Electrogenic wins Innovate UK award!

Electric Land Rover being built for Glastonbury Festivals

Electrogenic wins Innovate UK award to develop 100% electric Land Rovers with Worthy Farm and Cardiff University

Electrogenic is delighted to announce that we have won an Innovate UK Sustainable Innovation Fund award, to develop low-cost technology to convert Land Rovers to all-electric.  We are partnering with Worthy Farm (host to the Glastonbury Festival) and Cardiff University to develop and test our green technology in a working environment.

A significant number of farmers and land owners in the UK are taking the initiative to decarbonise, but right now no-one makes an electric four-wheel-drive equivalent to the classic Land Rover.  And as we like to say at Electrogenic: “why throw away a whole vehicle just to change the engine?”.

Over the next nine months, Electrogenic will be converting four Land Rovers to electric. The vehicles will be running around Worthy Farm doing the usual jobs, while we capture as much data as possible.  This will allow Cardiff University to build a computer model to predict how the vehicles will perform on other farms and in other environments.  Electrogenic’s aim is to help farmers and landowners towards net-zero by creating a cost-effective zero-emission solution for everyday transport.

Electrogenic specialises in converting classic cars to electric.  Expanding this to off-road working vehicles has big benefits in helping to decarbonise land management.  It also creates direct operating cost benefits: no fuel consumption when the vehicle is stationary, and vehicle maintenance reduced to just brakes and suspension.  When combined with electricity from Worthy Farm’s solar and anaerobic digestion installations, the electric Land Rovers are expected to lead to significant reductions in operating costs.

Electrogenic is particularly pleased with Innovate UK’s recognition of its unique technology, which enables easy remote monitoring of all the data generated by the vehicles’ control systems.  We will develop and deploy two different designs, and deploying them on a working farm will give a real insight into how to keep costs down by not over-engineering the conversion.  The vehicles will be tested throughout the winter, working every day in the worst that the weather can throw at them, so we are looking forward to a lot of good, clean fun!  The end product will be fully documented, cost-effective way of going off road all-electric.

And finally, a word from Innovate UK Executive Chair Dr Ian Campbell:

“In these difficult times we have seen the best of British business innovation. The pandemic is not just a health emergency but one that impacts society and the economy.

“Electrogenic, along with every initiative Innovate UK has supported through this fund, is an important step forward in driving sustainable economic development. Each one is also helping to realise the ambitions of hard-working people.”

Electrogenic October 2020 Newsletter

Dear R-EV enthusiasts

You say you want environment and you want cars, so this month’s newsletter is a bonus:  two lead articles, and both of them are about cars and the environment.  We are proud sponsors of The Village Refill, who are local and who entrusted us with the re-powering of their 10-year old Mega electric van.  Also, we get lots of questions about hydrogen and its potential future in transport.  It’s a big subject, but we have accepted the challenge of giving you our take on it in four pithy paragraphs.

We are still looking for new staff, so please help put the word out: the clocks have changed but the lights are still blazing in the Electrogenic workshop and we could do with some more help!  And without further ado, welcome to October’s newsletter!

The Village Refill

Village Refill's Mega van

This month we had an unexpected visit – a 10 year old Mega van.  What’s a Mega van, I hear you ask?  It’s perhaps the distant ancestor of the Citroën Ami (?!) – it’s French, it’s 99% plastic and it’s certainly eccentric.  It has been driving around a campsite in Yorkshire for the last ten years, but now it is proudly owned by The Village Refill, and needed an upgrade to deal with the rigours of Oxfordshire tarmac.  The Village Refill is a brilliant enterprise, creating a local circular economy to eliminate single-use plastics from every-day household items like washing up liquid and shower gel.  Unfortunately you will only be able to access their fabulous products if you live within range of their Mega delivery van, but at Electrogenic we’re working on that…

The Mega is an EV pioneer, using an old 48V DC brushed GE motor and 12 lead-acid batteries.  As we discovered, it also has a cunning colour-coding system for the control wiring – all 30-odd wires are white – a control system logic that, well, defies logic and a charge lead that looks like the plug on our works kettle.  What The Village Refill needed was the top speed lifting above 28mph (downhill with a following wind), and improved range so that the delivery radius could be extended: if you are running a new eco business, you can’t have your products delivered by fossil fuels.

