back to article Our Friends Electric: A pair of alternative options for getting around town

As traditional car makers seek to make electric vehicles that won't scare off the buyers, others are taking a slightly different path. Enter Triggo and Microlino. Both manufacturers are nearing full-scale production, but each has chosen alternative routes in terms of design and how their vehicles will be used. Microlino (left …

  1. TonyJ Silver badge

    Seems like a decent enough idea but can you imagine someone in a completely different country that drives on the wrong side of the road (i.e. the right ;-) ) and who's never seen say a roundabout, trying to navigate around Milton Keynes?

    Or London?

    And vice versa of course.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Agreed.

      Additionally, I'm rather more comfortable with the idea of a programmatically-driven car than with the notion that someone I don't know who's never been where I am is "driving" me to my destination.

      Not to mention the hacking opportunities that will no doubt abound.

      1. KarMann Silver badge
        WTF?

        It could be read either way, but the impression I had was that the remote driver is just for getting the car to you, and that you then take over the driving duties. Aside from its appeal to people's desire to feel in control, it would also make sense in that they don't need to hire so many remote drivers as if they were also doing the driving.

      2. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        And what about the latency in the remote control? And the controller's tiredness/inattention from looking at screens constantly.

        I'm not sure that I would prefer that over a meatbag driving (from the viewpoint of another motorist, not a passenger)

        1. EricB123

          It Could Be Worse

          "And the controller's tiredness/inattention from looking at screens constantly."

          Let's just hope he is looking at the driving screens and not his phone screen.

        2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
          Pint

          Remote control

          "Excuse me, Sir, but have you been drinking?"

          "Yesh, ossifer, but I'm not d-d-driving, my pal in Berlin ish taking me home."

    2. wheelbearing

      Yep - And What About All Those Magic Roundabouts

      Think we're a long way from autonomous robotic cars negotiating the UK's growing number of so called "Magic Roundabouts". Even locals seem to have trouble with these (@ Hemel Hempstead anyone?).

      Fancy joining the Roundabout Appreciation Society? There really is such a thing (in Britland).

      I sort of like the idea of a handy little two seater beetling to your door, unaided by a driver, but what are all the cab and drivers of the world going to do when the robots have gone and "took our jobs".

      I don't think many will want to or could become coders/web wizards etc.

      And now most retail is moving on-line, that old standby for the rundant of retail is looking an iffy one to rely on. Looks like it's gonna be Amazon warehouse "operative" or delivery driver...

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Yep - And What About All Those Magic Roundabouts

        Hemel Hempstead's magic roundabout was the first roundabout discovered by my left-hand-drive partner when she started driving in the UK.

        Wasn't a problem, though we did need to stop and get a new tyre...

        (the trick is: don't think of it as a roundabout. Think of it as six very short dual carriageways each with a roundabout at each end.)

      2. ravenviz

        Re: Yep - And What About All Those Magic Roundabouts

        The official Magic Roundabout is in Swindon.

        The Hemel Hempstead one is officially called The Plough Roundabout.

        I’ve also heard it referred to as ‘The Silly Isles’!

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Yep - And What About All Those Magic Roundabouts

        > what are all the cab and drivers of the world going to do when the robots have gone and "took our jobs".

        Burn down all the robocabs, of course.

        It's been estimated that around 400 million jobs are at risk worldwide but what hasn't been mentioned is that there's a net shortage of drivers just about everywhere because people don't actually like the job very much.

        WRT remote drivers vs autonomous control. I've suspected for a while that the future will be a hybrid model where robots call in outside assistance as-needed rather than relying on the "common" sense of the current passenger

        All it will take to hit an inflexion point is for autonomous modes to statistically show as being safer than manual control and insurance actuaries will do most of the rest with the way premiums are shaped.

        It's quite likely that manual driving premiums will skyrocket and that will quickly discourage private vehicle ownership whilst at the same time heavy automation removes or reduces the cost of the most expensive part of vehicle hire operation - the driver.

        The holdback for all this stuff has been communication/datalinks, but I think that problem is on the verge of being solved. Iridium ended up being taken in ways Motorola never envisaged and I suspect the same applies to Starlink, etc. Horizons are being opened up that we simply can't envisage right now

    3. jdiebdhidbsusbvwbsidnsoskebid Bronze badge

      Driving in another country doesn't bother me much, lots of people do that with normal cars. What bothers me is the car being driven remotely. I presume it'll be controlled over the phone network, so what happens when coverage drops or even suffers just a second or so of latency? It's going to need a high bandwidth link back to the operator for them to maintain road awareness all round them.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "so what happens when coverage drops or even suffers just a second or so of latency?"

