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Range extended EVs make for relaxing weekend reading

01 August 2011
Range extended EVs make for relaxing weekend reading

By Robin Haycock, Head of Transport, The Climate Group. 

I read a couple of very interesting articles over the weekend that are definitely worth sharing. 

One article in particular looked at the range extended EV in the Saturday Telegraph motoring section, which reviewed the car company Lotus and its future.

As an ex auto industry person,  I find this debate amusing given that in any two year period, either Lotus will change hands, or there will be a debate about how it might go forward etc, but it always seems to get through it. But the interest for me was in the range extended engine that Lotus have developed.

The Vauxhall Ampere went down the route of the corporate parts bid for their engine, which is sensible given the risk of launching a new product with so much component and technology change. The risk of doing a specific range extender engine was one step to far for GM;  but this is the next stage on in the progression of EVs and one derivative EREV.

It’s also a great opportunity for a company such as Lotus who (as a first tear supplier and OEM in their own right) could create a variety of engines with a quality manufacturing facility to supply to themselves; and any company that wished to undertake a lead in production for a dedicated engine but cant justify the risk in the first two years.  

I saw this engine at their Hethel HQ a couple of year ago and it's the right solution and real progression. The three cylinder turbo, small capacity single speed engine running on hi blend biofuel and potentially linked directly with a generator in one low cost compact unit, will transform the debate again on the viability of the EV market.

You may start to debate whether a small dedicated engine displacing a chunk of the high cost overly large EV only battery is fundamentally the right cost solution and an easy win for single car households who are (admittedly) over concerned on the issue of range anxiety.

Let's see how the market plays out, as the end customer will ultimately decide, and the battle between the Leaf from Nissan and the GM Volt will play out in the next two years, as will the entry of many other players into a growing competitive market.

Also while scouring the papers this weekend, I came across an article in The Times on Saturday about ‘The future of driving, no worries’ by Giles Smith.

It was remarkable because it was not ‘one camp or another’ in style,  but just talked about the future and how range extended EVs will start to proliferate.  It was a short article on the Vauxhall Ampere and how after a period of zero emission driving, range anxiety is banished by the engine kicking in and you continue on your way without ceremony or hesitation.

It’s one of many solutions to range anxiety – that favourite topic of the non-futurists who like to find any topic to defend their position and not move positively forward to a better future for us all. But the really amazing thing is how the article finished - at the point when the engine finally kicked in Giles was reminded of a noise… hm… now what was that?... ‘Ah yes, that’s right; the sound of an internal combustion engine. Remember those?’  

Well done Giles, another natural progression in the reporting by journalists as we go forward progressively to ultra-low emission vehicles. The article talked naturally of the transition we will all go through and the fact that we will all be pleasantly surprised by the products appearing in our future transport system when we get over our addiction to oil.

Before you say it, broadsheets are not my whole life at weekends! So I do like to read the papers at the weekend -  but I also like to find a new place to see, smell and  enjoy. So yesterday morning saw me eating an English breakfast at Willow Brook Farm Shop then taking a stroll around Swaddywell Pit, which is highly recommended. And if you do make the journey out there, make sure its by range-extended EV please.

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