Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Electrically assisted bikes, trikes, etc.
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horizon
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Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby horizon » 16 Sep 2019, 12:55pm

On Radio 4 You and Yours today, it was reported that many small, petrol-engined cars will be phased out as the technology to reduce their carbon emissions would be too expensive. That means that consumers (some less well off) would have to buy larger cars, either ICE or electric. Smaller electric cars would eventually become available but not yet and would certainly be expensive.

What I don't understand is that if electric bicycles are a viable proposition (being small and light) and heavy trucks are not (being too large and, well, heavy), why are small electric cars not the perfect category for electric power? Surely a small city car is ideal for e-power, as well of course requiring shorter distances between charges.
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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby kwackers » 16 Sep 2019, 1:06pm

Renault Twizy.
Smart EQ.

There are quite a few "city" cars too.

Electric Mini.
Honda E.
Volkswagen E-Up
(Plus others I can't remember off the top of my head)

Then there are a number of now defunct models going all the way back to the 80's. Some of these have had their lead acid batteries replaced with modern tech and given a new lease of life. Most have the benefit of being small since battery tech mandated small. low power cars back then.

The real problem is public perception.
The Twizy is to my mind the perfect electric city car but most people think about small cars like the Mini as city cars.

If there was more choice would people buy them? They're easy and cheap to build (I bet the Chinese have loads) so in theory the only thing lacking are the consumers...

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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby horizon » 16 Sep 2019, 1:39pm

kwackers: if you have a moment, could you have a quick listen to it? I still don't quite understand what they were saying. The thing I might have got wrong is that small petrol cars are very cheap and that small electric cars are expensive by comparison.
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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby mjr » 16 Sep 2019, 1:55pm

horizon wrote:What I don't understand is that if electric bicycles are a viable proposition (being small and light) and heavy trucks are not (being too large and, well, heavy), why are small electric cars not the perfect category for electric power? Surely a small city car is ideal for e-power, as well of course requiring shorter distances between charges.

Aren't "small" e-cars always going to be worse than e-bikes because e-cars clearly show the negative effects of the much heavier weights, poorer aerodynamics, higher speeds and lack of human power? Even the Renault Twizy (which is classed as a sociable tandem quadricycle) is 474kg and 100km range from a 6.1 kWh battery, compared to a tandem e-bike which is 31kg and 50km range from just a 0.4 kWh battery (Hase Pino Steps). There's probably some sweet spot in between them for an urban velomobile tandem e-trike but I don't know of a current practical model.

Cars get away with their even higher weights because we can currently just keep shovelling long-dead-animal juice into them (even hybrids) at a low price which we'll probably one day regard as reckless.
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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby kwackers » 16 Sep 2019, 2:22pm

horizon wrote:kwackers: if you have a moment, could you have a quick listen to it? I still don't quite understand what they were saying. The thing I might have got wrong is that small petrol cars are very cheap and that small electric cars are expensive by comparison.

OK, so I had a listen.

Basically what they're saying is that the tightening of regs is making it too expensive to make small city cars whilst simultaneously cheap electric cars don't yet exist to fill the gap.

Some of the arguments seemed a bit stretched imo. They talk about the cost of batteries but ignore the fact that you could make a small car with a battery half or less the size of the batteries being used in current electric cars. (The Smart EQ does exactly that).

My money is on the Chinese, there are some very cheap small electric cars over there, they're simply not yet trying to make them work for the European markets but there's no reason why at some point they wouldn't.

(MG currently have an electric compact SUV being imported that is significantly cheaper than other manufacturers and that's Chinese made).
Last edited by kwackers on 16 Sep 2019, 2:31pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby kwackers » 16 Sep 2019, 2:26pm

mjr wrote:Aren't "small" e-cars always going to be worse than e-bikes because e-cars clearly show the negative effects of the much heavier weights, poorer aerodynamics, higher speeds and lack of human power? Even the Renault Twizy (which is classed as a sociable tandem quadricycle) is 474kg and 100km range from a 6.1 kWh battery, compared to a tandem e-bike which is 31kg and 50km range from just a 0.4 kWh battery (Hase Pino Steps). There's probably some sweet spot in between them for an urban velomobile tandem e-trike but I don't know of a current practical model.

