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The Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Magazine

Mark Preston on Autonomous Cars Nissan’s Future Technologies Interview with EVA App Creators Living with a Used Leaf Update First Drive: Renault Zoe Z.E.40 Driven: Kia Optima PHEV

ROBERT LLEWELLYN The progress of technology and the future today.

Editor’s Letter





belated Happy New Year and welcome to the new and improved first issue of Autovolt 2017. Last year we reached new heights, with increased readership and evermore content, including columns by Robert Llewellyn & Jonny Smith, contributions from award winning motoring writers and plenty of guest contributions too. All in all, 2016 was a fantastic year and for EVs too, when new plugin sales records were reached. This year should be even more significant for electric car uptake too. Renault has kicked things off with the introduction of their new Z.E.40; a 41kWh battery in the Zoe. I was lucky enough to drive one in Portugal and, in short, it’s fantastic. With nearly double the range of the original Zoe, it is transformed from a usable second car to a practical single-car solution. It’s an exciting EV, as it will likely open the ‘electric door’ to many who had never considered electric before. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Faraday Future, Lucid Motors, Jaguar and many more have laid plans to produce electric cars in the coming years and with them, introduce new technology that will revolutionise the automobile industry. It used to be that concept cars were far fetched flights of fancy, but today we live in a world where concepts quickly become reality and in record time. 2017 should also see improvements for the Nissan Leaf, which is rumoured to be upgraded with a 40-48kWh battery and - like the Zoe - welcome new owners to the electric scene. This issue, we look at the World Solar Challenge, which is a race across Australia in cars powered by the sun. We’ve driven the first UK Kia plug-in hybrid, plus we take a look at the future according to Nissan, as the company reveals more battery technology and autonomous functions at its ‘Futures 2’ event. Plus, as always, there’s much more inside.

Editor JONATHAN MUSK Deputy Editor LUCY HARGRAVE Technical Editor EMRHYS BARRELL Technical Consultants RYAN DUFFY, IAN RUTTER Art Director OLIVIER BLANC Designer DAN PACEY Advertising Manager LIAM O’REILLY Publisher Contact Autovolt Limited 23 Station Road, St Albans Hertfordshire, AL4 0HA United Kingdom +44 7400 85 95 99

AUTOVOLT The UK’s premier electric and hybrid car magazine is enjoyed by more than 7,000 verified readers per issue and released every two months. The magazine reaches more EVangelists (owners/drivers/enthusiasts of electric and hybrid vehicles) than any other UK automotive consumer publication. AutoVolt is distributed worldwide in paper and digital formats. AutoVolt ISSN 2399-9926 is published bi-monthly

Jonathan Musk, Editor

(6 times per year) by AutoVolt Limited. FRONT COVER: University of Cambridge’s solar challenge car of 2015 undergoing testing, November 2016





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Can you help? Autovolt is a magazine about the electric and hybrid world with a consumer focus. Our goal is simple; to inform our readers about this exciting new automotive world and educate those who were not yet aware of its existence. We believe we’re achieving this and wish to continue doing so. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to produce Autovolt, but today magazines are typically funded by advertising. However, car markers are often reluctant to spend their advertising budget on electric, hybrid and plug-in vehicles, let alone a relatively new and niche publication. Sadly, this is an industry-wide concern. Therefore, we need your help. As a subscriber/reader, we thank you for supporting us and hope you continue to do so. Please contact us with suggestions and comments that will help us improve. In addition, please spare a moment to look at our newly setup Patreon page. It is true that together we’re stronger and your support will help keep us going.

Contents 36


EVs and Hybrids in pictures. EV photos from the past two months.


Latest news A selection of electric & hybrid vehicles, eco and racing news.


Tom Curtis’ Leaf Part two of Tom’s ownership experience with his second hand Nissan Leaf.


LifeStyle Gear The latest gear, tech and gadgets to complement your electrified vehicle.


COLUMN: Robert Llewellyn Robert discusses technology of the future that’s already here today and how the rate of change is dizzying.


COLUMN: Mark Preston Guest columnist Mark Preston studies whether electric cars’ trump card is autonomous driving.




Autovolt editor, Jonathan Musk, flies to Portugal to drive the first generation of small EVs equipped with a large battery.

Family and business friendly, Kia’s first UK plug-in hybrid, the Optima PHEV, is put through its paces on UK roads. Does its plug really equip it with +170mpg economy?

We explore solar car racing with the Cambridge University Eco Racing team to find out what it takes to race in the World Solar Challenge.

FIRST DRIVE: Renault Zoe Z.E.40



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FEATURE: University Solar Challenge


INSIGHT: EV Charging. Innovation Needed?


Guest contributor Phil Sheppard questions who should do what with UK electric charge points.


INSIGHT: Should every vehicle be autonomous? A look at whether all vehicles should be made autonomous, or just some core utilities.


INTERVIEW: EVA app Tom Curtis talks to the creators of a popular Nissan Leaf app and finds out why it’s so popular despite competition from manufacturer produced apps.






TECHNOLOGY: Nissan Futures 2

Nissan shows the way forward with several technical revolutions including the benefits to the economy autonomous driving can bring and the usefulness of static battery storage sites.


Back Pages [IN EVERY ISSUE] Get to grips with EVs using our handy guides, included in each issue.


Rear View BY LUCY HARGRAVE The topic this issue: Connected cars, do we need them? FINAL IMAGE ANSWER: 2000 (X-reg) Toyota Prius Gen.1. | JAN-FEB 2017




FARADAY FUTURE FF91 The FF91 (Nine-One) was at last unveiled at the CES 2017 in Las Vegas. The car features a 130kWh li-ion battery, massive 700km NEDC (est.) range and shocking 2.39 second 0-60mph acceleration. Equipped with more technology than any other car before it, FF call it a the first of a new species of automobile.


JAN-FEB 2017 | | JAN-FEB 2017




FARADAY FUTURE LIDAR SENSOR A popup LIDAR sensor is seen on the new FF91 electric car concept from Faraday Future. A LIDAR is a device that works on the principles of radar, but uses laser light to pin-point items.

LUCID MOTORS’, LUCID AIR HEADLIGHT Using an array of micro-lenses, the Lucid Air electric sports-saloon requires just 50% the energy typically used by a single LED headlamp. The idea came from looking at how insect eyes work.

LEFT TO RIGHT, FROM TOP + Nissan Leaf equipped with autonomous technology. Carlos Ghosn announced a new Leaf will be coming soon. Rumour has it that it will have at least a 40kWh battery and Nissan’s Intelligent Motion sensing capability. + In addition, Nissan launched a new type of café in Paris where you pay by creating energy, e.g pedaling to make the energy to boil water in order to make a hot drink. + VW’s latest micro-bus, the I.D.BUZZ is an electric powered derivative of the I.D.3 concept shown in 2016. + BMW’s 5-Series plug-in hybrid, 530e, should be with us as soon as February 2017, priced from £43,985. + Renault has kicked things up a notch for van drivers, by offering a new Kangoo Z.E. van with a Z.E.33 (33kWh) battery and a new motor, enabling it with an official 270-mile NEDC class-leading range. Additionally, the company has revealed a new Master Z.E. electric van for the first time, which also gets the same 33kWh battery and a 76hp R75 motor. Finally, Renault has also introduced a commercial variant of the latest Z.E.40 battery Zoe, with a range of 400km that acts as a sub Kangoo sized vanette. The smallest commercial vehicle remains the Twizy Cargo that sadly doesn’t receive any upgrades. + An exquisite blend of design and engineering, this is one of 15 unique and handmade urban electric bicycles, named Noordung Angel Edition. | JAN-FEB 2017



Faraday Future FF91 Production Car Ready? ENTER the FF91 (“nine one”). TO be fair to FF, this time around they didn’t disappoint at CES. Although it’s difficult to consider a large SUV machine as a car for the masses, FF’s justification for this is to call it an entirely ‘new species’ of automotive future. And they have a point. While the traditional model for vehicles has been to make a machines capable of transporting humans from A-to-B, cars now have far more computing power than ever before. More powerful than that which sent man to the moon, as the clichéd saying goes. No longer is it acceptable for passengers to sit idly enjoying scenery out the windows, instead they must be forever be connected to their virtual world’s. It’s a future vision that isn’t met wholly with praise, as currently the car environment offers us some respite from the mad world we live in. If FF and others have their way, this will no longer be the case and Faraday Future’s first production car will always be online. The company has invested a lot of time and effort in making this car the most connected to date. There’s dual wifi-antennae to ensure a consistent connection, a massive touchscreen and a load of other equipment designed

to keep occupants occupied. Of course, it’s also autonomous although embarrassingly for the company the car acted out of turn during the live demonstration. It’s fair to say that technology has a habit of surprising us at the best of times, with computers randomly and inexplicably screwing up when we least expect it. We’re typically told that it’s the human operators at fault, that they didn’t press the right button or similar. However, true as this might typically be, the FF91 did its best to provide its creators with heart palpitations aplenty. Live streamed from the car park during FF91’s first parking demonstration, the car successfully found a space, paused, then continued on its journey for a moment leaving the commentator perplexed. The car then stopped and reversed into the space, albeit with slight trepidation and a couple of stabs at lining up. It did, however, manage to complete the exercise to much applause from the audience. Unfortunately, a little while later and with billionaire founder and CEO of Faraday Future Jia Yueting (or YT Jia if you prefer) on stage, he was duly asked to press a button on the exterior of the car to tell it to head off in search of a parking space. The car did nothing. Nick Sampson, SVP of


R&D was obviously flummoxed by this but skilfully played the occurrence down to the car being ‘shy’. It was an awkward moment for the company when so much rests on the success of their first car. Nonetheless, a short while later they tried again and this time dimmed the lights to allow a black clad stage hand to drive the vehicle away. Magic indeed. This little hiccup caused some embarrassment for the company when it needed it least, but it shouldn’t distract from what they have achieved so far, which is nothing short of impressive. Whether the FF91 is good or not, that Faraday Future has been able to create it at all in such a short space of time is commendable. There were lots of adjectives used throughout the presentation and its difficult not to come away from it thinking anything other than the FF91 is bigger, better, faster, stronger and superior in every way to everything else ever made by mankind before it. But let’s just lay out some facts so you can decide. There’s a LG Chem 130kW lithiumion battery, the capability to recharge at “500 miles per hour”



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ON 22nd December 2016, French Environment Minister, Ségolène Royal, opened a new and remarkable solar road in the village of Tourouvre, Normandy. A half-mile stretch of road has been installed with 2,800 square-metres of the latest resin-coated solar panels. The panels’ development took more than six-years to complete, as the search was on for a resin that could cope with the weight of lorries. The experiment - the first of its type in the world - was granted a €5 million state subsidy to become a reality. Naturally, as the first of its type the costs were exorbitant but if successful could literally pave the way for future solar panel placement. “This new use of solar energy takes advantage of large swathes of road infrastructure already in use ... to produce electricity without taking up new real estate,” Royal said in a statement. The plan is to drive costs down now that development nears completion, with other roads benefitting from the pioneering efforts of the French. On average, 2,000 vehicles use the stretch of road each day in Normandy, putting the solar tiles to the test. There are already plans afoot to install similar solar roads in Brittany and Marseille. Sceptics don’t believe the tiles will endure the wear-and-tear caused by heavy goods vehicles and point out that solar panels operate more effectively when angled toward the sun.


Solar Road Opens in France

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Plug-in Car Grant Eligible Vehicles Ca

using rapid charging or 4.5 hours from 50% to 100% using the supplied home charge wall box. This provides a 378-mile EPA (est.) rated range, or 700km NEDC (est.) and yes, it’s ‘better’ than Tesla’s current offerings. The electric motors provide a colossal 1,050HP (783kW), which propel the car using torque vectoring techniques from 0-60mph in an incredible 2.39 seconds. Autonomous tech comes with a 3D bonnet mounted lidar system, 10 HD cameras, 13 long & short range radars and 12 ultrasonic sensors. These enable the “driverless valet” system to automatically park the car at the press of a button. There’s facial recognition too and no need for a key to either enter or start the car. Despite SUV styling, the FF91 is a slippery thing, with a drag coefficient more slippery than Nigel Farage, at just 0.25cd. One criticism of the FF91’s grand launch ceremony is that FF were, perhaps, a bit coy about nonheadline grabbing components. The interior, for example, wasn’t talked about much, aside from the connected car aspects and rear seating that offers ‘best in class’ reclining to suit the affluent owners likely to purchase a FF91. Faraday Future promises to deliver more information about the car later in the year. Overall, FF is an interesting company to watch. There’s every chance they’ll be a genuine rival to Tesla and that’s no bad thing. Whether or not they succeed is another question entirely, but it’s early days yet and what they’ve managed so far is impressive, if a little disappointing that they’ve not gone for a more mainstream appeal car, like the Tesla Model 3.

£4,500 £2,500 £2,500 £8,000

N.B. Category 4 is for Vans. There is no grant for 2nd-hand vehicles, or cat. 2/3 vehicles with a RRP over £60,000. Eligible category 1 vehicles BMW i3 BYD e6 Citroen CZero Ford Focus Electric Hyundai IONIQ Electric Kia Soul EV Mahindra e2o Mercedes-Benz B-Class ED Nissan e-NV200 (5 & 7 seats) Nissan LEAF Peugeot iON Renault Fluence Renault ZOE Smart fortwo electric drive Tesla Model S Tesla Model X Toyota Mirai Volkswagen e-up! Volkswagen e-Golf Eligible category 2 vehicles Audi A3 e-tron (MY16) BMW 225xe BMW 330e Kia Optima Saloon PHEV Mercedes-Benz C350 e (17” wheels) Mercedes-Benz E350 e SE Mitsu. Outlander PHEV (not GX3h 4Work) Toyota Prius Plug-in Vauxhall Ampera Volkswagen Golf GTE Volkswagen Passat GTE Volvo V60 D5 Twin Engine Volvo V60 D6 Twin Engine Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Momentum Eligible category 3 vehicles Mercedes-Benz E350 e AMG Line | JAN-FEB 2017


Open Source EV Platform based on Twizy, introduced at CES BASED on the Twizy, Renault is the first major OEM to enter into the Open Source electric vehicle platform. POM is an open-source automotive platform, which is a compact and lightweight electric vehicle with bodywork removed. It is intended for start-ups, independent laboratories, private customers and researchers to

Lucid Motors Unveils Stunning ‘Air’ Concept WHILE Faraday Future might have nabbed most of the headlines, Lucid Motors has quietly come into the limelight despite being able to trace their roots as long ago as 2007. The Lucid Air is the first car to come from the company and it looks like a stunning blend of technology and ambition. Highlights include an aluminium body, 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds, up to 1,000 horsepower, and a range of around

copy and modify existing hardware and software in order to create something new and a totally customisable electric vehicle. Renault is partnering with OSVehicle to develop and sell this open-source platform readily accessible to the community. OSVehicle also provides on-demand design and engineering services for complete personalisation. Bringing together a rich ecosystem of entrepreneurs, developers, designers, and engineers, OSVehicle makes it easier to build, share, distribute and modify the hardware designs of electric vehicles. It is expected to cost $12,000 or possibly less, based on the current offer price for OSVehicle’s other Open Source platform, the TABBY EVO. The idea is to open electric vehicles

up to an entirely new generation of interested parties and ultimately encourage and help incubate EV development on a wide-scale. OSVehicle state that buying the Open Source base EV from them can save a startup $2 million and three years of research and development.