So what did we do?  Firstly we agreed to sponsor The Village Refill because we think they are fantastic (spot the Electrogenic logo in the picture above) and then we got to work.  We pulled out 360kg of lead acid batteries and repurposed them as storage for solar power in a narrow boat – thus reducing local diesel emissions.  We replaced them with 2 x Tesla Model S batteries (yes – a Tesla-powered Mega!), we neatly bypassed the Mega’s antediluvian charge system by adding our own, and we added one of our range/economy screens in the cab.  Along the way, we made the van 300kg lighter, fused the workshop electrics by pulling the kettle-cord out of the van before switching it off at the plug, and created our own James Bond moment.  When Maya came to collect the Tesla-Mega, we had just test-driven it and managed a flat-out speed of 14mph.  What was the problem?  Aha!  The motor controller thinks there are no batteries so it is speed-limiting to enable the van to get to a 13A socket.  What to do?  Logically, there are only two (white) wires that it could be, so we need to cut one of them…  Snip!  You could almost see the detonator clock stop at 007.

From this
To this!

Did it all work, I hear you ask?  Yes!  The Tesla-Mega is now happily zipping around Oxfordshire and it can keep up with local traffic. It’s cheeky and cheerful and doing The Village Refill proud.  So if you’re local, click the link, do your bit and smell great (we particularly recommend the shower gel).

Hydrogen powered R-EVs?

operation of a hydrogen fuel cell

We are often asked about whether our R-EVs will ever run on hydrogen fuel cells, rather than batteries.  The short answer is “we don’t think so”.  It’s a complex subject however and we will try to unpack it a little here.

A fuel cell works much like an electric battery, converting chemical energy into electrical energy.  The hydrogen “fuel” combines with oxygen from the air inside the cell, generating electricity and emitting water vapour as a waste product.  In a car, the electricity can be used to drive an electric motor…and you know the rest.

The big pluses for fuel cells in electric cars are a) you can refuel quicker, and b) you can reduce the weight of the vehicle.  The big minuses are that hydrogen “fuel pumps” are not trivial pieces of engineering (think explosion avoidance) and as charge-point infrastructure improves and using EVs changes people’s habits, the need/desire to drive to a filling station to refuel reduces.

Hydrogen is also structurally more expensive than batteries.  Energy is not free, and the electricity-storage-electricity cycle for hydrogen is less than 50% efficient, compared with about 85% cycle efficiency for batteries.  Hydrogen technology is improving in efficiency and cost effectiveness, but so is battery technology, and hydrogen is starting from behind.

Fuel Cell EV lifecycle impact

This diagram is from research presented in Applied Energy.  It shows Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV) and Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) ownership cost and environmental impact, compared with  Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV).  The analysis concludes that battery EVs have a lower ownership cost and environmental impact than fuel cell EVs.

Where does the hydrogen come from?  At the moment, about 98% is produced from natural gas, with carbon dioxide as a by-product, and only a tiny fraction of that is used in EVs (it’s mostly used for making fertiliser).  We don’t have enough renewable energy to supply our electricity needs as it is, and the electrification of heating and transport will increase demand even further.  Increasing hydrogen usage therefore means increased use of natural gas (and hence CO2 emissions) in the short to medium term.

So will hydrogen be used in transport?  Fuel Cell EV technology (FEVC) could be useful for commercial applications where bulkier vehicles need to travel long distances, carry heavy loads and refuel with minimal downtime.  Road and rail bridges have weight restrictions and fewer/lighter batteries means more carrying capacity.  But for your R-EV?  We don’t think so.

What’s in the workshop?

This is where we make you do some of the work: figure out what vehicles these photos are from, and earn yourself a pat on the back when we publish the answers in the next newsletter.


Mystery Picture 13

Mystery Picture 14

Answers from September:

Mystery Picture 11 – it’s a Citroën C5 hydraulic pump for the hydro-pneumatic suspension system.  In the time since we took this, we have modified it, cauterised its brain, added a control system, fitted it into the Citroen DS and then driven it around with a petrol engine and electric suspension.  And it rides beautifully.  So now the engine is out and we are pressing ahead with the conversion of the drivetrain to match.

Mystery Picture 12 – the 12V DC-DC converter, charger blades, BMS, charge system and 12V system all ready to go into the eMini – which is sadly now back with its owner (we love that car).

And welcome to… Jake!

Jake is our new apprentice.  He comes to us all the way from a cattle station in Western Australia.  As Jake says, he has been searching the world for his perfect job, and now he has found it a Electro-GEnic!  Jake is studying at the Heritage Skills Academy at Bicester heritage and comes to us with some pretty mean welding skills (he made Mystery Picture 14), and boundless enthusiasm.  You can see examples here and here!

