Theme : Compromise – Playing the Fuel

Over 100 years ago the inventor of the compression ignition engine died under mysterious circumstances. Too late however – his monster had been unleashed.

Kenworth W900 - image : fitzgeraldgliderkits.com
One of the few good looking diesel installations. Kenworth W900 – image : fitzgeraldgliderkits.com

It’s recently been Christmas in the UK and round about that time, with the traditional Christmas dinner imminent, an inevitable jokey question is “does anyone really like brussel sprouts?”. Actually, I live with someone who does, so the answer is inexplicably “yes”. But far harder for me to accept is that there are people who actually like diesel engines – who prefer them to petrol ones. You could force feed me sprouts for a month and I could never even pretend to have any affection for the clattery, stinking, slippery product of Rudolf Diesel’s over-fertile mind.

As mentioned elsewhere, I have a motorhome. Like virtually all larger motorhomes, it’s built on a commercial vehicle base – in this case the ubiquitous Fiat Ducato. Once upon a time you could buy a petrol-engined Ducato in Europe, but not for quite a while. This is understandable since just as with generators, large boats and railway engines, for commercial vehicles diesel still rules. With more torque, better fuel consumption and, in the Ducato’s case, being a durable, purpose-built heavy-duty vehicle unit, it is the prudent choice for any sole trader or fleet manager and, if the driver complains about the clatter … well the driver doesn’t really complain.

But a motorhome’s life is often less stressful and less frantic (though I speak from theory, not experience). Also, many motorhomes don’t pile on the mileage and, compared with their van base, they are more costly to acquire and have much longer lives. As such, the clattery noise of diesel and the need to talk VERY LOUD at speed (here I speak from experience), might suggest that a petrol engine, though a bit more costly per mile to run, could be a far better option.

Last week I repeated a drive to Holland in my petrol engined Nissan Cube that I last carried out in a diesel engined Renault. The recent trip was far more relaxed and I realised that my dislike of diesel doesn’t abate. And I specified this Kangoo for work several years ago though, back then, I had little choice; diesel had such a hold that a petrol-engined equivalent wasn’t even offered.

Doubtless they had our best intentions at heart. Two highly respected names, Citroen and Ricardo conspire to make the first production diesel car in the 1930s Rosalie
Doubtless they had our best intentions at heart. Two highly respected names, Citroen and Ricardo conspire to make the first production diesel car in the 1930s Rosalie

For cars, diesel’s murky star is now, thankfully, in the descendant. Though not really for any more logical reason than its ascent. I remember when the only people who bought diesel were taxi companies. As a kid, our local station always had a couple of Austin Cambridges sitting outside, their lethargic Perkins diesel engines rattling the teeth of passers-by. Undoubtedly diesel starts out with the advantage that, as raw fuel it contains about 15% more energy than petrol but, until relatively recently, it had the additional advantage of having had far more development money thrown at it by European manufacturers than had petrol. This was because the late 20th Century makeover of diesel as the ‘Green’ choice still held currency and the illogical tax breaks given to it in 2001 had more than doubled the number of oil-burners in the UK. The 2012 World Health Organisation condemnation of it was largely ignored and I think the most damaging thing in the public eye was VW’s ‘Dieselgate’. What that did was to emphasise how the industry’s attempt to ‘clean-up’ an essentially dirty fuel and conform to ever more stringent regulations was pushing manufacturers to desperation.

Those were your lungs. Blocked particulate filter - image : dackmotorgroup.co.uk
Those were your lungs. Blocked particulate filter – image : dackmotorgroup.co.uk

Bosch is promising us a leap forward in battery technology but, for many, the time is not right for embracing EVs or even PHEVs. So, although my old local railway station probably now has a line of Prii sitting outside, it remains the case that, if you are piling on 12,000+ miles in a year and money is tight, diesel remains the hard-headed spreadsheet choice. But then, depending how long you hang on to it, you take a risk with future legislation. I can’t drive my 15 year old motorhome into various German and Italian towns any more. As an import, I had to register for exemption to keep it in London and, from September 2020, any diesel car over 5 years old will either be excluded, or must pay a special charge to enter Central London. Such legislation isn’t going to diminish and diesel is now seen as the biggest culprit towards health-damaging pollution. Its rise and fall was encouraged greatly by government knee-jerks, unsurprisingly accompanied by little in-depth understanding. The industry was happy to conspire and so the responsible diesel buyer of a few years ago will be tomorrow’s pariah.

