back to article Start-up Bee pledges 'affordable' British e-car

The Register can bring you exclusive details and images of what could become the UK's most affordable electric car. Bee Bee.One Bee's Bee.One: four-seater EV for seven grand, anyone? The four-seat, five-door Bee.One from British e-car start up Bee is scheduled to go into production in 2011 with a target price of £12,000 ($ …


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  1. M


    However, as I can't wait that long, I will have to purchase my Masarati now.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Well I'd hate to piss on anyone's parade, but when was the last time this country produced any piece of high tech that could compete with the Japanese, Americans and Germans?

    I'd love to think Britain was going to be a leader in this trade, but I still remember how breathless journos told us that we were going to lead the world in aviation, rail, pharmaceuticals, GM, computers, space... but somehow we ended up selling cheap Korean phones and insurance to one another to make things meet.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    How the hell are we supposed to charge it. None of these manufacturers seem to want to answer this. We don't all live in houses with driveways or garages. Anyone who has to rely on on street parking is totally fucked by all the electric car manufacturers.

    Or are we going to have "Electricity" floats which deliver a freshly charged battery or two to our door step every morning.

    And unless the electricity comes from a wind turbine or other such source its not pollution free at all.

    Why doesn't someone ever take these two important points up with the car manufacturers instead of just swallowing their marketing guff and hype totally?

    Oh and its pig ugly as well

  4. Neil

    Too Ugly

    Plus, buying a second car, purely for local use, will have an overall impact far higher than simply using my existing car.

  5. Andy
    Thumb Up

    Great idea

    Excellent to see this kind of creativity.

    I hope they get this running and it's a complete success.

    About time we started making things again in this country.

  6. Joey
    Thumb Up

    Nice but...

    It's nice to see some UK initiative in this area and good luck to 'em. Living and driving in London, though, I would rather the it reflected the design principles of the fairground dodgem. Whoever thought of painted plastic bumpers really needs to be sent to the back of the class. As for the companies that will only sell you a complete wing mirror assembly when only your glass is cracked...

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Fucking Brilliant..

    I can have a £40,000+ electric car or a frigging £7000 souped up invalid mobile..

    When will we get a mainstream product?!?! you know something that fits the average car criteria?! normal comfort normal accessories and a normal price?

  8. Andy Silver badge

    12,000 cars a year - hardly conservative

    Compared with other niche vehicles, 12,000 cars a year is a lot of cars and would require a huge investment in production facilities. Add in crash testing, meeting regulations and other development work, and the price looks optimistic at best. Unless they are partnering with an existing manufacturer, this sounds a little like a theoretical exercise rather than a commitment to build.

    It seems that with motors and batteries becoming off the shelf items, many back shed operations are assuming that the bits that go in between can be developed at minimal costs to production standards. That's not to denigrate this company, but with so few concrete details in the article it's difficult to assume otherwise.

    Good luck to them though.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    ... and pedestrian awareness system?

    I do hope that Bee sounds are provided by Lotus!

    BUZZ BUZZ bhuzzzzzz!

  10. Greg

    Put me right off

    "In the interests of weight and cost, the One will forsake a conventional in-car entertainment system in favour of an iPod dock which Bee sees as being more than adequate for most drivers ICE and navigation needs."

    Because we all have an iPod. No-one could possibly own anything else. iAudio, Creative, Microsoft, River - none of these companies apparently exist. And God forbid we want to play a CD.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Startup Bee

    Has lovely* Sarah branched out?

    *that should get it through moderation

  12. Riscyrich
    Gates Horns

    Insurance? ?

    Just imagine how much fun it's going to be trying to get insurance for one of these e-cars.

    Wonder what the OS will be...

  13. Scott

    Why can't they make them look normal!?

    Is there actually a reason why most leccy cars look so peculiar?

  14. Mike Wharton

    HiPa drive???

    "The BRM Bee Four ERV will use four in-wheel electric motors developed at Oxford University to generate 520kW (700bhp) and will have a top speed of 250mph."

    Almost undoubtedly the HiPa drive system from PML/Electric Motor Works...

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Daniel

    Promising startup claims to have mastered Lightwave

    A promising startup, yesterday unveiled their latest designs for yet another e-car, which, they claim, reflects the ground-breaking research they have been carrying out into Lightwave's 'extrude-rectangles', and 'add-bevels' features. The firm claims that the new design is revolutionary, in having several door units whose rotation planes are actually centred on their 'hinge' extrusions, rather than having to be extacted, rotated manually, and then bodged back into position.

    The company aims to follow this early success, with a logo, sometime in the summer, once they have worked out the final nuances of solid metalic reflections and specular lighting.

