All electric tow cars , again!

Parksy

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Nov 12, 2009
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I use a very economical zero VED rated Ford Fiesta as my daily drive and when I change it I will consider buying an electric vehicle or a small hybrid.
For towing I use my 2.5 ltr Kia Sorento, not the most economical towcar but my caravan weighs up to 1650kgs when on a trip.
The way I look at it is that although the Sorento isn't particularly 'green', I'm not using airliners, when I pitch up I use far less resources than an average holidaymaker in a hotel because I only use the LPG, electricity and water that I actually need. My caravan has solar power so even the battery charging uses a minimal amount of power.
Touring caravanners are greener than most other holidaymakers and we also help the economy through tourism.
Both main clubs ought to be emphasising our minimal carbon footprint and should be lobbying those who make the decisions to secure a favourable outcome for club members who use larger vehicles for towing.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Likewise fossil fuel for me. It’s bad enough trying to find a parking space in the caravan area at services. I can’t imagine what it would be like if you needed to recharge your car with it’s van in tow and all slots were taken by WVM who’d gone off for a *** and coffee.
 
Nov 16, 2015
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I will stick with Fossil fuels, Mitsubishi are developing a new Engine, which they claim are lower on emissions again.. the amount of gas and oil around, yes city's will ban or at least restrict Oil burners, but I think our "Hobby, way of life" will remain for a long time yet
 
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Nobody has mentioned LPG as an alternative.
Its clean, cheap and easily available (OK, I accept that some rural areas might not have it, but that also now applies to petrol and diesel pumps.)
I'm now in my 26th year of running on gas and on my 5th car.
All have been Land Rover V8 and have been generally reliable. There is a calculator somewhere on the web which tells you how much money you save by going gas. I checked once and it ran into many thousands of pounds. Once the initial installation costs (around £1200) are absorbed it becomes as economical as dirty, smelly diesel, and is super-clean.And you can't spill it on the forecourt and leave it for elderly people to slip on, or tread into their cars, leaving a ghastly stink.
Yet LPG stations are closing because are being seduced by electricity!
( even with the closures mainly BP/M&S, I have never failed to complete a journey on only gas. I also have four LPG stations within 12 miles of home.
This morning there was an accident due to snow; the pall of exhaust fumes was indescribable! My LPG car produced virtually nothing, and I burn a waste product!
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Whilst it is true that LPG power vehicles are cleaner than petrol or diesel, you cannot get away from the fact it is a petroleum product, and it still produces many of the undesirable gasses of other IC engines, just in smaller quantities.It inevitable when you burn petroleum under pressure.

As petrol and diesel use declines, so will the production of LPG. After all it is a by product of those fuels refinement.

Its going to take a long ... long time ( if ever) before we see no petrol or diesel vehicle, so it will be available for a long time yet, but the number of outlets and general fuel stations is likely to decline and prices are very likely to rise. At some point in the future caravanners are going to have to ditch their stoical reliance on diesel and look at the alternatives.

I also suspect that caravanning as we presently know it may well change, perhaps having to hire a towing vehicle either to move the van onto a seasonal pitch, or perhaps touring with it for the most affluent.

But despite the article cited above (which I think is misleading and badly researched) there is a massive push to improve EV batteries, both in terms of capacity and recharging speeds, so who knows what might be available when your present oil burner has to go.

In theory the extra weight of the batteries and the renown instant mountain of torque in EV's should make then good tow cars. It needs manufactures to ditch the idea that all we want is super car performance. After all when can you actually use it?
 
Jun 20, 2005
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Sorry to hear you thought the article was poorly researched Prof. Sadly much of what is placed before us by journalists is biased and indeed misleading. Something Honest John echoes regularly in the Saturday DT.
Today there is no EV with the towing range per charge that will do what I need. I am sure it will come after my lifetime but I just want easy 4x4 luxury comfort towing my TA safely without stopping for hours for a recharge. Nor can I afford a Tesla etc.
 
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I'm afraid I agree with the Prof that the article seems very poorly researched and badly written. It seems to have been based on the writer's one personal experience with a Mitsubishi Outlander, which is a petrol:electric hybrid and not "all electric". Was he not aware of this?

We can all talk about our personal experiences, of which mine is this. I recently had to replace my faithful diesel Passat estate and was genuinely tempted by the tax savings of running a plug-in hybrid vehicle as a company car. But I checked which ones that were even close to being affordable on a business contract hire plan could be fitted with a tow bar, and this left a choice of - drum roll - one: the Mitsubishi Outlander.

