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Whether you drive an Electric Vehicle (EV) or just want to know more about them, why not come along to the TT Grandstand Pit Lane at 6:30 p.m. on Monday 18th. June 2018, where we hope to have a gathering of several models for you to view.

At 7 p.m. we will hold an informal, open EV forum meeting in the Press office discussing a wide range of topics affecting Electric Vehicles on the Isle of Man.

Once again, please 'like and share' to help us get the message out. Click here for the event on Facebook.

 

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The Electric Vehicle Forum meets at the TT Grandstand.

Put the date in your diary - Monday 18th June at 7 p.m.  Park your EV in the Pit Lane and come along and meet everyone in the Grandstand Press room.

It’s been a while since we had an EV Forum meet-up and since then a lot has changed. Many more EVs are now on Manx roads, more Charge Points have been provided, both public and private, and it feels like a ‘tipping point’ has been reached for the change over to electric transport. 

The Manx government have now formed a sub-committee which will create a 5 year policy for all things EV. They will be represented at this meeting and will be interested in the views of current EV owners. We are all well aware of the downsides experienced by early adopters, but have you any ideas how things should be improved to encourage more EV ownership? If you have any specific topics that you would like to discuss then please email them to us at mail@eviom.im   We cannot promise to discuss every topic raised but we will do our best.

But mainly the forum is for you, the EV driver, and for anyone considering an EV purchase or lease, you are more than welcome to come along and chat to current owners.

Another reminder will be issued before the date but please 'like and share' to help us get the message out. Click here for the event on Facebook.

 

It was time for the clocks to spring forward last night so here is a timely reminder to check that your car will charge at the time you think it will!

Check your car's clock and charge timer and the climate timer if you use one.

From the MUA EV tariff webpage: "you [the bill payer] are responsible to ensure that your electricity supply switches at the appropriate time by carrying out regular checks of the switching times of the meter. "

So it's a good time to check that your Electricity meter has the correct time and has not 'drifted'. MUA domestic meters operate on GMT so the off-peak rate for the EV tariff is always midnight to 7 a.m. GMT. Now that we are in British Summer Time (BST) all appliances that use the off-peak electricity should have their clocks checked.

My new MUA electricity meter, the Elster AS230 Single Phase Meter, has a clock capable of changing itself to BST but by the look of this image it is not activated.

The meter provides 2 Daylight Savings dates whereby the clock can be advanced by one or two hours at the start of the summer and can be retarded by one or two hours at the end of the summer.

That is a quote from the Elster AS230's manual which states that It is also capable of operating as a Smart Meter but that capability is not activated either. One day perhaps!

 

I've used the above headline very deliberately. The headlines on local news outlets have been very negative regarding the proposed changes to vehicle duty. Manx Radio went with "Prepare to pay higher road tax", IOM Today have "Car tax hike shelved", Energy FM have the more neutral "DoI withdraws new car tax pricing system" but focus on the increases in the short article. Only 3FM looked at the positive aspect in their original Feb 16 article "Electric vehicle supporters welcome tax slash".

Reading through the proposal there would be an increase for many car owners with vehicles taxed on engine size, if first registered before 1st April 2010, of between £1 and £31. However, most articles and discussions on social media ignore the benefits for owners of EVs, commercial vehicles, motorcycles, classic cars and welfare vehicles. The proposed increases affected older vehicles taxed on their engine size, with those taxed on emissions seeing zero or small increases. Although, strangely, the higher emission band saw a decrease.

The new proposal was by no means perfect but EVIOM were glad to see some progress from an EV perspective, which this blog is unapologetically biased toward.  The existence of modern zero emission EVs had been acknowledged and EVs registered in category 'L' were to pay £0. Whatever you call it, this is a "road tax" and there is the question of whether EVs should be exempt. In answer to that we'd say that once more than half the vehicles on the road are zero and/or ultra low emission it won't be sustainable to have a zero or very low rate of duty. However, we are a very long way from that tipping point and until we get there cleaner vehicles must be encouraged for the sake of health and the environment locally and globally.