400-miles from a single charge. Batteries are supplied by Samsung SDI and are said to have, “breakthrough tolerance to repeated fast-charging.” A standout feature is the headlights, which use an array of micro-lenses a bit like an insect’s eye. The purpose is to improve energy efficiency and Lucid say the lights are 50% more efficient when compared to standard LED lights. Packed with Mobileye gadgetry takes

care of autonomous functions, as is fast becoming the norm too. Lucid expect to deliver first production Airs’ in late 2018. Although the pricing may alter considerably, Lucid predict a retail price of more than $100,000 for, “well optioned“ cars while a more humble model will cost around $63,000. Lucid have also partnered with McLaren and Sony to provide Formula E batteries for the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

Wiebe Wacker becomes first to drive electric car through Iran ON 3rd December 2016, Wiebe Wakker, the intrepid electric vehicle explorer from ‘Plug Me In’, arrived in Bandar Abbas on the Persian Gulf. By arriving in this city Wakker completed his 2.500 kilometre trip through Iran and became the first person to cross the country by Battery Electric Vehicle. It took Wakker exactly 30 days to complete this, but this was quicker than expected. Wakker was in danger of his 30-day visa expiring with a further 700km to travel from Shiraz! With only 48 hours to complete this part of the journey before his visa expired, Wakker relied on the generosity of people to offer him a place to plug in his 37 kWh battery, which takes 12 hours to fully charge. For Wakker the road does not end in Iran, as his final destination is Australia. Since 15th March 2016, 14

he has been edging his way across continents to reach ‘the land down under’ with his electric car. Wakker travels without money and relies completely on energy offered to him via his website. The website provides opportunity to support Wakker with a meal, a place to sleep or energy for the car. Based on the offers he receives, the route of the journey is decided. By travelling in this way Wakker doesn’t drive in a straight line to Australia but zigzag’s his way across the world. When he started his followers sent him to Italy via Belgium, Germany and Switzerland. From Italy he was sent north via Germany and Scandinavia to Russia. When he reached Moscow he finally was sent south towards the Baltic States, Poland, Ukraine, Romania and Turkey. So far he has driven 20.500 miles and passed 21 countries in 266 days. “I have been on the road for more than 8 months now, crossed countries where the charging

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infrastructure was lacking, but that I’m the first person in the world to cross a huge country like Iran with a standard-sized EV is quite something.” Wakker said. In Iran his presence didn’t go unnoticed and made headlines on national media almost daily. Thanks to popular posts on Instagram and Twitter that went viral, he received more than 90 offers from Iranians, bringing his total to 600 offers around the world so far. Wakker gave presentations at the technical universities in Tehran and Jahrom to tell more about his journey and to promote sustainable mobility. His next goal is to reach the United Arab Emirates from where he wants to aim for Mumbai in India. When he reaches India he will be able to add another record to his name: The first person to cross the Middle East by electric car. To follow Wiebe’s adventure or to offer support, visit his website:

MINI’s First PHEV arrives in Europe, February MINI has presented the Countryman in detail, announcing that it will launch in Europe in February. The Plug-in-Hybrid drivetrain of the Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 combines a 134 hp petrol engine and 87 hp electric motor. In EV mode it can be driven at up to 77 mph with an electric range of 25-miles, similar to the BMW 225xe. Price has not yet been confirmed, but is expected to be around £31,000.

Tesla Model S airbag recall THIS time Tesla’s playing it safe. The company has announced a recall of all USA sold 2012 Model S, due to possibly faulty Takata airbags. However, Tesla has extended the recall on a voluntary basis for worldwide customers. There are rumours 2013-16 cars will also be recalled as a precaution. 2017 cars are not affected.

Singapore’s Dendrobium is an electric hyper car (right) ELECTRIC hypercars are ten-apenny these days, with even the average electric SUV capable of hypercar performance. However, cornering and other important aspects of a sports car may not be their forté. Enter Singapore’s first hypercar: The Dendrobium by Vanda Electronics. It ought to be good too, as Vanda teamed up with the UK’s Williams Advanced Engineering to build the concept.

Not much is yet known about the elusive and secretive project, apart from the svelte design teased in the image at the bottom of this page.

French capital acts to curb air pollution IN Paris vehicles are now required to display a sticker in the windscreen, which shows their CO2 emissions. However, not all vehicles are able to obtain one. By default, vehicles older than 20-years are therefore banned from entering the city between 8am-8pm, Monday to Friday. Ultimately, Paris’ Mayor, Anne Hidalgo, aims to banish all diesel vehicles from the city by 2020.

NAIAS in Detroit, VW has revealed their latest - the I.D. BUZZ concept. Unlike BUDD.e before it, this time VW has opted for a more conventional interior, including seating for up to 8-passengers. More interestingly, there’s a considerable 372-mile range to a single charge available, which can be recharged at 150kW in around 30-minutes from 0-80%. Power comes from motors mounted in the front and rear, which together offer a healthy 368hp and acceleration to 60 in just five-seconds. The I.D Buzz shares its name with VW’s other future vehicle, the I.D3 concept that the company hailed as a key stage in their future.

2017 predicted to be landmark year for EV sales, says Go Ultra Low campaign

VW teases yet another electric micro-bus concept IN 2011, Volkswagen showed a concept micro-bus called the Bulli and over the years has toyed with the idea of creating a retrohommage to the old yesteryear campervans we all love. Last year’s CES saw the BUDD.e concept revealed, another micro-bus but this time with some credible electric components. This year, at the 2017

BY mid-2017, government and industry body Go Ultra Low says more than 100,000 plug-in cars will be on UK roads. This landmark prospect is fuelled by record electric car registrations in 2016, a year when volumes rose 29% over the previous 12 months. Motorists flocked to buy electric vehicles in record numbers, with 36,907 electric vehicles registered in the UK in 2016 alone. An ever-increasing selection of electric cars is playing a key role in plug-in vehicle uptake surpassing record levels, Go Ultra Low suggests, with 35 plug-in models currently available to UK buyers. | JAN-FEB 2017


NEXT ISSUE IN THE NEXT AUTOVOLT, we drive the newly refreshed Volkswagen e-up!, experience the fully autonomous NAVYA ARMA shuttle bus, our joint review of the Hyundai IONIQ and Kia Niro Hybrids and much more.

ISSUE 17 AVAILABLE 11/03/2017 Check our website for news and information Plus more about our forthcoming issue.

Pt2. Arrival - Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Thomas Curtis


Join Tom Curtis on his ownership journey with an electric car, the venerable Nissan Leaf 24kWh. Tom bought his car second hand and sight unseen - confident in the knowledge that there’s little to go wrong with EVs - to replace his ageing Saab 9-5 Aero gas-guzzler.


fter weeks of back and forth, we finally completed the paperwork - the last step required a very early morning run to the office whilst away in San Francisco to get everything scanned before the offer expired. My Leaf arrived the very next week, first electric car and the first time a car has been delivered to my house. I chose delivery as I did not fancy my first trip in an electric car to be a two hundred-mile journey from the dealership! Emotions were high as the car slipped silently off the ramp with a mixture of joy and trepidation, it certainly felt strange signing for a car I’d only viewed in the flesh for three minutes at the dealership. Popping the bonnet, I discovered my skills built up over a decade of used car buying would prove of little value, as I stared at the un-beating electronic heart of the Leaf. I climbed into the driver’s seat and upon pushing the starter button a smile crept across my face as the Leaf sprang into life. No crank from the starter, no petrol sucked from a tank to be dumped into an ever hungry combustion chamber, no vibration from a thousand tiny explosions happening a foot away from your seat… Silence. But, before I could get this tyre shredding beast onto the road, I needed to sort insurance. Foolishly I thought that moving from a sports saloon would reduce my yearly premium. The Saab cost me £340 yearly, but the first quote returned for the Leaf was close to seven hundred pounds! For a family hatch!?! Luckily, my

Google-Fu skills managed to knock them closer to a ‘reasonable’ five hundred by comparing other providers. I suspect the higher cost is a combination of rarity, parts prices and the high occurrences of total write-offs of cars due to insurance companies taking a very risk averse view of repairing electric cars. Taking to the road a few pounds lighter, the adjective that came to mind during the first few miles was an overwhelming sense of solidity. Now this could be because the car is not a complete shed and also because it has been in my ownership for less than a week, but I’d like to think otherwise. It is the small things such as Bluetooth audio (no cassette adaptor for me anymore!), sunglasses holder and most importantly windows in the A-pillars to help with visibility - why isn’t this a standard feature of all cars? It ’s not all roses, there are things that seem a tad counter intuitive, a bit generation 1.0 if you will. Why can’t I switch off the screen in the centre console? Seems silly to be wasting power on it. Why on earth do I have to accept some random T&Cs every time I drive the thing? It ’s a car, not an iPhone. Those small issues aside, I’m smitten. Once I sell the Saab, I’ll have the two most efficient cars on the street - one being the Leaf, the other my Lincoln Town Car which never bloody moves. I am hoping that the seventy five remaining miles will be sufficient until I can get a charging point installed.


Geo Orbital

You might be interested in electric biles, as they offer an easy and accessible way into electric vehicle technology. Perhaps you also have a bike in the shed that you’re loathed to throw away? Enter the Geo Orbital. It’s an electric powered wheel that can be fit to most bicycles in place of a standard front wheel. And, like a moped, your rear wheel still has its pedals, derailleur and chain so that once the Orbital has run out of juice, you can still pedal home. The neat contraption saves perfectly good bikes from being scrapped too, so it gets our vote. It is, however, not cheap. PRICE UK APPROX.: £800 FIND OUT MORE:

Nest Hive2 Smart Thermostat Poor use of energy at the home is perhaps one of the major unnecessary expenses people endure for no reason. Leaving the central heating on, or the boiler pointlessly keeping your water hot, there are now many gadgets to help make sure you can keep on top of it all. The Nest Hive2 Smart Thermostat is just such a device that can keep a watchful eye on your heating and/ or water. You can monitor its use remotely too and combine it with IFTTT (IF This, Then That) for example to automatically turn on when you’re a certain distance from home or in combination with smart cameras like Arlo. PRICE UK RRP FROM: £249 (INCLUDING KIT) FIND OUT MORE:


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BLINK Lite EV Skateboard

Bicycles not your thing? You may prefer electric propulsion with a touch more style, in the form of the world’s lightest electric powered skateboard. It weighs just 3.5 kilograms and can reach 10mph! The battery should last for around 5 miles on a single charge too, which is quite a distance considering its diminutive size and weight. And, there’s even regenerative braking that charges it up when on any downhill. If combined with an app, the skateboard can also log your miles covered and provide other interesting stats and features. PRICE UK APPROX. FROM: £250 FIND OUT MORE:

Netgear Arlo Pro CCTV

With your home newly stocked with gadgets from Christmas, security can be a concern. Or, perhaps you want to spy on the hedgehog at the bottom of the garden or see where your neighbours dog is doing its business? There are a number of reasons for CCTV but a major drawback is setting them up and having to trail cables everywhere, until now. Arlo Pro cameras are unique in using rechargeable batteries that a few months per charge. You get 7-days free cloud storage for videos, an excellent App/ web viewer accessible from anywhere and they’re even IFTTT compatible. They’re weatherproof and can be positioned using a supplied magnet wall-mount. HD resolution and two-way audio plus infra-red night vision and a 130º viewing angle round out the specs. PRICE UK RRP: £299.99 (1 CAM + BASE KIT) FIND OUT MORE: | JAN-FEB 2017


Robert Llewellyn Robert Llewellyn is a serial electric car addict and enthusiast. Perhaps best known as Kryten from BBC’s Red Dwarf or for presenting Scrap Heap Challenge for more than a decade, Robert is a talented actor, comedian, author and firm advocate of electric vehicles.


hen you sit down during a period of mild global stability and peace and you’re slightly nerdy like me, you might reflect on what could happen in the future, which technologies might take off and which might die off. You might also ponder on which political forces may come to the fore and which might fade. Comfortable pipe and slippers in front of the fire stuff, a gentle mull over the possibilities. When it’s actually happening all around you, it’s a bit more jarring. Yes, there’s the obvious turmoil, distraction and anxiety brought on by the twin hammers of Trump and Brexit. One will be with us for up to four years, depending on how sane his hard pressed team can keep him, the other, well, that’s a change that’s going to take four or five years to even come into focus. No one seems to know what it means, other than ‘Brexit means Brexit.’ However, changes in technology are happening with dizzying speed and their concomitant knock on effects are going to affect things in ways it’s almost impossible to imagine. I say affect, I’m being polite, I mean mess things up.


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I’m off to Dubai and Australia soon, combining Red Dwarf publicity appearances with filming new episodes of my online series Fully Charged. One of the facilities I’m seeing in Abu Dhabi is a massive solar farm in the desert which is producing commercially viable electricity at 2.42 cents per kilowatt hour, unsubsidised. This is the lowest cost electricity humanity has ever produced. To mimic the phraseology of a popular TV presenter, it’s the cheapest electricity… in the world. Ponder for a moment what this challenge represents to President Trump’s fossil buddies. Is a ‘great business man’ going to stick with expensive dirty fuel or cheap clean fuel? When I’m in Australia I’m visiting an office in Adelaide powered by solar PV 24 hours a day. Yes, it’s powered by solar panels, at night! What witchcraft is this? It goes against the laws of physics! To be fair, the excess solar power produced in the day is stored in a 40-kilowatt hour battery array. Not lithium-ion or lead acid, no, these are flow batteries produced by a company called Redflow. Just last month I test drove the Renault Zoe, big deal you say, the Zoe’s has been around for the past 4 years.

