So what has been happening in the Electric Car market over the past couple of years?
Well, since my slew of Electric and Hybrid car reviews a couple of years back and our mega-exciting East-West Road Trip in the Tesla Model S 100D, we’ve been quiet on that front. The absolute opposite of what has been happening in the EV marketplace.
I spoke to Graham on BBC Radio Suffolk about what’s happening with regard to charge points and speed of charging, you can listen in to the audio stream above to find out more.
However, something super-exciting is happening in motorsport. Now that Formula-E fully electric car racing has established itself, it’s now time to turn up the power even more and with a new sport created by the father of Formula-E.
Extreme E – A radical new racing series.
Extreme E is a radical new racing series, which will see electric SUVs competing in extreme environments around the world which have already been damaged or affected by climate and environmental issues. The five-race global voyage highlights the impact of climate change and human interference in some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems and promotes the adoption of electric vehicles to help preserve the environment and protect the planet.
Extreme E is operated in association with Formula E – the organiser of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. Extreme E is committed to sustainability and minimising environmental impact – as well as playing its part in rebuilding and restoring areas already impacted by climate change
A new breed of racing means a new breed of the motorcar.
The car, named ODYSSEY 21, will feature in Extreme E’s radical new racing series which will highlight the impact of climate change on some of the world’s most fragile ecosystems, and promote the adoption of electric vehicles to help preserve the environment and protect the planet.
So, that’s just one thing that’s happening in the electric car market.
All intelligent science is informing us that it is now past the time to start thinking about our planet and how we should be treating it before we reach its tipping point, the time when we can no longer begin to undo the damage that the human race has inflicted upon it.
Our oceans are strewn with millions of tons of plastic, so it is good to read that the big car manufacturers are stepping up to the plate and looking for alternative materials and techniques which avoid the continues use of non-biodegradable plastics which have been the go-to material for decades!.
In this podcast, I chat to James Hazell from BBC Radio Suffolk about bio-plastics and their growing use in the manufacture of car interiors.
It’s interesting listening, so don’t forget to tune in and Like, Subscribe and Comment.
How many of us own and drive a vehicle with a keyless entry system? Well, it appears that many thousands of us that do have woken up this morning to a very worrying report from the General German Automobile Club (ADAC),
In order to unlock your keyless entry vehicle, you simply need to carry your key-fob. As you approach the vehicle, it recognises the encrypted signal transmitted from the fob. This, in turn, instructs the vehicles central-locking system to unlock the doors when you either touch the door handle or press the button on the door-handle. There is no requirement to insert the key into the ignition as the car is fitted with a start/stop button. If you own a car with both keyless entry and start/stop system, you aren’t alone, they are now widely used in hundreds of models or cars and in some cases motorbikes.
Now for the bad news. A recent study by the General German Automobile Club (ADAC) has discovered that the technology is far from secure in all but THREE cases and in fact the method of stealing a keyless vehicle is extremely simple.
In order to steal a keyless vehicle, a thief simply employs a rudimentary transceiver which takes the relatively weak signal transmitted and received from the fob to the car and amplifies it, it is then possible for the signal to reach from the fob to the car and hey presto, the car is unlocked and can (in most cases) be started.
Once the car is running, the need for a key is obsoleted and the car can now be driven until it is depleted of fuel. In most cases, the cars are taken abroad and the retrofitted with standard locking and start systems. As long as the car does not stall, it will run for as long as the fuel tank will take it.
NO AMOUNT of hacking or decryption is needed, it is reliant solely on the amplification of the already transmitted signal!
Arnulf Thiemel, car-technician at the ADAC, said “The ADAC demands that vehicles be protected against any kind of manipulation and illegal access. For the affected vehicles, there must be solutions put in place to improve the security. All new vehicles should also be equipped with a methodologically that ensures secure safety solutions which also withstands neutral side checks”
Which cars and manufacturers were affected?
Unfortunately, it would appear that EVERY manufacturer tested has at least one model which could be stolen using the method above.
The following vehicles could NOT be opened or started using this method.
Jaguar i-Pace (2018) Land Rover Discovery (2018) Land Rover Range Rover (2018)
The vehicles above are currently immune from this method of attack. This is because they employ a variation of the keyless system by broadcasting using ultra-wideband frequencies. Basically, the equipment used to amplify the signal is ‘currently’ unable transmit or receive at the radio frequencies used in these models of cars.
