Robert Llewellyn loves himself some plug-in cars, and he proves this on every episode of Fully Charged. In the latest video, Llewellyn discusses solar energy, including how his residential solar panel installation powers his Nissan Leaf 1,000 miles for less than nine bucks. Llewellyn finishes the episode with a drive in the quirky electric Mia microbus.

As we learned at the 2011 Michelin Challenge Bibendum, the Mia is an unconventional electric van with a rather unusual interior layout. Llewellyn updates the story with information on how the Mia microbus will soon join Paris' Autolib battery-powered car-sharing scheme and includes info on how Mia will make its electric microbus available to the general public in 2012. There's even a bit of discussion on Mia's wildly optimistic production target of 1,000 of these electric microbuses a month.

So, with eight-plus minutes of quirky Fully Charged-up action awaiting you after the jump, we'll turn it over to Llewellyn, the plug-in enthusiast who seems able to explain all.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      I don't mind the man being an idiot. I do object paying for this smug innumerate. Here is the solar insolation for Northampton: http://www.gaisma.com/en/location/northampton.html As can be seen it varies from a peak of 4.66 kwhm2 in July down to 0.50 kwhm2 in December, a nine-fold variation in the power available which can only be covered by burning natural gas inefficiently. Of course it is rather worse than that, as demand in the UK is around twice as high in the winter as in the summer. To pay for this folly he sponges off the other customers, as well as the taxpayer. Solar in Arizona is one thing, but as long as the earth remains round this is stupidity of the most inveterate kind. I feel that grid services should be withdrawn from him and his ilk, so that he can experience the full joy of having virtually no power in the winter in England, and luxuriate in any surplus in winter. As for advice on technology, I will stick to asking the cat, who is better informed and of sounder judgement.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        Radical Right Wing Exteemist here... Being on Florida, solar does make more sense than say, Michigan. However, if a person wants to get some benefit from solar or wind, and especially pay for it themselves, well, cool. With wind, unless Noz is around (joking) the wind will always stop at some point. It is all about degrees of effectiveness. Arizona, Texas, Florida...all good places, but nothing to say the north has to suck. Besides, there is still some generation even with clouds, just not as much. It even comes back to claims that we could be energy independent if we JUST inflated our tires properly. Although laughable, it would help. That's it - everyone go check their tires RIGHT NOW!
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        "...so that he can experience the full joy of having virtually no power in the winter in England, and luxuriate in any surplus in winter." If only there were some method of storing surplus power long-term...
        skierpage
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        You go on and on and on on this, but he's still helping the environment when the sun is shining! WTF do you suggest he do? What is wrong with reducing fossil fuel consumption during the summer? If the UK's solar incentives are a misallocation of government resources, take it up with politicians. "Him and his ilk" is divisive insulting talk, you sound like MarcoPolo insulting anyone who dares raise other environmental issues while cargo ships are spewing bunker oil.
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @skierpage
          @marco But you are a tool of Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, and the oil companies, Dan said so. Do you even get Limbaugh in australia?
          fairfireman21
          • 3 Years Ago
          @skierpage
          What do I suggest: WIND. Better efficientcy well heck better over all.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @skierpage
          @ Ezee Rush Limbaugh is available on pay TV (cable) in Australia to an audience of Zero.
          Marco Polo
          • 3 Years Ago
          @skierpage
          @Skierpage I like Llewelyn! I like his show. For 20 years, I have invested a great deal of money in rescuing, preserving and developing EV's as being commercially viable. But, as an environmentalist, (long before it was fashionable,) I recognise that there are priorities. When the insignificant prevents the imperative from being accomplished, it's time to look at priorities. Sorry, if that offends your sensibilities. I do not 'insult' others environmental issues, nor wantonly denigrate others efforts. But, I agree with David, nothing will be accomplished by smug 'Green washing'. Just because you, or I love our particular chosen technology, if it proves ineffective or inconsequential we have to face reality, and accept the facts. . Just defending something to the death because your ego is invested, is counter-productive. Skierpage, none of the above is directed at you personally, nor is it meant to insult any individual. I'm attempting to raise awareness of the dangers of self absorbed complacency. Something I am equally guilty of from time to time.
