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"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
...

Watch Regis & Kelly test-drive genuinely smart(ie. electric) Smart ForTwo

Watch L1X-75 (Tesla rival?) test drive: 0-60 in 3.1 secs, 175 mph, 200 miles/charge...

Memo to BBC (et al):
It is Easy Being Green

Watch Ebike v. Car commute downunder
Ebike v Car Commute OZ
No worries, no sweat, no contest !
(Suitable Transport Low Rider)

2007 Tour de Presteigne:
Electric Bike Rally,
Presteigne, Wales(map & sat view) May 13

Video(Youtube): PLUG-IN's would reduce fuel/biofuel use by 70%, CO2 by 50%
...so why are UK/EU commentators and politicians still so deadly silent ?

...more PLUG-IN videos.

Watch latest Youtube'd EMN TV highlights

 

NEWS

June, 2007

1000+ miles/charge Lithium? Scottish scientist's high hopes for O2 Electrodes

Prof Peter Bruce O2 Electrodes   "We propose a step change in rechargable lithium batteries...
The capacity to store energy can be raised by 5-10 times...The proposal addresses a number of the materials issues necessary to realise this radically new high energy storage battery ....".
(Professor Peter Bruce - click image  for full text)

Admittedly, this is not exactly late-breaking news but if Aberdeen-born Professor Bruce and his team at St. Andrews University(*see footnote) do indeed succeed in achieving even the lower end of their energy storage goals(ie. "5-10 times" current Li-ion capacity of 130 mAh/g ) it could eventually lead to the complete transformation not just of the worldwide automotive sector but of the energy storage(ergo supply & security) landscape as well.

So it does seems a little surprising that this $3 million EPSRC-funded "step-change" research project has yet to raise even the tiniest of blips - as far as we can tell - on the global EV news radar.

It is also worth pointing out that, although this formally funded research is at a very early stage, the idea of using O2 electrodes in lithium batteries is not entirely new - Peter Bruce has himself been informally discussing and investigating the concept for some time. Read the second half of this Nov 2006 MIT Technology Review piece "Making Electric Vehicles Practical" for an insight into the challenges that Professor Bruce and his colleagues will have to tackle.

Earlier this week we asked Peter Bruce if he would care to comment on the issues raised in that MIT Tech Review piece - here's his response :

"Using present approaches, the energy density of rechargeable lithium batteries may only double. It is vital to look for new approaches and directions, and that is what the air electrode offers. This is still at the basic science stage and as a result it is not possible to give definitive one line answers".
He continues:
"According to MIT the theoretical capacity is from 1200 to 1800 mAh/g and we have shown practical capacities of 900 mAh/g so far. More work may or may not improve on this - that is the problem with statements at this stage. Practical for LiCoO2 is 130 mAh/g. So a factor of 7 times has been demonstrated. Stan Whittingham's comment and mine are the same. In my words: The difference between Open Circuit Voltage(OCV) and load is 300-400mV. Reducing the voltage difference will be an important target for future work".

And so, whilst we obviously all rejoice at the May 9 announcement that Argonne Lab scientists have succeeded in almost doubling Li-ion storage capacity, let's not forget that the best may be yet to come - and it could come from Scotland...

The UK Govt's EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) is also funding slightly less exotic - and more widely reported - lithium battery research at Bath University - see "£715,000 Grant Awarded to Help Break Fossil Fuel Dependency"(May '06)

...and it is perhaps worth noting that this UK Govt award came a year after  the Scottish Parliament's (Scottish Executive's) Intermediary Technology Institute for Energy announced that it would be investing £5.2 million in EV-related lithium battery research projects - see "ITI Steers 5.2m into Electric Vehicle Projects"(Scotsman, May '05)

Indeed, you may recall EVUK's own deliberately(..and successfully?) provocative May '05 headline announcing that same earlier Scottish intitiative - "Scots Beat English...with New EV Initiative"

...and speaking of Scottish parliaments and Peter Bruce's 'radical' thinking...
Robert The Bruce - radical thinkers/do-ersRobert The Bruce - watch movie trailerAncient Bruce Tartan
Radical ancestry ? King Robert the Bruce (watch 2007 movie
trailer
) helped achieve the 'impossible' - Scottish Independence in 1328.   700 years on, liberation from fossil fuel dependency is one 'impossible' goal of radical thinkers(and do-ers) north of the border. Bruce(Robert !) also held his first parliament in ... St. Andrews(!)

Click here for full details of Peter Bruces stellar career in Materials Chemistry.
(*Footnote re: St. Andrews - Scotland's oldest university(map). Our apologies to all rightly rabid Scots for the unspeakable error in our first draft !)

May, 2007

May 14, '07: Tesla on ABC News Nightline (internet-) TV:

'Pain at the Pump - Meet The New Electric Car' - watch video & read transcript.

Tesla on ABC News  Possibly the best, most up-close-and-personal report so far - although understandably, for reasons of discretion, no specific reference is made to the collaboration with Lotus.
And of course(far less understandably) AC Propulsion and that all-important Tzero legacy are again conspicuously missing from the conversation...

May, 2007

ZAP's week: CNBC interview, PML link-up, Lotus visit
- and some historical perspective...

CNBC interview with ZAP CEO 

May 2 '07 Zap CEO Steve Schneider interviewed on CNBC Powerlunch - click image to watch




MINI QED from PML Flightlink  May 2 '07Zap announces second UK link-up - this time with leading UK in-wheel motor specialists PML Flightlink. (Recap: PML's Mini QED(inset) - a superfast, ultra-efficient and compact plug-in-able hybrid. See EVUK report Sept 2006)


Lotus visit Zap in Santa Rosa 
May 2 '07
Lotus visit Zap in Santa Rosa California. See photos/report: Duemotori.






July 21 '98(!)
EVUK's Moira G. heads to California to spend 3 months working for Zap , touring the other sunshine state' s EV hotspots and tracking down Hollywood stars and their electric cars. Watch Moira G.'s 1998 EV California docu

O Happy, Zappy Days!

   - Back then of course we all believed that a US-led EV revolution was just around the corner - and with good reason...many good reasons:   the Toyota RAV4 EV, Honda EV Plus, Nissan Altra, GM EV1 were all on the road and leading the charge, the Mercedes "A" Class EV was set for production in '99, California's ZEV mandate was in full force and the internet - we felt sure - would get the truth out at last to a largely comatose, misinformed public. To top it all, the stereotype-demolishing 4-seater(unlike the GM EV1) Solectria Sunrise sedan(see below) had achieved 373 miles on a single charge in 1996 - just four years after the Rio Earth Summit - and was slated to be mass-produced and sold for around $20,000 before the decade was out.