The Order was withdrawn by Minister Harmer as he thought the majority of the Legislative Council would vote against it. It would seem that government isn't willing to make changes that could prove unpopular with some and again prove the lack of commitment to environmental issues and reducing emissions.

The Department has outlined the principles behind its proposals and supplied supporting information, comparisons and examples. However, it is clear that some Tynwald Members still have questions, so I am happy to organise a briefing to provide a fuller understanding of the changes and the alternatives

Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer MHK


To be clear, EVIOM has at no point asked for EVs to be exempt from paying any kind of duty. What we have been asking for is parity with other vehicles of the same type but propelled by other means. To us it would make sense to categorise a vehicle, such as the Nissan Leaf, as category B in the lower emissions band. Once the older, more polluting vehicles age out and are removed from our roads the duty paid for this band would have to increase to maintain revenue for the island's road infrastructure.

Ideally EVIOM would have liked EVs to be categorised by the type of vehicle they are rather than all lumped together. Also, some government documentation states that a driver must be over 21 to drive a vehicle in category 'L'. These are issues the DOI had not addressed in this new proposal, but we hoped this would be the first step.

EVIOM has also been made aware that it's a bit of a lottery when registering an EV or PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), with some vehicle owners paying five times more than others for the same car! It does seem very strange to us that the category of a vehicle for the purposes of both taxation and driving licenses should be open to interpretation.

As always, please leave your comments below.

Over the couple of years that the EVIOM Facebook page, Twitter feed and various other places online (inc Google+, Tumblr , YouTube, and maybe some I've forgotten about) we have gathered a decent following. The mother ship is this blog, it feeds all the others.

It's been rather quiet on here for the past couple of months due to other commitments. In order to keep things relevant, up to date and most importantly informative and entertaining we're asking for contributions from EVIOM followers on and off the Isle of Man to submit articles and suggestions.

We're looking articles on:

  • Vehicles you own
  • Vehicles you've tested
  • Vehicles you've or looked into buying
  • Stories about EV trips you've taken
  • Stories about what it's like to own an EV on the Isle of Man
  • Opinion pieces of EV related subjects

We're also open to suggestions on what you'd like to see on the page. We can't promise to do everything people want but need to hear your views to make the site as good as we can.

If you'd like to submit an article, suggestion, etc please email them to mail@eviom.im

EVIOM took one of BMW's PHEVs for a spin recently (that's Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle to you). This is one of the first of many Plug-in versions of BMWs range that you will see. This 2-series shares the same drivetrain concept as the i8 supercar except with a 1.5 litre three cylinder petrol engine under the bonnet and the electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack at the rear. The 134bhp ICE combines with the 87bhp (65KW, the same as a Renault Zoe) combine for a total of 221bhp and 285lb ft.

The 5.7KWh battery was low when I collect the car so on my first proper drive the battery was almost totally depleted, although it had enough to pull away and crawl through traffic without the engine running. When driving in pure EV mode and the engine does kick in for more acceleration or to help with a steep incline it's hardly noticeable. It's very smooth indeed. If you put your foot down the engine does kick in smoothly and build to a roar unfamiliar to someone who has been driving an EV for some time. One thing I did notice, as with any automatic petrol engined car, when you pull away there is a little bit of a delay or lag as you wait for the revs to build, which you don't have in an EV or with the Active Tourer in pure EV mode. One odd sensation is when you pull up the a junction and stop you feel the engine cut out (earlier than a ICE with stop/start) but you can still pull away on motor only.

Given that the motor in this car was only 65KW, the same as my Zoe, I thought in EV mode it would be somewhat sluggish due to the extra weight over the French hatchback. I was pleasantly surprised, however, how "nippy" the BMW felt away from the lights and around town. Something I put down to torque of the electric motor. In EV mode the car can be driven to over 70MPH with a real world range of 21 miles.

