consider the following:

1) Petrol costs around $5 a gallon in Britain/Europe.

2) The roll-out of congestion charges in London and other UK/European cities is imminent (EV's are exempt of course...).

3) In the US, sales of gas-guzzling SUV's continue to soar despite oil-linked geo-political and environmental crises.

4) Petrol/gas prices in the US are being kept well below $1.50 a gallon.

...well let's hope, at least, that ZAP's "freeway-capable" EV(..sadly no pictures yet) gets a simultaneous US-UK launch. (It seems to work for Hollywood blockbuster premieres - why not for EV's??)

ZAP Van

Here are the relevant ZAP press releases:

1)"ZAP to Unveil Electric Cars at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas". Multi-photo report.(Jan 2, 2003)

2) "Zap Signs Electric Car Agreement". Multi-photo report including handshake- pic of Riccardo Coles(European group) and ZAP CEO Steve Schneider. (Dec 10, 2002)

December, 2002

TH!NK City takeover-makeover: 200km+ range breakthrough in prospect.

- plus new 100% more efficient power-train and a new-look design.

TH!NK CityFor those who haven't heard, Ford has sold its Norway-based T H!NK operation to UK/Swiss/Singapore -based Kamkorp / Frazer-Nash. Not before time!

- regular EVUK'ers will know that we have always been unashamedly critical - even dismissive - of the TH!NK City in its original PIVCO-compromised form - with its sub-fifty mile real-world range and EV-stereotype looks. Indeed in the period 2000-2001 we received many a disgruntled email from - how can we put this - certain Norway-based experts zealously defending the TH!NK City's minimalist range and looks...

...Well - we are far too well-bred to yell "WE TOLD YOU SO!!"...suffice to say, we remain as convinced that a new look, long-range TH!NK City will succeed as we always were that the old version would fail. Only a scaled-up, e-Ka-like TH!NK EV would impress us more. (See our e-Ka vs.TH!NK City Surfer-Survey/rhetorical questionnaire AND our What We Need Is a power-ranger" plea.)

For full story see excellent EVWorld / Romerikes Blad report:
"Kamkorp to Renew TH!NK City".

Footnote 1 - New look TH!NK City: nothing appears 100% certain at the moment but we do sincerely hope that the familiar worthy-but-nerdy perambulator design will indeed be expeditiously dumped in favour of the infinitely more stylish, with-attitude version - as presented at the LA Auto Show on Jan 5, 2002. See multi-photo report in Canadian Driver. (Please Kamkorp, please don't TH!NK twice about dumping the old bathtub-boring, Euro-bland design - if N. American customers demand a style-upgrade, why short-change style-conscious Europeans...again?

Footnote 2 - TH!NK City soft-top convertible in its recent Xmas 2002 print edition, Auto Expr ess magazine(UK) erroneously claimed to have exclusive preview photos of this TH!NK'ing man's soft-top - wrong!! EVWorld (express?) beat you to it folks - by a full month! See EVWorld spy photos of TH!NK City convertible concept.

Footnote 3 - for photo of 'old-style' worthy-but-nerdy TH!NK City and for some very useful links & ideas on London's congestion-charging scheme see BBC article: "Would You Buy and Electric Car? Electric cars could soon be a regular sight in London....".

October, 2002

China succumbs to F1 / tobacco megabucks (Oct 17,2002)

- Welcome, China, to the self-destructive world of crank'n'piston idolatry!

Less than two months after signing up to the Kyoto Protocol at the Jo'burg Earth Summit, China appears to be following the West's example and quickly forgetting that actions speak far louder than fine words and virtuous treaties - both as regards the health of its people and the health of the planet....

...and it was of course without a word of criticism or dissent - but with more than a hint of celebratory champagne-popping....that Britain's media approvingly reported the glorious news that Shanghai is indeed to play host to the auto-and-oil industry's Carcinogen-and-CO2 Carousel.

See ITN News report :
"China looks to maximize remaining four years of tobacco advertising"

...and China's Beijing People Daily report :
"Shanghai to Host Formula One Championship Series Racing 2004- 2010"

Oh - Brave Ne w World !The rapid-response team at EVUK did of course waste no time at all in bombarding the nation's media (TV,newspaper,radio) with a furious, dissenting little email-shot. Here it is:

Sir, What a pity that just two months after signing up to the Kyoto Protocol at the Johannesburg Earth Summit China has decided to prostitute itself simultaneously to both the tobacco and fossil-fuel / oil lobbies with this weak and retrograde decision to host one of the most anachronistic, ecologically-retarded and - boy - just plain boring "sporting" events on the planet.

The decision is also completely at odds with the Chinese government's recently stated ambition(unreported in Britain of course...) to develop a whole new generation of ultra-advanced Zero Emission electric vehicles in time for the 2008 Olympiad and to make this the greenest Games ever. (See EVUK report)

. - What, pray, is remotely "sustainable" or "eco-friendly" or at all defensible about this tobacco-sponsored, fossil-fuel-squandering non-sport? Formula One itself - despite its apologists' protestations - represents just about everything that the Kyoto agreement is designed to oppose and replace. Let's face it, the message from F1 and its supporters is, and has always been: "FU tree-huggers !!" ...or words to that effect....

The decision is not so much a Shanghai Surprise as a Shanghai sell-out..

Please - British journalists and politicians - don't pretend, yet again, that you can't join up the environmental dots or spot the eco-amnesia - or else we might have to conclude that you've sold out too.....

See Hotlinks pages for Green Motorsport UK, Podium, Primetime, Gravitron, - all attempting to break the 245 mph World Electric Landspeed Record held by White Lightning.

September, 2002

Avestor/Hydro-Quebec aim to build first ultra-advanced Lithium EV.

See Canadian Press report. See also: "Mission Accomplished - Avestor/Hydro-Quebec/Kerr-McGee ready-to-market Lithium-Metal-Polymer battery" - PRNewswire report.

August, 2002

Wowie! Bowie takes Soho trips on Zappy..

