Electric Vehicles Impress

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Front profile of the new Nissan Leaf EV

What would your commute feel like in an electric vehicle?

To find out the answer I met with the University’s Electrochemistry PhD researcher Euan McTurk to discuss his vintage Peugeot 106 electric vehicle (“EV” to the uninitiated) which he has been using on his commute from Dundee to St Andrews.

After thirteen years of TLC his 106 still works like a charm, and surprisingly, is very fast off the line! Recently he replaced the original nickel-cadmium battery with a new lithium ion pack which takes him 60 miles per charge – well more than enough to cover the distance there and back.  Euan had the option to fit larger pack that offers a range of over 100 miles but found that the smaller pack was sufficient for his needs.

Euan discusses ‘EV etiquette’, a phase he uses to refer to the particular issues of being an EV owner. For example, while out on our test drive around town, we stopped at the new electric charging station in Argyle Streetcar park. With only two available spaces for electric vehicles at the charger, Euan reminds me that EV users must be respectful of others and avoid parking at public chargers for longer than they need to so as not to cause others to wait at the charger for extended periods. This is only rarely an issue however, as I soon learn that a rapid charger can replenish a battery in as little as 20 minutes – comparable even to waiting in line at a petrol station!

“Nissan Leaf – best car I’ve ever driven”

Euan has a passion for all things electric and is quick to update me on the improvements in EV technology and design since his 106 version originally came out in 1995. While a number of new models are in production, Euan highly recommends the Nissan Leaf line which comes equipped with the latest comforts and tech – compromising nothing, while gaining impressive EV credentials that blow hybrids out of the water! In fact the fellow EV we met at the charging point was one of a fleet of Nissan Leafs used by Fife Council.

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The new electric charging point for St Andrews located in Argyle Street carpark

Why choose an electric vehicle?

With no operating pollution from exhaust (thus no emissions of CO2, nitrogen and sulphur oxides, or other gases emitted by a convenient petrol engine that contribute to global warming, smog, and pollution), and no reliance on fossil fuels (if using renewably sourced electricity) and the economic and political controversies associated with oil production, EV’s are one of the greenest forms of transport. These are huge benefits that if replicated on a large scale have the potential for making a dramatic influence on society-wide ecological and carbon footprints.

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Electrochemistry PhD researcher Euan McTurk takes us for a testride in his vintage Peugeot 106 electric vehicle

Top tips for going electric

During my hour with Euan I realised there are few downsides to EV’s and many benefits. Here are some to keep in mind when you consider test driving an EV for your next car!

Pros

  • Excellent environmental credentials: Euan reckons that even the footprint of building and running a new EV is several tonnes less than the footprint of using an existing petrol car over the 8+yrs of the EV battery’s lifetime,
  • Great new models to choose from with all the latest comforts and tech,
  • Falling prices of EV’s as the market increases and technology improves,
  • Better technology, especially with regards to battery lifetime and charge – meaning you can go further, recharge quicker, and increase overall efficiency.
  • Vastly reduced running costs versus petrol and diesel cars; Euan’s commute, which uses 100% electricity from renewable energy, costs £1 per day, saving him £700 a year on fuel costs alone, and more when you factor in the free car tax and reduced maintenance bills!

Cons

  • Cost is generally higher than a similarly designed petrol car (e.g. a new Nissan Leaf goes for c£17,000) but prices are expected to continue decreasing,
  • EV’s can only take you so far before needing a recharge; luckily this is getting easier and easier as batteries become more efficient, more charging points become available (like our new charge point in St Andrews), and rapid chargers decrease charging times.  Additionally, some manufacturers give EV buyers the opportunity to borrow a petrol or diesel car for a few days a year to cover the odd trip that is outwith the range of the EV.

If you, or a friend, commute with an EV please let me know – I would love to hear about your experiences as well! (contact directly at environment@st-andrews.ac.uk)

For the latest on EV news, charging point locations, and reviews visit EV Association Scotland at http://www.eva-scotland.org/.

Still Searching for a Bicycle? Post-Bikesale Information & Resources

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Thanks to all those who came along last Friday for our annual Freshers Bike Sale hosted by the charity Bikeworks, the University Environment Team, and volunteers from the Bike Pool team! I hope we were able to help everyone with something – if not a new bike, perhaps a tuneup for your old bike, some safety advice, or a new set of lights or lock.

Bikeworks brought close to 50 refurbished bicycles for sale last Friday - each has a happy new owner!

Bikeworks brought close to 50 refurbished bicycles for sale last Friday – each has a happy new owner!

To those who are still looking to purchase an affordable bicycle for getting around town, I’ve compiled some links that hopefully will be of some help:

  • Bikeworks: http://www.fifebikeworks.org.uk/index.asp?MainID=12340 call to arrange a visit to purchase a bike directly from their workshop in Glenrothes
  • Skillshare Dundee:http://www.skillsharedundee.org/ call to ask for availability and/or bike maintenance sessions in Dundee
  • The Bike Station: http://www.thebikestation.org.uk/edinburgh/ call to check next date of bike sales at their workshop in Edinburgh
  • Please note that while the above 3 options are not located in St Andrews, it is possible to transport a bike back to St Andrews on the train (I myself purchased a bike from Bike Station in Edinburgh and took it back on the train in fact).
  • As always, there are also new bikes available for purchase at Argos and Spokes in town.
  • And finally, a great place to look for one-off sales is through the St Andrews Flea Market Facebook page  and website http://yourfleamarket.net/.
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The Bike Pool team helping students with basic repairs

Although Bikeworks is not scheduled to host another bike sale in St Andrews anytime in the near future, stay tuned to the Environment Team’s Facebook page, as well as the Bike Pool team’s Facebook for any upcoming cycling events, workshops, or one-off sales.

Happy cycling!

– Environment Team (environment@st-andrews.ac.uk)