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BBC still silent on PLUG-IN hybrids -unlike New York Times ..
..or the White House

BBC still silent on PLUG-IN hybrids -unlike New York Times ..
..or the White House

GoinGreen(UK) to offer 100+ mpg PLUG-IN hybrids.

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EVents UK(May/June):
Electric Bike Rally,
Presteigne, Wales(map & sat view)

"Who Killed the electric Toyota RAV4?"
Well, the UK/EU media for a start - and they're still burying it
Who  Killed Toyota RAV4 EV
"Who Killed the electric Toyota RAV4?"
Well, the UK/EU media for a start - and they're still burying it


         (Click here for News from November 2006 onwards)

October, 2006

Fifth Gear puts Top Gear to shame with Al Gore Tesla/climate change interview(Video,Youtube)
- it seems it's no longer just CBS TV who're riding the breaking wave ...

Al Gore Talks Tesla/Climate Change
Click to watch Fifth Gear's "Everyman" Tim Lovejoy playing devil's(..or idiot-bigot's) advocate to the former Next President of the United States

OK - it may have been a brief and breezy little head-to-head but let's remember: Channel 5 didn't have to do this at all. No - like all the BBC producers, programme planners and assorted corporate and political vested interests responsible(in the loosest sense of the word..) for Top Gear, the Fifth Gear crew could have responded to the changing tide  of public opinion by burying their heads even deeper into the sand as  sea levels  rise and the planet heats up. Instead, Lovejoy and friends have clearly chosen to shift gear and head for higher ground.
And, what's more, Channel 5 didn't have to take the risky, potentially audience-splitting decision to kick off a new series of a TV motoring show with the following unprecedented, read-by-millions entry in almost all of the nation's TV guides and listings(quote):

"Al Gore talks about his desire to get rid of the Internal Combustion Engine"

Al Gore Talks Tesla/Climate Change other words precisely echoing what Tony Blair's Chief Science Advisor Sir David King first said publicly in 2002 in The Independent in a piece tastily titled "Blair's Top Scientist Calls for Petrol Car Ban".
As we reported back then, of course, Professor King's words were instantly and energetically buried by the rest of our mainstream media and, just as unsurprisingly, not a solitary squeak was heard from a single politician on what is still, sadly - in Britain and Europe at least - seen as an off-limits, outrageously subversive proposal.

It remains to be seen if Fifth Gear will continue to resist pressure from the Clarkson-worshipping, head-in-the-sand brigade and succeed in sustaining this unique(in UK TV terms) commitment to electric vehicles in particular and green motoring in general - but so far so good.(Many of you will recall that it was Fifth Gear who gave us the Jason Plato/Roger Moore test-drive of the Venturi Fetish last year...).

Finally, if you've still not felt tempted to click and play this Q&A - here are a few key extracts( another disclaimer) to tempt you further:

1) Lovejoy: "I felt his film(Gore's 'Inconvenient Truth') was short of answers...there was very little telling me what the solutions were...I got the guilt trip...what are the solutions?" (..echoing our own March 2006 Titanic II theme)

2) Gore: "I drove one of those new electric cars - made in California - the Tesla, which has fantastic performance - and it's all-electric."

3) Disclaimer: Fifth Gear's Tim Lovejoy describes Al Gore as:

"That rare thing - an American who deserves some respect" .

OK - we all know where you're coming from, Tim(ha! ha! etc) - but the awful and very inconvenient truth is that without American(especially Californian) dynamism, enterprise, and intelligence(in the pre-Bush sense..) we would have had no Tesla, no Fetish, no RAV4 EV, no TZero, no GM EV1, no Tango EV, no CARB ZEV mandate, no rapid-charge Altair-NanoSafe SUV, no "Who Killed the Electric Car?",Schwarzenegger at Tesla Roadster launch no Tesla-testing Arnie renouncing the Hummer and suing GM, Ford et al for polluting the planet...

No - the sad fact is that if we'd had to rely on British and European corporate-political inertia and Top Gear-apeing consumer apathy/antipathy and ignorance here in $4/6-a-gallon Britain and Europe, the EV/ZEV landscape now, in 2006, would be almost 100% tumbleweed heaven.

(For a daily dose of stereotype-shattering "Americans who deserve respect" - watch/listen to Democracy Now TV/radio online - or on SKY Digital Ch. 0122 / 872 at 16.00-17.00 Mon-Fri. Full reception details)

Email suggestions and words of encouragement to:

New! Submit your own car / road-test video to Fifth Gear !

Sept, 2006

Watch: CBS News on fuel cells v batteries
- and the BBC on neither!

CBS does it again - prime-time:
GM Sequel FCV New new BMW Mini and Gordon Brown
Watch back-to-back(4 mins in total): CBS News(left) and BBC News reports on the state of the the auto industry - and try to remind yourselves which country has signed the Kyoto Protocol..

CBS Evening News(Sept 12) "Reality Check: The Car of the Future": it may begin like every other yawningly formulaic 'car of the future that never comes'  TV report you've ever seen - but don't despair and don't be fooled!
No - suddenly, half way through(at 1' 33" to be precise..) and Dan Neil LA Timescompletely out of the blue, the battery battalions unexpectedly come to the rescue with Dan Neil(right) of the LA Times leading the charge with this brutal assault: "I think hydrogen is deader than disco, and all it needs to do now is lay down."

(Disclaimer! - see Base Notes below)

Indeed it turns out to be by far the best and boldest piece of joined-up TV news reporting into EV's and ZEV's we've ever seen.
Now it's surely reasonable to believe, is it not, that if TV companies worldwide had only had the courage and vision to repeatedly broadcast this type report three, four, five-plus years ago, carmakers would almost inevitably have had little choice but to deliver on their EV/ZEV promises by re-inventing the motor car and re-invigorating the industry before the job-slashing crises hit.
("Vorsprung durch Elektro-Technik" was the catch-phrase we re-invented five years ago - it certainly seems to be working for Toyota right now.) now from CBS's EV visionaries to ...
Blair Brown Corporate  Tunnel Vision    
...and more pin-striped business-as-usual from BBC TV
(as in "It ain't easy seeing green...anywhere in this public service's TV schedules")

...that's right - put those crank'n'piston blinkers firmly back in place - or leave it to the experts and let BBC TV do it for you - with this characteristically vision-less and environmentally/technologically AWOL (see Top Gear for more of the same..) BBC TV News report broadcast less than 24 hours after the above-mentioned CBS tour-de-force.
Although this, too, was billed as a report into the state of the country's car manufacturing industry, it predictably turned out to be just another thinly-veiled, well-orchestrated media stunt aimed at publicising and promoting the new bigger-engined BMW Mini Cooper and turbo-charged Cooper S - on the very same day, would you believe, as a visit to the Cowley works by Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon "far-from-green" Brown.

So no risqué references here to any of that new-fangled fuel cell, plug-in or battery malarkey - although MINI UK's Andy Hearn does spin a clever little yarn about the "long-term sustainability...of a very remarkable brand".
Long-term sustainibility?! Reason enough then, you might have thought, for the BBC to throw corporate caution to the wind at last and - yanking a green(-ish) leaf out of CBS's book - surprise us all by cutting to shots of PML Flightlink(UK)'s recently unveiled carbon neutral Quad Electric Drive plug-in-able MINI QED(below) ? A lean, mean and green machine that naturally beats both the

MINI QED from PML Flightlink MINI QED from PML Flightlink
PML's MINI QED: maximum peformance - minimum emissions. Now that's what we call 'long-term sustainability'

'old' BMW Mini Cooper and the 'new' BMW Mini Cooper and Cooper S hands down in every department that matters - and, oh yes, it took just eight months to build:

   Model                        Top speed     0-62           BHP 
New Mini Cooper        125 mph      9.1 secs      118 bhp
New Mini Cooper S     140 mph      7.1 secs      173 bhp
PML MINI QED         150 mph      4.5 secs      640 bhp

Base Notes:
1) Is hydrogen "deader than disco" as Dan Neil contends?
We think not. If we've learnt anything over the past 5-10 years,it's that the future of genuine environmental and commercial sustainability lies not in killing off or writing off competing, emerging green technologies but in offering real, unmanipulated, unfettered diversity - a diversity driven by fully informed consumers making fully informed choices. Sadly, what we patently still lack is a corporate media that's willing and able to fully inform those consumers.