    More ambitiously, the startup also aims to produce a dangerous and uncomfortable roadster - which, they claim, will offer an unparalleled level of performance, coupled with handling, so vague and impreceise that it will, in the words of their marketing director "Revolutionise people's perceptions of electric performance vehicles, in the same way that 1970s tripple cylinder Kawasakis changed people's notions about the life-expectancy of motorcylists". They hope to achieve this by making virtually the entire mass of the vehicle unsprung, and simply sticking a large settee, in the middle, slung between two big rubber bands. An artist's impression of the ambitious performance car would be available to the press once some final teething problems involving an inverted reflection plane and some pesky internal widdow-vertices, that kept crashing the renderer, had been resolved.

    The company is now seeking venture capital funding, in order to buy a second Dell Inspiron, which will, they hope, reduce rendering times to under ten hours.

  17. Pete James


    A sensible price!

    A good punt at rage and performance!

    A half-decent stab at styling (if a bit too Ford Fusion)!

    Swappable power packs!

    Has this bloke been reading my posts droning on about all the above for the last twelve months or something?

  18. Alexander Holland
    Thumb Down

    Carbon cost?

    What is the carbon cost of the vehicle? The metal for the batteries is probably mined in South America where they had to deforest to set up the open cast mining operation. The ore is then shipped half way round the world to china for processing into batteries before being shipped the other half way round the world to the UK where they are charged on electricity from a coal power station and then only last for 3 years before having to be replaced!

    Current generation electric cars suck. They are in no-way environmentally friendly.

    Try to take public transport for one journey a week. Try to walk or use a bike for short journeys you might otherwise use your car. Service your car regularly. Check the tire pressures every time you fill up with fuel. Shop for groceries on line once a month. MUCH better for the environment ideas than getting an electric car.

  19. Lottie


    If they can bring it in at the proposed price point, I can see them shifting a fair amount. Some very good ideas in there too. Especially the battery changing one.

    Don't like ipods though, so hopefully they'll have a universal connector or something.

  20. M7S
    Thumb Up

    If it does what it says on the tin

    I'll buy one at that price. I might even look at PV panels on the garage roof to make it more eco-friendly

  21. Tom


    so with the 5k grant for an electric car and the 2k trade in on my 1992 rocket I can get an electric car for nowt!!

    Oh hang on I'm 6'5" so I guess I could carry it in my pocket.....

  22. Nick


    Id say thats an interesting concept, but add 20% to the cost of that, just because manufacturers are always over optimistic.

    But with these electric cars coming to market soon, all they need to do is get someone to invent a way for people who don't have driveways to charge their car on the street, without the owner being sued for creating a trip hazard.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Oooh will it be powered by fairy dust?

    and run on pure moonshine too?

    Call me when it actually exists. I'll be waiting for my Hover car to take me to Boris Island Airport where I'll be getting the 10:03 HOTOL plane to Australia for Lunch. Can't miss me I'll be wearing a Bacofoil suit.

  24. Anonymous Coward

    See also: Bee Four

    As reported in the Torygraph in January, in an article which also briefly mentions the Bee.One.

    Not sure how unique the "motor per driven wheel" concept is; anyone who'd read (or maybe written) El Reg's EV coverage would know it's been done before.

    Is Lord "Two Resignations" Mandelscum going to be as helpful to this outfit as he has(n't) been with LDV's electric vans?

  25. Lloyd
    Thumb Down

    WTF is that thing?

    Fugly little spud ain't it?

  26. Edward Miles
    Thumb Up

    100 miles at 80MPH?

    Add in some battery replacing stations, and (depending on swap costs, needs to beat petrol on price!) you might have yourself a decent runner there....

  27. fifi

    viable concept?

    Two of the reasons I'd not consider an electric car yet are range and charge-time.

    With removeable battery backs like this, it could pretty much address those issues. Granted, you're still looking at 1/2 the range of an ICE powered car, but being able to carry a spare, charged cell and swap it quickly, as well as being able to swap out cells at "petrol stations" would pretty much cure these shortcomings.

    It does bring another issue to the fore, however. Should all electric car manufactures settle on a standardised form-factor for power cells, such that they are common to all makes? And how does Bee and the like plan on encouraging fuelling stations to start accepting stocks of cells, when it's taking money away from their main business of selling fossil fuels?

    it'll be interesting to see how this develops.

  28. Paul Murphy

    Getting better

    100 miles @ 80mph, swappable batteries and seperate motors.

    Now we need a small diesel motor to replace one of the batteries (if/when needed) for longer trips or too long in the traffic queues.