        You assume it's not remote-operator augmented autonomous control

        You also assume it's going to use a phone network

        As a reminder:

        There are already 1176 active + 176 Standby + 301 "off" (newly launched and still not at correct height) Starlink satellites in orbit for the first 53 degree inclination shell (1440 planned),

        The SSO shell only has 12 satellites in orbit, but the recent shift of the "of course I still love you" droneship to Los Angeles is specifically so that SpaceX can concentrate on filling that shell with launches from Vandenberg (1440 planned, with 24*7 coverage all the way to the poles, something that will be a gamechanger in both Antarctica and the Frozen North)

        There are AT LEAST 2 more shells planned

        Latency on the existing "beta" systems is averaging less than 30ms and has been improving throughout the testing periods.

        And that's just ONE of three competing LEO comsat constellation systems being deployed

        How much bandwidth/latency will the average robocar actually need?

    4. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Roundabouts are no problem

      I swap side to side depending on the country I drive in, not a real issue though to be honest when tired I make mistakes back in the UK that I dont make abroad where I am less relaxed.

      However Milton Keynes is nothing in the roundabout stakes - you need to navigate the Magic Roundabout in Swindon (and yes, that is its name!)

      In a lot of places (like Germany) there are worse rules, in Germany they cant be arsed to work out which is the 'main road' and which has priority once you are off the autobahn so you end up with some crazy rule about right over left at junctions with no markings at all... looking forward to seeing the autonomous cars coping with that

      1. ravenviz

        Re: Roundabouts are no problem

        Try Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, or Hatfield, or any of those old ‘new’ towns for roundabout Heaven or Hell depending on your preference.

    5. Bill Gray

      Hmmmm.... if I'm remote-driving a car on the opposite side of the road from what I'm used to, then I'd just want the display and controls mirror-imaged at my end so it appeared as if I was driving on the "correct" side. Simples.

      But we do then have the issue that I'd have to read all the road signs mirror-imaged. Maybe it's not quite that easy.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Learn to read road signs backwards, or have software spot and flip and translate them, or just have a "sign reading display" just above the driving display.

  2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge
    Happy

    The door

    That door on the front reminds me of all the stories about people getting trapped by parking too close to a wall. (What does it mean, "reverse gear?")

    I wonder if was just an urban myth?

    1. macjules Silver badge

      Re: The door

      It was done in Top Gear where they put Clarkson in a Bubble car (Isetta) which he drove around inside the BBC offices until he parked facing a wall and couldn't restart the engine.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The door

        Clarkson was actually driving a Peel P50, the smallest ever road legal car in the UK. It makes the Isetta look huge....

        1. Lon24 Silver badge
          Devil

          Re: The door

          Is he still there? 'Cos I haven't seen him on anything other than Dave repeats in recent years.

          1. Martin an gof Silver badge

            Re: The door

            Uttering the catchphrase, "how hard can it be?", Clarkson set out to make a better and smaller car than the P50 and came up with what he called the P45.

            Shortly thereafter he punched a producer for something trivial after a hard-day's shooting, earned a real P45 from the BBC and headed off to Amazon Prime with his mates - and, I believe, said producer - for significantly more money.

            I'm told he's still there, nowadays squandering cash on another "how hard can it be?" campaign, running a small farm into the ground.

            M.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Clarkson

            He's having fun with big boys toys on his farm. Getting stuck somewhere in a very muddy fireld seems to be the plot line for every episode.

            He is proving what a numpty he really is. Yes, it is being hammed up for TV but he really is giving farming a bad name.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Clarkson

              The reality is that whilst he may be giving farming a bad name, thanks to Brexit and trade deals neing negotiated at the moment, He probably has a more viable business model running a farm into the ground for a TV audience than actual real farmers do in trying to run real farms.

      2. muddysteve

        Re: The door

        If I remember correctly, it was James May that drove the Isetta bubble car. They mocked up a garage in the studio, and he drove in, couldn't open the door and couldn't reverse. Did Clarkson and Hammond help him? What do you think?

    2. PTW
      Go

      Re: The door

      Not an urban myth, there was some odd UK law at least up into the 60s, where a 16 year old could drive a 3 wheeler, but only if it didn't have reverse. Quite why anyone thought reverse was such a huge danger between the ages of 16 and 17 I have no idea!