The new version looks pretty much the same as the old one but it just goes more than twice as far, using a battery pack that’s the same size and only 15 kg heavier. Almost double the energy density. What this means is the Zoe can now cover between 150-180 miles on one charge depending on driving conditions. It can still reach 80% capacity using rapid charging so it’s the same car, only better. Likewise, the new BMW i3 increased battery capacity from 21 to 33 kilowatt hours, the Hyundai IONIQ has a 32 kilowatt hour battery, the new Nissan Leaf out later this year should have a 40 kilowatt hour capacity, if rumours are to be believed. It’s worth remembering these batteries are getting cheaper and they are soon, thanks to Tesla’s Gigafactory and others, being produced in gargantuan numbers. I haven’t mentioned wind, worldwide the cheapest and most reliable form of electricity generation, I’ve not mentioned Lucid Motors or Faraday Future, two recently launched electric car companies, I haven’t mentioned tidal turbines, domestic electricity storage, autonomous cars, community owned renewables and a plethora of other inventions, economic systems and disruptive technologies right in front of us. We are certainly living in interesting times, the forces ranged against each other are powerful, determined and in the case of the fossil lobby and many big

“Yes, it’s powered by solar panels, at night! What witchcraft is this?”

manufacturing companies, very well-funded. The old order will fight long and hard to hold back the changes, just like the asbestos industry, the coal industry, the tobacco industry and the people who fought and fought to keep lead in petrol did. I’ve no doubt that in the long term, the old ways will collapse and die off, it’s inevitable, as there are now so many better alternatives. But over the next few years we are going to witness a messy transition. Have fun!  @bobbyllew

Mark Preston B

Mark Preston, Formula E Team Principal and founder of Street Drone, predicts that the application of autonomous technologies will unlock greater efficiency and provide a cutting edge for automotive businesses.

loomberg New Energy has forecast that global sales of electric vehicles (EVs) will exceed 41 million units by 2040 as the total cost of ownership for EVs will fall below that for fossil-fuel powered vehicles by 2025. Yet, while we have already seen considerable growth in EV sales over recent years, it is their application in partnership with other emerging technologies that will surely unlock their true potential. Most prominent amongst these emerging mobility technologies is the development of autonomous software – a major investment area for traditional automotive manufacturers and technology companies alike. While the majority of reports on autonomous technology to date have focused on those businesses who are investing in research, it is essential that greater focus is placed on its application to understand its true potential for changing society.

Reflecting a changing mobility landscape Recently, Germany has announced that it plans to ban the introduction of new vehicles powered by internal combustion engines from 2030, as part of the concerted global effort to reduce carbon emissions, reinforcing the importance of EVs to fulfil our transportation requirements. In the past 12 months alone, we have seen the 22

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EV market shift from the realm of low-production specialist manufacturers, to the core focus of the biggest brands in automotive industry and the future of their product lines. For traditional automotive companies, the EV market allows new opportunities for brand differentiation. With fewer moving parts EVs offer improved reliability, increased efficiency, and allow both the brand and the consumer to buy into a greater social responsibility that promotes a carbon neutral footprint. It is these very reasons that are attracting new players to the mobility market, with household names from the technology industry, such as Apple and Google, having announced their own solutions alongside the likes of GM and VW. Yet, it is not the technology but its application and development of complementary innovations that will make EVs ubiquitous, following in a similar model to that of smart phones.

A shift in the mobility mindset The traditional model for vehicle ownership is changing as rapidly as new technologies are emerging and the widespread adoption of EVs and autonomous vehicles will require a social shift in the perception of public transport. Henry Ford popularised the concept of personal car

ownership in the early 20th Century and to this day the vast majority of cars are owned by an individual or a single family. And yet this model does not reflect the increased urbanisation, economic shifts or changes in transportation requirements that have developed over the past 100 years. However, the rise of social mobility businesses such as Uber and Lyft demonstrate a demand for more flexible transport that is low-cost and on-demand. With over one million rides per day booked through Uber alone in 2014, and growing year-on-year, a new transport paradigm has been established. In this context, autonomous technologies will truly come to the fore.

Autonomy is EV’s killer app Autonomous taxis have the potential to dramatically reduce the number of cars on our roads, easing traffic, reducing emissions, and freeing new land for urban development. As reported by Fortune, cars today spend 95% of their working life idle, parked by the side of the road, reducing traffic flow and requiring a vast parking infrastructure in urban areas. Converting private ownership to an autonomous fleet of EV taxis can complement existing public transport, removing the need for the personal expense of buying a vehicle and offering an on-demand mobility solution. These cars will continuously roam the streets with minimal downtime, owing to their greater efficiency and reliability compared to combustion-powered cars. Furthermore, as the supporting software is

honed, the vehicles will govern their own schedules for recharging and maintenance to reduce overheads for operators and therefore keep consumer costs at a minimum. While this may seem far-fetched, one only need consider the rise of the mobile phone industry and the development of smartphones to realise how technological advances coupled with the marketing of convenience have led to their ubiquity. Furthermore, with a contracting global working population, autonomous EVs present new transportation opportunities for the young, the elderly, the disabled and the poor alike, by blending the accessibility and convenience of personal transport with the affordability and reach of public mobility. The next decade will be the most revolutionary in the history of the automotive industry. The revolution has already begun. ďˆ‚ @markpreston3

First Drive

Is the Zoe Z.E.40 a game changer? Yes, because even if the Zoe isn’t your cup of tea, Renault’s endeavours to bring electric range to the small EV category will likely spur others into action. WORDS & PHOTOS: Jonathan Musk


ven within the Renault kingdom, Nissan and Mitsubishi will likely offer similarly capable electric vehicles within a couple of years. Others are doubtless working on getting the very latest battery tech in their plug-in line-up too. Of course, in the case of the Zoe Z.E.40 this has largely been thanks to the efforts of LG Chem who supply competing brands with batteries. The new battery offers nearly double the energy in the same physical space as the original 22kWh battery and with only a 15-kilogram weight penalty. It’s impressive and a clear indication longer range EVs have already arrived. They’ve managed this seemingly impossible feat by altering the lithium-ion chemistry and reducing the space between each cell. A flying visit to Lisbon to drive an electric car isn’t what we’d call a chore. A line of 30 Renault Zoe Z.E.40’s awaited us with any colour we might like, so long as it was grey. There are three new Zoe colours for 2017, ‘Mars Red’, ‘Titanium Grey’ and ‘Ytrium Grey’. Our car was the range-topping Signature Nav trim model that gets leather upholstery, heated front seats, a seven speaker BOSE® audio system, rear parking camera, 16inch ‘Grey Shadow’ alloy wheels and driver’s seat lumbar adjustment as standard. Ahead of us lay a 170km three-and-a-half-hour drive along the Portuguese Atlantic coastline toward the north. Easy, in an electric car with an official NEDC range of 400km. However, the mountainous terrain would prove tricky, the fast setting sun meant night driving and the cool winter weather with sporadic heavy rain meant the heating, lighting and wipers were all on. This was to be a more thorough test of the Zoe than we had realised before setting off. Halfway along our journey, the road was closed and our ensuing diversion took us over a mountain pass that a rally driver would have thought twice before


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Renault Renault

ZOE Z.E.40 Z.E.40 | JAN-FEB 2017


negotiating. Roads in Portugal are known for their often unmade surfacing and sat-navs don’t appear to discern between dirt or metalled surfaces, as they are simply the only way to get about. Pitch black, narrow and with zero visibility, probably wasn’t what Renault expected the Zoe to traverse. The sporadic rain had created ruts and formed puddles, which made the Zoe squirm underfoot and in so doing, the blood fade from my passenger’s face. It was scary. Nonetheless, the little B-seg’ EV carried on regardless and never once felt like it would give up. All the while, range was never a concern – and that’s the beauty of this car. In most sub 100-mile range EVs, there’s always the niggling fear that you simply don’t have enough. Whether based on fact or fear, it doesn’t matter; the feeling is real. Part of our lack of worry in Portugal was that the hotel was well within the Zoe’s official range. Even by Renault’s own admission, the Z.E.40 battery should be good for 300km, or 186 real-world miles. And sure enough, our fully charged car had 300km range gloriously emblazoned on the dashboard before setting off. Renault’s predictions appear spot on. Despite


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ideal notions of what Portuguese weather should be like, it was cold, with an ambient temperature between 10-13ºC. Therefore, presumably, more range could be had in warmer seasons. During our first trip north along the coast, we used more energy than the original range estimate predicted. This was, as mentioned above, partly due to the mountainous nature of Portugal’s coastline and partly because we didn’t hang about and instead drove the car to keep up with the often overly rapid traffic. We’ve no doubt that if driven with a bit more care, we’d have eked far more from the battery. Nevertheless, our journey to the hotel covered 168km and we had more than 100km (62 miles) spare range. That’s not bad going and the peace of mind provided by that spare range is invaluable. If you’re a regular reader of AutoVolt, you may remember our trip from Oxford to Cambridge in the original Zoe necessitated a stop half-way at MiltonKeynes. Even a fairly ordinary journey like that meant a reliance on charging infrastructure and – as we discovered – this wasn’t altogether simple. Firstly, we needed more than one charge card. Secondly,

The 186-miles stated by the manufacturer should be genuinely achievable. Ecotricity’s [then free] charge points at Ikea were in use and Chargemaster’s rapid was blocked by cars. What the new Zoe Z.E.40 does is offer exactly the same car as before, but with double the range. If repeating our Oxford to Cambridge challenge again, the new Zoe could do a return journey from one to the other without any charging and that’s a major step forwards. As for the rest of the car, Renault has left it mostly unchanged. There are a couple of new trim options, including a BOSE sound system in the new Signature Nav model. We’re familiar with a similar system in the Nissan Leaf and it works well, if you’re a boy-racer or really love music, but as in the Leaf, the BOSE amplifier irritatingly takes up a precious amount of boot space. The interior trim is unchanged too and, unfortunately, this includes the Renault R-Link system that hasn’t received an update to R-Link 2. This means that modern luxuries like Android Auto and Apple CarPlay haven’t been implemented in the Zoe, which is a shame. Sources inform us that R-Link 2 for Zoe will come to the UK, but with there’s no defined date when to expect it, yet. Regardless of this the original R-Link system is still perfectly usable and one of the better in-built computers to be found in an EV.

Some complexity. With the new Zoe Z.E.40 range, Renault has undoubtedly introduced their super-mini to new markets with its wider and more mainstream appeal thanks largely to the extended range. Although just shy of a real-world 200-mile range, the 186-miles stated by the manufacturer should be genuinely achievable. However, there are a few things to be aware of and, confusingly, they’re nothing to do with the battery. As before, Renault will continue to sell the Zoe with both a battery lease or outright purchase. Look out for the ‘i-‘ in front of the vehicle’s specification, identifying that car as a battery owned vehicle. So that’s the first thing to consider, will battery rental or outright purchase suit best? Secondly, Renault continue to offer the Zoe with the

older type electric motor, which provides the same performance as the newer type, but – strangely – this affects the battery’s recharging time. This will begin to appear a bit like a game of Top Trumps, but bear with us. You can tell the two motors apart by their names; R90 and Q90. The latter is better able to accept a rapid charge using Renault’s Cameleon 43kWh AC chargers, while the former, R90, type cannot recharge the 41kWh battery as quickly on a rapid, but is slightly faster when plugged into a 7kWh charger. Additionally, the R90 motor allows the Zoe to travel its maximum range of 186-miles as opposed to the Q90’s maximum range of 174-miles. Confusing, right? In summary, if you intend to charge the car at home overnight you can largely ignore charge time information and go for the car that’s at the right price for you, irrespective of motor variant. If you want the most range possible, go for an R90 motor. Finally, if you know you’ll be reliant on rapid charge networks, opt for the Q90 Zoe. Renault states an AC rapid 0-80% charge time of 1hr 5mins for the Q90, compared to the R90’s 1hr 40mins. Effectively the | JAN-FEB 2017


difference is you’ll save yourself £6 and an additional 30-minutes time at any one of the nation’s many Electric Highway rapid chargers.

Any negatives? The criticism that endured the most conversation during our Portuguese drive was the headlights. Travelling in the dark along sand scattered roads with no cat’s eyes to guide our path, nor indeed much by way of white lines to mark the sides either, the Zoe’s headlights appeared particularly dim. Oddly for such a tech-savvy car, they’re not LED, or even HID, both of which would certainly have helped. However, it’s an 28

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extremely small criticism and one that’s easily improved with more powerful bulbs. Aside from this, we’re pleased to report that there’s precious little not to like about the car. It’s reasonably priced, well-equipped (even in basic Expression trim) and the car has lots of character, which is not something electric cars are often lauded for. The seats are comfortable, visibility from the windows is good and it’s a sensationally relaxed and smooth drive. The increased range from the Z.E.40 battery meant we never felt like we needed to conserve range. Even during our unplanned mountaineering expedition, not once did we look to check whether or not we’d make our destination.

Specification 2017

RENAULT Zoe Z.E.40 Engine Motor Power (hp) Torque Max Speed 0-62 mph EV Range (miles) EV Battery CO2 Emissions Weight (kerb) Price (from)

Initial conclusion. Naturally, this was just a first-drive test that meant there was little opportunity to see what the Zoe is like to live with and we didn’t experience public recharging either. Nonetheless, our lasting first impression is to praise Renault and recommend the Zoe Z.E.40. It’s only the beginning of 2017, but it already looks hard to beat. Renault has obviously listened to its customers and learnt some valuable lessons. For example, included in the sale of each Zoe is a 7kWh Chargemaster wallbox, and with prices starting at £13,995 (including the current UK Plug-in Car Grant and a mandatory battery lease) the Zoe is a real bargain

Electric motor AC 92 (R90)/88 (Q90) 220 Nm 84 mph 13.5 secs 250 R90 / 230 Q90 41 kWh Li-ion 0 g/km 1,480 kg £17,845 (inc. PICG)

electric car without any obvious shortcomings. The new battery is covered by a, “life of vehicle/75% capacity” for leased batteries or an “8 year/66% capacity/160,000km” warranty for Zoe’s with no battery lease. Interestingly, Renault currently sells around 90% of UK Zoe’s with a battery lease. Our initial thoughts are to recommend the £18,595 Dynamic Nav Q90 Z.E.40 with battery lease, or the same model (iDynamic) with battery included for £24,195. As mentioned, however, if you only intend to charge up overnight it might be worth saving £750 and opting for the R90 powered Zoe, but bear in mind it will take almost 2-hours minimum to charge. | JAN-FEB 2017



Let’s be clear. You either love or hate plug-in hybrids. Many will love their uncompromising nature, which on the face of it is all about offering the best combination of an electric future plus present world petrol ability. Conversely, some see them as compromised in every way – neither a good electric car nor a good petrol car. However, there’s a third and often unmentioned mode that only a plugin hybrid can pull off, when it combines the two powers, petrol and electric, to offer a new and exciting blend of performance with fuel economy. WORDS & PHOTOS: Jonathan Musk


ia recently introduced the Niro, which is the Korean company’s first hybrid to reach the European market. The Niro will also eventually be offered as a plug-in hybrid and battery electric car. So it’s surprising that Kia has chosen to introduce this car, the Optima PHEV, just a couple of months after the Niro Hybrid and before its PHEV variant. The Optima PHEV offers all that the Niro Hybrid cannot; namely an electric range of some sort and an economy potential the Niro Hybrid can only dream of. Nevertheless, the Optima PHEV isn’t actually a new car. It has been on sale in Korea for a couple of years before making its way to Europe. The plus side to this is that it’s a known entity for the company that has clearly become comfortable with the idea of electrifying its fleet. So why introduce it now? The simple answer is that it’s squarely aimed at the company car sector where, thanks to current tax legislation, plug-in hybrids make the most sense. But do the figures stack up for a private buyer?