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Electrogenic September 2020 Newsletter

Three Classic Minis at the crossing on Abbey Road in London

Dear R-EV enthusiasts

Electric classic cars at Bicester Heritage

We finally escaped the workshop!  We all went to a real, live car show.  I know!!!  People and cars and good conversations and a semblance of normality!  So hats off to Brand Events for making The Classic Car Drive In Weekend happen, and roll on next year.

Our other big excitement of the month was the birth of our new electric classic Mini, which has now been returned to its owner.  We have developed a really fabulous package for our electric mini conversion and expect to be delivering a lot more of them in the future.  It’s really exciting, and as you can see below, Steve has come over all Jeremy Clarkson!

As we head into Autumn, we are planning to expand the team.  So if you know a really good electronics technician who fancies helping us to continue to develop our unique R-EV hardware and software, please ask them to get in touch.  And what else to do as the evenings start to draw in?  Kick back, relax and read our September newsletter…

The eMini: Electrogenic’s electric classic Mini conversion

Electrogenic's eMini electric classic Mini

Let me take you back to 1959…  Fidel Castro was victorious in the Cuban revolution, Khrushchev told Western ambassadors “Мы вас похороним!”, petrol was still being rationed following the Suez crisis and on 26 August, the BMC launched the Morris Mini-Minor at the Cowley Motor Works in Oxford.  The Mini was a second revolutionary design from Alec Issigonis, designer of the Morris Minor and in 1999 was voted second place (behind the Model T Ford) in an elaborate international selection system for the “Car of the Century“. (Incidentally, nos. 3 and 4 on that list – the Citroën DS and the VW Beetle – are sitting in our workshop as we speak!)  The Mini was revolutionary because its transverse engine and front wheel drive enabled 80% of the floorpan to be used for passengers and luggage.

Roll on to 2020 and we bring you the eMini.  And that’s e for EPIC!  How epic?  Take a look at this.

And it is epic too.  0-60 in under 5.5 seconds, and that was before tuning.  For the technically curious, it’s a 110V Netgain Hyper9 motor mounted transverse in a custom Electrogenic subframe and married to a secret-sauce 5-speed gearbox that is smooth, sweet and strong enough for all that torque.  Batteries?  2 x Tesla Model S battery packs in the front, and two or three in the back (two if you want to keep the boot space).  Plus the usual Electrogenic electronics and panache.  This is a picture of what’s under the front battery pack.

We think this is one of our coolest creations for a while.  It’s neat, it’s innovative, it packs a huge punch into a tiny space, and it drives like a dream.  And even more excitingly, it belongs to one of our customers who will soon be launching a new Retro-EV brand, and we can’t wait to see what it looks like in its final livery.  Watch this space.

Fancy driving one of these beauties in the post-Covid Spring?  We are able to offer a limited number of slots for electric classic Mini conversions in December/January which will be allocated on a first-come, first served basis…  See you soon!

The Classic Car Drive In Weekend

Vintage car ready to roll onto the track

So we attended The Classic Car Drive In Weekend at Bicester Heritage.  A dream of an event for us – we simply drove up in our electric classic cars – the Stag, the Beetle and the Marmite Bus, took the marquee off the back of the bus, and 20 minutes later – hey presto!  And what a breath of fresh air – literally.  All outside, Covid-secure and enthusiastic crowds.

Our highlights of the weekend?  It had to be watching The Italian Job, on the giant, drive-in screen (Minis again!).  You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!

What’s in the workshop?

This is where we make you do some of the work: figure out what vehicles these photos are from, and earn yourself a pat on the back when we publish the answers in the next newsletter.


Mystery Picture 11

Mystery Picture 12

Answers from August:

Mystery Picture 9 – it’s one of our new screens, for those of you who like a bit of colour on your dashboard.  This one shows battery and how heavy your foot is – it dials up and down to help you drive more economically – and it alerts you when you have 20% battery left, etc.  You can toggle other screens to show you other things, and it can go anywhere in the car – it communicates with the controller CANBUS wirelessly, so all you need is a power supply.

Mystery Picture 10 – from modern to ancient.  This is our venerable, but new to us, Colchester Chipmaster lathe.  It’s now in use every day, making those little parts that previously we would have had to send out, or make something slightly less beautiful.

And welcome to… our new resident artist!