      I remember my farther telling me of one of his friends who re-enabled reverse but had a bolt he could drop through a hole and lock out reverse should he ever be stopped by the Police.

      1. Paul Herber Silver badge

        Re: The door

        It counted as a motorcycle (motorcycle + sidecar combo).

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: The door

          Indeed - as a kid I was a frequent reliant robin passenger as my dad only had a motorbike licence & could drive a 3 wheeler* using that (& they were cheap). He did eventually take a "proper" car test.

          * Could act like a 2 wheeler on cornering as "outer (in relation to the cornering)" rear wheel could leave the road even at relatively low cornering speeds.

      2. big_D Silver badge

        Re: The door

        The Messerschmitt was even better. You turned off the ignition, then started the motor in the other direction, meaning you had 4 reverse gears!

        The Isetta also, had a Robesto roof as an option, so you could roll it back and climb out the top. That or ask a passer-by to give you a little shove backwards.

        As Paul said, without a reverse gear, it counted as a motorbike, so anybody with a bike license could drive it, without having to get a car license. Also, the road tax for motorbikes was less.

        Hence the Reliant Supervan, and later, the Robin and Rialto and the Bond Bug - they were a hoot, or the Morgan 3-wheeler, a friend of my father's started a business selling replicas (Buckland).

        1. Nick Pettefar

          Re: The door

          But but but the Reliants had reverse gears.

          Urban myth?

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: The door

            According to Clarkson in his Top Gear film on the Robin, it was treated as a motorcycle because it only had three wheels. As you say, the Robin had a reverse gear (unlike the Peel P50 mentioned above).

            The Robin could also be fitted with an optional trio of rockets – one liquid-fuel and two SRBs – and launched directly upward, making it (briefly) the most powerful motorcycle available. Top Gear (May and Hammond) demonstrated that as well. It was an aftermarket addition, though, not a factory option.

          2. big_D Silver badge

            Re: The door

            Yes, it looks like it was the 3 wheels and weight that were the key factors, at least in the post 1963 time frame. Until that date, the motorbike license required that the vehicle didn't have a reverse gear, so the Regal through to the Mk VI, I believe, didn't have reverse, after that, it was available.

            The Bond Minicar was also fascinating, like a Regal, but more round and with a stretched bonnet. But the Bug was the most futuristic.

            The Morgans and the Bucklands were 2 front wheels, 1 rear, and comparatively low, which gave them much more stability and good handling in the corners.

    3. GlenP Silver badge

      Re: The door

      It was certainly possible. In the UK the law that allowed someone to drive a small 3-wheeler on a motorbike license only applied if there was no reverse gear.

      I can recall in the late 60s a family friend failing to make it up a hill in his 3-wheeler (possibly because it was overloaded with people), we had to get out and they picked up the front end and turned it round by hand.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The door

        In a similar vein, are either of these cars? The rules for occupant-safety in crashes are much more stringent for cars than for quadbikes, and an early electric car (whose name escapes me) was registered as a quadbike as it couldn't feasinbly be designed to pass the rules for cars.

        1. Steve Foster

          Re: The door

          "an early electric car (whose name escapes me)"

          Assuming you're talking modern era, perhaps Renault's Twizy?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The door

            Found it - it was the G-Wiz (rather older than the Twizy). It came to the UK in the early 2000s, before the big push to electric cars, and was very definitely a city-car only. Or, as per my original point, a city quadbike.

    4. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: The door

      The three wheeled bubble cars were classified for road tax and licencing purposes as a motor tricycle if yhey only had forward gears. Add reverse and it was a car ( the same applied to a motorcycle and side car) so many had forward gears only.

      Nasty bloody things then, and in my opinion not much better now.

      Sinclair C5 anybody?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The door

        The Sinclair C5 was awful. Didn't even have a keyboard.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Sinclair C5

          Nor do tablets or phones have keyboards these days.

          Maybe the C5 was a glimpse into a far away future that we are now getting close too.

          Now, where did I put that VHS compilation tape of Spitting Image sketches....

        2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: The door

          It would have been such a good mouse, though, if only they hadn't confused inches and millimetres...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The door

            Easy mistake to make and probably why I'm single.

    5. Ol'Peculier

      Re: The door

      I remember hearing stories about people pulling into their garages* and realising they couldn't get out, so I don't think it's apocryphal.

      *the building next to houses that used to have cars parked in them overnight, rather than the boxes full of junk and chest freezers that have taken over...