What is it? The Optima PHEV is based on the popular and grownup Optima saloon, which is a car that competes against the likes of Vauxhall Insignia, VW Passat, Ford Mondeo and the Honda Accord. It is, however, a car that tried 30

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to punch above its weight and more premium offerings might come into comparison if you look from a distance. Certainly in regards to its looks, Kia has got the balance of executive styling with family-car appeal just right. Differing from many hybrids on the market, petrol power is transferred to the wheels via the electric motor that replaces a torque converter on a standard automatic gearbox. The setup is refreshing in that there are no noisy CVTs to worry about. Despite the 2.0-litre petrol engine and 67bhp electric motor, the Kia fails to perform as many plug-in hybrids do. Even VW’s 1.4-litre turbo powered Passat GTE runs rings around it. And that’s a shame, as the Kia would – we feel – be better suited to a downsized turbo as Volkswagen has proven to cope with large cars such as this. Nevertheless, it’s only slow compared to its plug-in peers and still manages a perfectly acceptable and usable 0-62mph time of 9.1 seconds. Surprisingly, the car has more than 200bhp on-paper and so the acceleration time clearly reflects the cars obvious weight.

Driving. It’s not a car to be hurried, although it does respond well to reasoned right foot probing by using the electric torque to its advantage. As with all PHEVs, it’s a car of many characters. In electric mode, the car exhibits all the joys of battery


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motoring, complete with an exceptionally refined driving experience particularly in traffic. In petrol mode, the car feels a bit sluggish, as it tried to lug the additional weight penalty the plug-in powertrain comes with. However, when the two combine there is some sportiness to be found and the car transforms from a sedate saloon to a more alert machine. The steering is generally well-weighted and provides adequate feedback, but if after something that’ll delight your inner madman, it’s probably best to look elsewhere. This isn’t a car that is likely to be bought by boy racers and Kia has rightly not paid them any attention in the design or setup. Instead, this is a car that cossets and relaxes its occupants, which is a welcome breath of fresh air when compared to some German rivals that favour solid suspension in a bid to convince drivers they’re in a race car. During our week with the car, the Kia proved itself time and again to be easy to live with, yet rewarding enough to never feel dull. Perhaps unusual for a plug-in hybrid, there’s not much by way of regenerative braking, although it is present. On the positive side, the car has a braking consistency often missing from cars with more severe regen. Removing your foot from the throttle tends to put the car into a coasting mode, which aids a relaxing drive on motorways in particular and makes for a smoother ride. Aiding this cruising ability is the car’s active aerodynamic

grille, which closes when at speed to reduce the drag coefficient from 0.29 to 0.25cd. That’s very slippery indeed and should improve long-range fuel-economy.

Interior. There’s acres of space inside the cabin and Kia has done a grand job of making the Optima feel relatively premium. There’s still the inevitable few plastics and buttons that appear cheap, although the fit and finish is solid. And it has to be, as Kia offer the Optima PHEV with their excellent 7-year warranty, which should put owners at ease. It’s clear that Kia has put a lot of thought into the cabin’s overall design and switchgear falls easily to hand. The seats are supportive and adjustable, with lumbar support for the driver as standard. Starting the car using the push-start button located on the dash behind the steering sets off Christmasstyle lights and a chirpy tune, indicating that it’s on. The left-hand gauge displays information about the plugin hybrid power usage rather than a rev-counter that would typically be located there. As with other Kia, the on-board systems are easily navigated and operated using steering wheel switches that are fast becoming conventional. Equally typical are the driving modes that can be selected by pressing the HEV button near the gear

Specification 2017

KIA Optima PHEV Engine Transmission Power (hybrid) Power (petrol) Power (electric) Torque (hybrid) Torque (petrol) Torque (electric) Max Speed 0-62 mph EV Range EV Battery CO2 (g/km) Economy (avg.) Weight (kerb) Price (inc. PICG)

2.0l petrol turbo 6-speed auto 202 bhp 154 bhp 66 bhp 375 Nm 189 Nm 205 Nm 119 (75 EV) mph 9.1 secs 33 miles 9.8kWh Li-ion 37 176.6 mpg 1,780 kg £31,495 (from)

lever. Less common are the electric heated steering wheel button and ECO modes. Like most Kia plug-ins, including the Soul EV, the Optima PHEV is adorned with many optional extras that could be considered luxuries and might be associated with added expense. Being at the top tier of Optima pricing does, therefore, come with some niceties. This includes 360º surround parking cameras and QI wireless charging for a compatible mobile phone. There’s also a large 8-inch centrally located touchscreen that’s home to many menus and options plus a competent and quick navigation system. In the rear of the car, there’s plenty of leg-room for three six-footers to sit alongside each other. The boot is capacious and easily swallows suitcases and other paraphernalia that might be thrown in it. However, it isn’t a hatchback, so the opening is relatively limited and there’s a large amount of space taken up by the battery. For us, this isn’t a deal breaker as most plug-in hybrids like this cater for short journeys and only the occasional long haul, but it is worth investigating closer if you regularly need to carry a buggy, child-seat or other bulky but necessary item. | JAN-FEB 2017


Economy and battery. This car is supposed to be about economy, but while its 2.0-litre petrol engine is in charge it suffers due to its electric-burdened weight. Nonetheless, official fuel consumption is rated at 176.6mpg with the petrol unit emitting just 37g/km CO2. If the car is run with an empty battery, it will never, ever, achieve anything close to this and high 20’s can even be witnessed with a heavy right foot. However, charge the battery up and keep it within its official 33-mile range and it will reward you with exceptionally low fuel consumption. It is genuinely capable of achieving better than 176mpg because that 33-mile range is not too far removed from what’s actually obtainable. Unlike many other PHEVs that have a piein-the-sky official figure, the Kia actually manages to achieve it. To be fair, it does require ideal conditions and so you should probably reckon on more like 25-miles if you don’t pay it any attention. Despite this, 25-miles is still more than enough for many people to go to the shops, drop the kids off at school or get to work. Even if it isn’t, the electric range will take a good chunk out of most people’s daily mileage and, of course, can be charged overnight at home. The battery is a 9.8kWh lithium-ion, which means it should cost around £1 to charge for people on an Economy 7 tariff, overnight.


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Conclusion. There’s much to like about the Optima PHEV with its decent blend of refined driving style, smart looks, accommodating interior and rewarding economy. Available from £31,495 including the current £2,500 plug-in car grant, the KIA is far cheaper than the Volkswagen GTE but certainly not half the car. The Volkswagen has the edge in regard to interior trim and general solid feel, but there’s no question the Kia comes close to it and in certain aspects is the more pleasurable to drive. While the VW’s suspension is on the firm side, the Kia’s is much more suited to UK roads. However, BMW’s excellent 330e is only a few thousand more than the Kia and provides a far more convincing plug-in hybrid experience, in part thanks to its genuine ability to surprise with its copious amounts of power. That said, if performance is of no consequence and you’re simply after a plug-in hybrid to fulfil your daily needs then the Kia is an excellent choice. It comes fully equipped as standard, leaving little else to bother adding so there are no ‘hidden’ or expensive optional extras that are truly desirable, unlike others including the BMW. Therefore it has to be said that the Kia Optima PHEV is currently the cheapest plug-in proposition for a car in its class. | JAN-FEB 2017



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WORDS & PHOTOS: Jonathan Musk

The biennial World Solar Challenge ( WSC) is a daunting 3,000 kilometre drive across deserted Outback Australia, from Darwin in the Northern Territories to Adelaide in South Australia. Each participating electric car is powered by nothing more than the sun and a healthy dose of team grit, spirit and determination. Autovolt caught up with some of the team at CUER (Cambridge University Eco Racing).



The history. t’s an epic journey for any vehicle to undertake, let alone one-off specials that are at the mercy of the weather. The Challenge first began in 1987 and was won by General Motors’ Sunraycer, with an average speed of 42mph. Perhaps the most famous winner is the Honda Dream, which won both the 1993 and 1996 Challenges. New rules and classes have been added in response to the continual improvements made year on year. By 2005, in response to several teams who found themselves restricted by the 110km (68mph) South Australian speed limit, a new challenge to build a solar car that could be manufactured as sustainable transport with little modification was introduced. In 2007 competitors could participate in the Adventure or Challenge classes and just two years later the rules were altered again in response to the rapidity of development. In 2013 a new Cruiser class was added for cars that closely resemble a regular solar powered multi-passenger vehicle that we, the public, might one day drive. The next Challenge takes place between 8-15th October 2017 with ‘Challenger’, ‘Cruiser’ and the non-competitive ‘Adventure’ classes. Perhaps the UK’s best chance of winning is the CUER team. The Challenger class solar car must be a single seat aerodynamic machine with four wheels and a maximum solar array of 4m2. The CUER car differs from its competitors by sporting a more aerodynamic teardrop shape, rather than aiming to be the most efficient solar collector. Many of the Challenger class cars are affectionately adorned with a ‘table’ description, | JAN-FEB 2017


LEFT Testing at a local karting track in Cambridgeshire, the students test items to the lmit to seek weakest link.

OPPOSITE PAGE Solar cells are expensive and sourced from the satellite industry. A full set costs upwards of £200,000. Adding ‘lightness’ to the car gives it a frail appearance, but it has to be tough to cope with the Outback.

due to their flat upper surface with a wheel hung off each corner. CUER was established in 2007 and has attended the biennial WSC ever since. In 2015, the team achieved 2,047km on solar power, the best distance covered by a UK team since 2007. Due to rule changes regarding driver visibility, the team believe that this year could fall in their favour, while other teams will be at a comparative disadvantage.

The team. Frank Bloomfield, Technical Manager for the 2017 team had been aware of CUER before arriving at the University of Cambridge. An electric car fan and Greenpower Trust competitor, Frank is perhaps the ideal candidate for the CUER team. He was attracted by the aerodynamic elements of the car and the opportunity to improve the efficiency of electric propulsion. Teammate and fellow engineering student, Elena Rastorgueva, had different reasons for joining the team. Initially, the allure was to become one of the drivers – who need to be small in order to fit into the restricted interior cockpit – but, before the time to drive across Australia arrives, she has concentrated on considerable fundraising 38

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efforts for the project. By contrast, media student Dom Browne acts as both Secretary and PR manager for the team and comes from a non-engineering background. His interest centres around improving public awareness and the team’s professionalism by communicating the team’s progress, obtaining funding and organising the team’s various activities. Many of the team has always been interested in cars and engineering, but there are a large number of other criteria that influence their ability to win the WSC. There have been around 60 students involved with the CUER project and each has their own story and part to play. Naturally, the emphasis is on engineering, but the teamwork and logistics of moving 20 people across Australia in support cars is not to be underestimated. The students volunteer to be a part of the project and have to carefully juggle their intensive and demanding University of Cambridge degree with developing the car. It’s a case of late nights and long weekends before the team is able to turn their ideas into reality.

The car. “It’s easy to build a car that can cross Australia, but it’s not easy to build one that can cross it fast,” says Frank.

The best way to describe the car, known as ‘Evolution’, is a mixture between a land speed record vehicle, the solar powered plane ‘Solar Impulse’ and an electric go-kart. However, because the challenge takes place on public roads, this brings its own real-world complications including cattle grids, road trains and even kangaroo roadkill. Frank says, “It’s not a pleasant thing to say, but one of the biggest problems is there are massive lumps of flesh in the road that need to be avoided, as if the solar car hits one, it wouldn’t come off very well. Live kangaroos are a problem too, as they bound toward light coloured objects and the car has to be painted white to keep it cool for the driver inside.” The Challenger class is dominated by aerodynamic masterpieces and Evolution is no exception. It’s a development of the Resolution Concept from 2013, which moved away from the ‘table’ designs used by most competing teams. With a long tapering design and bulbous nose, the front resembles a jet aeroplane. The solar power comes from 2.36m2 GaAs cells and a 1.28m2 Si deployable array. They were sourced from the satellite industry and are mounted in the Perspex ‘greenhouse’ that covers the rear of the car. They’re at least twice as efficient as those you might find on a domestic roof. Interestingly, the CUER team is one of very few teams to use this type of cell, as the cost is prohibitive. Nevertheless, the team wishes to renew the ageing cells to really put them in the running for the 2017 challenge. As the race is from north to south Australia, the cells are angled to collect as much sun from the rear (north) as possible. They retain solar efficiency by including a solar tracking plate that follows the sun's trajectory. Ideally, there’d be plenty of bright sun but cool air for the cells and driver to operate at their optimum, but the vast desert of Australia has other plans. Temperature is important for several reasons: Firstly, for the human endurance aspect and secondly the temperature of the battery, which needs to be maintained as constant as possible to avoid risk of fire. The solar cells pass their energy to just 20-kilograms of Panasonic lithium-ion batteries, which, surprisingly, are able to power the car for around five hours alone. The battery cells are the same type as those used in Tesla’s Model S. A single 3-phase DC wheel-hub electric motor is installed on one wheel and is arguably more efficient than any used in a commercial application, as the emphasis on efficiency is rarely as concentrated in other

“…Kangaroos are a problem too, as they bound toward light coloured objects and the car has to be painted white to keep it cool for the driver…” | JAN-FEB 2017


fields as it is in solar car building. Interestingly, there is a ‘sport’ and ‘eco’ mode, the latter limits the torque available and reduces performance. The chassis is a carbon-fibre monocoque, which results in a kerb weight of around 180 kilograms. Evolution is expected to average near 100km/h (62mph) across the entire 3,000km distance, with a top speed of 68mph. The driver need not worry about most of the car’s systems, as this is monitored remotely by other team members in the support cars.

