Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Four Common Misconceptions and Problems with Electric Cars

You’re sitting in traffic, doing the typical drive home after a stressful day in the office. It’s a wonderfully British evening; cold, damp and gridlocked with people doing the same drive as you. The main difference is your car is electric and time is ticking on your battery power. 

Your headlights are on, you've got the heating blazing out of the air conditioning and you’re constantly stopping and starting to crawl along the busy road – you’re going to run out of power, great.

There are many misconceptions and problems with electric cars, but we often hear the same arguments over and over again – here are the top four misconceptions and problems with electrics cars in 2013. 

1) Not Enough Range

This tops the polls as the single biggest worry that we receive from clients, and it’s a valid concern that we understand. We’re going to look at the best-selling electric car on the market to date, the Nissan Leaf. Many tests have been conducted with this vehicle to determine its true range and reports have come back in their hundreds. 

Nissan Leaf Dashboard
A report was conducted by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) who adopts a comprehensive ‘5-cycle-test.’ This tests the car under a variety of real-world conditions, with differences in temperature, driving speeds and road-use (motorway, urban, heavy/light traffic, driving style and engine condition). 

The tests revealed that the Nissan Leaf is capable, on average, at producing 73miles before needing to be recharged, that drops into the 50’s if you constantly have to stop and start due to traffic. To put this into perspective, that’s about the distance to get from London to Brighton…not the greatest start if you’re a frequent motorway driver. 

Range of the electric car is a problem and it’s something that we cannot try and sweep under the carpet. The only saving grace for this conundrum is that, due to newer technologies, this is only going to be improving.

Take for example, Volkswagen new and confirmed for production venture – the XL1. The company are stating the XL1 will manage over 300mpg (combined equivalent, of course). 

Naturally, vehicles like the XL1 are a long way off and won’t be readily available to the mass market. However, it is clear to see that many manufacturers are at least trying to improve on the electric car and develop a vehicle which is viable for the long journeys. 

2) The Price

It may come as a surprise to some that the electric car does not come with a light price tag. In fact, a large majority of fully-electric, viable alternatives to traditional fuels and family friendly vehicles sit between £20,000 and £40,000. 

Take for example, the fourth most popular electric vehicle, the Peugeot iOn. The taxable p11d price for this vehicle is £26,161. You’d expect some decent gadgets for this price, but you’d be wrong. Unfortunately the iOn isn’t rammed full of goodies, with the basic specification giving you just Bluetooth and Climate Control. 

If you’ve got deep pockets, you can of course fork out for the more luxurious models, such as the Fisker Karma or Tesla Model S – but we’re talking big money here. 
Fisker Karma

Once again, we believe this is going to be a waiting game before electric cars are in the price range for a majority of buyers. They costs a lot because they are not cheap to manufacturer, again this is due to the newness of technologies used – but as these technologies become more refined – the price should go down. 

3) Design and Style 

For some very strange reason, car manufacturers seem inept in designing a good-looking, or at very least ‘normal-looking’ electric car. Perhaps the volts have gone to their heads. 

In all seriousness, a majority (but not all) of electric cars are not the best looking vehicles in the world. Whilst we appreciate that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – often the consensus agree! 

Perhaps the excitement of developing a car for the future often leads designers down the route that the car also needs to look like something from Back to the Future.

There are nice looking EV’s out there, such as the Vauxhall Ampera and there are ‘normal’ looking ones too, such as the Renault Fluence. However, many have just been designed to look futuristic for the sake of it – and it’s doing the market no favours. 

4) Charging Times and Stations 

The advertised advantage of Electric Vehicles is that you’re going to save a pretty penny on ever-rising (and they will keep rising) petrol/diesel prices. That’s all well and good, but we often hear of people worrying about charging times and how to charge them
A typical charging point

There are 3 types of charging points currently used in the UK; these are slow points, fast points and rapid points. Break these down into ‘how long’ they are:

Slow – utilising a standard 13-amp supply, this takes 6-8 hours for a full charge.
Fast – utilising either a single or three-phase 32 amp supply, 3-4 hours for a full charge.
Rapid – provides a quick, direct current supply and typically takes 30 minutes for a 80% charge. 

There are growing numbers of rapid charging points currently sprouting up all over the UK, in particular major cities where it is believed where electric cars will be more popular. This means that, when there are enough of these rapid points – charging worries won’t be so much of a problem. 

5) Why on earth should you buy one? 

It’s true, the electric car isn’t yet developed enough for everyone to consider buying or leasing one. However, some will find it fits their lifestyle perfectly. 

Those of you are town-drivers/inner-city drivers will have no problems with electric cars, charging points in major cities and now even smaller ones are frequent and easy to use. New technology now means that ‘rapid-charging,’ which means your EV can go from 0% to 80% in 30 minutes means it’s viable for some. 

The electric car is, at the current time – a town driver’s car only. Many experts are forecasting that with changing technology and developments in the EV market, the electric car will be ready to roll out to the masses in ten years. 

Don’t be put off by this article, electric vehicles will soon become a viable option for the masses – it’s just going to take a bit more learning, a squeeze of investment and a big handful of passion. 

For more information cars, electric or otherwise - visit the Alternative Route Finance website!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Lamborghini Urus Review

Lamborghini have a strong year in 2011, with 2083 vehicles sold worldwide, an increase of 30% from 2011. Key to its success was the Aventador which is now sitting in 922 driveways around the globe. This dwarfed the success of Lamborghini once flagship Murcielago, which managed at best 425 in 2007.

Lamborghini need to quicken up their final verdict on their concept Urus SUV, if a decision is not made this year then they will not meet their forecasted 2017 on-sale date.

Lambo celebrate their 50th anniversary this year, hence the eagerness to develop a super-SUV which has been getting fans excited since the first concept pictures were released.

Stephan Winkelmann, CEO of Lamborghini has told a recent press conference in New York that a verdict will be made in the next 12 months to decide the fate of the Urus.

"We have to decide its fate this year if we want to maintain that target." Winkelmann said.

VW Group, the parent company to Lamborghini, will decide if they can allocate the budget for the project - the final say will be in their hands entirely.

Lamborghini is also planning a gathering this May which could feature 350+ owners driving to Sant'Agata Bolognese from Milan in celebration of the 50 years landmark, 250 owners have already signed up.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Drink Driving Laws Set to Change

In the UK drink driving is a growing problem, many people die on our roads each year as a result of drink driving. Last year around 280 people died on the road as a result of drink driving. The government have decided to make changes to the current drink drive laws in the UK.

At the moment if you are found over the limit but are still less than 50 micrograms in 100ml of breath you can legally demand that you have a blood or urine test. This is often abused to buy ‘sobering-up time’. 

This means that while the police have to wait for a doctor to get to the station to perform the test, people who are just over the limit will have sobered up by this time. This rule was put into place as the early breathalyser tests were not as accurate. With much advancement in technology this rule is no longer necessary.

Now the rules are set to change, you will no longer be able to demand a blood or urine test. The test you provide at the side of the road will now be used as the final decision.  

The government are planning to release a new super accurate breath test that will give an unmistakeable reading which will be used to arrest the driver on the spot and be used in court.

What do you think of these changes? Do you think it will help protect the UK’s road users?
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