There has been a lot of progress in the electric vehicle space over the past 12 years since the early mass production models, such as the first generation Nissan Leaf, were released. There were very few plug-in vehicle models available back then. In the United Kingdom for example, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reports that there are now over 140 plug-in models available in the UK, accounting for around one in five new cars sold this year! A further 50 models are expected to be launched by the end of 2022, bringing the number of models close to 200. With 200 plug-in model options to choose from and the ever increasing cost of petrol and diesel, consumers in the UK have never had a better opportunity to switch to electric. Of course, the long wait times for some of the popular models mean that they may have to wait a bit longer than usual for their preferred EV.
I have really enjoyed following the developments in the EV space in the 12 years since the first Nissan Leafs. From around mid-2015, I used to work in business development and sales in the commercial and industrial solar sector working on solar and storage projects for schools, shopping centers, large factories, and data centers. That meant I used to travel around eastern and southern Africa a lot with work. Traveling alone meant the evenings were often lonely. I would then spend a lot of time catching up on some developments in the EV space. I would binge on updates from CleanTechnica as well as video content from Bjorn Nyland’s famous road trips in Norway. I would also spend quite a lot of time watching Robert Llewelyn’s Fully Charged Show.
I recently traveled to the United Kingdom, and it seems like there are now electric cars everywhere. One of the highlights of my trip was attending the Fully Charged Live Show at the Farnborough international exhibition and conference center. There was a park and ride system at the show where people attending the show would park their cars at a designated car park and then take a short bus trip to the show. On arrival at the designated parking place, I was really impressed and shocked to see the sheer number of electric cars and the large number of different models in the car park alone from people coming to attend the show. There were Kia e-Niros, EV6s, Genesis GV60s, MG5s and MG ZS EVs, Hyundai Konas, the 40 kWh and 62 kWh Nissan Leafs, Jaguar I Paces, Mercedes EQCs and EQAs, BMW i3s, iXs, and of course a whole lot of Teslas!
Once we got inside the show venues, we managed to test drive a Vauxhall Mokka e as well as visit several stands where heat pumps, electric vehicle supply equipment, and several different energy storage technologies were on show. Of course, there were many electric cars on display from the various OEMs including the made in Morocco Citroen Ami, one of my favorites from BMW, the i4 M50, the VW ID. Buzz, the upcoming electric Genesis G80, Nissan Ariya, as well as several electric lorries and vans. But what really caught my eye and impressed me was the presence of an all-electric 2-seater airplane, tractor, and refuse collection truck as shown in this video here.
The electric tractor was a Farmtrac FT25G. Here are some specs:
The small electric plane was from Pipistrel.
The website says, “The 57.6kW liquid cooled electric engine. 345 VDC electric system built around a liquid-cooled in-house developed high performance battery system, which includes two Pipistrel PB345V124E-L batteries connected in parallel, installed in a redundant 2-unit arrangement, total nominal capacity 24.8 kWh. Crashworthy, thermal runaway inhibiting, HIRF/EMI tolerant.”
The SMMT report shows that car makers have managed to treble battery range and deliver a 15-fold increase in model choice in a decade. I hope we can see similar progress for electric tractors, refuse collection trucks, and small electric aeroplanes in the next 15 years.
All images by Remeredzai Kuhudzai
Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.
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