Category Archives: Vehicle

Electric Vehicle Charging Lamp Posts Are Coming

A while ago I blogged about Electric Cars, and more specifically about Tesla and some of the charging station issues I observed personal and Tesla was already reacting. Another huge point is the problem of 45 million drivers, 30 million vehicles and the fact their are just 14,000 (currently) charging points in the UK.

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charger image by Ubitricity

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charging a Tesla

Just for giggles I thought I would do the maths. It would work out around 2,000 potential electric vehicles per single charging point in this country if every vehicle were electric. Lettts Get Reeeeeaaaady Toooo Ruuuumble, 2,000 range-anxiety fuelled drivers running their engines on sparks, all of them fighting for the only available plug socket?. Given these charge stations are for potentially slow-charge ports, which could take around 5 hours 30 to charge a Toyota Prius and around 7 hours to fully charge a Nissan Leaf. That means that even if people lined up end to end, 24/7, it would still be around 700 to 1 trying to charge at any given time (allowing for differing driving, mileage, etc) which is still hugely unacceptable.  

A company called Ubitricity is aiming to convert public lamp posts into public charging points to try and combat this problem. Each of these conversions come in at a cost of £1,000 each to convert an existing lamp post into a charge point verses £6,000 to install a new public charger. I have reached out to Ubitricity to find out if they are slow or fast charge points, and I’ll update, if and when I hear back, given I mentioned charge speed above.

Wallet Opening Time

You’ll need a few things, an Ubitricity Account, An Ubitricity Charging Cable and potentially an Ubitricity Subscription. The subscription depends on what you pay for your cable. If you pay £199 for the cable, you will have to pay £7.99 a month subscription, alternatively if you pay £299 for the cable, there is no subscription charge.

This isn’t the end of the wallet emptying, you will then be charged £1 each and every time you plug your car into the charge point, so even if you only connect for 1 minute, you’ll still be hit with £1 connection fee. Remember that subscription fee, if you pay the £7.99 a month, it then costs you £0.15p per kWh to charge your car, if you don’t pay the £7.99, it will cost you £0.19p per kWh to charge your car.

If you leave your electric vehicle plugged in for more than 24 hours you’re charged a further £1, its not clear how often this £1 is charge, but if the Tesla solution matches, you could end up in a world of hurt by morning.

At the end of each month, you will be sent an itemised bill, which breaks down your usage, and gives you the total. 

The Pound of Flesh

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charger

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charger

I thought I’d do some more maths, lets look at a standard 40kWh battery like found in a Nissan Leaf, it would cost you £1 connection fee, then assuming you had 8 hours to wait, and you paid £299 for the cable it would cost you £0.15 x 40 (+10% variance) = £7.60 to charge your Nissan Leaf. If you apply this formula to a Tesla which can have a 85kWh battery, its over £15 to charge your car.

An average Nissan Leaf will do around 80 miles per charge, they quote up to 110, but people I have spoken too, tell me it can be as low as 50 miles but usually around 80 miles. I’m going to make the assumption that the charger cable to last about 24 months before needing replacement, so I’m going use a cost of approx £12 per month for the cable just to give it a price for the calculation. I have reached out to Ubitricity to ask what, if any warranty is provided with the cable, based on mobile phone cables used regular, it may have a short life. 

I do approx 500 miles a month, lets convert that approx £0.09.5 per mile, using Ubitricity’s costing, which makes it £47,50, now add on the £12 cable cost, we have £59,50 per month in fuel bills.

The Honda Civic is a 1.8l VTEC (Euro 5), I put £50.56 in petrol to fill the tank, I get approx 325 miles, with the range showing 30-40 miles remaining, but I never let it get empty as its bad for the engine. Lets say I get on average 35mpg, which makes the average mile in the car cost £0.14p, which gives me a monthly petrol bill of £72.35. There are far more economical cars then the Civic, the Honda Jazz for example, would cost approx the same amount in petrol as the Leaf does in electricity using the councils lamp post chargers at least.

Considering the council say this is renewable electricity, its hella expensive, compared to charging at home, where on average it will cost you around £3.40 per full charge (£21.25 per 500 miles).

Charge Point Locations

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charger image by Ubitricity

Ubitricity Lamp Post Charger

According to the press release these Simple Socket chargers will be located next to pay and display parking bays. I have reached out to Ubtricity for clarification on if you will be expected to pay and display on-top of the charging tariff. In Manchester this cost is approx £3 per hour with 2 hour maximum stays in the city centre. Which means it could end up insanely expensive, more so if they are slow chargers.  