First it was celeb-endorsement from Spacey in New York - now it's David Bowie who's out stardustin' on a Zappy in London's Soho(...hey - it beats kerbcrawling...) "The Zappy would give great ground-control to Major Tom - should he ever return to Earth. Or more to the point - if Planet Earth is still there to return to. Definitely a trip worth taking though..." said a spaced-out Ziggy-Zappy spokesperson yesterday(afternoon). Possibly. OK - the quote may not be kosher but the story certainly is - check out the genuine article - the Bowie interview. (Capitol Records-MSN Chat /Yahoo Zappy newsgroup) Note: turbo Zappy (18 mph) now available!

August, 2002

Transport PowerShift programme (UK) to make grants available to subsidise cost of electric scooters/bikes in September 2002

August, 2002

lepton e-scooter Promising European Initiative, the E-Tour Project encourages car drivers from Rotterdam to Mykonos to leave I.C.E car at home and try a N.I.C.E commute to work... on electric bikes and scooters...

10 European cities and islands are involved in the scheme to encourage car drivers in urban areas to leave their car at home and buy or hire an electric scooter/electric bike to reduce noise levels and traffic/lung congestion.

Ecolux electric bike In Barcelona, Stockholm, Rome, Capri and Mykonos the emphasis lies on demonstrating the advantages of fully-motorised electric scooters/mopeds whilst in cities with a well established bicycle culture, namely Rotterdam, Basel, Brussels, Mendrisio and Erlangen the emphasis is on promoting the advantages of power-assisted bicycles and further increasing bicycle use.

TornadoRome boasts the biggest electric scooter rental service in the world with an impressive 400 electric scooters available for rental. Unfortunately at the moment only the lead acid rather than the new improved Ni-Zn 40-50 km per charge Lepton scooter is rentable. Grants are also provided by t he capital to assist with the purchase of a new electric scooter substantially reducing the cost by approximately 50%.

With the range of electric vehicles being cited as the main problem with EV's, the success of this project, indeed the future of pure electric vehicles as a whole depends of course on the use of higher performing batteries. See leading Electric Bike consultant, Ed Benjamin's article from the July 2002 edition of the CycleElectric Newsletter, Will Chinese Lithium Ion be the Energy Source of Light Electric Vehicles?

Other companies promising affordable, super high-density(long-range) Lithium Ion/Polymer batteries for EV's/ebikes/escooters:

Lithium Power Technologies Inc. of Texas (electric bicycles...)

Fortu(Germany)

Planet Electric (USA) (website temporarily(?) disabled since mid-2001..)

For more information on lithium ion potential see Altair & T/J Technologies' "nano anodes" described elsewhere in EVUK.

Unfortunately ELCIDIS / E-TOUR organisers tell us they did not know about the Ecolux ebikes when organising the EU-wide project and, sadly, selected very expensive, unexciting-looking ebikes offering rather pedestrian performance and power. EVUK has since opened their eyes to where it's really at ebike-wise and hopefully the Ecolux ebikes will feature in future projects.

July, 2002

MDI Car Update 2002! mdi air carOfficial Presentation of MDI air car in London, UK, scheduled for 20th September 2002. Paris Motor Show - Sept 2 002 : presentation of MDI 'enhanced' compressed-air vehicle promised. See: MDI / Evolution Africa . Now! Click here for Paris Motor Show pictures.

To a recent (June 2002) query from us to MDI Africa's Helen Brown asking:

1) if an enhanced vehicle will indeed be appearing at the Paris Motor Show on show

2) if journalists will be able to test-drive the vehicle

3) why at present only the Africa website mentions the upcoming Paris Motor Show appearance...

....we received the following response:

"... the enhancements will be on show.....

".. The Paris show is a boutique show where it is not possible to drive vehicles - journalists have been driving the prototypes when visiting the factory near Nice for the past three years. I think what the motoring journalists are waiting for is the chance to drive a production vehicle - this will only be possible around the second quarter of 2003.

MDI are currently using all their resources to prepare for Paris - their website is therefore not receiving due attention at this time. Sincerely, Helen Brown."

Top Gear mag goes MEGA on MDI Air Car (August 2002) .

Sacre Bleu! Or should that be Sacre Vert?.

Well - for once it's the motor that's powered by hot air - not the motoring journalist.... .

In a 4-page special feature (P.132 ff.) , a month or so ahead of MDI's scheduled appearance at the Paris Motor Show, at least one Top Gear reporter appears keen to demonstrate more than a little entente cordiale and general bonhommie towards both the MDI Air Car itself and its ebullient creator Guy Negre.

The Top Gear article is long and sadly not available online so you will have to buy or borrow the magazine yourselves - but two points do stand ou t:

1) Guy Negre reveals that among the 40,000 or so inquiries so far received from the press and public about the car there is a facsimile from "the Prince of Wales household at Highgrove House in Gloucestershire".

Compressed air to the throne you might say.

Perhaps WWF President the Duke of Edinburgh could also consider adding an air-car to the Palace Fleet - it was he after all who acquired an electric black cab for the royal car pool a few years back - see Daily Telegraph article entitled "I've Just Got to Live with It" in which Gyles Brandreth commends his 'friend' Prince Philip for this electric taxi initiative..(among other things...) 2) Also: yet again we see here a Top Gear journalist unable to resist including that seemingly obligatory and ecologically-clueless clause:

"electric-powered vehicles merely transfer pollution to the power-station"

Yaaawn...and we cyclists, pedestrians, joggers and pushchair-occupants do sooo appreciate the caring use of that word merely do we not? (Whilst were on the subject: Why bother, for that matter, with rail electrification...or central-heating in place of smoke-belching fire-places? After all, it only moves the stench and pollution away from where we live and breathe, right?)

No - as usual no reference whatever is made by our Top Gear man to the possibility of using renewable energy or of plugging into off-peak electricity at night when most industrialised countries have significant supply surpluses. Neither is mention made of the widely-agreed need to move towards decentralised/local/household fuel cell and CHP micro-power generation etc. etc.....

No - instead we are enthusiastically told of plans to use boat engines to power air-compressors. Sorry - youll have to work it out for yourselves landlubbers........

Related links:

- Official B ritish Monarchy website.

