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« Rhubarb to save us from global warming | Main | Doom, doom, doom, another one bites the dust »

Greens trashing the environment part 527

How can one resist posting a video of Tesla electric cars being recharged (so it is claimed) using a diesel generator?

These people love the environment you see.

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Reader Comments (62)

It could be worse. They could have been trying to charge it with a wind turbine.

May 28, 2015 at 9:56 AM | Unregistered Commenternzrobin

Never mind, they'll be breathing in all that noxious DPM whilst whiling away the time waiting to fill up.

May 28, 2015 at 10:07 AM | Registered CommenterPhillip Bratby

This is where electric cars will never be able to compete with the infernal combustion engine – refuelling. In the Tesla v Aston Martin link following that video, while the range of both cars is about the same (250 miles), the Tesla takes about 6 hours to fully recharge – even when “half-filling” using a Tesla rapid charge point, it takes about 30 minutes. Another advantage is in the cost of the refuelling; a “full tank” for the Tesla costs less than £5; for the AM, it costs £120. Electric vehicles may well be the vehicles of the future, but I suspect that they do have quite a long way to go, yet. It would be interesting to know what the life expectancy of Tesla batteries is, and how much they cost to replace.

May 28, 2015 at 10:14 AM | Registered CommenterRadical Rodent

To one decimal place, all electric cars run on fossil fuels.

In this instance, why not have the car tow the generator?

May 28, 2015 at 10:23 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

How many people can afford a car like that, electric or not?

It's bizarre.

May 28, 2015 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrute

The video was along the lines of a BBC program about green issues, it highlighted all the good points and then stopped.
What exactly is the purpose of this car?

City travel? You would not dare enter London without a full charge or you might never escape.
Holiday travel? Do not even think about driving down to the south of France, which I did a lot back in the day. I reckon at least three overnight stops each way.
Shopping? Ah yes this would be great for shopping and short journeys but £80,000?
Endurance races? Ha Ha.

What happens to the battery after it is worn out and so what will the second hand market be like? Would you have any chance of selling it with the original battery?

I am an unashamed petrol head and in my penultimate French trip I had a Nissan 350Z; the sound when you floored the accelerator was something else hehe.

At the end of the day what is the point as long as we have fossil fuel? We can not keep the lights on as it is, so if we all switched to electric or even hybrid you could kiss our economy and living standards goodbye.

May 28, 2015 at 11:10 AM | Registered CommenterDung

Radical Rodent the difference in refuel cost are mostly down to the massive tax take on petrol .
It is an irony that should EV ever take off in the way some claim they will , there will be simply no choice to hit them with similar massive levels of tax because the government could not deal with the short fall if they did not .
Has was seen with LPG , where the tax was doubled over night once the number of LPG powered cars hit significant numbers.
And bang goes the main advantage of EV's

Where all the electricity is going to come from is another rather large issue.

May 28, 2015 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered Commenterknr

I was commenting over at the DT the other day when a rather smug commenter came on in praise of the Tesla:

Driven a Tesla lately, have you? 300 miles on a charge, which can be restored to 50% (150 miles) in 30 minutes. Here in Hong Kong there are already hundreds of Teslas on the road, along with lots of Nissan Leafs and BMW i3s, and most large new Mercedes, Lexus and Toyota saloons and SUVs are hybrids. The police are driving Prius' and their local district motorcycles are all electric. The roads of China have millions of electric motor-cycles. I think you need to do some more reading. The hybrid and electric revolution is upon us right now.
To which I replied:
Arni: When and where did you drive a Tesla (which model, btw - and what did it cost?) for 300 miles without recharging? Hong-Kong? Without air-con? Oh sure.
He then went on to get sarkie about how he could easily get 200 miles with air-con and recharge his Tesla in the time it took him to drink his latte at Starbucks.

Wonder what the Chinese is for dick-head.

May 28, 2015 at 11:18 AM | Registered CommenterHarry Passfield

This is a curious one.
The electric car exists and has many advantages over the petrol version in terms of power and avoiding contact with harmful chemicals.

But the battery technology doesn't work.
The range, charge time and depreciation aren't there. And I suspect that there may well be a physical limit to the performance of chemical batteries anyway. You won't find many elements more electro-negative or lightweight than Lithium.

