back to article UK e-car trials kick off with mass motor handover

Forty leccy Minis were yesterday handed to their owners – well, lessees, to be exact – at the BMW Mini factory in Oxford. It's all part of the Government's 12-month e-car field trial during which time BMW hopes to “evaluate the psychological, social and technical aspects of living with an electric car.” Mini E handover Mini …


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  1. Mike Tree

    How far?

    That's fine if you never want to drive more than150 miles in one day. It's not going to change the world.

    But I suppose you have to start somewhere. I guess the first internal combustion engines couldn't manage over 500 miles on a tank either.

    Mine's the one with spare change in the pocket (for the bus ride home!)

  2. David Edwards

    Towns, Towns, Towns

    OK so the trials are in towns then, will they compare this to people who have stopped using cars and taken up the bus I wonder? But no doubt the "success" of this will be used to hike up car tax and petrol tax, fine if you happen to be abel to get the bus to work or use a leccy car.

    But some of us live in a place called "the countryside" that big green muddy place with no shops, busses and rubbsih roads. Yes, the palce you want to tun into a park (due to farming being bad for the environment. cows fartig, tracotrs etc) so some of us need 4x4s

    I suppose the up side, is now that 4x4 are the devils own transport, people are abandoning them so the depreciation means I can now afford a nice Disco 3V6HSE as my next car!

    1. Paul 4

      You should realise by now.

      All people life in the city, in nice big houses with room for 3 bins in the kitchen, and lots and walls that can have more insulation, and can have a gas boiler, and can get the bus everywhere if they so chose.

      No-one is too poor to afford to live in a big house, or has to work or live out side of town. We do this because we are bad nasty people who hate the world.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Early cars.

      Whether you could or could not get 500 miles out of a tank was immaterial. Making 150 miles in one go would have been a miracle. Over that distance, you'd expect to go through a couple of tyres, suffer at least one serious mechanical failure and have to fill the oil tank on the total-loss lubrication system.

      The only real advantage of the things was that you didn't need to keep a building full of fodder to put into them and to spend half your life up to your knees in horseshit. Oh, and when they dropped dead at the side of the road you could fix 'em.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      So no one should attempt any development of leccy cars until the range matches what you expect and charging points are as ubiquitous as petrol stations?

    4. Anonymous Coward


      "But some of us live in a place called "the countryside" that big green muddy place with no shops, busses and rubbsih roads. Yes, the palce you want to tun into a park (due to farming being bad for the environment. cows fartig, tracotrs etc) so some of us need 4x4s"

      The British countryside isn't exactly that big (alright, it's "bigger" up in Scotland), and although private roads can get fairly muddy, the standard of roads isn't that bad: you can get by with a Range Rover, I imagine, which is why they're so popular amongst the horsey types. But compared to Iceland, say, the British countryside is a picnic with nicely cut sandwiches. In the land of the geysir even the main public roads run out of paving not far out of town, and then you're looking at needing a proper 4x4 when it's been raining, or if you're going to use a "mountain" road - in other words, not the vehicle Jeremy and Jemima use to run their offspring around in between the stables and that Tesco that rural types love to hate (but still love).

      In short, "the countryside" will see something usable eventually. It may not be the serious piece of gear that those overseas types need to get around, but it'll deal with the "rubbsih [sic] roads" of Blighty adequately. Of course, the Utilities of the Britards will need to work out how to generate enough electricity for all this, which is where it gets really interesting.

    5. Anonymous John

      @ How far

      It's down to what you need. If you need to drive more than 150 miles a day regularly, buy a petrol or a diesel car.

      If you don't (and I expect most drivers don't), buy electric. A short range electric car would suit me fine. And I can always hire a petrol car if I need to drive any great distance.

    6. Anonymous Coward


      Bin to Sweden a few times - you know the kind of place that gets inclement weather in winter. I have looked and I could find bugger all 4x4s - I guess they can drive.

      As for electric cars I am still waiting for the impact costs of all the extra electric infrastructure that will need to be built to accommodate all these charging stations. The car is old technology it is selfish requires huge amounts of infrastructure and is basically moronically inefficient at transporting people around it has been nice knowing it be realistically it has to go - it will not though.

  3. Dougal 2

    Please follow this story up in 12 months time....

    Nearly 10 years ago Peugeot ran hundreds of little electric 106s around France with a few in Coventry. I had the joy of driving one from time to time and my god it was shite! The thing is, the reality of driving these things is that at full pelt the batteries flatten in minutes, the electrics overheat in summer and don't work in winter. But at least the 106s could carry some goods - what use is a two-seater Mini? The real killer though is the replacement battery costs a few years down the road. After 4 years of use the 106 lead-acid batteries needed replacement at a cost of £thousands! How much for a boot-load of Li-ions I wonder?

  4. John Murgatroyd

    But what of Lithium ?

    "Auto executives estimate the demand for lithium could exceed supply in a decade",8599,1872561,00.html

    1. spider from mars

      But what of the Lithium?

      you can bet that as demand goes up new sources will be found - like this:

    2. Simon Williams


      Lithium as used in auto batteries is fully recyclable at the end of the battery's life. There may need to be investment in recycling, along with the power charger infrastructure, but lack of Lithium needn't be a killer. In 10 years, battery technology is likely to have moved on, anyway.

  5. Keith Oldham
    Thumb Down

    35kWh but engine 152 kW max

    So it should last about 15 mins driven by the Stig. ( not that, I suppose, he'd be seen dead in one)

    The 150 mile range presumably means ~ 5hrs @ 30 mph - when it's new!. Paying for a new Li-ion is bad enough for a laptop.Having to do it after a year or so when it's down to 70 miles range !**!

