Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill

A license to practice in general in the automotive service and repair industry is essential in my opinion. However, we are more likely to have success with this in connection with Electric Vehicles (includes all hybrids and variants). I fully support the IMI and the work they are doing to achieve this:

VW Golf GTE (PHEV)
The following is a brief from the Institute of the Motor Industry.
Making the most of electric vehicles – Infrastructure, skills, and safety.

The previous Secretary of State said, ‘The UK is a world leader in the uptake of low emission vehicles and our long term economic plan is investing £600 million by 2020 to improve air quality, create jobs and achieve our goal of every new car and van in the UK being ultra–low emission by 2040.’

The Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders (SMMT) and KPMG have forecast that the overall economic and social benefit of electric, connected and autonomous vehicles could be in the region of £51billion per year. The estimates indicate 320,000 additional jobs, and the potential to reduce serious roadside accidents by 25,000 casualties per year, which would save the NHS £24m by 2030.

The elimination of 40,000 deaths and 100,000s of respiratory illnesses caused by air pollution from diesel and petrol motor engines will increase this saving significantly.

The IMI believes that to achieve the Governments aims and reap the predicted economic and environmental benefits there is a need for a holistic approach. Government must address all the infrastructure issues.

The main focus of the VTAB is charging infrastructure

The IMI agrees that UK needs to have consistent and sustainable EV charging facilities across the country. There are currently 11,840 charge points across the UK. These are segmented into three categories slow charge (6 to 8 hours), fast charge (3 to 4 hours), and rapid charge (30 to 60 minutes). In addition, Professor Jim Saker of the University of Loughborough points out that the New Automotive Industry Growth Team project have indicated there are only two ways forward as regards to the future power train of vehicles; and that is Electric Vehicles and (Hydrogen) Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV). Currently however there are only 7 hydrogen filling stations in the UK. Professor Saker suggests that thousands more are needed to entice the public to make the switch to FCEVs en masse.

Issues the Bill does not address

Skills gap and competition issues
A problem will come from the skills gap facing the industry. A recent study conducted on behalf of the IMI showed that 81% of independent garages found it difficult to recruit technicians with the skills and competences to undertake work on technologically advanced vehicles, such as hybrid and electric cars. Out of 183,869 vehicle technicians in the UK only 2,000 are qualified on EVs and these are all employed in manufactures dealerships.

The lack of competition will exasperate the issue of the skills gap that would be taking place in the market. Manufacturers will train technicians and provide them with the equipment to repair EV and FCEV; this will lead to a group of skilled technicians who can repair the modern vehicles and a large percentage of technicians who have only been trained on the old technology.

This will mean that the market will fail to open up because of high repair and insurance costs. ULEV insurance costs are up 50% more expensive than petrol and diesel because of the skills shortage.

Government Investment in training
With major problems over recruitment and large skills shortages within the sector it is clear that unless a proactive strategy is undertaken the UK will not be able to support the growth of low carbon emission vehicles. The IMI has called for a modest investment of £30 million to assist the independent sector to train the required number of people.

Additional focus for the VTAB

Safety a risk to life and the reputation of the technology
The battery pack on a plug-in hybrid/electric vehicle carries up to 600v direct current. Manufacturers have taken the necessary precautions to ensure that the vehicles are safe in their day-to-day use. However, the risk of untrained vehicle technicians attempting to repair hybrid vehicles in particular is high as many of the components (other than the electric motor) are similar to that of standard combustion engines. Any technician making these assumptions puts their lives and the lives of others at risk.

To put this into perspective a UK household runs on 240v alternating current. In order legally conduct any electrical work on the premises the electrician has to be licenced under the NiCEIC BS 7671 scheme. Yet, no such licensing exists for electrically powered vehicles. Without an equivalent licence how could an automotive technician work on a faulty charging point or vehicle at the home of the vehicle owner?

Licence to practise
The Government should make it illegal for unqualified technicians to work on EV and FCEV cars from 2017.

The Government should mandate the IMI, along with the Health and Safety Executive to maintain the register of licenced technicians
.
Questions for the Minister

1. It is clear that the introduction of alternative fuel cars has the potential to reduce emissions and save lives (9,500 deaths in London associated with pollution, Kings College London study , 2015), as will the introduction of autonomous vehicles (25,000 according to KPMG). However, does the minister agree that introducing these advanced technological systems without the necessary legislation or licensing in place to ensure those that are working on these vehicles can repair the vehicles safely could cause avoidable injuries and fatalities?