I test drove one and pretty much hated it. Partly because the seats were uncomfortable and the ride was abysmal. Partly because the batteries took up so much boot space that the capacity left over was less than that in the Passat, despite the car being physically larger. And even then, there was no room for a spare wheel. But mainly because the electric only range was only about 35 miles, after which you're left with an underpowered petrol engine powering an overweight car. And when your job involves motorway journeys of anywhere between 100 and 500 miles at least twice a week (and your social life occasionally involves doing the same thing with a caravan behind), I don't accept that this offers any environmental benefits at all, even if the government does.

Our second car is a petrol-powered VW Polo, which we bought second-hand for about £6k almost three years ago. This is used mainly, though not exclusively for short urban journeys and a strong case could be made for replacing this with a small hybrid or even a full electric car. But with the earliest Nissan Leafs still advertised at around £7k and quite a number of reports on battery degradation, we're in no hurry to do so soon and will probably hang on to the Polo until it dies.

The wider, fundamental issue - I've said this before on other forums and will say it again here - is that there is no such thing as an environmentally friendly car. Petrol engines produce more CO2, with its proven links to ozone depletion and climate change. Diesels produce less CO2 but more nitrous oxides, with links to health problems in urban areas where the gases can't dissipate. Electric power units simply move the source of the pollution to the power stations and so may reduce pollution on a local scale but not a global one, and as far as I can see hybrids are the worst of both worlds.

The only solution is not to be swayed by the perception of 'doing your bit for the planet' and to run the car that best suits your needs right now. And for me, that means that diesel is still the answer. I have no doubt that electric will get there one day, but that day is not today.
 
May 7, 2012
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Electrics are simply not feasible as a tow car at the moment due to range limitations refueling times and lack of facilities for this particularly with room for a trailer.
Saw brief details of the new Toyota Camry in the papers today. This is a hybrid with a 2.5 l petrol engine developing 215 bhp so looks a possible answer in the short term.
 
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The thing that annoys me is the current advertising of Toyota & Lexus with "self charging hybrid" BS... It's charged by a petrol engine! they haven't broken the laws of Physics!
 
Nov 11, 2009
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Guzzilazz said:
The thing that annoys me is the current advertising of Toyota & Lexus with "self charging hybrid" BS... It's charged by a petrol engine! they haven't broken the laws of Physics!

Yes but it is self charging so the adverts aren’t misleading.
 
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As well as our tow cars, are the diesel tractors combines earth movers HGVs trains going to be replaced with all electric any time soon ? Trains may be the exception perhaps..
I know there are 'concept' HGVs on the web, but no mention about their recharge times - perhaps exchange battery packs wil l be used just like changes the horses on the old stage coaches.
Electric powered VLCC oil tankers ? Possible I suppose perhaps with fuel cells or relying on on-the move solar recharging.

To me there should be more urgent attention to cleaning up the currently conventional vehicles. After all the DPF is much better than not having one and it should not be beyond the wit of man to absorb/convert NOX and or CO2 in a portable manner.

I'm told that the average yearly mileage of most motor homes is pretty low - perhaps around 5000 miles a year or less (remember I said average).. How green is this compared to the fmily jetting off to Disneyland Florida for example.
 
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RayS said:
As well as our tow cars, are the diesel tractors combines earth movers HGVs trains going to be replaced with all electric any time soon ? Trains may be the exception perhaps..
I know there are 'concept' HGVs on the web, but no mention about their recharge times - perhaps exchange battery packs wil l be used just like changes the horses on the old stage coaches.
Electric powered VLCC oil tankers ? Possible I suppose perhaps with fuel cells or relying on on-the move solar recharging.

To me there should be more urgent attention to cleaning up the currently conventional vehicles. After all the DPF is much better than not having one and it should not be beyond the wit of man to absorb/convert NOX and or CO2 in a portable manner.

I'm told that the average yearly mileage of most motor homes is pretty low - perhaps around 5000 miles a year or less (remember I said average).. How green is this compared to the fmily jetting off to Disneyland Florida for example.

Even direct injection petrol cars are now being fitted with Particulate Filters viz Hyundai Tucson. Hope they are less of an issue than DPF.

There are some applications of transport that clearly will be more difficult to achieve reduced emissions. But what emissions are key? CO2 affects climate. NOX and particles affect health. So your list of applications is really nothing to do with electric cars. You could also have said ‘eat raw food, no meat etc’ which in fact are easily achievable. But that would take the enjoyment out of the caravan bbq meals. :)
 
Mar 14, 2005
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With the present state of play of EV's in the UK I do agree there is a very restricted range of vehicles available to tow caravans. But look how far they have come in the last 3 years, and consider the amount of effort going into their development now and in the near future. I am confident there will be viable tow vehicles, particularly when the light commercial market catches up, there will be batteries and drive trains that will be designed to cope with the sorts of loads and demands that caravanning needs. Hopefully car manufacturers will start to fit such systems to cars as well in recognition of this market area.