So the electric car does have niche applications (buses, milk floats, beach rescue vehicles... be imaginative) but it isn't for general use. And probably never will be.

May 28, 2015 at 11:27 AM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

ssat, rather than towing a diesel generator, it would be more practical, if a space could be found within the car itself, for an enclosed diesel/petrol engine. It would be cheaper too. I wonder if anyone has thought of that.

May 28, 2015 at 11:41 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Yes, golf charlie (May 28, 2015 at 11:41 AM)they're called the Opel Ampera (a.k.a. the Chevrolet Volt), the BMW i8, etc.. However, they use petrol engines because the numerous start-stop cycle make diesel less efficient.

I've always wondered why not simply fit a methane fuel cell, since it would be much easier to upgrade current filling stations to this, rather than hydrogen... maybe it's the 'exhaust' product that's the big problem?

May 28, 2015 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Harry Passfield - did you not think to ask the smug DT commentator where the electricity was coming from to charge all those electric vehicles/bikes in Hong Kong..?

Chances are its from a sodding great coal-fired power station just over in mainland China...

May 28, 2015 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

If this video is true then it is beyond parody.
If this video is true then it should be required observing for all politicians.

May 28, 2015 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitter&Twisted

Interesting comments on EVs. I have heard complaints that GM has not properly advertised the Chevy Volt. This is apparently true. The 2016 version just announced has a new 1.5L petrol engine that runs on regular and gets 41 mpg when running on petrol only. The battery has increased capacity to allow for 50 miles all electric operation before the petrol engine takes over. It takes 4.5 hrs to fully charge at 240 volts, 13 at 120 volts. Every owner I have ever talked to absolutely loves their Volt. With incentives and credits, it can be purchased for under $30,000. The batteries are apparently holding up very well. GM predicts that most owners will use the electric function for 90% of their driving (currently 80%). Over 1000 miles between fill ups with an 8.9 gallon tank on average. Could drastically alter the amount of oil needed to run our society. Maybe the future is not so grim. Cadillac has the same vehicle in a luxury package.

May 28, 2015 at 12:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterBruce Cunningham

The nissan leaf has an 80 kW/ hr battery and has a claimed range of 124 miles Max. The Tesla has an 85 kW/hr battery and a claimed range of 265 miles max. Both figures claiming to be EPA approved. Could someone please explain to me the somewhat large discrepancy.

May 28, 2015 at 12:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaulus

This is one of their SuperCharger sites, based on the white rectangular charging stations behind the white car. When they commission them, they power the setup from a generator so that they can test the charger's response to under voltage, etc without bothering the electric company. Once they've finished testing, they connect to the utility feed and drive the generator away.

May 28, 2015 at 12:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterObeliskToucher

Paulus, the Nissan Leaf battery is only 24kW/hr, not 80. I believe they are saying they will double it for the next generation model.

May 28, 2015 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterGary

Testing? Doesn't make sense. There are 4 more charging stations without a generator in sight at the other side of the lot on google earth/streetview that have been there since 2012.

I suspect it's more to do with the pilot study they're conducting at Harris Ranch into swapping the battery pack for selected owners.

"custom built facility" = park a generator outside the defunct subway outlet!

May 28, 2015 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

Once more for emphasis

The only reason that billions of pounds of our taxes have been spent on the development of electric cars is the idiot claim that CO2 emissions are dangerous.

May 28, 2015 at 1:00 PM | Registered CommenterDung

Gary I stand corrected. The figure I gave for the leaf was the power of it's motor.

May 28, 2015 at 1:04 PM | Unregistered Commenterpaulus

The choice between petrol, electric, hybrid and diesel should be based on lifetime cost to the customer with no subsidies or taxes involved. Whichever system proves the best should be freely available (and so should the rest ^.^)

May 28, 2015 at 1:06 PM | Registered CommenterDung

It is much worse than you think, for all about the Tesla con, see here:

You will be outraged.

