12 Nov

Will Tesla be a Blockbuster

Back in 2000 Blockbuster were everywhere.

They were the kings of video distribution. They had global reach and looked set for world domination.

Then along came competition, in the form of an unknown brand called Netflix. The Netflix CEO and co-Founder, Reed Hastings, approached Blockbuster to see if a partnership might be formed. His approach was rejected, the partnership never happened and the rest is history.

In the same way that Blockbuster changed how people watched movies, we have Tesla to thank for making Electric cars sexy. Without Tesla, it is questionable if the take up of Electric Cars would be as strong as it is today. The problem with being a trail blazer however, is that it attracts interest, envy and sometimes fear too.

After Blockbuster pioneered the concept of watching movies at home, competition came in the form of Netflix and others. The Economist magazine have predicted 2018 will be the year of the Electric Car. As we approach the end of 2017, Tesla look set to face competition from not just from one new competitor, but from a whole industry.

Battle lines are drawn

Competition look set to take place across two fronts. There are lots of new cars ready to be launched by the long established car giants. Interestingly, it is also now clear that the established motor manufacturers are set to co-operate as they make charging points available that are suited to the needs of their car brands. On 3rd November 2018, BMW, Daimler Benz, Ford, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche announced they are teaming up with a venture, named IONITY, to roll-out 400 HPC super-fast charging stations by 2020.  Just as Tesla have set-up charging stations specially suited for Tesla drivers we can now anticipate IONITY will promote charging stations for their industry giant partners.

New Cars from 2018

We will see an avalanche of new car launches starting in 2018. These will bring luxury-end competition to the sector. Until now, Tesla have been immune from challenge from these industry heavyweights. Of the many formidable challenges, to the ground-breaking Model S Tesla that will come along in 2018, three from Mercedes, Audi and Jaguar look particularly eye-catching…

Mercedes EQ – Range 500 Km

Audi E-Tron Quattro – Range 500km

Jaguar I-Pace – Range 300Km

So What next for Tesla?

Right now, we know three things…

  • Launch of the Model 3 is being delayed and 700 workers have just been let go
  • The share price has fallen following a recent announcement of loses of $619.4m
  • Competition is hotting up

So what happens next? Will sales of Model 3 soar? Will the Model S fight off competition from Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Volvo and all the rest? Will the direct sales model employed by Tesla usurp that of their conventional rivals?

Or, might someone suggest a partnership – just as the Netflix man did with Mr. Blockbuster all those years ago.

We live in interesting times.

30 Oct

Hear, hear… the Electric Vehicle sings

Nissan were pioneers of the Electric Vehicle industry when they brought us the Leaf some years ago. Since first appearing in 2010, sales have grown to over 250,000 world-wide and in Ireland the Leaf is the top selling Electric Vehicle by far.

At the Tokyo motor show which started this weekend, Nissan launched their new IMx concept car.

Image result for nissan Imx

Some people complain that Electric Vehicles are too quiet. Nissan have responded by making their new IMx range “sing” once it gets up towards 30km/h. They call this new feature “Canto” which in Spanish means “I sing”.

The new IMx range will have a range of 600Km and it will have a whopping 400 horespower, for those with boy-racer impulses. With new Super Charge technology, the IMx range will charge to 80% in less than 25 minutes

As it’s designed for autonomous driving, can we imagine it may even host a few sing-songs on the way home from the pub? It may even want to join in and demonstrate how it can “canto” itself.

 

21 Oct

Electric Cars in Ireland – Car Scrappage scheme overdue?

In 2008, the Fianna Fáil-Green Party coalition Government promoted a switch to “clean” diesel. VRT and motor tax rules were changed to favour diesel engines and Irish motorists were further enticed to make the switch with generous car scrappage deals.

It turns out, those clean diesels were not as good for the planet as we were lead to believe.

Moving from diesel to electric is making more sense now as we have over 1000 public charge-points around Ireland and the number of these is growing daily. New Super-Charge options are also available to Electric Vehicle drivers that allow a car to charge to 80% full in just over 20 minutes.

CarCharger facilities are now freely available in fuel and retail outlets 

Today, the average car on Irish roads is over 9 years old. In total we have over 2 million cars on Irish roads. Of these, at least 500,000 are diesels that are getting beyond their sell-by date. As they age, they no pollute more heavily and are ready for a car scrappage scheme.

In a recent survey by thejournal.ie, 17% of Irish people said they’d like to go electric when buying their next car.  If these people were encouraged to go electric with a car scrappage offered against an old diesel, Ireland could make a great step forward. Replacing diesels with electric will not only help us as a country to achieve carbon emission targets, we would also benefit from improvements in air quality too.