After driving around Douglas to get used to the car I headed over the mountain road to Ramsey. By this point the battery was very low again so the car needed the petrol engine to pull me up Brae Hill at 27MPH. I wanted to see how much charge I would get from the engine running up hill and the re-gen down to Royal Ramsey. I found that there were some spots where I was using a very light or neutral throttle but if I was driving an EV the car would be regenerating power. I didn't feel I was getting as much back into the battery as I would expect, the car needed the longer and steeper downhills to make best use of the kinetic energy. This meant I didn't get as much power back as I would had hoped and felt I was burning fuel just to keep the car at a constant speed on the level.

There are three drive modes of Sport, comfort, Eco Pro. In sport mode you get the full combined mode of the electric motor and petrol engine, Eco mode it limits the power and prefers battery power. Comfort mode gives the best balance between the two. I found Eco mode a bit sluggish and I'm never convinced how much more economical these modes are. I believe you can get just as good economy or even better by having a disciplined right foot.

I tried the next day to do my normal commute of around 13 miles in "Max eDrive" mode, EV mode. I was almost successful but the petrol engine did kick in to pull me up a hill above 50mph. Once the car has fired up it's engine it switches out of Max eDrive but once your are done with the engine it it shuts of. The car doesn't, however, turn back into an EV which would have been nice. Instead I had to manually select the mode again from the button juts obscured by the gear lever. I managed to gain 3% of the battery capacity on the longish downhill stretch but I would expect to get 3% of a much larger EV battery back. I would be nice to be able to turn the re-gen up a notch like you can in many EVs for steep hills. This commute registered 5.3m/KWh and 99.99mpg (above what it registers) 8 miles and 40% left in the battery after starting with 21 miles EV range.

Not that this isn't a good looking car but is design leans more towards the practical than the beautiful. For many people this would be a very practical car, the large boot hatch opens to reveal a gigantic aperture to load your  shopping, dogs, etc into. With no boot sill it's easy for the little mutts to jump in or for you to sit down and change those muddy boots under the cover of the boot lid. At the touch of a button the boot lowers and closes firmly. Its height also helps to load passengers. The look of the car is of a large SUV but it's by no means over sized externally while being roomy inside. There's no squeezing either an adult or a baby into a car seat.

As lover of pure EVs I wasn't totally ready to like this car. I have to admit, though, that it won me over. It does the EV thing very well (if only for a short distance) and the hybrid drive is almost seamless. I can see this car suiting those people who aren't ready to commit to a pure EV or the compromise that currently means. Until there are more EVs of this size, performance and range on the market the BMW 225xe Active Tourer is a good stepping stone while you wait to the car industry to catch up (with the likes of the Tesla Model X) and you get used to plugging your car in.

Thanks to Buchanan BMW for the loan of the BMW 225xe Active Tourer. For more information contact 01624 616161 or visit http://www.buchananbmw.co.uk/.

After the problem with the Topaz rapid charger, we decided that the next day we would head into Dublin City Centre using the Luas (tram). Nearby was Red Cow Park & Ride which has 4 EV charging bays. You have to pay for parking but it was fairly cheap and we would have had to pay whether charging or not. After the now common circumnavigation of the car park looking for the chargers I pulled into the first space, the other three were also empty. Unfortunately this one was faulty and wouldn't recognise my cable so I moved the car to another bay. Scanning your ecars RFID card opens the flap allowing you to plug in, then after a few seconds it starts charging (remember to cancel the charge timer on the car).

This wasn't a rapid charger but as we would be parking all day before returning on the Luas the length of time it took to charge was irrelevant. I calculated that the car would be around full by the time we returned. It was a simple process and if you have to pay for parking anyway why not charge at the same time. I wasn't sure of the etiquette if parking all day but I figured that a charger located at a park & ride was intended to be used like this.

