Sunday, September 16, 2018

A working week with MV11 ONK

This week began the I-Miev's 'normal weekly routine. I was looking forward to the week somewhat through my hands in the event of 'Range Anxiety' setting in as it had on my return journey from Kingston Bagpuize to home last Thursday.

MV11 ONK has been christened Oink! by my middle daughter, I can't possibly think why? Does it look like a little piggy????
Oink has a range of around 58- 60  miles on a full charge on the flat at present ... Wales is NOT flat!

The week began in a fairly leisurely way for Oink! just the 5.2 miles into Abergavenny at just after 6:30am ....taking the new owner to the local pool for an early morning swim. We tested out the heated driver seat and it was TOASTY! Picking up the grandchildren and take them to school.  To work from school which adds another 2 miles. This was followed by an almost return home in order to deliver a chair based exercise class in a local nursing home. The reverse school run to finish before returning to base - all in all around 32 miles in the day ...EASY!

Tuesday started the same with swimming and the school run, however this was then followed by the round trip to Caerwent Community Centre, a round trip of just under 54 miles, taking us over the range by around 10 miles, plus the reverse school run and journey home had to be included....
The answer was to plug the 'Granny' cable into a socket in the kitchen and run the cable out of the window and to the car's Type 1 charger. 1.5 hours later after the end of the hockey session I had an almost 'fully charged' car for the return trip. I arrived home at the end of the working day still with plenty of charge in the batteries.

Wednesday began without an early morning swim, but the school run was included first thing in the morning. Back home for a quick charge for around 2 hours, then off to The Narth for our new social club. A round trip of over 50 miles this was followed by the reverse school run.....
The solution again was to reverse up to the kitchen window at the village hall and the to plug in the car. After the 2.5 hour social club I was back at 100% charge to finish my day.

Thursday was a day of local school run, office swimming and return school run... too easy for the I-Miev really!

Friday was another challenge, prior to changing cars I had agreed to pick up a local musician and his wife, 2 guitars, amplifier and music/mic stands and to take them to our club in Bulwark, Chepstow a round trip of 54 miles with some very severe uphill climbs en route....
I had my usual morning routine of swimming and school run, however as my club didn't start until 1:30 pm I was able to charge back to 100% during the morning at home on my wall charger...I wan't the only person charging on Friday morning, my neighbours were charging their Nissan Leaf also,,, very 21st Century!

Oink dealt with the hilly journey and a full car very well, we arrived with just under 50% remaining battery, I was able to pull up outside the kitchen window and with the cable through the window I go a charge, in fact we were back at 100% when it came time to return home.
The I-Miev is narrow and tall and the seats fold down to leave a flat floor in the boot. (We got an amp, 2 guitars and stands plus 1 wife in the back with ease!)

The week ended when I arrived back home at around 5pm with around 21 miles of range remaining. Oink! has easily managed the busy weekly work schedule thanks to the opportunity to charge on arrival at my venues throughout the week, as a result I did not experience and 'range anxiety' as far as I am aware throughout the week and I did not have to buy petrol (£1.32 litre) or diesel(£1.35 litre) this week, I did not pump any poisonous CO2 into the atmosphere as far as I am aware.... I would say that this makes the Mitsubishi I-Miev a success.... for the time being!

Watch an in depth video of Oink! from the seller here

Saturday, September 08, 2018

A change of EV Part 2

We left our story with me driving away from Go Green Autos in a 2011 I-Miev. The immediate plan was to travel to Leigh Delamere Services (West) on the M4 via the A420 and A419 a journey of some 41 miles.
This first leg of the journey went well as even on a road with the national speed limit (60 mph)we were travelling most of the time between 40 and 50 mph. This meant that on arrival at the Services I still had around 8 miles of range. My luck was even better when I noticed that the charger was on 'free vend' this means no fee for the charge. I plugged in the CHAdeMO charger to the I-Miev and prepared for a 20 minute charge.
What followed was a lesson sadly in how being a gentleman can in certain circumstances not be good for you. As I was about to leave a Zoe turned up at the sole charger and the young occupant (lady) asked if she could put in a quick charge as she was in a hurry! I did say that I was reluctant to unplug as I too was in a hurry to get home, but I did agree that I would return before full charge and swap.... following a short break of around 15 minutes I returned, unplugged and let the Zoe owner charge up. To be fair she only charged for about 10 minutes and then unplugged. I plugged back in... however the charger would not connect and I now had around 30 miles range which would be marginal to reach my next planned charge in Magor on the Welsh side of the Severn Bridge...even with help form the Ecotricity Charger team I could not restart my charge (by this time is was also raining heavily and I was getting wet!).