01 Apr

How fast charging works

How fast charging work

Car battery packs

A car battery consists of many ‘cells’. A single cell is quite similar to a rechargeable battery you use at home only bigger. A Tesla Model S with a 85 kWh battery pack  contains 7,104 individual cells.  A BMW i3 with a 21.6 kWh battery has just 96 cells, but its cells are larger than the cells used by Tesla. Together with all wiring and packaging the cells form the battery pack as depicted below.

BMW i3 Battery

BMW i3 battery pack

Today’s battery packs are designed with fast charging capability. For example the powertrain of the BMW i3 is rated at 125 kW peak power and 75 kW continuous power while fast charging is done at 50 kW.

Battery life

The battery pack of a car is never used 100%. The usable capacity of the 21.6 kWh i3 battery pack is around 19 kWh. The reserve of 2.6 kWh is used to ‘cushion’ the impact of charging and discharging. The battery pack automatically cycles between around 5% and 95% of the battery pack. All of this is handled by the Battery Management System (BMS) and completely hidden from the driver.

There are many factors influencing battery life including heat, battery age, duration of keeping a battery fully charged and number of charge – discharge cycles. Research shows that exclusive use of fast chargers hardly affects battery life when tested with the Nissan Leaf MY2012. And other research indicates that fast charging might actually be better for battery life. As a general rule, a battery will last longer when its size increases because fewer charge – discharge cycles are needed for the same mileage.

Charge speed

During fast charging there is continuous communication between the BMS and the fast charger. The BMS instructs the fast charger to set the charging speed. This speed is usually expressed in kilowatts (kW). Charging a car for 1 hour at 50 kW puts 50 kWh into the battery pack. On average an electric car uses 1 kWh to drive 5 km. Tesla also expresses the charge speed in km/hour. So 50 kW equals about 250 km/hour (‘250 km of range charged in 1 hour’).

P = V * I

Power (expressed in Watts) is the product of voltage (Volts) and current (Amps). When charging at 50 kW this is typically done at 400 V and 125 A (400 * 125 = 50.000 W = 50 kW). Note that this means that the charge speed is influenced by both the voltage and the current.

You can compare charging electricity with running water from a tap. Think of voltage (V) as the water pressure and current (A) as the size of the tap. If you increase the pressure more water will flow, and the same is true when increasing the size of the tap.

The voltage is a characteristic of a battery. Most car battery packs today operate at around 400 V when fully charged. But when a battery pack is not fully charged, the voltage will be lower e.g. 325 V. Voltage will gradually increase while charging, so this has a positive effect on the effective charge speed (see the blue line in the graph below showing a fast charge session of a 30 kWh Nissan Leaf).

The current can be increased or decreased by the fast charger based on data received from the BMS (see yellow line in the graph below). Most fast chargers can provide a maximum current of 125 A, but Tesla superchargers and the upcoming 150 kW CCS chargers can provide more than 300 A.

Nissan Leaf Charge Graph

0-90% charge of a 30 kWh Nissan Leaf

What influences charge speed?

Now let’s take a look at the factors that have an effect on the charge speed other than voltage. There are four main aspects:

Battery pack capacity. In general, a larger battery pack can be charged quicker. So a Tesla Model S with a large 90 kWh battery can be charged quicker than a BMW i3 with a 21 kWh battery. This is also the main reason why most plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) cannot fast charge: their battery packs are simply too small. Most PHEV manufacturers do not include the additional hardware (e.g. extra inlet and wiring) in the car.

State of Charge (SoC). When the battery is almost fully charged the charge speed drops to prevent the battery cells from overheating. Typically at 80-90% SoC the speed drops and charging will slow down further closer to 100% SoC. That is the reason why fast charging is most effective between 0% and 80-90% SoC.

Battery temperature. Battery cells operate most effectively between 20 – 25 degrees Celcius (68 – 77 degrees Fahrenheit). When battery temperature is too low or too high, the BMS reduces the requested current to protect the health of the battery cells. If the battery pack is equipped with a heating or cooling system the BMS will activate this system in order to control the cell temperature. Note that battery temperature is not only influenced by the outside temperature, but also by driving and charging as this will generally increase battery temperature.

Power level of the fast charger. There can be several reasons why a fast charger cannot provide full power. For example the grid connection might not be sufficient for the charger to operate at full power. Or the fast charger needs to share the available grid connection with other chargers on the same location. In that case the chargers will communicate with each other to ensure that the total power used does not exceed the available power of the grid connection. At a Tesla supercharger site two stalls (chargers) typically share their capacity. So if one car charges at full power, there is limited power left for the other car. At Fastned all chargers can work at full power, because we ensure the grid connections are sufficient to deliver peak capacity.