      1. tiggity Silver badge

        Re: The door

        I doubt many old garages have room for some of the huge cars* people drive around in today, probably why a lot used for freezers etc (plus many UK houses tiny so space too valuable for a car).

        *Fancy a laugh, compare an original mini to a modern "mini"

  3. My-Handle Silver badge

    I'd be much happier...

    ...just buying the Triggo. I live out in the sticks, so not many people to ride-share with, but most of my driving is just 10 miles to work and back. Give me a small, road-legal, weatherproof electric vehicle and that would fit my needs to a T.

    1. WonkoTheSane
      Headmaster

      Re: I'd be much happier...

      I suggest you take a look at the Arcimoto FUV, from the USA.

      It's like the Triggo, but without the remote driver business.

      1. aje21

        Re: I'd be much happier...

        At least that has a top speed higher than 90kph - looked at the Twizzy but the limited top speed to qualify as a quadracycle means it's not appropriate when many of the roads near me are national speed limit; being stuck at 50mph means causing frustration for other drivers and possible accidents when they try to overtake.

      2. Timbo

        Re: I'd be much happier...

        "I suggest you take a look at the Arcimoto FUV, from the USA."

        That looks cool....BUT, it's only available in the mainly "sunshine" states (CA and FL - and OR and WA too)...and I really doubt I'd want to drive that ANYWHERE in the rain...esp in the UK, where it rains even in the summer !!

        (And yes, looking at the promo video, there do seem to be some "half doors" available...so maybe full doors are an extra cost option ?)

        1. My-Handle Silver badge

          Re: I'd be much happier...

          I was thinking the same thing. A brief look through their website and even the "all-weather" page doesn't show a fully enclosed cabin. It recommends wearing "all-weather" gear instead. Not really a goer for the Emerald Isle.

      3. RockBurner

        Re: I'd be much happier...

        Personally I'd prefer a Peraves E-MonoRacer ( https://www.peravescz.com/electric-version/ ).

        Allegedly the slipperiest thing on the road (aerodynamically), but pricey.

        Yes - it's top of my lottery list.

        https://www.peravescz.com/_files/200000217-09cc109cc3/700/6.jpg

        (Apologies for raw urls: I've never figured out the markup formatting in this comment system)

  4. nijam Silver badge

    > ... Milton Keynes. The roundabouts for which the city is famed will be a test of the Triggo's ability...

    They already thwart "serious" cyclists, most of whom avoid the cycle tracks alongside the roads, presumably so they can totter aound roundabouts rather than use the underpasses or bridges provided for their use. (Other idiots are available, of course.)

    1. Lon24 Silver badge

      But beware some cycle infrastructure. Southwark Council recently 'improved' a roundabout on Crystal Palace Parade for cyclists under the Holland scheme. They ignored input from cyclists who would indeed welcome Holland style roundabouts. But instead put in a seperated protected system. So any cyclist turning right, as most do, have to unnecessarily give way six times including getting across two very busy carriageways.

      But if they ignore it (and 100% do) by taking the vehicle route round the roundabout you only have to give way once across a little used lane. Serious cyclists tend to be serious about their safety. Well at least the older ones do or they wouldn't be here.

      The really annoying thing besides the expense is that the rebuilding took months causing chaotic queues and diversions for four wheeled drivers who would naturally curse cyclists who just zoom past and then never use it.

      Maybe Milton Keynes is a better place ...

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Local to me is a new mile of cycle way. If they put it on one side of the road it had two road junctions and a few drop kerbs, on the other it would have 16 give-way junctions, drop kerbs every ten yards and be shared with pedestrians ... let's think where it was installed ...? Surprisingly enough, most cyclists use the road ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          There's a housing estate near me that was built 10 years ago or so. It's got lots of cycle paths but they *all* continually swap from one side of a road to the other, and force cyclists to stop and give way at junctions.

          When visiting there, I *always* cycle on the road because it takes a quarter of the time, and it's also safer because none of the locals indicate at the junctions, meaning that it's impossible to know whether it's safe to cross a road at a T-junction.

          As far as I can tell, a lot of cycle infrastructure is designed by planners who never travel by any means except driving.

          1. Yet Another Hierachial Anonynmous Coward

            Cycle infrastructure

            As far as I can tell, a lot of cycle infrastructure is designed by planners who never travel by any means except driving."

            I think you give them rather too much credit for being able to drive.