May 28, 2015 at 1:08 PM | Unregistered CommenterNiels


"without bothering the electric company"

'Superchargers', as the name implies, put a larger load on a normal service station's supply than it can handle without an upgrade. You are talking about 80kW per car while charging, which will require bothering the electric company quite a lot. Diesel generators are probably the only way to do it in the short term, and as Elon Musk has promised 'free refills' to Tesla owners, he is effectively polluting the planet as much as anyone. Shame the Yanks don't do irony...

May 28, 2015 at 1:16 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Of course you only need a towable generator for longer trips such as the annual holiday. All short trips to town or work can easily be EV only. Also charging at night doesn't increase electricity production because there is always a night-time baseload that is usually just wasted. Using it up on EV's makes perfect sense and studies have shown that there is more than enough baseload to cope even if we were all using EV's. No need to be sceptical of absolutely everything - this may be the future or not but if the EV owners are happy then good luck to them. No subsidies were used on Tesla - only a loan that they already paid back. The main disadvantage I see is that accidents will increase unless they add a constant noise to warn folk an EV car is approaching.

May 28, 2015 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Dung - quite agree about all the idiocy predicated on 'dangerous' CO2. The scale of duties (road tax) in the UK now varies from zero to over £500 per year for cars, calculated solely on a figure supplied by the manufacturer that will rapidly become unatttainable once the vehicle has been driven any distance. Electric vehicles are, of course, considered to have 'zero emissions' as the electricity used to recharge them is generated by fairies...

May 28, 2015 at 1:24 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp


"studies have shown"


May 28, 2015 at 1:26 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Of course other studies have shown the opposite :) It all depends on the assumptions......

May 28, 2015 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

@ May 28, 2015 at 11:27 AM | M Courtney

indeed the electric motor an sich is better (easily regulated up and down, more torque - more power / kg etc ) and more simple than our diesels or petrol motors, but the battery is - as you said - the weak link ... and that is imho unsurmountable ... they might improve some marginal percents on battery technology, but all about batteries has been said already ...

I do think that fuel cells (with e.g. the Honda Clarity shown in a Top Gear episode) are the solution in the end ... with electricity for H2 production coming from nuclear power stations ...

(I was btw amazed at some of the comments on a previous fuel cell thread here ... )

May 28, 2015 at 2:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterducdorleans

Does anyone have figures for depreciation costs for battery cars? Especially as their batteries start to get knackered?

Do the batteries have a scrap value, with all their expensive metals, or are they just dumped?

May 28, 2015 at 2:36 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

"These people love the environment you see"

My friend owns a Tesla, and he doesn't give a fly F*** about the environment.

0-60 in 3.1 seconds is what he likes...

May 28, 2015 at 3:12 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames

"No subsidies were used on Tesla"

This is not true. You get a $7,000 tax credit when you buy a Tesla. There is also a (California?) carbon trading scheme benefit that Tesla can sell to other car companies, although I can't recall the details. Anyway, lots of market distortions. High performing car though.


May 28, 2015 at 3:17 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames

' Jamesp
Of course other studies have shown the opposite :) It all depends on the

Shouldn't it be fairly easy to estimate the energy needed to recharge them overnight if everyone in the country recharged them overnight?

May 28, 2015 at 3:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Harry Passfield: I suspect your commentator was gilding the lily about the use of electric vehicles in Hong Kong. As for the tesla, there's probably no more than a couple of dozen on the road. A friend of mine was their marketing director for a while until he realised the car was a total waste of resources (putting it politely). As for the police using the Prius, maybe the Commisioner has one as his personal runabout, but I have yet to see one in regular police use. The successful electric road vehicles we have are the trams...

Sherlock: Hong Kong's electricity is largely homegrown; one of the two power stations is less than a mile from where I'm sitting now.

May 28, 2015 at 3:45 PM | Registered Commenterdavidchappell

Yes I know but a tax cut is not a subsidy. Greens like to say a fossil fuel tax cut is a subsidy but that isn't true either.

It depends on assumed patterns of peak loading and having a timer that switches on only when demand is really low, ie after they have long gone to bed. Obviously many folk would will switch it on when they return from work which would screw everything up. So some amount of smart metering would be required. However no need to worry about that until market penetration gets sizeable. Engineers aren't just sitting on their hands though - it is being looked at.