VW's V10 Diesel
VW’s V10 Diesel

I know that I’m atypical, in that the only car diesel engine that ever interested me was VAG’s rather silly V10 as fitted to the Phaeton and Touareg and, generally, I hate the whole feel of automotive diesel, from the clatter – however well insulated it might be from the driver – to the torque range. But I have to concede that, like music and sex, other people’s taste might differ. So, everyone to their own, yet I can ask whether we, the buying public, addressed all the right questions when choosing diesel.

Most of us only have so much time to spend when researching car purchase. For someone who is so sloppy with their own finances, I am surprisingly enthusiastic when it comes to setting up a spreadsheet and carrying out a financial analysis. Not that it does me great good since looking at all the variables involved in car purchase, it is very rare that you can compare like with like. Once you choose one particular engine over another, fuel consumption, fuel price, servicing costs, road tax, insurance and depreciation all change in varying amounts and in various directions. There are other things that might apply such as congestion charges and car tax allowances. And many of these can vary considerably from country to country.

Possibly one of the best diesels available - but I still wouldn't want one - image : bmwblog.com
Possibly one of the best diesels available – but I still wouldn’t want one – image : bmwblog.com

Lets look at the 3 Series BMW and compare 2 options using a higher end X-Drive M Sport as a base. This is the sort of car that no-one buys unless they are a bit self-indulgent. The basic price of the diesel version is £2,475.00 more than the petrol but, if you did 12,000 miles a year in it, allowing say 30% optimism on official combined figures and assuming fuel prices return to their previous higher figures, over 5 years you might save around £1,500 in fuel and road tax. But with cars like this, it’s usual to specify a few indulgencies. It’s easy to blow thousands on specifying a BMW and ticking, say, leather instrument panel, enhanced speakers and head-up display, would already add over £2,000 which, after 5 years, it would be optimistic to believe that it would add £500 to the car’s resale value. So, that is more or less like for like. At this point my logic would be that if you really accept that a leather dash is a luxury worth having, surely a smooth, quiet petrol engine is even more desirable. And if you only did only 6,000 miles a year there would be no advantage. Except of course if you chose petrol a nicer engine. And if you’re assuming that the diesel will hold its residual as well or better than the petrol version, consider the point made above about future legislation. Today, buying diesel could end up a costly risk.

But of course, as petrol makes a comeback, there is another compromise. We’re now used to reading of consumption figures achieved by mid range saloons that I never even approached in all my years of driving flimsy Citroen twins. In order to achieve better fuel consumption from petrol engines, no-one is fettling velvety smooth six cylinders, they are turbocharging small capacity twin and triple cylinders. Mazda and Peugeot seem to have made very decent progress, with the PureTech getting very good press, and Fiat’s TwinAir and Ford’s EcoBoost are creditable, even if official fuel consumption figures might need to be taken with an even bigger pinch of salt that normal.

But most of what I’ve written above is irrelevant to my argument. I don’t think I’m alone in finding driving diesel so unsatisfactory. But I wonder how many people who might readily allow themselves the indulgence of a full length sunroof and 18″ alloys, don’t allow themselves the indulgence of a nicer engine. For me, I am willing to spend more on fuel in order to have the responsiveness and basic smoothness of a petrol engine. And, under the right circumstances, I’d probably be willing to use even more fuel on something with more cylinders. Primarily for me it’s a sensual thing but, although my environmental credentials are by no means great, the thought that I’m not shoving my nasty carcinogens down people’s throats is a bonus.

Marine Diesel Crankshaft - image : DHHI Group, China
Marine Diesel Crankshaft – image : DHHI Group, China

47 thoughts on “Theme : Compromise – Playing the Fuel”

  1. There is the small matter of poisoning people’s brains with carbon monoxide, something of which there is only a trace from diesel engines.

    1. I’m hardly advocating a (to be topical) Trump-like denial of emissions problems and we’re certainly talking about judging which is the slightly lesser evil here. Living in a city, though, my own inclination is that diesel emissions are a large problem, and harder to control, all the more so because it had an easy ride for so long.

    2. It’s not 1992 Europe anymore just before catalytic converters became required for petrol engines, 18 years after North America had them and lead was finally expunged from fuel.

      The CO carbon monoxide output of petrol engines runs around 35 ppm these days, not 1500 as of olden days. So bang goes that argument.

  2. The solution is a PHEV until there is more choice of full affordable EVs with greater range. My experience with an Ampera proves all your desires can be met today, extreme economy, minimal pollution, silky smoothness, dead quiet, and instant torque, and unlimited range.
    GMs just released the 238 mile range Bolt which will be the catalyst for longer range affordable EVs that will inevitably Trump the PHEVs.
    For any doubters of the practicality of EVs I recently engaged in conversation with a Tesla owner, a travelling salesman, who did 45,000 miles in one year with his model S, said he would never own another combustion engine car!
    Just realised I used the word Trump, sorry!

    1. Actually we are planning a small prize for the contributor who uses can bring the T word into their comments in the most respectful way on this auspicious and truly boootifull, really bootifull, day.

  3. When I mention that my C6 is a gas-guzzling petrol version, I’m often met with incomprehension. But I know Sean will understand my decision. Other than relying on my preferences for smooth, rattle- and vibration free riding and a balanced torque delivery over a broad range of revs, I also did the spreadsheet part. Which was really easy… A diesel car in the same condition (age, mileage, maintenance) would have cost me at least 5’000 CHF more, or rather 7’000 to 8’000. Try to get this back from fuel economy with less than 20’000 km a year (I guessed that I wanted to keep the car for seven years).

    1. The C6 certainly needs the smoothest engine to complement it. I admit to having driven diesels that, from the driver’s seat seemed to have smooth sounding engines (eg an Opel Insignia). But that was more a tribute to their soundproofing. Once outside the sound was unmistakable. And the thing had a 6 speed gearbox – where is that famous diesel torque in the real world?

    2. Am I right to think that it’s the systematic use of turbochargers that skews the torque delivery, and not an attribute of diesel engines per se?

    3. I imagine it’s not turbochargers, per se, but the way they are set up. The priorities for today’s car use are fuel consumption and emissions. Turbochargers in commercial vehicle and marine diesel applications go back many decades but, certainly, today’s car turbo-diesels lack both the good and bad characteristics of the non-turbo Peugeot 405 we had at work which you could probably have moved off in top gear, but which no amount of gear changing would ever have made feel lively.

    4. I see. And in passing you’ve just answered your own question about the presence of 6-speed gearbox in the car you drove.

  4. I actually preferred driving our diesel Bravo over the petrol Passat on long trips. The torque, especially over our hilly landscape was very addictive, and the economy impressive. Ok, the engine was not as smooth, but it wasn’t entirely without character.

    As for the near future, I think PHEVs of some sort will be a good compromise for many. In my simple world, I’d like to imagine that the fossil fuelled engine could be tuned to run as efficiently as possible at a (very) limited RPM range, feeding power directly to the batteries, with the electric motors providing the drive (like the i3?)

    Not knowing enough myself, I wonder if a liquid methanol (or other non-hydrogen) fuel cell could be used in place of the ICE for this mythical PHEV to give range and fast “recharge”? It would eliminate the problem of transport and storage of hydrogen; there’d only be one motor/engine, but two energy storage systems.

  5. Thanks for that – particularly the way you point out the inconsistency of fussing over mpg while checking the Harmann Kardon box, ventilated rear armrest box and ermine boot liner. I really like the petrolly character of my car and dislike the fact my loan car on holidays in the ROI is usually a diesel. The whole state approach to ecology is wrong too – diesel versus petrol mattered zero compared to encouraging car use long after it became clear it’s a bad idea if its anything more than a leisure transport mode. My motto is drive petrol, drive less.

  6. I’m with Sean on this one. You pay your money and make your choice but I would much prefer to have sub 20mpg figures and relish every drive rather than suffer the agricultural noise and vibration of a diesel. My neighbour (4 doors away) recently bought a brand new Jag XE. You can hear it start every morning.

    1. It’s remarkable how little time it took the industry to convince us this state of affairs was acceptable. Just meditate on those words for a moment: a diesel Jaguar. It’s mortifying. But what real choice is there? Is a petrol equivalent even available now and if it was, could you afford the taxation? Compression ignition can never be a refined method of motive power. Not with such violent forces at play.