- EVUK - more on Electrified Royalty and News

For earlier MDI air car reports see: " Vive la EV-olution"
"N.I.C.E cars in Nice"

July, 2002

Electric Motor News (Italian/English). Also scores a World First - started June 2002 - with a weekly (30 mins, Sat evenings) television EV News programme in Italy. Imagine that in Britain folks! The outrage!
Contact: padin@fastwebnet.it

lexus ev

July, 2002

Tom Cruise and Jay Leno drool over electric Lexus - Supercar-Star of 'Minority Report'

Midway through his recent appearance on the Tonight Show(June 25,2002) to promote the film "Minority Report" , Tom Cruise was led outside by Jay to the NBC studio parking-lot where the stunning all-electric Lexus sports' car was parked up....(the last EV to be given this treatment was Jay's Corbin Sparrow - see earlier EVUK report ). Sadly, though, we didn't have to wait long to detect that all-too-familiar "Conspiracy of Near-Silence" happening around the fact that the car is...electric. Consider the following:

A)...to Jay's question "It's electric, right?" Cruise mumbled "Yeah" almost inaudibly and quickly changed the subject...WHY? This is after all the most radical, innovative aspect of the car's design(not to mention its 0-60 in 4,5 secs and 90 mph top...)

B) The car was developed in a collaboration with Planet Electric (among others...) - so why has that company's homepage been 100% inactive since mid-to-late 2001??

Any other company with a star-product tie-in with a Hollywood blockbuster of this magnitude would be singin' and dancin' about it planet-wide - NOT keeping its main website in a state of total blank-limbo.

C) And try, if you will, typing the keywords:
"electric Lexus" + "Minority Report"
...in the world's No. 1 Search Engine ie.Google and - surprise surprise - ZERO results are returned. The silence speaks volumes...

Yes indeed - it's yet again all-too apparent, folks, that the world's media still can't bring itself to use that most hated and heretical of words: "electric"....

- nor can our automotive powers-that-be yet stomach the idea of the public at large getting too turned on by the sight of sexy supercars powered by effete and effeminate (..right?) electric motors instead of thrusting, throbbing pistons, cranks and gaskets....

...which brings us to the gas&oil -slurping Porsche Carrera that the very scientological Mr. Cruise drives so...er...religiously in real life - see Time Magazine interview with Tom in his Porsche in LA discussing Minority Report, life after Nicole etc.

Oh - and don't miss the Acpropulsion report: Porsche Carrera and Ferrari outpaced by electric TZERO.

Lexus EV - NOT Science Fiction...

Yes - rest assured - unlike the plot of this Sci-Fi film - the electric Lexus is Science Fact now - anno 2002. Not 2054. Forget 'futuristic' - this is future now technolog y.

( A propos plot - what a pity that the film's 'pre-crime', 'pre-cog' clairvoyants don't also have the power to arrest those responsible for the death of the planet ...before it happens. Greenpeace 'eco' pre-cogs taking out Big Oil exec's and their political & media buddies... .....mmmm...tasty..)

Must See! Superb, full multi-photo Lexus feature in Electrifying Times

See also: 'Full' Specs of the electric Lexus 2054. Note the future wishlist of gadgets and gizmos and the blatant omission of battery type, range etc. referring only to an electric 'engine'!?!

As for the Lexus batteries - according to the latest Planet Electric Newsletter (sent to us by Planet Electric spokesman Dave Cutter: davecutter@pleiades-enterprises.com ) they are 100% state-of-the-art Lithium Ion Solid Polymer:

Planet Electric Newsletter extract:

"...I am excited to be sending you the latest edition of our Pleiades-Enterprises NuPowr News...In this issue:

- Chaz Haba & Lexus 2054

" Pleiades-Enterprises has long extolled the virtues of Chaz Haba and his wonderful inventions and remarkable power systems. The 500kW midship-mounted Motor that powers the Lexus 2054 EV in the detective thriller film by Steven Spielberg, 'Minority Report', has millions of people talking about the future.

The patented propulsion technology for this extraordinary example of a working EV is attributable to Chaz Haba and Bob Anderson from NU POW"R LLC. The Lexus 2054 was specially created to be Tom Cruise's get-away car in the film. Together, they both play a starring role. The car has a top speed of 90 mph and has the distinguishing high-torque / light-weight design characteristics of electric power with lithium- ion solid polymer batteries. Lighter, faster, more efficient.

The future is electric . . . and 'Minority Report' is showing the world just how that looks!.."

Email: davecutter@pleiades-enterprises.com
Voice: 1-888-870-8793
http://www.pleiades-enterprises.com AND
http://www.pleiades-enterprises.bigstep.com

Note: Hats off to USA Today who do indeed report on Cruise's "electricity-powered"(!!) Lexus in a July 16 article about cars in feature films (quote):

"The electricity-powered, one-of-a-kind car drives great in real life...it accelerates like crazy. They had to take the first gear out because the tires were just spinning."
See full USA Today report.

Contact us! If anyone knows of any other major media source - esp. outside the USA - that has made even a passing reference to the Lexus's electric-drive - please let us know ... and we'll eat our (above-mentioned) hats...

July, 2002

Economist confirms Lithium Battery potential - the best is yet to come(June 22,2002)

In a special two-page report "Hooked on Lithium" (June 22,2002) the Economist magazine bullishly echoes EVUK's "Lithium Polymer Dawn" optimism. ( Link to original, fully illustrated Economist "Technology Quarterly" article.)

Dr. Michel Armand, a Lithium Battery specialist at the University of Montreal tells the magazine that : "...lithium-based battery technologies are stil l in their infancy, and there is much scope for improvement. A number of promising new materials are being developed, including new intercalation compounds and aerogels for the positive electrode, as well as novel alloys for the negative electrode". (See Altair & T/J Technologies' "nano anodes" described elsewhere in EVUK...) Note also that in an earlier report in Discovery Magazine entitled "Shockingly Improved", Dr. Armand had described - even more enthusiastically - the outstanding performance of a new breakthrough breed of Lithium batteries developed by his team at Montreal :

"Our battery can propel electric cars for about 200 miles at decent speeds - about 5 times the performance of a classic lead-acid battery...it can be recharged 1,000 times so it should last about 200,000 miles."

