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back to article Review: Renault Zoe electric car

To argue that the electric car has already failed is farcical. To date only one mass-market EV from an established car maker has been launched in the UK: the Nissan Leaf. Even I’m not fully convinced by the Leaf. I think it’s too big, too ugly and too expensive. A revised, cheaper, longer-range Sunderland-built model will …

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FAIL

At last, an affordable, practical, decent looking e-car. WOOT

*click*

404: Not Found.

LOL. No.

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Joke

Re: At last, an affordable, practical, decent looking e-car. WOOT

That's because the 404 is a Peugeot, not a Renault.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: At last, an affordable, practical, decent looking e-car. WOOT Bollo*ks

I'd buy it and use it to drive down to the inlaws, safe in the knowledge that it would stop 18 miles short of the destination.

Other than that plus point, if I run out of charge on one of the country roads I have to drive down I can't just carry my spare petrol can to a garage and ask them for a few volts of leccy and then walk back and replenish the power.

These cars are designed for the rich and famous who live in city centres so that they can pontificate the benefits of this Eco car and show how wonderful they are in engaging in this 'save the world' practice to the rest of us.

Personally, I will stick with m V8 gas guzzler of a vehicle in the safe knowledge that I can at least drive over a plowed field without getting stuck.

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Pint

Re: At last, an affordable, practical, decent looking e-car. WOOT Bollo*ks

Actually, I can drive over plowed fields with my V-6 with all wheel drive...

Wrong glass, but make mine Merlot...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: At last, an affordable, practical, decent looking e-car. WOOT

£70 quid a month to rent a battery?

How many central London city cars get through that much juice in a month anyway?

Please remind me the market for this car again?

Wealthy city dwellers who have the space and the will to store and charge it??

Have all three of them been contacted yet?

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FAIL

Re: At last, an affordable, practical, decent looking e-car. WOOT Bollo*ks

I have never needed to drive over a ploughed field in 23years of driving.

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MJI
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Renault Flatulence

I would NOT buy that one.

Be more careful with names.

VW have done this before as well.

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Re: Renault Flatulence

Are you mistaking that for the E-Fluence?

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MJI
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Re: Renault Flatulence

Well this little one seems OK, the older one well THAT name is too similar to breaking wind

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Renault and electronics...

... do not, in general mix well.

Time will tell though.

If they had any sense they would have let Nissan handle the sparky stuff.

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Mushroom

Re: Renault and electronics...

That was my main thought too. Nearly every one of my brothers Renaults have had some form of electronics problem.

Other than that - looks like a decent EV at last.

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Re: Renault and electronics...

I concur...damn, it's a nice looking wee motor...

But you know you can't. Because it's a renault.

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MJI
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Re: Renault and electronics...

Small French cars

Are usually very good, better than their big ones.

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Re: Renault and electronics...

The scary thing is my Nissan Primera (P12) is full of connectors and devices marked "Renault".

Having said that - the spakry stuff has been extremely reliable apart from water ingress in the rear lamp cluster connectors (Causes a bad earth and in turn interferes with the cruise control and reversing camera. Fix is to clean and fill with vaseline("Water can't irritate where it can't reach"), or run a separate earth line to a mounting bolt. The former has the advantage that the rest of the pins won't corrode.)

OTOH I've seen any number of Renaults with electrical and mechanical problems due to piss-poor assembly practices.Whilst this car is attractive, its main detraction is that it was built by a workforce who make British Leyland's quality control look good.

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Trollface

Re: Renault and electronics...

at least there is no head-gasket, I guess.

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Re: Renault and electronics...

To be fair the bar isn't exactly set very high...

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"All too obvious causes of climate change"? Yes, I suppose the pollution generated from power stations providing the electricity for this car would fall into that category. And the 'tough sh!t' rhetoric at the end of the article shows that the electric car still has a way to go before it can be a realistic alternative. Browbeating the reader isn't going to make this effort look any better.

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FAIL

Aaand we have the obligatory idiot

Who forgets that :-

1) 40%+ of UK power is from low carbon, relatively clean sources.

