• Jan 12th 2011 at 11:57AM
  • 41
BBC's Brian Milligan pondering how to plug in a Mini E

When most people take issue with the quality of media coverage of a certain issue – for instance, the adequacy of electric cars to travel from London to Edinburgh, depending only on a nascent public charging infrastructure to juice up – they might take the time to shoot off a quick email of indignation to the offending outlet. Or in the case of Robert Llewellyn, write a wonderful refutation of the effort on their blogsite. Then there's David Peilow, a Tesla superfan who knows a thing or two about long distance trips in an EV. He has chosen confrontation.

Ok, let's back up for a second. The BBC's Brian Milligan decided to make the aforementioned 484 mile (779 km) trip in a Mini E to see if, despite recent advances in battery technology, electric cars are still only good for making trips to the supermarket. One doesn't actually need to make the trip to imagine the result. The Mini E has a sub-100 mile range and charging the batteries on a 13 amp outlet will take a serious amount of time. If that's not a dubious enough challenge, consider there are not even charging stations available to use along the last stretch of the proposed journey. This is, perhaps not by coincidence, slightly longer than the converted BMW's range in cold weather. Right, then. Enter our protagonist.

Outraged by this obvious injustice of the BBC's "test," Mr. Peilow decided to jump in an electric car himself and head the propaganda-party off at the pass. He dialed up the London Tesla dealership for assistance and soon enough David was driving in Roadster-style across the British winter landscape. The plan is to arrive in one day, the same distance as the BBC has taken three days to traverse and meet them upon their arrival later today. Sweet, but will he make it?

To ride along with the Roadster you can follow the hashtag #electriccars on Twitter and also read about the trip and the events leading up to it on Tesla Motors Club forum. Also, make sure to it the jump to watch an impromptu version of Fully Charged as host Robert Llewellyn sees David off at the Tesla dealership and discusses the plan.

[Source: Tesla Motors Club / David Peilow / BBC

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      Let's summarise : everyone should pay hundreds or thousands of dollars (pounds) to build a network of charging points for the rich people who will indulge in buying electric cars.

      AND to pay these same rich people to buy these same electric cars.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Quoting the usefulness of EVs by explaining how a $130,000 2-seater can handle the job is completely stupid.

      The average person cannot afford to spend this much on so little car and so no matter how well it functions it completely fails to be practical.

      We're not talking about theory here. The theory of EVs is sound, you can make one that is fast. You can make one that goes a long way. But can you make one that really fulfills the functions a normal person needs (or thinks they needs) and they can afford? The Tesla Roadster is incapable of answering this question.

      It's these guys who are misrepresenting the situation, not the BBC.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The MINI-E probably costs just as much to make, if not more, given it is a limited prototype.

        The point is to show it is possible. Plenty of the British still view hydrogen cars as "practical" when BBC shows demonstrate its long range driving, regardless of price tag. I don't know how many times this point was pushed by the BBC (see James May's piece on the Honda Clarity and ENV for example). Yet, when it comes to BEVs, BBC tends to make pieces that demonstrate limitations rather than what is possible.

        Making the same trip on the Tesla is a good reminder that even on current technology and infrastructure you can make significantly long trips in a BEV. It's something the British public doesn't really know if they watch BBC (I don't think there was ever even one show on BBC that showed something like this).
        • 4 Years Ago
        Not just current tech, but also current infrastructure (an important point). The justification for the piece was that it is about infrastructure and not just the car.

        And I see the MINI-E as no more mass market or a practical than the Tesla. If it was ever offered up for sale, there is no doubt the price tag would be close to the range of the Tesla (judging by the ~$70k price tag of the eBox). And let's not forget the MINI-E is also a small two seater with almost no cargo capacity to speak of, just like the Roadster! The UK probably won't see a mass market EV until the Leaf or the Renault ones come out.

        "Many electric cars are designed more for short commuter runs than a journey of the sort we're attempting but we're not making any great scientific claims for this, rather we're hoping to bring the issues about electric cars and their infrastructure to the widest possible audience and we seem to be doing that."