Jaguar-Land Rover filed the patent for this method of keyless access in 2017. We can now only hope that they freely license these patents to other car makers or a comparable technology can be developed.
All too often our deep-rooted human needs to be ‘waited upon’ result in solutions which in the first instance appear to solve a problem that really didn’t exist, but in real-world use turn out to have a sting in the tail. In the case of the study by ADAC, it would appear that there are very urgent questions to answer and drivers should be aware of the security issues surrounding their vehicles.
Prior to speaking to BBC Radio Suffolk, many listeners talked about using Faraday Cases or Bags to house their keys. The theory behind this was to block the signal completely whilst the car isn’t in use (ie. whilst the keys were stored in the home or place of work).
I personally believe that keeping the keys away from the car or placing them in a container which COMPLETELY blocks radio signals is the only way to avoid the potential theft of vehicles using this method. However, radio signals can travel through types of metal, so be ABSOLUTELY confident that anything you purchase to secure your fobs, does indeed work as described.
Immediate Steps to Take
If you are concerned about the security of your keyless car fob, contact your car’s manufacturer as soon as possible and ask them what steps they have taken to secure your car? Ask them if there are software updates to improve security? Ask them if these systems can be deactivated until such time as they can be completely secure?
This morning I spoke to Mark Murphy on BBC Radio Suffolk about the use of Faraday Cage technology to try and reduce the chances of Keyless entry cars being stolen. Listen in to the stream above. If you like what you hear or read, don’t forget to LIKE, SHARE and SUBSCRIBE. See you next time!
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced proposals to change building regulations to encourage the mandatory installation of electric vehicle charge points in new homes and offices. New street lighting columns which service on-street parking will also have charging points in appropriate locations.
Along with these changes, the government has also promised more money to fund the charging infrastructure.
Mr Grayling said the proposed measures would mean the UK having “one of the most comprehensive support packages for zero-emission vehicles in the world”.
“The prize is not just a cleaner and healthier environment but a UK economy fit for the future and the chance to win a substantial slice of a market estimated to be worth up to £7.6 trillion by 2050”.
I’ve tested 14 different electric and hybrid cars and I’m obviously sold on the idea of alternative fuel cars. Having travelled from Ness Point to Ardnamurchan in Scotland in a Tesla Model S 100 D and found the charge network was already in place, but improvements and investment from the Government would be very useful. With mass production of electric cars and more importantly lithium-ion batteries, the costs should come down in line with petrol and diesel powered cars. We should also look forward to electric powered lorries in the near future too. Exciting times indeed!
This morning, I spoke to Mark Murphy at BBC Radio Suffolk about the proposals. To listen to what I had to say, click on the stream above.
What do you think about electric cars, do you think they will be mainstream in your lifetime? Let me know in the comments below.
So, 10 days have now passed now since Elon Musk’s SpaceX sent his Tesla Roadster on it’s way to Mars (via the Asteroid Belt). Aside from the obvious enormous publicity stunt that inevitably comes with sending your prized electric sports-car into the vacuum of outer-space, what was the real benefit of one of luanching one the world’s largest rockets into space and returning it to Earth (ably assisted by the timeless voice of rock legend David Bowie)?
Although extremely successful, SpaceX MUST continue to prove that their rockets are both reliable and REALLY cost effective to launch. In order to do this they are ramping up launches from the Falcon 9 to the Falcon Heavy on the journey to the launch of the BFR which will (when completed), be the largest and most powerful rocket ever launched from our planet.
The Falcon Heavy is currently capable of carrying 64 metric tons which positions SpaceX as the obvious choice for resupply of the ISS and eventually transporting astronauts to the station. Falcon Heavy launches are in space terms ‘cheap’ at about $90 million per launch compared to the eye watering $500 million that the new NASA rockets are projected to cost!
The new BFR will be able to carry evening heavier payloads of up to 150 metric tons, a seriously large amount! Enough indeed to be able to partake in interplanetary missions to The Moon and Mars.