2) Top Gear postscript - the above EVUK piece was posted two days before presenter Richard Hammond's 280 mph accident-waiting-to-happen. You need hardly ask us of course if the BBC is largely to blame - although there is clearly as much collective blame to go round as there will be if/when the health of the planet finally spins out of control ...

August, 2006

City EV's: three Davids vs. one Goliath?
(Smart EV v. G-Wiz, Maranello, NICE)
But do we really need four City EV's ? Please tell us - and "them"!
Plus: NICE's Julian Wilford shares his views on the future of City EV's and the competitive challenges ahead

Smart EV at British Int Motor Show 06  REVA NXG
Smart EV - 70 mph, 72 miles/charge  Even Smarter: REVA NXG concept - 75 mph, 125 miles/charge
- but who really wants them?

Out-Smarting Mercedes(aka Daimler-Benz) - The Next Big(ger) Thing...?
Happy Messenger / Miles ZX40  Vauxhall Agila MPV
Could compact mini-MPV's(MPEV's?) like the Miles ZX40(left) and the (sadly , not electric) Vauxhall Agila be the next EVolutionary step? Air your views at Electric Cars UK - Britain's leading EV Discussion Group

The FAQ's speak for themselves: every week we receive a dozen or two emails asking more or less the same thing - namely:

"Where can I buy an affordable 4-seater( 4 adults!) EV with decent range and top speed ?"

You see, it's long been abundantly clear to us - not least from our Inbox and from close monitoring of UK and European EV blogs - that the overriding majority of would-be EV owners are not in fact looking to buy tiny or micro 2-seater City EV's.
The simple (if inconvenient) truth is that very few of us are or will ever be willing to spend our hard-earned cash on a minimalist car that falls far short of our ideal - and consequently most of those who are able and willing to compromise(and we certainly salute them for it...) live in or near congestion-charged London.

No - from our own "EV intelligence", gathered over many years, we are convinced that most EV-seekers are in fact looking for(and heartily fed-up waiting for!) a choice of "normal-looking" , compact, versatile, practical EV's that not only make maximum, clever use of interior space and are easy to park and manoeuvre around town - but vehicles which are also capable of providing the odd(as in 'occasional'!) escape to the country...and back!
And although electric versions of the Renault Kangoo and Citroen Berlingo are often, sometimes even obsessively, discussed in EV circles, we firmly believe that the next phase in EVolutionary development in Britain and Europe at least - above and beyond City micros - should include compact mini-MPV's like the 5-door Vauxhall(part of GM) Agila - a rebadged and subtley restyled/refurbished version of the Suzuki Wagon R. This trend could then naturally EVolve and expand, Nissan Note supermini MPVas the next generation of quick-charge Lithium cells become available and affordable, to include supermini MPV designs like the Nissan Note(right) or the revamped, "MPV'd" version of the Citroen C3 to be launched in 2008.

New York and La-based Miles Automotive are clearly thinking along similar lines with the recent launch of the $15,000 ZX40 - a compact electric MPV(or "MPEV" as we, and so far only we, are dubbing them..) known in China as the Happy Messenger and based on the Daihatsu Move....though it must be said few American or European "messengers" would be "happy" with the car's pedestrian top speed of 25 mph and max range of just 40 miles: both figures would need to at least double for this otherwise versatile MPV to stand any chance of succeeding here in Europe.

Happy Messenger / Miles ZX40
Miles Automotive ZX40: miles short on range and top speed - but mini MP(E)V design offers BIG advantages...

Let's hope some of the performance of the Miles Lithium-powered XS200 - up to 80 mph and 200 miles/charge - rubs off on the ZX40 MPEV when/if the former is unveiled next year(2007) as indicated.

So - could or should electric mini MPV's be the Next Big(ger) Thing?

Should small EV companies be thinking bigger? Especially in view of the fact that, since the untimely death or execution of the electric Mercedes 'A'Class, Toyota RAV4, Nissan Altra and GM EV1, only one 'Goliath' or major carmaker - Mitsubishi with its MIEV powertrain - is currently showing any interest in plugging the global, chasm-like gap-in-the-market for full-sized real EV's of the "Chris Paine/Who Killed the Electric Car" kind. Lets' not forget that 4-5 seater, 5 door (super)mini MPEV's like those we've described would, almost by definition, have loads more universal appeal and impact than Paine's beloved and much-missed 2-seat-only GM EV1. (GM is the parent of Vauxhall...the EV1 was originally known as the "GM Impact"...join the a full circle)

And who knows - in these times of rocketing gas prices, extreme weather and oil wars even US soccer moms and Nascar dads might be persuaded to downsize and make the switch from SUV's to clever and compact electric MPV's - particularly if uncomprising , tell-it-like-it-is TV ads are employed to drive home the message with corporately incorrect voice-overs like this :

  "Imagine filling up for just a few dollars - and yet never having to stop for gas.
  Imagine no fumes, no oil, no noise.
  Imagine no more.
  Enter a whole new peaceful world with the all-electric GM

Finally, as mentioned, NICE Car Company's Julian Wilford gives us his personal take on City EV's and automotive Davids v Goliaths in this recent post-launch Q&A exchange:

EVUK: Given that there are now so many City EV's to choose from(well - in London)- what would you say to potential NICE customers who may be thinking:
"I'll wait till the 70 mph, 70 mile per charge Mercedes Smart EV goes on sale - at least I know it's a world-renowned company that'll definitely still be around 2-4-5 - 50 years from now !"
"The new AC version of GoingGreen's G-Wiz has almost the same range(45 miles/45 mph) and top speed as the NICE, has 4 seats(OK 2 adults and 2 kids)...and according to the Daily Telegraph they're selling it for just 7,999 at the moment !"

In other words, Julian, how can the NICE/Aixam Mega City compete against all that?

Julian Wilford(NICE): The observation that we now have a choice of City EV's to BUY is really very good news. You dont need us to tell you that there are significant numbers of EV concepts paraded around the world but very few are actually ever made and even fewer are made at a price that real people can afford. And isnt that a critical point. Its fine making great looking concepts that have a range and speed of a normal ICE car, but if they cost many tens of thousands of pounds then very few will buy them and, in our humble view, the world doesnt move much further on. It was the Model T Ford that made the car a mass product, not some accomplished but unaffordable racing machine.

But, off our high horse and back to the world of EVs. Now in London people have a choice between the Mega City (test drives from October!!), the Mega Multi-truck, the G-Wiz and the Maranello. And theres also the Twike and the Vectrix electric scooter will soon be here as well!
At NICE we are very comfortable being one of several companies competing in this market. We believe that it is competition that will bring better products to market (would REVA have bought out the AC motor version if there hadnt been some serious competition about? Who knows!) and competition that will increase public awareness, increase the number of vehicles on our roads and increase the number of people that will consider buying and using an EV instead of traditional cars.

The advantages of the Mega City? Well, at NICE we support all real competition we dont want to make negative comments on any of our true competitors. Its up to customers to test the products and make their decision. Our customers tell us that they appreciate the Citys styling and level of equipment, the amount of internal space and our maintenance free batteries. Overall, it feels to them much like a usual car. We are confident that both the G-Wiz and the MEGA City will sell well and both products will continue to develop new versions.
At the Motor Show, both the Mega City and the G-Wiz were on display and there was a regular flow of traffic between the two stands including many who until then would not have known that you can actually buy an electric car in London. Two distinct propositions. People will make up their own minds.

EVUK: ..and what about the Smart...?

