Will a Non-Leaf EV Be Announced This Year?

I wrote earlier in the year about whether there would be any new EV models announced this year. It wasn’t looking good back then and it’s still not looking any better now. The new Leaf is announced tomorrow, which is very exciting. I’m hoping we see Bolt type range and 80kw charging possibility. Maybe up to current Supercharger speed of 120kw.

I hope it does come out this year because we can’t have a year with absolutely no other new EVs at all. The Model 3 is obviously in production now but we’ve known about it for so long, and I’m talking more about announcements.

The real test will come at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September. Generally though, we tend to find out about a lot of announcements beforehand these days, and we haven’t seen anything about a new EV from any manufacturers. But I really hope that we see something. Another motor show without a new manufacturer announcing its first EV would be a massive disappointment.

As far as EV launches in 2017. The Leaf should make it out before the end of the year around the world. It seems like they have the car ready to go as soon as it’s announced. The Model 3 is the other big new car this year and I’m excited about it, but personally, the most exciting thing for me is the affordable end of the market. Cars that are about half the cost of a Model 3. I want everyone to be able to afford an EV. I want to get rid of ICE cars as soon as possible.

So with that said, has 2017 been a good year when it comes to affordable EV annoucnements? No, it hasn’t. The last major update was the Renault Zoe with massively improved battery pack. The updated Zoe with 200 mile range came out at the tail end of 2016 and there isn’t a similarly sized and priced car to challenge it. The Zoe has been the only EV in the B Segment since it was launched in 2013. That to me is totally unacceptable. This is the segment that can bring EVs to everyone, and the manufacturers can’t be bothered to compete. They are simply more interested in bringing out petrol / diesel powered crossovers based on their existing B and C segment hatchbacks.

You could argue that manufacturers should at the very least be bringing out EV versions of small crossovers because those are the popular segments right now. But the thing is that EV drivers are generally pretty knowledgeable. They know that hatchbacks make more sense than SUVs in almost all driving scenarios. They know that aerodynamics play a role in range and that SUVs are never going to be as efficient as similarly sized saloons and hatchbacks.

But if you’re going to expand the market, you have to offer EVs in other segments. And if you’ve got the platforms already developed, why not make a crossover version for the more mainstream future EV buyers?

There are two issues here. EV manufacturers need to make different types of EVs. And non-EV manufacturers just need to make EVs! Someone make a Renault Zoe competitor so I have a decision to make when it comes time for me to give back my Zoe.

Why EV Charging Standards Must Converge Now

One of the several reasons EVs have not taken off yet is that there are several standards for fast charging. This makes it appear as though there are more chargers available to you than there actually are in reality.

Chademo, CCS, Type 2, Supercharging, AC and DC systems. This is not good for EV mass adoption. Manufacturers need to come up with one standard to move forward with as soon as possible. My preference would be type 2, since that can connect to all residential wall chargers that I’m aware of, as well as being the same size as the Tesla connector. This would help to bring in charger sharing if Tesla eventually decide to open up their system by charging non-tesla drivers to charge up. Type 2 is also the most elegant and simple design in my opinion. Some Chademo connectors look pretty complicated to plug in properly. Even small things like that will be off-putting to some.

We don’t have a situation where BP petrol nozzles are one shape and Shell nozzles another, meaning we’d have to go to a specific station in order to fill up. That would be ridiculous, and this situation we have with EV charging is just as ridiculous in my view. The EV world needs to present a united front in this area, and drivers of EVs also have to put pressure on manufacturers to prevent this madness from continuing for years and years to come.

Having one charging standard wouldn’t immediately increase EV sales 10 fold. It will take several more years to fully solve the range anxiety and elevated purchase price elements to EV ownership. But having one single connector would be a huge step in the right direction.

Because right now, EV manufacturers don’t need to be shooting themselves in the foot like this.

Are hydrogen powered cars the future or the transition towards electric cars?

Hydrogen fuel cells have one major benefit over fully electric cars. You can fill them up in the same way you fill up your petrol or hybrid car. You don’t have to wait for them to charge.

The benefits probably end there though. They’re about half as efficient as fully electric, require a complicated process to create the highly pressurized hydrogen, which then needs to be transported around the world as petrol does. That doesn’t sound like an ideal solution.

The instant refilling is a huge benefit right now of course, but as battery technology improves over time, the situation won’t be clear cut. Hydrogen cars aren’t going to be mainstream any time soon, and in the meantime the world will be covered in fast charging stations, which will be constantly improving speeds. Not to mention the fact that the batteries themselves will increase dramatically in range. These advancements should render Hydrogen fuel cells as largely redundant.

The lack of infrastructure will ultimately hinder hydrogen adoption. Even though electric superchargers aren’t everywhere yet, everyone can charge their car at home whether it’s through a dedicated fast charger, or through the mains.

Even in a best case scenario in which Hyrdogen stations become commonplace worldwide, the production of the fuel and the fuel cells themselves become far more efficient, it will be hard to ever match pure EVs. But I’m excited to see how it pans out. Maybe they’ll prove me wrong.