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Bonkers Blog October 2018

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4 October (Part 3) - Not for the riff-raff. Council use only

The Knights seem to be a family of engineers. My Great Grandfather spent his life planning and building Indian railways, my Grandfather tinkered with ships’ boilers until a torpedo got him in 1915, my father took Rolls Royce Merlins apart during the war and went on to have a hand in developing Concorde’s engine, me in Telecoms, and my son is into vehicle design. And there it might stop unless my Granddaughter realises her ambition to be an astronaut.

I would not be interested in cars if it was not for my son going on about his work on developing and testing autonomous vehicles, not just cars but lorries in convoy and buses too. He has ordered a Tesla because they are further down the autonomous road than any other manufacturer. They are exclusively electrically powered and his interest has rubbed off on me to some extent.

Bexley Council has shown some interest in electric cars too and is currently asking residents’ opinion on charging infrastructure. Topping up the battery on a long run takes best part of an hour on most cars and is a considerable disincentive to ownership. My son is 144 miles away from Bexley and the only fully electric cars that will go that far in all weathers at motorway speed cost £70,000 and upwards or have a one year waiting list. New models from South Korea.

The current crop of affordable electric cars, Nissan Leaf and KIA Soul are not quite up to it. All too long in the tooth.

Even if you are happy to stop to charge on a 140 mile journey there is a very good chance that you will find the Motorway Services Area chargers out of order. The company that won the monopoly contract to install chargers at MSAs appears to have run out of money and fails to maintain them. Not only that a software issue has prevented them charging BMW and Hyundai electric cars.

So local councils installing chargers in car parks just off major trunk routes looks to be a very good idea (†) and there are government grants available to do it.

Chargers Chargers ChargersIf you are thinking of going electric (or already gone) you may be overjoyed to know that Bexley Council has just installed seven chargers. On the other hand you may not.

Looking after itself before residents as usual, every single one of them is for exclusive use of Council employees only. Do any even own proper electric cars as opposed to the ‘plug ins’ that use a traditional combustion engine for going more than a handful of miles?

None of the ‘pool’ cars being charged in the Civic Office’s car park last night were proper electric vehicles, they are Toyotas which as electric cars are pretty much useless in terms of electric range and one day Toyota is going to be in big trouble for publicly stating that it has no intention of producing a non-polluting electric vehicle. They will always rely on fossil fuels to go any real distance.

Yesterday the European Parliament threw an enormous bomb into the motor manufacturers’ arena. Ignoring the pleas of the German manufacturers it said that by 2025 every car manufacturer must be making at least 20% of its output totally pollution free and 40% by 2035. Denmark has gone further and banned combustion engine cars altogether by 2035. In the USA Tesla is already outselling BMW by a considerable margin.

Bearing in mind how long it takes to develop new vehicles Toyota may be in big trouble. They have said they will produce no fully electric cars and the EU has said their production must be 25% zero emissions in only seven years time.

Maybe they are hoping that enormous bomb will be Hydrogen powered, but if you think the electric charging infrastructure is a disaster area don’t put any faith in a hydrogen based salvation. At the last count there were only two places dispensing hydrogen to vehicles in the entire country.

Maybe Bexley will put in a third - for Council use only of course.

† Bexley’s chargers look to be only 7 kilowatt units which is not to MSA standards which are usually 50 kW or higher.


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