As it turned out of course, even we underestimated the power of our corporate, political and (therefore) media establishment (aka 'corporatocracy')to pull the plug on all of the above as well as their collective ability to lull the public(and themselves) back into that all-too familiar state of (EV/ZEV) amnesia, apathy and ignorance.

Joining the dots & connecting the news wires :
.   In-wheel motors are out: Mitsubishi announced in October last year - disappointingly - that the MIEV "i" car will not after all employ in-wheel motors and that the "i" in MIEV now signifies "innovative" - not "in-wheel"(so "MLIEV" - "less innovative" - would seem more appropriate).
On a happier note, Mitsubishi also announced its plans this week(press release, May 8) to begin production of high capacity large lithium cells by 2009 in a joint venture with GS Yuasa :
"These new batteries have ten times the capacity of those for hybrid electric vehicles, and are the perfect choice for EV's. "
.
.   Solectria Sunrise(1996) - probably the best electric car never made. It goes without saying of course that the world's media - esp. in Britain and mainland Europe - simply refused to show any interest whatsoever in the Sunrise - despite our own relentless email-blitzing efforts to get the car on the radar here. As a result, around 99.99% (an informed estimate) of the world's population ever-so conveniently have no knowledge or memory at all of this 4-seater, 200 miles/charge, 75 mphmyth-busting EV.

Austin EV: Li-ion Solectria Sunrise 1999
Stephen Taylor's 200 miles/charge lighter lithium Sunrise - click image for Austin EV photos & detail

Read these two illuminating and pithy CREST postings from April 2000 and Sept 2002 - if you're not yet part of that informed and eternally vigilant "0.01%" ...

Naturally many of us did, over the years, repeatedly contact the Solectria Corporation to try to establish why the sun set so sudddenly on the Sunrise - but the company's replies were always politely evasive and firmly focused on future plans in other areas - leading some inevitably to suspect that the company, at some point, had probably been made offers(by GM..?) it couldn't refuse.
Watch rare video clip(Youtube) of Solectria Sunrise in action (..it's the yellow EV featured near the start)
.  ...from Lotus-Zap and long-range, sedan-sized EV's to Lotus-Tesla and long-range, sedan-sized Ev's. Tesla have said recently(see for instance CNET & Inside Bay Area reports) that although their own 200 mile-per-charge sports sedan will cost between $50-70,000, a $30,000 family sedan may follow.
Which leads us to offer one final thought:

   Tesla !  If you should ever find yourselves needing a name for that affordable($30,000) long-range family-sized sedan, we'd like to suggest the ...

           Tesla RICO !

- an aspirational anagram of 'Solectria' and a fitting salute /
(fast-)moving tribute to the Sunrise sedan - an extraordinary EV that promised(..or threatened) to revolutionize the auto industry a decade ago.

April, 2007

Redford's "The Green" eco TV series debuts on Sundance TV.
Watch highlights, download episodes, watch and respond to video blog 'webisodes'...

But will real EV's be a red hot topic - or totally taboo here too ? (Email: thegreen@sundancechannel.com)

The Green / Big Ideas   Well, given that Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?" was given its world premiere at Redfords Sundance Film Festival in early 2006, it would seem infinitely more likely that electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles will feature in The Green at some point than, for example, in BBC TV's "It's Not Easy Being Green" - a programme in which, all-too predictably, the concept of energy efficiency and conservation is applied religiously to the home - but not to the woefully inefficient and wantonly over-used petrol or (bio-)diesel-powered cars parked in all those scrupulously but incongruously green, pleasant and organic gardens.

The Green Blog

From The Green - Big Ideas overview:

"Each episode revolves around a different green theme as it spotlights a specific innovator or innovation that has the potential to transform our everyday lives. The series also features a cast of recurring expert commentators including activists, scientists, writers and environmental personalities who provide the big picture context for each week's stories."

All in all, The Green looks to be precisely the kind of show we had in mind when we wrote the following in our wildly popular sTop Gear" feature in 2004:

"When will our corporately embedded BBC finally relent and repent and provide viewers with a TV programme devoted to the environment - to all aspects of eco-innovation and green technology in the UK and around the world? EVUK has of course written to the BBC many times on this - we've even given them(with no consultation fee...) a programme title to run with : "Action Planet"...

(Spookily enough, "The Green Zone" had been another firm favourite of ours - until the US military found other more..er...creative uses for it circa 2003...)

Three Days of the Condor - Robert Redford in "Three Days of the Condor"
"Oil fields! This whole damn thing was about oil !"
(See EVUK feature, March 2006)



Against that backdrop, there is every reason, surely, to expect that electric cars and - even greener - electric bikes and scooters will feature in at least one of The Green's 13-episode opening season.
That said, there will inevitably be concerns that the show's Lexus sponsorship and uncritical plugging of plug-less luxury hybrids could again stifle or kill electric car/electric vehicle content.
Email: thegreen@sundancechannel.com

See also:

Eco TV / Verdi TV channel (Italy). Watch live streaming now or view on Hotbird satellite at:
11013 MHZ, 27,500 Ksps, Horizontal or Sky(Italy) channel 906....and ask yourself why British TV is still barren brown Tumbleweed TV...

Note: for all their merits and despite the wishful-thinking ".tv" suffix, Urth.tv and Green.tv - unlike The Green and Eco TV - are not(yet!) genuine TV channels or broadcasters...)


(Would you like to comment on this article? Why not visit Britain's leading - EVUK-linked - EV Discussion, Campaign & Media Watch Groups: Electric Cars UK and Campaign for Battery Electric Vehicles?)

April, 2007

Watch "Who Killed the Electric Car?" report
- with extended excerpts and interviews(Democracy Now, April 13)

Democracy Now on 'Who Killed The Electric Car?'
Click image - and advance video 40 min 30 secs - for "Who Killed...?" feature. Guests: Chris Paine and Plug In America's Chelsea Sexton

- This excellent, extended report also gives us another opportunity to highlight one key "beyond America" - but illuminating - EV truth that Chris Paine's otherwise magnificent film scarcely touches upon :
 namely that if carmakers had ever been genuinely committed to maximizing the popularity and sales of real electric cars they would surely have chosen 5-dollar-a-gallon Europe as their primary target.
Selling and leasing cheap-to-run, performance EV's only in the US is roughly equivalent to selling low-energy fridges only in Alaska.

Toyota, to their credit, fully understood this self-evident truth and did indeed successfully trial the Toyota RAV4 EV in Jersey in the British Channel Islands(see our own "Who Killed the Toyota RAV4 EV?" feature . Unfortunately, even Toyota appear to have drastically underestimated the more or less ferocious and entrenched opposition of the political, automotive and media establishment to real, long-range, high-performance EV's here in Britain and throughout the rest of the EU.
(So - Plug In America - please help us plug in Europe !)

April, 2007

EMN TV - tune in and turn up the volume !
(it's worth it just for the glorious mood music...)