Cars get away with their even higher weights because we can currently just keep shovelling long-dead-animal juice into them (even hybrids) at a low price which we'll probably one day regard as reckless.

Apart from a normal bike almost everything is worse than an e-bike.
I'm not sure it's a fair comparison since there are lots of people for whom cycling even on an ebike isn't going to happen (and then there's the weather protection...)

Cars aren't going to go away (although hopefully car ownership might) and that would be true even if solar powered ebikes existed.

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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby Mick F » 16 Sep 2019, 2:32pm

kwackers wrote:Basically what they're saying is that the tightening of regs is making it too expensive to make small city cars whilst simultaneously cheap electric cars don't yet exist to fill the gap.
Yes, that was it.

It's not just the battery that costs, it's the technology as well, and no doubt that's the same across the size ranges. Smaller batteries are already in smaller cars, but the cars still cost 20grand.

Until you can readily buy a sub-1.5grand secondhand electric car, they VAST majority of the small car users will be driving older and older petrol and diesel models. The time will come, I have no doubt, but it'll be far too long IMHO.
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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby horizon » 16 Sep 2019, 2:37pm

kwackers wrote:Some of the arguments seemed a bit stretched imo. They talk about the cost of batteries but ignore the fact that you could make a small car with a battery half or less the size of the batteries being used in current electric cars. (The Smart EQ does exactly that).



kwackers: thanks for listening to it! Yes, that was exactly my take on it - why not just make the whole car smaller includng the batteries which AIUI, are the expensive bit. Given that bicycles already do that .... :roll: :mrgreen:

I suppose that e-cars will still be more expensive per se than petrol for the time being but plenty of people can afford a £999 e-bicycle.

PS There was also an interesting bit about e-cargo bikes being as good as or better than vans in delivery work.
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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby horizon » 16 Sep 2019, 2:38pm

Mick F wrote:
kwackers wrote:Basically what they're saying is that the tightening of regs is making it too expensive to make small city cars whilst simultaneously cheap electric cars don't yet exist to fill the gap.
Yes, that was it.

It's not just the battery that costs, it's the technology as well, and no doubt that's the same across the size ranges. Smaller batteries are already in smaller cars, but the cars still cost 20grand.

Until you can readily buy a sub-1.5grand secondhand electric car, they VAST majority of the small car users will be driving older and older petrol and diesel models. The time will come, I have no doubt, but it'll be far too long IMHO.


Yes, this is it.
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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby kwackers » 16 Sep 2019, 3:29pm

Mick F wrote:Until you can readily buy a sub-1.5grand secondhand electric car, they VAST majority of the small car users will be driving older and older petrol and diesel models. The time will come, I have no doubt, but it'll be far too long IMHO.

It's a bit more complex than that.

Imagine you put £100 a month of fuel into your car and expect to keep it for 3 years then there's £3.5k off the cost of a car straight away. Throw in the £1.5k cost you are prepared to pay and you're getting closer.

In the U.S it's possible to pick up second hand electric cars such that the loan to buy costs the same per month as the fuel would cost for an average 10k miles a year vehicle.
That to me is the realistic cut off. It's essentially a 'free' car so why wouldn't you?

I think the next year or two will see second hand electric cars driven down to that sort of value over here and if you're a Londoner with the need to commute into the centre then suddenly even the current prices are looking pretty good.

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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby mjr » 16 Sep 2019, 3:31pm

kwackers wrote:
mjr wrote:Aren't "small" e-cars always going to be worse than e-bikes because e-cars clearly show the negative effects of the much heavier weights, poorer aerodynamics, higher speeds and lack of human power? Even the Renault Twizy (which is classed as a sociable tandem quadricycle) is 474kg and 100km range from a 6.1 kWh battery, compared to a tandem e-bike which is 31kg and 50km range from just a 0.4 kWh battery (Hase Pino Steps). There's probably some sweet spot in between them for an urban velomobile tandem e-trike but I don't know of a current practical model.