Julian Wilford(NICE): Well, we will see if Smart will be round in twenty years You know better than us the track record of the large automakers with niche brands. And Smart certainly isnt the profitable jewel in DaimlerChryslers crown. Contrast this with the Mega City that has been developed and will be built by the AIXAM-MEGA Groupe in France.
They have been making cars since 1977 and they produce more than 13,000 cars per year. Thats about three times the size of Lotus. They have a large engineering department, two production plants and a Europe-wide distribution network. They are financially strong and profitable (unlike many carmakers) and they are very committed to the development of electric cars (unlike just about every car maker).

Now, as for the Smart EV. To be honest, were really surprised that the media havent asked some more probing questions of Smart. Maybe they should! Smart are releasing just 200 Smart EVs on a lease basis to corporate clients. Arent Smart a part of the huge DaimlerChysler empireone of the biggest automakers in the world. So why are Smart trialling the Smart EV concept. Is it because they want to test the market? Dont they have excellent Marketing Departments who can organise focus groups and do market research like they do on every other car DaimlerChrysler build? Is it easier and cheaper to design, test and manufacture just 200 cars to see what the customer reaction is? If itis why have they never done this for any other vehicle?

Common sense and our knowledge of costs and manufacturing issues suggest to us that the Smart will not go into production for a long time because it will be simply too expensive. We would be very surprised if the Smart EV could retail at anything less than 20,000 without it being subsidised. But this is the rub with many EV concepts: it is easy to achieve something technically on a one-off or a small specially built batch.
But to make it affordable, reliable, serviceable and create a production facility are the true challenges in the automotive industry.

Of course we could be wrong. It would not be the first time. But if we are right then this Smart EV might be more about (some might say cynical) publicity campaigns from Smarts big corporate clients to spin the story to the public that they care about the environment because they have some Smart EVs in their fleet than it is about bringing EVs to the UK market. It is just disappointing that so many real EV enthusiasts get caught up in the big corporate hype (again!). I wonder how many of your readers spent their valuable time trying to contact Smart just to be told that they were not suitable customers (though in this age of corporate PR they probably werent told in so many words!) And all this has a nice spin off for Smart it takes the attention away from cars that are actually for sale right now. We wish Smart all the best but we hope they will apply their huge resources to develop REAL COMPETITIVE products that real people can actually BUY.
(End Q&A: EVUK / NICE)

July, 2006

Tesla Roadster(0-60 in 4 secs, 250 miles/charge) - the best TZero spin-off so far?
...and forget $80k-$120k: according to The Economist(Jul 29-Aug 04) "It will cost $89,000" (..and if you can't trust economists - who can you trust?)

plus: AC Propulsion's Tom Gage on the - scarcely reported Tzero-Tesla connection

Schwarzenegger at Tesla Roadster launch
Arnie at Tesla launch: click to watch AutoblogGreen video clip

CBS News/Schwarzenegger/Tesla Roadster launch
Click to watch CBS News' Tesla report(Arnie also co-stars..)
Click here to watch BBC News' Tesla report(not to be missed
- it really says it all !)

Previous AC Propulsion spin-offs - just for the record:
Li-ion TZero Venturi Fetish in Monaco Soybean/electric supercar
Click for clips:  Tzero, Venturi Fetish and West Philadelphia High School's Attack

 First there was the Li-ion TZero(0-60 in under 3.6 secs, 300 miles/charge)...(watch video)
...then came the Venturi Fetish(0-60 in 4.5 secs, 200 miles/charge)...(watch 'Moore/007' video)
...followed by West Philadelphia High School students' Attack
(0-60 in 4 secs). (Ok, it's a hybrid - but this achievement by 5 teenage 'misfits' on a total budget of less than $150,000 is arguably the most inspiring and 'educational' of the lot...) (Watch Attack video)

(See AC Propulsion('ACP')'s "Vehicles featuring the AC Propulsion/Tzero Drive System" for full listing and further details and links.)

Earlier this week we put the following question to ACP's Tom Gage(his reply follows):

EVUK: we're just trying to establish whether the Tesla Roadster - like the Fetish - is indeed employing the Tzero powertrain as indicated on the ACP site? If so , do you know if - or to what extent - it's been adapted or even improved upon?   We would be grateful if you could clarify so we can give the appropriate credit to ACP.(As you can see from our recent 'NICE' EV report, we believe passionately in the principle of 'credit where credit's due'...)

Tom Gage: Tesla licensed AC Propulsion technology and have incorporated some of that technology in their design. So, the answer is that it is a Tesla drive system that has been developed using AC Propulsion designs and technology. Some of the changes they have made could be improvements, others may lower cost or achieve packaging requirements.
Obviously, since we've not tested their system, I do not know to what extent, if any, it differs from ours in performance and efficiency.
BTW, although we have not made any official announcements, we have been driving our EV based on the Scion xB(updated link) since June. It's the best EV we've built. It's no Tzero - but it's powerful, and it's smooth, quiet, comfortable, roomy, cool (excellent A/C), and (somewhat) affordable. We are offering a limited number of conversions at $55,000 plus the customer's Scion xB.

See AutoblogGreen's on-the-spot, photo-rich reports:
1)"Tesla Roadster unveiled in Santa Monica"

2)Q&A with Tesla's Elon Musk - from which comes this tasty little Oscar Night prediction:
  "Next year's Academy Awards will see a lot of Tesla Roadsters being driven".
( there must surely be a starring role for the Tesla Roadster in "Cars II" - or should that be "Cars: The Next Generation" ??)

July, 2006

NICE Mega City EV - first photos just in...

Nice Mega City EV - first photo 1

Nice Mega City EV - first photo 1

July, 2006

'NICE' surprises in store at British International Motor Show?

Nice Car Company NICE EV
An exceedingly NICE surprise - or two ?

Julian Wilford of the NICE Car Company has been in touch a few times in the past few weeks to.....
..Hang on a moment!  First things first !

"N.I.C.E". ?? where have we seen that strangely familiar little acronym before?
"N.I.C.E." as in "No Internal Combustion Engine" - that is?

Yes , thats right! That wonderfully witty little NICE acronym was dreamed up by EVUK's own Mr. PG in 1999 !
What's more - when, more than six years ago, we'd thoroughly established (and Google-checked) the "intellectual" originality, uniqueness and general all-round wonderful-ness of our "NICE / No Internal Combustion Engine" slogan , it was immediately incorporated in various forms("Have a NICE Day!"..."End the phut-phutting ICE Age - let the NICE Age begin!" ) into the EVUK campaign and website - as many long-time loyal EVUK'ers will attest(and would no doubt have willingly testified in the High Court if need had been ?)

Fortunately, however(or unfortunately - depending on how mercenary your viewpoint) we can tell you that the services of our,er, obviously extremely busy and nice team of crack intellectual property lawyers will not be required in order to defend our NICE "intellectual property" rights and claims...

No - we're pleased to report that NICE Car Co. directors Julian Wilford and Evert Geurtsen(formerly Aviva Group Strategic Development Director and Commercial Head of Lotus Engineering, respectively) did contact us earlier this year agreeing that the "NICE" acronym was originally EVUK's.
And almost as importantly, the company offered to make a very modest-but-meaningful 3-figure donation to EVUK's ever-sparse campaign and website funds - and also agreed to include on their website and in their company literature a simple one-line footnote credit acknowledging the "N.I.C.E." acronym's EVUK origins.
We happily accepted the offer - whilst pointing out that a much heftier 5-figure donation would have been expected and demanded by us if, for example, a major carmaker or Hollywood/Silicon Valley Segway-minded (b)millionaire had sought to borrow or adopt our ever-so NICE(just think of the all that ad tag-line potential...) little phrase.
(Of course, we need hardly point out that if the company had gone even further and chosen to call themselves the "Exceedingly NICE Car Company" - they might well by now have been served up a very sweet and tasty little writ by a certain...Mr. Kipling !)

Now, where were we?
Ah yes - the NICE Car Co , formed less than a year ago, are to launch a City EV at the British International Motor Show at London's ExCel exhibiton centre later this month.