    Regenerative braking,

    Also induction charging would be good (at home and at traffic lights) and motors in each wheel, for those slippery situations.

    Now - does it have aircon?


  29. Anonymous Coward

    I was a bit caustic ...

    ... about the product line (typical UK lack of ambition, why aim for the skies when .... sort of stuff) but 250 mph in less than 5 seconds? Sounds like another win for the UK.

    Good on yer folks!

  30. David Evans

    very green

    Lovely, now where exactly is the electricity to power all these electric cars coming from again? I was under the impression we faced a power generation shortfall as it is. I'm also unimpressed by the green credentials of this; maybe not having a second car as a local runabout at all might be a tad more environmentally friendly?

  31. Ian Moffatt
    Paris Hilton

    How much weight will that save?

    'In the interests of weight and cost, the One will forsake a conventional in-car entertainment system in favour of an iPod dock which Bee sees as being more than adequate for most drivers ICE and navigation needs'

    You'll still need amp and speakers. Or do we share a set of headphones? Then we'll get fined by the new roadside cameras designed to catch us out/keep us safe.

    Plus I wouldn't want to rely on my iPhone as a sat nav. It's not accurate or fast enough.


    Paris - because she knows all about being caught on camera

  32. richard

    april fools...late?


    if not, can someone please inform us how much these things cost to charge up every other night? how much is a service, how much is tax? how much is insurance? do i have to have a wire from my house to the car running across my drive for the local chav to pull out?

    they all sound great in the sales blurb, but we need hard running costs please...

  33. Richard

    Assumptions ..

    Assuming that they start cranking these out by 2011 and that the price holds true and that the government subsidy actually arrives (and without onerous T&Cs) ... then I would be in the market for one to replace a (by then) 15 year old ford fiesta as my 4-person carrying "occasional" second car.

    Its good to hear they are thinking about the whole lifecycle of the car and could get good revenue from getting involved in the charging and maintence bits .. maybe also bringing down the upfront cost !

    Being an English pessimist though I think these are widely big assumptions and that I will have to end up with a second-hand petrol/diesel tank with 4 wheels instead 8-(

    Now if Smart had a commerical leccy car (at a reasonable price) and an option to have room for 3 people then I'd upgrade my fortwo instead 8-)

  34. Francis Fish

    Batteries? Just gimme hydrogen fuel cell

    Car will still run on electricity but have much better range.

    All refilling stations will need is a power supply and some water (in theory). Apparently working fine in Florida according to Top Gear.

    What's all this blx about batteries?

    It's so ... 1950's...

    Actually didn't U-Boats use them?


  35. Anonymous Coward


    Congratulations Sarah, got fed up of the mods job I see

  36. Sandra Greer
    Thumb Up

    Any chance of marketing this in the U.S.?

    It looks lovable. For cities (at least NYC), it would need an extra set of battery packs for charging, as one does not park near one's house, generally.

    It would be very popular with teachers, who travel to odd places where their schools are located, rather than to downtowns. Likewise, nurses.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why does it need to look like Kryton's face?? Does that just satisfy the marketing department's 'futuristic' criterion, or is it something more deeply ingrained in the psyche of the designer.

  38. Gerard Krupa

    Green Solution

    That would be all well and good if electric cars had any proven environmental benefit. A recent study (published in the Torygraph) showed that electric cars are in fact considerably less efficient than diesels:

    Switching to electric cars doesn't help unless the electricity also comes from environmentally friendlier sources.

  39. M Couchman


    "3G cellular network that will allow updates to the car's management system software to be downloaded"

    Will the AA cover me for a bad update causing a blue screen crash on the A1?

  40. sotar

    E-car subsidy??

    Surely the proposed £5000 subsidy is for scrapping your old, old, car and replacing it with with an 'eco-friendly' leccy one.

    How does that accord with the statement in the article "Designed primarily as a second car, the One will be pitched at buyers who want a 'leccy vehicle for local use rather than as a replacement for the family motor."

  41. Marco
    Thumb Up

    great , just what is required.

    Very nice indeed . What power system will the vehicle need to be connected to if we were to do a home charge - I presume that will be possible . I am trying to understand what running costs are involved . I'd also get the Top Gear guys to give it a go as an 80 MPH car isn't bad at all. I wonder if buying a small wind turbine for the house would then solve any charging issues .

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Electric Car

    Anybody spot the irony of an electric car without a stereo?

    Finally, a car for the hard working families of the USSR - sorry, I mean Britain...

    Built in masses by the people for the people. I guess we need something to keep the enconomy going round.