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @skierpage
          He is not helping the environment at all. To help the environment you need sunshine, and what is more when you need the power when you actually need it. The only possible way to provide all the power he needs is to really run his house on natural gas, as that can be quickly switched up and down and is cheap to build the capital equipment, if less so to run, The contribution of solar is a sham, as the power it does provide at vast expanse to someone else. This has two effects. It builds in the continued use of fossil fuels, on which it is utterly dependent, and it REDUCES the efficiency of the grid and increases its running costs. That is because it makes installing baseload which has to run flat out in the summer more expensive, as you have to make room for the solar power. The man is getting a sweet tax break for this, bangs on and on about how wonderful he is for installing solar where the sun don't shine, and after much of his installation is paid for by someone else sells surplus in the summer back to the grid at the expense of other users at the staggering rate of 60 pence a kilowatt, hitting every other user including the fuel poor who are likely to increase to 25% of the population by 2015 to pay for this lunacy. If I call him a half wit I am being too kind by half. He is actually a near demented ideologue. He deserves to be taken off of the grid so he can stew in his own juice and charged the full rate plus interest for his ludicrous installation. Even supposing you are fanatical about renewables, this is mad even by those standards, and make doing things like geothermal, which is baseload, far more difficult, not to mention throwing the money away to pay for it in the first place. In fact of course for a far northern country there is one answer which is currently possible to get off renewables, and that is nuclear. The plant in Finland just completing for all the criticism of cost over-runs, and they were considerable, will turn out power at a levelised cost of £0.07kwh, which after grid charges will come to about the same £0.13 as I currently pay and at a tiny cost in CO2 and reliably 24/7. I find it difficult to convey how much I despise Llewelyn, who indulges his fads at the expense of the poor.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        For comparison, here are the figures for Dhaka, in Bangladesh, where solar is a good idea: http://www.gaisma.com/en/location/dhaka.html The variation in solar incidence is only about 50%. This also shows another factor though, as the lowest solar incidence is in September, not December, as that is when the monsoon is. I actually was too generous in settling for a 9 fold ratio of the power that you get out of most solar arrays, as with cloud cover most types simply stop generating power. That is how in Germany, for instance, on some days in the winter you only get 1% of the nominal power of a solar installation. Of course, Northampton is far more northerly than most places in Germany, so 1% may be too generous. This is inconvenient even in Bangladesh, although some steps can be taken to ameliorate it a bit. Amorphous silicon is a lot better than crystalline. I have not seen the performance figures for thin film, CIGS and so on.
        Joeviocoe
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        David, please enlighten me why, "[the low solar output in winter] can only be covered by burning natural gas inefficiently. Is that because the turbines are not CHP (combined heat and power) and are throttled up and down quickly (load following)??? And in that case... Wouldn't coal and nuclear be the baseload power during the winter? So why does having solar panels harm the environment exactly? I could never fully understand why solar/wind detractors say that emission go up because of renewables. Please explain it to me.
        super390
        • 3 Years Ago
        @DaveMart
        At least Mr. Llewellyn is actually producing some electricity to take pressure off the grid, intermittently, while all you do is consume imports and then call for others to freeze to death. Mr. Putin likes you more than him.
      Chris M
      • 3 Years Ago
      That Mia microbus not only has an odd seating arrangement, it also has an odd ceiling. Notice the "headliner" is shaped for the drivers head!
      Bryan Lund
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's just natural earth cycles, this global warmning phenomenon. That's all...I like the Mia microbus and need to know more about it. I may want to buy one for northern clime usage. I'd like to know it's range...oh, that's right. It's probably not coming to the U.S. Oh, well. There's always the Zotye SUV that has a range of 180 miles, right?
      upstategreenie
      • 3 Years Ago
      with global manmade warming accelerating we should get on this... you also can't drive it underwater as there is massive catastrophic flooding damage in three directions from me from RECORD flooding which we just had a few years back which was also RECORD. this one is even MORE record breaking until the next. but this is why we need to be putting our EVERY resource into developing this NOW or elec boats and floating houses...before it is 120 everywhere and half of current land masses are underwater at least some of the year. more and more and more places will have climate very similar to dhaka....and it looks pretty cool if somewhat quirky like an solar electric kia soul.
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