Electrogenic's resident artist: phoebelou.irvingx

We have a resident artist!  Phoebe Irving is studying at Oxford Brookes School of Arts and needed space to create.  So she has taken over a corner of our mezzanine, and looks down at the car ballet dancing underneath her.  3D is her thing.  She’s planning on learning to weld and we hope that eventually the art of classic R-EVs will seduce her.  In the mean time, she has been observed to manufacture new art tools out of old car parts…

If you want to see some of her work, you can find her on Instagram and Pinterest.

And finally…

Thanks to our friends at smallcarBIGCITY for the fabulous banner picture for this month’s newsletter.  We just couldn’t resist it.  Minis, Abbey Road and the genius of the modern Routemaster in the background.

We’re famous in the States!  We had a customer walk in here the other day to look at our electric Stag.  He lives 3 miles away but was told to come and have a look by his uncle, who read about us in the Los Angeles Stag Owner’s Club newsletter!  It just goes to show that true art is universal.

Electrogenic August 2020 Newsletter

Morris Minor Electrogenic banner

Dear R-EV enthusiasts

Like many of our readers, at Electrogenic we have spent August dodging storms and quarantines, and confirming once again that the place we like to be best is in the workshop!  We have also been listening to reader feedback, and lots of you want to hear more about some of the cars we convert.  “Snowy” the Morris Minor has been drawing adoration in our social media, so we thought we would tell you a little more about him here.

It has not just been all about the workshop this month, however.  We have been putting together some exciting new initiatives, including an electric drive system for boats, with all the usual Electrogenic bells and whistles.  So soon you can be Powered by Electrogenic on the water, too!  More of this and other developments in the coming months.  And in the mean time, have a great August Bank Holiday.

Snowy

Snowy the Morris Minor (named after Tintin’s irrepressible dog) has seen 51 August bank holidays so far and as you can see, he looks forward to the sunny country lanes of his native Oxfordshire, cruising with his hood down and a gentle summer zephyr in his owner’s hair.  We’re hoping he won’t be disappointed this year..

The Morris Minor was launched at Olympia in 1948, and was assembled at the Cowley works in Oxford from 1948 to 1971.  In its day, it was radical.  It had no separate wings or running boards (unlike its contemporary, the VW Beetle, for example), it had a unitary body, and in an optical tweak, it had small wheels to make its relatively small body look bigger.  Under the bonnet, it was no less radical.  The engine was positioned over the front wheels instead of well behind them: investigation and experimentation having proved that the weight of the engine in this position dramatically improved the stability and controllability of a car. The front wheels themselves were given an advanced torsion-bar independent suspension, which combined with the rigidity of the unitary construction body, gave a standard of ride comfort such as had never been experienced in a small British car before.

And the Morris Minor is still going strong.  It is cute and sturdy, and though it was not an original feature, the cabriolet top creates a lovely car for zooming around in the sunshine.

So what are we doing to Snowy?  Snowy’s owner doesn’t want gears, and those small wheels are a help:  they make it easier for us to match an electric motor for direct drive without needing a reduction gearbox.  The new setup uses the original brass bush that secures the drive shaft at the gearbox end, and Alex has designed a coupler to directly connect this to the motor.  This part is designed in-house but produced out, and when this arrives next week, we will start the build.

Snowy generally does the school run and weekends, but also needs to go to Wales occasionally, so we are fitting 6 x Tesla model S85 batteries, for a total 33kWh.  A car of his size and weight will do about 4-5 miles/kWh, so this should get Snowy comfortably to Wales.  This also means a nominal operating voltage of 135V, which means we will be fitting a high-voltage motor controller to suit.  The batteries are mounted in our standard modular boxes: four in the front, and two singles in the back.  There is room for more batteries in the front, but the front suspension on a Morris Minor is famous for failing if the king-pins are not regularly greased, so four batteries means that Snowy is slightly lighter in the nose than before.  Two single batteries in the back means we can fit them in without cutting the floor – always a no-no.

Transmission connector for Morris Minor

We have checked Snowy out, he is in excellent running condition and the addition of regenerative braking system will help him stop even quicker.  We will re-purpose the fuel-gauge to show charge, but also install our standard wireless display which (among other things) shows battery charge and how heavy the driver’s foot is.  Snowy will also receive our electronic vehicle management system and we will add heating and headrests to the seats, for comfort and safety on the winter school-run.

Keep an eye out on social media in a few weeks for eSnowy!

What’s in the workshop?

This is where we make you do some of the work: figure out what vehicles these photos are from, and earn yourself a pat on the back when we publish the answers in the next newsletter.