My only option appeared to be a slightly shorter journey to IKEA in Bristol on the M42, this is a detour from my route home, but I had to take it anyway. 
I arrived at IKEA with round 8 miles of range left, not enough for the 15 miles to Magor! My luck was in again as the charger in IKEA was on 'free vend' so another free charge (£0.00) - I popped into the cafe for a break... on my return I discovered an I-Miev feature that was lurking in some information I had picked up about the car - it charges on a fast charger to 80% in around 20 minutes, this should have warned my that at 80% the car in order to protect its batteries stops the charge... I was not able to restart the charge but now had enough juice to reach my originally planned stop in Magor.

At Magor another 20 minute stop to get to 80% charge (44 miles approx) with a 37 mile drive home...a good drive back meant that I arrived home just as the Guess-O-Meter was showing 4 miles of remaining range. 
The journey home had taken 4 hours which is significantly more than planned, had I been a nasty person at Leigh Delamere and charged up to 80% I would have easily reached Magor thus missing out my detour and charge at IKEA Bristol saving me around 1 hour of journey time.

I suspect that running the I-Miev my days of range anxiety are likely to continue... we will see!

A change of EV! Part 1

You may have noticed that the car in the header of the blog has changed!
I have loved running my 2015 Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav since the beginning of December 2017, having covered just over 8000 miles in the 9 months of ownership. I have loved being able to say that I am doing my bit to lessen the impact of exhaust gases which are affecting human beings so much!  However, there had been something niggling at the back of my mind since the purchase...the ongoing battery lease issue ( I was paying £79 per month for the privilege of leasing my car's batteries from Renault) which added £948 per annum to my running costs!
Renault Zoe's without a battery lease are beginning to come onto the second hand market at around £9000 for a 3 year old car, this compares with around £6000 for a battery lease version. I was not willing to wait for these to drop in price, and had recently started looking around for an alternative. My alternative was always going to be electric, like many other EV owners I have vowed never to return to ICE even though I still remain a petrol-head at heart!

I did not expect Zoe's replacement to be a 2011 Mitsubishi I-Miev but, one came up being sold by my friend Matt West of Go Green Autos near Oxford recently.... I bought Zoe from Matt back in December 2017.
The I-Miev is 7 years old now and has a much lower range per charge (16KWh battery pack compared to 22KWh for Zoe)... but from a buying perspective the car has undergone a full service recently and has:
* 4 new tyres
* 4 fully refurbished alloy wheels
* new 12 volt battery
* gear box oil changed
*new brake pads on front wheels
* pollen filter replaced
The MOT runs until March 2019. The car comes fitted with:
AM/FM radio
CD player
Sat Nav (Garmin)
Bluetooth hands free kit fitted as standard
Reversing camera
Retractable wing mirrors
Heated drivers seat
Automatic headlights
All electric windows and..... a cup holder
I happened to be in Oxford this week for a business meeting and had previously discussed with Matt doing a no cash swap of the I-Miev for my Zoe which we had more or less agreed. Go Green Autos was on my route home.

The I-Miev is based on a 2006 design of a japanese i-car and was the first electric car manufactured for general release worldwide in 2011. I-Miev stands for I-Mitsubishi Innovative Electric Vehicle. 
While the I-Miev won't necessarily win many prizes for its looks, I don't think that it is an ugly car, especially by comparison with V1 Nissan Leaf. Also, it is not particularly swift and with a nominal top speed of 85 MPH not a 'boy racer' ... and then there is the range of......around 65 miles ( apt to give you severe range anxiety!) ... I have to say I took a liking to the car and not only because it will save me £79 per month simply by sitting on my driveway! It will also alleviate a rise in my monthly electricity fees from my current green electricity supplier. All in all I hope that we are going to enjoy our life together

Having agreed on our 'swap' on Thursday afternoon the deal was done and I began my return trip of around 90+ miles in the I-Miev... more of this journey in Part 2 ( to be continued!)

Saturday, July 28, 2018

An average EV day

Drivers of electric vehicles  are invariably asked as an opening question, 'How far will it go on a charge?' The question is often followed a shake of the head and a response along the lines 'That's not very far, is it?' This scenario becomes tedious after a short time. Most EV drivers have embraced the shortcomings of our vehicles, in order to focus on the many areas where owning an electric car eclipses FOSSIL car road tax, very low servicing costs, low fuel costs, lack of emissions and of course quiet driving. Below I have a personal response to those who suggest that a first generation Zoe (22KW) does not have enough range for them on a daily basis.

