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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The power of electricity

Electric cars are getting more popular but the thing holding them back seems to be price and range the latter then leads to access of charging points. Imagine if every car entering London had to be electric and it was the same number that enter today. Like in the picture (left) not just every on street space would need a charge point but every car park be it office or public sites.
At present electric cars don`t pay the congestion charge so if all the cars became electric I wonder what the new charge would be called, perhaps `entry charge`. For sure the money would still be generated some way or another.
Source London has 1400 charge points in London and the outer suburbs with more planned. The site states £10 fee per year with no extra charge for charging vehicles.
This is a G Wiz electric car I photographed in central London. They date back to about 2005 when the cost new was about £7000 ($11400).  A car of similar age (2006) would cost £3000 ($4890) complete with new set of batteries. The above site `cost new link` states free parking in London for electrics, that was 2005 so not sure about 2014.

A bit more comfort in the electric Nissan Leaf. £16,490 ($26,870) plus you have a battery rental to pay which varies according to contract length. £21,490 ($35k) gives you ownership of car and batteries. These prices include taxes and a UK government grant of £5k-$8k. So without the grant an expensive car. Interesting article here but remember when reading the bit about double cost of an equivalent car he is testing a top of the range Leaf. A Ford focus studio is priced at £14k ($22.8k) so about £12k price difference. Remember that £21.490 price above is after the £5k grant.

I know some might say I have to much time on my hands and it`s true. Us old folk call it retirement. So with all this time I have worked out a plan.
Lease a mid range Nissan Leaf Acenta.
Cost £200 per month includes battery hire based on 6,000 miles per annum.

Say you drive in to London from 60 miles out. The 120 daily mileage is allowing for holidays within the 6,000 miles per annum.

The train ticket is £5132 (I used Northampton to Euston). Now perhaps you travel across the capital so there are extra costs, perhaps £4 per day, £960 per annum.

The car parking and battery recharge is free in London.
The 4year car contract involves a deposit so I have factored in this cost in the yearly cost.

The car is £3462.($5643)   The trains total £6092($9929)

Of course if you bought the used G-Wiz at the top of page for £3000 you would need only run it 6 months to get your money back.
I know car insurance and some maintenance(for non diy folk) needs adding but the train fares do increase by a fair bit each year and train delays and cancellations are beyond the control of commuters.

If you really want to cut your commuting costs the Renault Twizy -where do they get these names- can be yours for about £7,000 ($11400). I think folding doors came to £500 plus the battery hire was £55. You do your own research but not bad just as a 50mph commute car.

The Bauhaus Barge is all electric and in 2011 was for sale at £120.000 ($195k). It has a 1.2 ton battery bank. It is currently moored on the Paddington arm at Kensal Green.

This narrowboat, Brecon Castle, appears to be your average hire boat but the big difference is it`s all electric. One of a pair owned and run by Castle Narrowboats they are the only all electric boats for hire on the canal system. They are on the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal in Wales a 33 mile section isolated from the main canal system. There are six charge points which for two boats seems reasonable although if both boats head down to Pontypool (map)  together the one charge point could be a problem.
In August, pretty much high season, a four berth boat will cost £1239 that`s about $2019 per week depending on exchange rates. The diesel powered boats in the fleet have the same hire price.

The Electric Barge/Floating classroom came into Paddington while we were there.

 Costing $10,500 (£6,400) the Solar powered personal boat can ferry up to four adults. The boat is powered by a 700W electric motor that enables the boat to move silently at 5mph. The motor is powered by four deep cycle batteries that are constantly recharged by the sun during daylight hours. The batteries hold a reserve charge that can power the boat for 6 hours after dark.

Impulse a narrowboat powered solely by the suns rays. Picture from the site. Canal River Trust give a 25% discount on the canal boat licence for electrically powered boats.
Can you imagine all boats being electric and the hole in CRT finances as 35,000 boats claim a 25% discount. Like the congestion charge  this drop in income would need to be raised in other ways.
Another consideration would be the number of charge points  needed. Ok that 35,000 figure is not the boats cruising the waterways as most will be sitting in marinas. Not sure of the number of boats along the towpaths, and lets not get into the continuous cruiser debate, but whether or not they move they still need power. Remember all electric, no diesel engines. If the number was 4,000 we would need a charging point every half mile along our 2,000 miles of  CaRT waterways. What happens in the main season when all those extra boats exit marinas to cruise the system? With a lot of boats using solar panels the summer would mean a lot of vacant charging points but still a lot of boats seeking a charge point in the honeypot areas.

 All the above came from that top of page picture of the G Wiz I snapped in London for no other reason than it was something not seen on every street.
Perhaps electric power has a long way to go but it was fun to sit researching this on a quiet canal side mooring with solar powering my laptop and all the boats electrical needs.
I do so love our life afloat.

Another solar boat here.
U.S. readers might find this one interesting.


Anonymous said...

Joe's gonna love this one! Thanks for taking care of all the maths :)


Unknown said...

Then again if still in North America one could always purchase a Tesla, and California manufactured all electric autombile which is very nice. There are one or two operating here in Southern Ontario. Given the
cost of some petrol-powered Detroit designed land barges and their prices the US$100,000 Tesla seems a bargain by comparison.

Ray Butler said...

Anglo-Welsh used to have a small number of electric hire boats on the main system about 15 years ago, but there weren't enough charging points in the right places and they were converted (back?) to diesels in fairly short order. There are a num ber of diesel-electric ("Hybrid" power trains available but the cost of the electric gubbins and batteries is pretty prohibitive at present.

I seem to recall that in the 1970s / 80s Viscount St Davids (a canal pioneer and founder of the Camden Pirate Club. Lovely bloke, used an old Etonian tie to keep his trousers up) had an electric sailing narrowboat moored at the end of his garden in Camden

Ken and Sheena said...

wow, how long would it take to recharge 1.2 ton of batteries?

Les Biggs said...

Hi Sally
Hope Joe enjoys every post.
Some mags on the way.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Bryce
I think electric is going to get cheaper but the battery cost has to be overcome.
Although thinking about it perhaps it`s just lack of production that makes the electrics expensive.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Ray
Interesting comment.
I can see the lack of charge points on the main system can cause problems but the short Mon-Brec is an easier problem to solve so it should work fine.
Don`t you just love an eccentric like Camden man.

Les Biggs said...

Hi Ken/Sheena
It all boils down to what you charge with and how much you use.
A normal set up is a small bank charged by alternator or genny.
This barge has a lot of batteries charged by a massive lot of solar.
I do wonder though if he has a back up electric source be it mains or genny to make up for dull days when the solar is just not enough.

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs