One of Boston’s electrical design engineers provides a personal view on electric vehicles (EVs):

“EVs are often in the news, manufacturers competing to provide the best specification, longest range, etc. I feel we can be thankful to Tesla as a driving force and competitor in the rapidly evolving EV industry. Several manufacturers provide hybrid vehicles, combining a conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) with electric drive.”

“Drivers of ‘pure’ EVs, that is battery-only, may scoff at the idea of hybrid vehicles, they are limited in the size of battery and therefore battery-driven range simply due to the space and weight limits within the vehicle. As a pure EV driver myself, I like to take a different view that a hybrid vehicle presents a useful introduction to electric driving and will hopefully give more confidence to EV buyers for future purchases.”

“So, on to my experience as an EV driver, four months in. The main driver for me was a change to the diesel vehicle I had which was expensive on fuel but was also costing me a small fortune in ongoing repairs despite only 60k miles on the clock. Another story in itself.”

“Having kept an eye on the EV market for some time it became apparent that a new Nissan Leaf was to become available at the beginning of January 2018. Being a true Yorkshireman, with deep pockets and short arms J, I went to my local Nissan dealer to see if I could pick up a bargain in the last of the outgoing model. A deal was reached and I became the proud owner of a Nissan Leaf Acenta, a ‘demonstrator’ with just under 5k miles on the clock. The dealer had clearly looked at how they could help their EV buyers, de-risking the process somewhat by offering two-weeks hire of a standard ICE in any calendar year.”

“It’s probably worth pointing out that as an electrical and electronic engineer, the workings and performance of an EV were very easy for me to grasp. I suppose my peers and I are blessed with less concerns about this than many others. My opinion so far? The headline is I have no regrets at all, it’s a joy to drive, much easier and quieter than any car I’ve had before. It’s very nice never having to visit a fuel pump again. Not that I don’t park in the corner of the forecourt of a fuel station every now and again, ‘just the coffee, no fuel’ I say to the attendant! In addition, I’ve thrown away my ice-scraper, the car de-ices itself using energy from the charger before a journey on a freezing winter morning!”

“EV driving is different, as there is an opportunity to drive the car in such a way as to reduce energy drawn from the main traction battery and therefore extend the range. You learn this as you drive. Accelerating more linearly, you can reach normal speed more economically. Using regenerative braking, whereby the car’s motor becomes a generator when I lift off the accelerator, it pumps energy back into the battery. You can also see how much energy the heating or cooling is using and regulate that yourself if it suits.”

“Another bit of useful tech that I’ve begun to use more and more is the speed limiter. There’s practically no sound feedback in an EV to let you know how well you are regulating your speed. You can always take your eyes off the road to glance at the speedometer, but setting the speed limiter lets me concentrate on the road more in urban areas.”

“And when you do need it to go, it really goes! The full engine power is available instantly at any speed. If an opportunity to overtake arises, I find it all happens much more efficiently and safely than it used to.

It’s incredibly cheap to run. My average driving requires about 250W/h (Watt hours) per mile. So that’s 4 miles on 1kWh of electricity, that’s about 2.7p per mile! Range is typically from 125 to 150 miles on single charge. The car has a navigation system that includes public charging points and I have used fast chargers that are now installed in many motorway services. I also have a home charger where the car is most often charged.

According to the vehicle statistics, my phone app tells me so far this year I’ve done 6,179.1 miles at an average economy of 240W/h per mile. The car has consumed 1510.5kWh of electricity and saved 1,709kg of CO2 as compared to and equivalent ICE vehicle.”

“I sincerely think it’s one of the best investments I’ve made. I also reckon in many working households where two cars are in use, one of them could be an EV. As a society we do need more chargers and I hope to have a hand in that moving forward. Similarly I believe EVs are not the only answer to green transport, but are an important part.”

“I’ve encouraged my 9 year son to ask questions and understand the charging process. Under supervision, he can plug in the charger when we get home after a trip and he knows the how the flashing LEDs on the top if the dashboard represent the charging status.”

“I’ve also installed a charger at our office, so if you’d like one and any more information, let us know. I think businesses can benefit in several ways by adding one or more EV chargers, which will become inevitable sooner or later. You can attract more customers and reduce fleet costs. It can easily become a source of additional revenue and is based on simple, reliable technology.”

“Whilst it is a brave man who seeks to foretell the future it is my view that EVs will undoubtedly become increasingly popular and accessible as time goes on. Huge resource is being poured into the EV charging infrastructure and second life EV batteries are beginning to be used in industrial locations to aid frequency balancing and mitigate against electricity price inflation. The circular economy in action!

Exciting times lie ahead for EV users and we must all learn to embrace the change. Here at Boston Renewables we continue to promote onsite generation of electricity using solar pv and we are active in the emerging markets of battery storage and EV charging.”

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