The difficulty for the “man in the street” is we do not have access to all the information about which company is doing what in terms of development, so judgments about the future are only being made based on past and present technologies. We don't know how quickly technology is going to be developed to over come the three prime concerns of caravanners, of vehicles approved to tow, range and time to top up.

We aren't all going to switch over in an instant, it will take time, But when such vehicles do become practical, the take up will I think start slow due to the innate reticence of caravanners to adopt change, but when it time to change your tow vehicle, look at what vehicles are available and burey you heads in the sand, it might surprise you about how good they are.

What I do know is that there is battery presently under development that might have up to 5x the present Lithium Ion capacity, and the ability to accept 300kw charge rates, which equates to shorter charging times. If this comes to fruition, electric vehicle towing is definitely on the cards.

Now to the matter of emissions. Its been suggested that EV's simply shift the emissions from the individual car to the power generators. This is certainly true, but its not a simple like for like comparison. The range of emissions produced by IC engines is different to those produced by the big power generators. Where as IC engines burn fuel under high compression conditions, which produce more harmful particulates than the same energy released by burning fuel at the power stations. Also the proportions of CO2 and NOX will be somewhat different. It will be technically easier to deal with emissions of all types at power stations than to fit every IC vehicle with collection and storage systems.

There is also the question of efficiencies, Even if we assume that all mains electricity is produced from fossil fuels, the main power generators generally achieve a significantly better efficiency than IC engines, and not only that the main generators run their equipment for much longer at high efficiency compared to vehicles where peak efficiency is rarely maintained for more than 5% of its running life. Even allowing for all the power transmission loses there are big efficiency gains to be had by using electricity and storing it in batteries compared to releasing the energy through IC engines.

The reality is that electrical power generation is being transformed, and an increasing proportion of our grid power is produced by renewable's. Thus reducing the impact of emissions on the environment. This trend will only increase.

Caravanners will I think have to face future changes in what they are can or are allowed to do. The freedoms of our forbearers to stop almost anywhere have long passed, and now in England and Wales we are shoe-horned onto sites, The current new drivers are limited to smaller outfits unless they take extension tests, Most caravans need 12V power to operate some items ( I remember using caravans with no 12V power!) The caravanning public more or less demand home from home comforts, and I'm not decrying that as that is a matter of personal choice, but we have seen changes, and there will be future changes probably more restrictive than expanding. Perhaps we will not want or need private cars to tow caravans.
There are a myriad of possibilities out there, some bad some good, but you must expect change at some time in the future.

For RayS There is an all electric earth mover under development. You might like to view this Youtube video from about 2 mins

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=230&v=dzO01-w8qMo
 
Nov 11, 2009
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ProfJohnL said:
With the present state of play of EV's in the UK I do agree there is a very restricted range of vehicles available to tow caravans. But look how far they have come in the last 3 years, and consider the amount of effort going into their development now and in the near future. I am confident there will be viable tow vehicles, particularly when the light commercial market catches up, there will be batteries and drive trains that will be designed to cope with the sorts of loads and demands that caravanning needs. Hopefully car manufacturers will start to fit such systems to cars as well in recognition of this market area.

The difficulty for the “man in the street” is we do not have access to all the information about which company is doing what in terms of development, so judgments about the future are only being made based on past and present technologies. We don't know how quickly technology is going to be developed to over come the three prime concerns of caravanners, of vehicles approved to tow, range and time to top up.

We aren't all going to switch over in an instant, it will take time, But when such vehicles do become practical, the take up will I think start slow due to the innate reticence of caravanners to adopt change, but when it time to change your tow vehicle, look at what vehicles are available and burey you heads in the sand, it might surprise you about how good they are.

What I do know is that there is battery presently under development that might have up to 5x the present Lithium Ion capacity, and the ability to accept 300kw charge rates, which equates to shorter charging times. If this comes to fruition, electric vehicle towing is definitely on the cards.

Now to the matter of emissions. Its been suggested that EV's simply shift the emissions from the individual car to the power generators. This is certainly true, but its not a simple like for like comparison. The range of emissions produced by IC engines is different to those produced by the big power generators. Where as IC engines burn fuel under high compression conditions, which produce more harmful particulates than the same energy released by burning fuel at the power stations. Also the proportions of CO2 and NOX will be somewhat different. It will be technically easier to deal with emissions of all types at power stations than to fit every IC vehicle with collection and storage systems.