2) That percentage rises when you recharge off peak over night

3) That any pollution isn't in city centers where it is bad for health

4) That large, fixed power plants can be very much more efficient than small mobile IC engines (80%+ vs 30% max)

5) That improving a fixed generator will effectively improve all existing EVs

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Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot

That's just un-necessary.

What's the life expectancy of the batteries? (Boeing 787 anyone? How about the exploding laptop?)

How will they be (safely) disposed of? .. somewhere out of sight, no doubt

This car wasn't made in Britain, so your points 1 and 2 might be apt or they might be irrelevant. (Wiki lists burning of coal, gas, and oil as about 65% of electricity generation).

There's a lot more to being green that driving an expensive, impractical, publicly subsidised marketing gimic.

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JDX
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@thegrouch

>>I suppose the pollution generated from power stations providing the electricity for this car would fall into that category

Please learn a little something before making stupid statements like this. It never crossed your mind that the pollution per unit of energy released might differ between burning petrol in your car and burning coal in a power station?

Just as we talk about CPU power per watt these days, we need to compare CO2 per KWh for petrol Vs electric to see which is actually cleaner... it's possible your point might actually be true once all factors are taken into account but only by coincidence.

Plus of course you totally miss the point that lack of exhaust in a city centre is a good thing.

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Stop

Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot - @fishdog

Those batteries are highly recyclable (95%+) and have significant scrap value to ensure that they will be. The landscape won't be laid waste by piles of rotting batteries in the same way that it hasn't been laid waste by the hulks of rusting cars.

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Lies...damn lies...and statistics.

Ah, the obligatory person who claims the other guy is an idiot. They're usually more wrong than the first guy. Time for some corrections.

1) As I type, 65.4% of electricity on the National Grid is coming from coal or gas. Rather less than the 40% you claim is coming from low carbon sources. But this number is irrelevant - I'll explain below.

2) That percentage changes all day. It often goes lower at night as we import spare electricity from nuclear power stations in France which aren't as easy to shut down for the night as our coal/gas fired ones are. But this number is irrelevant - I'll explain below.

3) Whilst some pollution is localised, CO2 is more of a global issue. Where it comes from is irrelevant. Generating electricity in the UK generates on average about 600g of CO2 per kWh. When one kWh is only good for about 3 miles in an EV, that's quite a lot. Additionally a lot of low level pollution in City Centres is, rather amazingly, caused by crappy diesel generators that kick in to provide electricity when power supplies frequently fail. WIthout them, London would be a cleaner place.

4) Efficiency is a non-argument, unless the waste is of concern. EV fans always use the efficiency argument but it simply doesn't apply, unless we're comparing two machines that use the same fuel. We aren't. One machine is 80% efficient at burning cheese and the other is 30% efficient at burning chalk . So what? It's the best use for chalk that we have.

5) Improving the power supply will indeed improve all EVs. That's why we should be investing in a cleaner power supply, not investing in more devices to use the dirty power.

The reason the numbers in 1) and 2) are irrelevant are because EVs are only charged using "marginal" electricity. This is the crap you have left after all the green power has been used up.

Wind, solar, and other sources do not have fuel you can store. You get "green" solar electricity when the sun shines. You get wind power when it's windy. You can't simply bottle it up. As a result, green suppliers sell every last drop of it at the moment it is generated. It is all pumped directly into the National Grid...and used.

We're currently generating 48,115MW of electricity to meet demand. The entire wind power output of the UK is currently 5,228MW, or just 10.9% of demand. 1.8% (860MW) comes from hydro and solar genaration is so small it doesn't even appear on the chart except as part of "Other", which provides 696MW (1.4%).

As these green sources only make up about 15% of the current demand - or around 30% if we include nuclear - they are all consumed before they even come out of the power plant. If our demand was only 15,000MW maybe that would be OK, but we need more than three times that. The only way to get extra power is to burn fossil fuels - enter coal and gas.

If you plug in an electric car, the grid needs more power. As all the power from wind, solar and hydro is already allocated, the only option is to throw a few more coals on the fire and increase pollution in the atmosphere. This isn't an opinion, it's a fact.

The only way to improve UK air quality is to either a) Use less electricity or b) Reduce the emissions footprint of generating that electricity. As a) is highly unlikely, that leaves us with b).

