Tuesday, May 21, 2019

A dear friend

It seems very apt to be writing this blog post in tribute to a dear, dear friend. The world has lost a true global educational  IT innovator and my best online buddy Miss Allanah King.
It seems like only yesterday that our 2 classes on opposite sides of the globe made a connection through our use of the then 'new' mediums of blogging and podcasts....it was 2006!
Allanah had adopted podcasting as a means of communication with her class at Appleby Primary School in Nelson on the South Island of New Zealand. Back in my Cefn Fforest class in the South Wales valleys we had also sought out global partners.  Neither place was really the hub of technology, however what grew was true educational innovation. This was helped by the fact that the world wide web was awash with new apps as part of the Web 2.0 revolution of user generated content.

I think that it must have been fate that drew us and our classes together, we had found a true partner many thousands of miles and several time zones apart. In Allanah I had found a good 'partner in crime', in that she was happy to run with some of my off the wall suggestions having seen a morsel of good educational practice often hidden, inside!

Following our blogs and podcasts we discovered a then new technology tool called Skype, you may have heard of it? I had to pretend to my headteacher that this was a closed system and that we would not be contacting the world outside Cefn Fforest....it was a white lie! Our classes used to skype us the teachers when they got to school in the mornings....it being the evening for the teachers. We were frustrated by our inability to talk directly pupil to pupil in 'real time' - in another of our hairbrained schemes we agreed to each bring our classes into school late one evening and as a result we were able to talk to our friends as they arrived in school in their morning. My pupils became very aware of global tome zones through our connection.

In another innovation I sent a small geocaching bear called Tiny Ted to New Zealand where he had some photographic adventures in Nelson prior to going on a tour of the world, from which I believe he is yet to return....it is believed that Tiny Ted was last seen in a university in Arizona!
Following the success of Tiny Ted, the two classes agreed to swap cuddly toys with each other, hence Dylan the Dragon headed down to the southern hemisphere, while a very noisy Cuddly Kiwi came to South Wales. Each toy went on a number of photo opportunities with the respective pupils, the one proviso that a blog post was required from the pupil who was hosting the toy!

As must seem obvious, we the teachers were have great fun challenging our respected classes to come up with new eays to communicate wjth their new friends - all great lnline learning, problem solving and great for writing for an ambience. ...sound educational principles.

Years went by and on a rare visit to the UK and Ireland in 2009 Allanah (AK) came to stay with us on the Welsh part of her holiday. Even though I had by that time left Cefn Forrest Primary, we were allowed to visit the school and Allanah was able to meet face to face the pupils that she had Skyped with a few years before.

After our collaboration Allanah went on to great things with CORE in New Zealand and also as a globally connected educational innovator, through all we remained firm online friends across the years.

Allanah's final illness has robbed us of a great woman, educator, innovator.....she leaves a truly amazing digital footprint.

Farewell my friend ♥️.

Monday, April 29, 2019

One month of ownership report

It is now just over a month since my acquisition of my latest EV, what have I learned/discovered in this time:

1. German build quality is second to none.
2. On a daily drive scedule, I no longer have any need to charge at public chargers. A top up at home overnight is sufficient. If more range might be needed the 250e has its secret weapon....the ability to use the full 36kWh battery for charging rather than the daily 28kWh.
3. The luxury driving experience that both the Zoe and iMiEV sadly lacked.
4. Mind blowing acceleration in Sport mode.....even Captain Slow uses this sometimes, it is especially useful when a petrol/diesel car gets above itself at traffic lights or roundabouts!
5. My continued joy of driving petrol free....the silence and refinement continues to make me smile.

Negatives over the past few weeks.....very few, perhaps one is that the B Class Mercedes appears to be a mud and dirt magnet! More of an issue is that the infotainment system ( I don't like the phrase really!) is difficult to use on the move. Lastly, my knee appears to hit the parking brake when getting into the drivers seat, fortunately pressing it engages the brake.

I have covered around 1600 miles which at a nightly charge cost of around £1.64 (averaging 20kW per weeknight) costing a total of around £41 which works out at around 2.5pence per mile.

Good deal, more to come.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Welcome to the newest EV in the family...it is a rare beast, the Mercedes B250e

The Mercedes B Class 250e is a rare creature. If you ask 100 current EV owners what they know about the 250e the majority will in all likelihood explain that Mercedes do not make an electric vehicle yet, they have a number of new cars in development for 2019-2020. These people are technically correct, Mercedes Benz do not currently in 2019 have an electric vehicle in the market... but they did have up until 2018... the B250e
The B250e is a strange car, as it is a Mercedes by design and build, however, under the skin and in its battery/motor set up it is pure Tesla. The reason for this is simple, up until the B250e coming to market Daimler Benz owned a stake in Tesla. This link led to collaboration, the fledgling US electric car maker needed to get cars built to a schedule, and thanks to the joint venture many Daimler Benz parts appeared in the early Tesla Model S. These include, gear selector, wiper/lights stalks and the window control buttons to name but a few.