(Postscript/correction: please note amended Hotbird satellite broadcast time below)
Click here to watch latest Youtube'd EMN TV highlights

Electric Motor News TV

  Milan-based Argentinian EV campaigner and activist Marcelo Padin(pictured above) of Electric Motor News has been regularly emailing us of late to tell us about his weekly free-to-view and free-to-air satellite and web TV show EMN TV(browse video archive). Here's his latest bulletin :

"Electric Motor News(EMN TV) is the only Italian TV programme entirely dedicated to green transport. In the 8th issue of Electric Motor News of 2007 we will show the Hybrid BusElectric Motor News TV developed by Volvo, the Hydrogen 7 by BMW with words of some manager of the project and the Mazda RX8 Hydrogen, the first car powered by a rotary hydrogen engine.

In the news we examine ideas about pollution problems experienced by different people in various countries and look at German automakers that will be adopting the stop and start system that allow to reduce pollution and save fuel."

And last week we received this:

"In the 7th issue of Electric Motor News of 2007 we will show the Geneva International Auto Show, including an interview with Olivier Matile (Swiss Gas Industry Association) and Susanne Wegmann (Swiss Ecological Vehicles Association) and a special report about the Toyota Hybrid X and Toyota FT HS prototypes."

However, we must correct Marcelo's understatement:  never mind Italy - Electric Motor News TV is almost certainly the only TV show on Planet Earth entirely dedicated to green transport(if anyone knows otherwise please get let us know...).
Indeed - never mind green transport shows - we still know of only two year-round TV magazine programmes - German state TV's(ZDF) "Umwelt" (Astra 19, unencrypted, Sun 13.15 CET) and France's encrypted/subscription-only "Ushuaia TV" - in the whole of Europe dedicated to green issues generally - and to the best of our knowledge neither of these shows has ever produced reports focusing on electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle technologies.

In contrast to EMN TV - and like almost all of our corporate media's "environmental" output - even the above-mentioned green TV shows still seem extraordinarily reluctant to move beyond fluffy & fuzzy, flora-, fauna- and food-focused reporting - when what we urgently need is a steady stream of no-holds-barred, detailed, brass tacks, solutions-focused advice, news, information, innnovation - and all-round eco inspiration.
Or to put it another way, you only have to flipTumbleweed animation through the TV listings of the thickest, densest TV guide you can lay your hands on anywhere in the world to see that what we still have is the same old barren landscape of almost total TV Tumbleweed.

Against that depressing backdrop, Electric Motor News TV stands out as a lone green shoot well worth Electric Motor News TVcultivating and, although the show may well be entirely in Italian - and despite an annual production budget that would fail to fuel Top Gear for five seconds - there is, we believe, a good chance that this pioneering weekly programme could expand and grow and, even more importantly, inspire similar programmes elsewhere in English - provided of course TV/EV audiences tune in, help spread the word and generally turn up the volume.

At the moment it also has to be said that the title "Electric Motor News TV" is something of a misnomer since - so far - pure electric and plug-in electric vehicles have only occasionally featured in the show's line-up - not least due to the threadbare supply of newsworthy EV video material here in Europe.

And that, dear EVUK'ers, is precisely where YOU can help!
- If you should possess or come upon any newsworthy, relatively recent EV/ZEV/PHEV-related video material that you believe could be of interest and benefit to a Europe-wide(and far beyond - see
Hotbird footprint) satellite TV and global web TV audience please contact Marcelo and team at: electricmotornews@gmail.com

++STOP PRESS++
Electric Motorbikes and (Go-)Karts: EMN TV Edition 31:
Killacycle record A123Systems - the Killacyle's record-breaking run(Youtube video)
earlier this week - 155.78 mph and 0-60 in 1.5 secs using A123Systems fast-charge Li-ion - reminds us of one of our favourite EMN TV shows to date, edition 31, with Marcelo Padin reporting trackside on electric m'cycle and kart racing .
A visual (and musical) feast.

EMN TV - reception details:

Watch online at Antenna6 TV. Mondays at 12.10 pm, Tues 18.00. Scheduling is subject to change - check Mon-Sun schedules here.

Video archive of previous shows can be viewed here.

Watch via Hotbird satellite's free-to-view & free-to-air TAXI TV channel(11,541 MHz, 22,000 Ksps, Vertical) Saturdays at 14.45(approx!) CET/13.45 UK.
(Sadly, the above satellite reception details will mean little to a largely satellite-illiterate British population - most of whom have been easily duped over the past 15 years or so into believing that, by definition, "satellite TV = Sky TV" - and that satellite TV must be viewed via Sky equipment, Sky platforms and with the "permisssion" of Murdoch's News International/Corps press-gang and assorted gatekeepers...Click here for the "Sky-free" facts/truth  ! )

March, 2007

Low cost lithium ebikes hit UK streets

Plus : Q & A with Synergie Ebikes' Bob Watson
- and more price-Breaking Li-ion News from Eco Bike's Dave Ebden

Synergie MIstral Li-ion
Synergie's £499 Mistral - is this the lowest-priced li-ion ebike in Britain ?

Following our "Li-ion ebikes are cheaper in Japan" piece last November we were obviously pleased - and keen to probe further - when Synergie Ebikes contacted us earlier this month with the following heads-up:

"We read with interest your story on e-bikes and cost-effective L-ion units comparing Japan and the UK. We are now selling good quality bikes with L-ion 36v 10Ah battery packs at less than 500 and sometimes on offer at 400. Please check out ebay and our lightweight li-ion Mistral ebike.

..so let the probing begin:
Q & A with Synergie Ebikes' Bob Watson :

EVUK: A Google search on "Synergie Mistral" suggests that there is as yet little awareness of the Mistral li-ion ebike - but we have found one, perhaps typical potential customer, a lead-acid ebike owner who likes the look of the Mistral and is keen to upgrade but expresses what must be a common concern ie. that it just seems too good to be true - especially at this price.
What would you say to allay those concerns?

BW: The first thing to say about how we do business is that we are buying in bulk and we sell loads of bikes through the internet, primarily on eBay. This gives us a 24/7 sales outlet without having the overheads of one although it has to be said that doing business through eBay isn't particularly cheap.

As to how we can manage to sell the bikes at such a low price it's all due to volumes and getting the bike quality right. Buying from China is a tortuous and problematic business because even if you have had samples shipped over, there is no guarantee that the container loads of bikes are of the same standard as the sample. Of course, having paid up front, the worst case is that you might not even get the container at all, so you're just thankful that even something arrived!
However, having a load of bikes which you are continually getting back for repairs or refund is the death knell of the kind of business we do. So, the trick is to find good manufacturers who are consistent with the standard of bike.
To put it bluntly, when we sell a bike we don't want to see it again!