Mystery Picture 9
Mystery Picture 10

Answers from July:

Mystery Picture 7 – it’s a universal public charge point!  This is one of Steve the Whizz’s creations:  it impersonates every different sort of public charge point in the UK, so that when you drive up and plug in, our on-board chargers know every funny “handshake” they need to, to ensure you can just plug in and go off for a coffee.

Mystery Picture 8 – they are LTO batteries, but where they’re from, we’re not sure – so perhaps you can tell us!  They came out of a huge battery pack flooded with silicone fluid and capable of providing some 2000A constant at some 600 volts. Their use is shrouded in mystery but maybe a starter for jet engines?

And welcome to… Oli!

Oli is a fantastic motor mechanic who has joined us to pursue his passion for innovation and doing new things, and who liked us, because apparently we “know how to put a car together”.  Oli has a long experience of doing cool things to classic motors.  He adds another production “line” to our workshop, to help us convert more cars, and also brings a keen eye for detail.

Here, he is building a jig to create Mark 2 of our classic mini front subframe.

PS. Oli hates having his photo taken, but it’s one of those rites of passage things at Electrogenic..  Sorry Oli!

And finally…

The video link in this month’s newsletter is the BBC’s programme for the 100th anniversary of the Cowley Motor Works, where the Morris Minor was assembled and the marvellous mini was created… of which more next month.

Our Covid-appropriate test-drives are going well – lots of happy smiles all round.  So if you fancy driving a Retro-EV, give us a call.  And we will be at Bicester Heritage from 18-20 September for the Classic Car Drive-in Weekend.  So see you there!

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Electrogenic July 2020 Newsletter

Dear R-EV enthusiasts

At Electrogenic we are always saying things like “we are in another golden age of motoring” and (being Oxford-based) “it’s like it must have been 100 years ago for William Morris”.  But what was it like before William Morris switched production from bicycles to cars in 1912?  It turns out it was electrifying.  In fact electric cars beat the competition hands-down at the dawn of motoring and ruled the roost for a quarter of a century until improved reliability of petrol engines, petrol stations and Henry Ford eased them into the background.  Who knew Ferdinand Porsche built the world’s first hybrid before the beginning of the last century?!

Back at the garage, our pioneering continues.  We have designed and are now installing a unique direct-drive system.  We will unveil all when we take it for a drive.  In the mean time, happy summer motoring!

Back to the Future

The first EV was built in France in 1881 by Gustav Trouve, who re-engineered a Siemens motor.  In the UK, Thomas Parker developed high-capacity rechargeable batteries in 1882, but development of meaningful electric cars had to wait for the abolition of the Red Flag Acts in 1896.  Thomas went on to produce EVs with hydraulic brakes and four-wheel steering.

Inventors in the USA had no such restrictions.  The first successful electric car in the United States was built by William Morrison (no relation!) in 1891.  The four-horsepower vehicle had a top speed of 20 mph and could carry up to 12 passengers.  It was powered by 24 battery cells that were stored under the seats and had a range of 50 miles.

Over in Europe, in 1898 a certain Dr. Ferdinand Porsche built his first car: the Lohner Electric Chaise. With a hub-motor at each driving wheel it was the world’s first front-wheel-drive. Porsche’s second car was a hybrid, using an internal combustion engine to spin a generator that provided power to electric motors located in the wheel hubs. On battery alone, the car could travel nearly 40 miles.

The same year saw the first speed record.  On December 18, 1898 Count Gaston de Chasseloup-Laubat of Paris, France, became the fastest man alive. The Count had driven his speed demon electric vehicle Jeantaud to speeds never known before or experienced by any human. This speed was a phenomenal 39 miles for per hour.  His record lasted only four weeks and led to a spat with Belgian Camille Jenatzy.  Over the next four months the record was batted to and fro between them until Jenatzy finally trumped the “Electric Count” with a record a record 65.79 mph in the “Jamais Contente”.  (The last official electric speed record was in 1902 in the USA, at 104 mph, which lasted two years before being beaten by a steam car at 127mph.)

Electric cars were attractive for city use, and were more reliable and easier to keep than their petrol cousins.  The wonderful Jay Leno has a 1909 Baker Electric in his collection and you can see the attraction here.

Eventually the electric car lost out to the internal combustion engine as roads started to connect cities (creating more need for range), the discovery of oil in Texas (cheaper petrol) and Henry Ford inventing mass-production (cheaper petrol cars).  The last Detroit Electric car was shipped in 1932, but along the way, the EV pioneered the steering wheel, rack and pinion steering, safety belts, hub motors, regenerative braking (1894!), shaft drive, use of alloy steel, “full floating” ball bearing rear axle and the land speed record.  And then came Tesla…

PS        While we’re on the “back to the future theme, does anyone have a DeLorean they want converting….)

