Electric Cars ?

I have been considering the various construction, operating and economic factors relating to practical mass market electric cars. It would appear that most potential manufacturers are locked into designs which need massive investment in new tooling, use possibly the most expensive batteries on the market. Overall family practicality sacrificed on the altar of style and the aerodynamics quasi-religion when its unlikely to be driven long periods at high speed. The first cost of any practical electric family car is prohibitive to most people, then the range is only perhaps 60 miles.


Most people need a car capable of longer journeys, and as far as I can see the most practical solution is to use a cheap lead acid battery pack on trailers. Its not a new idea, Ribble Motor Services ( Preston ) built and tested a prototype electric Leyland National bus in the 1970s, the batteries were carried on a trailer. It could be possible to build a national network of battery trailer interchange stations on a scale similar to the number of small petrol garages in the 1950s. Each station could hold a stock of trailers to interchange and charge batteries on site, perhaps even using local renewable sources.


The trailers would need to be hired out on a common user basis, the value of the energy included in the hire price. It would also be beneficial to provide trailer park / interchange sites on the outskirts of town so that you could rely on the ( perhaps smaller ) vehicle battery alone for the trip into town itself. Perhaps a radical departure away from ” traditional ” mass production car design is needed considering the investment by potential owners.


To be true ” green ” any mass production need to be capable ( with maintenance ) of lasting at least 30 years. Buy an electric car in your 20s and then hand it on to your kids when they first pass their test and start driving independently. There is proven vehicle technology capable of doing this, the ERF SP truck cab with sheet mould compound plastic panels on a strong steel frame. Using the SP cab design as a basis it could be possible to build a vehicle which fits the above criterion. If it was thought about properly you could even send your vehicle in for refurbishment and have it returned with different body styling. Such a vehicle would be likely to retain its second hand value long term, unlike current mass production designs which are normally ” knackered ” at under 15 years old, even if you could theoretically still get the required spares.


I have been thinking about ways to reduce power consumption and improve regenerative braking in electric road vehicles for several years now. I have a PTII motor vehicle technicians certificate ( from 1982 before the syllabus was dumbed down ) with distinction and in my spare time over the years swatted up on railway locomotive engineering.


My idea is based on the principle of the Fell Locomotive ( Built 1950 ) using four diesel engines driving through differentials to provide automatic gear changes. It would probably not be practical to use four small electric motors for a car, but you could use two medium sized driving through a differential. At low speed one motor would be idle and locked, the diff providing a reduction of 2 to 1, at above say 20 Mph the second motor was unlocked and came into use to provide additional power and acceleration at higher speed up to a max of around 70. Furthermore, when braking the second motor could be locked spinning the remaining motor faster thus providing potential extra regeneration to the batteries.


I do have some practical experience of electric motors but only in model railways, some of my models are fitted with Protescap motors. Push a dead one fairly fast along the dead track and the electricity generated will move another slowly. It would be relatively easy to do using the latest electronics and could be the key to improving range especially on a vehicle like a taxi engaged on mostly slow speed city work.


There is probably no real chance of even getting my ideas for electric cars onto the agenda, I’m a bit like John Harrison and his marine clock up against the astronomers of the Longitude Board. It would appear that we have regressed back into the 18th century as far as innovation in science and engineering are concerned, perhaps they have once again become the sole domain of a quasi-religious elite ?


The Badger Cull

At long last DEFRA is going ahead with a cull of badgers despite all the eco-fascist protestations over the course of recent years and more recently the court case, environment policy handed back to the true environmentalists our farmers and the true indigenous local tribe, a victory for the ancient British, at least as far back as the Civil War.  The famers understand the land far better than any education you can get at university, the grammar school near me has a higher proportion of farmers kids.   The fact is that if you are an idiot with your land you will soon go out of business as a farmer, farming is far worse now so the pressure is on to cut costs but its already cut to the bone, many farmers relying on the OAP to keep afloat, lose the ability to sell stock and you are stuffed no chance for younger farmers to survive.   That’s what university trained environmentalists want in order that farmers will be forced to leave the industry freeing up the farm property for speculative developers tapping into the stock broker retirement market.  Likewise wealthy immigrants, all spurred on by programmes like BBC Escape to the Country, ( and its on almost every day now ) the consumer dream of living in the country and in fact perhaps the only factor putting the brakes on their eco-trend is the lack of fast Broadband in many rural areas.


Of course the government is promoting fast broadband, politicians believe that it will improve their local economy which it would theoretically do if all the rich people who move in buy local, but the net result must be lost jobs from those displaced into unemployment in the larger towns.  Of course anyone not paying the higher rates of income tax doesn’t matter to the BBC, everyone has to be a good Ten Bob Fat Cat and play the property speculation game, local councils are all run to theoretically increase the value of property in their area, cut speed limits in residential areas, introduce weight limits was the original favourite.   In fact like the SS in Nazi Germany getting the Jews to willingly buy the train tickets to the concentration camps, anything to promote false economic growth by increasing the cost of transport, not least not objecting to the Road Fuel Tax Escalator and other ” green ” taxation principles.


If the current trend continues then there will be very few of the original indigenous population left in rural areas, the very same people who in the 1960s had an environment where thrushes thrived despite the fact that the local kids would raid the first round of eggs laid by wild birds and take them into school for the ” nature table ” strictly verboten now, despite the fact that it probably did more good than harm.  The point was that the kids would take the first round of eggs laid in the early spring and perhaps hatched before enough food was available for the chicks.  The song birds simply laid another round of eggs and the chicks thrived in the warmer conditions, kids fun over for the year and no harm done.   Our local problem with declining thrush numbers only started when a pair of Peregrines moved into the face on the local quarry, after about 15 years there are no thrushes in our local area. still plenty of Blackbirds though, probably because the hawks think they are crows.  I remember BBC Bird in the Nest once showed a peregrine nest where the parent cam back with a brown thing that looked like a thrush but the camera was edited at the critical point, the wildlife presenters know full well hawks eat small birds, how can Attenborough state that peregrines only eat pigeons.  He also claims they always kill first strike yet whilst racing pigeons I had several survive hawk attacks, a member of the public once alerted me to one he had found that had been two thirds plucked before it escaped, I nursed her back to health.


The lesson must be that perhaps like the original Hillsborough reports alleged ” eco-friendly ” as portrayed by various NGO’s and universities policy is not to be trusted, the indigenous people know better how to protect the local environment and sustain the agriculture we all need to sustain our longer term survival, the latest cabinet appointment of Owen Patterson gives us some hope of achieving a sustainable rural future !