            Near me, there is a steep hill which used to be a main road with a crawler lane. 20 odd years ago, the bypass opened and the road got down graded. The crawler lane got cordoned off and became a cycle lane. Except it only went half way up the hill, then cross sides over a new traffic island/bollard thing in the middle of the road. The "three" lanes of the road, were routed around the island to act as a slalom to slow traffic down, and the new uphill cycle lane thus got split across the two sides of the road.

            Don't think I've ever seen a cyclist using it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Cycle infrastructure

              You make the mistake of assuming 'cycle lanes' on roads have anything to do with cycling, at least according to a chap in a planning department I spoke to a few years back. If you wanted to reduce traffic speeds it was easier to get permission to add a cycle lane than any other option, and had the added bonus of counting towards your cycle lane target. Whether it was useful to cyclists, or made life more dangerous for them, wasn't even a consideration. Your example seems to fit that pattern.

          2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

            re: As far as I can tell, a lot of cycle infrastructure is designed by planners...

            Nah...

            It should be

            As far as I can tell, a lot of infrastructure is designed by planners who come from a galaxy far, far away.

            There fixed it for you

      2. Emir Al Weeq

        Limehouse

        I don't know if it's still like it but there is/was a one-way system in Limehouse, East London (Horseferry Road & The Narrow) where cars went clockwise but the cycle lane (just painted, not separate) went anticlockwise and, IIRC, on the right hand side.

        Cue lots of drivers pulling out in front of cyclists coming the "wrong" way.

    2. grumpyoldeyore
      Black Helicopters

      Avoiding the cycle tracks

      The Warrington Cycle Campaign has a "Facility of the Month" page. Here from April 2018 is a facility in Cambrigeshire with a bypass for the cycle track...

      http://wcc.crankfoot.xyz/facility-of-the-month/April2018.htm

      (Apologies - not HTTPS)

      Is that the sound of the air ambulance I hear? ---->

  5. Fazal Majid

    There are actual products you can buy today

    Like the Renault Twizy, the Smart EVs, the Citroën Ami electric.

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    The concept of electric car sharing service was tried in Paris. Its name was AutoLib'

    It was an economic failure. Now most of the cars are rusting in a field near Romorantin. Very ecological indeed....

    Is there a market for this kind of things? It has still to be proven.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      @Potemkine!

      My immediate feeling on seeing these, is they are designed to capture startup grants and VC money, successful uptake would be an unlikely bonus.

      Economically and ecologically, better forms of mass transport make more sense than this rubbish. Electric or fuel cell hail and ride mini buses, for example.

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Oh really?

      The concept of electric car sharing service was tried in Paris.

      Amsterdam, 1974

  7. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Are they serious?

    12 grand for a town car that is useless for anything but the shopping? I can go shopping on my pushbike.

    Fuel from air is a known and functional technology, in place in the UK (http://www.westbeaconfarm.co.uk/fuelsfromairltd/index.html) on a very small scale and functional in the US and Canada on a larger scale.

    The fuel is created by taking CO2 from the air, water, a catalyst and a stack of renewable energy (solar / wind in west beacons case, solar for the USA plants). Thus it is carbon neutral. It can be used to power your current car or motorbike.

    Why the hell are governments wasting so much time and effort on electric cars which will take 50 or more years to be half as good as a petrol car? Wasting money on immature technology that might work but would require billions of tons of scrap being reprocessed and millions of charging points installed. Electric planes are a joke - Rolls Royce spending millions on an electric plane that will fly 2 people 100 miles is not exactly creating a new 747 is it? And as for the battery packs for the mega container ship from China - its unbelievable anyone could be so stupid!

    Fuel from air would provide ALL our existing transport mechanisms with CO2 neutral fuel RIGHT NOW with NO NEW advances needed.

    There is only a couple of reasons the government is acting like it is - (a) the civil servants see a nice little earner and a new empire for themselves, (b) the new 'road tax' system is going to require them to track us using the road - so they will track every where we go the whole time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Are they serious?

      Quote: "Why the hell are governments wasting so much time and effort on electric cars which will take 50 or more years to be half as good as a petrol car?"

      What are you talking about? 50 years to do what? This isn't nuclear fission here.

      EVs are already arguably and measurably better than a petrol car in almost all use cases. The only real remaining issues are cost, and making sure they are recycled/reused properly (especially the batteries). Decent range and charging times, which have been a real issue, and still are for most current EVs on the road, are now basically solved with very rapid charging (350kW+ is now available) and longer range (some EVs launching later this year are now hitting 500+ miles, which is better than many petrol cars), they just need to be rolled out.