Once all UK electricity comes from clean or renewable sources, then, and only then, should we start wasting our money on electric cars.

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Re: @thegrouch

A bit of Googling comes up with this calculator: http://www.carbontrust.com/media/18223/ctl153_conversion_factors.pdf

Using those figures, charging the 22kWh battery would generate 11.54kg of CO2 at an average grid rate of 0.5246g/kWh. Assuming 100% efficiency (there won't be) and the maximum stated range of 150km (your mileage may vary) then that's 77g/km which frankly aint that great. An equivalent 85bhp diesel Clio produces around 100g/km.

OK, for the EV battery the charging is not 100% efficient, but on the other hand if you charge overnight then there tends to be a higher proportion of low-CO2 sources which should compensate somewhat.

It's worth remembering that renewables such as wind and hydro power have the drawback that they still generate power even when there is virtually no demand for it at (say) 3am. There are very few ways to store all that potential excess electricity.. except electric car batteries are one way that it can be done.

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Re: Lies...damn lies...and statistics.

1) this of course would need to be compared to 100% of petrol burned in a car comes from fossil fuels, making the grid about 35% better on this basis.

3) So removign car emmisions wont help?

5) I fail to see your point here. At the moment we've got a lot of cars on the road effectively using dirty power. Hell of a lot easier to do about it when the power is centralised to a few power plants, than smaller petrol engines moving all around the place.

"Wind, solar, and other sources do not have fuel you can store. You get "green" solar electricity when the sun shines. You get wind power when it's windy. You can't simply bottle it up"

Strange, my Aunt and Uncle in Regional Victoria, Australia, were until very recently not on the electrical grid (took years of lobbying for this to happen), their only power source being a few solar cells. Funnily enough, the lights did not go off at sundown. You see, there's this thing called a rechargable battery, perhaps you might have heard of it, that can effectively store electricity. I believe these cars use something a bit similar.

"If you plug in an electric car, the grid needs more power. As all the power from wind, solar and hydro is already allocated, the only option is to throw a few more coals on the fire and increase pollution in the atmosphere. This isn't an opinion, it's a fact."

Its ony a fact in the short term. In the long term, we add more power sources of a different nature to effectively replace the millions of mini plants we have running in cars today.

"Once all UK electricity comes from clean or renewable sources, then, and only then, should we start wasting our money on electric cars."

Methods such as carbon sequesteration are better applied to large central power plants than say a million cars on the road.

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Joke

Re: Lies...damn lies...and statistics.

your point 1) shows why 87% of statisticians are often only 39% sane and 21% relevant.

(sample of 134 people surveyed)

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Re: @thegrouch

>OK, for the EV battery the charging is not 100% efficient, but on the other hand if you charge overnight then >there tends to be a higher proportion of low-CO2 sources which should compensate somewhat.

The additional power required can ONLY come from dirty sources. There is no compensation.

>It's worth remembering that renewables such as wind and hydro power have the drawback that they still >generate power even when there is virtually no demand for it at (say) 3am. There are very few ways to store >all that potential excess electricity.. except electric car batteries are one way that it can be done.

At any time of day, day & night, weekday or weekend, power demand always exceeds the amount that comes from renewable or low carbon sources. The only way to generate extra power is from fossil fuels.

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@Chad HRe: Lies...damn lies...and statistics.

"1) this of course would need to be compared to 100% of petrol burned in a car comes from fossil fuels, making the grid about 35% better on this basis."

You're comparing 100% of the chalk with 65% of the cheese again. You can't compare one unit with another of a completely different type.

Sure, 100% of energy in a petrol car comes from petrol. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've yet to see a better alternative.

"3) So removign car emmisions wont help?"

There is no means of removing car emissions right now. We're simply moving it from one place (the car) to another (the power station). It would help greatly, but we can't. Unless we walk or similar.

"5) I fail to see your point here. At the moment we've got a lot of cars on the road effectively using dirty power. Hell of a lot easier to do about it when the power is centralised to a few power plants, than smaller petrol engines moving all around the place."

I'm all for fixing the power stations. When they are clean, we can start using more electricity again. All the true eco supporters are turning appliances off at the wall, to avoid standby consumption. They're replacing light bulbs with LEDs etc. Plugging in an electric car increases power usage, the exact opposite way to what we need.