Dr. Frank McLarnon of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory told the Economist that, for automotive applications, lithium batteries "...must be optimised to deliver and absorb sudden bursts of power rather than large amounts of energy at a roughly constant rate". But he is optimistic that this can be achieved.

(Curiously however, no mention is made at this point by Dr. McLarnon of the key role increasingly being played by ultracapacitors - so-called 'supercaps' - in that all-important delivery and absorption of sudden bursts of power...)

June, 2002

Fuel cells are the Future? VW Bora HY.Power FCV - 15(!!) years from production(March 2002)

Volkswagen's highly innovative, cost-cutting Bora HY.power fuel-cell('FCV') prototype - developed in collaboration with the Paul Scherrer Institute of Switzerland - is also, we're informed, around 15 years from mass-production- we've even heard talk of "two decades" (...sound familiar..?).

How so? We find it frankly impossible to comprehend - given the car's recently well-publicised, rigorous Simplon Pass test-performance - how this technology could still, so inevitably, be deemed to be a decade and a half from rolling-out into the real world...

Anyway: even if the HY.power does eventually materialize in some far-off , green & pleasant Elysian afterlife, those awkward, inescapable FCV FAQ's ('Frequently Avoided Questions') still need to be addressed and resolved ie:- At what price will hydrogen-fuel be (..quite literally?) fixed? - How and in what form will hydrogen-fuel be distributed and stored? How will it be produced? - 450,000 tonnes of raw platinum ore need to be mined to provide just one tonne of this precious metal used as a fuel cell catalyst. So far no commercially viable synthetic alternative has been found.

Sorry - but we'd far prefer the infinitely simpler, (fast-)charge-at-home option ie. a 200 mile-a-charge, penny-a-mile, nanotech-enhanced, Lithium Polymer battery-powered EV - surely achievable before 2005 if only Europe's goverments would at last demonstrate the self-denial(petrol-tax...) and the alternative vision to follow the advice of Tony Blair's Chief Scientific Advisor Professor David King and put in place a California-style ZEV-mandate to concentrate minds...

See: Photo-rich Bora HY.Power links: 1) VW Vortex Bora HY.Power multi-photo report

2) Paul Scherrer VW Bora HY.Power press releases

Budding electrochemists should check out PSI Lab's fuel cell, superc ap etc. pages:

3) Bora HY.Power report by "Nano" - German TV daily Sci/Tech/Innovation programme(Astra Sat, free-to-air) ..for 2) and 3) above we recommend Altavista's Babelfish translator for non-German speakers.

June, 2002

World's Sexiest EV up for sale: just 10,000(!) - Summer 2002 aztec

June, 2002

Help us bring Toyota RAV4 EV to Britain/Europe in 2002 !!

- Ring Toyota UK Customer Relations on : 01737 367600 !!

- Why?

- The all-electric RAV 4 (range up to 120 miles) is on sale in the US where petrol prices and eco-awareness are much lower than here in Europe. Let's face it - if Toyota and European governments really wanted to promote zero emission vehicles the advanced battery RAV4 EV would have gone on sale here long ago. So please help us - add your voice! - by phoning the good folks at Toyota Customer Relations on: 01737 367600 ...and asking why the concept of globalisation curiously and uniquely doesn't seem to apply when it comes to the sale of best-technology electric vehicles......

(...oh - and don't forget to smile politely - try not to laugh out loud - at the all-too familiar, half-baked excuses that will be muttered uncomfortably down the phone-line at you. They will also attempt to 'sell' the Prius hybrid of course...)

See also: Toyota RAV4 EV Flash-advert(Evworld) - the only flash-ad we've ever actually enjoyed being interrupted by....)

...and please remember : electric vehicles are congestion-charge-free !!

See also Jersey Dreamin' for a 2003 update on the fate of the RAV4 EV.

June, 2002

e-kart Samantha Fox and French Soccer Stars in e-Karting photo-call

April, 2002

US Co. (Rhode Island) seeks UK / worldwide partners, clients, government support etc. for its new generation of low-cost, ultra-long-range Lithium batteries. (April, 2002)

-Range: over 200 miles per charge. Quick 80% recharge in under 1 hour.
-Battery life: up to 200,000 miles - the life of the car.
-Cost : $5000-$7000 per EV battery-pack at 100 pack production volume BUT just $4000(!) per pack with large-scale production volumes.

April, 2002

US Senate rejects 50% fuel economy increases. ( Mar 13, 2002)

Oil economy - YES! Fuel economy - NO!

- What a shameless sell-out!

March, 2002

"BIG CITY KILLER" - New Scientist March 9, 2002, p.8. Author: Fred Pearce
More at: The Journal of the American Medical Association (vol 287, p.1132)

- not for the first time New Scientist magazine reports more evidence of the CAR-cinogenic effects of traffic pollution...and - not for the first time - most of Britain's mainstream media pretend not to notice.....(extract follows...)

"If the cigarettes don't get you the traffic pollution will"

"Up to a fifth of all lung cancer deaths in cities are caused by tiny particles of pollution - most of them from vehicle exhaust. That's the conclusion of the biggest study into city pollution to date, which tracked half a million Americans for 16 years. It suggests the impact is far greater than feared. The research focused on particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, known as PM2.5s. These fine particles are thought to kill by lodging deep in the lungs. The risk is comparable with the risks to long-term passive smokers. "

( EVUK footnote: for more on the "c" word(s) and vehicle pollution simply enter keywords: carcinogen cancer in EVUK's Homepage SEARCH Box )

February, 2002

British Government's chief scientific adviser calls for petrol car ban

February, 2002

Ford re-TH!NK City for 2002 : great new look - same old batteries and 50-ish mile range... (see multi-photo LA Auto Show report in Canadian Driver )

...Yes - sadly Ford are still refusing to go that extra mile (..or thirty..) and make the well-overdue upgrade to advanced Lithium Ion/Polymer batteries : instead they have elected - in familiar fashion - to distract our attention with decoy-toys, gizmos and gadgets.... ...dual cup-holders(...at last!), power-steering, power-locks, power-windows are nice-but-extravagant touches in a car like this - what we urgently need is a power-ranger - with both weekday-commute AND weekend-excursion appeal .....(Eureka! See Ford e-Ka. ) Related stuff / a little 'joined-up' TH!NKing:

1) A few years ago - in a collaboration with Ford - US company Avestor did indeed equip a Th!nk City with advanced prototype Lithium Metal Polymer batteries (See Avestor/TH!NK City test-results ) .