      NVH has become utterly irrelevant to the wider motoring universe. It isn’t to me. I loathe and detest diesel engines. You can quote as many power, torque and economy figures until your hair falls out but I simply don’t care. It sounds and feels awful. Furthermore, it’s nasty, noxious and it wasn’t today or yesterday we found that out. In some cars the agricultural cacophony is something you can ignore or dismiss as a necessary evil. In a Jaguar (Ditto Maserati/Alfa Romeo/Porsche/BMW etc…) it’s a denial of the very engineering principles upon which the marque was founded.

  7. A wonderfully-written article that puts you in agreement with our Lord and mentor, LJK Setright. I love brussels, just bought some nice ones today, but hate diesel engines.

    I have no known allergies bar diesel exhaust. My last trip to the UK to see old friends was a nightmare. On the M62, my eyelids puffed up into reddened blobs I could barely see through, which scratching could not alleviate, of course. No doubt the photochemical smog produced by sunlight on Nitrogen oxides from diesel exhaust was the culprit, and that’s why Paris, Milan and London are going (or already do) to keep these smog producers out of central cores.

    If VW in particular, but all diesel manufacturers seem to have been at it one way or another, hadn’t put in controls to bypass emission controls in anything but ideal conditions, then this almost 100 times the NOx output as the old EU4, and 40 times more than the EU6 standards are written, would not have occurred. The US standard is even more stringent than EU6 which is what tripped up VW.

    Still, as we learn more with the investigations into the diesel engine these days particularly over here because a pointed stick has been prodded into heretofore asleep-on-the job bureaucrats, it has become increasingly clear that full abatement of diesel NOx output economically is not possible. Period. Yes, with urea injection you can reduce NOx in the exhaust to virtually nil. The catch is, you have to use it ALL the time (not every now and then on acceleration when the temp is betwwen 10 and 26 C) with fingers crossed hoping nobody in the regulatory inspectorates will notice the sleight of hand. Adblue urea tanks would have to take on huge proportions, and the gallonage required enormous. The running costs would go through the roof.

    With huge investments in diesel engine factories, manufacturers have in effect backed themselves into a corner. They want to recoup their investment but have to fudge the operating cycles to get the engines to “pass” emissions testing. (Marchionne’s latest jowl-flapping protests now that the V6 VM Motori has been caught out by the EPA is typical, but at least $2 billion in fines seems likely) That’s before all the various special interests and under-educated owners come beetling out of the woodwork trying to obfuscate the issues, depending on what position important to them they are trying to push. Governments are embarrassed that their past endorsement of diesels for low CO2 (low fuel consumption couched as a semi-scientific term to confuse the public – like buying “units” of electricity rather than referring to them by their proper name kilowatt-hours, kWh for short) was shown to be short-sighted. Don’t even get me started on the bogus efficiency calculations the EU puts forward for EVs on their web pages.

    I’m a retired mechanical engineer, and have spent a fair amount of effort researching the diesel problem for a friend with a TDi. I always questioned the cycle efficiencies put forward by EV advocates, having spent many years in an electrical utility that operated everything from thermal plants to windmills. It seems that pushing a certain societal policy has defeated what used to be a straightforward mechanical engineering calculation. All objections are brushed aside by twits with no technical background but nevertheless in charge of policy, pursuing different objectives that the truth might derail if it got around. As bad as the accountants, who you had to convince when money needed to be spent, but had zero clue, but thats another story.

    Lest I descend into further ranting at the silliness of much of what we are spoonfed these days, I’ll end by saying that the rattling old diesel should be laid to rest, turbo-boosted midrange grunt notwithstanding. Let reality have a place in the spotlight. And hydrogen? Well that’s the latest really silly gimmick. Whenever I read breathless prose on that subject, I take solace in my old Energy Conversion Systems textbook, and harshly laugh at the stupidity of what’s happening these days for reasons unrelated to engineering basics.

    The direct injection petrol engine soot particulate problem is virtually conquered now too, so let’s go petrol. As someone else pointed out above, Mazda might well have conquered the HCCI combustion problem in petrol engines. If they have and actually intoduce it on the 2018 3 as promised, well there will be no refuges left for special agendas. Unfortunately, HCCI engines are likely to be diesel-like rattlers due to the short, extremely sharp combustion explosions, but at least the exhaust pollution problems will be easily overcome, and thermal eficiencies approach 50%, making your typical good thermal power station at 40% seem old-fashioned. Did I mention thermal power station pollution effluent is worse on a unit input fuel basis than a modern petrol engine anyway? Another reason to boot EVs to the curb, although well-intentioned people writing blurbs for greenie websites tend to blithely say, “Oh, pollution is more easily controlled at a central power station,” as if it were some fundamental truth. Rubbish. They never bothered to actually check the reality.