Needless to say, we have tried hard to persuade, cajole and, yes, even cunningly trick NICE's Julian Wilford into divulging whether or not the NICE EV will offer significant range and top speed improvements over its two nearest rivals the G-Wiz and Maranello - but to no avail. This is, for better or worse, a surprise launch - so absolutely no NICE performance details, no NICE photos until press day on July 16th.

Let's hope that that the company serves up a couple of exceedingly nice surprises then - our appetites are certainly well-whetted.

Meanwhile - here's the company's (limited-distribution) June press release:

On the July 18th at the British International Motor Show, the NICE Car Company will unveil a new electric city car for the streets of London. Developed and manufactured by a leading European producer of advanced lightweight vehicles, the NICE Car Company are proud partners in the cars global launch.

Full details will be available at the Motor Show, but we can reveal that the car will be marketed as part of an ownership package that will give London residents a real alternative personal transport solution.

A personal transport solution with so many advantages. With its small size, the NICE car is the ideal choice for commuting and for zipping around Londons busy streets. Then there are the fantastic savings: no more queuing for petrol, no road tax, exemption from the Congestion Charge and ease of parking, which is free for electric cars in many Central London locations! The NICE car combines value, convenience and reliability with the latest in European styling. And of course it is environmentally clean and quiet too.

The car will be produced in Europe and benefits from the experience and scale of production that comes from one of Europes largest independent manufacturers. Quality, service and warranty cover are assured as is the capability to supply to demand with low customer waiting times.

The NICE Car Company has chosen to launch the new electric car at the British International Motor Show. London is now rightly recognised as one of the leading markets for sustainable personal transport in Europe. The NICE car, the desirable and fun alternative to travel in London a NICE Car for a NICE City.

The NICE Car Company. Launching on July 18th at the British International Motor Show, ExCel London.

See also: Guardian report(July 8, 06): "Rivals face off in electric car capital of the world". (It appears that NICE changed their minds on the "surprise" launch idea after all - photo in the London Evening Standard..details of top speed and range etc - and who can blame them?)

July, 2006

Plug-in taxis head for London(UK Guardian reports)
  ...after hybrid cabs hit New York in '05(ABC News)

- A few EVUK afterthoughts and 'Gruadain' corrections*...

Green Tomato Cars Prius -not yet plug-inable
GreenTomatoCars' Tom Packenham and Jonny Goldstone hope to switch to plug-in economy soon(Photo: MotorTrend)

 - Its now more than seven months since we posted up(see column left) our "UK/EU mainstream still silent on PLUG-IN hybrids" lament. This followed a frustrating year-long email campaign aimed at persuading the British media to follow Americas, Californias and the New York Times lead and finally break the silence here on 100+ mpg plug-in(able) hybrid technology.
Around a year ago the Independent almost gave in to pressure from us - but suggested that we write the article ourselves and that they would consider it for publication
(The Indie's Sean O'Grady will no doubt recall his sustained correspondence with a certain, mysteriously tenacious "Ms. D.M" who, for tactical reasons, opted not to disclose her EVUK affiliations at the time.

Finally though, as you will recall, The Independents Motoring correspondent James Ruppert did an excellent job himself(you see - it was quite painless after all wasnt it - see our April '06 commentary "Independent goes extra green mile on plug-ins, EV's, ebikes).

  The Guardian has now followed the Indies lead with Mark Zakians - how can we best put this - "idiosyncratic"(its the kindest adjective we can think of...) take on plug-in and electric car technology with a report focusing specifically and primarily on GreenTomatoCars' plans to bring plug-in(able) Prius cabs to Londons streets, residents and visitors.
But be warned!
Zakian's report contains many bizarre and factual errors that could so easily have been avoided :  George Clooney, for instance, has apparently ordered a Tango EV and has not in fact been driving it for over a year. The Tango is also, it would seem, powered by Lithium batteries and has a starting price of 20,000.
Oh - and Amberjac's Simon Sheldon, according to Zakian, is now running a canny little company called "Amber Jack"(!)

And although Zakian gets pretty close to the mark when he tells us that MIT "are working on a long-term solution to the recharging problem by refining lithium-ion batteries so they can charge in 10 minutes" - he fails to point out that Altair Nano (and a few others...) are already there (or thereabouts) - see Altair Nanotech's latest(July 6, 2006) press release from which comes this happy little extract:
"Altair announced that it has received a $750,000 initial order for its fast charge, high powered batteries from Phoenix Motorcars, an early leader in the effort to mass produce full function, freeway ready electric automobiles...".

(Sceptical? See Altair Nano's June 14th 2006 presentation to the US Senate Commerce Committee)

*"Gruadain" footnote : Several eagle-eyed EVUK'ers have emailed to point out that we have mis-spelled the standard "Grauniad" mis-spelling coined by Private Eye.
This was deliberate of course - do you really think we want to risk being sued by Private Eye !?(..then again, it's not as if we've taken their name and used it a company)

June, 2006

BBC Radio 4 vets EVUK for upcoming "Who Killed the Electric Car" debate

(Post-broadcast post-mortem  - the verdicts confirmed: guilty-as-charged.
Listen again if you can bear it. But it is precisely because of this type of timid, mealy-mouthed, stick-to-the-script, wilfully/woefully ignorant and fuzzy punditry - that carmakers have had such an easy ride keeping long-range, real EVs off the roads and off the radar screens here in Europe.
"Carmakers are developing better, longer-range EVs" they all nod at one point - referring to the G-Wiz and Ford Th!nk. Ah - you mean like...the Toyota RAV4 EV, birth-date 1997, already - nine years ago - offering more than twice the range and top speed of the above-mentioned City EVs - in the US and for a few short successful years in Jersey in the UK Channel Islands? You know, the one that you all - including most disappointingly Goingreens G-Wiz-plugging Keith Johnston - absolutely refuse to mention despite claiming to be desperately keen to see a solution to the "range problem" ?
Who Killed the Electric Car? Well, in Europe - unlike America - real EVs like the GM EV1 and the still (apparently) unmentionable Toyota RAV4 EV were never even still-born - let alone killed off post-birth.)

(Heres our original pre-broadcast report)
Who Killed Released JUne 06  Much, much more on this in the coming week - suffice to say, for the moment, that EVUK was contacted earlier this week(in gasolina-soaked Spain as it happens..) by Jo C. , a producer for BBC Radio 4s daily consumer affairs programme "You and Yours"
with a view to our possible "joining us on the line" participation this coming Monday(June 26, between 12.00-13.00) in a round-table discussion about Chris Paines film and the all-too familiar questions it raises.

But dont jump for joy just yet folks - as we had expected, we were pretty soon sidelined because of our absolute insistence that we could and would not take part or contribute unless we were allowed to point out that the mainstream media, including the BBC, stand 100% guilty-as-charged of systematically and unrelentingly aiding and abetting carmakers in their determination to kill off and bury "real", long-range, mainstream EVs like the all-electric Toyota RAV4 and Mercedes "A" Class - largely by refusing to report them at all to the British people.
Needless to say - producer Jo C. had never heard of the two above-mentioned, stereotype-demolishing might that be do you think?
In our 20-minute conversation with "You and Yours" producer Jo C. we warned repeatedly of the many popular hand-me-down myths and "FMCs("Frequently Made Comments") that will almost certainly be trotted out virtually unchallenged during Mondays studio debate - as they always are and always have been.
Beginning with that perennial favourite:

"EVs never took off - they never appealed to the publics imagination."

. No! No! No! For the 3,978th time - NOoooooo !

The scandalous reality is that 99% of the UK and European population - including otherwise highly educated media types, academics, engineers, transport ministers and even environmental campaigners and long-serving automotive(Jaguar) engineers(you know who you are...) never knew that real EVs like the all-electric RAV4 EV even existed.
So why do so many charming, highly self-confident yet technologically ill-informed media-types continue to repeat the nonsense, the lie that the public didnt like EVs when the media have always steadfastly refused to put genuinely attractive, high-performance EVs on the radar here in Britain and Europe?
Bear in mind, too, that Chris Paines film is focused primarily on these real, mainstream EVs like Tom Hanks favourite - the all-electric RAV4, the Nissan Altra and the GM EV1 - not on stereotype-reinforcing, slow, low-range City EVs like the Ford Th!nk, G-Wiz, Maranello and so-called NEVs that have not been killed off by powerful corporate vested interests(the usual suspects) or by the media and politicians that are so desperate not to offend them....