The Real Challenge. In the searing Australian heat the solar cells work well, while the drivers must suffer with no air conditioning other than the air they create by moving. Stopping is therefore inadvisable. The human element is the very real weakest link in the team’s quest to win 40

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the Challenge. Acclimatising to the Australian heat is vital, as is avoiding dehydration – both real dangers for anyone in the Outback, let alone those trapped within a wheeled greenhouse. Understanding limitations of the team is an important lesson to learn and one that has cost other teams dear in the past. Realising that the CUER car was already competitive, partly due to six years of development and partly thanks to rule changes for the 2017 Challenge in their favour, the team had to refrain from redeveloping the car from the ground up. Resultantly, the team has found themselves in with a chance of beating top tier teams who are having to design new vehicles that fit within the rules. The logistical aspect of the race is almost as important as the car itself, with teams needing to rest each night

and drive during the day. “It’s not a simple case of finding a nice layby and camping out for the night,” Frank says, “We’re forced to stop every 300km too, and ideally we’d be able to do this without swapping the driver, but that’s a very long way. You have to keep reminding yourself that what we’re doing isn’t safe and a lot of common sense is needed.” Despite being technical manager, Frank sees team logistics as the biggest challenge overall. “It’s happened in the past that the best car hasn’t won because they’ve got the teamwork wrong or they’ve failed for another reason unrelated to the car itself.” Others in the team think the main challenge happens before even getting to Australia. “Funding is quite a challenge. We’re already doing incredibly well as a student society, but we’re always actively seeking additional funds,” says Elena.

Each team member is required to fund raise in order to transport the car to Australia and live there for up to a month. As is the case for all racing teams, getting to the event is perhaps one of the most difficult challenges. The CUER team is mostly funded by sponsorship from external companies, which includes Jaguar Land Rover, Mazak and Qoros. In addition, the University pays for the race entry and offers support and resources, like use of the Dyson building to help the team. However, funding isn’t solely for the purpose of transport and much is sought to develop the car. Frank says, “On a technical level, we work to the funding we have. So if X amount of money comes in, we’ve already worked out the priorities where that money would be best spent – for example in terms of best km/h per pound.” “The big challenge is the solar cells. To replace the | JAN-FEB 2017


whole solar array would cost upwards of £200,000, which is a lot of money,” adds Dom. “But it’s scenario planning,” continues Frank, “There are other things we want to do before replacing the cells.” “If we could start the two-year race cycle with all the money to begin with, that would be ideal but the reality is very different,” Dom concludes. However, for Dom the biggest technical challenge will be to get information out of Australia about the team’s progress. “There’s no phone signal and satellite reception is very patchy. So keeping people up-to-date with social media, written content, images or livestreaming is a logistical challenge.” There are many different elements to the team and it’s not just about the car travelling across the Outback as quickly as it can. Up to twenty people from each team follow the solar cars as they traverse the route. Some have to set up camp ahead, others need to ensure the road is clear, while some will stay with the solar car and monitor it and the drivers. The rules allow between two and four drivers to be swapped at intervals along the route and their well-being is critical to the success of the Challenge. Keeping them hydrated is just as important as keeping the car’s batteries cool. Naturally, once the car has been shipped to Australia, there’s little development work the team can carry out so planning ahead and for unforeseen circumstances is vital. Frank’s knowledge and experience is therefore invaluable in helping the team know what to expect and there are definite indications that he’s well aware of the dangers.

So what’s the purpose of racing a solar car? In a word; efficiency. The World Solar Challenge cars are designed from the ground-up to run the most efficient powertrains possible. They’re able to run on extremely small amounts of energy using the least resource intensive components available, all housed within the lightest and most aerodynamic body. This militant approach means the machine must be able to carry out its primary objective – to reach Adelaide – ahead of any inconsequentialities like comfort. The cockpit is, therefore, not what you’d call friendly. The ultimate goal is to advance solar power and electric efficiency to the point that these extreme machines can be combined with regular vehicles and 42

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LEFT Between 23-25 September 2016, the former Formula 1 race circuit Zolder hosted the 24 hours PHOTO: CUER

iLumen European

benefit them by improving energy consumption. The approach is similar to that of any racing environment, to push boundaries of what’s considered achievable and go beyond them, develop new techniques and ultimately progress vehicular design. It is not necessarily foreseen that we’ll be driving solar powered cars like those participating in the World Solar Challenge. Nonetheless, if a regular electric car is outfitted with a solar roof, it is predicted around 20 percent of our annual mileage could be covered on solar power alone – and that’s in the UK where we’re not blessed with regular sunshine. “We’re doing everything that a normal car does, with arguably twenty times less drag than a standard road car and a tenth of the mass. If we fully charged our battery and you fully charged a Tesla next to it, they’d travel around the same distance despite the Tesla’s battery being twenty times the size. Yet it’s still capable of carrying a person and at highway speeds too,” Frank surmises. And that’s the point of CUER, to use cutting edge technology to challenge convention and improve electric cars for everyone. The Evolution solar car may not look like something we’d drive on the road, but there’s every chance we’ll be driving a future vehicle that has been influenced by it. In addition, the students working on the car today will become the engineers of tomorrow and their learnings at CUER and other teams are bound to influence our future.

Solar Challenge where CUER participated with ‘Evolution’.

Support the CUER team by visiting their sponsorship page, or find out more on their website. Solar Kilometres sponsorship: CUER: | JAN-FEB 2017



EV Charging: Innovation Needed? WORDS: Phil Sheppard PHOTOS: Autovolt

Guest contributor and Zoe owner, Phil Sheppard, shares his first-hand experience of the UK’s EV charging network, as a long distance traveller. He concludes that the industry needs to up its game, if it is to avoid a crash. Uncertainty One of the main features of the EV driver experience on long distance journeys is uncertainty, and trying to minimise it. Uncertainties arise with respect to availability and operability.

Availability The apps now used by most charging operators tell the driver whether or not a charger is in use (is available), but this is only of marginal value if the charger in question is the only one you can use. If someone else is using it, you have to accept you will have to wait. Chargers and apps should enable the charger to send a message to the current user’s app when the next user presses a button on the charger to indicate they are waiting. The Plugshare app has a notification function, but relies on both drivers being registered on Plugshare for it to be effective.

Operability Operability – whether the charger is working or not - is a more significant issue. My experience is that you can’t trust the provider’s app or the generic apps such as Zap Map or Plugshare. The generic apps rely on user updates, and are often out of date. My experience of one provider’s app is that the current operability status of the charger is not always reflected by the app. One 44

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motorway charger had a series of failed attempts at AC charging, which the provider knew about at their end, but no problem was indicated in the app until I sent the provider a message about a defective connector head and asked them to take my report seriously (which they did). I understand that operators of most rapid and council charge points have live-view status but this often is not shared with the public. Charger operators should ensure that their chargers can self-diagnose problems (any deviations from the design spec) and report them immediately. This would help to reduce or remove uncertainty, the bane of the EV driver’s life. My experience in long distance EV driving of slower chargers and the non-motorway network is that it is all over the place. Of course, this is based on very partial experience and every EV driver will have to explore the scene for themselves in their personal context to obtain a view. A local authority which had installed two chargers on a site it owned was now selling the site, but seemed to have forgotten that the chargers existed; chargers are listed on general apps like Zap Map but are not in fact available to the public; there doesn’t seem to be a way of limiting time on slow chargers to prevent people occupying the charger all day, where parking charges are not a relevant deterrent e.g. public chargers also used by staff or by commuters/shoppers who have a car park season ticket anyway; the issue of

operability is a real one for slower chargers on private or semi-public sites like staff car parks. All these issues raise uncertainties which mean that if planning to travel outside of one’s normal ‘habitat’ it is wise to phone someone up beforehand. If you phone the brand on the charger, which is also responsible for ensuring the electricity gets through and for billing, they may well not know the status of the charger. If you phone the site owner, who may be the owner of the charger, it may be difficult to identify the right person to speak to, and they may also not know the current status or any difficulties. All these issues are much less significant for local journeys, because one will have scouted out the scene and have local knowledge about what works and what doesn’t.

One solution Another way of addressing uncertainty on long distance journeys is to increase the number of chargers and their locations. My recommendation is that many more garage forecourts should have at least one rapid charger. Apparently Shell are planning to do this across all their forecourts in the 2017-20 period, which is good news. Who will pay for more rapid chargers? I think it should be the vehicle manufacturers. It is unrealistic to expect electricity providers, as the equivalent of the fuel companies, to do it, because the market is not big enough, and they are caught in the chicken & egg ‘airlock’ which means they are waiting for the vehicle manufacturers. The vehicle makers have a direct incentive, because a network of sufficient chargers to remove journey uncertainty reinforces the sales proposition for the vehicles. The capital required for the chargers would eventually be recovered through electricity sales, and after that would provide an additional income for the vehicle manufacturers. Land rental seems likely to be waived by site owners because the charger will attract customers for them. The electricity itself would be provided by energy utilities under contract, removing

Slower chargers and the nonmotorway network is all over the place. the need for the vehicle OEMs to acquire non-core skills, but responsibility for the quality of the system would be with the OEMs, who are much better incentivised to maintain and improve it than the energy utilities. As the market matures and grows to sufficient size, the utilities may take over from the OEMs as the main investors in chargers, providing another means for OEMs to recoup their investment. Nissan in fact has already done this, as the sponsor of the Ecotricity motorway network, but, at least for the moment, they seem to have reached their limit. Tesla is perhaps a better example of a sole investment by an automotive OEM. Any doubts about the ability of car manufacturers to afford the investment should be removed by the remarkable ability of VW to continue trading and investing, particularly in electric traction, despite the massive costs of their diesel manipulations. There would be plenty of investment money available.

User Experience Charger owners should take more responsibility for the user experience. At one motorway charger I used recently, mud had accumulated in front of the charger because the car park sloped down towards it. I managed to avoid getting muddy shoes by hopping about, but when replacing the charging cable after use, the hook by which it is secured to the charger slid down into the mud, as well as part of the cable. My hands therefore inevitably became muddy, and I had to go back into the service station to wash them. This is well below the experience of the fuel forecourt, and is a good example of why chargers would be well placed on forecourts. This raises the question of who is best placed to own | JAN-FEB 2017


the chargers. The prevailing model for most chargers, of whatever power rating, has been a sale to a site owner or operator, such as a supermarket. This places all the risk onto them, for whom electric vehicle charging is not core business (at least currently), so they don’t have much incentive to look after them. The natural owners, as I have suggested above, are the vehicle manufacturers, supported under contract (rather than partnership) by the utilities for maintenance and repair. The shortest distance for the lightning rod of customer discontent is to the OEM. Chargemaster’s Polar Network is an exception to the prevailing ownership model. Although I have a Polar charger at home, I only have one experience of a public Polar charger, but it provides another example of site owner indifference to EV driver experience. This was a Polar rapid charger in Milton Keynes which I wanted to use when I returned from a train journey from London. Before catching the train, I checked the charger, and someone had parked in the space in front of it, despite signage prohibiting this. Enquiring locally, this seemed to be a car which would be there for the working day. Fortunately, I arrived back after office hours, when the space was free. If the charger had been owned and operated by the vehicle manufacturer, I think it more likely that they would have placed a physical means of preventing the space being used by non-charging vehicles.

Prospects The future for EV chargers in the UK seems to be at a crossroads. On the one hand, battery technology is advancing more quickly than many had foreseen, with a minimum (winter) range of 125 miles now the norm for 46

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battery EVs, going up to around 200 miles for non-Tesla vehicles in the warmer seasons. This makes long distance driving much more attractive. On the other hand, plugin hybrid vehicles are also becoming a standard OEM offering, and hydrogen fuel cell hybrids are entering the market. Plug-in hybrids could outcompete large capacity battery EVs for longer journeys, and make the battery-only cars a niche product for urban runabouts by those who can afford them as a second or third car. This would particularly apply if the unit prices for electricity from charging stations remain at their current level of rough equivalence to fuel prices per mile (allowing for mileage security margins and avoidance of 100% discharge), because fuel could be used to recharge at approximately the same cost as using a charger, but without the uncertainties and inconveniences I have outlined in this article. Another driving force in the emerging marketplace is the potential of vehicle batteries as large scale short term storage for intermittent sources of electricity at low electricity rates (e.g. overnight charging), and its return at times of peak demand and high unit prices, either (vehicle-to-grid or V2G). This will require controllers and software in both meters and vehicles to enable two-way flows, but, once there, battery EVs could be more attractive than plug-in hybrids in this respect because of their larger batteries. People and companies could respond to money-saving and money-making opportunities in V2G by favouring battery EVs. All these forces mean that investment in the charging network has its own significant uncertainties. I can only hope that companies selling EVs of whatever type pay more attention to the traction energy needs of their customers than they have done so far.


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Should every vehicle be

autonomous? WORDS: Jonathan Musk PHOTOS: Autovolt


“Everything that moves will go autonomous”, says Frank Chen, partner at Andreessen Horowitz, an American venture capitalist firm specialising in software where Mr Chen is focussed on the automation of the automotive industry. It’s a bold belief considering the autonomous car industry is in its infancy, if indeed it can even be considered to exist yet. But should everything that moves be autonomous? Is there a point in making them this way?

he wider question must be answered and with good reason. It’s proving difficult to make cars fully autonomous and capable of every type of road scenario. Take Tesla’s Autopilot system. It’s perhaps the best real-world example of an autonomous vehicle that you can actually go out and buy today. It’s a system based on cameras and radars, with early cars being equipped with these whether the owner decides to pay the additional fee to activate the feature or not. The latest Tesla are each equipped with a slew of additional sensors over those fitted originally, in part to reassure customers that there are failsafes onboard and possibly in response to the few fatal and nonfatal collisions some Tesla’s have been involved with under Autopilot control. However, they still lack a lidar sensor – a type of hyper accurate line-of-sight radar that uses laser light to measure distances between objects. Many autonomous development vehicles are equipped with lidar and the costs involved are often regarded as prohibitive. Some units cost as much as £60,000 and are ugly large spinning bucket-shaped instruments mounted atop a vehicle’s roof. Much more sleek is Faraday Future’s FF91 lidar system that pops out from the bonnet. Lidar is just one example of a technology that could be useful to autonomous vehicles, but its 48

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cost is prohibitive. Much effort has been focussed to produce inexpensive lidars with no moving parts and a unit price of around £200, possible by the advancement in technology. The technology and equipment necessary to automate a single vehicle is, therefore, enormous and complicated. Add to this the need for deep-learning algorithms, whereby a vehicle must learn its environment and adapt accordingly, as well as obey traffic rules and localised idiosyncrasies. It’s a hugely complex task. Another question mark around autonomous vehicles is whether they should have pre-mapped environments built in, or whether they still need to create virtual maps on the fly. This raises quite a fundamental problem in that the maps would need to be created and maintained, no simple task considering there are now very few mapping organisations in the world. These high definition (HD) maps are necessary for a vehicle to navigate its way accurately around a town or city but are hugely labour intensive to produce and process. However, us mere mortals manage to navigate and adapt to traffic situations very well. Despite our numerous accidents each year and apparent ease of distraction, we humans turn out to be quite good at adapting to change on the road. Knee jerk avoidance of

Dr Maarten Sierhuis envisages call centres where humans are able to take charge of an autonomous car that has become stuck. rubbish in the road, emergency braking as a reaction and our ability to adapt to unforeseen or never before seen obstacles are just some of the things that make us incredibly capable behind the wheel. It’s this skill that has allowed us to explore vast landscapes in the first place and venture where no other has ventured before. This is part of our success story. To hand that over to robot cars is a difficult thing to do and one that some don’t believe is possible. Nissan’s Dr Maarten Sierhuis envisages call centres where humans are able to take charge of an autonomous car that has become stuck, for example if road works necessitate vehicles travelling on the wrong side of the road. Mundane for a human, tricky for a robot that’s been told not to drive on the wrong side of the road. Whatever your personal dream of an autonomous vehicle future might be, it’s possible that it won’t arrive as quickly as you might think. According to various experts in the field, autonomous vehicles may arrive as soon as 2018, while others including Tesla estimate 2023. The furthest estimate is still within the next 15 years, so at the moment confidence is high. However, one solution to a more sensible introduction is to automate only certain types of vehicle. Rather than the delightful prospect of having your car negotiate rush hour traffic, it could be that instead it is the bus next to you that’s automated. This makes a lot of sense in many ways. There are far fewer buses and they travel along predesignated routes. This would avoid the expensive pre-mapping of entire cities that’s needed for cars and buses on the same routes could share information either directly or via centralised servers.