There is also the question of efficiencies, Even if we assume that all mains electricity is produced from fossil fuels, the main power generators generally achieve a significantly better efficiency than IC engines, and not only that the main generators run their equipment for much longer at high efficiency compared to vehicles where peak efficiency is rarely maintained for more than 5% of its running life. Even allowing for all the power transmission loses there are big efficiency gains to be had by using electricity and storing it in batteries compared to releasing the energy through IC engines.

The reality is that electrical power generation is being transformed, and an increasing proportion of our grid power is produced by renewable's. Thus reducing the impact of emissions on the environment. This trend will only increase.

Caravanners will I think have to face future changes in what they are can or are allowed to do. The freedoms of our forbearers to stop almost anywhere have long passed, and now in England and Wales we are shoe-horned onto sites, The current new drivers are limited to smaller outfits unless they take extension tests, Most caravans need 12V power to operate some items ( I remember using caravans with no 12V power!) The caravanning public more or less demand home from home comforts, and I'm not decrying that as that is a matter of personal choice, but we have seen changes, and there will be future changes probably more restrictive than expanding. Perhaps we will not want or need private cars to tow caravans.
There are a myriad of possibilities out there, some bad some good, but you must expect change at some time in the future.

For RayS There is an all electric earth mover under development. You might like to view this Youtube video from about 2 mins

]https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=230&v=dzO01-w8qMo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=230&v=dzO01-w8qMo[/quote
Prof thanks for your thoughts. Hot off today’s press is that Toyota and Kenworth have unveiled a range of electric trucks powered by hydrogen fuel cells Ten start work shortly in Los Angeles and whilst range is only 300 miles and not luang haul they are designed to replace trucks that only do 150 miles per day. Of course they require hydrogen filling points but as they will work out of one area that’s been addressed.
I worked with the Ballard company back in the mid 1980s on reverse fuel cells and they were testing hydrogen powered buses at that time. But with the present pressures on climate and pollution the speed of developments can only accelerate.

We’ve just moved home and a near neighbour has Vauxhall Ampera a much underrated car ahead of its time. We were chatting and he told me that it was six years old,80000 miles and it has been totally reliable.

https://www.motorauthority.com/news/1122730_toyota-and-kenworth-reveal-first-fuel-cell-electric-truck-ready-to-haul-cargo
 
Nov 16, 2015
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Hydrogen Cell, the way to go for now anyway, Uber Flying taxi's, etc, limit 20 minutes then get a green bike to peddle into the city from the field.

maxresdefault.jpg
 
Jun 20, 2005
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At my age this is all fantasy world.
Yes it will come. But for me over the next 10 years diesel is a must. Even if an electric tugger becomes available. Can I afford it ?
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Dustydog said:
At my age this is all fantasy world.
Yes it will come. But for me over the next 10 years diesel is a must. Even if an electric tugger becomes available. Can I afford it ?

Hello Dusty
I dont know you financial position or towing life expectancy and Im not asking, But it will be the nature of things that as time passes the need to changeyour present car. will increase but so will the variety of possible alternatives, but also the cost of replacements will fall as the technology embeds.

So whilst your present position may seem planned, who knows what might entice you in the future.
 
Jun 20, 2005
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ProfJohnL said:
Dustydog said:
At my age this is all fantasy world.
Yes it will come. But for me over the next 10 years diesel is a must. Even if an electric tugger becomes available. Can I afford it ?

Hello Dusty
I dont know you financial position or towing life expectancy and Im not asking, But it will be the nature of things that as time passes the need to changeyour present car. will increase but so will the variety of possible alternatives, but also the cost of replacements will fall as the technology embeds.

So whilst your present position may seem planned, who knows what might entice you in the future.
Hi Prof,
If we could look into a crystal ball :whistle:
 
Dec 6, 2013
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Prof, this is clearly one of many subjects that you know a lot more about than I do so thanks for your thoughts. Clearly its more straightforward - in theory anyway - to control the emissions from one power station than it is from however many million car exhausts. However, with regard to your statement that "... electrical power generation is being transformed, and an increasing proportion of our grid power is produced by renewable's. Thus reducing the impact of emissions on the environment ..." I'm afraid I'm not entirely convinced.