So, why launch Musk’s prized Tesla Roadster into space at all? Again this is all about delivering a service to NASA and proving the rockets capabilities in the long term. SpaceX HAD to take a large payload as part of this test flight, so rather than packing the bay with concrete blocks, they chose his Electric Sports Car as it added (as it turns out) a massive amount of theatre to the mission, not only were SpaceX launching three rockets and returning all of the main launch rockets back to earth (with some stunning images of the two boosters landing together at Cape Canaveral), but also successfully unloading a $100,000 Electric Vehicle into orbit and then on to Mars (via the Asteroid Belt).
So after the theatre of the 6th February, Starman continues on his journey strapped into the Tesla Roadster, his armed resting on the window ledge, relaxing as he begins his Billion year journey through outer space. Currently (as of writing this), he is 1,817,804 miles from Earth with an mere 139,926,200 miles to go before he reaches Mars, travelling at a speed of 43,400 mph, way beyond Tesla’s service range! (http://www.whereisroadster.com/)
I am now sure that we really might see man set foot again on the Moon and then continue on to Mars in the next 10 years. Something that I personally can’t wait to see.
Images: SpaceX, Wikipedia
Music: David Bowie, Life on Mars.
In the lead up to the East West Road Trip in October I was looking for a smartphone to enable me to document the trip both with photographs and video and was particularly keen to live stream the video where possible.
Initially I was looking to live-stream the trip using a 360° camera, unfortunately this didn’t come off and I was faced with a last-minute race to find an alternative literally 2 days before we were departing!
Fortunately, I was offered the Sony Xperia XZ1 phone with 30gb of data from EE. This solved by data anxiety problems immediately and having used Sony Xperia devices in the past, I was confident they would step up to the plate with image and video quality.
Sony are an extremely well-established tech companies, in fact for many years they were ‘the’ tech company of choice and it’s no secret the mobile phone market is dominated by two other big tech brands, so I was interested to see how the XZ1 would differentiate itself in an ultra-competitive industry.
Out of the box, the Sony XZ1 is a sleek, smooth, black device, with Gorilla Glass 5 front facing glass and deep black aluminium at the back, a departure from the super-sized XZ Premium from earlier in the year which was covered from and rear in glass. With dimensions of 5.83″ x 2.87″ with a thickness of 7.4mm, this is not the most gigantic handset and its smooth edges make it comfortable to hold, although it is very smooth, so hold on tight! Aside from black, the device is also available in Moonlit Blue, Warm Silver and Venus Pink, so plenty of choice.
The phone is preloaded with the Google Android™ O (or Oreo) operating system and Sony have been very sensitive by not trashing the ideals of the OS by avoiding in the addition of their own ‘enhancements’ in the most part.
The phone packs a very bright 5.2″ TRILUMINOS™ display driven by BRAVIA® TV technology given HDR compatible playback X-Reality™ producing 138% of standard display colour spectrum, the companies experience in the display market really comes through. The display is noticeably brighter and colour more natural that other phone displays and playing HDR video from YouTube, Netflix or Amazon Prime is incredible. X-Reality™ intelligently removes noise and from videos produces exquisite results, it really is impressive. Some people would criticise the use of a Full HD screen HDR screen instead of the perceived standard of UHD and above, but I would beg to differ, having tried both UHD and 4K mobile devices, I see no real benefits, even when using VR Goggles.
The beating heart inside of the device is provided by a Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 835 Processor, positioning the phone in the same bracket at the competition. In addition, storage comes as 4GB of RAM and 64 GB of super-fast UFS internal memory with support for an addition of a up to 256GB micro SDXC. It’s pleasing that support for additional memory has been included with the phone, although it’s quite fiddly adding and removing both Sim card and SD cards with the phone, but on the plus side it’s very accessible. It should be noted that around 9.5GB is used up by preinstalled firmware and applications.
The phone is powered by a 2700 mAh battery, featuring Smart Stamina 3.0 and Qnovo Adaptive Charging which prolongs the life of the battery by ensuring it is charged quickly and safely with the addition of Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0. I’ve come across battery charge management in the past with electric cars and particularly the Tesla Model S, this too allows for quick charging, but upon reaching around 80% full, charging speed is tapered off to ensure the lifetime of the battery. Sony does a similar job with the Xperia XZ1 by intelligently noting owners charge habits and adjusting the charge rate of the phone if for instance you are sleeping and don’t begin using your phone until 7.15am. It is also possible to use the phone to charge other devices using an Android OTG adapter, but in fairness mobile phone battery is at such a premium that use of it for anything other than for the phone itself is rare.
With normal use the phone easily provides a days use with something left over at the end and this will be using all of the phones features, even some of the cooler ones which I will talk about later. Charging is provided by a Qualcomm® Quick Charge™ 3.0 charger and USB Type C socket.
Moving on the the front and rear cameras, Sony has yet again infused the phone with their high quality optics and sensors. The rear facing 9MP Motion Eye™ camera with 1/ 2.3” Exmor RS™ with 1.22μm pixel pitch. The lens is a 25 mm wide G Lens F2.0. Sony again use their own BIONZ™ for mobile image-processing engine to give superb results. There’s a ton of features such as Predictive Capture (motion / smile), Autofocus burst, x8 Digital Zoom, HDR Photo, 0.6 sec Quick Launch & Capture, Predictive Hybrid Autofocus, Anti-distortion shutter, Triple image sensing technology, SteadyShot™ with Intelligent Active Mode (5-axis stablisation) and 4K recording at 30fps.
However, the ‘pièce de résistance’ is the inclusion of a 960 fps Super slow motion video capture. This is achieved by the inclusion of addition hardware installed directly into the camera sensor in the form of hyper fast dynamic memory which allows for raw footage to be saved directly into the sensor and then drip feed and standard speed back to the standard hardware. Due to the colossal amount of power required to pulling 960 frames per second, the sensor only actually captures .18 of a second at 720hd, stretching it to around 6 seconds of footage.
This is called Motion Eye technology and personally I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops for the future, because it’s really impressive. As expected, you need bags of light to capture at this speed, so it works best outside in daylight, I also noticed light flicker in my office due to the refresh rate of our lights. Normal lighting does not cause his problem though.
The front facing camera is a saner 13MP 1/ 3.06” Exmor RS™ for mobile image sensor with 22mm wide angle lens at F2.0, again Sony includes it’s proprietary SteadyShot™ 5-axis stablization technology.
There is one simply AMAZING feature included with the XZ1 which is the 3D Capture mode. This uses software developed by Sony, utilising both processor and camera to allow you to 3D scan objects, share them and even have them 3D printed. It takes a little practice and Sony actively limit the modes available to give you time to get used to simple scans until you are ready to scan ‘freehand’. My initial results were ok, but I soon became adept in scanning some great objects, from peoples’ faces, heads, food and any other object I could think of. This is a tipping point in this industry, no longer do you need super expensive scanners and solutions, you can now use your Sony Xperia XZ1 (and now XZ Premium) to scan 3d objects. It truly is incredible.
Sony has chosen to stick with traditional Xperia design, this means that the trend of big screens and no bezels isn’t a feature of this phone, instead the phone packs stereo speakers at top and bottom of the phone which in landscape mode gives supreme stereo sound, making use of the Qualcomm® aptX™ HD audio features, the phone can ‘upscale’ lower quality audio to a near uncompressed sound when streaming across Bluetooth. There are a host of other features such as High-Resolution Audio, DSEE HX™, LDAC, Digital Noise Cancelling, Clear Audio+, S-Force Front Surround, Stereo Recording and Sony’s Virtual Phones technology. The speaker volume has also been increased by 50% over previous models.
Gaming wise, the phone is going to be able to handle pretty much everything thrown at it at the moment due to it’s highest end spec, but also included is PS4 integration using Remote Play. this allows you to connect to your own PS4 remotely and play your installed games, you can even pair a PS4 gamepad if that appeals.
The phone retails at £599 off contract, but at the time of writing there are some pretty appealing deals including some nice add-ons, but in the UK you are still looking above £50 per month for two years and more if you want better data allowance.
Although the XZ1 doesn’t pack the 4K display of the XZ Premium, the screen is quite possibly richer, especially in HDR mode, the sound it great and performance very very quick. In a world where it is perceived we only have two choices, Sony have yet again produced a solid handset capable of sitting amongst the best.
I did end up streaming a fair amount using the Sony Xperia XZ1 during and after the trip and found it to be a very capable device and coupled with an effectively limitless amount of data, it worked well.
On a side note, EE’s 4G network is very impressive and we were able to live stream both through Glencoe and arriving at Ardnamurchan, they pretty much had us covered.
A little over a month has passed since we arrived back from the Scotland and as promised, we have donated the remains of our Gadget Road Trip fund to British Red Cross.