Electric vehicles share a lot of similarities when it comes to the factors that influence charge speed, but the exact impact of each factor differs. For example the 30 kWh Nissan Leaf is able to charge to 90% in the same time as the previous 24 kWh version did. And the BMW i3 can actively heat and cool its battery so temperate will have less impact.

Thank you Roland van der Put for the technical information.

16 Feb

Irish EV Situation

The number of electric cars in Ireland is pathetic. The Department of Transport published the official Vehicle and Driver Statistics Bulletin for 2015 today. It revealed that there are 1,985,130 private cars on our roads at the end of last year but that only 1,028 of them are electric. That is just 0.05 per cent or 5 five hundredths of one per cent. Can you believe it!

Today’s figures also show that in the last year alone a total of 121,110 new private cars were registered but that only 476 of them were electric. That was just 0.39 per cent of new private cars sold last year. Yet ESB was about to introduce charges which would have acted as a significant disincentive for people to switch to electric.

The original Government target was to have 20 per cent of the cars on our roads electric by 2020. Then it was halved to 10 per cent because clearly they did not have a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving that target. But at the rate they are going we will be lucky if they get to two per cent electric by 2020.

Someone needs to take this issue by the scruff of the neck and get the next Government to wake up and take the issue more seriously. The incentives for people to buy electric cars in Ireland are simply not working. The measures need to be improved substantially.

Serious consideration needs to be given to allowing electric cars drive in Bus Lanes and to be able to park for free on our city streets.

Today’s official statistics show there are only 356 electric cars registered in Dublin. That is certainly nowhere near enough to clog up the bus lanes. And overall, the cost of giving give free parking to such a small population of car drivers would be very small indeed.

Yet two little trinkets like those might just grab the public’s attention and cause people take a closer look at switching to electric.

If something radical is not done, and done soon, Ireland will end up with a massive bill for excessive carbon emissions in our transport sector.

Article posted online about the EV Situation in Ireland. fcp-mapwe

19 Nov

A little about Plugs!

EV-fast-charging-standard

The common standard for EV plug type is the IEC 62196.

IEC 62196 is an international standard for set of electrical connectors and charging modes for electric vehicles and is maintained by theInternational Electro technical Commission(IEC).

The standard specifies mechanisms such that, first, power is not supplied unless a vehicle is connected and, second, the vehicle is immobilized while still connected

 

Charging modes

IEC 62196-1 is applicable to plugs, socket-outlets, connectors, inlets and cable assemblies for electric vehicles, intended for use in conductive charging systems which incorporate control means, with a rated operating voltage not exceeding:

  • 690 V a.c., 50 – 60 Hz, at a rated current not exceeding 250 A;
  • 600 V d.c., at a rated current not exceeding 400 A.

IEC 62196 refers to the charging modes defined in IEC 61851-1 which include:

  • “Mode 1” – slow charging from a household-type socket-outlet
  • “Mode 2” – slow charging from a household-type socket-outlet with an in-cable protection device
  • “Mode 3” – slow or fast charging using a specific EV socket-outlet with control and protection function installed
  • “Mode 4” – fast charging using an external charger

chargeport-quiz-answers

18 Nov

ESB Charging for Chargers

 

ESB-ecars copy

Beginning later this month, new ESB ecars customers will be asked to sign up to a monthly fee of €16.99 (VAT inclusive). This is a direct quote from ESB.ie. From April 2016, a 30 cent per minute usage fee will apply to fast charging systems.

ESB ecars is working on additional price plans that it will launch in 2016.

The ESB ecars public charging network consists of more than 70 fast chargers located approximately 60 kilometres along inter-urban – capable of recharging a typical EV in 25 minutes, with over 800 Standard chargers in communities throughout Ireland.

A link to the full article can be found here.

http://insideevs.com/irelands-esb-charging-ports-longer-free-new-pricing-sparks-abuse-comments-ev-owners/

16 Feb

Electric Car Range in Ireland

Most of the main car manufacturing brands that sell cars in Ireland have ventured into the EV world, providing a small or family car with a range hovering around the 100km range.

Below are some stats and information on the popularity of EV Models.
Read More

16 Feb

Which EV Charging Plug?

Across the world there are numerous types of EV Charging plugs. These are becoming more standardised according to your location, but the EU have opted to go for the ‘Type 2’ plug.