To help us achieve this, with lower priced bikes we do a sample check of 1 in 5 prior to shipping simply because opening up a box, assembling a bike and then testing it is a time-consuming and, hence, expensive business.. However, on higher priced bikes such as the Mistral(EVUK Ed: £499 = high price?!) we unpack and test every unit. If a customer is paying £499 (or sometimes less) they're getting a bargain - comparatively speaking - but at that price point we can still afford to do it.and I believe it's the right thing to do for everyone's sake.

EVUK: Obviously when purchasing from an entirely online business, customers would expect to have to compromise on aftersales service.
But what can customers do if they do have problems?

BW: The first thing to say to that question is that we have dedicated admin people and technicians here on a Monday to Friday working day basis so the customer can usually get someone to talk to fairly readily.Synergie MIstral Li-ion Depending upon the problem the technicians have the freedom to either talk the customer through fixing the problem themselves, supply a part to the customer if they are able to fit it themselves, get the customer to ship the bike back to us or even, if it's an out of box failure (something pretty rare), we'll pick the bike up and deliver a new one or offer a refund. Our feedback on eBay really tells you how good we are - although you will always get someone who you can never please no matter how much you do for them!

One problem we do have is how to advise the potential customer that the technology and fit and finish on a 299 bike is not going to be the same as on a 499 bike! It's a problem at a distance because you have to do everything by photographs and textual description and it's not that easy to make someone aware of what the difference is between 24Kg and 40Kg. In some instances, a 40Kg lead-acid bike is perfectly adequate for their needs but, in others, a lighter bike is definitely required.
Our cheaper bikes are usually steel framed, lead acid based and heavy and the electrics and controllers are not as well put together as, for instance, the Li-ion bikes.
So, our primary focus at the moment is getting the manufacturing quality on these bikes improved to the point where they may still be low tech but are as good as all the rest. This is not as easy as it may sound. Labour is cheap in China, proper quality control on electric bikes was virtually unknown until importers like us got closely involved with suppliers and many companies still have a "that'll do" mentality. Nowadays, of course, we know who these companies are and are careful to avoid them ...

EVUK: We've so far found just one retail outlet - The Electric Transport Shop" of Cambridge(see Base Notes below) that advertises Synergie Ebikes - including the Mistral.
So are there any other retail outlets(or franchises) in Britain or Europe currently stocking Synergie bikes - in particular the Li-ion Mistral ?
And indeed - are you taking enquiries from potential franchisees?

BW: Originally we had the idea of selling through established bike shops but that met with little success as I don't think electric bikes really fitted in with the perceived mountain bike lifestyle.(EVUK Ed: - a very different story in Japan...) So, we advertised for franchisees through ebay and got some interest. To become a franchisee you needed only to buy three bikes but, even with that low entry point, after some months we only had insufficient franchisees to generate enough sales so direct marketing through eBay continues to this day. In hindsight, having any franchisees was possibly a mistake because bikes are sold to them at a discount of course and we then find that the customer, instead of buying locally, still buys from us through eBay. There is definitely some strange psychology going on there ...

Base Notes:
1) The Electric Transport Shop. Although pleased with the Synergie Mistral and with the company's aftersales service, company co-founder and Cambridge graduate Eddie Kehoe admits that most customers are still going with what they know - NiMH and even lead acid - rather than li-ion :
"A year from now the Mistral bike may well have proven itself to be just as reliable and durable as our tried and tested NiMH and other li-ion bikes - only time will tell."
He also suggested we/you check out their £590, very low weight(22 kg) lithium polymer powered bikes from Powacycle(not to be confused with Powabyke) - the Salisbury LPX(pictured)

Salisbury_LPX_Lithium_ETS

and Winsdor LPX. All of their bikes can be ordered online and delivered anywhere in the UK.

Read Salisbury ebike 'Mr & Mrs' review: stereotypical cycling purist(like James Daley perhaps?) and wife take Powacyle's Salisbury ebike for a spin - albeit the older 3kg heavier NiMH version - and are thoroughly electrified by the experience.

2)The Independent's 'Cycling Column'(March 6). Whether pushbikes or ebikes: high prices by no means always guarantee high quality and durability: Columnist James Daley, a 23-mile-a-day bicycling commuter - finds out the hard way that his £500 (non-electric) mountainbike is only marginally more robust than his old 100 bike:
"My first 100 mountain bike lasted through about two months of commuting before it collapsed. But my latest bike would retail for something in the region of £500 new, and it is on its last legs only three months since I took it in for its last full service."

3) ++ STOP PRESS ++
We have also been contacted this week by our old friends at Eco Bike who tell us that they are about to launch the Eco 640
(below) - a (relatively) low-cost(£699), lighter, re-engineered and revamped li-ion version of their best-selling Hurricane

Eco Bike Li-ion 640

and Tornado ebikes. They also tell us that London's Royal Parks PoliceHurricane Royal Parks(inset - see EVUK report, Feb 2002) who were originally supplied with a lead-acid Hurricane ebike 5 years ago have since been upgraded to an alu-framed NiMH Eco Bike Tornado which will in turn soon be getting a li-ion makeover.
As mentioned in earlier reports, Eco Bike have been designing, improving and importing electric bikes from China for more than 7 years and before that were heavily involved in racing and (re)constructing motocross/scrambling bikes. They prefer to use the term 'heavy-duty' rather than 'heavy' to describe this rock-solid machine which, they tell us, is also currently being put through its paces by a "major police authority" in the S.W. of England...

February, 2007

79th Oscars - roll out the green carpet

- but will Hanks be driving the eBox(photo) ?

Tom Hanks ACP eBox
Hanks's eBox would be the greenest BIG car at the Oscars...(re: Hanks in 'BIG' car - sorry, but we've already worked the 'Green Mile'/Electric Car-not-Chair angle to death in earlier Hanks/EV reports! )

One very close relative of the eBox - the Tesla Roadster - will be there and - thanks to Global Green USA - a long cavalcade of green cars and limos will also be pulling up at the red carpet on Sunday.

Unfortunately, AC Propulsion(remember: there would be no Tesla Roadster were it not for ACP's pioneering Tzero...) tell us that they don't know whether Tom Hanks, who is a member of the Academy's Board of Governors and will be presenting an Oscar this year, will be rolling up in what is undoubtedly the greenest family-sized car on the planet - ie. the eBox(a converted Toyota Scion xB - total cost circa $70,000) that he took delivery of last week(see AC Propulsion report and eBox/Hanks photo gallery)

Watch Global Green USA pre-Oscar green carpet party videos:

ABC News at Global Green USA pre-Oscar Party - includes brief Tesla test-drive

Orlando Bloom at Global Green USA pre-Oscar Party(Youtube)

Assorted EV's and plug-ins at Global Green USA pre-Oscar Party(Youtube)

Also: Watch EVWorld Jan '07 AC Propulsion/eBox interview in which President and CEO Tom Gage reveals, among other things, that the company is working hard to dramatically cut the production cost and sell price of the eBox and future ACP EV's.