        I read that as more of way to scare off people from BEVs. Rather than having balanced look at everyday life in a BEV (something they would do if they only want to explore BEVs as fully relevant to the public), they chose a use case that they admit the car wasn't designed for. They did the same exact thing with a Think! But they didn't get their journalists to try to live with the car instead, rather than doing this stunt in it, with predictable results.
        • 4 Years Ago
        If it's really about fulfilling a normal person's needs under regular circumstances then I wonder why they would choose that long of a drive to "test" it? No matter how you slice it, they are trying to play into fears of inadequacy for negative advertising.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "It's these guys who are misrepresenting the situation, not the BBC."

        It would be all good if the BBC told a unbiased balanced story - but it unlikely that they will instead it likely to focus mostly on the short comings of a Mini-E and will generally be negative in nature - see their blog:

        "we're hoping to bring the issues about electric cars and their infrastructure to the widest possible audience and we seem to be doing that."

        Taken from blog link posted by Nick From Montreal above.

        Rob is as he always does, it trying to bring about EV awareness and trying to expel myths about electric cars - he is also probably trying to show it can be done with today's technology and to illustrate it can definitely be done with the technology of tomorrow - so I say good on him.

        I am a strong supportor of the work that Robert Llewellyn does in EV awareness.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's not about the Tesla, it's about the misrepresentation of EV's. Claiming it takes three days to go from the south to Scotland in an EV is a false claim, and David is proving it false. Does this practically apply to most people's lives? What a straw man argument. No, people aren't yet gonna buy an expensive sports car EV for a 400 mile commute. Got it. But it's not about that, it's about showing this BBC broadcast for what it is, propaganda. Like all propaganda, if you turn it around you reveal how shoddy it is.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't support the hydrogen nonsense either.

        Putting up a story talking about how you made a long trip in a Tesla and how little you spent on energy for it (as Llewyln did) is ridiculous. How much did you spend in order to "save" money on the trip?

        You can do anything on current technology. Submarines have travelled underwater on battery electricity only for decades. That's not the point.

        Anyone without $140K to spend on a vehicle of limited utility is not capable of making long trips on BEVs. This is the most salient point, not that a few with a ton of money can.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Honestly just rent a normal car for that one time you need to drive hundreds of miles out into the middle of nowhere.
        Hundreds of thousands if not millions of travellers to the UK manage to drive these very same journeys using this tried and true method every year, with the money saved on your cummutting gas bill you will probably still come out ahead anyway.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Quoting the usefulness of EVs by explaining how a $130,000 2-seater can handle the job is completely stupid. The average person cannot afford to spend this much on so little car and so no matter how well it functions it completely fails to be practical."

        When they are mass produced in the near future and costs drop dramatically, and when gasoline prices rise to their fair unsubsidized value, then the average person will be able to afford a Tesla-like vehicle. Who, knows, maybe then such a vehicle will be cheaper overall than a regular car.

        Also, in a short time when a fast charge network is put in place then a Mini-E would indeed be able to go this long distance without too much difficulty. You know, it's kind of like gas stations ... but with electricity instead.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Let's see if this blow-dried moron from the BBC has the balls to include this in his broadcast. This is a perfect example of good enviro communications; it's driven by narrative, ties into people's love of a race or competition, and is very easy to understand in a flash. Good job dude!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Looking at that photo of Mr. Milligan, I realized that he'd deliberately parked going the wrong way, just so he would have to stretch the cord all the way around the car! That way, he could show how very very difficult it was to plug in! Hmm, lets see him park his gasser on the wrong side of a petrol pump and have to stretch the hose all the way around the car! In both cases, it is inconvenient but can be done, however I suspect a lightweight cord and plug is far easier to handle than a petrol hose and nozzle in "wrong way" situations like this.

      Yep, it looks like it will be a "hit piece" from the Beeb, fortunately we've got a great team to hit back.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Just keep on rollin' and debunkin' those biased challenges!

      Love Llewelyn, and his show, wish they would pick him up on a network!

      I think in the future, we will look back at things like this (and Top Gear's "EV challenges"), and have a good laugh!
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Love Llewelyn, and his show, wish they would pick him up on a network!"

        I second that. He is great advocator for the EV and a funny bloke at the same time - great combo.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm already laughing. In the old days, before the Internet, people relied on journalists and the BBC to get the truth. Now, anyone interested in EVs can learn as much as they want about them -- bypassing the media.