  43. Luis Ogando
    Thumb Up

    More Like It

    This is more like it. A 'leccy car that's (1) not a stupid price, and (2) looks reasonably normal.

    I'm just worried about exactly how much information will be 'sent back' through the 3G link. All that's required is distance and time for the black 'copters to send out speeding tickets left, right and centre for those occasions when you have to overtake an artic in a 40 limit.

    Other than that, I like it.

  44. Andre Carneiro
    Thumb Up

    Sign me up!

    80 mph, 200 miles of electric goodness?

    If the full charge takes less than 8 hours, and for 7 grand, just tell me where I sign up to get one! :)

  45. James Hughes

    iPod dock.

    So, unless I buy an iPod, I won't be able to listen to the Archers?

    Or is this another definition of iPod dock I don't know about?

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up


    I'd be impressed if they get that range, that speed, that pricepoint and that look all sorted. If they do then I would definitely be wanting one for my commute. It's 8 miles of motorway and this little beaut could do more or less a week on a charge. Me and the bird only need one sensible car between us.

  47. Gildas

    @ Gerard Kupra

    That Torygraph article is based on "data" from Transport Watch which is nothing more than the rantings of one Paul F Withrington who thinks the country's transport problems can be solved by tarmacing over its rail lines and using them for trucks and buses. Why the Telegraph ran a major article based solely on that loon's ramblings is beyond me - he is one step up from standing outside a tube station with a sandwich board proclaiming "Trains Are Evil!"

  48. Al Taylor

    @ Mike Wharton

    Mike, the in-wheel motors used in the BRM racing car are not supplied by PML Flighlink. And Bee are not claiming that they are unique - its the twin motor set up in the Bee.One they say is unique.

  49. michael

    swapable battry

    looks a good idar you can have 2 and charge them in home and if you leave you car on the street and take the battry out no bugger can nick it it is the idal security system

  50. Richard Cartledge


    I designed it in my lunch break in Google 3D Sketchup.

  51. Nic
    Thumb Up

    standard response to the Coal fired power station whiners

    500000 cars with ICB or 500000 with electric motors. Once we are over to electric we have centralised the power generation and can therefore change the method at any point. IE it doesn't matter too much that our power generation is largely carbon based right now. We change to nuke/solar/wind/fusion etc in the future and are car model still works. We don't have to change every flipping car over each time which would be the problem with other models such as hydrogen.

  52. Martin Silver badge


    Brilliant, just f***inkg brilliant...

  53. CC
    Black Helicopters

    Fed up with the hype...people need something real NOW!

    I am so tired of seeing these "proposed vehicles", time for the manufacturers to put up or shut notice how the time lines keep dragging out another and another year and now they're back to drawings.

    What the world needs in not a new car but an engine battery module that can be used in pre-existing vehicles.

  54. Anonymous John

    hooked up to a 3G cellular network

    How comprehensive is the 3G coverage? I have this mental image of a Bee 1 getting a BSOD during an upgrade when it drives out of range of a base station.

    I'd rather it connect via my home WiFi router when I'm at home.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    If we are heading for brown-outs because of retiring power stations, and this is unavoidable we are told. We all have to reduce our consumption of electricity or we will have cuts, then if we all switch to rechargeable cars, this is going to help how?

    Maybe it is me....

    Paris because she'll make the blackouts less tiresome.

  56. John Smith Gold badge

    Stephen Voller sounds familiar

    I thought his last company did Hydrogen fuel cells, then bought an outfit that could handle in situ reforming to run from Propane. The company website said they had ceased trading and were looking for a buyer.

    But perhaps I have the wrong man.

  57. reader

    fish out of date

    @francis fish

    Batteries are actually so 1800

    Much older than the cutting edge fuel cell of 1838

  58. Anonymous Coward

    It's the ROTM

    "Each Bee.One will be permanently hooked up to a 3G cellular network that will allow updates to the car's management system software to be downloaded"

    And its dashboard glows red while this happens, right?

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brown out "this is going to help how"

    Because when your car is at home and its battery doesn't need charging, you can use your car battery if you want house electricity when the grid wants to reduce demand.

    Or, more adventurously, you use the battery to feed in to the local mains (needs a bit more thought, but not greatly different conceptually than micro wind turbines or micro CHP "feeding in", which works OK in some countries, the main problem is commercial not technical).

    It's the same concept in principle as "pumped storage" power stations, except rather than half a dozen per country at maybe a GW each (eg, you eventually have a few hundred thousand around the country at a couple of kilowatts each. Every little helps.

    Of course, "Brown out" is a phrase with a different meaning at the moment. Especially after today's budget and the resulting election.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I like the dual motor idea.