"You see, there's this thing called a rechargable battery, perhaps you might have heard of it, that can effectively store electricity. I believe these cars use something a bit similar."

Whichever way you want to twist it, there isn't a single minute in the day where electricity demand does not exceed generation from renewable power. The only way to provide the extra power needed for electric cars is to burn more coal.

"Its ony a fact in the short term. In the long term, we add more power sources of a different nature to effectively replace the millions of mini plants we have running in cars today."

The thing is, UK power generation is going down not up. People keep pulling out of deals to create power stations and we're being threatened by brown outs. EVs aren't helping this.

"Methods such as carbon sequesteration are better applied to large central power plants than say a million cars on the road."

Sure, but all of the EVs currently on sale will be on the scrap heap long before we have a low carbon national grid.

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Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot

Yeah, it's just that the overnight "off peak" will actually become peak when every second household will draw 13 amps all night just for the car.

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The emissions from a car's exhaust is much less harmful to the environment than the shit seeping out of a broken battery on a scrap heap.

Also, I will hand over my Petrol-engined Vauxhall Turbo Coupe the day Africa and Asia stops burning everything they can get their hands on.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot @Fishdog

Please don't bring the Boeing 787 into this debate.

The B787 battery issue has nothing to do with vehicle batteries... The B787 requires a lot of juice for a relatively short period to start the APU and then provide hotel services on the ground where no ground power is provided. That's why there's been a lot of focus on the battery and its temperature during discharge.

The Zoe would hardly be going nuts in the same way as a B787 would tax the two battery packs (one in the front, one in the aft bay) it has on board.

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Boffin

Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot

Losses in transmission and storage?

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Flame

Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot @Fishdog

"The B787 battery issue has nothing to do with vehicle batteries"

I believe it was the boss of Tesla that brought the two issues together...by saying his expert knowledge could fix the issue in no time.

Ultimately, a Li-ion battery is a Li-ion battery. Whether it's a Dell Laptop that's catching fire, a smoking iPhone that's been dropped, or a Fisker Karma that's buring to a cinder, it's still the same tech underneath.

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Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot

6: If you need longhaul, you can either take a train/plane and hire at the other end, or put a generator on a trailer. Lots of EVgeeks do the latter already and I'd be surprised if there isn't a hire-option for this in coming years.

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Trollface

Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot

I've even seen Nissan use a portable petrol generator at press events to recharge the LEAF.

The generator was made by Honda!

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Stop

Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot

"expensive" - No it's not.

"impractical" - Tosh. That's purely on a case-by-case basis as the article author makes clear.

"publicly subsidised marketing gimic" - I fail to see how either of those are negative points to the person buying it.

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Re: @Chad HLies...damn lies...and statistics.

> I'm all for fixing the power stations. When they are clean, we can start using more electricity again. All the true eco supporters are turning appliances off at the wall, to avoid standby consumption. They're replacing light bulbs with LEDs etc. Plugging in an electric car increases power usage, the exact opposite way to what we need.

There so much wrong with this statement I don't even know where to start.

Fixing cars and fixing power stations are two separate problems.

Leaving aside the fact that a lot of power stations are "dirty", the pollution from cars is a significant problem in itself. The only first step in solving that problem is removing petrol from the car equation and replacing it with something that can be generated elsewhere. Yes, it increases the demand on the power grid, but that is a solvable environmental problem. Solving the problem of pollution and inefficiency of the car (given that there are so many of them) is a much bigger problem and will take a long time.

You argue that shfting the pollution issue from the car to the power station makes negligable net difference to the poluution problem, but it is a necessary step nonetheless. We don't have to wait for environmentally friendly solutions to achieve that first step.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lies...damn lies...and statistics.

You need to factor in the g/km to get your petrol or diesel out of the ground an into your car so you can burn it.

And the wars.

And the inability to power your vehicle from ANY system other than fossilised plants.

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Re: @thegrouch

If having our own tiny power plants was a good idea, we'd all have diesel generators at home instead of taking power from the national grid. It's obvious to anyone after a second's thought that large scale power generation that is distributed to the point of usage is most efficient.