Given that we had a few full days planned in the city and a trip to an out-of-town shopping centre, slow charging was the best option. We used the Pay & Display at Hueston Station and one at at the Dundrum Shopping Centre. It struck me as odd in Dundrum that two dual port chargers were installed but each only served one space. The one we parked in had a pillar next to it meaning a second car could never connect to it.


It was back to Rapid charging on our trip north for a couple of days in Belfast, before getting the boat home. We were visiting the neolithic site of Newgrange on the way and there is no charging in the visitors' car park, so we had to have a quick 10 minute top up at a rapid charger near Ashbourne to ensure we could get to the next rapid on our way up the M1 later that day. We arrived at the Castlebellingham services before the "low battery charge" warning sounded, plugged in, had a cuppa and the kids had a play in the soft play area. Incidentally, if anyone comes across a small scruffy looking pink teddy bear at these services let me know! Pinky may have had her final road trip.

Moving north, I calculated we had exactly enough to get us to our hotel in Belfast's Titanic Quarter. As the rain got worse and the headwind took it's toll our indicated range exactly matched our remaining journey distance of 12 miles so we chickened out and pulled into Sprucefield Shopping Centre and hunted down the ecarsNI rapid charger. What was supposed to be a 10 minute "splash and dash" turn into a full charge. I think it had something to do with the giant M&S!

After that full charge we had enough for a run round Belfast to the Ulster Museum (worth a visit by the way, as is the Titanic Exhibition) and our drive home. We didn't charge on the boat as we had enough to get home. Once again the Leaf was faultless and we didn't have any real stress regarding range. If chargers are working, and you can find them, using them is simple. Driving around Dublin the car used very little juice and we managed to achieve an extra 0.5M/KWh than at home despite the extra load of shopping and souvenirs. Given the experience I'd have no worries about planning a trip further around Ireland in the near future.

It's worth noting though that ESB ecars will be introducing a charge for charging in the future but it's unclear how much it will cost. Previous plans had to be scrapped due to overwhelming objections. Ecotricity are also rumoured to be introducing a cost to use their chargers at some point as well. It's one to keep an eye on but as long as it's still cheaper than liquid fuel and it helps to improve and maintain the infrastructure then I'm sure most people won't object. It's a tough balance for ESB and Ecotricty to strike as people have been getting the service for free for so long but users are crying out for better reliability and more charge points.

Despite a very busy and rough crossing to Heysham our drive down to Holyhead went without incident. We had no problem with Ecotricity's rapid chargers. That particular route (M6, A55) is abundant with rapids so I knew we had a backup plan should we come across a faulty one. There was no charging on the Stenaline vessel (but I do believe that one of the Irish Ferries vessels has charging onboard) but we didn't need it as we charged to 94% at Holyhead ferry terminal before boarding.

We've had two days in Dublin so far and the car is down to 45%, 10% of which was driving round looking for a rapid charger at a nearby Topaz petrol station. Unfortunately the charger was faulty (I'm not sure what the problem was as the on-screen error was in French). After calling ESB ecars I worked out that this was an older charger, common in Topaz stations (CHAdeMO only), that they don't have remote access to so couldn't resolved the issue remotely. The guy on the phone did try to direct me to the nearest rapid charger and he was very helpful to be honest. We called it quits as we were late for dinner with our hosts so decided to find a charge the following morning.

The next day we ventured out to do a little bit of bank holiday shopping before visiting family. I realised that we were close to Nissan Ireland headquarters and they have a rapid charger. We charged for 25 minutes which brought us up to 70%. This is the first time I've used an official Nissan charger. The a DBT charger, the same as used by Ecotricity, but it seems to me to be a lot slower than ones I've used before. Maybe this is due to the power available to it I'm not sure.

We've used most of the power gained from this mornings top-up. Due to the flat flowing roads we've been on we seem to have been very efficient with our energy, that coupled with the number of CPs that keep popping up on the SatNav I haven't been worried about range at all. This could have something to do with changing the dash to kilometers so my brain thinks I have more.