    OK for commuting or for the town-bound, but not really green esp. given our electricity generating mix.

  6. buttonpusher
    Thumb Up

    Leccy car

    I believe a great number of car journeys are under 100miles a day Therefore any good looking vehicle with this minimum range, a sensible top speed and at a price Joe Public can afford would be a winner. I look forward to the day when it happens.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      80 percent are below 5 miles

      so bike or take public transport.

  7. Alan Firminger


    The only option is the chargeable hybrid. If forced into a detour you can still get home tonight.

  8. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    Problems with buying electric cars

    Assuming your OK with the looks of the thing the biggy is the battery pack replacement. why have a car thats good for 10-15 years and a major (huge) component that's unlikely to last more than and that you can't avoid replacing (unlike an engine whose performance will worsen but remains driveab).

    Who would want to *buy* such a thing without a replacement mechanism in place to cover the battery?

    Electric cars are part of a transport *system*. The need re-charging stations and payment methods to cover them. Without a decent network of re-charging stations (with at least the *option* of a 10min charge) every trip has to be planned or people only do journeys they are confident will retain enough chage to get them home.

    With such limited (but hopefully expanding) UK infrastructure hybrids look more reasonable.

    The situation is substantially different for commercial vans.

    It'll be interesting to find out the results.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Will I need a pebble bed nuclear reactor in my back garden to deliver the required current or does it take a week to trickle charge?

    Frankly, I think they're pissing in the wind, methanol fuel cells are the way forward instead of nasty bulky battery packs that create their own environmental disaster when you need to dispose of them.

    Ethanol's even better (simpler molecule, easier to catalyse and has the added advantage that you can add orange juice and make a passable drink out of it...

  10. Anonymous Coward

    What they haven't told anyone ...

    is that even if they could do 3000 miles on one charge, the Safety brigade, those saviours of modern Britain, will ban them.

    It is highly probable that road deaths will increase due to these vehicles because they are virtually silent. Unless they reduce the speed limit to 20 mph everywhere, or even better, introduce speed restrictors. The opportunities for people control are endless in the Department of Transport.

    Now, where's a BA plane when you need one (for yet another reason) to emigrate.

  11. Keith Oldham

    Re : Poweeeerrrrrrrrrrr #

    Ethanol a simpler molecule ?

    When I was doing chemistry ( all my working life) it had one extra carbon and 2 extra hydrogens.

    Mine's the lab-coat

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Well, I'll be jiggered

      (with rum for preference) Memory's fading, of course, you're right, it's the other way 'round. Of course, you'd be wise to not try adding orange juice to methanol. Perhaps that explains the memory loss...

      Now where'd I put my coat, it was here a minute ago, I'm sure I had it when I came in

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    AC @23:13

    "Frankly, I think they're pissing in the wind, methanol fuel cells are the way forward instead of nasty bulky battery packs that create their own environmental disaster when you need to dispose of them.

    Ethanol's even better (simpler molecule, easier to catalyse and has the added advantage that you can add orange juice and make a passable drink out of it..."

    A liquid system has a lot of benefits. Refills are simple and quick and the infrastructure to supply it already exists. AFAIK all liquid fuel cells are ultimately hydrogen fuel cells. The difference is in the conversion to hydrogen. The mfg, movement and storage of hydrogen is such a PITA that almost any carrier liquid would be better.

    The real question is whether the energy lost to mfg the carrier is less than the energy in generating raw electricity. Batteries are pretty good at storing and releasing electricity and when they age they seem to age symmetrically (their overall capacity goes down, not how much you can get out after you've put a full charge in).

    BTW chemically methanol is simpler than ethanol but more dangerous (can make you go blind) and does not have the tax issues involved with ethanol. This is relevant because in the UK farmers can buy diesel fuel which is tax exempt, so-called "Red" diesel due tot the marker dye. Filtering the dye out and re-selling the diesel has lead to an ongoing illegal trade. Something like that is at least a possibility with ethanol but with the new use being for human consumption.

    Mines the one with the "Chemistry for Dummies" in the pocket.

  13. Gavin Jamie

    The Sound of Silence

    Certainly in their natural state they are silent, but this is simple a business opportunity.

    Sooner or later they will be required to make a noise. Initially they will have a vaguely synthetic engine roar. Then we will have a ringtone like market.

    I fancy my car sounding like a Castle class steam locomotive, boy racers could choose and F1 race car, people with pink fluffy seat covers could have the Ninky Nonk and someone somewhere would have a car that sounds like Katy Perry.

    There are fortunes to be made. And it was my idea!

  14. Robert Grant

    If they mean we can give less money to the Saudis, then all to the good

    I hate that we prop up such a revolting regime with oil money. The more we can reduce our dependence on them, the better.

  15. JimND

    AC @ 00:15

    They're quiet, but most of the noise from modern cars that haven't been chavved up is from the tyres anyway, and that gets louder as you go faster.

    My electric commuta-scooter sounds like a milk float when power's applied, but a goes a good bit faster.

    I like the idea of ring-tones though :)

  16. OFI


    "At last, here's an electric car that doesn't look like a church pew"

    Better looking than a church pew perhaps but still looks like a mobility cart. The Tesla is on the right track it's a shame the tech just isn't ready for this sort of thing :-P

    Ok so it's not as bad as that stupid G-Wizz...

    But as others have said i'm not interested until the range picks up a bit. 150 miles sounds plenty in the city (assuming it uses next to no power in traffic?)

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