2) The Smart EV (USA only of course..) from eMotion Mobility - unlike the TH!NK City - is to be Lithium-powered...Ford please note.

3) Ford might also like to investigate how it is that Chinese company Zhaocheng EVT have been able to produce a 4-(not 2-) person electric vehicle with a range of 170 miles powered by humble lead-acid batteries which they plan to sell - yes actually sell - for just $10,000. Way to go. (See EVUK Zhaocheng EV report )

4) Sting's song 'Lithium Sunset' (from album 'Mercury Falling') : what a pity our rainforest-saviour eventually sold out to Jaguar (..a top candidate for EVUK's Car Ad Nauseam pages?). Perhaps the singer could redee m himself with a new track or two - along the lines , say, of :

Lithium Polymer Dawn or....

Every Breath of Benzene You Take

February, 2002

Ford announces $5.45 billion global losses for 2001

February, 2002

Chinese develop 170 mile-a-charge, $10,000 / 7,000 electric vehicle...(Dec '01)

- at 170 miles(max) the range of the 4-person lead-acid 'ZC 7050A' EV developed by Zhaocheng Electric Vehicle Co. , the Chinese Academy of Sciences and others (...see Beijing People's Daily full report is certainly impressive - though the top-speed of 50 mph / 80 kmh is a little disappointing and would certainly reduce the car's appeal here in the West among potential 'mainstream' carbuyers...

...So we of course hope that the company and its many partners are not completely ruling out advanced battery options - esp. Lithium ion/polymer: for - if $10,000 will buy a 170 mile-a-charge, 50 mph, penny-a-mile lead-acid EV, would not $15,000 - still cheap by Western standards - be a fair price to pay for an even more impressive and more commercially viable Lithium-powered version of the ZC 7050A EV?? ( 65 mph and 200 miles per charge must surely be easily achievable with the latest generation of Li-ion - given the remarkable performance already being claimed for this lead-acid prototype....).

News footnote(Feb 2002): first ever China-UK car-import deal agreed(...though sadly not for electr ic vehicles...): ....Britain's MG Rover has announced plans to import luxury petrol-powered saloons from China (just what the planet needs...) - the Zhonghua Brilliance - which it intends to sell in UK showrooms beginning Winter 2002. A glistening dinosaur-relic of a car of course - what can you expect from Rover - but a useful precedent for China's real automative innovators of the emission-free variety: today Zhonghua - tomorrow Zhaocheng??

Click here for exclusive pictures of this stereotype-busting, saloon-sized Chinese EV.

++ BREAKING NEWS ++ ICE-BREAKING NEWS ++

1) Beijing People Daily reports that

Made-in-China nanotech-enhanced, long-range Lithium battery-powered EV's will enter the market in the near future. 200 miles-a-charge, recharge very cheaply in "under 10 minutes". Our wish come true? If so, you can keep your expensive-to-refuel, filling-station-dependent(..probably) fuel cell vehicles - we'll take the Chinese option thankyou.

(Note: ideally and eventually, of course, most people will recharge at night and from renewable sources/CHP/fuel cell micro-powerstations etc. etc.)

2)"Chinese Government to Push Electric Car Development" - China Daily News (April 2002) plus "China Volts Ahead" - Green Futures Magazine reports(July 2002) massive Chinese investment in long-range, high-performance Lithium-powered electric vehicles.

Ford - TH!NK China !! (Sept 2002) Editor's (..long-held) opi nion:

Regular EVUK' ers will recognise a message we've been shouting from the hilltops for over a year now and will repeat again here: Ford and its troubled Norway-based operation should do exactly what other car manufacturers such as Toyota and Rover are doing and look to China for partnerships.

In the case of battery electric vehicles the case for a Chinese link-up is even more persuasive than with conventional vehicles given China's much publicised commitment to the mass-production of the very latest in state-of-the-art electric vehicle and battery technology leading up to the 2008 Olympics (..not to mention its recently announced, long-awaited commitment to the Kyoto Protocol)

Witness the 170 mile-a-charge(..on lead-acid!), 4-person ZC 7050 A from Zhaocheng Electric Vehicle Technology and Qirui Automobile Co. - not to mention the massive investment in cutting-edge extended-range and low-cost Lithium batteries for electric vehicles (something the TH!NK City surely and sorely needs...) recently announced by the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. The three main reasons for developing electric vehicles, according to a recent statement from China's minister for hi-tech development and industrialisation are "to save oil-energy, minimise air pollution and to give impetus to the development of the country's auto-industry."

Now why on earth wouldn't Ford and its Norwegian TH!NK operation want a part of that future? Click here for more EVUK articles/press releases/links relating to China's commitment to battery electric vehicle technology.

3) China Internet Info Centre press release. Electrifying stuff ! Lithium Polymer Dawn - in China. Extract: "..the Chinese Academy of Sciences lists Maglev trains, lithium battery-powered vehicles and folding bicycles as the three major future transport tools....Ford's development manager came to China seeking cooperation." (We sincerely hope that this 'cooperation' will not result in China being gently persuaded to abandon its ambitious plans to mass-produce advanced Lithium-powered EV's...in favour of fuel cell conformity..)

January, 2002

Natrium FCV : 'soap-powder' power - 300 miles on a tankful of 'soapy water'....

Unveiled by DaimlerChrysler AG at this year's Electric Transport Industry Conference(ETIC - see EVAA homepage) in Sacramento, the Natrium fuel cell (..plus Li-ion batteries) Town & Country minivan gets its hydrogen from sodium borohydride(chem=NaBH4) - a non-toxic, non-flammable compound similar to the borax found in washing-powder - a 54 gallon tankful will power the vehicle for 300 miles...

Too good to be true? No - but as always with almost all ZEV concepts and protoypes - far too good to be mass-produced any time soon ....and far too good to be headlined - or even mentioned - in Britain's 'oil-and-ICE' -protectionist media...