It does however say there will off-street charging points for residents who don’t have off-street parking, so I would assume regular side streets with free parking will be included. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

90% of All Car Radios Are About to Stop Working

The government is looking to permanently switch off analogue radio broadcasts, switching over to digital transmissions, specifically DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasts). This is much like the big switch over for TV’s from Analogue to Digital (Freeview). 

Car Infotainment System by Ingo Joseph

Car Infotainment System

The official statistics show that just 10% of car drivers listen to DAB, compared to 50% who listen to DAB at home, this has been interpreted to mean that 90% of cars on the road do not have DAB radio capabilities. If the government go ahead with the switching of transmissions from analogue to digital the odds are very good that you will no longer have a radio in your car. This means you’ll have to almost exclusively listen to CD/Tape/MP3 or shell out for a new stereo / head unit. The latter option won’t be available for many motorists, for example the last 3 cars I drove including the current Honda Civic and Audi A4 the head unit is built into the dashboard along with the infotainment and the head-up displays. Adding DAB is simply impossible without manufacturers stepping in to provide an upgradable central unit. Currently a replacement central unit for the Honda is around £2,000, you can only imagine how much a DAB Upgrade would cost. 

Matt Hancock who is the governments Minister of State for Digital, is urging manufacturers to make DAB the standard for ALL new cars, but kind of neglects the 27,000,000 (27 MILLION) motorists who don’t have digital.  

Traffic Announcements

I have tried to find some information on TA/TIM/TP, but its not clear if they will switched off along with the analogue transmissions. These work by embedding a small amount of digital data within the FM frequency range, which would indicate that when the FM Transmissions are retired Traffic Announcements along with TIM/AP, will all stop working. 

Its also not clear if all frequencies FM/AM/MW/LW will all be switched all at the same time, or slowly phased out or the exact plan of action. I suspect more will come out over the coming year, if TV is anything to go buy it took about 2-3 yrs for it come to fruition. Given cars are anticipated to be replaced every 3-5 years, I would guess a similar time frame would be suggested.  

It has been suggested this plan could be put in action as soon as next year, depending on how quickly the government push ahead. I think a notification would come in the next year then a transition period, so I think 2020-2022 are most likely deadline. 

Future Protection

Pure Highway Dab Radio Kit

Pure Highway Dab Radio Kit

The take home here is that, if you’re looking for a new or nearly new or pre-owned, I would seriously factor in, if the infotainment system is digital incorporating DAB Radio.

The good news is many modern systems are using mobile data and mobile wireless (MiFi) which means they download traffic data, mapping and even stream audio from the internet. 

There is also the option of using a DAB Converter Kit (right), which plug in via AUX, Bluetooth or even Local FM Transmission. This works in the same way that Handsfree Converters work. A little research showed that there are Hands Free Phone DAB Radio kits, Speed Camera DAB Radio Kits and various other multi-function DAB Radio Conversion Kits. Maybe now is the time to go Hands Free Phone, iPod Connectivity, Spotify and DAB in one fell swoop, this Alpine DAB Kit will fit the bill. 

Alpine EZI-DAB Hands Free, Spotify, DAB Radio.

AutoDAB Hands Free, Digital Radio.

Cootway DAB, SD Card Player, Bluetooth Hands Free.

Yinuo 5-in-1, DAB Radio, SD Card Player, Bluetooth Hands Free, Fast Charger, FM Transmitter.

 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Main Dealer Car Satisfaction Scores

I posted a while ago the results of the AutoData most serviced cars in the country survey, which I interpreted to mean cars worth paying out to keep solid. Old bangers an wrecks don’t get serviced they get run into the ground. A perfect example of this is in this months Car Mechanic magazine, where a car has never been serviced nor an oil change, just top ups until the conrod has smashed through the engine casing, terminal death. 

Honda Civic mk10 Blue

Honda Civic mk10 Blue by Honda

This dataset is collected from 8,300 people from all over the country and it was carried out by What Car? Magazine. All of people surveyed use a main or franchised car dealer (i.e. Honda, Toyota, Lexus, Vauxhall) to service and maintain their motor vehicles. In this survey the people were asked about the Staff (Polite, Attentive, Helpful), Quality of Workmanship and Skill of Mechanics, and of course about how they felt regards to Value for Money provided by said dealer. These 3 Major Points giving each franchise an overall percentage score of how satisfied the car owners are with the servicing of their car by their cars main dealer.

