One Man. One Car. One Mission. Zero Emissions. 1222 days. 34 countries. 100,450km from Holland to New Zealand in an electric car. And 437 ways to pronounce my name. Powered by the human energy of hundreds of people I’ve met along the way. Enjoy this introduction for my upcoming Keynote talks.
Surabaya is Indonesia’s second biggest city. And it is shit.
In Yogyakarta I “celebrated” New Year and continued the road trip on new years day. In Solo I met the mayor of the city and stayed for the night in the jungle.
(the video is in lower resolution as internet speeds are too slow here, couldnt upload the high-res one).
The second week in Singapore I visited an urban garden, the BMW iPerformance launch, spoke with the CEO of Singapore Electric Vehicles about his business and met Joe. Joe was the first one the import a Tesla Model S into the country and encountered huge problems. See it in the latest video.
The Sustainable City
On the edge of the desert in Dubai an unique property is arising. Diamond Developers’ The Sustainable City is a residential area and designed to be net zero-energy. Quite an accomplishment when you know Dubai’s energy consumption is one of the highest in the world and with temperatures around 50 degrees celsius in the summer definitely not tempting to turn of the airconditioning. Yet the developers found that the costs of building are lower as compared to traditional properties.
Powered by solar
40.000 megawatt hour solar energy is generated daily by 40.000 solar panels, fitted on the carparks and all the homes. The city was turend on less then a year ago and already during the first winter net-zero was realised.
This is The Sustainable City. A 5 million square foot residential area at the edge of Dubai's desert. It is designed to be net zero-energy and even has the potential to go off the grid. 40.000 PV panels produce 10 Megawatt solar a day. The city also got some interesting offers for electric cars.
Posted by Plug Me In on Donnerstag, 12. Oktober 2017
Unique about the Sustainable City is that it not only looks at the traditional sustainable aspects like water, energy, waste and cooling (which all are handled well) but focusses on three key aspects: social, economic & environmental sustainability. The commercial mall which is home to various shops, a nursery, supermarket and cafe’s are all partly owned by the residents. With this business model they don’t need to pay for maintenance & service fees, costs which easily can go sky-high Dubai.
Electric cars are also part of cities masterplan to later become carbon neutral. Residents are pushed to go electric by offering them a 40.000 Dirham (€10.000) incentive on the purchase of their first electric vehicle.
The property is car-free. Cars can be left behind (while charging on solar power) at the carpark from where electric buggy’s transport residents through the city.
Building a city like this doesn’t come without challenges. In below’s interview with Karim El-Jisr, Director of the Sustainable city he explains the hurdles they needed to take and goes more in depth in the various sustainable aspects.
After recovery I departed to Kuala Lumpur. Not so easy as it was 400km and had to find good samaritans to help me get there. Watch the full video.
Day 245 | Monday November 14
With professor Afshar I went to the R&D department of Saipa. Saipa is Iran’s biggest car manufacturer. A representative came to the presentation yesterday and invited me to come over. They gave a presentation about the brand and their plans to produce their own electric car. The car will be an existing model which they would convert to electric. Some specs: 20 kWh battery, 150km range, topspeed 140 km/h. I was given a tour e around their facility which they call ERIC. They have areas were they simulate different environments, acceleration tests, quality control and more.
It was an interesting visit and great to see that there are companies who want to bring electric cars to Iranian customers.
In the afternoon I had a special meeting, I was invited by the deputy of the Iranian Minister of Environment. He heard about my visit to Iran and contacted me via via, interesting how things are arranged here. The meeting was at NRI (Niroo Research Institute). NRI has played a leading role in developing new technologies for the Electric Power Industry and is the major research organization affiliated to the Ministry of Energy of Iran. There were a lot of very interested professors, researchers and delegates who came to have a look at the car. Because I found out they are doing a lot of interesting things regarding to renewable energy I asked them if I could come back tomorrow for some interviews.
Than we headed back to the office and from there we went to the office of Autoworld, who published an article about me in their newspaper today. The owner wanted to meet me and we had some talks about the project. Every Iranian who I speak to wants to know how I experience the people in the country. Apparently they find it very important that the people here are friendly and welcoming, which is definitely so.
After the meeting the guys from Asbebokhar picked me up and they took me to the Milad towner. The world’s 4th biggest broadcasting tower. It’s 400 something meters tall and it has stores, restaurants and a museum. Unfortunately it was not possible to go to the top today as the level of pollution was to high. Instead we went to a pizza restaurant for dinner and after they brought me home.
Today was a crazy hectic day. Especially here in Tehran as the traffic is so busy and crazy and it exhausts me a lot. Im staying at Ali’s place at the moment who still takes care of me like a hero.
Day 222 | Saturday October 22
Today I went with my host Ali, who is part of the Karadeniz Technical University Energy Technologies Team to the Uni. They organized a day for students who were interested in joining the team. All people who are interested in electric cars so of course they inspected my car from top to toe and I gave lots of explanations. When the students left I had some time to test drive their special car. With my 1.92 meters long body it was hard to get into this low vehicle but sitting so close to the grounds gives you a different feel. The car doesn’t have a pedal but with a turning knob on the dashboard you can control the velocity. It starts a bit slow but after a few meters it speeds up.
The engineers also saw that the profile on my front tires was too low. I already heard this yesterday so we had to do something. The guys knew a good tireman (that’s probably not a word) who might be able to help. He could offer me two second hand tires for the price of 70 lire. That’s about 20 Euro. My mom left me 300 Lire and I thought this would be a good investment.
