* Posts by Man With a Polish Wife

1 post • joined 18 Jan 2011

Who are the biggest electric car liars - the BBC, or Tesla Motors?

Man With a Polish Wife

Man With a Polish Wife

There is something seriously wrong with Mr Milligan’s account of his exploits as summarised at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12138420 . Parts of the story are true, but the errors, inconsistencies and narrative read more like an adventure story, and a badly written one at that.

The direct journey from London to Edinburgh is but 404 miles. However, Mr Milligan knew in advance that his journey would be 20% longer, 484 miles. And, that apparently is the precise distance he travelled.

Considering that he incorporated a 38-mile detour at the last minute, to the additional charging point in Berwick, and his published graphic makes no mention of this, then this is indeed a mystery. By adding up point-to-point distances from postcode to postcode, I can account for 474 miles (the originally planned diversions to the charging points equals 436 miles). Presumably, the other 10 miles was achieved by driving around and around a car park in Nottingham.

However, for Mr Milligan to predict 484 miles and achieve that precisely is simply impossible.

The errors are significant given the amount of time Mr Milligan had to craft his story. For example, “It's only day two of my electric mini challenge” on his drive from Milton Keynes to Leicester, but this is supposed to be the second leg of his day one itinerary.

On his arrival in Nottingham on day two he states as he reached the charging point, “We enter the large Victoria Centre car park (well one of them) and drive round for a good half hour trying to spot one of the two likely plug sockets. Across the gloomy car-park this isn't easy. However, we finally find an attendant who can help us out.”

Mr Milligan then goes on to add, “Car-park attendants from all over central Nottingham are summoned by walkie-talkie to come and admire the spectacle of an electric car plugged in to a socket.”

Questions for Mr Milligan. Did you really manage to correctly guess the car park, yet trust your luck by driving around and around and around for that long before giving up and asking, and have you exaggerated every so lightly on the efficiency of the integrated Nottingham car park walkie-talkie network and their military commanded attendants.

However, en route earlier from Leicester we were informed, “At one stage the display says I have 18 miles charge left in the battery, and it's nearly 20 miles to Nottingham.” But, according to the report, the Mini received a full eight hours overnight charge in Leicester and the distance from there to Nottingham is just 28 miles to begin with. Must have been a mighty traffic jam that morning to use up nearly all the juice in just eight miles. He doesn’t mention it though. What he does say is, “But then my little Mini is apt to be a little vague in the mornings. Just when I need precision.” Perhaps there is another reason!

Could Mr Milligan actually have spent the night in Milton Keynes. He notes, “And there's not a lot to pass the time at Mercedes, other than a rather fine collection of chick lit in the company canteen. Not feeling up to Penny Vincenzi, I check the battery levels again.” If he had found reason to spend the night there during his six-hour wait, then this would account for his day two error mentioned above. Curiouser and curiouser…

As well as the range readings, the biggest clue to the discrepancies between the ‘story’ and reality are in the distances given for the overnight posts. Night two should have been spent in York at 232 miles, whereas the narrative gives 181 miles, i.e. Sheffield. For day three, the stopover is supposedly at Wark 350 miles, but the narrative gives 285 miles, i.e. Stockton. There are no explanations given as to why.

Mr Milligan states that he arrived at Edinburgh Castle “late at night”. He had a very long journey to complete on day four: two legs of 68 and 59 miles from Wark to Edinburgh via Berwick. Three of the previous legs had been around 55 miles, and Mr Milligan had repeatedly complained about “range anxiety” with barely enough charge to complete these journeys. However, they were mainly on motorway standard roads with slight inclines. For the last two legs, the car would have had to endure cross country motoring on minor roads with many bends and inclines, as well as more traffic lights, etc. Hardly conclusive to improved performance.

I find it hard to believe that the Mini completed these two legs under its own steam with just the one top up in Berwick. If Mr Milligan left Wark at 7:00am (on day two he mentions that he is on the M1 at 7:30am) then why did he arrive “late at night”. The driving time for the two legs is given as just over three hours. With an eight-hour charge, the journey should have been possible in 12 hours, however slowly he was driving, meaning that Mr Milligan would have arrived in Edinburgh at 7:00pm. Why did he need at least five hours more – if he arrived at (say) midnight. We need to know what happened – did he get one, or most probably two extra charge ups at willing garages somewhere – after all, all you need is access to a plug.

And when Mr Milligan arrived in Edinburgh, could the car do the homewards journey under its own steam. No, there aren’t any public charging points in Edinburgh - so why choose that destination in the first place.

None of the reports on the BBC web site cover Mr Milligan’s interview on the BBC Breakfast show on Friday 14 January at 7:25am. Here he finally acknowledges the costs and inconvenience of the overnight stays through a passing reference to the many comments received on the story, but all he really says is that the electricity would have cost around £10. (Note: It is illegal to charge for an electric charge point for three years from installation according to the regulations governing their installation, which is why they are free at the moment). Does anyone have a transcript of this broadcast or a recording of it, as it would be useful to capture what was actually said?

On the subject of overnight stays, he makes no mention of how far away from each charging point is his overnight hostelry, and how does he get to them, and absolutely no mention of these costs. Does he walk to each hotel with all his luggage or do the production team give him a lift. He doesn’t include this down time in his calculations, but by my reckoning he travelled for 87 hours (minimum) for the 484 miles, giving 5.5 miles per hour – not the 6 miles per hour given. Why be petty and count travelling and charging time only – his stops were governed by car park opening hours, so he could not just turn up somewhere at three in the morning.

As the direct route is only 404 miles, then his true average speed is less than five miles per hour, and I can walk that fast (yes, I know I would need to stop, etc.) and these comments are just another means of highlighting the absurdity of the whole experiment.

So how does Mr Milligan sum up his adventure:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12189321

“A journey which proves that the electric car can now cover long distances which reinforces its claim on the future.”

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