Curiously, Thomas Moore - DaimlerChrysler's vice-president of Engineering Technologies - in an all-too-familiar comment appears to 'forget' that he no longer works for good 'ole Chrysler USA but for DaimlerChrysler 'AG' - an 'Aktiengesellschaft - a company with global ambitions fully incorporated in Germany since that famous 1998 merger/takeover/Ubernahme....why else would he remark that:
"As long as gasoline is selling for $1.25 a gallon th e Natrium won't make economic sense to produce."

$1.25 a gallon!?Oh dear...no mention of "$5 dollars a gallon in the UK" or "upwards of 1.20 Euros/litre in Deutschland and the rest of the EU"... three months or so after the Sept 11th atrocities and many of us had (half-)hoped that most Americans would now at last have woken up to the 'novel' idea that "The World is Not the USA" -
..that familiar argument so often heard in the US-centric ZEV-debate that "ZEV's aren't viable because gas is too cheap" is sadly still all too symptomatic of so many Americans' persistent inability to see a world beyond their country's borders.

So an urgent plea to our US allies in the campaign - the crusade - against isolationism of global reach: can you pleeease now - once and for all - wake up to the fact that most of us on this planet have long been paying the equivalent of $4 - $6 a gallon for gas/petrol - and we do indeed understand all too well the true global cost of your cheap oil, your cheap gas at the pumps. (See: America's/the West's fatal addiction to (Arab) oil.

Oh - and what's more, the rest of the planet has signed up to the Kyoto protocol - one more reason why we 'invisible' non-Americans surely would appreciate the clean, green, fossil-fuel-free potential of 'washing-powder' power.

See also: Canada Newswire report

(Footnote: why, you may ask, do we give such a mighty 'thumbs-up' to this soapy, 'NaBH4' fuel-cell hydrogen solution - but not to most other hydrogen-source options such as natural gas and methanol? Well, primarily because we believe it would be virtually impossible for any company or monopoly to control the production, supply and price of sodium borohydride......or for any government to enforce an 'NaBH4' fuel-tax - or 'borax-tax' . BP - aka Beyond Petroleum/Blair Petroleum - please note...)

January, 2002

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. announced Dec 19th that it will begin offering the 1 p a mile RAV4-EV (electric vehicle) to retail customers in California beginning in February 2002.

December, 2001

"Segway" Human Transporter given Primetime News billing - in the US at least(Dec `01)...Californian geek-chic at its most superfluous...

- How strange...suddenly all the major US news networks decided - as one - to give primetime coverage to a battery-powered ..er...vehicle thingummy...a would-be craze-making cross between a pogo-stick and minimalist lawnmower...it`s basically an escooter with the wheels..um... how radical..how novel...how gimmicky...NEXT to each other ie. in parallel instead of in-line...TV film footage shows the sc8ter (..get it?) merrily moving people up, down and along conspicuously very polished and smooth surfaces - offices, warehouses, expo halls and the like.

And there indeed lies the rub...and the potential pitfall/pratfall we fear. For in the real world of cracked and craggy road surfaces - when one wheel hits an obstacle or hole and the other doesn`t - a catapult-twist effect seems inevitable - no matter `artificially-intelligent` the beast may be...So: fine on shiny floors or around lovingly manicured Beverley Hills or Silicon Valley palisades..but not on your average `skid-row` high-street assault-course. Anyway, Zappy- or Xootr-style scooters do the job just fine already - at a quarter of the price...

B ut the real, not-so-baffling question remains: how come this 2-wheeled, battery-powered (..and mediocre-range: just 12 miles) vehicle made it to fever-pitch Primetime News status - whereas 99.9% of all previous 2,3 and especially 4-wheeled electric contenders have been so consistently ignored or obligatorily giggled at?? Well, it was of course all down to the high-profile Steve Jobs/Silicon Valley sponsorship-plus-mega-hype factor.....surprise..surprise...

For more on the Human Transporter that doesn`t hover or teleport after all see Linkand Segway Homepage

November, 2001

Woking Council - first in UK(Sep '01) to install fuel cell powerplant.

November, 2001

Home-generated, clean power 'better than nuclear energy' says UK Think-Tank in "Power to the People" report (Oct 15 2001)
EVUK's been tanklessly screaming - not just thinking - this message for eons of course.

November, 2001

Ford "Living in Alice in Wonderland Dreamland" says judge - in yet another billion dollar lawsuit-loss (ignition/stalling).

October, 2001

The following letter appeared in the UK's Independent (national) newspaper on Sep 18th - one week after the US terrorist atrocities:

The Power of Oil

Sir: In Robert Fisk's insightful analysis of the terrorist attack ("The awesome cruelty of a doomed people", 12 September), one dimension is missing: geopolitics, Without the West's need for oil, it is more than likely that the post-Ottoman societies would have been allowed to stagger on miserably, and the Jewish immigartion would then have been seen in more equivocal terms, consistent with the history of European attitudes to Jews.

We may appreciated this point with some questions. First, what turned Osama bin Laden from a protege of the Americans into their enemy? It was the permanent presence of American military installations on the soil (holy to him) of Saudi Arabia. Why were they there? To prepare for another ground war against Iraq, or to be ready to seize the oil wells in the case of instability in Saudi Arabia?... See Rawstuff to read letter in full...

September, 2001

MDI's 120 mpc/68.75 mph compressed air car seeks UK Investors...See new Hot Pics...

As reported earlier, this 6,200 (+VAT) eco-wonder will go on sale worldwide in January 2002. One car every 56 minutes will come off the production line at the research centre in Nice, France. This N.I.C.E (No Internal Combustion etc) car has attracted massive global interest.

On a recent visit to Nice, EVUK's roving reporter Moira Govan was given a guided tour of the MDI plant by the wife of the air car's inventor, car racing engineer Guy Negre.
Entrepreneurs from a wide range of businesses including sugar, olive oil, and real-estate are investing in its production in Spain, Portugal, Mexico and South Africa.
These entrepreneurs unsurprisingly have no connection with the automotive industry.

'Car companies don't like us at all', said Madame Negre, wife of the air car's inventor Guy Negre.