Lets be honest for a minute no one is going to be surprised when the top of the chart is basically an advert for the Land of the Rising Sun’s car making ability (Japan). 

What is a shocker is that the more expensive marques where you expect a better service and a higher standard, only the British Jaguar made the top 10. Aston Martin only just scrape in the top 15, all the others are half way down the table, Merc and Porsche barely avoid the bottom of the barrel which is a surprise. 

The Top 10 Most Satisfying Dealers

One of the more interesting facts which this survey carried out by What Car magazine revealed is, that the older the car the less attentive and satisfied customers are. However the top few manufacturers, especially Honda which were singled out provide a high standard of workmanship and value throughout the lives of the car regardless of the age of the vehicle. 

  • Honda – 91.2%
  • MG – 90.9%
  • Lexus – 90.2%
  • Hyundai – 89.9%
  • Dacia – 89.5%
  • Ssangyong – 89.4%
  • Subaru 89.3%
  • Kia – 88.9%
  • Jaguar – 88.8%
  • Toyota – 88.8%

The Full List

The full list of 34 Dealers is below. 

  1. Honda – 91.2%
  2. MG – 90.9%
  3. Lexus – 90.2%
  4. Hyundai – 89.9%
  5. Dacia – 89.5%
  6. Ssangyong – 89.4%
  7. Subaru 89.3%
  8. Kia – 88.9%
  9. Jaguar – 88.8%
  10. Toyota – 88.8%
  11. Mitsubishi – 88.5%
  12. Skoda – 88.4%
  13. Mini – 87.3%
  14. Susuki – 87.2%
  15. Aston Martin – 87.2%
  16. Renault 86.6%
  17. Volvo 86.6%
  18. BMW – 86.2%
  19. Ford 86.0%
  20. Seat – 85.5%
  21. Mazda – 85.5%
  22. Fiat – 85.2%
  23. Peugeot 85.1%
  24. Nissan – 85.0%
  25. Audi – 85.0%
  26. Vauxhall – 84.8%
  27. Land Rover – 84.7%
  28. Volkswagen – 84.7%
  29. Mercedes-Benz 84.4%
  30. Alfa Romeo – 83.0%
  31. Porsche – 82.9%
  32. Citroen – 82.1%
  33. Smart – 81.8%
  34. Jeep 75.6%

 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

AutoData Reports the Top 10 Serviced Cars

AutoData has released its annual Top 10 Serviced Cars of 2016 a few months back but I’m still working through my backlog. This really important information, it puts slant on used car buying and packs a punch. AutoData has access to about 67% of the auto workshops in the UK, and all which are using AutoData’s online services, so its a fairly comprehensive data set on the scale of things.

One of the things which screams good car, isn’t really about how many millions have been sold, how many you see on the road, or how long its been in production. Its when you see plenty of the on the road beyond 6 yrs old, when the warranty’s have run out AND they are worth spending on by having services and upkeep. No one regularly services a banger, its good money after bad.

I would say this dataset is bordering on definitive, the only larger dataset is the governments log of all registered cars, and perhaps the MOT log. I don’t believe these 2 potentially larger datasets would be more helpful. You MUST have an MOT, and it MUST be registered, but neither says its a good, reliable car or well looked after vehicle. However a voluntary willingness to spend, to service and maintain says the car is worth the effort and probably well looked after, hence being a better dataset for your car buying arsenal.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is, when there are very few cars left on the road of a hugely popular (in its time) car, it usually means total nightmare or many faults. Without further ado, here is the list and later on in this post I’ll point out some examples of popular cars gone so very wrong.

Autodata Top 10 Most Serviced 2016
Position (2015 Pos) Make Model Year
#1 – (1) Ford Focus (2004-on)
#2 – (6) Vauxhall Astra H / MK5 (2004-on)
#3 – (4) Peugeot 206 (1998-on)
#4 (New) Ford Transit (2006-on)
#5 (New) Vauxhall Corsa D / MK4 (2006-on)
#6 (New) Volkswagen Transporter T5 (2003-on)
#7 – (2) Volkswagen Golf V / MK5 (2003-on)
#8 (New) Peugeot 307 (2001-on)
#9 – (3) BMW 3-Series (2005-on)
#10 – (5) Renault Clio II / MK2 (1998-on)

Once you remove Working vehicles and the evergreen BMW, you’re left essentially with half a dozen of the most popular cars in country, Focus, Astra H, 206, Corsa D, Golf V,  Clio II and 307 (larger class), that’s a really rock solid selection to find a used car from. Its also includes 3 of the cars my own extensive research lead me to (Focus 2006-2008, Astra 2007-2010 and Golf 2007-2009). 