    1. I think Bill’s ‘President’ is called Trudeau. I don’t know much about his country but he seems to have been in office for nearly 40 years. It must be something in the air.

    2. You fail to take into account that a percentage of that thermal pollution is from refining a gallon/ litre of fuel for those combustion vehicles, also the transport of it and even pumping it into your tank!
      Very convenient to forget how we abtain fuel and its own pollution trail when knocking EVs that can be charged with clean renewables.

  8. I enjoyed this post! I do have a question: as an American, diesel isn’t exactly the hot choice for a car here while it remains fairly popular there in your neck-of-the-woods. Do you contribute this change in attitude toward diesels upon beliefs about pollution? What about the price differences between diesel and petrol? Diesel is usually higher here in the States compared to petrol. Thanks for the feedback!

    1. It varies. In France petrol was trDitionally expensive and diesel was always a lot cheaper. So people’s main reason for specifying was.

      And, of course, though lots of us care about air quality, if it’s going to cost us significantly more, we might have second thoughts. So really it has always been primarily cost, but with the comforting idea that we were saving the ozone layer into the deal.

      But US petrol prices have always been so low (to us on this side) that it never really made much sense I guess.

    1. Isn´t the energy density of LPG too low to be useful? I suppose more efficient engines would reduce the disparity. There remains the risk of moving objects with sodding big pressurised tanks which might explode and are hard to package. But I am being very black hat: a ground-up analysis could prove there is some use in LPG. My experience of it is anecdotal: a whole city street in Dublin closed off because of my father´s leaking LPG tank in his Volvo 240. Apart from that tank, the 240 was a fabulous machine (if you define fabulous to mean comfortable, durable, handsome and heavy with super upholstery).

    2. CNG was quite popular here in NZ back in the ’80s and early ’90s, at least in the North Island. LPG was used too, but for some reason CNG was more popular. Dual fuelled CNG meant a loss of power compared to LPG.

      I saw an Italian video about a guy who’d developed a drop-in replacement hybrid glow plug / spark plug that allowed him to run a JTD powered Alfa on LPG (“metano”) & diesel. When running off LPG, it appeared to rev more like a petrol engine, but with torque and economy characteristics more like diesel.

  9. Regarding safety I suppose pressurised LPG would be no different than pressurised hydrogen which some tout. My question is why continue with outdated tech by seeking ways to clean it’s exhaust when the solution is already here in the form of electric. We now have an affordable production full electric car from GM with a 238 mile range, a Tesla with 350 mile range, and numerous variations of hybrids from virtually all manufacturers to fill the gap between full EV and conventional cars.
    It should be obvious the industry is shifting toward an electrified future rather than trying to prop up the ice which has reached the end of its 131 year run in a motorcar.
    What is now needed is for consumers to educate themselves of this trend and move into a future where using a car is more sustainable, cleaner, more pleasant to use, simpler and low in cost to maintain.
    As usual the human factor of reluctance to change seems forever present when a replacement is offered and is perpetuated by, to put it diplomatically lack of knowledge.

    1. My problem is not acceptance of EV’s, but the fact that no-one has yet made an EV that really suits my (pernickity and rather arbitrary) preferences – and of course wallet. Of what is available I guess the BMW i3 comes closest, but it has unimpressive range and needs more rear room.

    2. “My question is why continue with outdated tech by seeking ways to clean it’s exhaust when the solution is already here in the form of electric.”

      Simple answer is that we are in a period of transition. Going all electric is still a compromise too far for most people, both on a financial and a practical level.

  10. The largest psychological barrier for those considering an EV is increasingly not range, as that has largely been addressed, but infrastructure. If massed ranks of charging stations suddenly winked into existence outside every house, supermarket car park or holiday let, people would hardly give a thought to charging an EV. But that is not the case, hence our current chicken-and-egg scenario.

    On a macro-cosmic scale, as long as we continue to rely on coal and gas for power generation, transitioning the domestic fleet from ICE to EV simply moves the source of CO2 emissions. If western countries are serious about reducing the impact of global warming, a huge upfront commitment to renewable (plus inevitably nuclear) power is necessary. Imagine a future scenario whereby a massive and sustained investment in renewable sources creates a glut of cheap energy. At that point, burning the remains of long dead dinosaurs will seem impossibly outmoded, expensive and impractical.