So heres an open challenge to Jo C. et al at the BBC - why not be the first people in the history of British(and quite possibly European) radio and TV ever to utter the words "all-electric Toyota RAV4" on air?
And why not ask why it is that almost all males from age 8 to 80 know what Arnies favourite car is - yet remain to this day completely oblivious to Tom Hanks top choice?

And perhaps for good measure, you can fully explain to your loyal audiences why you and the rest of the media have consistently refused - despite EVUKs best efforts over the past 7-8 years - to utter those words once on air since the car was launched in 1997?(Incidentally the all-electric RAV4 was/is so, um, unpopular that one recently sold for $67,300 on eBay(report and photo).
Thats right - the public just arent interested in real EVs when they know they exist, right !?

Remember to tune in on Monday. Or select "Listen Again" option if once wasnt enough.
Meanwhile, why not email some uncomfortably electrifying and shocking home truths to:
...and lets see what we can do to prevent yet another safe, diversionary, fuzzy, blame-the-public "debate" about the Ford Th!nk and why it failed to take off...

Well end by reiterating and slightly rephrasing that Bibendum-Burkean adage of our last report:

"It has only required that the good men - and women - of the press remain silent and do nothing for real EVs not to have triumphed".

"Who Killed the electric Toyota RAV4?"
Well, the UK/EU media for a start - and they're still burying it..

Who  Killed Toyota RAV4 EV
RAV4 EV at "Who Killed the Electric Car" screening in US. Click image for the full, inconvenient truth..

Related links:

Who Killed Paine/Devlin interview 1) Watch 7 minute interview with Chris Paine and "Who Killed..." producer Dean Devlin

2) See EVUKs December 05 Sundance film preview for "Who Killed..." trailer, Tom Hanks interview, "Death of the Electric Car" videos etc.

3) EVUK in Spain and on the Costa Ignorance: the Spanish media and corporate establishment are even more shamelessly prostituted to the Internal Combustion Engine, gasolina and to the almost Mafia-like forces that sustain them than are their UK or Northern European counterparts.
So heres a call to arms to any UK EV(car,ebike,e-Vespa) entrepreneurs/companies interested in attempting to transform and clean up the Costas: were partly based here, we know the score(in one sense at least its virgin territory) and were fully up for the challenge. Please drop us a line.
Meanwhile we recommend you avoid fair-weather fishing as well as any possibly risqué trips in private planes and helicopters(see below)...

June, 2006

Bibendum Paris(June 8-12): ignored by UK mainstream media
- as predicted in our July 2005 report "Paris to host Michelin Challenge Bibendum 2006".

Bibendum: Oui a Voitures Propres!   Yes, it does indeed only require that good men remain silent and do nothing for EVs not to triumph - as the invariably misquoted Edmund Burke(1729-1797) certainly also never quite remarked ...

Thom Cannell of the Auto Channels Detroit(!) Bureau is one good non-Englishman who thankfully has refused to stay silent or do nothing - in fact hes already churned out a brilliantly detailed diary and travelogue-style report in three chapters and saved us the trouble - and even more importantly - the expense(s): Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3.

Bibendum - definitely not sunk In Memoriam:  Edouard Michelin - drowned accidentally on May 26 at just 42 - the driving force behind the Challenge Bibendum and, hitherto, arguably the most unlikely, highest profile and most outspoken corporate-establishment EV campaigner on the planet.

According to the Guardian(May 29) :

"The wreckage of Michelin's boat was found on May 29th and a judicial investigation has been launched by French authorities."

The paper also points out that, "Michelin's death is the latest tragedy in a family with a history of losing its firm's leaders young. His grandfather died in a plane crash, and his great uncle in a car accident in the 1930s."

So come on all you conspiracy theorists, factualists and denialists - what are you waiting for?
Do you really intend to remain silent and do nothing with this?! Come on - does anyone really give any credence at all anymore to official inquiries, official investigations or official "intelligence"?  Think Kennedy, Robert Maxwell, Lady Di, David Kelly, WMD ...
And take a look at this from CNN :

"Michelin had been aboard a fishing boat, "Le Liberté," that sank in still unexplained circumstances.
The boat left the Brittany port of Audierne on Thursday night. His body was recovered on Friday afternoon, authorities said.
There had been fog Friday morning but otherwise conditions were said to be excellent. Michelin's fishing companion, Guillaume Normant, was still missing."

Well leave you with this chilling little extract from our own July 2005 Bibendum look-ahead :
"  Congratulations and félicitations to Michelin and to France - a country which, following EVS21 in Monaco in April, has now surely positioned itself firmly at the very epicentre of Europe's green "Axis of EVol-ution"!  "....

Did we say too much?

Recommended read:  "Challenge Bibendum - The Need for Change"

June, 2006

BBC and Attenborough - some green bottle at last?

"Can We Save Planet Earth?" asked David Attenborough(BBC1, Thurs 1st June) as part of the BBC's Climate Chaos season.

A footnote:
Coincidence or Influence?
Many of you will recall our "Saving Planet Earth" - without David Attenborough!" taunt in our March feature "Global Village Mystery - and a Local History Lesson"   (part of our green Tumbleweed TV / sTop Gear 'season'): hopefully the irony of the piece was not lost on too many of you .
It certainly doesn't appear to have eluded some of the many mainstream media/BBC lurkalots that we know regularly surf through EVUK's pages.

May, 2006

Electric vanguards - Q & A with Modec director Trevor Power
(Van'-guard  n. "the leading units moving at the head of an army" fr. French 'avant-garde')

Modec in London 1  Modec in London 2
Freedom of the road: electric charge - yes! Congestion charge - no! Click any image to watch video-clip of Modec van on London 'sightseeing' tour(British Satellite News)

Many of you will, we know,inevitably be thinking:

"Vans? Trucks? It's electric cars with decent range and speed that we're all fed-up waiting for - not commercial vehicles !"

Well, here's why we believe you should care - and why you should mark Modec up as a company to watch closely over the next few months and years.

Let's remind ourselves, to begin with, of the bigger picture and appreciate that this Midlands(Coventry)-based company, really is blazing a trail and flying the flag for a whole new class of quicker, longer -range, mainstream, 'beyond niche' electric vehicles(Remember too:
Li-ion is lined up for the end of next year..).

And perhaps even more encouragingly, the mainstream media is at last beginning to sit up and take notice. Yes, even here in the Midlands - in Britain's Rover-afflicted crank-and-piston heartland - there is a belated, reluctant recognition that major surgery - if not a full heart & lung transplant could eventually be needed if the region's ailing economy is to make a full recovery in the absence of a quick-fix Chinese blood transfusion courtesy Nanjing.
And make no mistake, for Modec's Business Development Director Trevor Power and Chairman Jamie Borwick, this is just the beginning - the company and its technologically and environmentally avant-garde vehicles are definitely here for the long haul.

Modec in London 5  Modec in London 4

Q&A(exclusive) with Modec Director Trevor Power - with EVUK's Paul Govan firing the Q's.

EVUK: What are you finding to be the top two or three concerns that most potential, but hesitant, customers express when considering switching from petrol/diesel to electric - and how do you reassure them?"

Trevor Power: The first question we always get is how far and how fast will it go?.
A quick spin around the block is enough to demonstrate the 50mph top speed and dispel any doubts about the performance, as the motor delivers its peak torque from rest and the vans are extremely drivable in a stop/start urban environment.
Demonstrating the range obviously takes a bit more time, which weve addressed with a couple of potential early adopters through extended trials over a number of weeks. One application has been to deliver perishable goods to a number of outlets in central London from a depot in Basildon, Essex. This involved a stem journey of 26 miles, followed by a delivery round of around 60 miles and the return 26 mile trip to the depot. The Modec van was able to comfortably complete the route(circa 112 miles) with ample energy left in reserve.