      Fuel from air also isn't a solution, it uses large amounts of power (far more than an equivalent EV, so puts even more strain of the power grid), and uses water, so not too useful in some regions. And this still doesn't stop pollution by the vehicles themselves, as they still need to burn the fuel, irrespective of where it came from.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Are they serious?

        "Decent range and charging times, which have been a real issue, and still are for most current EVs on the road, are now basically solved with very rapid charging (350kW+ is now available) and longer range (some EVs launching later this year are now hitting 500+ miles, which is better than many petrol cars), they just need to be rolled out."

        Please remind me what 'Very rapid charging' does to a battery !!!???

        I am sure it can only be used very sparingly unless you want your battery life to drastically drop.

        Most people cannot live with the range limits and charging times (proper charging) if they have to travel regularly up/down the country. Also the extended range is only available on small/smaller EVs which is also a problem if you are required to carry people/things in your vehicle.

        Conceptually, EV is a nice idea BUT the technology is still not there, or the infrastructure, or the buyin by the public, or the facilities to recycle all the batteries.

        In a nutshell, oversold as a solution and still under-delivering as a reality !!!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Are they serious?

          Sorry but what?

          Quote: Please remind me what 'Very rapid charging' does to a battery !!!???

          Very little if designed correctly, which they are. Modern EVs have many many small cells, so the charge rate per cell is relatively low, add to that active cell cooling, which all advanced EVs with rapid charging have. Rapid charging is generally only available between 20% and 80% charge levels, dropping to a more sedate charge rate once above 80% to avoid over charging issues. (Specific % differ per design).

          Quote: Most people cannot live with the range limits and charging times (proper charging) if they have to travel regularly up/down the country.

          That's not most people then is it?

          The average mileage in the US is around 14,000 miles a year, and dropping, (even less in the UK at under 8,000 miles per year now). That's well under 300 miles per week, or under 40miles per day.

          Many smaller EVs available now are over 200 mile range, so an average US driver would only need to charge their EV once or twice a week. Obviously if they got a long range EV, this would reduce further.

          The people who do high mileage trips, are the exception, not the rule, and the EV manufactures, just like any other business, will always cater for the average users first, the outliers will have to wait a while longer.

          Quote Also the extended range is only available on small/smaller EVs which is also a problem if you are required to carry people/things in your vehicle.

          What! Smaller EVs are generally city cars, so tend to have smaller and cheaper batteries. The long range EVs tend to be large saloons or SUV types, and there are a whole range of pickup type trucks coming out. Their larger bodies allow for much bigger batteries than you'd even fit in a small, or even medium sized EV.

          Quote: Conceptually, EV is a nice idea BUT the technology is still not there, or the infrastructure, or the buyin by the public, or the facilities to recycle all the batteries.

          1. Tech: The tech is there, it's just some of it is only in the top end, or just launched, EVs, so needs to trickle down a bit more (and drop in price).

          2. Infrastructure: I agree to an extent, but it is coming, and that roll out is getting faster every year.

          3. Buy in: Don't agree here, at least not in my neck of the woods.

          4. Recycling of batteries: Agree here, although this is coming. Every design I've seen recently for new battery factories (and there seems to be a lot going up over the next few years around the world) has included a recycling plant on site as an integrated part of the factory itself, so the recovered materials go directly back into producing the next batch.

          Overall I'd say tech wise, we are far enough along for EVs to be viable mainstream. But it will take a few years to build the recycling up, and the infrastructure etc.

          1. unimaginative

            Re: Are they serious?

            Long trips are the exception, but people who do long trips are not.

            We are a low mileage familly, and usually do well under 200 miles a week, but once in a awhile we will do a long day trip or go away for the weekend and need to do a few hundred miles in a day.

            The (mean) average may be low but the variance is high. Most people may mostly do short trips, but they need the range because otherwise they cannot do long trips at all. There are solutions (rental, running two cars) but they all have drawbacks.

            1. Jonathon Green

              Re: Are they serious?

              Or you could simply accept the need for an extra coffee stop or so and get on with it.

              I’ve been running a Nissan Leaf for five years now, regularly doing 400+ mile round trips in a day and even with current mass market vehicle ranges and rapid charging infrastructure provision it’s no more than a minor inconvenience adding about 30 minutes or so to each leg…

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Are they serious?

              That would be where you use the rapid chargers then isn't it? That's what they are there for. Long trips where you need to put more miles in.

              I regularly do a 2 hour drive, but 3 or more and I'd likely want a break, even if it's just to stretch my legs a little.