What’s in the workshop?

This is where we make you do some of the work: figure out what vehicles these photos are from, and earn yourself a pat on the back when we publish the answers in the next newsletter.

Mystery picture 7
Mystery Picture 7
Mystery Picture 8

Answers from June:

Mystery Picture 5 – it’s a Quaife limited-slip diff about to go into a new gearbox for the Marmite bus… so Paul Swift could drift it!  If you missed that, click here for the action
Mystery Picture 6 – fancy wheels for the mini

And welcome to… Alex!

Alex has joined us to organise and bring in-house all of our component design.  Our library of bespoke parts is ever-increasing and it makes sense to have continuity in the design process, so we can reduce machine costs and continually improve.

Alex has a Masters in Automotive Engineering from Oxford Brookes University and as you can see, we have promised him at least two days a week in the workshop, away from Solidworks!

And finally…

This month we also spent a happy hour with Ian Cook at @popbangcolour doing a live Instagram feed.  Ian painted our very own Hudson Commodore, while chatting to us and asking questions while we walked around the garage showing the viewers what was going on.  A new experience for us, and we ended up with a painting of our Hudson!

The delve into EV history was first prompted by Jay Leno.  It’s fascinating, and there’s lots more than we touched on above.  His YouTube video of the Baker Electric Car really is great viewing, so don’t pass it by.  And of course there are lots of other interesting EVs on our YouTube playlist.

Lot’s of what happens day to day, and the new cars coming in and out of the workshop, appear on our social media.  So if you want to keep in touch between newsletters, please check out the links below.  And we are doing Covid-appropriate test-drives again.  So if you fancy driving a Retro-EV, give us a call…

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Electrogenic June 2020 Newsletter

Dear R-EV enthusiasts

 

It’s summer, lockdown is progressively lifting, the garage is picking up more pace and it’s time to ask “what has Covid 19 done for us?”.  It has given our R&D time to flower, as discussed in the May Newsletter and it has prompted us to invest more in our premises, but there must be something at the bigger picture?  And the answer is “yes” – for the last few months we have been driving around on completely coal-free electricity.  And long may it continue.

It’s also time to look to the future and to Build Back Better. At Electrogenic, our environmental mission is key to what we do, but we are also firmly rooted in our community.   We not just part of Oxfordshire, we are part of the national community of independent garages.  And that community is starting to wither.  The switch to EVs is a fantastic environmental revolution, but it is also a threat to independent garages, because all new EVs are only serviced at main dealers.  So let’s not choose between jobs and environment, let’s do both.  Electrogenic has proposed a solution to Government, and if you are interested, you can read further here.

 

Electric cars powered by coal-free electricity since 9 April

What has Covid 19 done for us?  Well, it has accelerated the switch away from coal – the dirtiest fuel used for electricity generation.  You have been driving around in your Electrogenic R-EV coal-free since 11:35pm, 9 April 2020 (assuming you were safely tucked up in bed when Drax Power Station tested one of its coal-fired units last Tuesday night).  So since demand fell at the beginning of the lockdown, your electricity has been supplied (in descending order) by gas, British nuclear, imported nuclear from France and renewables, renewables, renewables.  On one day last month, renewables delivered 60.5% of all UK electricity supply.  Drax did their tests at night because there was no space for their power during the day: too much solar power – even in Yorkshire!  As more grid-scale energy storage is built, that solar energy will be supplying power to the grid during the nighttime too.  50MW of high-voltage storage is being built just down the road from us outside the Cowley motor works, birthplace of the Mini, and Oxfordshire is the home of Project LEO (Local Energy Oxfordshire): one of the most ambitious, wide-ranging, innovative, and holistic smart grid trials ever conducted in the UK.

This is great news, and places even more emphasis on transport emissions: 33% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, compared with 27% from energy supply.  Electric cars still only account for 0.5% of the 40 million cars on the road.  Electrogenic is doing its bit to help change this.

Where does this leave us in the even bigger picture?  The global pandemic has precipitated the largest drop in carbon emissions since the second world war, taking total emissions back to 2006 levels.  Assuming everything is back to “normal” by the end of the year, however, the drop will be the equivalent to 0.001 degrees less warming and the world is still on course for three degrees of warming – the highest in 2 million years.