2. Is the Minister aware that sales of electric vehicles have risen by 31% in the last year, but out of 183,869 technicians working on cars in the UK only 2,000 are currently qualified to work on the high voltage systems of electric vehicles, all of whom work solely in manufacturers’ dealerships?

3. If he does know can he say what plans the government has got to ensure the necessary skills are developed in the wider service & repair sector to maintain Electric and Hybrid vehicles safely and at a reasonable cost for consumers in the future?

4. Is the minister aware that insurance premiums for electric vehicles are up to 30% higher than for equivalent petrol or diesel models, and that Thatcham Research Ltd says this is due to the cost of repairs, the complexity of the cars, and there being fewer appropriate repairers driving competition?

5. Is the Minister aware of the very stark difference in the technology in electric vehicles compared to petrol powered cars, effectively the dawn of a second era in automotive technology, and the potential danger to an unqualified individual attempting to repair a machine that contains up to 600DC volts, which is potentially lethal?

6. Will the Minister meet with representatives from the Institute of the Motor Industry, the industry’s Professional Body, who are working closely with manufactures like BMW and Mitsubishi, to hear their case for a licence for professional technicians working on EVs, to protect the workers and to encourage businesses to invest in building the skills base required to support the exponential growth of electric and hybrid vehicles expected in the coming years?

7. Has the Minister calculated the potential savings for the NHS from the switch by drivers to ULEVs from diesel and petrol cars, and have these been factored into the investment decisions outlined in the VTAB?

SAE standard for wireless charging

Electrified powertrains, specifically Battery Electric and Plug-In Electric (BEV/ PHEV) vehicles are projected internationally to become more prevalent in production due to environmental factors (such as CO2 emissions), regulations (such as the Greenhouse Gas and the California ZEV Mandate) and the increasing price of fossil fuels. The main benefits of electrified powertrains are eliminating or significantly reducing local emissions while increasing the overall well-to-wheels efficiency.

Standardized Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) through wireless charging allows the BEV/ PHEV customer an automated and more convenient and alternative to plug-in (conductive) charging. Essentially the customer simply needs to park into a SAE J2954 compatible parking space (e.g., residential garage or parking structure) in order to charge the vehicle.

More details here: http://standards.sae.org/j2954_201605/

Bosch electrification technology


Bosch solutions make electrification technology accessible and offer powertrain choices for OEMS

Making its global debut at NAIAS, Bosch’s electric axle drive system (eAxle) makes electrification accessible for automakers through a scalable, modular platform that can bring 5-10 percent cost efficiency as compared to stand-alone components. The eAxle is flexible for multiple platforms and brings together top-of-the-line Bosch powertrain components into one system.

The Thermal Management Station will show how Bosch technology efficiently manages heat flows in electric vehicles and extends range by up to 25 percent, especially in winter driving conditions. The holistic thermal management approach for electric vehicles makes heating in the winter and cooling in the summer cost effective and energy efficient.

Advancements in the electrified powertrain are not limited to battery-powered vehicles. Bosch continues to drive innovation in the internal combustion engine. Direct injection (DI) makes up nearly 50 percent of today’s internal combustion engine market, and its share continues to grow as it enters its third generation of system technology. This new generation can provide significant improvements in efficiency, as well as reduced particulate and gaseous emissions, and improved acoustic performance to decrease overall noise.

Electrification enhanced by collaboration with automated and connected technologies

In addition to powertrain technologies, Bosch will also feature automated and connected technologies including the global debut of a key requirement on the path to fully automated driving. The Electric Power Steering (EPS) system with fail-operational function is a highly redundant feature that enables either a driver or auto pilot system to independently return to a minimal risk condition while maintaining about 50 percent electric steering support in the rare case of a single failure. This technology will enable OEMs to comply with the fall back strategies as proposed in the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy documents from the U.S. Department of Transportation and National Traffic Highway Safety Association.

 

Plans for more charging stations to encourage low emission vehicles.

ULEV charging point.

 

Plans to make electric vehicle chargepoints more widely available and convenient for motorists were put forward by government on October 24 2016.

As part of our ongoing commitment to making transport greener and improving air quality, the Department for Transport is consulting on a series of measures that will make chargepoints more accessible, making it easier for drivers to recharge as demand for low emission vehicles increases. The measures are due to be included in the Modern Transport Bill.