The IT company IndraNet will be responsible for bringing the air car to New Zealand and Australia. The electrical power used to compress the air car which breathes nothing but air (the air which is eventually expelled is cleaner than the air used for compression, even providing free air-conditioning of the passenger compartment), will mostly come from an environmentally benign source as 75% of the power produced in New Zealand is renewable hydro.

A UK investor has yet to be found!

August, 2001

Clint Eastwood, EV's, solar power - escapingthe California energy 'crisis'

In this characteristically enlightened and uncompromised report (text+audio) the BBC Worldservice demonstrates yet again why it was such a deserving winner of this year's(2001) 'Best Broadcaster' Webbyaward. What an accolad e....eat your dumbed-down hearts outall you ITV, Channel Four/Five, Sky and 'home-service' BBC bosses.

August, 2001

EVS18 in Berlin - Oct 20 - 24 2001.

Well yet another electric vehicle symposium comes around - and still the chances of actually catching sight of an electric car on Britain's streets - let alone in a high street car dealership - are as remote as ever. 'Big Cat' sightings are almost as rare.

Our one major plea - dearest VS organisers - and we are by no means alone on this.....Please! Please! Please! Let's think a little radical, make a clean break with the past and....finally, belatedly, dump

this goddam-awful word "SYMPOSIUM" !!!!

Sorry, but this polysyllabic pomposity of a word is woefully, hopelessly professorial, academic, divorced from the real world - in short, a total media-repellant that can and will never make mainstream headlines.

Let's please instead go for a much punchier FOUR-letter alternative: let's look forward next year to an Electric Vehicle Expo - new name, new headline impact. Viva "EVE One"! The....er...dawn of a new era....and hopefully the beginning of the end of the ICE-Age.

("World Electric Vehicle Expo" - "WEVE" - would be equally wonderful....to avoid any possible clash-confusion. And especially appropriate given that WEVA with an"A" - the World Electric Vehicle Association - was the force behind the first EVSymposium and subsequent EVSymposia..)

As for Berlin - well, by far the best pure battery electric vehicle to come out of Germany(Aachen) has been the Ford e-Ka from last year (2000). So the question has to be: what can/will the Berlin 'Sympo'(?) offer to match or surpass this little wonder? (ie. r ange up to 125 miles, 80 mph, 0-60 in 12.7 secs....). If nothing comes close(ie. Ford TH!NK City...) - then what progress can the pure battery EV world honestly claim to have made?
Update Aug '01: it turns out the Ford e-Ka will indeed be on show in Berlin. So - is this just a continuing exercise in eco-tokenism or - let's be optimistic - are Ford just waiting for turbo-powered, cost-cutting Lithium battery Nano Anodes to hit the marketplace??

August, 2001

CAR-cinogen of the Year Awards - 2001 - people will be able to choose their favourite between Benzene, Platinum, MTBE, and PAH - or suggest their own favourite...

The New Scientist reports on yet another exhaust fume carcinogen "PAH's" - polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons...which "...trigger the death of egg cells in women's ovaries"... "Tens of thousands of tonnes of these PAH's, which also cause cancer, are released into the air each year..."

July, 2001

Nanotechnology set to boost battery range/power - AND cut cost.

If, like us, you've been wondering if nanotechnology could be used to produce a better battery - well T/J Technologies of Michigan appear to have struck gold - or rather tin.

The company - together with Lion Compact Energy (also of Michigan, acquired in 1999 by Exide) - is in the process of developing "a no vel tin/metal carbide anode material that will enhance the performance and reduce the cost of rechargeable lithium batteries. This nanostructured material stabilizes nanometer-sized tin particles in a porous, conductive carbide matrix and is expected to yield twice the volumetric charge capacity of carbon anodes used in today's lithium batteries".

"If successfully developed and commercialized, the new technology will reduce battery material costs by 40% and enhance performance e.g faster recharge rate, higher capacity..."

"Small is Beautiful" so they say - but in this case "TIN-y" is even better.....View original T/J Technology Press Releases at following sites:
1) NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology)
2) T/J Technologies
3) Evworld

Hot News! NASA - it turns out/transpires/appears - are also busy developing power-boosting "Nano Anodes" for Lithium batteries - see NASA Aerospace Propulsion & Power Programme

But - could China be ahead of the game? See Guangzhou Tiger Head Battery article re: nanotech-battery products and aspirations.

But wait! - there's yet more hot, breaking 'nano-news' (Aug-Oct '01) : lithium ion batteries developed by US company Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. of Reno, Nevada, can - it's claimed - be recharged "in less than a minute - 100 times faster than conventional Li-ion batteries". Eureka! ...In an international R&D tie-up with Swiss company Xoliox and leading Czech nanomaterials-speciali sts "unique lithiated metal-oxide nanomaterals" have been developed which "..will have a major impact on the powering of electric vehicles..." and which "coupled with the low cost of the battery would make electric vehicles a realistic alternative to the internal combustion engine". See Xoliox press release (PowerPulse, 24 August). Xoliox, incidentally, have been subsequently freshly(Oct '01) acquired/snapped up by Dublin-based market-leader Ntera - a pretty impressive endorsement...)

Update Nov 2001 : Altair in tie-up with FMC Lithium to manufacture nanotech Lithium batteries.

July, 2001

Clean Air, Low-Emission no-go zones - from 2002.

For more on impending low-emission, "no-go zones" and the electric vehicle ambitions of UK companies - such as the Royal Mail - and Local Authorities, please see excellent Daily Telegraph article by Michael Kemp entitled "Green is for Stop". (Go to Daily Telegraph homepage, click on "Search" icon and enter - without quotes - keywords: Green is for Stop )

- Sample extract from "Green is for Stop" article:

"Only cars, vans and trucks running on alternative green fuels....will be allowed into clean-air, low-emission zones. Cameras attached to roadside exhaust-fume sensors will trap cheating drivers.... Royal Mail is so concerned that it is going electric to avoid being forced out of business in no-go zones." (We notice that Michael Kemp actually recommends EVUK in this Daily Telegraph piece - or "Electric Vehicles UK" as he refers to us. For what it's wor th we're clearly keen to return the compliment...the Telegraph's Technology coverage is second to none - despite the paper's traditional, conservative image...)