The next question we get is what about the batteries? as Sodium Nickel Chloride is not a technology that most people are familiar with. Modec in London 6 Theyre about 5 times the energy density of regular lead acid batteries, which is how we get the range and performance. There are often some concerns about battery life and memory effects, like when your mobile phone battery gradually holds less and less charge over time. However, most people dont realise that this battery technology has been around for some time, mainly used in safety critical applications like rescue submarines and other applications requiring high reliability, such as buses, planes and trains. The batteries are totally sealed and maintenance free, last around 4 times as long as a typical lead acid equivalent and dont suffer from memory effects.

EVUK: Congratulations on getting BBC Midlands TV News to report on the NEC launch. I imagine it is proving considerably easier now - given the current geo-political climate and growing concerns about climate change and high oil prices etc. - to persuade the mainstream media to show an interest?

TP: The Commercial Vehicle Show was our first outing with the production intent vans and generated a huge amount of interest from the trade. I think a lot of people were surprised to see a zero emission vehicle that is not only engineered to mainstream automotive standards, but with a striking modern design to boot.
Weve purposely been keeping a low profile in the run up to the launch and although our priority is now to connect with people who have a requirement for a vehicle like ours and an open cheque book but wed certainly welcome some wider coverage from the general media.
To date we havent done much with the wider press, but as we pick up momentum well undoubtedly put more effort into generating column inches.
Modec in London 7  Although youre right that the political climate and oil price rises making what we have to say increasingly relevant, were not helped by essentially being a good news story it seems the mainstream media would always prefer to focus on doom and gloom than discussing potential solutions.

EVUK: Please understand the scepticism in this question - but the idea of Lithium-powered production vehicles - albeit vans not cars - on the streets of Britain a year from now simply seems almost impossible to imagine !
But it would undoubtedly be a momentous, landmark achievement and a cause for celebration throughout the entire global EV community if Modec does indeed succeed in rolling out a Lithium battery option next year as indicated in press releases.
So - can you say how confident you are that this will in fact happen on schedule - perhaps on a scale from 1-100 ?!

TP: Just to clarify, we expect to have a Lithium option available within 12 months of starting production, which wont be until the turn of the year, within 19 months or so from now.
Weve announced that were working with Axeon Power on this project and they have a lot of experience in integrating various cell chemistries into battery packs.
I would agree that its a challenging goal, but Im confident that well achieve it. The point of the announcement is to reinforce Modecs policy of being battery chemistry agnostic (meaning were prepared to consider a range of high energy chemistries), to give potential customers some clues as to what to expect from us in the future and to satisfy Axeons stock exchange reporting requirements. Were trying to satisfy those aims without unduly ramping up customers expectations.

Im hoping to go for a drive in our first Lithium powered prototype in a few weeks time, but we wont be releasing that option for sale until weve completed an exhaustive testing and development programme.
Also, as youre no doubt aware, Lithium cells are expensive but offer a very long life compared to conventional lead acid cells. We think theyll be very well suited to our battery rental proposition, avoiding the need for customers to meet the capital cost up front and crystallising the savings vs. diesel fuel costs on a month by month basis.

Berlingo Electrique

EVUK: Two of the most popular discussion items in Britain's leading EV Discussion Group Electric Cars UK are the extremely hard-to-get Berlingo Electrique(pictured) and Kangoo RE Electrique with range extender option.
Given the popularity and success of these MPV's, what would it take for Modec to cross that van-car divide and consider producing something as versatile as this(a commercial and passenger-carrying vehicle) at some point in the future?

TP: An interesting question. I think at the moment were very focused on the commercial market, for a number of reasons, chiefly:

  -   Were interested in high usage duty cycles, where moving to electric power can have a big impact especially on local air pollution such as particles and NOx
  -  Were very comfortable discussing costs and benefits with commercial users consumer marketing is a lot more emotive and could be a bit of a stretch
  -   We want to make the most of the platform and style of vehicle weve developed were not really interested at this point in converting someone elses vehicle
  -   Wed like to make a return on the tens of millions of pounds weve put into developing the Modec range to date before we set off on another adventure!

From that you can infer that were going to be most interested in rolling out our van in the UK in the short term and then taking it overseas in due course. Its no secret that weve been working on a bus concept, but that is likely to stay under wraps until the van is established, at least in the UK market. If we were to look at smaller vehicles in the future, wed probably be commercially oriented rather than consumer oriented ones.

EVUK: An adjunct to the Kangoo question: given that Mitsubishi are also reportedly(Autocar at Geneva Show, March) considering offering a range extender or onboard back-up charger of sorts with the MIEV electric car to be launched in 2010 - would you ever look at that possibility?
It could prove to be a useful and reassuring standby - don't you think - especially in a business/commercial environment?

TS: Well, never say never - but we have no current plans.
Its no secret that we built a series hybrid as one of our first generation prototypes. However, were very focused on zero emission vehicles now and on rooting out the applications where pure EVs can compete strongly with diesel. We have a very clear position clean and quiet. As soon as you put a range extender onto a vehicle you compromise that proposition.

EVUK: I imagine that you have put together a profile of the types of companies that are initially most likely to be attracted to the Modec electric van. Apart from security and airport applications , have you heard from any particularly unusual potential customers like the Eden Project, Longleat, Alton Towers, Centre Parcs - or from any more colourful customers at all?

TP: The short answer is no.Modec in London 1 There are two reasons for this. The first is that its still very early days for us weve said wed start taking orders after the Commercial Vehicle show, for delivery early next year. Were currently working through a large number of enquiries to establish who are the most likely early adopters. Secondly, although wed be delighted to sell vehicles to any and all of the organisations you mention, our goal is to sell Modec vans as mainstream, road-going vehicles to mainstream users. There are plenty of EV manufacturers addressing the low speed, low range, off-highway market, but were putting these high energy batteries into a vehicle engineered to mainstream automotive standards to address a market that no-one to date has really tried to crack with a pure EV at 85 kWh our battery pack is at least twice the size of anything thats been offered in an commercial vehicle of this size before.

EVUK: What about the Powershift grant suspension - what is the prospect of the EU coming up with an alternative any time soon, do you think?

TP: Funny you should ask this arrived from the SMMT yesterday:

UK: Low CO2 emissions incentive scheme gets green light
Schemes like Powershift, managed by the Energy Saving Trust, had offered a total package of 14 million to new car buyers and commercial vehicle operators in 2004/05. However, grants were discontinued in March 2005 amid concerns of a breach of European state aid rules. Since then, none have been available to new car buyers.
News that the UKs Low Carbon Car Fund will not breach European state aid rules has today been welcomed by the motor industry, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The SMMT noted that the ruling by the European Commission Competition authority is an important step for government to set in place grants for buyers of some of the cleanest, low carbon cars following the collapse of the Powershift grant scheme 14 months ago.
Under the proposals, it is thought that cars emitting 115 g/km CO2 or less would be eligible for a government grant of between 300-1,000.

SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan said: Incentives are a fundamental way to drive a market. The Commission's ruling has cleared the way for the UK government to support the scheme as soon as possible and send a clear message to consumers." (Full report: Just-Auto/AutoFacts)
(End Q&A Modec/EVUK May 2006)

So, whether you're a lone white van man or major fleet operator looking for an edge or a Unique/Unusual Selling Point that perfectly captures the public mood and consumers' growing appetite for all things green...
- if you're looking for freedom from oil and congestion charges...
- if you could live with the low maintenance/running costs, simplicity and relative longevity that a well-engineered EV can offer...
- then the Modec van is surely worth a closer look

But if you're still not convinced - then there's still that celebrated "EV Smile" to consider(see Forbes magazine: yes it's true - EV's are smiles better).
No - this is no mere sales gimmick or schmaltzy ad strap-line.
Magic Carpet EV The fact is there is something ticklishly exhilerating, and mystically magic-carpet-like about driving a noiseless motorized vehicle - particularly when maximum speed and range are not limited to 30-ish mph/miles.
                                                                         Click for Carpet Ride !