              And okay, some areas are still not well served by enough rapid chargers yet, so if that's feasible depends on your use case and location. But this is getting better all the time.

          2. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

            Re: Are they serious?

            For buy in read able to afford the capital cost.

  8. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Triggo

    No talk of the range for the vehicles

    Plenty of talk about 'platooning' (playing follow my leader one behind the other with a driven vehicle at the front), yes this is possible - the Ensemble EU funded project is doing that but it is non trivial and requires more sensors and communications than are visible on the pretty pictures

    Plenty of talk about robotaxis and autonomy... maybe in 30 or 40 years.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: Plenty of talk about robotaxis and autonomy

      30 or 40 years?

      Not true... Well, it isn't is you are a disciple of Elon 'the new messiah' Musk.

      There are an awful lot of politicians to be persuaded/bought off in order to make this happen this decade.

      Money makes the wheels go round.

  9. Dave 15 Silver badge

    At least the bubble car has a range quote

    So max with the twin battery option on a good day is 200km, on a winter 160km (about 100 miles, enough for most peoples commute), but with a max speed of 90km (55mph) it isnt suitable for dual carriageway etc. and heaven knows what the range is at full speed.

    It is very reminiscent of the old BMW Isetta bubble car which also came with 2 wheels at the back and a door opening the same. It is a Swiss company not a German one so it claims. Cant see a price and the configurator isnt ready ... odd really if its to be launched this year they dont know what options there will be.

  10. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    owowowow much ggggranville?

    Come back when I can buy one secondhand for four hundred quid.

    ""The idea," a spokesperson told us, "is you basically pay for them by the kilometre.""

    I already do that with my petrol car. I pay for 200km of petrol to go 200km, I pay for 100km of petrol to go 100km.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Indeed. I don't think I've ever paid significantly more than €12,000 for a car - and the last couple I bought new.

      Clearly for some people they'd be useful for short-distance commuting or shopping, but generally I'd cycle or get the bus (well, pre-pandemic: let's assume it won't last forever).

      I tend to use my car for somewhat longer journeys where public transport isn't an option and for bulky shopping. Don't think either of these would be too useful on a 100-mile round trip on the motorway or on an expedition to Ikea.

      Finding a niche that will meet the needs of sufficient people without their needing a second vehicle is going to be quite tough, I suspect.

      Having said that, I don't need a car every day and I'd happily rent a vehicle that was appropriate for my needs on that specific day, but I suspect the logistics of availability mean that's unlikely ever to be particularly convenient without planning your life weeks ahead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well 27.5 million households in the UK have 2 or more cars, and it's a fair bet that most of them are not doing daily 100 mile motorway round trips, although I can't rule out the possibility that they are all visiting Ikea daily (looking at you Ikea Croydon, day after lockdown ended).

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Well 27.5 million households in the UK have 2 or more cars, and it's a fair bet that most of them are not doing daily 100 mile motorway round trips..."

          I am the exception and having an EV forced upon me does nothing to improve the journey or time involved, BUT now I will need to manage the time needed to recharge the car into the journey and any other journeys I make as part of my job.

          I do not see any work taking place to provide the infrastructure needed and still cannot work out how all these EVs are going to be able to 'charge up' at the charging stations during the day. !!!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Quote: "and still cannot work out how all these EVs are going to be able to 'charge up' at the charging stations during the day. !!!"

            Why 'all'?

            Many EV drivers will charge at home, others at their place of work. Early adopters especially , as these will often be people who have access to off road parking, and will fit a charge point on their driveway/in their garage etc.

            The charging stations are going to get used either by people who have no off street parking at home and no chargers at their work place, or for the occasional long trip, where you need a top up.

            Granted they'll probably be a few % of people who might do more that the max rage of their EVs on a regular basis, so they'll be there more often than other people. But they aren't going to be the average users.

            1. LybsterRoy Bronze badge

              "no off street parking at home "

              You quote that as though its the minority. Have you ever driven / walked around a normal town or watched TV showing normal housing? Over the years I've lived in quite a few different places pretty much covering south coast (Brighton) to the Highlands and I struggle (and give up) to think of anywhere where the majority is off street parking.

              Even assuming that everyone could charge overnight the wind turbines might not be able to keep up, especially on low or high wind days.

              Don't forget to add in the extra cost of a fast charging point for your house unless you want to wait 12 hours for the car to be ready for that long trip.