It would have been nice if they had differentiated between iterations of Focus, 206 and others so you could get an idea of the mk or series, much like with the Astra mk H, Golf mk V, but beggars can’t be choosers.

My local independent garage swears blue by the 2008-2010 era Ford Focus, this is to the extent that he talked me out of buying a Hyundai i20 off him, and he didn’t even have a Focus to sell me. It would be interesting to see raw numbers like Ford Focus, total number, number of each year, number of each engine, but the dataset would be huge, useful as you could rule out problem engines, problem boxes etc but so very huge.

Previous Year Drop Outs

I thought it maybe interesting to include 2015’s Top 10 Drop Outs. I suspect in the Top 20 you would find some of the following, the Ford Fiesta, VW Polo, Honda Jazz, Honda Civic, Audi A4, Audi A3, Ford Mondeo, Merc A-Class, Nissan Qashqai, and maybe a Citroen C4 in there. A few of these dropped out of the top 10 since 2015, I didn’t think the Passat were that popular, I’m surprised the Fiesta Dropped out, its always hugely popular. 

AutoData Top 10 Most Serviced 2015
Position Make Model Year/MK
#7 Volkswagen Passat  
#8 Ford Fiesta  
#9 Ford Mondeo  
#10 Audi A4  

I am somewhat surprised none of the Japanese, Korean or other Eastern Marques made any sort of entry, I though the Kia C’eed, Honda Jazz, Honda Civic or Hyundai i20 would have made the list. Perhaps they don’t use AutoData at the marques dealerships.

As someone in the process of buying a(nother) car, I have been searching long and hard, and have paid the price for some mistakes, and this data tallys’ quite well with my own research so I’m sharing the data with you. Of course don’t take this as written in stone, but if you’re looking for a car in this class (small-medium car) then this data should hit the nail and give you a solid starting point. 

When Popular Cars Go Bad

Scrapyard Cars

Scrapyard Cars

A few examples I have experienced first hand are like the early model Fiat Punto, they were like buses, two at a time everywhere you looked, the Canary Yellow were so popular, and it was horrid. Now you rarely ever see them on the road due to the diabolical electrical problems, they used to go up the road like a damn disco. The early Ford Escorts pretty much fell apart with rust, I remember the boot floor and rear wheel arch turning to thermite ingredients, the Capri were almost as bad. 

The Aygo/C1/107, the early versions at least had a transmission made out of rubber bands, which literally died for a giggle. I’m not sure about the current models. I once saw a garage were buying them with a failed tranny for scrap, then fitting the uprated 190mm gearbox from the Toyota Yaris which isn’t made of rubber bands and reselling them as rock solid runner.

The Mercedes A-Class, the old 2002-ish Auto, the Gearbox ECU were a known fault. Due to the whacky way its set out you have to lift the whole engine out of the vehicle to get to the transmission. This means its silly expensive not only for the parts being a Merc but also in labour costs. While on gearboxes the more recent M32 Gearbox in lots of current cars means they are often resold at the first sign of slipping, then they are reconditioned by garages and sold out again.

Its always worth checking into known faults, check ebay and breakers to see how many of your car are for sale for parts or repairs, and figure just how bad the fault it. This is also a good indicator of parts availability too. 

Future Updates

I have fired off an email to AutoData to see if they will A, reply to a small time blogger like myself and B, provide me with the top 20 for a few years so I can do a more inclusive plotting. I will ask for 3 to 5 yrs so I can build a better image, I’m also hoping they will give me actual numbers so I can attempt to place them in an all time top 10, least the ones with more than 1 year beyond top 20.

I’m not sure they will already have that data or even if they will provide it for free even if they do.

I will of course report back with any replies I get. 

Beetle Mechanic Photo by Gratisography, Scrapyard by Emmet.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Stopping Distances for Driving Test

Brake Lights Stopping

Brake Lights Stopping

This post includes a little tip I read somewhere, but I can’t for the life of me remember where. I read so much stuff before I did my theory test. In my opinion stopping distances are kinda useless, since you can’t really calculate them on the fly, but you still need to know them. Its more a visual or spacial awareness thing while driving.