February, 2007

Make Green Pay(Watch CNBC Davos video)

CNBC Make Green Pay debate at Davos 2007
Making Green Pay: Sir Nicholas Stern argues in favour of a global carbon tax

This is without doubt one of the most outstanding environmental/business debates ever broadcast by a major TV network - let's hope CNBC(and parent company GE) will sustain this full-on commitment to New Green Economics ...

James Rogers of Duke Energy(US) gets things off to a stupendous start(Part 1) with the following electrifying assertion - the likes of which no CEO of any major British or European company would ever dare make(at least - not in public !) :

"My aspiration for the people of the world is that we can drive our cars without oil. I believe that electricity is the key to that future."

What a pity, though, that Rogers then goes on to argue that nuclear energy and 'cleaner' coal must also play a central role. Fortunately most of the assembled audience - comprised of exceptionally well-informed, environmental and energy-related business experts and economists - disagree strongly with the latter assertion and go on to vote overwhelmingly against the nuclear and coal option.

Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the Stern review, argues(Part 5 and Part 6) against the motion that "A global carbon tax would do more harm than good" . According to Sir Nicholas, companies must face the full social cost of their actions and a common global carbon price, he believes, would be the most efficient way of achieving that end.

Watch CNBC's 'Make Green Pay': Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

February, 2007

500 long-range(112 miles), fast(62 mph) TH!NK EVs promised by summer 2007(Norway Post)

TH!NK City 2003 restyled for US market PIVCO Citi pre-TH!NK 1995

Yes - the epic, stop-start TH!NK City EV saga continues: it began life of course as the charmless, no-frills, slow and short-range Pivco "Citi" circa 1995 and was later bought up, cancelled and sold on by Ford to a Swiss company that also finally threw in the towel in 2006.
In other words, well believe the latest "Boy Cried EV" announcement when we see it...!

And lets hope - if and when the new, new re-thought TH!NK 2-seater does roll off the production line this summer - that the final product will look even less like the original upturned PIVCO bathtub(above right) and far more like the restyled version that was so confidently presented for the US market in LA in 2003(pictured above left). (See EVUK August 2003 article "TH!NK confirms new-look, new range City EV")

...Time to TH!NK out of the 2-seat box?
It remains as true as it ever was that the overwhelming majority of would-be EV-owners(here in Europe at least) dont actually want 2-seater City/Citi cars and - at the other extreme - certainly cannot afford high-performance Lotus-Tesla supercars ZAP-LOtus all-electric SUV crossover or Lotus-Zap SUV crossovers(click image right): at this point only Global Village Transport(GVT) here in the UK appear 100% committed to plugging that chasm-like gap in the market(weve all seen the film - got the "Who Killed..." T-shirt...so lets have the real merchandise now already!) for a reasonably-priced, reasonably well-equipped, reasonably stylish 4-adult EV for Every(wo)man - a saloon/sedan, compact or mini-MPV - with decent range and top speed.(Note: In our most recent correspondence - in November - GVTs Professor Tony Stevens assured us that their highly ambitious project was still very much on course - if a little behind schedule.)

Related links:
EV Guide - Norways leading EV campaign/info site.

January, 2007

Plug-ins & EVs need not burden grid
- the consensus goes global(US, UK...and NZ!)

- Could plug-ins and EVs in fact serve as a major renewable energy catalyst - a key driver of decentralised clean micro-power?
- Plus(EVUK exclusive): Green Tomato plug-in taxi - an update
- Zytek Smart ForFour plug-in - Q&A with marketing director Steve Tremble

GM Chevrolet plug-in hybrid concept Detroit 2008 Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid
The power to drive a green revolution? GMs Chevrolet Volt and 2008 Saturn Vue plug-in hybrids

GMs historic Detroit volte-face could hardly be better timed - the following four reports, TV newsflash and book all point in the same direction:

1) US Department of Environment(DOE): "Plug-In Nation a Possibility"
Excerpt:
"A soon-to-be-published Department of Energy study reveals that, simply by taking advantage of under-utilized, off-peak energy production from existing power-generation capacity, we could fuel 84 percent of our 220 million U.S. vehicles for the daily commute if they were plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) - vehicles that would allow drivers to use only electric power for short distances of 50 miles or less, and a mix of gasoline and electricity for longer distances.
According to a preliminary release, the study looks at the effects of plug-in hybrids on foreign oil imports, the environment, electric utilities, and consumers, and claims to be the first comprehensive review of the impact of a high market penetration of PHEVs, which should easily have enough electric-mode driving range to do the average Americans commute of 33 miles without using gasoline. "

2) MIT Technology Review: "How Plug-In Hybrids Will Save the Grid"
Excerpt:
"But what many experts are excited about now is a concept called "vehicle-to-grid," often abbreviated V2G. In such a system, plug-in hybrids, rather than being merely an extra burden to the grid, become a much needed way for grid managers to balance the amount of energy generated at any given time to match the amount of energy being consumed.
As an added benefit, "if millions of these plug-in hybrids were produced, it would enable some of the renewable technologies to really take off," say Terry Penney, a technology manager for advanced vehicle technologies at NREL."

3) New Zealand Herald: "Plug-in Cars Take Pole Position"(though wed prefer the headline: "NZ Shames OZ with Plugged-in Vision").
Excerpt:
"Cars running on "plug-in" electricity or biofuel blends are being touted by the Government as prime ingredients in a recipe for cleaner air and lighter oil bills....
Mitsubishi MIEV i EV Energy Minister David Parker is looking forward to the production in Japan next year of a trial fleet of Mitsubishi electric "i-cars", which have already been demonstrated as capable of reaching speeds of 130km/h and which have a cruising distance of 160km off a single battery charge from a standard home socket."

4) Book: "Plug-in hybrids: the cars that will recharge America" by Sherry Boschert.
Excerpt:
"Plug-in Hybrids cautions that the oil and auto companies know how to undermine the success of plug-in car programs to protect their interests. The book gives readers tools to ensure that plug-in hybrids get to market - and stay here."
Although the books message is clearly even more applicable to pure battery EVs than to plug-ins - lets not forget that no major car manufacturer has yet pledged(citing a year) to bring plugin-able cars of any description to Britain or to the rest of the EU. So we have to remain vigilant and keep up the pressure this side of the pond - particularly if oil and gas(petrol) prices continue to be manipulated downwards in the States.

5) Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change - and a Newsnight Newsflash!
Excerpt:
"Markets alone, however, may struggle to deliver more radical changes to transport technologies such as plug-in hybrids or other electrical vehicles. Alternative fuels (such as biofuel blends beyond 5-10%, electricity or hydrogen) may require new networks, the cost of which is unlikely to be met without incentives provided by public policy."

...which brings us seamlessly to that Newsnight Newsflash!
Is this a first for British TV? Sir Nicholas Stern utters the words "plug-in hybrid" on TV ! Sadly, neither we or the BBC have a precise transcript of this historic and momentous event - but heres what we jotted down at the time:
Paxman: So is there a technological solution to global warming?

Stern: Well in part....as petrol prices go up we will probably see plug-in hybrids..

- Music to all our ears of course - although the stakes, the price and the cost are surely already high enough, Sir Nicholas.
Of course government economics advisor Stern is simply echoing and updating what chief science advisor Sir David King began "advising" publicly more than four years ago(See EVUKs 2002 report "Chief Science Advisor Calls for Petrol Car Ban" ).

It is curious, though, that the crucial, make-or-break role of our all-powerful corporate media is so rarely mentioned in such reports. Especially given the fact that politicians will increasingly only act if a genuinely informed, concerned and, yes, even angry public demands action - and that in turn still largely depends, despite the internet, on the willingness of our mainstream media(especially TV and tabloid) to fully inform the public, and to assist in exerting pressure on politicians and in keeping an issue firmly on the radar.
The fundamental problem here of course is that while our corporate media is only too keen to focus and campaign on such relatively non-urgent issues as *posh nosh in schools, when it comes to the challenge of getting fume-free, efficient electric-drive vehicles onto our streets commercial/corporate self-interest always seems to get in the way: selling the status quo is what the carmakers want and its usually what they get from the media - not least from the BBC.

*POSH - Port Out, Starboard Home:
"Captain! Captain! Were about to hit that darned iceberg and the first-class passengers are demanding immediate action to improve the menu at lunch - what shall I do?

- Dont panic bosun! Go break open a fresh batch of Beluga - and serve it up with champagne - on ice! "

 .   Charge card and car charged - at Wal-Mart?
We are not alone in believing(see "Experts Forecast" below) that petrol/gas stations - especially at supermarkets - must and will inevitably EVolve into all-round "energy stations" - not just providing fuel in every blend, colour and flavour - but also generating their own green, grid-interactive electricity(and ideally heat) that can be used to fast-charge EVs and plug-ins, with any surplus being sold back to the grid and/or to local homes and businesses.
So come on Wal-Mart, Asda, Tesco: just think of all that carbon credit, green PR and value-added customer loyalty! Priceless, surely? Oil independence, grid independence, freedom from fossil fuel: its not just the environmental solution - its the patriotic solution.

And although many dyed-in-the-wool Greens may be painfully conflicted by the whole idea, lets not deny the fact that supermarkets possess the kind of purchasing power thats needed to help bring down the cost of decentralized clean micropower/microgeneration for the rest of us.
(See "Battelle Experts Forecast Top 10 Energy Innovations" )
 .  Smart ForFour plug-in hybrid - Q&A
Although Stephen Ladyman, the UKs Minister of State for Transport was on hand when Zytek presented its cost-cutting and compact plug-in hybrid powertrain(Smart ForFour) in December(see Ultra Low Carbon Car Challenge press seminar), we can still find no instance of a British or EU politician(Nicholas Stern is not a politician - but an economics advisor) actually uttering the words "plug-in hybrid" on record.
Zytek Smnart ForFour plug-in
Smart ForFour plug-in hybrid - up to 20 mile range and 45 mph in EV mode.


We naturally had a few non-FAQ points to probe regarding the Forfours unique plug-in drivetrain and Zyteks Steve Tremble was good enough to respond to most of them.

EVUK - Zytek Q&A:
EVUK: Whilst India and China seem to have few problems actually mass-producing electric cars for consumers(sometimes illicitly - see price-slashing Chinese Smart Fortwo) - technology, performance and design still generally leave a lot to be desired.

Here in the West of course the opposite is true: companies like Zytek have long been producing superb demo electric (and hybrid) vehicles, yet so far consumers - the public at large - have never been able to purchase or lease cars incorporating Zytek electric powertrains.
So this seems to beg the question: would Zytek be open to partnerships from India, China/Asia ie. countries whose principle strength or forte is precisely what we still so sorely lack here in the West - namely low-cost production capability plus the will and wherewithal to actually bring EV technologies rapidly to market?

Steve Tremble: Zytek are open to discussions with any potential partner from any continent to discuss the further development/production of our EV/HEV technology.

EVUK: ..our second question concerns Lithium batteries and ZEV mode range. Would it be reasonable to assume that greater ZEV mode battery range could be achieved as new generations of Li-ion batteries come on stream? Also: Is there any possibility that Zytek might at some point consider trialling fast-charge Li-ion cells like Altairs Nanosafe and A123Systems Li-ion cells ?

Steve Tremble: While it is correct that greater ZEV mode battery range could be achieved as new generations of Li-ion batteries come on stream - we are currently restricted by the energy available from the amount of cells we can package in a C class car and the EST's directive as part of ULCCC rules that the boot space should remain largely unaffected by the HEV conversion.
That said, Zytek are constantly discussing new technology with battery manufacturers and supercap suppliers to ensure we keep abreast of all new technologies.

(End EVUK : Zytek Q&A Jan '07)
 . .  Green Tomato taxis - whatever happened to those plug-in plans?
Well, five silent months had passed since this ahead-of-the-curve West London-based company made its plug-in announcement(see July 2006 EVUK report "Plug-in taxis head for London") so we decided it was time for a New Year's update. And Green Tomato co-founder Tom Pakenham had good news for us:

Tom Pakenham: "Our plug-in plans are very much on-track. Indeed, it's happening as we speak. We are very excited about bringing the new technology onto the fleet."

Green Tomato plug-in taxis
Its official: worlds first plug-in(able) "Green Tomato" is just around the corner...




Thanks Tom. We suspect that many people will be contacting the company just for a test-ride(where else could you take a trip to the future for less than a tenner?)....
...and green sheen-seeking politicians should - theoretically at least - be as keen as mustard to take a 'Green Tomato' for a spin...

Postscript(..5 days after the above EVUK piece was posted): George Bush mentions plug-in vehicles(thats "vee-HICK-les" !) in State of the Union address.

December, 2006

Park and Power: a shameless plug for a new EVUK sponsor

Park and Power   .. But we could hardly wish for a more ethical or relEVant sponsor or advertiser - this is about as green as it gets:

Introducing Park and Power - a far-sighted UK startup and a much-needed new kid on the block.
Definitely right up our street - though maybe not yet literally.

Thanks guys - and more power to you!

Park and Power "The Park and Power system has been designed to meet the dynamic recharging needs of electric transport.