Tomorrow is another first. I'm going to try a Park + Ride and take the Luas (tram) into the city. The Park + Ride has 4 SCPs (Slow Charge Points). I'm not sure what the etiquette is here, the car will be parked for the best part of the day but it seems to me that SCPs at this type of location are designed to used in such a way. Assuming I can get into one of the spaces I apologies in advance if any local EV drivers think I'm hogging the space.

On the subject of local EV drivers I advise anyone traveling to Ireland in their EV to check out the Irish EV Owners Facebook group. I've found people on there more than helpful and the group has a very positive and friendly vibe to it.

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You may or may not be aware that Tesla Motors visited the Isle of Man recently to meet potential customers and offer test drives in a Model S P90D they brought with them. EVIOM managed to wangle a go.

Lets get the numbers out of the way first. Or rather the numbers and letters. The model we tested was the P90D, that's 'P' for Performance as this model has the more powerful motor in the rear. '90' denotes a battery capacity of 90KWh, it's the 85KWh model with an optional upgrade giving the car an increase in range of 6%. The 'D" means all-wheel drive, one motor in the front and one in the rear with no heavy drive-shaft between the two axles, this means the floor of the cabin is flat and there are no restriction of leg room.

Screenshot 2016-02-03 21.07.09The Model S comes in a range of versions from the rear-wheel drive 70 starting at £51,900 all the way to the P90D at £84,500. Both prices are before incentives such at the UK plug-in car grant if you are able to register the car in the UK rather than the Isle of Man. There are a range of additional options available such as Smart Air Suspension which automatically adjusts itself to the road surface and is location aware so can learn where your steep driveway is and raise the suspension for you. There is also the famous Autopilot feature which allows the Model S to automatically steer within its own lane, it has traffic-aware cruise control and will park for you as well. Our Model S had the acceleration choices of Sport and Insane mode allowing the car to accelerate from 0-60MPH in in just 3.1 seconds, the optional Ludicrous mode decreases this to 2.8 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 10.9 seconds. Not bad for a 7 seater luxury car. Range is the Tesla's other impressive number with NEDC claimed figures between 275 and 320 depending on the battery chosen. Take a look at the Tesla Motors website and build your own model S to the spec you want.

The numbers are all very impressive, whether they be prefixed with pound signs or suffixed with the letters M, P and H. But what Tesla Motors have built here is a high quality luxury car with superb ride quality, more technology that the space shuttle (maybe not a SpaceX rocket) and negligible running costs. One potential owner said he wouldn't be buying a Model S after all because of the price of electricity on the Isle of Man. This seems to be the most misinformed reason for not buying a Tesla, assuming you could afford the asking price, so I got out my calculator. If you charged the P90D at the peak rate electricity price of 16.25p per unit it would cost you £14.62 (plus VAT at 5%) to charge from totally flat to full and on that you could reasonably drive around 300 miles. If you can't afford that then you can't afford any car let alone a Tesla!

The car drives so smoothly whether you're in traffic, pootling around country lanes or exploring all that Insane mode has to offer. No matter how you are driving it there are no extra vibrations or noise, something that EV drivers are already accustomed to. The Tesla just turns this up to 11, or down from 11, erm... Throttle response is instant as there's no waiting for revs to build or for an automatic gearbox to decide what gear you should be in. I recently drove a Mercedes C class (hybrid) and was so annoyed by the throttle lag and noise from the engine when it finally decided to do what I told it to do. EVs have spoiled me on this front but this is the 21st century after all. Although all modern EVs have this instant torque and response you can use the Model S as you like without worrying about range due to the size of the battery.