There is a lot to do, but Steve says that his thirty years in clean energy have convinced him that the only way to turn climate change around is by the concerted  action by all of us, not just governments.  So that’s what we are doing at Electrogenic: saving the world, one car at a time…

What’s in the workshop?

This is where we make you do some of the work: figure out what vehicles these photos are from, and earn yourself a pat on the back when we publish the answers in the next newsletter.

Mystery Picture 5
Mystery Picture 6

Answers from May:

Mystery Picture 3 – it’s a Rover V8 engine – in a box!  Aha, we hear you say, that’s how you fool the ECU into thinking the engine is still there…
Mystery Picture 4 – it’s a Mini front sub-frame all ready to fit a Hyper9 motor and a “secret sauce” gearbox…

Welcome to our new pet project!

At Electrogenic we have a weakness for stray cats, and this little Mini van looked up at us with its big, kitten eyes, and just begged for a new home.  So it’s our new pet project – we always like to have even more to juggle around client work!  As you can see, it has been de-seamed and needs a little TLC.  So lots of scope for Julio’s welding prowess and plenty of room for batteries.  Then with a lick of paint and our new Hyper-9 Mini front-end, which will simply bolt right in, we expect her to do 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds – creating one more timeless classic that hasn’t yet seen the end of the road.

And finally…

We have added to our YouTube playlist of dream cars for conversion.  Check it out and make some more suggestions – we love receiving them.  

And with the progressive relaxation in social-distancing, we are making plans to start giving test-drives again – certainly by the end of July.  So please give us a call to make an appointment and see you soon!

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Electrogenic May 2020 Newsletter

Dear R-EV enthusiasts

We’re back!  We are happy to tell you that following the new government guidelines, the newly socially-distanced workshop has re-opened and things feel a little more normal.  So what have we been doing other than home-stay Easter holidays?  A little Spring-cleaning and a LOT of R&D…

Prof Steve’s workbench

During the lockdown, Steve H has been faking it…

More specifically, Steve built a fake EVSE charge point and a series of fake Tesla batteries, to test our new integrated charging/battery management/motor controller and cell monitoring system.  The system has passed with flying colours and will be installed in all our vehicles from next month.

The basic idea of the system is twofold:

    1. so we have a common system architecture that will suit a range of motor controllers and battery systems, and
    2. to make sure that all the electric drive systems operate in their “sweet spot” at all times (charging and driving).

It also enables everything to connect with our remote diagnostic system, which helps us to help you.

Each element of the system cross-checks with all the other elements about 50 times a second.  If anything gets out of balance then it takes corrective action, notifies the driver if necessary, and if absolutely necessary pulls the emergency cord.  So for example we can reduce currents if battery voltages are going up, or if the batteries are getting low, tell the driver and switch into “get me home” mode.

Why did we develop it?  Because off-the-shelf systems don’t have the subtlety, and it gives us a platform to be able to better respond to customer requests.  Want to switch the kettle on when you’re 5 minutes from home…?

What’s in the workshop?

This is where we make you do some of the work: figure out what vehicles these photos are from, and earn yourself a pat on the back when we publish the answers in the next newsletter.

Mystery Picture 3
Mystery Picture 4

Answers from April:    Mystery Picture 1 – “Angel Eye” Mini headlight
Mystery Picture 2 – Land Rover Defender gearbox flange

Welcome to Laura!

Some of you have spotted that while we are capable of building fabulous vehicles, our back-office has been a little haphazard at times.  So welcome to Laura, who has a degree in car design and is reaching parts that the rest of us can’t reach.  She has already revolutionised our component sourcing and is starting to make the rest of the business hum like one of our Hyper 9s.  Here is Laura with one of her minis…

And finally…

We now have a YouTube channel.  There is not much there at the moment, but we are developing a playlist called “Dream cars for electric conversion”.  Check it out and add some suggestions. 

We are also in the press.  WhichEV just published a nice piece about Retro-EVs, featuring us.  You can check it out here.

You have heard what Steve H has been doing during lockdown.  But what of the other Steve, I hear you ask?  For those of you on Facebook, you can check it out here.  For the rest of you, check out YouTube.

And last but absolutely most importantly, we have sorted the social distancing, so you CAN come and see us now.  So please give us a call to make an appointment and see you soon! 

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Electrogenic April 2020 Newsletter

Electrogenic red Porsche header

Dear Retro-EV enthusiasts

Well…..we were just about to send out our first newsletter of 2020, when Covid19 struck, and suddenly it didn’t seem so appropriate any more.  But 3 weeks into lockdown, we think a little dose of normality wouldn’t hurt! So here are our dreams of life-before, and how we all hope life will return to soon.