May 28, 2015 at 3:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

I too thought the Chevy Volt was/would be a good idea - but $30,000 for medium/small car after all the various subsidies! You have got to be kidding me! I can buy a brand new Corolla (or insert pretty much any similar sized car) that does pretty much the same mileage for less than $20,000 and that has no subsidies.

Volt is a good idea, but simply too expensive and I can't see why. It is really just a battery driven electric vehicle with it's own generator. Why should that be so expensive to produce? I appreciate the dual control systems for hybrids are not cheap (but once you have sunk the design costs, then manufacturing should not be appreciably different), but a Volt does not even have that - the drive train is electric with the batteries simply being charged by whatever generator you care to add.

Liquid fuels have a massively better power to weight ratio than any current battery and refuelling is trivial (OK, as long as the distribution is in place, which it already is). Using your liquid fuel to generate electrical power (as opposed to mechanical power) and then using the electric power to drive the wheels sounds inherently less efficient, but the advantage is that you can run your electrical generation at the most efficient rate as the variable load you need for acceleration etc. is provided by the batteries. In this way you can have a smaller engine and relatively small batteries, which keeps the overall weight of the vehicle down.

It probably still isn't enough to make the overall system as efficient, but if you drop the mechanical transmission system by having a separate electric motor attached directly each wheel then you can save a lot more weight and thus increase your efficiency. This is where I see a potential for electric drive-train vehicles - removing the need for a mechanical transmission system. The original Honda Insight had an electric motor in each of the rear hubs, but still had a hybrid transmission for the front wheels and I haven't seen any further development on these lines. Does anyone have any information in this?

May 28, 2015 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

It gets worse. See my update:

May 28, 2015 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAnthony Watts

Here's a thing. Ever wondered why Aston Martin market a badge-engineered Toyota Aygo? (Very pretty: only £30,000). Apparently, the EU is to (or does) regulate a car manufacturer based on the overall performance envelop of its products. without the 'Aygo' AM's fuel consumption numbers would look pretty bad. By having the 'Aygo' they look pretty good across the product range.

Now, what if EVs were part of the mix and their equivalent mpg was added to the mix? Would that be a good reason to build EVs in your product line?

May 28, 2015 at 4:15 PM | Unregistered CommenterHarry Passfield

JamesG "Yes I know but a tax cut is not a subsidy. Greens like to say a fossil fuel tax cut is a subsidy but that isn't true either."

Two things:
-I think you are incorrectly conflating taxes for consumers / producers.
-The $7,000 is a tax CREDIT. Even if you have earned no income and and owe no tax, you can file a tax return and get a $7,000 check from the IRS

If you think the government paying consumers $7,000 to buy your product is not a subsidy, then all I can say is I disagree. If they upped the tax credit to $100,000 to cover the full cost of the car would you then concede some level of subsidizing is going on?

Edit - it looks like the credit is $7,500...not sure why I thought is was $7,000


May 28, 2015 at 4:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames


“having a timer that switches on only when demand is really low, ie after they have long gone to bed.“

Let’s be generous and allow 6 hrs on cheap rate. 80kWh needs a steady 13kW (55 amps at 240V), which is roughly equivalent to all your kitchen appliances on at once, all night, or ten times the average consumption rate of most households.

There might be a bit of spare capacity at night, but if EV uptake is anything like predicted, the fossil-fuel requirement of the generators will have to increase dramatically to cover it, which is not quite the intended consequence, is it?

May 28, 2015 at 4:48 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Rob (May 28, 2015 at 3:50 PM), the other big potential advantage of an electric vehicle is that it can harvest braking energy from the wheels more effectively than mechanical devices (e.g. pneumatic or hydraulic pump/storage systems). Unfortunately, I've yet to be convinced that this theoretical advantage can be realised in a practical manner for every-day cars, though KERS does seem to work for F1 cars.

May 28, 2015 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Salt

Dave Salt, KERS in F1, is used successfully to provide extra acceleration, from previous excess speed. Its use in day to day motoring is limited. It may have spin-off benefits, but boy racers braking late and hard, at the red traffic lights, simply to accelerate quicker when the lights turn green, does seem like a guaranteed accident, multiple times, in the name of energy efficiency.