Doing the same for lorries that travel great distances on relatively easy to program motorways is also a very real possibility that could come far more simply than the regular car. There are countless other examples too including planes, delivery vans and taxis to name but a few. Just imagine. Taxi’s that always turn up on time, buses that stick to the schedule and planes that have more space and front facing window views due to no longer requiring a cockpit. Autonomously driven electric delivery trucks and refuse collectors could silently work while we’re asleep and the electric milk float could exist once again. Lorries would no longer drive too fast in reduced speed sections of motorway and they’d no longer need to stop making their delivery faster too. With these vehicles automated, the introduction of smart traffic lights could be introduced, so that waiting at them when there’s nobody about can be avoided. Their red/green times could be made flexible and adaptive far easier than automating a car to avoid a collision with another car. The point is there’s plenty we could do to automate our environment and reduce congestion without resorting to automating all the world’s cars. Once these relatively straight forward transportation devices have been automated and improved, the more flexible and less constrained average family car could then be looked at for automation but this time they’d be introduced to a pre-existing computer-driven world that’s more able to accept them. On the other hand, it might be that by automating the things we don’t want to drive, traffic clears up, roads become more free and we humans rediscover our love for adventure. Maybe we won’t want to hand over control just yet after all. | JAN-FEB 2017



EVA app Tom Curtis sat down with the developers of the EVA Nissan Leaf app, Rob Winters and James Nicolson, to discuss how they started, electric cars, what’s next and why car makers struggle to make good applications.



s a starter question, as this is a car magazine, what was your dream car as a kid growing up and what do you drive now? Rob: Oh, that’s a good one, I was a massive Nightrider fan, so I just wanted my car to be full of tech. I’m not big into engines, I’m not a petrolhead but I do love the computers. James: I am continually sad that cars don’t fly, after I was promised by so many Sci-Fi movies. I live in London, so I have no car whatsoever. My ride, basically, is e-hailing apps like Hailo. Rob: Yeah, when in London I’m definitely on Hailo. We’re starting to see a lot more Pod-Point units coming up, which is good as I drive a Nissan Leaf. Most of my charging is done at home or on the motorway, so very rarely do I head into London when I have the car. It’s mostly for school runs and day to day stuff. James: We are thinking about adding a charge map into EVA. Tom: That would be handy, I’ve only recently converted myself to electric cars and the barrier to entry is really high because of charging and its complexity. Rob: It’s a lot more complex than it needs to be. I’m hoping over the years that it becomes simplified but I guess early adopters might put up with a little bit more hassle than when EVs are mass market. One of you has an electric car, one of you doesn’t. What caused you to design an application for the Leaf? Was it that you saw applications available for cars and you wanted to replicate that? Or did Nissan do a less than perfect job and you wanted to see if you could do better, or did you just want to hack around?


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Rob: It’s a bit of both really. James and I have done a couple of other projects and we like to have hack weekends where we get together with the aim to ship some some sort of product by the end of that weekend. James: Specifically, to solve a problem - hack weekends are there to solve a problem. Rob: One of them [weekends] was just making a game, which wasn’t really solving a problem apart from let’s try and it’ll be fun. We worked on a train app, as I’m a commuter. Actually we mostly just seem to be scratching my itch, don’t we James? It’s a train app for me and then I got an electric car and the app that came with it is sub-par. James: Sub-par is being polite I think! Tom have you had a chance to try the Nissan Connect app? Speaking of barriers to entry, even getting that application setup is a disaster and then once finally working you’re greeted with a horrific web-view, slow loading app. It feels like it should be a lot faster. James: It takes a solid thirty seconds from login to getting the first piece of data that is valuable. Rob is a professional designer and was so wound-up by this. The opportunity to build something simple that solves a problem nicely was great. Rob: I spend a not insignificant amount of time in the car and it’s a nice car but to open the app that it comes with is really disappointing. It’s not quite the app that the car deserves, it seems quite a delta in terms of quality. I don’t think this is a problem unique to Nissan that the software implementation just isn’t is as good as it should be, why do you think that is? | JAN-FEB 2017


James: So as the Engineer on the project, I think a lot of these are engineer led interfaces, they look like something someone saw in Star Trek once and thought would be cool to turn into an actual app. They are not thought about in terms of user experience. There’s a reason why I do the coding and keep away from the pretty things. Rob: It’s almost like they tried to make it look as complex and special as possible, you hit it on the head this wouldn’t look out of place on Star Trek. I think one of the most frustrating things about the app, is that after the initial authorisation has completed, the app is not automatically able to poll and cache data. It’s on a user request basis and seems very strange that they are not doing some form of lazy loading to start pulling in data. James: I couldn’t agree more, it’s literally the first thing we built when the app is running, we have your details, we should be polling instantly and it should continue doing it in the background. Unfortunately, it’s a limitation of of the platform that we can’t just take your username and password and have a service sat on a server that polls Nissan so that when you open the app you can talk to our server and immediately have all the data. It’s something we could potentially do, but I’d feel a bit iffy about us storing credentials for Nissan users. * What’s the first step in building the app? Do Nissan expose this in a public API or are you scraping everything from a website? James: We’re not scraping; we’re using their API directly but it’s not a public API so we are being a bit naughty. We used their app with a network analyser and we pressed all the buttons to see what would happen and to get a handle on how it works and from that tried to figure what things we could do to make the experience that we wanted using the API that they’ve made. The API is very rough, but we picked away until it made sense, but there are still some bugs in the app where we don’t understand how the API works, so we get the odd report from users saying, “Hey my app says I have 120% charge”, and that’s because there’s some configuration that we’ve not taken into account because our test car is basically Rob’s car. That’s as far as we’ve got. The thing we’d like to do is add our own API on top of that so we can asynchronously be polling the car, getting details and do fun things like push-notifications such as when your car is running low on battery. But for us that would sail a bit close to the wind without Nissan’s 52

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explicit permission. I think caching user’s passwords and things is something they might send lawyers after us for. This is a private API and Nissan are a very big company, with very large legal teams, so have they reached out? Are they aware of the app? Rob: We get a lot of customer support emails for the connect app and a couple of people have emailed from the domain, so they are certainly aware. There are certain people with ‘Director’ title that use EVA, which is really cool for us. But we’ve never had any other contact apart from that, either they don’t know or they don’t care. James: We took it as, people have done this sort of thing before us and other Leaf apps exist on the app store that do this sort of thing. We just felt we could do it better and gave it a go. If there weren’t other people doing it, we’d be a bit warier about it. Rob: Like James said we don’t store customer details, we’re not really touching any of that, we do now and again get a lot of support emails asking for password and usernames, help with setup but we have a canned response stating that we don’t have access to that stuff. Which is good as it cuts down on a lot of support queries! Rob: It’s surprising the amount of support emails we get that are about things out of our control, part of me wishes that Nissan would give us access to do a lot of stuff on the back end to make things more resilient and flexible. The number of times that the Nissan API falls over or doesn’t connect properly when the car is driving or if the car goes out of signal range, there are so many other reasons why people email us asking why EVA isn’t working and we have to say, “Sorry sometimes Nissan isn’t responding”. Luckily people’s reviews seem to understand that this isn’t EVA’s fault. By and large everyone understands that it’s a good app interacting with a back end that is not so great and one that we don’t have control over. James: It’s really heartening. From my experience, visiting forums and such, EVA seems to be the go to application because, who has that much time to waste waiting for the Nissan app to respond? It feels like you are going back to the dial-up era, where there is a significant lag at each step. Rob: That’s part of the reason we are quite explicit in what the app’s doing, you can see it’s connecting

*An API (Application Programming Interface) is a way to let developers access a service in a standardized way (in theory). to Nissan and then it’s connecting to the car because without that information it felt so long, having some visibility on what it’s actually doing made it slightly less painful to wait. So it’s good to expose that. What are the top community requests? James: We ran a Twitter poll recently and I know people want more control over charging, including a timer. There are some lovely mock ups that Rob shared and would like to build, though that’s a way off. We’d like to scrape some of the stats from websites and present them really nicely, because there is some really nice data that Nissan makes available on how well you’re driving, where you’ve been, your efficiency and so forth that we could present in the app.

Rob: I think people were asking for Apple Watch support as well. I guess being able to initiate charging using a myriad of different devices could be useful. James: That’s it - if you can just tap your watch in the morning and, say, switch the heater on that would be quite lovely, especially in winter. Rob: 30% wanted climate control timer, 25% wanted driving statistics and 45% wanted remote charging capability. James: That was a surprise to me, I hadn’t realised how many people had the super-saver ‘economy 7’ electricity, a lot of people do their charging via timers. I think I have that, but I haven’t actually checked, I do all my charging at night because I think it would be cheaper, I should probably investigate that! Rob: Another thing that springs to mind, there’s a great app called LeafSpy where people plug in the ODB-II (onboard diagnostics) reader to access hidden functions. We planned to but didn’t ever try it, so that’s waiting for another weekend. There’s been a lot of people asking for that sort of thing, diagnostics for battery health etc. That would be great, I think a lot of people are interested in having that level of access but not necessarily comfortable enough with programming to be able to poll that information. James: The ideal solution would be that you really nail the simple things, which we kind of do now, your range, air conditioning etc. We talked a little about using open charge map data for closet chargers, but not complex route planning and maybe some battery diagnostic stuff but we don’t want to do too much. When you start adding too many features things start to become a bit more cluttered and all of a sudden another app comes out and looks to us as we looked at NissanConnect. I think push-notifications for situations where you are near a charger that’s free and your car has less than 50% range would be great, things to help the user essentially, especially if they are in an unknown area. | JAN-FEB 2017


*Skeuomorphic designs try to replicate real world objects, e.g. a notepad application with a ring binder and punched holes. Should be avoided at all costs as they often fall short and look naff. Rob: There’s so many cool things we could do but we’re always going to be limited by the Nissan API and what we can do with it. James can talk more about it, but I think we’re almost hitting the limit of what we can do now. James: Yeah, not without doing things that handle data, that’s the thing that worries me. I’d love to get that permission from Nissan or just any way we can cache credentials without storing people’s passwords so we can become the intermediary and do a lot more magic. Have you tried reaching out? James: We haven’t actually. The worry is that they say ‘no’ and then try to take the app down as well. It’s a fine line to tread I think. What is the usage of the application? How many users are currently using it? James: Not too sure. We made a point of avoiding tracking or data storage because people worry about this stuff. I’ve probably got stats on downloads I imagine it’s ten each day.


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Rob: It’s averaging around sixty or seventy downloads on a good day and on a great day it’s around eighty. Some statistics Apple give us show that people who download the app actually use it, which is great. I think we’ve got to about nine thousand, but it’s hard to get actual numbers. We went live in June 2016. When I put that date range in, Apple gives us a graph that’s up and to the right and continually growing so it’s looking good. For something that you both came up with over a weekend, that’s pretty good going. Rob: No marketing either, we’ve only ever been on one forum and that was The people there helped build this thing. We used Testflight (Apple beta testing deployment software service) to deliver the beta version and they tested EVA for us. We have about 50 to 60 people heavily testing it and feeding back really good infomation. James: It’s a really nice community, really involved and helpful community. Rob: With no marketing it has only been those guys recommending it and it’s doing quite well on the app

store, so if you type in ‘Nissan Leaf’ I think our app comes above EV Connect, Nissan’s own application, which is good. Rob: Going back to the next step, it’s translation. We had a French guy that translated the app for us but we’re now looking for Norwegian. James: Norway is huge and we get a lot of support tickets in Norwegian, so that would be nice. We should do some more localisation as there’s not many words in the app and it’s a nice easy next step. Rob: I don’t know what good numbers are for an app that’s only been around since June, as it’s quite a limited market of Nissan Leaf owners - it’s not mass market by any means. To me it feels good. James: What we need is Tesla to give you a car, Rob, so we can build apps for that and Nissan could compete by giving us the rest of their range to play with. Rob: Yeah we’d like that, though I’m sure the Tesla app is fine. That’s an interesting point, there is clearly a different software implementation between Nissan and Tesla. You have Tesla the upstart, very much a software driven company where the car updates over the air versus your traditional car manufacturers. It’s going to be interesting to see if other car providers take that on-board. Looking at a lot of expensive cars, they seem to have the slowest hardware driving the in-car display, it’s not running at sixty frames per second, and it’s laggy - and these are £100k cars! Rob: Even the first Tesla one and that looked really old school, very skeuomorphic*, I remember they could do so much more with that screen. But like you say, with over the air updates they get improvements on a regular basis, whereas with the Leaf if I want new software I’ve got to get a new car. It seems such an obvious idea, why wouldn’t your car improve with age? It’s a shame that a lot of other electric car providers and car manufacturers in general make you drive to the dealership to get an update, or you don’t get it at all. James: It is absurd. For example, the safety aspect; Tesla has shipped updates that make the car safer and it’s incredible that they are offering this because you can actually save real human lives by the way you distribute software, that’s amazing.

