Tag Archives: Electric Cars

Gadget Man – Episode 110 – Electric Vehicle Charge Points in the home

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.

Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP as Secretary of State for Transport
Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP as Secretary of State for Transport. Image Credit: HM Government.

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”.

Tesla Destination Charger, Adelphi Distillery
Tesla Destination Charger, Adelphi Distillery – Image Credit: Matt Porter

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.

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 59 – Audi A3 etron sports hybrid

This week we stay with hybrid cars, but this time we look at the Audi A3 etron. First things first, this car looks spectacular! I have never seen such a bright red in my entire life and the big alloy wheels enhance the look even more. It’s certainly a head turner.

The A3 etron comes with a 1.4 litre turbo charged engine outputting 150 bhp, however yet again it sits alongside an electric motor which when combined in ‘Sports Mode’ increases the performance to just of 200 bhp and will get you to 60 is 7.6 seconds. When you are feeling less ‘eager’ to get around town, you can elect for pure electric which is the default mode at start up or 3 forms of hybrid mode, normal, battery save and battery charge.

The battery can be charged from a very cleverly hidden port on the front grill and on electric alone will take you around 30 miles per charge. You aren’t going to want to be taking long journeys on electric alone as the car is designed for hybrid use, it’s probably better to let it decide which forms of power it uses as it will drop to electric in slow traffic and moderate speed.

If you are feeling excitable, then pulling the gear stick backwards enables Sports Mode, the gear information changes from D1,D2,D3 etc on the dashboard to S1,S2,S3 to indicate sports use. Be very careful in this mode at it transforms the car to very high performance. The car is however very good at governing acceleration I I didn’t notice any wheel spin in sport mode, although we did notice some in pure electric (this is possibly down to the higher torque of the electric motor).

A full review of the A3 etron will be coming soon, in the meantime grab a listen to the attached audio from Mondays show.

 

The Gadget Man – Episode 30 – Gadget Review of the Year 2014

It’s been a great year reviewing such a wide range of gadgets from smart watches to high end sports cars. It’s been quite a ride, I’ve really enjoyed the whole experience, so thank you to all involved from BBC Radio Suffolk to the PR agencies and companies that have been so generous allowing me to try out all the wonderful tech!

This morning I spoke to Mark Murphy about my favourite gadgets of the year and the Gadget which won the gadget of the Year.

Smart Watches

We have a lot of fun reviewing some smart wear. We reviewed the Samsung Gear 2, Sony Smartwatch 2 and Sony Smartband. My favourite was the Gear 2, purely for James Bond features. However we have been asking to review other watches, but none have been sent out. Let’s hope this improves next year.

Samsung Galaxy Gear 2  – Wearable of the Year 2014
Sony Smartwatch 2
Sony Smartband

Smart Phones and Tablets

We were never short of phones and tablets which is not surprising given the size of the marketplace. HTC, Samsung, LG, Asus, Nokia and Motorola all supplied us with review units.  HTC phones exhibited the best built quality and screen sharpness. LG had the best screen of the two Quad HD displays (the other being the Galaxy Note 4). Motorola was the best value for money with it’s Moto G.

Overall, our favourite handset started and remained the Nokia Lumia 1520. A six inch incredibly vibrant screen, superb battery life and exquisite  camera. Although very large, it was by far the nicest of the all the handsets we reviewed

We also reviewed three tables, the Samungs Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2, the Nokia Lumia 2520 and the Asus Transformer. The Tab Pro 12.2 was our favourite with massive 12.2 inch screen with better than HD quality, the Nokia 2520 with Windows 8.1RT on board was close behind.

HTC One M8
HTC One Mini 2
Nokia Lumia 1520 – Smart Device of the Year 2014
Sony Xperia Z2
Moto G
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 12.2
Nokia Lumia 2520 Tablet
Nokia Lumia 630
Asus Zenfone 6
Asus Transformer
LG G3
Asus Zenfone 5
Samsung Galaxy S5
Samsung Galaxy Alpha
Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Cameras

We reviewed a number of cameras this year, as expected the GoPro models come ahead of most others for their durability and quality of movies and photos. The Samsung Galaxy Camera 2 was excellent and was a fully functional Android device to boot. The Sony Actioncam was good, but kept fogging up which spoilt most of it’s footage. The Autographer was…. weird.

GoPro Hero 3+ Black Edition – Camera of the Year 2014
Samsung Galaxy Camera 2
Sony Actioncam
Autographer
BT Homecam
GoPro Hero
Selfie Stick

Electric Bikes

I loved reviewing the electric bikes this year. I started out with the mindset that electric bikes would be a welcome relief from simply reviewing mobile phones for a year, but I ended up extending my ‘E’ vehicle reviews to cars. It was thoroughly interesting and liberating to get out in the Suffolk countryside and off the beaten track to test out these bikes. The Sparta is not really designed for off-road, but was capable and fast used for travelling to work. The Smart Ebike was fabulous and I loved every minute of using it, especially off-road.  The Batribike was excellent in every area, I only marked if down for off-road use, but this was a little unfair as it had road tyres.

Sparta Ion/RX+ 
Smart Ebike – Ebike of the Year 2014 – Joint Winner
Batribike Granite Pro – Ebike of the Year 2014 – Joint Winner

Electric Cars

This was an amazing experience from the beginning. The Renault Twizy was small and exciting to drive, but really only designed to replace moped type use. The Renault Zoe was an excellent car, out of all, this was the one car which could truly offer and alternative to fossil fuelled cars both in size and price. The BMW i3 was interesting and very fast. Design wise it hardly resembled an standard BMW but it was high spec and beautiful to drive. The BMW i8 was outstanding to look at and drive. It was like sitting in Red 5 at the end of Star Wars Episode IV, and the most exhilarating drive so far (electric car wise). I didn’t get to test the Tesla Model S this year, but in a week or so, I am looking forward to reviewing it.

I also got to experience 3 AMG ‘normally’ aspirated vehicles. I say normal, there was nothing normal about these vehicles. I experienced the G63 (G Wagon), the S63 and the C63 Edition 507. The C63 was simply mind shattering. When a manufacturer electronically limits to the top speed to 171mph, you know something is afoot.

Renault Twizy
Renault Zoe
BMW i3
BMW i8 – Car of the Year 2014

The Rest

I got to test out other gadgets and gizmos, ranging from domestic gadgets to toys and drones. The drones were fun, but in some cases difficult to control. The Ankidrive was fun and the Samsung Smart TV with Soundbar was very cool indeed. However, by far the best gadget we tried out was the iRobot Roomba 880. This is a fantastic vacuum cleaner and has remained in use at least three times a day since July this year. It does a brilliant job of vacuuming up just about any type of debris on any surface. It was fantastic!!

iRobot Roomba 880 – Winner
Samsung Smart TV and Soundbar
Ankidrive
Parrot AR.Drone 2.0
Parrot Jumping Sumo

Overall Gadget of the Year 2014

The Gadget Man - Gadget of the Year 2014 - iRobot Roomba 880
The Gadget Man – Gadget of the Year 2014 – iRobot Roomba 880

We’ve certainly tried and tested many gadgets this year. Some were disappointments, some were surprising successes. But at the end of the year, you simply have to hand the Gadget of the Year award to a recipient that deserves it for providing above and beyond expectation. With this in mind, we simply have to award the Gadget of  the Year Award 2014 to iRobot Roomba 880. It’s a fantastic piece of equipment which has genuinely helped us around the house.