The government has pledged more than £600 million over this parliament to further boost the ultra low emission vehicle market, which is going from strength to strength after the number of new ultra low emission vehicles registered rose by 250% in just 2 years.

Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said:

We are committed to making transport cleaner and giving even more drivers the option of using a low emission vehicle as we strive to improve air quality across the country.

Our ambition is for nearly all new cars and vans to be zero emission by 2040, and we are taking real steps to achieve this in the Modern Transport Bill. We now want to hear the views of businesses and the wider public.

The measures being proposed would give government powers to support the roll-out of charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure and improve consumer access to the network by:

  • making information about the location of public charging stations more accessible to the public, potentially via an online database and through mobile phone apps
  • ensuring drivers can access chargepoints without the need for multiple memberships from individual providers
  • giving powers to set common standards for all public chargepoints to ensure electric car owners can recharge anywhere, anytime
  • making consumer pricing information for electricity and hydrogen fuels consistent and transparent
  • supporting ‘smart’ electric vehicle charging that is flexible to grid demands
  • ensuring there is provision of electric chargepoints and hydrogen refuelling points at large fuel retailers and motorway service areas
  • encouraging the roll-out of hydrogen refuelling stations through franchising

There are already more than 11,000 public chargepoints across the UK, and we have Europe’s largest network of rapid chargepoints. The government also offers a range of grants for home and workplace charging.

The Modern Transport Bill, first announced in the Queen’s Speech in May, will outline the role technology and innovation will play in delivering the safe, efficient and user focused transport systems of the future. The bill is due to be laid in Parliament next year.

The Department for Transport is also consulting separately on the proposed transposition of the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive; Europe-wide legislation that will further promote the roll-out of charging facilities for vehicles that run on electricity, hydrogen and other clean fuels.

The Modern Transport Bill consultation on measures for low emission vehicle infrastructure will last 4 weeks, closing on 23 November.

(Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-gears-up-for-zero-emission-future-with-plans-for-uk-charging-infrastructure)

Thermoelectric Energy Harvesting

Included in the report are interviews with potential adopters of thermoelectric energy harvesters and their views of the impact that the technology could have over their respective industries. Some of the application sectors include:
Waste heat recovery systems in vehicles: A large number of car companies, including Volkswagen, VOLVO, FORD and BMW in collaboration with NASA have been developing thermoelectric waste heat recovery systems in-house, each achieving different types of performance but all of them expecting to lead to improvements of 3-5% in fuel economy while the power generated out of these devices could potentially reach up to 1200W.
Wireless sensor network adoption. Wireless sensors powered by thermogenerators in environments where temperature differentials exist would lead to avoiding issues with battery lifetime and reliability. It would also lead to the ability to move away from wired sensors, which are still the solution of choice when increased reliability of measurement is necessary. Some applications have low enough power demands to operate with small temperature differentials, as small as a few degrees in some cases. These types of developments increase adoption trends.
Consumer applications: In these applications, the type of solution that thermogenerators provide varies: it could be related to saving energy when cooking by utilising thermo-powered cooking sensors, powering mobile phones, watches or other consumer electronics, even body sensing could become more widespread with sensory wristbands, clothing or athletic apparel that monitor vitals such as heart rate, body temperature, etc.
Read more at: http://www.idtechex.com/research/reports/thermoelectric-energy-harvesting-2016-2026-000473.asp

New Tech Promises to Boost Electric Vehicle Efficiency, Range

Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a new type of inverter device with greater efficiency in a smaller, lighter package – which should improve the fuel-efficiency and range of hybrid and electric vehicles.

Electric and hybrid vehicles rely on inverters to ensure that enough electricity is conveyed from the battery to the motor during vehicle operation. Conventional inverters rely on components made of the semiconductor material silicon.

husain-inverter-2016-header-992x558

Now researchers at the Future Renewable Electric Energy Distribution and Management (FREEDM) Systems Center at NC State have developed an inverter using off-the-shelf components made of the wide-bandgap semiconductor material silicon carbide (SiC) – with promising results.

“Our silicon carbide prototype inverter can transfer 99 percent of energy to the motor, which is about two percent higher than the best silicon-based inverters under normal conditions,” says Iqbal Husain, ABB Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at NC State and director of the FREEDM Center.

