The Age of Electric Vehicles Dawns

July 18, 2017


New York Times:

There is simply no credible way to address climate change without changing the way we get from here to there, meaning cars, trucks, planes and any other gas-guzzling forms of transportation. That is why it is so heartening to see electric cars, considered curios for the rich or eccentric or both not that long ago, now entering the mainstream.

A slew of recent announcements by researchers, auto companies and world leaders offer real promise. First up, a forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance said that electric cars would become cheaper than conventional cars without government subsidies between 2025 and 2030. At the same time, auto companies like Tesla, General Motors and Volvo are planning a slate of new models that they say will be not only more affordable but also more practical than earlier versions. And officials in such countries as France, India and Norway have set aggressive targets for putting these vehicles to use and phasing out emission-spewing gasoline and diesel cars.

The technology is catching on faster than predicted, which is good news for the planet, and consumers.

The roar of the engine was replaced by a furious whirring as the future of motorsports came to Brooklyn.

Formula E took over part of the waterfront neighborhood of Red Hook on Sunday, the second of two race days for the Qualcomm New York City ePrix.

The Formula One-style, open-wheel cars reach speeds of 140 mph but only about 80 decibels, compared with 130 decibels for the cars with combustion engines. Instead of screaming down the straightaways the way F1 cars do, FE cars buzz like giant, steal hummingbirds. And they run clean and green.

Sam Bird from the DS Virgin Racing team won Sunday’s 49-lap race over the narrow 1.2-mile, 10-turn track from the pole to sweep the weekend races for team owner Richard Branson, the billionaire adventurer.

The 3-year-old FE series is sanctioned by the International Federation of Automobiles, the governing body for Formula One, making the New York City ePrix the first race run by a major motorsports organization in the five boroughs. The street course was squeezed into an industrial area that has become more residential in recent years. Red Hook is known for its microbreweries, food trucks and an Ikea where New Yorkers can buy cheap furniture for their expensive apartments. With the track right next to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the Statute of Liberty had a great view of the starting grid.

Twenty drivers started the race with enough battery power to make it through about 25 laps. They switch cars during the race and the key is energy conservation. Drivers are careful not to lean too hard on the accelerator and can recharge the battery when braking.

“With it being electric, there’s no delay from when you put the throttle down to when it gets to the wheels,” said Mitch Evans of New Zealand, who drives for Panasonic Jaguar Racing, a new team to the circuit this year. “The energy management in the race is quite unique.”

New York is the second-to-last of nine stops for the Formula E series. Previous race sites include Berlin, Monaco, Paris and Mexico City. In two weeks, the series finishes in Montreal. Thousands attended the races in Brooklyn, packing two metal grandstands overlooking the track on Sunday. Not bad considering Red Hook is not the easiest neighborhood to reach by mass transit and it’s no place to try to park a car.


Some oil companies are well aware of the world’s car fleet fast transition to electric vehicles and they are looking to adapt. As electric cars increase in popularity, gas stations will be forcefully downgraded to simple convenience stores and consequently, they will lose a significant revenue stream.

Shell aims to not be left out in this transition by installing electric vehicle chargers at their gas stations.

They announced earlier this year that they would start deploying the charging stations in Britain and the Netherlands later this year, but today, they confirmed the first few stations through a partnership with Allego.

The electric vehicle charging network wrote in a press release:

“The first chargers are due to open in Greater London, Derby and the western part of the Netherlands (Randstad) by the end of 2017.”

Interestingly, they confirm that they will be using DC fast-charging station, but the chargers are capped at 50 kW, which is unfortunate in 2017 when other companies are deploying chargers capable of much higher charge rates. Like Tesla’s Superchargers capable of 120 kW and Porsche even started deploying its first 350 kW chargers.

Nonetheless, it’s better than deploying level 2 chargers and it should especially be useful for Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, and owners of other CHAdeMO/CCS compatible electric cars. Tesla owners could also benefit if they deploy CHAdeMO adapters like with the Allego charging station pictured above.

Anja van Niersen, CEO of Allego, commented on the announcement:

“We are proud being a service partner for Shell and that we can contribute to the transition towards cleaner mobility. We are looking forward to support Shell in delivering excellent value to its customers. We see that people are willing to shift towards electric mobility. But a lack of appropriate level of charging infrastructure and interoperable charging services is one of their main concerns. Allego and Shell join forces by adding fast chargers at the right service stations. Shell now actively contributes in creating a reliable and open charging network. A network that is accessible for all EV drivers, despite the brand of the car.”

Shell didn’t reveal how many gas stations will get chargers. With 25,000 Shell-branded gas stations in the world, it would significantly increase the electric vehicle charging infrastructure if they decide to deploy stations at every location – though it’s unlikely at the moment.

Interestingly, the initiative comes just as the UK is considering a new bill to make gas stations install electric car chargers.


2 Responses to “The Age of Electric Vehicles Dawns”

  1. I have a BMW i3 that I charge with a 3.4 kW stand alone solar system. The i3 smartphone app tracks energy use – i am at 4.2 mi./kWh and the average for all i3’s is 3.8 mi./kWh. It also tracks the amount of CO2 saved if charged with “renewable” and “conventional” sources. In 2 1/2 months of driving I saved 1703.6 lbs of CO2 – 8174 lbs./ 4+ tons annually. If I charged from the “conventional” coal, n.g., nuclear steam electric system monopoly, I would have saved 289.6 lbs. or 80% less than solar charging. Think PV EV!

  2. Andy Lee Robinson Says:

    I rode over 200 miles on my homemade ebike a couple of weeks ago from Budapest to Fonyód and back.

    I used two homemade lithium batteries, one from ten 5Ah lipo drone batteries giving about 1.2kWh in 7kg, and the other one I made with 224 cells harvested from a couple of hundred old laptop batteries, and contains around 2kWh in 10kg.

    Had a headwind nearly all the way, so kept speed down to around 15mph to conserve “juice” and enjoyed the ride in the sun.

    I hadn’t slept much, so after a few hours and with the sun still high in the sky I pulled over to find a field, sleep a bit and charge from the 300W of solar panels I’d also made and brought with me in a backpack.

    A couple of hours was enough to top up about 20% capacity and give a little extra range.

    Next day I charged up in a coffee shop for 5 hours with the charger, and had lots of coffee and grub in appreciation.

    Left around 10pm, and arrived back in Budapest as dawn was breaking – beautiful!
    And all with my own creativity and about 50c worth of electricity.

    In stark contrast, last week a car unfortunately turned right across me and I flew over the bonnet, ending up in hospital with a broken pelvis, ribs and collar bone.
    I’m home now and on the mend with a wheelchair for a couple of weeks.
    Shouldn’t be anything permanent and I’ll soon be running around and riding again – can’t wait!

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