June, 2001

ATT RD (Korea) announced that it is seeking global partners to join forces and help develop and mass-produce "affordable" advanced battery electric vehicles .

This innovative company used the occasion of this year's Nesea Tour de Sol to launch and demonstrate its "Parade" EV. Admittedly, the only version on show at the event was the entry-level lead-acid model the "EV 60" (ie. 60 miles per charge) - but the company does appear determined to buck the trend/push the envelope with its ambitious plans to build both Lithium Ion and NiMH-based versions of the car such as the proposed "EV 150". Read complete report in Rawstuff

May, 2001

The electric Toyota RAV4 trial in Jersey(Channel Islands) has been so successful - Toyota have decided - as we expected all along - to kill off the whole project...

The electric Toyota RAV4 trial in Jersey(Channel Islands) has been so successful and popular both with tourists and the island's police that Toyota have decided - as we expected all along - to kill off the whole project as if it were some kind of potentially highly contagious virus that needs to be 'contained': not only have Toyota forbidden any of the remaining RAV4's from bei ng sold on to members of the public(we have many would-be hopeful purchasers queueing up..) they have also ordered that any exemplars that do 'escape' from the island be completely immobilised and used for "exhibition purposes" only....The message is very familiar and very clear ie.: "You will believe the media hype and dutifully prefer our hybrid Toyota Prius - or else!"

April, 2001

Jay Leno's electric shocker
America's other comic leader 'plugs' electric vehicles - LIVE! NOW watch Tonight Show video!

tonight showTonight Show host and classic car collector extraordinaire Jay Leno last night(March 19th), on primetime globally-syndicated TV, decided to 'come out' from the environmental closet....well almost.

jay lenoTwice during the show Jay turned the spotlight on electric vehicles: first off - during the show's stand-up 'monologue' - Jay joked (...or should that be 'japed' ?) that California's EV-owners would likely now be running on empty thanks to that state's current energy 'crisis': nor could the chinwagging wag resist poking a little easy fun at openly green actor-environmentalist and tireless EV-campaigner Ed Begley Jnr .

But Leno failed to mention that said Ed powers both his electric GM EV1 and his Beverley Hills home from a 7kw solar-panel-array he installed there over a decade ago. With California's electricity prices soon set to rocket more than 40% it seems like the last laugh this time is on you Jay - and on most of your audience for that matter for that matter(...hence the expression "a jay'ded audience"...?).

Later in the same show Sigourney Weaver asked Jay about the unusual 'little blue car' parked outside the NBC studio entrance: "It's electric...I try to do my bit for the environment" Jay replied almost apologetically. A conveniently 'spare' camera then took us outside where it zoomed in on Jay's latest set of wheels(three not four...) ....yes indeed - an electric Corbin Sparrow.

Oh dear! The Sparrow may be a fine planet-friendly creation but its Sinclair-C5-on-steroids looks - with a hint of Toon Town - really are a stereotype comedy-gift for giggling EV critics the world over.

Aztec electric kit carIndeed, the audience clearly thought that this was just another of Jay's outdoor comedy walkabouts and for once it was all the seasoned stand-up could do to STOP the audience's mounting laughter as the camera focused in on the car's single rear wheel. What a wasted opportunity! And what a pity Jay didn't have some myth-demolishing muscle-machine like the Electro Auto Aztecparked up outside - now that really would have wiped the smile off the faces of millions of EVphilistines and myth-makers round the globe....

baker electric car(Jay Leno by the way can often be seen out and about in LA in his prized 92 year old (anno 1909) Baker electric. )

March, 2001

Catalytic Convertors: heavy metal threat - alarming EU-backed study.

Forget Erin Brockovich's "Chromium 6" crusade : what of 1,2 & 3 Palladium, Rhodium and Platinum - those appetising and not surprisingly massively underreported heavy metals used in - and released into the air and water by - catalytic convertors (converters)?

CEPLACA is an EU-backed, Europe-wide, yet little known study into the toxic effects of these heavy metals. (See Hollywood/Bruce Willis film-fantasy). Of course, as with the petrol-additive MTBE (and Chromium 6 for that matter...), it is proving spectacularly difficult to establish the extent of the study's findings so far.

And as with MTBE, the world's car-industry-pleasing media are showing characteristicindifferencetowards this potentially...'cataclysmic' research : as usual hands are being firmly clasped over ears and mute buttons fiercely activated. Requests sent by us, for example, to various BBC consumer affairs programmes have so far met with zero interest.

But the CEPLACA project's original outline proposals and parameters make tasty reading: here are a few excerpts:

"It is increasingly being recognised, and environmental measurements have demonstrated that Platinum (and potentially Rhodium and Palladium) is released with ageing from catalytic converters. Platinum is a particular concern as it has known mutagenic(carcinogenic?) and toxic effects, even at exceedingly low concentrations , in urban air (affecting human health) and urban water (affecting ecosystem health). (Source: Particulate Matter Research Activities )
"There is now overwhelming evidence that the urban environment is contaminated by these elements(Platinum, Palladium and Rhodium).......it is known that the most frequent and soluble platinum complexes are amongst he most potent allergenics and sensitizers known. Occupational asthma, rhinitis, conjunctivitis and chronic dermatitis and eczema are common diseases in workers at platinum refineries and catalyst production plants." (Source: CEPLACA Project 'Objectives and Goals'

...and whilst we're digging up the full can o' worms: did you know that 450 000 tonnes of ore need to be extracted to produce just one tonne of platinum?(See FOE report)
Watch this space for more cataclysmic/catalytic revelations.....

Note: Platinum is also used as the catalyst in fuel cells: a synthetic alternative will need to be developed if this much-hyped technology really is to have a global future. In a sobering article in the Daily Telegraph (March 20, 2001) motoring correspondent Andrew English writes: "Most intriguing of the obstacles, however, is the cost and availability of the platinum for the fuel cell's catalyst.....it is the spiralling cost and dependence on platinum that has deterred Ford (and probably rival carmakers) from putting their all into a fuel-cell future - one manager suggested that there simply isn't enough platinum in the world to meet the needs of the motor industry." (The Daily Telegraph's excellent SEARCH function can be used to locate Mr.English's original article titled "Slow Climb up the Green Hill". )

 
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