You know *your car* need “this” much space to stop and thats kind of it.

I mean without any extensive thought, some of the variables are Road Condition:  Wet / Dry, Weather: Hot / Cold, Humidity: Dry / Wet, Tyres: Slick / Knobbly / Worn, Road Material: Loose / Firm / Soft, Tyre Pressure: Over Inflated / Under Inflated / Correct, Brake Type:  Disk / Drum, Brake Material: Steel / Carbon / Ceramic, this before we get to Electronic / Mechanical like ABS, Stability Control and Brake Assist and without too much thought, the variables must be into millions of permutations.

Stopping Distances by DVLA

Stopping Distances by DVLA

All these are dependent on when the driver actually realises they need to stop, and their reactions and indeed actions. 

However you need to know these for your theory test and I guess for your actual driving test because of the Show Me, Tell Me Section and / or when the examiner asks you questions during the independent driving portion.

Top Tip: Easy Braking Distance Calculation

There is an easy way to calculate these, its quick and easy. Which makes me equally proud of the mathematics but also suspect about authenticity of the figures. Not to mention if they actually have any real world correlation or basis.

You basically multiply the speed by using an incrementing modifier, so for example..

The Overall Stopping distance in feet:

Speed (MPH)  Qualifier (Feet)  Multiplier Distance (Feet) 
20 mph 20 ft 2x 40 ft
30 mph 30 ft 2.5x 75 ft
40 mph 40 ft 3x 120 ft
50 mph 50 ft 3.5x 175 ft
60 mph 60 ft 4x 240 ft
70 mph 70 ft 4.5x 315 ft
100 mph 100 ft 6x 600 ft
160 mph 160 ft 9x 1140 ft

 

You maybe thinking, but I need to know meters not feet. Negative, the theory test gives you the distances in both feet and meters. 

The Fastest Travelling Speed

This got me thinking about the fastest speed I have travelled, which were 155mph in a car with a NOS kit, along the lines of what the Wizards of NOS do, obviously not driver. We were in moist conditions on a slight down gradient and talking with music on, which can slow reaction times…

Lowes Motor Speedway Quater Mile Marker

Lowes Motor Speedway Quater Mile Marker via Wikipedia.

155mph slightly distracted by music and chatter giving slower than average reaction times, on moist/damp conditions makes the stopping distance 3,135 ft / 956 meters. 

The Earths curvature means at absolute best a 6 ft man can see between 1.8 km and 5 km away through a telescope or binoculars before the Earths curve obstructs your view. Whether your eyes could see anything smaller than a bus at a distance of 956 meters is debatable.

The above image is taken at around 500 meters / 1,600 feet from the building. I don’t think you’d be able to see the child and their father on the left from double this at 1,000 meters. Assuming you could even see them, my guess it they would be road kill at anything over 80 mph, at 158 mph, the driver and passengers would need to be steam cleaned off the buildings wall.

155mph = 70 meters per second.

That building is approx 6-7 seconds away at that speed and about 13 seconds away with the breaks on. Not even a Bugatti Veyron would be able to able to stop in time and that has some of the best brakes and air breaks in the world. 

This isn’t really an anti-speeding post, its more an awareness post, 1,000 meters or over half a mile sounds like a long distance, but when you think, at 70mph its 30 seconds away. 

 

Brake Lights Image by Myles Davidson.

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

Blind Spot with Weird Road Markings

I wasn’t sure if I should continue with the driving posts, since now I’ve passed I’m not a student now. I am however still learning and figure my insights and hard earnt lessons may help some other people. I’m not an expert so my interpretations may not be 100% accurate, so do take them as intended, as my insight. 

When I find something worth blogging on, I’ll post a little. On this occasion, my mother has mentioned this a few times but its not easy to picture it, or get what she meant. Since I passed my test, I drop her off for her dog walk at a trail near here. 

Blind Corner Road Markings

Blind Corner Road Markings

The above junction is a doozy, you must follow the RED arrows around the junction. Once you can see the line of sight in BLUE, thata where you stop, to make the turn. Its almost like a loose hairpin or half u-turn around. From the road while driving its hard to work out, you don’t have much time. 

If you come across this, you know the drill now. Drive to Arrow 3, STOP, look down the blue line of sight, then turn right, and follow it around. Nice and easy when you know, and will keep you massively safer once such bends. 

A Manchester Based Photographer and Website Developer with interests in Strongman, Fitness and Geekery.

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