              Oh and add a few extra minutes into your estimate of trip time just in case there's someone(s) ahead of you at the public charging point.

              I love the current TV ad - add 62 miles in just 5 minutes. I can add 600 miles to my car in less time than that.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Quote: "You quote that as though its the minority."

                It is, back in 2010 a gov UK survey showed:

                40% of dwellings had use of a garage, 26% had other off street parking, 32% relied on street parking, and 2% of homes had no parking provision whatsoever.

                So 34% of UK houses don't have their own parking. This is likely to be slightly less now than in 2010, as most new housing tends to come with at least one parking space or drive.

        2. Warm Braw Silver badge

          27.5 million households in the UK have 2 or more cars

          That's an unlikely statistic, not least because there are only 27.8M households in the whole of the UK and only 32,697,408 cars. Recent government estimates put the number of households having more than one car at around 35%.

          And it's not even the point. If these households need two cars simultaneously and they only sometimes need to do a motorway trip or pick up a wardrobe, they're going to keep at least one more traditional vehicle and continue to use it for those short trips as well - unless they go from being a two car to a three car household.

          If you want to displace vehicles, it's harder to do by offering an alternative that doesn't meet all the use cases. And it may be that the use cases for which it is appropriate might actually be better met by other options - like cycling or public transport.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            I think we are probably fairly typical - two cars (if you ignore the old Land Rover waiting for me to save up for a new chassis for it), both of which spend most of the time doing short journeys. In fact Mrs AC tends to do a lot of very short (mile or less) journeys for work. So for most of our usage, electric would be ideal (we have our own off-street parking so charging isn't an issue) - but we'd still need the bigger car with a longer range often enough that simply swapping out both for electric isn't on the cards (even if we could afford it).

            At the moment, public charging points only work because there aren't that many electric vehicles. There's a limit to the number of chargers that can be put on one site due to the power flows needed, and I can see a day when queues start forming at them. Just think, none of this "pull up, plug in, leave it while you go for a meal" - if you do that, then you car will be charged, and there'll be an angry mob waiting to use the charger when you get back. Either that, or it won't be charged because there's lots of chargers - which have all slowed down to limit the demand from the electricity supply.

            But at the moment it's academic as we can't afford cars new enough to be electric :-(

            1. keith_w Bronze badge

              In Edmonton, Alberta, many people park on the street year round. The winters there are quite harsh, with periods well below 0c/32f, so they run an extension cord from their home to the car to power the engine block heater over night. There is no reason that same electric cord cannot be used to slow charge a battery.

              1. Potty Professor
                Thumb Down

                Obstructing the Footpath

                "There is no reason that same electric cord cannot be used to slow charge a battery."

                Actually, there is. A relative of mine was rebuilding his classic car, so it was ensconced on his driveway. He parked his (petrol) daily driver outside against the kerb, and ran an extension lead across the footpath to top up the battery overnight. One night, someone tripped over the cable in the dark, and sued him for personal injury, because he was "Obstructing the Footpath". Cost him dearly, and the Council issued him with a Stop Order.

  11. HildyJ Silver badge
    Happy

    Changli

    Microcars are old news in China. A Jalopnik writer ordered a Changli Freeman for $1200 (new, shipping extra, from Alibaba). He's had it for a year and his review can be found on https://jalopnik.com/the-changli-at-one-how-the-cheapest-new-car-in-the-wor-1847176033

    It all depends on what you need. And what you're willing to put up with or pay for.

  12. worldtraveller2

    Oh No, Not the dreaded bubble car again

    One of my mates had one of these in the late 60's and was locally renown for trying to stop too quickly on a wet morning and "blowing" head over heels down the road! Brings a totally new meaning to bubble car! Both survived, but the bubble was slightly less bubble shaped. Do you remember this John S?

    1. Potty Professor
      Facepalm

      Re: Oh No, Not the dreaded bubble car again

      I had one of these when I was an apprentice. We had another apprentice staying with us, and he used to ride with me to the Trade School. One morning, still dark, we were trundling along through Romford, when there was a sudden stop. I braked hard, and my sleeping mate slid forward off the seat, woke up, made a grab for a non-existant steering wheel and banged his work boot on the inside of the front door, trying to find a similarly non-existant brake pedal. The bulge in the front door was still there when I sold the car several years later. On another morning, there was a traffic hold-up, and when we eventually reached the scene, there was another bubble car lying upside-down in the middle of the road, he had obviously tried to turn into the garage forecourt, but was going too fast and tipped it on its roof.

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