    It means if one motor fails, you can still go round and round! Whee!

  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Congratulations ...

    ... they've managed to design something that's uglier than a Mk.2 Megane.

    As for the price tag, I'll believe it when I see it.

  62. Aaron


    Finally Clive Sinclair is giving it another shot I see. "Permanently hooked up to a network", will I need to run Zonealarm Security Suite or will Zonealarm Free suffice? Will it support playing minesweeper or tetris while the updates are installed like the new BIOS replacement? No stereo, just a ipod dock... do ipods have radios these days? No one would want a radio in their car would they?

  63. Anonymous Coward

    3G permanently on?

    If it is anything like my oldish cell phone that craps the battery dead (and heats up while at it) when GSM 3G is a no-go and it falls back to analogic cell-phone network (as in '90 analogic network TDMA ) then we'll see interesting things, like cars bursting into flames for no apparent reason, just like last-year Sony laptops.

    Hope it doesn´t suffer the same fate. Reminds to install more mains sockets in the garage, along with 200 feet cable extensions to charge my car parked in front of the house.

  64. John Smith Gold badge

    @ Francis Fish

    How about 2-3 Kg of TNT instead?

    USAF and NASA do range safety assessments. A Helium tank at 5000 psia of about 3.4Cu. Ft capacity is assessed at 3.3lbs (1.5Kg) of TNT. This is solely the result of the compressive energy released, as helium does not burn. The Toyota Clarity holds 4kg of Hydrogen. Hydrogen is also diatomic so can hold compressive energy in the H-H bond as well as bulk compression. This will increase the TNT equivalent. While all such tanks are designed to leak before bursting this would still leave a fairly large hydrogen gas cloud. H2 has a very broad flammability range (4% -96% in air IIRC) and low ignition energy. So before you can say "Fuel air explosive" you should have quite an impressive bang with enough over pressure to do quite a bit of human and property damage. OTOH given its lightness a leak might disperse before ignition.

    I wonder if 200 vehicles was chosen as a number which limits the chance of any of them having a major (tank rupturing) crash during the leasing period.

    When would you like your Clarity delivered, sir?

  65. Brian Whittle

    my eyes , they are bleeding

    God that's ugly I would rather drive a Mk1 Fiat Multipla

  66. Anonymous Coward

    @ the 3G-tards

    maybe you do the upgrade while stationary?

    maybe it does a download, checks it (md5 whatever) on the move but it insists on upgrade only while stationary and has some sort of roll-back (in the loader, keeps old version as backup) in case of failed upgrade. probably not that hard.

    to all the other whiners:

    "where's the electricity going to come from ..?."

    - would you rather just wait until the petrol runs out?

    "why is it so expensive ...?"

    - early adoption, volume brings price down, govt subsidy

    "where will I plug it in ...?"

    - petrol stations would love to sell you coulombs instead, no need to do it at your house (don't keep petrol there at the moment, I expect) so don't panic about street parking. need to be able to recharge quickly, obviously - s'pect someone will make that work.

    time to think a little bit, folks, in order to solve the problems rather than just bitch and moan and do nothing

  67. Anonymous Coward

    @@the 3G-tards


    "to all the other whiners:

    where's the electricity going to come from ..?.

    - would you rather just wait until the petrol runs out?"

    -- Not having enough leccy to keep the lights (and all the other essentials) on is just as bad. People are pointing out the lack of planning, and how the plans as proposed do not add up. They are not whining. If we are going to be short of electricity capacity in 5 years then planning to increase consumption drastically without building more power stations within that timeframe is reckless and doomed to fail.

    "time to think a little bit, folks, in order to solve the problems rather than just bitch and moan and do nothing"

    - Same unthinking argument as Gudrun Brown tries to use to fool the sheeple about the "do nothing tories" and it is just as mindless here. Trying to suggest that people who do not agree with your point of view are unthinking is as old as the hills when you have no substantial argument left yourself. No one is suggesting doing nothing, they are suggesting planning properly and doing it right rather than failing to plan or doing half the planning and it all going tits up before we end back where we are today (or worse off) and another (much needed) idea fails to fly.

  68. John Smith Gold badge

    An inescapable fact

    20% of UK electricity comes from nuclear power. Most of those reactors are coming to the end of their working lives. Quite soon they will need to be replaced by something (anything) to meet *current* leccy demands. Any scheme which plans to radically increase demand must be factored into replacement and new build plans.

    If you did not know this your planning with your eyes shut.

    To get the ball rolling. London pooches drop 4m tons of poo. That must generate a *lot* of Methane. its renewable and virtually in-exhaustable.

    Just a thought.

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