This post presupposes that there is such a thing as an average day for EV owners!
My story begins the evening prior, I usually plug in Zoe on my return from the work day. However, my charge does not begin at that point as I am a good citizen and am aware that the biggest strain on the UK National Grid is early evening when we come home and begin turning on appliances and of course cooking and watching TV. If I were to begin a charge at this time my usage along with others could trigger a fossil fuel power station being brought onstream....not a good thing!
On Zoe I can preset the charge time in advance, the majority of EV's globally can also do this. I usually set charging to begin around 1am the next morning, when the Grid is less stressed. If I had an Economy 7 tarrif this would also greatly reduced the cost of each KW of elecricity.
(The Renault ZE app)

Having charged Zoe overnight, at 7:30 am I always have 100% ready for the day.
I will select a Friday in school term time. At 7:40 I set off on the school run for my grandchildren requiring around 16 miles of range on average . I then drop in at our office, using 1 or 2 additional miles.
At around midday I set off on the 46 mile round trip to Chepstow which includes travelling from 60m above sea level up to 240m and back down to sea level in Chepstow. The benefit of an EV on this type of journey is that as with ICE cars we use energy going uphill, whers we differ is coming back down....Zoe can on a good day regen' 5-7 miles of range, basically the braking system turns into a dynamo enabling battery recharging going downhill and or braking. This is also a standard EV extra, in fact Zoe is the least effective EV on the road today.

On my return from Chepsrow  I am usually too late for the afternoon school run, but  I often drop my grandson to cricket training which is an additional 10 mile round trip.
I get home having travelled almost 75 miles without range the summer I would still have around 10 -15 range left, whereas in the winter it may just be under 10 miles remaining.....I can the set a charge time, plug into the ROLEC 3KW charger on my wall and leave the car to charge again overnight. This travel pattern would be repeated throughout the week.
You can see from this that for the majority of my week Zoe has a usage and recharge cycle that enables me the flexibilty that suits me and also makes best use of the battery pack in Zoe.
There will be out of the ordinary days like our trip to Coventry (109 miles away) which do require some planning, this may only occur half a dozen times each year....

I would say that users should look for an EV that fits their usual day and their budget.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

How did the story begin?

Since my return to the UK in 2016 I was using a 2011 Fiat Panda to get around, the Panda is a very economic and easy car to drive.
However, I have been increasingly concerned over our human carbon footprint for some time. Having followed many very dirty diesels in addition to hearing about the impact of car fumes on the next generation I had it in my mind to make a change.

Throughout 2017 I spent time researching the electric vehicle revolution, and our neighbours acquired a Nissan Leaf mid year. This led me to the Renault Zoe, as the Leaf is a bit big for me, also I think that they look quite ugly!
I am a semi-reformed petrol-head and can be swayed by the exhaust note of many classic cars, including my beloved MGB, having owned a few in my time. I searched many a car advert, from Jaguar S Type R to Mazda RX-8 and back again before finally returning to electric power.

In November I found the GoGreen Autos website and was taken by the no nonsense attitude of proprietor  Matt West. I made a trip up to Kingston Bagpuize to view and drive a very nice looking 2015 Renault Zoe Dynamique Nav 22KWh under warranty until 2019 with 20,000 miles on the clock.
As you can see from Matt's pictures Zoe was in very good order...
From front to back and even under the bonnet...
Also the Zoe is a good looking car, even when not compared directly to the Leaf!
After a short sensible negotiation the deal was agreed, part exchange signed and I had become the owner of Zoe. All that remained to complete was the battery lease application.....this is because the vast majority of Zoe's in Europe are sold where you own the car, but Renault own and lease the battery pack - annual mileage dictates the amount per month paid.