This afternoon, I transferred the remaining balance of £42.32 from our Monzo Card to the British Red Cross charity and thus rendered the account empty.
I was personally extremely upset by the Grenfell Tower disaster earlier this year, which I know also affected Paul. The British Red Cross were on the ground there immediately after it happened and provided much need assistance to the poor families that had lost their loved ones, their homes and everything they owned in a matter of minutes. It is because of this, that I wanted to donate to this charity. Since Grenfell, other disasters have continued to affect the people of our planet and the British Red Cross have continued to provide much needed support for these people who have lost absolutely everything they own and still lack the basics of clean water, electricity and food. If you would like to continue to help them, you can also donate via this link
Thank you so much again to the following people and organisations for their kind donations of funds or services!
XSItems Ltd ACPlus Favorite Fried Chicken Free Reign Internet Coderus Gavin Dadd Patrick Lohan Jackie Robinson Ian Brown Olive Porter Sandra Grilli Callum McGilvery.
We wouldn’t have been able to feed ourselves during the trip and have something soft to sleep on. Thank you again.
Thanks also to Hillcroft Park in Ullswater for allowing us to stay at their lodgings for two nights (They will be featuring in the upcoming sitcom ‘Home from Home’ with Johnny Vegas, so keep an eye out!) and Far View Bed & Breakfast in Kilchoan (I won’t forget little Gracie exclaiming “My wellington boots fell over!!” as I took her and her dad on a little test drive).
I was sitting in my office in Martlesham on the 10th July 2017 chatting to a colleague about Tesla cars. The conversation had started after he noticed the framed artists sketch hanging on my wall.
I have driven a number of Tesla Model S cars in the past from the excitable P85+ to the ‘Insane’ P85D. They are very exciting cars to drive, not just because they are fully electric and pack extremely powerful single gear motors, but because you feel your are riding on the coattails of automotive history, participating in an irreversible shift change in motorvehicle technology. It’s very exciting!
The conversation moved on the the Model X and Model 3, Tesla’s entries in to the SUV and ‘affordable’ markets. The Model X has recently appeared in the UK, the Model 3 is two years away from being available. We continued to chat for the rest of lunch, but the seed was planted.
That evening I wrote an email to Tesla’s press office requesting the loan of a Model X for review. Nothing specific, simply available dates.
The next day I received a reply from Tesla, it’s explained that things were very busy with the Model X, but the 5th and 6th of October was available for a test drive, did that suit? I puzzled for a while, in the past I had been loaned vehicles for a little longer, to give me time to get to know the vehicle, two days seemed a bit short to get a proper review in place. So, I followed up with an email, requesting a little longer.
I quickly received a reply from Tesla asking what my plans were? OK, good question, time to put on my thinking cap.
15 July 2017
My initial idea was driving from Lands End to John O’Groats, but after a little bit of Googling, I discovered that this had already been done in a Tesla and well documented on YouTube, there was nothing original to achieve in travelling down this this ‘road’.
But wait a minute! Was there? I live about 40 minutes from Ness Point, the most easterly point in the UK. Nestled in Lowestoft, Ness Point at first glance seemed a little unloved. Some thought and effort has been made to build a stone circle, with plaques showing distances to well known points in the UK. It’s quite nice, but the surroundings aren’t that impressive, but it seemed like the obvious starting point for a challenge and wasn’t too far from home.
Now to find the most westerly point of the UK.
Ardnamurchan Lighthouse sits on the most westerly mainland point of the UK accessible by a short ferry ride at Corran and a two hour drive along single track roads across an extinct volcano. There even appeared to be a ‘rapid’ charge point a few miles away at Kichoan Pier, which would set a challenge outside of Tesla’s ‘Supercharger’ network.
The plan was hatched, but it was just the beginning.
As I continue to ride the wave of euphoria of completing the 1200 mile east to west Gadget Road Trip with my lifelong friend Andy. Today I joined BBC Radio Suffolk’s Sarah Lilley on the Sofa in Ipswich and explained how the challenge came about and how it felt to drive 1200 miles in an Electric Car and why I love Gadgets!
I also talked about how I met Vanessa, how I listen to music and an ill fated trip to Tunisia in 1996.
Listen in to the stream, bookmark the site, we have a LOAD of reviews coming up over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!
Artificial Intelligence, Technology, News and Gadget Reviews on air, online, in print and in person