In return Daimler Benz worked with Tesla on the production of its first US car, the C250e - this led to the 28KWh battery pack and traction motor in the 250e coming from Tesla.
What was produced is a stunning car, by far the best of the B Class range in my opinion, including any or all AMG versions of the B Class. The car exudes style and luxury, as you would expect in a premium vehicle which retailed for between £30,000 to  £35000 before any Government grants.
The car has 3 drive modes and paddle shift controlled 'regen braking', it is a heavy car and as a result would not be expected to have super long range. In fact I would say that 3.5 to 3.9 miles per kw which you can expect in early spring in the UK requires extreme 'eco driving' and would give a nominal range of 98-100 miles. This range estimate appears close to correct from my recent experience, admittedly not much yet.

(Range achieved by eco-driving on 21 March)
The Achilles heel of the 250e is its complete lack of CHademo rapid charging capacity. The onboard 11kwh charger unit restricts owners to long, very long waits on the fastest destination charging posts. I can envisage being extremely unpopular if I hook up to a 50kwh Ecotricity charger for an hour in order to gain 40ish miles of range! 
Owners of the 250e love the car and willingly contribute many Youtube videos of the car being enjoyed, despite its poor charging.  It is pure luxury in the cabin, and a remarkably spacious 5 seater.

The upside to the 250e's lack of rapid charging added to the fact that Mercedes Benz have hidden some of the car's battery capacity is that the batteries on the 250e should be much less prone to degradation in the long term.....we will see. MB were fairly confident of the batteries remaining healthy,  because they have included an 8 year or 100,000 mile battery and drivetrain warranty with the 250e.

To cut to the chase, why have I just swapped a 2011 Mitsubishi iMiEV for a 2016 B250e after just 6 months of ownership? 
One big reason for me was the staggering degree of battery degradation in the Mitsubishi, and despite my long term love for the little car, for me it was proving ever more difficult  to keep 'fully charged' I was having to be really creative in adding time to my work day in order to accommodate 2-3 hours of charging time. Hence my messages to Go Green Autos and our agreement for them to buy back the car giving me a workable deposit for my new love - the Mercedes Benz B Class 250e Electric Art Premium.

My first impressions were difficult as we did not get off to a good start due to a poor collection experience which left us with 14 miles range and over 100 miles to travel home. This required us to charge on 3 occasions in order to get home 13 hours after we had left! My recommendation for newbies to EV's if you are buying secondhand go to a specialist EV seller, there are quite a few in the UK, feel free to ask me for advice.

I must say that now back in Wales and making the daily work run I am returning up to 3.5 kw per hour with a nominal range of up to 104 miles in temperatures of 10-14C. I am very pleased as now I do not require a charge at all during the working day, I even arrive home with miles to spare!

Welcome to the B250e

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mitsubishi technically sold!

As of 11am this morning my 2011 Mitsuishi iMiEV has technically been sold back to GoGreen Autos from whom it was purchased in 2018. The reason for this is simple, I have become increasingly challenged and frustrated by the lack of range and battery degradation of the little EV. This despite my continued love for the plucky little car and its amazingly frugal demands for power.
I have been challenged by the sometimes poor UK charging infrastructure which with low range can be very problematic, leading to lengthy stops or weird detours.
I will blog about the new car, also an  EV once it is actually in my possession, which all being well will be on Saturday.

My high regard for our dedicated EV sellers has been renewed over the past few days. This has nothing to do with the new vehicle, it is the little 'Mitsu' and how it comes to be sold.
I am purchasing from a regular dealer who has already admitted little knowledge of EV's. However, during my ownership of the iMiEV I have bought quite a few spares...tyres, wheels, pollen filter, windscreen wipers to name a few. I offered to deliver these with the car in my original plan to part-exchange....the dealer was not interested as their plan would be to send the car straight to auction.
I then contacted Matt at GoGreen Autos to offer him the spares, as he deals in these little EV's, during the conversation Matt asked what I had been offered for my car against the new one....when I told him he took a few hours and then came back with an offer well above the dealer's for the car plus all of the spares. This was a no-brainer so as a result the Mitsubishi is sold and will be collected early next week....no need to drive it the 100 miles to the dealer, which would have been a challenge in itself..all round everyone wins.

More news to come soon......

A dear friend

It seems very apt to be writing this blog post in tribute to a dear, dear friend. The world has lost a true global educational  IT innovator...