Want to find out more? You can chat with Rob and James via Twitter. They’d especially like to hear from you, if you can help with translations Download the app here: | JAN-FEB 2017




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By 2050, autonomous vehicles are expected to have contributed a total of €17tn to GDP

Nissan held its first ‘Futures’ event in London (covered in issue 12, May/ June 2016), where the company announced several key partnerships and new products. These included vehicle-to-grid systems in collaboration with Enel and grid-storage batteries, called xStorage, in partnership with Eaton. At the end of November 2016, Nissan held its second event, entitled ‘Nissan Futures 2’.


lthough obviously focussed on the Japanese firm, the event provided an exclusive look at a future imagined by some of the top thinkers in the industry, not only related to Nissan but with a broader audience in mind. Central to the event were the complicated subjects of autonomous drive technologies, artificial intelligence and the future of the connected car.

Nissan Intelligent Mobility Nissan commissioned and launched one of the most comprehensive studies todate about autonomous driving vehicles on European roads entitled, “Freeing the Road: Shaping the future for autonomous vehicles,” by think tank Policy Network. The report analyses both the social and economic opportunities offered by autonomous drive technologies. The report also highlights key steps recommended to governments and regulators in order to overcome technological and social challenges of autonomous drive. Focusing on Germany, Spain and the UK, the report highlights crucial features of the policy debate around autonomous vehicles and assesses the likely economic impact for the region as a whole. In summary, the analysis finds that autonomous vehicles may add 0.15 percent to Europe’s annual growth rate over the next few decades. As a result, the European (EU-28) gross domestic product will, cumulatively, be 5.3 percent higher in the year 2050 than it currently is, by which time autonomous vehicles are expected to have contributed a total of €17tn to GDP. In the short term, it’s clear that Nissan are keen to encourage government to act now in order to facilitate this opportunity. Supporting the report is a comprehensive


pan-European consumer study, which aims to identify what people see as the main autonomous driving benefits. “The Nissan Social Index: Consumer attitudes to autonomous drive,” surveyed 6,000 adults across six European countries, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Norway, in October 2016. Interestingly, the survey found that those with the most to gain are the vulnerable in society – including disabled people, the elderly and the visually impaired. Their concern is with a lack of mobility and autonomous cars are seen as an ideal way to improve this. In addition, health and well-being were considered as top benefits, including fewer accidents and less stress at the wheel both improving dramatically. Fewer hit & run incidents and more free time were also cited as welcome improvements. However, in a clear lead were the benefits associated with autonomous vehicles and safety. More than half the respondents (52%) felt there would be fewer accidents, 43% said it would remove dangerous drivers from our roads and 34% believed it would mean less drink-drivers. Perhaps shockingly, 81% of respondents admitted multi-tasking while at the wheel, although this was largely made up of changing radio stations and eating a snack. Resultantly, the key benefit of autonomous cars was seen as being able to do something other than drive when in a car. What would they do in the car? Reading books or catching up on news is what most responded they’d do with their extra time in the car (37%) followed by sleeping (33%), getting work done (30%) and watching TV or films (20%). However, as with any new technology, there are concerns too. 48% of respondents

Paul Wilcox, Chairman Nissan Europe, speaks in Barcelona about advancements made in the fields of autonomous driving and battery storage. | JAN-FEB 2017



LEFT & ABOVE Amsterdam Arena will become a grid storage hub, providing energy to the local area, as well as for its own use during events. The batteries are equivalent to 280 Nissan Leafs and all are second-life.

said the biggest disadvantage of autonomous cars was the possibility of the technology failing, followed by not having full control of the vehicle (39%) and putting people who rely on driving for a living, like taxi drivers, out of work (28%).

Autonomous Driving Dr Maarten Sierhuis, Director of Nissan Research in California Center, gave a presentation about Nissan’s current ideology regarding how they actually implement autonomous technology. Highlighting many of the difficulties involved in getting a machine to think, Dr Sierhuis provided a fascinating exploration of some of the technology being employed to make a car move autonomously. Predictably, it’s not simple and it appears from his discussion that there remain many unanswered questions. For example, if an autonomous vehicle comes across a seemingly unremarkable stretch of road with road works, whereby a workman indicates to vehicles to pass by on the wrong side of the road – for a human, this is easily dealt with, but for an autonomous vehicle the approach is much more difficult considering it has been programmed not to drive onto the other side of the 58

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road! One solution, as he sees it, is to introduce human operated call centres that could be contacted by the car where technicians would be able to manually override the car and progress it along its journey. Giving insight into Nissan’s approach to autonomous driving, it was clear that bigger questions than the actual technology that enables the system to operate are being asked, including who would be at fault in the event of an incident; driver or machine. When posed the question of what the car would do in an impossible situation where any action would cause death, Dr Sierhuis responded that the car simply wouldn’t take that into consideration. Instead, it would do whatever it thought best to avoid danger altogether. If that action resulted in a death, that would be the sad ending but not one that has been fundamentally ‘chosen’ by the car. This way of thinking about the machine’s actions does raise many more ‘difficult’ questions, but the thinking is quite simply that it would be unethical to programme the vehicle to crash with what it deems ‘minimum collateral damage’ in the first place. It might, therefore, be that an autonomous car crash does not take the ‘least damaging’ option that a human driver might be able to make.

Amsterdam Arena In partnership with battery specialists Eaton and the world renowned Amsterdam Arena, Nissan announced the latter will serve as a guinea pig using a vast array of batteries that will act as energy storage for the entire Arena. How big? The equivalent to about 280 Nissan Leafs. The batteries will be charged using the grid, which in the Netherlands, benefits from large amounts of renewable energy. However, as has often been cited as a negative aspect of renewables, they don’t necessarily produce energy when it is actually required. The solution is to harness that energy in storage for later use. Amsterdam Arena will serve as the location for this and effectively act as a grid buffer, distributing power to the local area on-demand. The batteries themselves replace ageing and ‘dirty’ diesel generators that had been used as extra power during events at the Arena. Each battery will be a secondlife Nissan electric car unit, in other words coming from either a Leaf or e-NV200 vehicle that’s reached the end of its life. This highlights a key use that Nissan are keen to

ABOVE & RIGHT xStorage is designed to hang on a wall and be placed wherever desired, inside or outside. The attractive lighting design helps make it a feature that can be integrated into your home.

pursue, the effective recycling of their batteries in second uses, rather than dismantling and recycling them in the more literal sense. Ultimately, the aim is to showcase the possibilities available for energy storage on a large scale that could better enable adoption of renewable energy by the grid that has, thus far, struggled to cope with its wavering power supply. Static battery storage facilities like this are seen as a practical way to cope with an everincreasing energy demand, yet without resorting to installing expensive, inefficient and ‘dirty’ traditional power sources like coal, gas and even nuclear. However, the important, ‘why’ comes into question and the reasons are simple. The entire battery array is expected to pay for itself within ten years, which contrasts starkly to the diesel generators it replaces.

xStorage Widens Appeal Continuing the battery storage theme, Nissan and Eaton are expanding their home oriented xStorage with six configurations that cater for more scenarios than the original product line-up. The xStorage Home system can draw energy from solar panels or from the grid, making, in principle, energy consumption more affordable. The technology in xStorage Home systems is has also been prepared for the future, when it is predicted that individuals will be able to sell energy back to the grid or indeed their neighbours. Just as with the Amsterdam Arena, the system fundamentally offers customers the opportunity to avoid buying energy from the grid at peak times, having instead charged the battery off-peak or indeed using renewables during the day, in the case of solar, or all the time using wind power. xStorage Home units based on second-life Nissan EV batteries, will be priced competitively starting at €3,500 (equivalent to approx. £2,935 excluding VAT and installation costs) for a power capacity of 3.5kW, rising to €3,900 for 6kW (equivalent to approx. £3,270). In addition to the units powered by used-batteries, new Nissan battery xStorage systems will start from €5,000 (approx. £4,192) rising to €5,580 (approx. £4,679) for the highest capacity and will come with an extended warranty period of ten years. However, critics noted that a replacement Nissan Leaf 24kWh battery costs around £5,000, which makes the xStorage system appear expensive, particularly considering the low kWh on offer. | JAN-FEB 2017




Autovolt is the UK’s first electric and hybrid vehicle magazine, providing an authoritative voice for those who are excited about great automotive design, cutting-edge technology and environmentally sustainable transport solutions. Autovolt magazine is filled with news, reviews and information from the world’s key electric and hybrid car specialists providing you the best way to keep up to date in this fast moving and fascinating automotive field.

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Handy EV Guides With so much technology, electric and hybrid vehicles can be a daunting but exciting new field. We’ve created the following pages to help guide you through the basics of each technology and provide an understanding of common terms and phrases used throughout this publication and others. Our handy guides in the next few pages, include our tonguein-cheek “The Daily Myth” newspaper and genuinely useful glossary of terms. You’ll be able to out boffin even the most seasoned EV or hybrid pro and gain a good grounding for the future of automobiles in the process. | JAN-FEB 2017


What is an EV? The inner workings of an electric vehicle Electric Power Steering.

The power steering mechanism is usually unchanged in an electric car when compared to an ICE vehicle, using both electric and hydraulic power to assist the driver.

Vehicle Control Unit.

The VCU is a lot like a conventional ECU (electronic control unit) except that in an electric car the priorities are different. The VCU is a computer that manages the energy from the battery and information from the driver such as throttle position. The system ensures the best possible use of power to maximise range.

High Voltage Electric A/C Compressor.

With no engine warmth to provide heating to occupants, electric power is instead used. The plus side is that it is more efficient and can usually be programmed in advance so that, for example, the vehicle may be cooled or heated using a remote application on a smartphone.


More or less unchanged from a conventional vehicle. An electric vacuum pump is used to give power assistance to the driver.


Wheels & Tyres.

Many electric vehicles have specially developed low rolling resistance tyres, meaning the vehicle is more able to roll freely with lower drag, therefore increasing range. The tyres shown here offer great grip despite their narrow profile.

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Motor Controller and Inverter.

Chassis Design.

As components are more flexibly moved around the design, chassis designers are able to make better use of space. The i3 shown here has an aluminium chassis with a carbon fibre superstructure for the occupants.

Charging and Electronics.

Converting mains AC power to DC for the battery is usually done on-board the vehicle. To obtain a 12V system for lighting and radios etc. a DC-DC converter is used.

The motor controllers monitor the motor’s position, speed, power, consumption and temperature. Using this information and the throttle command by the driver, the motor controller and inverter convert the DC voltage supplied by the battery to three precisely timed signals used to drive the motor.

Electric Coolant Heater and Control.

Heating systems are specially designed for electric vehicle applications as there is no heat generated from the engine which is usually used to provide warmth to occupants. Instead, the system works in a similar way to a kettle, with a submerged element that heats a liquid. This is passed through a matrix which has the interior blower fans waft air over them and into the cabin.

Electric Motor & Gearbox.

Battery Pack and Battery Cells.

The battery pack is the electric storage centre for any BEV. As the system is more flexible than liquid fuel, batteries packs containing hundreds of cells are often spread around the vehicle to distribute weight more evenly. They usually include a Battery Monitoring System (BMS) that manages the temperature and state of charge of each individual cell.

Electric Water Pump.

The electric drive water pump circulates coolant for the traction motor, inverters and heater.

The electric motor converts electrical power to mechanical power. Electric motors are up to three times more efficient than a standard petrol engine. Using near instant torque to their advantage, gearboxes are often single speed but with different design considerations to a conventional ICE. The emphasis is usually on silent operation and a need to cope with higher RPM due to the electric motor.

We’ve used BMW’s great little electric car, the i3, to illustrate the usual elements you might expect to find in an electric vehicle. Due to the flexible positioning of electric car components, locations vary wildly. In the BMW i3 example, it is a rear wheel drive electric car and as such has a rear bias of components. A front wheel drive electric car, like the Nissan LEAF, houses many components under the bonnet, giving greater rear luggage space. | JAN-FEB 2017


What is a HYBRID? The inner workings of a hybrid vehicle Inverter.

As the ICE unit runs, it produces power which is converted to electrical power through the inverter to charge the batteries. These in turn charge the 12V system which powers ancillaries such as lighting systems.

Stop & Start.

As the ICE stops and starts often in a hybrid, there is a Stop & Start system which often replaces the starter motor with a belt driven device.

Electric Ancillaries.

As the emphasis is on efficiency, hybrids often feature electric systems, replacing conventional mechanical ones. For example, the Toyota Prius shown here has an electric water pump, adding extra efficiency.

Fuel Tank & 12V System.

Of course, the ICE unit requires fuel. Most hybrids are petrol but there are some diesel hybrids in existence. The ICE also requires a 12V system to run things like the spark plugs, and this piggy backs off the main battery charge.

Engine & Motor.

An internal combustion engine is used to both drive the wheels and provide power to charge the batteries. The electric motor is often fitted between the engine and gearbox. The engines are slightly different to conventional ICEs as they are often an Atkinson cycle engine, designed for optimum efficiency.


Car companies aimed to make hybrids appeal to a new market, so the styling often stands out from conventional vehicles.

There are several iterations of hybrid but all work on similar principles. Electric motors aid an internal combustion engine and usually provide an EV only mode, whereby the vehicle runs only on electric power. The Toyota Prius seen here is the best selling hybrid vehicle in the world. 64

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Wheels & Tyres.

As in electric cars, many hybrids feature narrower profile tyres to minimise rolling resistance and aid economy.


As in electric vehicles, hybrids have a battery pack for EV only mode. It is charged by the ICE. Plug-in Hybrids (PHEV) have the ability to take a charge from a mains or EV charging socket. These usually feature larger batteries than non PHEVs, giving extended EV only range.

Large Engine.

Although a hybrid, this Porsche was definitely not designed to save the planet with its large capacity ICE.

Plugin Electric Hybrid.

The Porsche shown here is a PHEV as it can be plugged into an EV or mains socket. This tends to give an extended range over a non PHEV hybrid.