“Equally important, the silicon carbide inverters can be smaller and lighter than their silicon counterparts, further improving the range of electric vehicles,” says Husain, who co-authored two papers related to the work. “And new advances we’ve made in inverter components should allow us to make the inverters even smaller still.”

Range is an important issue because so-called “range anxiety” is a major factor limiting public acceptance of electric vehicles. People are afraid they won’t be able to travel very far or that they’ll get stuck on the side of the road.

The new SiC-based inverter is able to convey 12.1 kilowatts of power per liter (kW/L) – close to the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal of developing inverters that can achieve 13.4 kW/L by 2020. By way of comparison, a 2010 electric vehicle could achieve only 4.1 kW/L.

“Conventional, silicon-based inverters have likely improved since 2010, but they’re still nowhere near 12.1 kW/L,” Husain says.

The power density of new SiC materials allows engineers to make the inverters – and their components, such as capacitors and inductors – smaller and lighter.

“But, frankly, we are pretty sure that we can improve further on the energy density that we’ve shown with this prototype,” Husain says.

That’s because the new inverter prototype was made using off-the-shelf SiC components – and FREEDM researchers have recently made new, ultra-high density SiC power components that they expect will allow them to get closer to DOE’s 13.4 kW/L target once it’s incorporated into next generation inverters.

What’s more, the design of the new power component is more effective at dissipating heat than previous versions. This could allow the creation of air-cooled inverters, eliminating the need for bulky (and heavy) liquid cooling systems.

“We predict that we’ll be able to make an air-cooled inverter up to 35 kW using the new module, for use in motorcycles, hybrid vehicles and scooters,” Husain says. “And it will boost energy density even when used with liquid cooling systems in more powerful vehicles.”

The current SiC inverter prototype was designed to go up to 55 kW – the sort of power you’d see in a hybrid vehicle. The researchers are now in the process of scaling it up to 100 kW – akin to what you’d see in a fully electric vehicle – using off-the-shelf components. And they’re also in the process of developing inverters that make use of the new, ultra-high density SiC power component that they developed on-site.

A paper on the new inverter, “Design Methodology for a Planarized High Power Density EV/HEV Traction Drive using SiC Power Modules,” will be presented at the IEEE Energy Conversion Congress and Exposition (ECCE), being held Sept. 18-22 in Milwaukee. Lead author of the paper is Dhrubo Rahman, a Ph.D. student at NC State. The paper was co-authored by Adam Morgan, Yang Xu and Rui Gao, who are Ph.D. students at NC State; Wensong Yu and Douglas Hopkins, research professors in NC State’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering; and Husain.

A paper on the new, ultra-high density SiC power component, “Development of an Ultra-high Density Power Chip on Bus Module,” will also be presented at ECCE. Lead author of the paper is Yang Xu. The paper was co-authored by Yu, Husain and Hopkins, as well as by Harvey West, a research professor in NC State’s Edward P. Fitts Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering.

The research was done with the support of the PowerAmerica Institute, a public-private research initiative housed at NC State and funded by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy under award number DE-EE0006521. FREEDM, a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center, is aimed at facilitating the development and implementation of new renewable electric-energy technologies.

Source: https://news.ncsu.edu/2016/09/inverters-boost-ev-range-2016/

Real-driving emissions (RDE)

Brussels, 19 January 2016 – Following the debate on real-driving emissions (RDE) during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg yesterday, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) reiterates that it fully agrees with the need for emissions to more closely reflect real-world conditions.
“We urgently need to have a new test method to bridge the gap between the current laboratory testing of pollutant emissions, as defined by law, and the very different conditions experienced on the road,” said Erik Jonnaert, ACEA Secretary General. Alongside other stakeholders, ACEA has therefore been contributing constructively to the efforts of the European Commission and member states to develop a robust RDE test.

During the October meeting of the Commission’s regulatory committee (TCMV) a tough compromise was agreed on RDE with testing standards that will be extremely difficult for automobile manufacturers to reach in a short space of time, and highly challenging targets in a second step. The TCMV also agreed that the RDE conformity factor should be reviewed in the future.

“Despite the challenges in the latest proposals, the industry urgently needs clarity now so manufacturers can plan the development and design of vehicles in line with the new RDE requirements. Any delay to this legislation would leave little time to make the necessary changes and ultimately would just push back the benefits for the environment,” stated Jonnaert. “Our industry needs the RDE test to restore the confidence of consumers and legislators in the environmental performance of new vehicles.”