Electric transport needs a safe and sustainable infrastructure to ensure its integration is accessible and simple for all to use. The Park and Power solution delivers this in a convenient, well tried and tested format.

Users of electric transport simply Park and Power their vehicles at any Park and Power point. Simple, cost effective and easy."

December, 2006

New TV channel(UK/Europe/Int) shows Zooop EV 480 times a day(no really!)
(Also: Watch Zooop zip round Paris in extended video clip - courtesy Edmunds.com)

Courreges lithium Zooop EV
The 115 mph, 280 miles/charge, Tzero-derived Zooop snubs its nose at convention: will France 24 TV do likewise..?

For the past month the upcoming and long-awaited(by us at least...) and scarcely reported English-language version of 24 hour News(plus interactive Analysis/Debate) channel
France 24 TV (click here for short launch video) has been running a 3-minute, endless-loop trailer around the clock
(on Astra and Hotbird satellites) which includes brief drive-by footage of the high-performance long-range(115 mph, 280 miles/charge) bright orange Zooop - which was commissioned by French fashion house Courrèges, and, like the Tesla Roadster and Venturi Fetish, is a direct descendant of the AC Propulsion TZero.

Here's an excerpt from said France 24 TV trailer:

"Future trends...environment....France 24 Questions, Confronts, Testifies and Analyses...
France 24 covers the news on every continent."

It is really hard to overstate the significance of this (promised) radical departure from the TV norm: the station's pre-launch message, at least, is unambiguous and bullish both in word and picture: groundbreaking environmental innovation - even if it runs on four wheels without an Internal Combustion Engine - will allegedly be reported on without compromise.

A little French revision - an aide-memoire if you will - for those who need it...
It's now sixteen months since we described France as being "at the very epicentre of of Europe's green "Axis of EVol-ution" - and just over six months since tireless(sorry!) corporate EV campaigner Edouard Michelin(billionaire Michelin boss and driving force behind the Challenge Bibendum) died in a mysterious fair-weather fishing "accident" along with fellow angler Guillaume Normant...(See EVUK report "In Memoriam: Edouard Michelin")

Zooop EV at Challenge Bibendum 2006 in Paris
Click to watch video of Zooop in action on Paris streets at Michelin Challenge Bibendum 2006(courtesy Edmunds.com - not France 24 TV)

Well, wed like to believe that France 24 TV will revive, resuscitate and magnify Michelin's near-heroic legacy with that unique oxygen of international publicity that only television can provide.

Ultimately though it will be up to all of us/you the public to ensure that this new TV station delivers on its distinctive, almost radical-sounding "manifesto" and that it sustains it's EV/eco-commitment post-launch ie. as corporate sponsors and their political accomplices begin to actively or passively influence content - or lack thereof.

France 24 TV - Homepage.

Launch date: 6 December on web - next day on TV. Free-to-view on Astra, Hotbird...and yes, if you really have no other option..on SKY)

Post-launch postscript(Dec 8):
Oh dear! Just hours after we posted up the above piece, France 24 TV switched to a new trailer for the final 48 hour countdown - this time minus the Zooop.

But we can't complain - after all the designer EV did get a record-breaking(surely!) innings: 13,900 EV TV appearances in 29 days! Sadly though, 99.99% of viewers will have been totally unaware that the bright flash of orange tearing towards - then past - camera was an electric vehicle - let alone a 115 mph , 280 miles/charge very close relative of the Tesla Roadster and TZero.
As for France 24 TV itself - the English-language version, at least, has so far proved painfully middle-of-the-road, excruciatingly corporate and suffocatingly safe.
All in all très déjà vu all over again.
Unsurprisingly, the very first ad to be aired was for a 15-25% energy-efficient(well-to-wheel) piston-powered car - though that minor detail was not mentioned in the ad's voice-over or strapline...
Clearly the stations airing of the Zooop on endless looop was more fashion statement than green EV-angelism.

November, 2006

Phoenix SUV & SUT: 'One Nano Step for Man - One Giant Leap for Mankind '
(Click SUV/SUT images below for video clips)

Phoenix / UQM Nanosafe rapid charge SUV
Click image for Popular Mechanics video presentation at SEMA 2006 in Las Vegas

EV history is repeating itself(for the nth time) as our "don't ask, don't tell" corporate media collectively ignores these myth-busting, rapid-charge Phoenix Motorcars' Altair Nanosafe / UQM-drive vehicles as resolutely as they ignored the Toyota RAV4 EV(see column left): despite our best efforts thus far, we have yet again so far heard not a solitary squeak about Nanosafe EV's, SUV's or SUTrucks - from the BBC, the Times, the Guardian, the Independent, New Scientist, Bild der Wissenchaft, and - perhaps most conspicuously of all - from German TV's daily Sci/Tech/Innovation show...which after all is actually called "Nano" !(Sorry guys - but with a name like that there can be na-no excuses - keine Ausreden - whatsoever!)

Given that all of these media outlets are now giving unprecedented and ever-so concerned coverage to the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change whilst dedicating almost unlimited air-time and news space to no end of frivolous and/or arcane trivia, it is extraordinary that they nevertheless continue to collectively shy away from reporting battery EV advances of this ground-breaking, "giant-leap" order of magnitude.
But then again, if everyone from, say, Mr. 'Beyond Petroleum' Lord Browne to....Mr. 'Beyond Blair' Gordon Brown see no reason at all why the British public should be the slightest bit interested in high-performance(95 mph), super-efficient, normal-looking electric vehicles that cost next-to-nothing to run and to maintain - well, who the bl**dy he** are we to doubt the green credibility and credentials of so many like-minded and exalted leaders amongst men-in-suits ?

Phoenix / UQM Nanosafe rapid charge SUTruck
Click image to watch Ed Begley driving and reviewing Phoenix Nanosafe Truck. Click here to watch Altair's own Begley clip

Savage sarcasm aside - it is gratifying and not at all surprising to see that, on the other side of the pond, Hollywood actor and tireless eco/EV activist Ed Begley Jr. has been out on the EV campaign trail(at SEMA, Las Vegas to be precise) whipping up support for Phoenix's Nanosafe-powered SUV and SUT(Watch Begley / Phoenix Nanosafe video).

Long-suffering EVUK'ers will recall that it was Ed who took our own Moira Govan for a spin in his GM EV1 in Los Angeles EVUK snap of Ed Begley in 1998way back in 1998(Moira's pic shows Begley 'taking charge'..) and that, following the GM recall, Ed quickly switched to a Toyota RAV4 EV and also succeeded in tracking down a very hard-to-come-by RAV4 for EV convert Tom Hanks. (Both actors feature prominently of course in Chris Paine's "Who Killed the Electric Car?")