"ZEV Zen" - it's the perfect antidote to road-rage.

So, if you like the thought of your delivery drivers arriving at customers' doors sporting an ear-to-ear smile - probably even on Mondays - then Modec's Mr. T. Power would be only too pleased to float that 'magic carpet' out for you ...

Lateral links:

1) re: Carplants & Midlands heart and lung transplant. As What Van? points out:
"Volume production(of the Modec van) is set to begin in November at a site in Coventry not far from Peugeot's doomed Ryton plant."
The symbolism could hardly be sweeter nor the lesson clearer....
2) The EV Magic Carpet Magic Carpet EV - we're pleased to see that MIT's Professor Donald Sadoway(super-high density Li-ion sLimcells) draws the same EV/Magic Carpet analogy
3) Smith Electric Vehicles - Modec's main competitor. No mention yet of a future shift to Li-ion.

May, 2006

BBC's green fly-on-wall hits mark
- now back to TV tumbleweed as usual ...

Strawbridge Family: It's Not Easy...

We had been preparing to dismiss BBC2's "It's Not Easy Being Green"  (Watch clips) as just another aspirational property/country living show(cf. Grand Designs, Escape to the Country, CountryFile etc, ) - but with a green twist.

But this production from BBC Bristol has without doubt been the most inspiring solutions-focused environmental series ever to hit the nation's TV screens. (So the best by far out of an all-time grand total of...two genre contenders...)

The programme succeeds in part thanks to its breathtaking and liberating coastal Cornish location - far from London and the braying Home Counties hubris for which the BBC is still so so few. (It just wouldn't have worked in Bucks, Oxfordshire - or even the Cotswolds with no backdrop of secret smugglers' coves and squint-eyed seafaring skullduggery.)

But the show's success is for the most part due to a great cast of refreshingly (and literally) down-to-earth characters - consisting of ebullient engineer Dick Strawbridge and family plus an army of exceptionally bright and willing worker bee helpers all of whom manage to maintain an infectiously sunny, natural disposition no matter what technological, horticultural etc. eco-challenges are thrown their way.
And one of those challenges was to convert a Land Rover to run on vegetable oil - as explained in this extract from The Independent's detailed review of the programme:

   "...they've rigged up a simple but seemingly complex set of pumps and oil drums. Used vegetable oil from a restaurant in Mevagissey goes in one end, and alcohol and caustic soda are added to turn 80 per cent of the chip fat into a thin oil that can replace diesel without having to convert the car. The waste product, glycerine, is dumped on the compost."

Of course, if EV's like the all-electric battery-powered Mercedes 'A' Class had been launched in $4-a-gallon 1998/9 as promised instead of being quietly cancelled on the pretext and promise that fuel cell cars were "just around the corner" and "would be in showrooms by 2004/6"(read one report of many hundreds..) - the Strawbridge family and the rest of us would by now almost certainly be able to choose from a wide selection of second or third generation high-performance advanced battery EV's like the Mitsubishi 4-wheel-edrive MIEV(with onboard biodiesel range-extender/charger?) or the Subaru R1e - instead of having to wait, arbitrarily, until 2010 for the electric revolution.

Mitsubishi Concept EZ MIEV EV  Kangoo EV with range extender
Mitsubishi Concept-EZ('Easy') MIEV and Kangoo RE(Range Extender) Electric - 4-5 times more energy-efficient than Dick's bio-powered Land Rover

What's more, not only would all of these EV's be around 4-5 times more energy-efficient than a 15-20 mpg veggie-powered Land Rover - they could also be recharged simply and cheaply from renewable energy sources like the Strawbridge's wind-turbines or magnificent - though far-from common-or-garden - water-wheel.
And naturally the whole family would be able to hear and continue to commune with nature whilst driving:   the sound of birds singing in the trees and waves crashing on the sea-shore would not be drowned out by the military-agricultural whirring & chugging of retired Lieutenant Colonel Dick's (clearly) comforting, iconic 'old-timer'.

But we're not getting too carried away: there are few signs that BBC TV is about to turn over a whole new leaf or that green shoots are poised to spread throughout the TV schedules.
Viewers will note straightaway, for instance, that although "It's Not Easy Being Green" began with a full one-hour episode, this is promptly sliced down to just 30 meagre minutes a week(with no repeat) for the remaining six instalments(cf. Top Gear's 2 hours/week incl. repeats followed by a "Best of" re-run - so in all around six times as much air-time as "It's Not Easy..").

Most importantly, we still have no environmental magazine-style TV programme showcasing all the latest news & views on renewable energy, sustainable development including clean vehicle technologies(battery EV's, e-scooters, ebikes, plug-in hybrids, bioethanol hybrids, fuel cell vehicles) - a prime-time TV forum where independent experts and concerned citizens can look at what industry, government and the media - not just individuals and families - need to do - or should have been doing for many years - in order to make it radically easier for us all to be green.

Related links:

1) "Saving the Planet without Costing the Earth" - by Donnachadh McCarthy, London-based all-round eco guru and essential contributor to this BBC series.

2) "It's Not Easy Being Green" - the BBC book of the series

May, 2006

Attn David Cameron : plug-in your Lexus and get 60 mpg!
- Our blue-green acid test for Tory leader.

LOcal Election slogan, May 06  David Cameron in Lexus
 David 'Camera On?' Cameron has been rightly - and of course ultra-hypocritically - criticised by our (historically) crank'n'piston-addicted, climate-change-fuelling, car-ad-sponsored media for regularly cycling to David Cameron on pushbike Westminster for the cameras - only to have a not-so-green Lexus 450h hybrid(186 g/km CO2) call by his house later - off-camera - to pick up his shoes, shirt and briefcase.

So here then is an ideal opportunity for Cameron to silence - nay, to cruelly crush his critics - and demonstrate that he has that rare quality that all genuinely green politicians(and journalists) must possess in super-abundance if they are to have any chance of achieving real-world environmental change on a 'macro' political - as opposed to 'micro' or personal - scale:  that is, the courage to stand up to and risk displeasing or angering or embarrassing powerful corporate vested interests such as the oil, motor or construction industries.
Or more specifically in this case - Lexus.
So we propose Cameron solve his personal-yet-global bike-car dilemma by means of one or both of the following two acid-test options:

Option 1) ...that he take his Lexus along to Amberjac UK in Conservative Grantham(Lincs) and have them double the hybrid's fuel economy with a plug-in upgrade. This would also reduce CO2 emissions levels to just below DEFRA's all-important 'green label' threshold of 100 g/km - a remarkable improvement on the original which would of course also exempt Cameron and his Conservative chums from Mayor "Red Ken" Livingstone's beloved London congestion and parking charges.(Surely motivation enough?)

Lexus GS 450h unplugged 30 mpg   Lexus GS 450h unplugged 30 mpg
The Lexus GS 450h and RX 400h hybrids could return 60 mpg with plug-in upgrade

Amberjac's Simon Sheldon says of the Lexus GS 450h and RX 400h(off-roader):  "At just over 30mpg it doesn't make sense, but we can easily double that figure and I believe it will look much more attractive."(Independent, April 4)

And writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Cameron says he wants to reduce cars' CO2 emissions to 100 g per km in new cars by 2022.
So, Mr. Cameron, what exactly is preventing you from personally achieving that goal now - 16 years ahead of schedule?