(Source: ACEA. www.acea.be )

Death by EV

Some automotive technicians are going to be killed by the high voltages on electric vehicles. I have written many textbooks about automotive technology where I have highlighted safe working practices, but the one I have just completed the script for will save lives. This book is called, ‘Electric and Hybrid Vehicles’, and will be out early in 2016. By the way, we use the term EV to cover all the different types there are such as hybrids and pure-EVs.

Did you know the voltages on some EVs can be several hundred volts, which is almost three time the mains voltage in our houses? The majority of EV batteries are well over 300 volts. If the human body experiences a current of just fifty thousandths of an ampere (50mA, which is not very much) for over two seconds it can be fatal.

Now that I have scared you away from ever touching high voltage components (which are all labelled and usually coloured orange) I would add that working on EVs is perfectly safe! You just need to be trained and know what you are doing. Driving an EV is also perfectly safe and don’t expect poor performance either. My EV will do well over 80 miles per hour (on a private track!) just using the battery and electric motor.

Of course as well as saving lives, the book is packed with really interesting information and technology relating to EVs. For example, whether it is safe to plug in the charging lead in the rain. How most motors on EVs are AC motors but we call them DC motors! The book even covers things like what ‘first responders’ should do if a lithium-ion battery is burning after an accident. The book covers all the requirements for the Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) awards and accreditations for those who need a qualification. Look out for the amazing eLearning that will also be available soon to support the book.

I have also included a short case study on charging my own EV (actually a PHEV) from solar panels. This may or may not save the planet but in the meantime it does save me money as I can now do a large proportion of my motoring for about 1p a mile.

Here are three more interesting facts to finish on:

A formula-e (fully electric racing car) will accelerate from 0 to 100 kilometres per hour in under 3 seconds

  • The Tesla Model S (a fully electric car) has a range of up to 330 miles
  • In the year 1900, electrically powered cars were the best-selling road vehicles in the USA

Now back to the final proof read of the script!

ICE, PHEV or Pure-EV

(Internal Combustion Engine, Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (like my GTE!) or a pure Electric only Vehicle)

I have been playing around with a few figures relating to the overall costs of running these three different vehicles and trying to compare them – it is a difficult task! Here is what I have done so far, comments and ideas are welcome:

=========================

The cost of charging an EV battery depends on the size of the battery, how depleted the battery is and how quickly you charge it. As a guide, charging a pure-electric car from flat to full will cost from as little as £1.00 to £4.00. This is for a typical pure-EV with a 24kWh battery which will offer around 100 miles range.

This means the average cost of ‘fuel’ will be approximately £0.03 per mile. Similar costs will apply to PHEVs and E-REVs, and because the batteries are smaller, it will cost less to charge them. See also the figures in table 2.

In some cases it may be possible to charge overnight and take advantage of cheaper electricity rates. Other options include charging from domestic solar panels. At this time it is calculated that the total cost of ownership of an electric car is similar to an ICE because of the additional purchase costs. However, this will change and if other advantages are included such as congestion charges (currently £11.50 per day in London for ICE but zero for EVs), the EV will be significantly cheaper in the longer term.

Table 1 Comparison of costs

Term, mileage, fuel cost ICE Pure-EV PHEV Notes
Annual mileage 10,000 10,000 10,000
Cost of fuel (£/gallon or £kW/h) £5.70 £0.05 £5.70 / £0.05 Electricity (£/kWh) average standard/cheap/solar used for calculation
Official combined cycle mpg 68 mpg 150 Wh/km 166 mpg Electricity consumption (Wh/km)
‘Real world‘ mpg 50 mpg 175 Wh/km0.28 kWh/mile 100 mpg *1 Real world consumption
Total fuel costs £1,140 £140 £570 (annual miles * fuel cost / mpg)(annual miles * fuel cost * kWh/mile)
Vehicle cost information        
Purchase price £28,000 £34,000 £35,000 Estimates based on current list prices
Plug-in car grant -£5,000 -£5,000 A grant to reduce cost by 25% (up to £5,000)
Net purchase price £28,000 £29,000 £30,000
Depreciation cost/year £8,400 £8,700 £9,000 30% used – this will vary however
Residual value £19,600 £21,300 £21,000
Service, maintenance and repair £190 £155 £190 Based on average of published figures.
Other information        
Vehicle Excise Duty and Registration Fee £30 £0 £0
TOTAL COST £9,760 £8,995 £9,760 Per year

Important note: the figures used in this table are ‘best guesses’ but none-the-less give a reasonable comparison. The bottom line is that the three cars have broadly the same overall total cost even though the Pure-EV and the PHEV have much lower fuel costs. The key factor will be how the depreciation cost of the EVs pan out. However, over subsequent years the fuel savings associated with the EVs will become more significant.