                 Annual Mileage 4500 6000   7500    9000    10500
                 22kW                   £49    £59      £69        £79        £89
The lease ensures that should your battery pack drop below 75% efficiency that Renault will replace it. For the lease you also get nationwide car recovery and up to 3 days car hire. You can call out the recovery for breakdowns, flat tyres and even running out of electric charge. I still think that this is a good deal as it give peace of mind for a relatively small cost.
If anyone considering an EV is squeamish about leasing the battery pack there are plenty of cars out there where you own the car and batteries.
We arranged the handover for the nearest motorway service station with a fast (45KW) charger thus enabling us to get home with ease. Matt from Go Green also loaned me a Granny Cable (it plugs into your domestic wall socket) until I had arranged the fitting of my own home charger. All part of the good service provided by the current EV seller community.
I selected a locally based supplier to fit my charger, in order to support local businesses. The cost £180 - using the UK Government Grant of £500 towards the fitting of chargers (you can fit a second charger and claim the full Grant again).
I now have a 3KWh Rolec charger on the front of the house (it is quite discrete) - so can now charge my 22KW battery pack from 0-100% in just over 7 hours at a price of £0.13 per KW - £2.86. I actually rarely if ever charge from empty, I mainly return with at least 40% charge remaining (13.2KW- charge cost £1.71).
EV drivers are always asked how far will it go? The answer for the 22KW Zoe is... it depends. Batteries do not like temperature extremes therefore the Zoe will usually manage 65-70 miles on a full charge in winter and 90-95 miles in the summer.. for me my daily range is usually around 50 miles giving me a good buffer to get home.
Of course on long journeys, especially in our part of Wales require a little planning in advance... 

So how have I found my time with Zoe... it has been challenging...
and frustrating....
But, ultimately I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience and wouldn't change anything, well, almost anything! My future choice is very likely to be another EV, perhaps with a slightly larger battery pack and a tad more range.... more to follow.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Life with Zoe

I have renamed our blog to begin telling stories of electric car ownership in Wales. Many readers will know that back in December 2017 that I finally took the step away from combustion engined travel - vehicles also know as ICE (Internal Combustion Engine or FOSSILS - named after the original of the fuel type and also because they have been around for over 100 years! ZOE came from a very nice man called Matt at Go Green Autos in Oxfordshire. ZOE was registered on my birthday in 2015, so was just over 2 years old and had covered 20,000 pollution free miles when she came to Wales.

ZOE is a 22KWh battery powered vehicle with a notional range at 3-4.5 Miles per KWh giving a range of between 66 ( cold/winter) and 99 ( warm/summer) miles between charges. The majority of the time ZOE charges at home for £0.13 per KW.... 0-100% charge costing £ could be cheaper if we had Economy 7 with cheap overnight electricity!

 Life with Zoe has not always been an easy road, she is basically more computer than car and as such suffers from occasional 'glitches', the technology is also relatively new and as such suffers from early adoption issues. However, I still would not swap her for anything other than a 40KWh+ battery vehicle.

ZOE has been on the back of a flatbed truck once or twice to the very nice people at Cardiff Renault, the team there led by another Matt on the service desk has always treated us courteously and with respect, I can't fault their customer service.

I wanted to give an insight into the up's and down's of EV ownership by describing our day yesterday. Jaycob and I set off from Abergavenny with 100% charge to drive the 118 miles to an event called EV's in the Park in Coventry.

You will note immediately that at best 99 miles does not equate to 118 miles. I had planned 2 stops for charging. The first was 58 miles away on the M5. We arrived with 20% battery remaining. We got lucky here as our 35 minute stop (including toilets and breakfast - at 8am) ... even more of a bonus was the fact that the charger gave us a FREE CHARGE ( this happens from time to time on the Ecotricity network and is a bonus).
Stop 2 was 23 miles away on the M42. We arrived and met some fellow travellers also on their way to Coventry, charge of 20 minutes to 96% ... cost £2.49. We arrived nicely at 11am to enter the show ground and parked right behind a Tesla Roadster... Jaycob was very happy!!! total cost for 118 miles £2.49
We had a great day trying out vehicles and talking to EV owners and members of the public. We left the show at around 3.45 in order to avoid the rush (there were 103+ vehicles at the show this year). We travelled back to our M42 charge point to charge up to 97% at a cost of £4.49)... now the journey home is a bit more challenging as there is not a fast charger on the southern service station that we needed on the M5. I had planned a short dash for a charge at Waitrose on London Road Worcester.... we arrived with a notional 63 miles and an onward journey of at least 68 miles... so needed a few electrons.
I had stopped at the POLAR chargers in Worcester previously with no problem... sadly not so on this occasion. The first post began charging with no problem, we were just about to go in for another drink break for about 20 minutes when we noticed that ZOE had stopped charging...also there were engine and charging warning lights flashing on the dashboard!!! The car would not allow me to select a gear only to stay in Park!... the charger has charged me the £1.20 connection fee! We decided to take a 20 minute break anyway in order to see if ZOE's computer cleared the error probably caused by the faulty charger....
On our return we were pleased that all seemed well, so we swapped to a second charge post at the same place.....NO charge possible, but at least no warning lights! Can we get home... probably not still 68 miles on motorway and dual carriageway with 63 notional miles on the Guess-O-Meter (GOM)! we searched for other chargers locally and found a similar 7KW charger at ASDA in Worcester... so off to ASDA we went.
Connected with no problem to the ASDA POLAR charger and we took a 30 minute stroll around while we waited for a boost a cost of £1.20.
We left for home with around 80 miles showing on the GOM and arrived home with 20 miles of charge remaining.
So not all plain sailing then and we probably took 1.5 hours longer than we would have in a FOSSIL car...cost for 236 miles of driving £9.38 ( sadly we had to count the extra £1.20 at Waitrose or it would have been £8.18 giving a cost of around £0.40 per mile... it would have been £0.35 if we hadn't paid twice in Worcester!