  11. If I got an EV tomorrow, I could conceivably charge it off-street at my workplace. Otherwise I live in a terraced house so, even if I could secure a parking place outside my own home at the end of the day (unlikely) I’d then have to run power across to the car either by some home-made overhead gantry, or using one of those rubber cable protector devices across the pavement. Either is an invitation to vandalism. Ironically, city dwellers, who are the people most likely to appreciate EV’s, are the ones for whom ownership is most difficult.

    1. You could do like this guy and have your own kerbside charging point installed – with the added bonus of your very own parking space (just to annoy your neighbours):
      https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.477075,-0.1259562,3a,75y,353.29h,66.7t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s68bAkoe39DN97_lhSpHLRg!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

      In fact it could well be the guy mentioned in this article published 18 (!) years ago:
      https://www.theguardian.com/technology/1999/may/17/motoring

    2. It brings up interesting issues. I don’t think you can actually have your own point and designated space, but you can persuade the council to put one outside your house. However, if your neighbour buys an EV, there is nothing to stop them getting to your space first and hogging it. I see a period of petty conflicts as people learn (or don’t bother learning) EV charging etiquette.

    3. I’m pretty sure you’re right. However I stopped by this very charger last night on my way back from work and there is no indication that it may be available for common use, which led me to believe that it predates any deep thinking about the deployment of charging points (not that Wandsworth appears to have gone very far on that front. Lambeth seems a bit more advanced, but the council tax is much higher there).

    4. There’s an i3 in my street, but they seem to charge that somewhere else. Otherwise someone had an EV parked and charging outside their house the other day (a one-off) and had stretched a striped rubber cable protector across the pavement – not really a satisfactory solution.

  12. Some of the cases above can be solved with a PHEV ie unlimited range when required, or inability to charge either at home or away.
    The psychological barrier! coming up to four years of full electric and PHEV use I cannot count on one hand the number of times I have charged away from home, of course that won’t apply to everyone. Point is I think a big percentage would find this a reality but are put off when comparing an EV with a combustion car on a like for like basis where the consensus is it must go as far and fill as quickly at the local pumps or its a failure.
    Nissan states there are now more than 10,000 charge points in the UK and ecotricity has the motorway system covered plus all the home chargers. I might add they can be plugged in anywhere as the charger itself is built into the car.
    Power stations can be remotely located away from populations and be improved with an increasing mix of renewables which is something the ice cannot do.
    Renewables in the UK provided 25% power needs in 2015 which was more than nuclear,are on the rise and will be driven partly by adopting electric cars since they compliment each other.
    There is no need to wait It’s already cheaper to run an EV compared to an ice and much more convenient to depart home with a “full tank” than standing in a diesel spill on a cold wind swept forecourt and forking out five or six times the amount for the privilege!

    1. PHEV is a compromise in itself – you’re effectively dragging 200kg of batteries with an ICE if you can’t recharge regularly.

    2. Compromise compared to a full EV but one that can suffice for many till battery tech advances further.
      The Volt/Ampera weighs 1721 kg and 181 kg of that is battery which is partly compensated by a smaller less weighty fuel load.
      I think anyone who buys a PHEV to favor the petrol side and not plug in regularly is missing the point completely.

  13. Further to the above the second generation is lighter at 1607 kg and has a higher capacity battery and longer range, it’s called development!

  14. There’s no question that cars powered by ICEs only are not the future, but most new car buyers make a decision for the next 3 to 5 years at the most. And I’m pretty sure hybrids are gaining market share every year.
    EVs are a different matter altogether, and market penetration is entirely dependent on the deployment of charging technology. 10,000 charge points for the whole of the UK is really not very much at all.

  15. It’s more than petrol station numbers and increasing, plus that figure doesn’t include home points where most cars will be charged.
    The year 2015 saw the global number of 1.26 million electric cars on the road double the 2014 number.
    Battery cost have been cut by a factor of four since 2008 and are set to decrease further.
    I have the numbers of cars per country if curious.
    Just to clarify there is a distinction between hybrid and PHEV which everyone here may or may not know.
    Toyota and Honda “hybrids” added efficiency to essentially a petrol driven car whereas the PHEV is electrically driven with back up ice driven generator. The hybrid was a step toward the PHEV which is a step below the full EV.
    Reminds me of the old TV class sketch with Cleese Barker and Corbett.

