Saturday 8 February 2020

3. Electric sidecar outfits feasability, super fast charging and the carefully hidden environmental impact of EVs.

Let's talk about sidecars, after all, that is, why you are here.

Now, this is where the humble and largely ignored sidecar outfit has a distinct advantage.

Battery space and plenty of it.

There must be some formula that could be applied to additional battery weight and it's effect on range. So, doubling the battery capacity, doubles the battery weight, obviously, if you use the same battery technology.

But it doesn't double the range due to the additional weight. My research tells me that, roughly, you lose about 20% of the added range on a vehicle the size and weight of an outfit. Its a bit adhoc because there are no actual figures, so I've been conservative. But not at all like Mr Johnson; you understand.

The only example I can refer to is the electric Ural prototype. This outfit, weighing 600kg, uses Zero motorcycles electric drivetrain and batteries. It can cruise at 65mph, get up a maximum speed of 80mph and has a 100 mile range in practice with a 13 hour recharge time on a 13amp home socket.

A lighter built outfit with double the battery capacity, built using existing technology, could achieve over a genuine, everyday 200 mile range without a doubt. With a medium powered charge station, it could be charged to 95% capacity in 7 hours. A 3 hour charge could give you 80 miles.

These figures are a little more like current EV car figures. The just launched Vauxhall Corsa E, is looking likely to provide a real world 150 mile range with a 7.5 hour full charge on a home charge station. By the way, it's hilariously priced at over £26,000

If we apply the latest technology to an outfit, we could easily arrive at a 300 mile range and a 4 hour full charge situation. Now that's useful.

100Kw chargers are here, so called "ultra fast" chargers. One of these bad boys will give a Corsa E 140 miles of charge in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the current plans do not involve supplying these in anything like a sensible quantity. There are 891 of these in the UK at the time of writing. There are around 18,000 petrol stations by comparison.

So called "premium" chargers are still being installed in relatively high numbers (tiny actual numbers) for some unknown reason. Why do that when the biggest reason that people have for not buying an EV is charge time and range?

Either way, Ultra fast chargers are a game changer. But only if your EV supports them and you can find one. You'd hope that all new EVs would have 100Kw charge ports going forward.

The problem reoccurs when the tech moves forward. We might have a mighty network of 100Kw chargers installed across the nation at huge cost in say, 5 years time. By which time 250Kw chargers are the new tech.

Electrical installations will not always be upgradeable unless the supply is beefy enough. This needs careful planning by our Government. I can see an obvious problem there…

Is electric the future then?

It appears to be, in as much as the UK government has thrown all it's eggs into the EV basket.

But should it be the future

Erm, no. Or at least, I'm not sure it should be.

The problem that I have with electric vehicles is that we are told they are emissions free. They are once they are produced and until the batteries fail. Before and after those times they are pretty damned far away from emissions free and very close up to an environmental disaster.

Do we care? Well yes we should. If we're stipulating the entire known future of personal transport, we ought to at least consider the complete environmental impact. After all, that's why the change is happening at all.

Next time, I discuss the environmental impact of EV's and some potential alternatives for us.

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