So all in all we had a lovely day, a bit of drama and tales to tell. That really sums up EV driving in 2018....more to follow.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Musing on life back in the UK

I have been back in the UK permanently now for just over 3 months. I must say that very much like my relocation to The Netherlands back in January 2011 that there has been a certain degree of 'reverse homesickness'.  There remain aspects of life in the UK that I find hugely frustrating while missing very much the atmosphere of The Hague.
These have however been more than compensated for by the sheer and simple fact that I am home and available for 'family time' from across the generations. I have been on hand to take my mum shopping, to actually attend musical events without the tiresome requirement of a flight!!! I have enjoyed Evensong at St Mary's Church and Sweeney Todd in Abertillery, and been on hand to assist my uncle in roof repairs at my mother's house.
Of course the main reason for my return was to facilitate 'working' from home, this has worked well to date as I have been able to pick up a few short term online projects which while being fun also have the advantage of supplementing my pension! I hope that this work continues as it is great to actually be able to take time out to walk the Welsh countryside, even though I am technically working. Also it makes it  possible to revisit The Netherlands as a tourist in order to get a 'Dutch Fix'  I would contend that this is the best of all possible options and on balance I am more than happy that I made the move.....I will continue to Muse on things that I find intersting and hopefully....relevant?

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Blog post from 21/09/2006

This blog will be the musings of a welsh Primary School teacher who should probably get out more !!!
There are some interesting things happening in the world of Web 2.0 at present with the upcoming K12 online conference which look as if it is going to be an interesting step in global communication using the web. The site is still looking for us out there to give them suggestions for the conference content - another step forward. I know that David Noble at Booruch is into skypecasting in addition to running an excellent blog and podcast. I guess the leading light in all Web 2.0 stuff is David Warlick he who must be the blog/pod guru. You see I told you that I should get out more !!!!
An issue that I would like some feedback on is, how in the rest of the UK ( excluding Wales) laptops for pupils run by e-Learning Foundation works out. Their development Director Ray Moore wrote an article in last week's TES (15th September) headlined Home Sweet Laptop where he was showing how the digital divide is growing between England and Wales in as much as in UK as a whole 58% of homes have a PC and 49% have internet connection, while in Wales the same figures are 51% and 41% apparently lowest in UK apart from Northern Ireland and getting wider( straw pole in my Year 3 class - 15 out of 29 with no PC access at home ). In Wales we do not have the laptop for pupils due to the policy of our Assembly to use their funds in other directions ( that's another story).
The aim is that parents agree to pay £3 per week in order to give their child access to a laptop for use in school and at home ( they have a tie up with AOL for free internet access) - while even £3 is a small amount of money, there will still be parents who will not see the worth of computer access even at that price while others will find even that amount quite high on a regular basis. I would like to know if this disadvantages these pupils even more than when there is no scheme at all - this is a problem that my headteacher wanted clarification on also.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY - Ddraig Goch Blog!

10 years ago on Thursday 21 September 2006 the Ddraig Goch Blog first appeared. In its first few years the blog was dedicated to educational technology. The main focus of the blog in its early days was the integration into education of the plethora of 'Web2.0' tools that were appearing at the time... almost weekly back in 2006-7. It appeared to me that educators were being almost 'blinded' by the new possibilities and that we weren't necessarily as a profession looking at the issue from a fully educational perspective. I am pleased to report that this has improved over the past decade as global educators have fully explored the educational aspects of new programmes and more recently 'apps'. Over the years since my blog began education and 'ed tech' has remained a focus, the blog has diversified as I have.... not always in the desired direction. The result is a very eclectic posting history, which I hope still has the aim of considering the blending of education and technology. Looking forward to the next 10 years.....Hip!Hip!Hooray!

A working week with MV11 ONK

This week began the I-Miev's 'normal weekly routine. I was looking forward to the week somewhat through my hands in the event of ...