    1. So more and more people are buying EVs, just not as many as you would like. And while it’s true that more people should consider it, for the majority it is not yet a viable option. What else is there to say?

  16. There is always something to say when addressing others preconceived ideas of a new product and that’s what I am endeavouring to do. Saying these cars are not a viable alternative for a majority is merely an opinion and one where the jury is still out while more come to market and the buyers become more educated.

    1. I agree that a lot more people could adopt EVs and probably don’t. One reason is that a car is a significant investment for most people and they tend to stick with the tried and tested – bearing in mind how much the phone industry and the motor industry have changed over the past 100 years, it’s clear that the motor industry is very conservative (to put it politely) and punters aren’t used to such sea changes – we’re only just getting over the shock of 4 valve heads.

      But, reverting to the original theme of this piece, maybe the people who are worried about looking fools for adopting EVs too early, should look at where their ‘safe’ purchase of an ‘eco friendly’ diesel car will have landed them if they hang on to it and find themselves increasingly taxed and surcharged over ownership of a car that has suddenly become a bit of a liability.

    2. “Saying these cars are not a viable alternative for a majority is merely an opinion and one where the jury is still out while more come to market and the buyers become more educated.”

      I wrote: “for the majority it is not YET a viable option” (emphasis added). So we’re effectively saying the same thing, just my glass is half-full and your half-empty…

  17. Having made a covenant with myself never to bring up tedious matters of range anxiety in any account of my EV experiences, today I found myself cursing our Nissan Leaf and the infrastructure which supports it.

    Black mark to infrastructure: The Leaf is picked up this morning showing 51 miles range, around 6/1o of capacity. How [exdel] difficult was it for the previous user to connect two plugs into their requisite sockets? How [exdel] difficult would it have been for the [exdels] in charge of the EV fleet to check that all ships were in harbour and anchored profitably to a charging point?

    My intended journey is about 45 miles of town and motorway driving. I re-plan to cut out a few miles. The schedule is not too pressing, so I enjoy the serenity, rather than indulge in Poor Man’s Tesla heroics. In either mode the Leaf is beguiling. After a day with the Leaf, to my two litre turbo-diesel daily driver feels like an escapee from a farm. Gold Star to the Leaf.

    So far so good. The EV user group to which I belong has determined that the Leaf’s remaining range indicator is a damn blasted liar. With this in mind I’ve been limiting myself to 60mph (mostly), avoided sudden acceleration, and even slipstreamed trucks. I discover that once it reaches ten miles left, the range indicator stops trying to predict. Even Rizla packets do better than that. This happens about five miles from base camp. I go four miles with the charge ‘gauge’ indicated empty. No sign of a decline in performance, but I’m not tempting fate. Roll into the car park. I’ve done 40 miles since I picked up the Leaf. I wasn’t worried, as our fleet manager conducted tests to establish how long our Leaves and i-MiEVs would run on ’empty’. The answer is 20 miles, but don’t take that as gospel. Black mark to the Leaf.

    Go to our sole ‘super-charger’ The two bays are occupied by an i-MiEV and an NV200e. Both plugged into [exdel] 13 Amp domestic sockets. Drive to the secondary charging site. All 13A, mostly used for i-MiEVs. The Leaf is considerably hungrier for kVA than the little Mitsubishis, and an overnight charge on a 13A socket will not restore full capacity overnight. The ‘super-charger’ will do the business in just over an hour.

    All of which is academic, as some [exdel] has blagged the Leaf’s 13A charging lead. Return the keys and report the matter, with little confidence that anyone will get off their fat [exdel] at 3:30 on a Friday afternoon to make sure that the Leaf is ready for duty on Monday morning. It’s no help that we have one ‘super-charger’ to serve two Leaves, four NV200es, and and any visiting EV dignitaries – we generously offer the campus’s EV charging facilities gratis to any EV user. Nevertheless massive [exdel] black mark to the infrastructure.

    Conclusions: The Leaf is still wonderful – try one if ever you have the chance – but Nissan have to sort out that damn blasted liar of a range indicator. The whole HMI needs to be reconsidered, it is needlessly complicated, and isn’t up to the standard of the rest of the car. More pertinently, the rise of the EV will stand or fall on infrastructure. Presently I’m put in mind of Frau Benz planning her journeys around the locations of pharmacies able to provide a sufficiency of volatile cleaning fluid.

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