The battery itself is an impressive piece of technology. You can charge the car from a  domestic 10 amp 3-pin socket, giving you a measly 7 miles per hour on charge, right up to the Tesla Supercharger which has a whacking great 120KW DC Screenshot 2016-02-03 21.21.10kick and will give you 170 miles range per half hour charge. The Tesla isn't picky when it comes to charging, the car has a type-2 7-pin socket with a range of standard and optional adaptors allowing you to take advantage of almost any kind of power socket such as an industrial 3-phase supply or a CHAdeMO DC rapid charger such as those found at UK motorway service stations and supplied by Ecotricity. Both the Tesla Superchargers and Ecotricty rapid chargers are free to use.

The interior of the car has everything you'd expect on a high-end luxury car, there's too much for me to list here. The most striking feature of the interior is the 17" touch screen which makes up the centre console.

From here you control most of the car's functions from media, navigation, phone, lights, ride height, regenerative braking and even check you calendar. It's quite an imposing console and I must admit that at first sight it gave the impression of a 60 inch TV in a bed sit. Once you realise that there are no other buttons or controls on the centre console it starts to look OK, much like that 60 inch TV over time. For the iPad generation its intuitive and responsive to use.

The Model S is far from being an everyman car, but this is precisely what it isn't trying to be. Tesla took a top down approach when building cars for the first time with the Roadster then the Model S and soon the Model X. If you were in the market for a high performance yet practical luxury car it would be ludicrous (no pun intended) not to go for the Model S. Just because you have the finances for a car like this doesn't mean you want to throw money away on services and fuel costs. Plus there's the superior feel and response of the electric drive train, once you've driven electric you won't want to go back to 19th century technology. I don't want to get into the debate on whether EVs are "green" but they are responsible for fewer harmful emissions in our towns and cities so that has to be a consideration too and that also means that the Model S is exempt from the London Congestion Charge.

I like what Tesla and their CEO Elon Musk have tried to do. They've aspired to create a new car company that doesn't follow the same tired road that the rest do and have forced the established car manufacturers into a position where they are playing catchup. Tesla have made their patents freely available to anyone to try to encourage others to start building credible EVs, it's amazing more haven't as yet. The Tesla model S isn't a car I can't afford to own myself but it's certainly one I aspire to own, that's got to be the mark of a great piece of design, engineering and not to mention marketing.

EVIOM would like to thank Tesla Motors for allowing us the test drive. Especially Jean-Luc and Wendy from Tesla Motors, Manchester South.

IMG_20160130_140244Here's an update to the previous update: We can confirm that the public charge point in Castletown is now working. We have tested both Type 2 sockets that were tripping out whether you were charging at the low or high rate. We had a Leaf charging at 3.3 Kw and a Zoe charging a 7.7Kw for over an hour with no problems.

Still no sign of the new charger promised by Port Erin Commissioners in, erm, Port Erin. It's understood that this will be installed outside the commissioner's building for use with their Nissan eNV200 as well as the public. We hope this one arrives before the summer.

Ramsey Market Square hasn't been commissioned yet, we understand that the damage cause by a vehicle driving into the post will delay this one going live even more.

I checked out the new CP in Ramsey today. The bay's are marked (both of them!) but there's still no power to the charge post. Any news on when we can expect it work Ramsey Town Commissioners?#EVIOM #iomcharge

Posted by EVIOM on Thursday, 10 December 2015

Also, please also remember that the casing on the Northern Swimming Pool charger has been damaged so take extra car when plugging in and out of that one.

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If you're out on your travels and spot anything regarding the islands charging infrastructure submit a post via the Facebook page, on Twitter @EVIOM77 or send us an email to mail@eviom.im and we'll post it here.


Update to the update of the update:

The Ramsey Swimming Pool charger has been damaged further, as a result Manx Utilities will probably have to power off the post until they can get replacement parts and schedule the repairs.

12523176_898342433620324_1957568532800540642_nThe post has either been deliberately or accidentally damaged but the facility clearly hasn't been respected and unfortunately will now be out of action for everyone for the the time being.

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