The other big change we need is interchangeable battery packs. It's been done in the past. When the driver of a petrol car pulls into the station, they don't wait around for it to be refined. We need a new type of petrol station that exchanges flat battery packs for charged ones and charges the ones it gets. It needs to be robotised and we need standard pack sizes, but it's not beyond the intelligence of man to achieve.

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Headmaster

Re: Lies...damn lies...and statistics.

And the inability to power your vehicle from ANY system other than fossilised plants.

Most diesel ICEs can run quite happily off vegetable oil, and most petrol ICEs can run quite happily off ethanol, neither of which come from fossilised plants.

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Re: @thegrouch

"OK, for the EV battery the charging is not 100% efficient, but on the other hand if you charge overnight then there tends to be a higher proportion of low-CO2 sources which should compensate somewhat."

The apparent low CO2 sources are solar and wind. At night, the sun doesn't shine and the wind drops. There is no compensation, so coal and gas sources are even more necessary.

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Re: @thegrouch

..and it's still a small car.

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If EVs get popular...

"but on the other hand if you charge overnight then there tends to be a higher proportion of low-CO2 sources which should compensate somewhat."

That might or might not be rtrue now, based on the premise that night time leccy usage is lower and therefore can be addressed with less coal burning.

However if EVs ever become a significant percentage of cars, power use will not drop off during the night and this argument is flawed.

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Re: Lies...damn lies...and statistics.

"Wind, solar, and other sources do not have fuel you can store. You get "green" solar electricity when the sun shines. You get wind power when it's windy. You can't simply bottle it up. As a result, green suppliers sell every last drop of it at the moment it is generated. It is all pumped directly into the National Grid...and used"

Not really: The "used" bit.

Even if it isn't used they get paid.

So if it's windy and the grid doesn't need it the power companies are still compelled to buy it.

As for solar...ditto. Except the person who has it installed gets to have cheap electricity, and since many installations are done "free" the installer gets the extra 8p/unit...

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Re: @Chad HLies...damn lies...and statistics.

"brown-outs" are a thing of the past.

Lighting mainly being by those eco-friendly twirly bulb things, which do not consume less electricity if the supply voltage is lowered.

Most electric motors in domestic appliances, at least the ones consuming most, like washers, are now electronically controlled....no lowering of consumed power there either.

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Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot

"I've even seen Nissan use a portable petrol generator at press events to recharge the LEAF."

A paid endorsement?

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Facepalm

Re: @Chad HLies...damn lies...and statistics.

> "brown-outs" are a thing of the past.

I think you will find they are a thing of the future.

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WTF?

Re: @thegrouch

"t never crossed your mind that the pollution per unit of energy released might differ between burning petrol in your car and burning coal in a power station?"

I hate to burst your bubble but burning petrol generates water and co2. Water is not a pollutant. Burning coal just generates co2. Its THE most polluting form of fossil fuel there is. I suggest you re-evaluate your argument yourself.

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Facepalm

Re: Aaand we have the obligatory idiot

"1) 40%+ of UK power is from low carbon, relatively clean sources."

And 60% isn't.

"2) That percentage rises when you recharge off peak over night"

Actually I think you'll find its the other way around. Its the fossil fuel stations - mainly coal - that provide most of the base load at night given that we're slowly losing our nuclear ones thanks to pig ignorant hippies such as greenpeace getting hysterical about it and imagining mushroom clouds and glowing sheep everywhere.

"4) That large, fixed power plants can be very much more efficient than small mobile IC engines (80%+ vs 30% max)"

True , but petrol is a much less polluting fuel than coal. Also you're conveniently forgetting about transmission losses, losses when charging the battery itself and leakage of charge from the battery when its not being used. The total of which is not inconsiderable.

"5) That improving a fixed generator will effectively improve all existing EVs"

No sign of that happening anytime soon. Plus the entire national grid would need to be upgraded and it would provide a single massive point of failure. Power cuts are bad enough when you can't heat or light your house - if you couldn't even drive the car, well, you can imagine how much fun it would be.

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Re: Lies...damn lies...and statistics.

For a little while, yes. It will nobble the engine, though.

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