Being able to programme EVs to charge during the night will allow drivers to take advantage of cheaper electricity prices, whilst using any surplus electricity. In addition, the development of smart metering systems which can automatically select charging times and tariffs can also help to manage demand on the grid. The National Grid manages the grid on a second by second basis to ensure that supply and demand are met and to indicate to the market if there is a shortfall or surplus of power.

*1 Very much depends on the length of journey – an average value was used

Free motoring…

…we’ll almost, at least very cheap motoring is the plan!

On the 7th August 2015 I took delivery of the (almost) final part of the puzzle that when put together will result in big savings – I hope. I still need to get the proper charging point together with gadgets to monitor energy use etc., but I am nearly there. Here is my new Golf GTE (from Inchcape in Chelmsford) taking its first charge on my drive:

image
Golf GTE – one of the first in my region

The Golf GTE 1.4 TSI produces 204PS (Pferdestärke, abbreviation of the German term for metric horsepower).  It is a PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) 5dr DSG boasting 0–62mph in 7.6 seconds. and up to 166.0 mpg. The electric range is 31 miles and when electric and petrol combine, the total range is 580 miles. The previous data are laboratory figures of course, I will report back on what happens in the real world in due course. However, its performance is very impressive so far. Because the car is a plug-in hybrid it attracted the £5000 government grant. More on overall prices later though because cheap mileage is all very well but initial and running costs still have to be considered.

The other part of my cunning plan involves solar panels (actually photo-voltaic or PV panels) and these will be used to charge the 8.8 kWh lithium-ion battery in 3.75 hours from a domestic mains outlet, or 2.25 hours from a domestic wallbox.

PV panels (a 4kW array) fitted in February (the snow being the clue)
PV panels (a 4kW array) fitted in February (the snow being the clue)

My PV array has saved me buying a lot of electricity and has further resulted in an income. So far this year I have received about £400, by selling the excess energy back to the grid (using what is known as a feed-in tariff). In addition, my electricity bill has reduced as shown in the following chart:

Comparison of grid power used with solar generated and last year's average use (09/08/2015).
Comparison of grid power used with solar generated and last year’s average use (09/08/2015).

As you would expect, we pay much more for the electricity we use than the price we get when selling it (something like 14p per unit when buying and 3p per unit when selling). The way the feed-in tariff works is that the electricity generation company pays us for 50% of the amount generated by the PV panels. So the more we generate the more we get but of course the other advantage is gained because the more of the PV energy we use, the less electricity we purchase. This is where the new car comes in. The plan is that whenever we return home, we will make sure all the available charge in the car’s lithium-iron (Li-on) traction batteries has been used up. This will simply be done by switching the car to full e-mode when 35 miles from home. The car will now only be charged when enough solar energy is available (emergencies excepted of course). I am doing this manually at the moment but it will be automated in due course.

I have just completed a journey, by pure coincidence, to the UK VW headquarters where they have a charge point (well they should have shouldn’t they)! This was about a 170 mile round trip for me. I set off with a fully charged battery and managed to add 20 miles worth of charge while I was there. The car trip computer showed an overall average mpg of 68 – so just under 2.5 gallons. for the journey. My previous car (a modern Golf GTD 2.0ltr) would have done the same at an average of about 48 mpg (about 3.5 gallons). This journey was a good combination of country roads and motorway so probably indicates a good average. I did not try to save fuel or equally I didn’t accelerate/brake rapidly so the figures are probably quite a good start for real-world use. When used in hybrid mode only, the average was about 50 mpg .

I am expecting to win much more on the shorter journeys we do, which will use no petrol or very little. My journey to the office at the IMI for example, is about 42 miles each way. We have a free charging point! My hope therefore is to only use about half a gallon of fuel for the return trip (60 miles on full electric and 25 miles at 50 mpg).

Watch this space, more details to come…

Tom