Here's a brief explanatory Letter to Lexus that a plugged-in Cameron could use in his 'defence' :
Re: Green Lexus blues
As a true blue-green Conservative and passionate believer in private enterprise, consumer power and letting the customer and the market decide, I have elected to radically upgrade my recently acquired RS 450h. I feel strongly that this 60 mpg(95 g/km CO2) version of your otherwise splendid vehicle will be far better suited to my role as a trailblazing blue-green Tory Pary Leader,

Yours etc. Rt Hon David Cameron
PS. Vote for a blue Planet and get a green planet
Vote for a Conservative nation and get a conservation nation
Vote Tory - get ready for Vic-Tory   (etc. - ad nauseam et infinitum)
(Special thanks to Slogans 'R' Us)

Option 2) ...that he equip his own bike with the best briefcase- and pannier-carrying rack-system that his party's coffers can bear.

An electrified David Cameron Or to lighten the load and take the strain - as well as to demonstrate the elusive vote-winning ability to think(and act) outside the ministerial box - he could substitute his own bike for a lightweight electric bike like the Twist Lite for example.
And since Cameron recently switched to a renewable electricity supplier and also plans(a reality-check "planning" delay?) to install a wind-turbine at his home - the modified Lexus and ebike would be about as green as it's possible to get(or go) on powered wheels here in Britain - pure EV's like the G-Wiz excepted of course.

An electrified David Cameron
Cameron in an EV that the Telegraph claims: "Noddy wouldn't have been seen dead in"( journalists now use Noddy as a benchmark - that explains everything! )

Lexus 2054 Minority Report But there is one Lexus that's even more ecologically kosher than the plugged-in hybrid: that's right - we're referring to the all-electric, Lithium-powered Lexus 2054 supercar(0-60 in 4.5 secs) as driven by Tom Cruise in Minority Report.
Now if Cameron's aides could arrange for Lexus to ship that paparazzi magnet to these shores for a parliamentary photo-call or two - well, blue-green sparks, not to mention pigs, really would fly over Westminster...

Color-Blind Rap
- with MC Vic Torius - aka Dave 'Camera On?' Cameron - spinning the grooves an' keepin' it real in Da House, Mr. Speaker. 
Livin' it large - without X-in' out the planet. Respect!
Check it out:

Vote blue
- get a one man rainbow coalition
Vote blue
- get a stand-up chameleon
Vote blue
- get what you deserve
Vote blue
- get business as usual...and
Top Gear twice a week
Vote blue-rinse
- get green-wash(also available in white...)
Vote red or yellow
- get more or less the same
..but in Labour party pink
..or chilled to Liberal mellow

Yoh! A big shout out to my main man - rapmaster Senator Jay Billington Bulworth aka Warren 'Cut the Bull' Bulworth / Beatty (watch trailer/preview).
 Political hard-core on the campaign trail - keepin' it real with da XXX-ray vision.

David Cameron  Bulworth/Beatty rapmaster

Cameron & Bulworth - we're two of a kind - color-blind - like peas in a pod, Tu in a Pac -
- blue, green, white, black -
- just bustin' out the rhymes. Give it up!

Watch classic clip of CNN's Bill Schneider(white/middle-aged) attempting to rap like Bulworth about Bulworth(minus credibility and expletives of course...)
 .   Hyperlink to Hypocrisy:
Tory council leadership backs higher expense allowance
for drivers of gas-guzzlers

Media note:  Despite all the guilt-fuelled criticism levelled by the media at Cameron and his not-so lean-or-green Lexus not one single mainstream journalist - as far as we know or Google's showing - has so far chosen or dared to mention the possibility of a plug-in makeover.
Now this could be due to simple ignorance(surely not?) - or they could all just be waiting for 'benchmark Noddy'(see Telegraph above) - or maybe even Big Ears guessed it...give them the nod!

April, 2006

"Robert Newman's History of Oil" - a satirical tour de force.     Watch now!
(Click image for RealPlayer version - or go to Indybay page for other formats)

"The petrol bubble is about to burst"
"To understand the wars and politics of the last 100 years we must put oil centre stage"

Rob Newman History of Oil

  The deceptively bland title("History of..") hardly does justice to this superlative, 60 minute, satirical tour-de-force from (still) stellar British stand-up Robert Newman.

What is (or was) essentially a one-man show has been brilliantly enhanced and expanded (makes a change from filtered or censored) for TV by Tiger Aspect Productions and whilst we obviously don't agree entirely with Rob Newman's (current?) take on clean vehicle technologies(see last 30 minutes) or his "No Way Out" Doomsday conclusions - we do take our figurative hats off to any comedian or satirist with the wit, the balls, the attitude to include nonchalant references to "energy carriers", "the hydrogen economy" and "zinc air" in any performance and succeed in carrying the audience with them every step of the way.

This is electrifying stuff - no matter what alternative power or energy source you happen to believe in(if any):  if you're a fan of Jon Stewart, Rory Bremner, Bill Maher or Bill Hicks(or indeed if you are any of the above-named artistes...) - this masterclass in satirical activism should blow you clean away....

Rob Newman History of Oil Robert Newman - who he? Comedy double-act Newman and Baddiel enjoyed a meteoric rise to pop-star-like status in the early Nineties, going on to fill massive auditoria - Wembley Arena, for one.
Click here for the BBC's"History of Newman and Baddiel".
See also: Rob

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April, 2006

The Independent goes extra green mile on plug-ins, EV's, ebikes

Amberjac Valence Plugin-able Prius

It looks as if our(and your..?)loud incessant whinging(see column left: 'PLUG-IN silence'..) is beginning to have the desired effect - especially at the Independent.

Hawk-eyed media-watchers will be aware that both the Times and the Guardian have tentatively broken the UK media's conspicuous plug-in silence in the last couple of weeks - but the coverage in those newspapers(in stark contrast to The Independent's latest) has been predictably timid and corporately correct:  in both instances (article links: Times, Guardian) the term 'plug-in' is mentioned fleetingly and just once - and is buried deep within articles broadly examining the unstoppable rise of Toyota.

And of course neither the Guardian or the Times deign even to acknowledge the existence of "upstart start-up" and plug-in pioneers Amberjac UK - whereas James Ruppert's piece in the Independent is entirely dedicated to the Lincolnshire-based company's 100+ mpg Li-ion boosted Prius.
The clue's in the title:
"Amberjac Plug-In Prius: Hail the 130mpg car"

Yes - it's a sad fact that our "non-independent" mainstream media is for the most part still unwilling to loudly publicize any automotive innovation that lacks significant, official corporate and/or political appproval.
(They made the same costly Canute-inspired mistake nine years ago in 1997 of course - following the launch of the original Prius in Japan).
All of which is in sharp contrast to The Independent's most recent green transport supplement which is, in our view, the boldest, brassiest and sassiest yet - right up our street in fact. It also includes a fair and fulsome review of the Sakura Mustang 'chopper-style' ebike which in turn is accompanied by four of the largest ebike-retailer ads we've ever seen in the national press - the very model of ethical capitalism and green product placement.

      ++ Breaking News ++

 "Toyota aim to launch 113 mpg Lithium-powered Prius by 2008"
(Auto Express reports - Edition 904, April 5-11 '06, print version only - P.19)
- Auto Express "spies" are confirming hitherto very faint rumours from Japan:

   "...we've been told that engineers working on the new Prius have a fuel economy target of 40 km/litre - that's a mind-boggling 113 mpg...Toyota hopes to get its new model on the road as early as 2008."

No word yet though as to whether this version of the hybrid will be plugin-able - nevertheless this news, if confirmed by Toyota, will inevitably steal some of the thunder and green limelight from plug-in pacemakers like Amberjac in the UK and Toronto-based Edrive and Hymotion in the States. Then again - it should be easier and cheaper to add plug-in capability to the planned 2008 Li-ion-boosted Prius version if Toyota fail to go that extra mile themselves.

Related links - Amberjac Plug-in:
1) Homepages: Amberjac Projects aka Plug In Hybrids.

2) See EVUK's June 2005 Amberjac/plug-in report: "125+ mpg plug-in(able) Prius+ to go on sale in UK/Europe in 2006 !"

3) EVUK interview (Dec 2004) with Amberjac Projects' Simon Sheldon re Valence's groundbreaking Saphion Li-ion.

4) Amberjac Plug-in
Click image to watch video of Amberjac Prius Plug-in

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