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'Hippy' energy kingpin's electric Noddy-car in epic FAIL

Dale Vince bummed out in Clarkson bitchslap mishap

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OK, no bitchslap for Clarkson. Does it sock-knock the Tesla, at least?

And maybe the "made in Green Britain" Nemesis (batteries from Korea, engines from America) really does "knock the technical socks" off the Roadster. It bloody well ought to, in fact, as the Nemesis is a one-off custom concept car and the Roadster is a production model - pretty much the only advanced electric production car on offer, in fact.

So how do the two vehicles compare?

Well, the Nemesis is ahead on raw horsepower with 330 bhp to the Roadster's 288, and 600 Newton-metres of torque to the Roadster's 400. Vince also claims a much higher top speed for the Nemesis - but the Roadster's unambitious 125mph limit results purely from artificial governing to preserve battery life, which isn't a consideration for the Nemesis. Far from being driven 250,000 miles, Vince admits that the plan is to retire it soon and start work on a "bigger, faster, louder" version.

None of this is technical sock-knocking stuff: the Roadster has all the torque, speed and horsepower any normal driver could need. Where an electric car beats another electric car of the same class is on the amount of energy it can store and the range it can deliver from that.

Here the Roadster is an easy winner, with its advanced battery pack holding 56 kilowatt-hours compared to the Nemesis off-the-shelf Korean cells with 36 kWh. Vince claims "100-150" miles of range "depending on driving style": Tesla claims 211 at the moment. Vince says his machine will charge up in "8-9 hours with 13A overnight charger".

The reality for the Tesla car is that it gets nothing even close to its rated range; worse, even the car's onboard systems cannot predict with any accuracy how far it will go from a given state of charge, leading to the recent "range anxiety" brouhaha.

Tesla does admit very quietly, however, that its car will actually take at least 48 hours to charge up from a normal US wall socket (110 volts, breaker rating 15 amps). If you can't find a specialist high-power outlet, a Roadster with a flat battery will take days, not hours, to get back on the road.

UK 13A wall sockets can deliver a practical maximum of around 3 kilowatts: there is no way that Vince's suggestion that they will charge up a 36 kilowatt-hour battery pack in 8-9 hours can be true, even if the process were perfectly efficient. Doubtless he is assuming that the car will cut out well before full discharge to preserve the batteries, but nonetheless this is a foolish claim on the face of it. You wouldn't expect to hear this from the Graun: Vidal and the subs there plainly don't really know what a Watt actually is.

UK wall sockets are roughly twice as powerful as feeble US ones, however, and Vince's car only holds two-thirds the juice that a Roadster can. Giving the Nemesis the benefit of the doubt and assuming that its charging electronics are as efficient as the Roadster's it might be able to recharge to full from flat using a normal UK socket in as little as 16 hours. The reality is probably much worse. Hardly "overnight", as Ecotricity claims.

None of this really matters, as the Nemesis isn't going into production and thus it has no real significance. The car won't be sold to unsuspecting consumers: it's just a PR effort for Ecotricity and a ("less than £1m") toy for Vince.

But even so examining the claims made for the Nemesis is worth doing, as it tells us something about all the claims made by Vince and Ecotricity. Extrapolating from the "renewables powered" car, we can conclude that Ecotricity is not really green, is not really a significant UK energy player - and that Dale Vince is about as much like the normal idea of a "hippy" as Gordon Gecko is.

And the Nemesis' unfortunate debut, it has to be said, has solidly reinforced the Noddy stereotype of electric cars. Jeremy Clarkson must be rolling on the floor laughing right now. ®

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