Back in the dark ages (mid-90s) I studied an environmental science degree which included writing an essay on the environmental advantages and disadvantage of harnessing wind as a source of energy. I used Libya as a case study and whilst I can't remember the specific details (it was longer ago than yesterday, after all) , I think that the key issue was that after a large number of new wind farms had been built, the existing fossil-fuelled power stations were not closed. They were sold to private operators who did not maintain them as well as the state had done. A combination of this plus an increased requirement to damp the furnaces down during periods of low demand, then ramp them up again after the wind dropped actually led to an increase in the country's CO2 emissions. My conclusion was that whilst this situation remained, the harnessing of renewable energy amounted to 'an unsatisfactory and costly political exercise'.

About a decade later an article on the same subject, based on Denmark, was published in one of the broadsheet newspapers and it reached almost exactly the same conclusions.

Obviously efficiencies in energy generation from both renewable sources and fossil fuels have improved a lot since then, as has understanding of the effects of gas emissions. But I still feel that an assumption that an increased use of renewable energy automatically means a reduced environmental impact is at best simplistic and at worst, misleading.
 
Nov 11, 2009
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SamandRose said:
Prof, this is clearly one of many subjects that you know a lot more about than I do so thanks for your thoughts. Clearly its more straightforward - in theory anyway - to control the emissions from one power station than it is from however many million car exhausts. However, with regard to your statement that "... electrical power generation is being transformed, and an increasing proportion of our grid power is produced by renewable's. Thus reducing the impact of emissions on the environment ..." I'm afraid I'm not entirely convinced.

Back in the dark ages (mid-90s) I studied an environmental science degree which included writing an essay on the environmental advantages and disadvantage of harnessing wind as a source of energy. I used Libya as a case study and whilst I can't remember the specific details (it was longer ago than yesterday, after all) , I think that the key issue was that after a large number of new wind farms had been built, the existing fossil-fuelled power stations were not closed. They were sold to private operators who did not maintain them as well as the state had done. A combination of this plus an increased requirement to damp the furnaces down during periods of low demand, then ramp them up again after the wind dropped actually led to an increase in the country's CO2 emissions. My conclusion was that whilst this situation remained, the harnessing of renewable energy amounted to 'an unsatisfactory and costly political exercise'.

About a decade later an article on the same subject, based on Denmark, was published in one of the broadsheet newspapers and it reached almost exactly the same conclusions.

Obviously efficiencies in energy generation from both renewable sources and fossil fuels have improved a lot since then, as has understanding of the effects of gas emissions. But I still feel that an assumption that an increased use of renewable energy automatically means a reduced environmental impact is at best simplistic and at worst, misleading.

Britain’s CO2 emissions currently stand below those of 1997 despite a growing economy and population so something is improving. Given the reduction in coal fired stations and the smaller standby units are either gas turbine or diesel there is no need for them to be operating when not required. So with the rapid changes in our power generation system I’d find it hard to believe that there hasn’t been a net improvement. One country deserving a black mark is Germany which shut down its nuclear plants after Fukushima and then ran more coal fired plants using Saxony “dirty” coal.
 
Mar 14, 2005
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Hello SamandRose,

I can't deny the information you have aded, but the situation is now twenty years on from that, and we are living in the UK and not Lybia. I think it would be unwise to assume what happened in Lybia wold be fully replicated in the UK. In point of fact the majority of decomissined power statios in the UK are being dismantled , not sold to private enterprise to be used for generation, so the specific point you make about poor maintenance leading to increased emissions will not arise here.

As for generators having to be damped down, becasue of lack of demand, that is what is actually happeneing now! and why EV's with smart charging where they actually help to balance the load on the generators actually helps to maintain generator efficency.

Now I know nothing is perfect, and with wind power there is the problem of it only works when the wind is blowing, and for solar when its day light and prefereably sunny, but again this is where smart charging comes to play a part, as it is perfectly possible for smart vehicles not only to accept charge, but to also pay some charge back to the grid at peak times. Its also why localised storage batteries are being installed. Tesla to name but one company of many that are actively pursuing this concept. These are processes that were not available in the 1990's and I suspect if they had been and used in Lybia your essay may have come to different conclusions.

I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of you point, but this is an example of how technological advances can chnage the rules and how conclusions have to be veiwed in the context of their time frame. 1990s vs 2010s

I have no axe to grind on the subject except where facts are being ignored of misused. Whilst I do consider EV's will be the most numerous future transport, I fully ackowledge that other alternatives may become more viable as developments progress.

Ultimately I suspect the biggest improvement for the enviroment would be if we could reduce the need to travel or to become more reliant on efficient mass transport systems. But thats a topic for another debate.
 

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