Cars get away with their even higher weights because we can currently just keep shovelling long-dead-animal juice into them (even hybrids) at a low price which we'll probably one day regard as reckless.

Apart from a normal bike almost everything is worse than an e-bike.
I'm not sure it's a fair comparison since there are lots of people for whom cycling even on an ebike isn't going to happen (and then there's the weather protection...)

Cars aren't going to go away (although hopefully car ownership might) and that would be true even if solar powered ebikes existed.

Is it more realistic to push battery technology onwards, loosen regulations and probably throw every more subsidies at e-cars; or to work on the reasons why lots of people in this country won't cycle even on e-bikes?

No-one's saying cars are going to go away so please don't clutter the discussion by arguing against positions that no-one here is arguing for.

kwackers wrote:It's a bit more complex than that.

Imagine you put £100 a month of fuel into your car and expect to keep it for 3 years then there's £3.5k off the cost of a car straight away. Throw in the £1.5k cost you are prepared to pay and you're getting closer.

In the U.S it's possible to pick up second hand electric cars such that the loan to buy costs the same per month as the fuel would cost for an average 10k miles a year vehicle.
That to me is the realistic cut off. It's essentially a 'free' car so why wouldn't you?

I think people wouldn't because they're in denial about the cost of the fuel and never total it up. Having it made explicit up front like that would scare them off.

Also, even when I lived 40 miles from my work, I don't think I drove 10k miles a year more than twice, thanks to flexitime, remote working, car-sharing and yes, even mass transport. Do we know the distribution of annual car mileages? I suspect the target point needs to be lower than 10kmi/year.
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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby Mick F » 16 Sep 2019, 3:46pm

kwackers wrote:Imagine you put £100 a month of fuel into your car.
Who puts that into their small city car?

I don't think I've EVER spent the equivalent of £100 a month in petrol all my driving life of nearly 50years even allowing for prices over the years.
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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby kwackers » 16 Sep 2019, 3:54pm

mjr wrote:No-one's saying cars are going to go away so please don't clutter the discussion by arguing against positions that no-one here is arguing for.

I rather got the impression that was at least the subtext of what you were saying? Apologies if I was wrong.

I'm a big supporter of small EV's. Be it ebikes, escooters, eskateboards and upwards through small electric motorcycles and even small cars (Twizy sized).

I'd love it if people used more of the above rather than buying electric supercars or SUV's but I'm realistic and know that regardless of what I think folk will continue to purchase such vehicles.

Battery technology will continue to improve, folk will continue to buy large cars and ebikes/scooters/Twizy's won't replace the sorts of vehicles they'll want to buy.
I honestly can't see anything short of legislation that would stop that and nobody is going to commit political suicide by telling the majority of folk they can't have a car.

My hope is self driving cars make car ownership moot. At that point I think it may be possible to legislate although tbh I doubt even then anyone would.

At the moment the whole car thing is up in the air, who knows which way up it'll be when it falls.
It's going to be an interesting decade or so though.

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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby kwackers » 16 Sep 2019, 3:58pm

Mick F wrote:
kwackers wrote:Imagine you put £100 a month of fuel into your car.
Who puts that into their small city car?

I don't think I've EVER spent the equivalent of £100 a month in petrol all my driving life of nearly 50years even allowing for prices over the years.

Obviously you don't but plenty of folk do. Looking at second hand "city" cars you'll find anything between 500 & 1500 miles a month with the average being bang in the middle.
My car costs about that to run and that despite around 10k miles a year being done on my ebike.

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Re: Small e-cars and e-bikes: please explain!

Postby Mick F » 16 Sep 2019, 3:58pm

I keep records.
It's unfair to compare our Hybrid to "normal" cars, so I'll reference our Fiat500 we had a couple of years ago.

Bought autumn of 2014.
First full tank was 1st Nov 14.
Last full tank was 19th Jul 17.
Used 349imp galls.
14,443miles done @ 3,150miles per year

Total spent £1,769.10 in petrol
That's 55months if my arithmetic is correct.
That's £32.17 per month.
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