Ed - if you are reading this - and this is not so much a question as a desperate cry from the heart - is there any (non-fat) chance that you could,er, possibly consider relocating "on assignment" to oil-rigged, ICE-blinkered Britain/Europe for a couple of weeks(months..years) to help us kick some serious corporate butt here?
And(the wishful thinking continues...) perhaps you could bring a Phoenix SUV/SUT along for the ride? Ideally with its own roof-mounted, media-rousing megaphone: perhaps the only way to force this electrifying technology into the news will be to get ourselves arrested for disturbing the peace - aka breaking the silence.

But if any of you like the idea of disturbing the peace and breaking the silence a little - with no risk of arrest(unless your name is Josh Connole of course...) - then why not fire off a targeted missive/email - a little short, sharp electric shock - of your own in the general direction of, for instance: motoring@independent.co.uk, honestjohn.motoring@Telegraph.co.uk, focus@bbcmagazinesbristol, newsroom@guardian.co.uk, drivingletters@sunday-times.co.uk, letters@newscientist.com, nano@3Sat.de, top.gear@bbc.co.uk, editorial@autoexpress.co.uk etc etc (..feel free to lift a line or two from our text - if you really can't do any better than us)
Whichever way you look at it, it is simply inexcusable in these (ostensibly) ultra carbon-conscious times that this phenomenal battery EV breakthrough has yet to be reported in the Technology and/or Environment and/or Motoring sections of our national or European press.

Base Notes:
1) Ed Begley, in his understandable enthusiasm, omits to mention in the above video that the Phoenix vehicles can of course be recharged in 10 minutes with the appropriate battery charger.

November, 2006

Lithium ebikes(in Japan!) same price as lead-acid in
EU / US
So when will electric cars & scooters follow suit?

Panasonic Lyrebird Ebike. Model: BE-EHB67
Only in Japan? Panasonic's 7-speed lithium "Lyrebird"(range 38km) is available online in Japan(only?) for as little as 89,000 Yen(£450) incl. lights, rack, front(and seatpost) suspension

No, we're not belatedly reporting from EVS 22 in Yokohama but it seems unlikely we would have seen anything there quite as pleasantly surprising as what we did see on a recent visit to Tokyo - namely low-cost(£360-£550 at 200 Yen/£) lightweight lithium-powered ebikes from major manufacturers like (National)Panasonic, Sanyo and Bridgestone - and not just on almost every street but also safely racked up in the many two-tier (e)bike parks(pictured)2-tier bike parks Tokyo Japan that are popping up all over the city.

What's more, we visited several ebike retailers(almost all bike shops in Japan sell, maintain and enthusiastically promote ebikes) during our ten day stop-over - and not once did we hear those all-too familiar words:

"Of course the lithium option will cost a lot more".

We naturally wondered why these price-shattering Li-ion ebikes were not available in Europe and the US - and why almost no-one outside Japan seems to be talking about them or even aware of their existence.

So on our return we contacted eight ebike retailers in Britain and the US: of the five who replied only two knew of these low-cost ebikes with one reporting they'd had real problems getting any response at all from Japanese manufacturers and suppliers.
 50 Cycles(UK) told us they were actually based in Japan from 2003-2004 and pointed out, from first hand experience, that the Panasonics in particular - at just 26 volts - were noticeably underpowered compared to their own range of bikes:

"...the motor systems give light(1:1) assistance...all our eZee bikes totally eclipse these Panasonics with their 37V 10Ah Lithium pack which costs a mere 250. The eZee Quando(845) and Torq(1195) and Sprint(995) easily outperform any of the Panasonics pedal-assist bikes".

Undoubtedly true - yes, for anyone who has more or less a grand to blow on a top-spec electric bike it's a pretty 'eZee' choice to make. But there are surely, potentially many tens of thousands of more budget-conscious ebike customers in the UK/EU and US who'd be happier paying a lightweight price for a lightweight, practical(hub-motorless), well-equipped Li-ion ebike that has all the look and feel of a normal pushbike - but which will transport him/her from A to B with half the effort - even if A is more than 80 km/50 miles from B.

Lost in Translation?
Sanyo Li-ion  Model no: CY-SS263D(L)  Bridgestone Assista Li-ion
Sanyo(left) and Bridgestone Assista Li-ion ebikes provide more power than
Panasonic ViVi EX Li-ion Model: BE-EPE63  Panasonic ViVi DX Model: BE-EPd63
the Panasonic ViVi EX & DX models above. Battery range up to 80-90km. All include 3-speed hub gears, lights, racks etc. and sell for under £500 in Japan(only?)

Admittedly these may not be he coolest, most muscular-looking ebikes on the planet, but the reality on the street - however much we may wish it otherwise - is that conventional, even boring-looking bicycles(pushbikes) remain the retail bread & butter and best-selling staple choice of consumers throughout Europe. Meanwhile, the valiant efforts of ebike-designers to attract younger and/or "image-defined" customers continue to be hampered, in part at least, by environmentally vision-less max-speed legislation.

Panasonic Off-Time Li-ion Folding. Mod: BE-EHW07
Panasonic's 7-speed "Off-Time" folding Li-ion ebike(range 38 km) sells for around £500 in Japan. Low-priced and low-powered - but it still does half the work for you...

Base Notes:
1) Bionx(Canada) - high-performance, easy-fit Li-ion ebike kits. Now if Japanese, Chinese, Indian etc manufacturers ever succeed in churning out Li-ion kits as powerful, light, versatile and quick as the BionxBionx Lithium Ebike Kit - but at half the price - it could definitely(and hopefully) spark a much-needed revolution or popular revolt in the global ebike market. We need radical action and joined up legislation now if we genuinely want to get drivers out of their cars or if we're ever to persuade teenagers, in particular, to switch from noisy, smelly, polluting mopeds & Vespas to clean, quiet energy-efficient electric alternatives.

2) Calling all (any!) younger - under-21 year-old - ebike riders. If you ride an electric bike to school, college or work - or just for recreation - you are a very rare creature indeed - and we'd love to hear from you with a view to posting up your ebike-related thoughts and experiences on this site.

3) UK ebike retailers: our short-list:

PowerScoots   50Cycles   ElectricBikesDirect   Urbanmover   Synergiebikes   Ebikesonline(UK & Spain)
...and talking of Spain: BicicletasElectricas has one of the lowest-priced(though also low-powered) Li-ion ebike 'kits de conversion' we've seen.

Note: whilst none of the above retailers are (yet) offering low-cost(£400-£500) Japanese Li-ion models, electric bike technology has evolved quite dramatically here and elsewhere over the past five years - despite the largely unsympathetic or apathetic response from politicians and the media.

*****
Japan Mystery Li-ion  Ebike
Classy and classic black - can anyone help us identify this 'mystery' Japanese Li-ion ebike?

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 ..in 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(..plus 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: fifthgear@five.tv

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

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