We started the year with a flourish at the London Classic Car Show.  The show was at Olympia for the first time this year – and what a venue!  The 1886 arched steel and glass roof showed the cars off to perfection.

And what cars!  An incredible range, from the rare and expensive to the very affordable – but all in beautiful show condition.  What were our favourites, I hear you ask?  See the box for our secret desires (this Spring, anyway).

The Electrogenic stand was happily at the bottom of the central staircase, so we had three days of non-stop talking.  We brought our strapline, loud and proud:  Electrogenic: the future of classic cars.  A bold statement to bring to such a core “petrol-head” event?  Possibly, but we had a lot of good discussion with our fellow exhibitors, and we all felt a growing acceptance that the tide is turning…

We also brought the Marmite Bus – a little tongue in cheek for such an august location, and as usual it made a lot of smiles.  And as ever, the best part for us was talking to potential customers.  It’s great to understand what piques people’s interest in an electric car conversion, what are their questions, hear their stories and dream of the cars we might see in our workshop soon…

Our favourite cars at the London Classic Car Show 2020:

Elaine – the gorgeous, red Austin Healey on Auto Trader’s stand
Ian – lilac Aston Martin DB6 from Tom Hartley (or the 2 Dodge Chargers or the 1973 Datsun 240Z…)
Jack – the Shelby Daytona AC Cobra at Le Mans Coupes
Julio – the 6×6 Land Rover Defender pickup from the Chelsea Truck Company
Steve – a beautiful Karmann Ghia from Type 2 Detectives: it would make a great R-EV!
Tim – jet-black BMW B7 on The Classic Car Company stand
Vic – Beautiful gunmetal grey Porsche 911 Targa on the Horsepower Hangar stand

What’s in the workshop?

This is where we make you do some of the work: figure out what vehicles these photos are from, and earn yourself a pat on the back when we publish the answers in the next newsletter.

Mystery Picture 1

Mystery Picture 2

And welcome to… Tim!

Tim lives just down the canal from us, and even better, he understands everything Steve H says, and makes the electronics sit up and beg.  His Mustang isn’t electric yet, but it’s slower than Steve’s Electrogenic electric Beetle, so maybe it’s just a matter of time…

And finally…

Don’t be a stranger!  Check us out on social media, chat to Vic on Twitter and let us know what you would like to hear about in the next newsletter.  And when the restrictions lift, come and see us in Kidlington and say hello!

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City A.M. Beetle Test Drive

Electrogenic electric VW Beetle headline

We made the front page of City AM!

We really enjoyed the visit from TimPitt of City A.M.  We were a bit nervous, as Tim is a serious motoring journalist…and he loved Bertie the electric VW Beetle!  He put the pedal to the floor as soon as we were out of Kidlington, we sailed bast Blenheim Palace, and never looked back!

The finished article is a great read and a fair analysis.  Tim says it like it is and we are proud of his ultimate verdict:

“The Volkswagen’s appeal is rooted in iconic design, laid-back attitude and pop-culture cool. The Electrogenic conversion diminishes none of that, while future-proofing the Beetle for generations to come.”

You can read the full article below:

 
Electrogenic electric VW Beetle article
Bertie the electric VW Beetle featured in the City AM Newspaper.

Nicki Shields takes Bertie for a spin for The Sunday Times

There were two stars on parade in Oxfordshire on Tuesday – Nicki Shields and our very own Bertie the electric VW Beetle – as the final stages of storm Ciara chased us through the beautiful canal-side village of Thrupp, just a mile from Electrogenic’s centre of operations in Kidlington. Nicki was the consummate professional, and so nice!  And Bertie shone, as usual…Nicki came to do a test drive for The Sunday Times.  You can read the full article here.  And it was a first for Nicki: the first time she has driven an electric classic car made in 1963!

The filming was a real challenge, as the arctic winds chased us away from the canal-side and into the warm embrace of Annie’s Tea Room (fantastic afternoon teas, if you are ever passing).  In fact the wind was so strong, at one point it blew producer Sam Padget over… If you watch carefully you can see an uncharacteristic wobble in the filming as a particularly violent gust took hold.  It is a tribute to Sam’s technical mastery that the sound isn’t just one long jet-stream wail!

So thanks to Nicki and Sam for coming to see us in such inclement weather and thanks to Annie for keeping us warm in-between takes.  Come and see us at The London Classic car Show next weekend and if you can’t, come and see us in Kidlington and we can re-create the drive to Annie’s.

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