        More and more people are knowledgeable about EVs and soon everybody will know at least one person who owns one. It's becoming increasingly harder to scare people away from EVs.

      • 4 Years Ago
      What is Britons Balance of Trade with the Arab Oil Nations? Nothing?
      An EV keeps your transportation money "in country", making your utilities more profitable, allowing them to hire locally, do infrastructure improvements, convert to Wind, and get your local economy Moving.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Such big and important concepts are never mentioned, and do read the BBC news every day, I've never seen any mention of these issues in relation to electric vehicles. These days the BBC is so dumbed down I feel ripped off paying my license fee.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Buckle up because we gettin there !
      • 4 Years Ago
      That's the proper way to get them: with humor and counter-publicity. What's up with the BBC and their hate for EVs anyway? First Top Gear, now this?

      Go David!
        • 4 Years Ago
        I can't find any current info on how an oil entity is funding the BBC for this episode, but I'm sure time will reveal that source.

        We get this type of "journalism" in the US all the time.
        You saw it in the Climate Change / Climate Gate controversy. With the US Oil Industry funding Russian Hackers to find a few mistakes in was it thousands or ten's of thousands of documents.

        We see it in the US, with Right Wing Books, which make it to the Times Best Seller list, yet no one has bought them. They are bought by corporate sponsors and then given away or dumped.

        This is how a minority of rich crackpot's control this country( US ). You have to wonder why the majority subset of rich, who are Not Crackpots, allow this propaganda to continue.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They're either funded by BP or Shell.
        This is "negative advertising" disguised as news.

        Just like Fox "News", a paid info-mercial disguised as news.
        That's what news has become.
        • 4 Years Ago
        The BBC is funded by the public via the so called tv license, which should be called obligatory BBC subscription. The reason that they do stunts like this is probably just because they like to think they're clever and quirky.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Cervix & Mike!,

        Shell sponsors the BBC's Top Gear Live Events...

        • 4 Years Ago
        MikeekiM.....that's like me saying tesla is in YOUR pocket. Pretty audacious for one to just assume such things, no?

        Everything you EVER promote or deny, i'll name a random company who would benefit if everyone had the opinion that you state that you have, and then assume beyond a shadow of a doubt that this company is bribing you, and assume that you heartily accepted, completly careless of the truth, or if it affects or hurts anyone.

        It should be a fun game! Look how useful it is to assume such things??!
        • 4 Years Ago
        Please register your displeasure (or support) with the BBC by leaving a comment on the editor of the BBC News business and economics unit's blog:


        Please remember to stay polite. So far so good.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I doubt it has anything to do with the BBC's attitude toward electric cars, but I wonder how European governments look at possibly losing some of the taxes they currently receive from petrol sales. I understand gas tax over there makes up a not inconsiderate part of a government's operating budget.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Tax isn't even an issue at this stage, think about trade balance etc. Europe wants to move away from oil for transportation, hence the tax. European governments can easily move taxes as necessary hence why I would like to find the sweet spot on terms of my next purchase. Do not compare the whole world to the USA, which is in a position unlike any other country where it as the petro dollar cycle coupled with the most powerful military in the world. Do not doubt however that physical realities will be resistible forever, they will not.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Go David!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Why this headcase have to like Tesla's?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Hmm, maybe I was talking about that wacky ecomentalist standing next to you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Cause I tried one 3 years ago and it's amazing. Is there a problem with that?

        Have you had a drive of one?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Other future broadcasts:

      Transporting a baseball team to its games in a Ferrari.
      Using an F350 Crew-cab long-bed for shopping tours of downtown London.
      Using a gas forklift to move pallets in a small enclosed warehouse.
      Couples touring of Europe's most famous mountains on a 50cc scooter.
      Mountain Rescue in a Yaris.

      The BBC, illuminating the unknown.
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Couples touring of Europe's most famous mountains on a 50cc scooter."

        You'd be surprised how many people have done that ;)
        • 4 Years Ago
        "Couples touring of Europe's most famous mountains on a 50cc scooter. "

        Flashbacks to "Dumb and Dumber"
        • 4 Years Ago
        That was funny, I had to laugh.
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