May 28, 2015 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

Try using a TESLA in the CANADIAN WINTER, turn on the heater and see how fr you get.

May 28, 2015 at 6:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSun Spot

The problem is that every electrical device (except for those in France) has to get it's electricity from fossil fuels. The question is, which fossil fuel converter is the best, from an emissions point of view.
The steam turbine, probably used in the majority of cases, only manages to scrape up anything like "respectable" emissions figures by the use of enormously complex and expensive variations of reheaters.
Petrol engines, cheap and cheerful, spring to life at the touch of a button, and produce power more efficiently than steam.
But the lowly diesel engine, despised by intellectuals and the fashionable, produces power more efficiently, more simply, than anything else on the planet. So to recharge a Tesla or any other electrical device via a diesel generator, is, within the limits of our planet, the best, most sensible, most economical way to do it.

May 28, 2015 at 7:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Melia

@Rob 15:3

It probably still isn't enough to make the overall system as efficient, but if you drop the mechanical transmission system by having a separate electric motor attached directly each wheel then you can save a lot more weight and thus increase your efficiency. This is where I see a potential for electric drive-train vehicles - removing the need for a mechanical transmission system. The original Honda Insight had an electric motor in each of the rear hubs, but still had a hybrid transmission for the front wheels and I haven't seen any further development on these lines. Does anyone have any information in this?

The large problem with in-hub motors is they result in a large increase in unsprung mass. This leads to poor handling and ride quality. The increased unsprung mass also necessitates larger and heavier suspension components which means reinforcing (thus more weight) suspension mounting points on the body-shell and/or subframes.

In addition, each motor's speed must be be constantly monitored and varied as necessary to compensate for the lack of a mechanical differential.

Furthermore, vehicle propulsion motors operate in a hostile environment where they are exposed to dirt, water, salt etc. Engine bays (front or rear) provide some protection, but still necessitate sometimes complex sealing and protection of joints and components.

In-hub intelligent electric motors would be located in one of the most hostile environments on a vehicle - directly in the path of all fluids and debris thrown around by the wheels.


May 28, 2015 at 9:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterPcar

The generator is fun, but really, the big story here is the battery swap. Please do cover this.

May 28, 2015 at 9:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlberto Zaragoza Comendador

Also charging at night doesn't increase electricity production because there is always a night-time baseload that is usually just wasted.
May 28, 2015 at 1:18 PM JamesG

JamesG, why would it not increase electricity production?
Can you please elaborate, because I do not understand how electricity production can be "wasted". Or do you mean to say that there is unused base load capacity available at night which is otherwise wasted?

May 28, 2015 at 9:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterWijnand

jamesp - I think you are spot on with 80 kWh being 10 times my average usage and that includes my economy 7 heating. So the ballpark figure for everyone running an electric car is an insane increase in the power generation capability. From your 13 KW figure even a million houses would use 13GW of power.

May 28, 2015 at 9:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Burton

Thanks Pcar (9.06),

The unsprung mass issue is one I did not know of. It would require larger alteration to the chassis design I guess, but it still should not be insurmountable. Perhaps the motors could be housed on the chassis with a flexible drive link, but this adds weight again.

Electronic speed control of the individual drive motors should not be an issue - many cars already have electronic differentials which detect (and control) slippage between wheels and would probably be easier to achieve with individual electric motors than with a mechanical differential. Traction control is one area where the F1 racing technology probably can be applied in mass production as it is an electronic control system. Large multi-wheeled cranes in the mining industry are nearly all electrically driven to allow for high torque at low speeds and they have electronic speed controls, but probably have few issues with high speed corners!

May 28, 2015 at 10:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterRob

There are 35+ million vehicles in the UK if 50% were Tesla equivalents charging overnight could the grid cope?

Battery from flat to 85kWh fully charged, say 20 million charges is 1700 GWh by my reckoning, over a 10 hour period (20:00 -> 06:00) is 170GW per hour. Or have I made a serious error in the mental calculations?

May 28, 2015 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

One possible reason the swap station is not in use: batteries don't even fit in there.

May 28, 2015 at 11:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlberto Zaragoza Comendador

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