Racing hybrids fall into different categories despite the overall title of ‘hybrid’. The Porsche Panamera S Hybrid above for example, has a system designed to cater more for outright performance over economy. This is achieved by simply making the electric motor add to the overall power, rather than aim for it to be economical. However, cars like this do usually have an EV only mode enabling them to be just as economical (in theory) as a Toyota Prius when driving, for instance, in stop/start traffic. Racing hybrids, like the Audi R18 e-tron quattro shown below, often use alternative means of power to obtain hybrid status. In the example of the Audi, it uses a Williams developed electric flywheel system which, in 2012,

powered Audi to Le Mans history as the first ever hybrid vehicle to win outright at the historic circuit. The technology works by taking energy that would otherwise be lost when braking and storing that energy both into a flywheel and electric system. The energy is then re-released back into the powertrain to provide a power boost. This helps the internal combustion engine as it does not need to work quite as hard as it otherwise would and thus increases economy. The electric flywheel system in the R18 e-tron quattro is just one example of many cars classed as hybrids, including Formula One which uses an electric kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and other vehicles which use a mechanical flywheel to store energy without any electronics at all.

Independent Systems.

Flywheel ERS.

As you can see from this cutaway picture, hybrid systems do not have to be integrated. In this example, the electric flywheel takes care of the front and the rear is conventional ICE power.

A small flywheel is spun to enormous RPM from energy collected when braking. This is then released directly back into the forward drive when next accelerating. | JAN-FEB 2017





Evs poLLuTE MorE THAn fossIL fuEL

It is often claimed that electric and hybrid vehicle batteries are no good and will only last ten years before needing to be replaced at great expense. While there is some truth to the fact that batteries do degrade after a time, most tests suggest that batteries will far outlive the life-span of an electrified vehicle. In the case of a few older hybrid models, which have been around more than ten years, owners are seeing a decrease in electric range by some 20%. In reality this is no worse than the reduction in efficiency from a petrol or diesel powered car, even if it has been maintained. These older hybrids also used Ni-MH batteries rather than the more advanced Liion in use by most today. Battery technology is advancing all the time too, and better battery management which actively monitors each and every cell is able to significantly increase the life span of an electric vehicle battery.

All vehicles generate pollution during their manufacture, use and then disposal. It is true the creation of certain components for electric cars is not particularly environmentally friendly, such as batteries, but things are changing fast. Lithium batteries are increasingly being made using renewable energy, as is aluminium. Electric motors too are much more energy efficient than internal combustion engines. The argument that power stations creating electricity for electric cars is bad only has some merit since in certain places, such as Norway, most of their power is from wind and hydro electric power.


ALL Evs ArE As sLoW As MILk fLoATs! Electric motors develop maximum torque from zero revs. In plain English this means they are very quick off the mark. Performance car manufacturers, such as McLaren, are increasingly using electric motors alongside petrol or diesel engines as they are able to provide much more torque than a traditional engine is able to by itself. Over one hundred years ago, electric vehicles have been leading, not trailing, petrol and diesel engines in the performance stakes.

In fact, many of the first land speed records were set by electric vehicles, such as the famous “La Jamais Contente” (French for, “Never Satisfied”, pictured above). It was the first car, of any type, to reach 62mph (100 kmh) - and this was in 1899! Since then, electric cars have been getting faster and faster. Tesla Motor’s Model S is a saloon car that rivals highly regarded sports cars such as BMW’s M5 for performance. EVs are anything but slow.



ELEcTrIfIED cArs ArE A fIrE rIsk Firstly, some electric cars have caught fire during some extreme events whereby the batteries were breached and the chemicals created a localised fire - nobody has been hurt to date by one of these incidents. The NHTSA, Americas equivalent to the Euro NCAP crash testing organisation, have tested to destruction many electric cars and in none of their tests were they able to create a fire risk situation. The Tesla Model S, which is the car most have

questioned about fire risk, was rated by the NHTSA as their safest car ever tested, in 2013. Due to the design of the battery cells and electrical equipment in cars, the risks are minimised for fires as much as possible, using special compartments to contain a fire should one break out during the event of a crash, for example. Electric and hybrid cars are no less safe than having a tank of flammable liquid in your vehicle; which is more likely to catch fire.

THErE Is noWHErE To cHArgE Infrastructure is one of the key issues with electric vehicles and the lengthy (in comparison to petrol/diesel fill up) times to charge a car can be annoying. Charging infrastructure has increased dramatically in recent years, with several rapid charge networks having been installed across Europe. In the UK alone, there are more than 10,000 charge points, with over 1,500 in London.

Evs WILL nEvEr bE MAss MArkET Although in the past, electric car attempts to infiltrate the car market were met with equal amounts of laughter and scepticism, electric cars of today are being produced by most of the world’s largest and most established vehicle manufacturers. Likewise, hybrids are becoming ever more popular with global sales in their millions.

ELEcTrIc cArs ArE noT suITAbLE for Long TrIps


Evs Work In THE rAIn? It is well known that electricity and water don’t mix so it is only natural to be slightly apprehensive about the long term prospects of owning an electric car with our very British wet

weather. The answer lies mainly in the construction methods used when dealing with electrical components. Much like a kettle, EVs have circuit breakers to ensure nobody gets a shock.

Most current electric cars have a range of around 100 miles but they can be recharged at a rapid charge station en-route. Several people have completed long trips from London

to Edinburgh in around 10 hours proving that it is possible. New metal-air batteries are able to give 1,000 mile range and should be available as soon as 2017.

no MAInTEnAncE Is rEquIrED WITH Evs EVs still require tyres, wheel bearings and so on. However, they require far less maintenance as there is less to wear out.

Due to things like regenerative braking, where the motor acts like a brake, there is also less wear to the brake pads and discs too.

Glossary of


AC: Alternating Current. Electricity with a current that changes direction at regular intervals. See Electric Motor. AFV: Alternate Fuel Vehicle. Amp: A measurement of electric current. Bar: See Pressure. Battery: A chemical based electricity storage device, which uses one or many electrochemical cells. These cells convert chemical energy to electrical energy. BEV: Battery Electric Vehicle. The most common type of pure electric vehicle. Batteries are used to store energy which is then used by the electric motors to give motion. BHP: Brake Horsepower is the power output of an engine before losses from drivetrain are taken into account. See Power. BMS: Battery Management System - a computer often built into electric vehicles to monitor the batteries. Brushed Motor: Brushed electric motors have brushes in the commutator to make a connection. They are the original type of electric motor, having been in use since 1832. Brushless Motor: Brushless motors are also known as electronically commutated motors since their commutator is electric rather than using direct contact using brushes. Capacitor: Similar to a battery in that its primary purpose is to store energy. However, unlike a battery, capacitors don’t use a chemical reaction to store energy. CCID: Charge Circuit Interrupting Device - a safety device that disables power to an EV charger in the event of a loss of isolation being detected. CCS: Combined Charging System is a DC rapid charging standard, capable of delivering up to 100kW. CHAdeMO: The trade name of a rapid charging method and electrical connector, capable of supplying 62.5 kW DC electricity. Charge Point: An electric vehicle recharging point. Charge Time: The time it takes to charge a battery, usually stated as being from empty to 100% full. This is affected by the supply Current, and Capacity of the battery - measured in kWh. Charging: The act of storing energy in a depleted 68

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There are many confusing acronyms, abbreviations and jargon in life - none more so than in the world of technology and electric vehicles. Like most of us, you’ll have likely forgotten your school physics and need a little reminder. The glossary below aims to explain most of the more common terms used when talking about EVs and Hybrids.

battery or capacitor. In effect, it is a transfer of energy from the electricity grid to a depleted energy storage device. CNG: Compressed Natural Gas. CO2: Carbon Dioxide is a naturally occurring gas. It is one of many harmful greenhouse gasses. Current: The flow of electric charge through a medium. It is a description of the flow of electrons from one place to another which requires a circuit. DC: Direct Current. Electric current of constant direction. See Electric Motor. Discharge: The opposite to charging. In an electric vehicle battery, it is the transfer of chemical energy to electrical energy, thus depleting the battery. E-REV: Extended Range Electric Vehicle’s use permanent electric motor drive, but have an internal combustion engine purely for recharging the batteries while on the move. Ebike: An electric motorbike, bicycle or scooter. Electric Motor: The ‘engine’ for all electric cars. They work in various ways, but there are two main types, AC and DC. Electromagnet: An electrically induced magnetic field is created in a coil of wire as current passes through it. Similarly, when the current stops so does the magnetic field. ELV: An electric light vehicle that weighs less than 250 kilos. eMPG: Similar to Miles per Gallon (MPG) but including an EV only mode of driving which increases the amount of miles a gallon of fuel allows a hybrid or PHEV vehicle to travel. ERS: Energy Recovery System. EV: Electric Vehicle - a broad term that incorporates anything from a battery powered vehicle to a hybrid and even a fuel cell powered vehicle too. Fast Charge: A Fast Charger is any charger able to deliver more current than a domestic supply (usually around 3kW). FCV: Fuel Cell Vehicle - Usually powered by Hydrogen. The fuel cell acts like an electricity power station to power the motors that drive the vehicle’s wheels. Also FCEV. Flywheel: Flywheels are rotating devices which store rotational energy. They are often used to provide continuous

energy when attached to a discontinuous source, such as an ICE where the torque varies. H: Hydrogen, the simplest element on the Periodic Table. Considered a gas, but can react like many reactive metals too due to its unique properties. HCU: Home Charging Unit. HEV: Hybrid Electric Vehicle. See Hybrid. HP: Horsepower. See Power. Hybrid: An electric motor is combined with an internal combustion engine to power a single vehicle. This combination of the two provides fuel saving benefits in most driving circumstances. Often referred to as a mild-hybrid when there is no plug-in facility. ICE: The Internal Combustion Engine works by burning fuel and air in a cylinder to produce gas which moves pistons that turn a crankshaft. This gives rotational energy. KERS: Kinetic Energy Recovery System. kW: One thousand Watts, or a kilo Watt. kWh: Energy measured by both power in kiloWatts and time in hours. lb ft: Pound feet. See Torque. Lead Acid: An old type of battery still very much in use in most conventional cars. See Battery. Li-Fe: Lithium Iron. See Battery. Li-ion: Lithium-ion. See Battery. Li-S: Lithium Sulphur. See Battery. LiCoO2: Lithium Cobalt Oxide. See Battery. LiFePO4: Lithium Iron Phosphate. See Battery. LiPo: Lithium Polymer. See Battery. Magnet: A magnet produces a magnetic field which either attracts of repels other magnets and certain ferromagnetic metals. Mennekes: A seven-pin electric vehicle charging plug/ socket made by a German company of the same name. MPG: Miles per Gallon is a measurement of how many miles a vehicle is able to travel, given a gallon of fuel. National Grid: The National Grid in the UK is a network of energy sources which combine to power the entire country. NCM: Nano Crystalline Motor. These are electric motors with an alternative core to Iron and are approximately 10 times more efficient. NiCd: Nickel Cadmium. See Battery. NiMH: Nickel Metal Hydride. See Battery. Nm: Newton metre. See Torque. Ohm’s Law: Ohm’s law states that the current through a conductor between two points is directly proportional to the potential difference across the two points. See Current. PHEV: Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle’s are a Hybrid vehicle with the ability to recharge their battery from an external power source, once plugged-in.

Photovoltaic Cells:PV Cells are used on solar panels which convert the suns radiation into electricity. As these work with radiation, they are not reliant on direct sunlight. Power: A measurement of power output (not input) from a motor. Pferdestärke (PS) is a metric equivalent to Horsepower (hp) that is used in mainland Europe and increasingly in the UK too. Watts (W) are used for power output of electric motors particularly. 1 hp = 746 Watts. Pressure: A measurement of continuous force exerted on or against an object by something in contact with it. For example, air pressure within a tyre. Measured in Bar and PSI. PS: Pferdestärke. See Power. PSI: Pounds per Square Inch. See Pressure. Range Anxiety: The feeling that your vehicle is not going to have adequate range for you to complete a journey. Range: The range of a vehicle is defined by the amount of power it requires to run and is able to hold. Rapid Charge: Rapid charging is considered faster than fast charging. When this term is used, it generally applies to currents in excess of 20kW. RBS: Regenerative Braking System or ‘regen’ is a method of braking in which energy is extracted from the parts braked, to be stored and reused. RPM: Revolutions per Minute - a measure of how many times something turns completely in exactly 60 seconds. SAE J-1772: An American design standard that was widely adopted as the defacto electric vehicle basic charging method. Fast being replaced by Mennekes. See Type 1 Socket. Three-Phase: Three-phase is a technical term for a type of AC electricity. It is most often associated with machine tools and engineering equipment, but is used by AC electric motors too. Torque: Torque is usually measured in pounds per foot (lb ft) or Newton metre (Nm). In basic, torque is a measure of the turning force on an object such as a wheel nut or a flywheel. Type 1: (Plug/Socket) A three-pin ‘normal’ plug/ socket for charging an electric vehicle. Popularised in the USA. Type 2: (Plug/Socket) An alternative connection that allows for power from three-phase electricity. Type 2 Mode 3: (Plug/Socket) This is the same as a Mennekes type socket. See Mennekes. ULEV: Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle. V2G: Vehicle to Grid is a term used to describe an electric vehicle that is plugged into the National Grid to provide power to it, rather than the other way around. W: Watt. See Power. ZEV: Zero Emissions Vehicle. | JAN-FEB 2017


REAR VIEW by Lucy Hargrave

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What’s all this connected-car stuff?


magine never being alone in your car again and instead having a personal mobility companion that will do everything for you including monitor the car, book appointments with the garage and even sing you a song. Well, this is now a reality with Microsoft announcing their Connected Vehicle Platform at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show. Using Microsoft’s Azure cloud, the driver will have access to virtual assistants, business applications, office services and productivity tools like Cortana, Dynamics, Office 365, Power BI and Skype for Business. Obviously Microsoft isn’t producing their own car, preferring to provide the tools to help the automotive industry deliver the next-generation driving experience, which aims to address: Predictive maintenance, improved in-car productivity, advanced navigation, customer insights and autonomous driving capabilities. The first car manufacturer to commit to the platform is the Renault-Nissan Alliance and the possibilities appear


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to be endless! With the power of Cortana, RenaultNissan could take any hardware device, stick it in the car and control it using voice commands. So let’s jump forward a couple of years to when fully autonomous driving is here, you will be able to say, ‘Hey Cortana, please can I have a coffee and a back scratch’, and hey presto you’ll be sipping your favourite beverage and enjoying a relaxing massage whilst on your way to work! Okay, so, it may seem a little crazy but the point is that with this technology car-makers will be able to explore new terrain, offer new customer experiences as well as investing in new companies. This is dramatically changing the concept of a car. Now, instead of a mere mechanical machine, the car will become an extension of your home and allow you to forget the commute to focus on what you really want to do. But will all this connectivity enslave us to our computers even more than we already are? Do we really need it and won’t we end up missing the real-world view out the windows in favour of a virtual one on a screen? Time will tell.

The Final

IMAGE Can you guess what car you’d find this interior in? (Answer on contents page).

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