At night we went to one of the guys to have some drinks. Raki is the national liquor and of course I had to try this. It looks like it’s colorless but when mixed with water it becomes white, magical. When mixed with your body it becomes even more interesting. It was a fun night and the guys laughed a lot when I said some Turkish words. Sikter being their favorite one, you can google what it means.
Day 223 | Sunday October 23
We went back to the Uni and the team spend all day with me to explain their electrical car. I shot a new movie which explains the background of the project and all technical details about the car and I will edit it soon.
Day 224 | Monday October 24
In Trabzon is a Consul of Iran. I wanted to go there to gain some information about how to apply for a visa for the country. Blogs and websites give different information so I wanted to be sure. I already found out that I need an authorization code. I applied for this a few days ago and it takes 7-10 days before I receive it. The experience with the website were I ordered it (I payed 40 pound for it with the donation money) was not so good. I didn’t receive a confirmation mail and the communication was not so smooth. I got a bit suspicious and started googling about this website. I found out that there were many people who had problems with this company. Some people reported that it was a scam, not receiving their codes. Others found the company unprofessional and reported they delivered the code after 2-3 weeks. Some people said they delivered in time.
A few blogs wrote that citizens of some countries (including the Netherlands) don’t need this code and could just pick up the visa, time to find out. At the gate of the consul they already asked for the code and I couldn’t enter without it. Case clear. I am worried now that this company won’t deliver and I need to get it from another company which could cost me 2 weeks more and another 40 pound! Not a nice feeling.
Today I wanted to go to Bayburt to reach Erzurum tomorrow were there is also a consul and apply for the visa. Now I learned it was not necessary anymore and because it was already getting late I decided to stay one more night in Trabzon and go to Bayburt tomorrow.
The boys gathered some press today so I gave some interviews, or well the guys did most of the interviews as they already knew everything. Than they took me to the top of a hill with a nice view over Trabzon and we had some Chai (local thea) at a restaurant there. Than back to the Uni to say goodbye to the team.
I really enjoyed being with them and they did too. Some of the things I heard the last days were touching. One guy said that the group felt really good and happy being with me. Another guy told me it was the first time he had the opportunity to speak English with someone, very special.
For two weeks I’ve been driving through Italy, saw how the EV infrastructure is developing and talked to insiders about the current state and future of E-mobility in this great country.
Italy has many faces. The landscapes are stunning, the people have great character, flair and temperament. Driving through small towns and big cities is a pure joy, it’s like you’re in a movie set. On the other side you have the expensive highways (which I avoided) and the controversies in the political system. People in the north of Italy pay way more taxes as the southern’s do. Unofficially because of the maffia who is still active in the southern regions.
Interesting enough there are some parallels with e-mobility in Italy, well, not as huge as maffia business but there are good and bad sides. Perhaps “the good, the bad and the ugly” is a better comparison to the current state of e-mobility here.
To start with the good: Italy lends itself as an ideal country to drive electric. The temperature is mostly around 20 degrees and distances are not big, which is ideal for the range. Every medium to big city has multiple charging stations, almost all placed and operated by Enel Net, a national power company. The stations are easy recognizable and the Enel Drive (which is the official name for Enel’s charging network) app shows all the stations on a map. What’s even better: all public charging stations have free parking, even right in the center of Milan. Sometimes it feels like being a VIP as many parking spots are separated from the regular ones.
There are many small companies and initiatives who are promoting e-mobility and play a big part in the development of the infrastructure and make others enthusiastic to start driving electric. For example e-move.me who’s mission is to electrify all the transport in Milan and around. They sell e-scooters, e-bikes, e-motors and install wallboxes wherever needed. Then there is Marcos from Vado Elettrico who places stations at restaurants, hotels and more. Evbility does the same in the Bergamo region.
Currently there is a plan to install 14 fast charging stations before the final of the UEFA Champions League, as they expect a lot of tourists from other countries. Speaking of fast chargers, this brings us to the bad.
The bad: the lack of fast chargers! I haven’t seen any of them. I have to make a side-note here that I haven’t been actively searching for them as my car cant fast charge but in other countries I did bumped into them. Fast chargers are a must as you want to travel longer distances.
Another problem is the lack of charging stations outside of the cities. Near highways or villages they are very rare. A mistake in your planning, a not working station or an unexpected detour can cause problems and range-anxiety.
Then the ugly: the unreliable electricity network of the country! It happened many times that the charging station stopped after a few minutes. Unplugging the car, waiting for a few minutes before the station resets itself and then plugging it back in again is the only solution. And possibly you have to repeat this ritual a few times in the process. This way you have to stay around the car, avoiding the risk that the car is still empty when returning from a day sightseeing in one of the beautiful cities. At first I thought it was a problem with my car in particular, but from other Italian e-drivers I heard its happens to them too.
Another remarkable fact is that they have plugs which a slightly different as the conventional ones. Besides the regular Type 2 cable they have a Type 3A and Type 3C plug. It looks a bit like a Chinese plug. I didn’t see the cable itself nor a car with these charging possibilities.
The country has the potential of becoming a tourist attraction for electric drivers too but few steps have to be made. Hopefully on my way back Italy has become the e-paradise that it promises to be.
Vincent Everts is a trendwatcher, TV-host, gadgetfreak and most of all EV-enthusiast. In his Tesla Model S he invited people from the industry to talk about their business.
When I launched the website of Plug Me In back in June Vincent picked it up immideately and invited me in his Tesla. Back then the project was still a concept. When he heard that I was on my way he send me a text and invited me to come over for bed, bread and battery.
During this evening I asked Vincent about the future of electric cars and e-mobility, the new Tesla Model X and 3 and his vision on sustainability.