Expect to plug your car in rather than fill it up very soon.
The number of electric-vehicle charging stations in the United States alone is expected to grow tremendously by 2020, states information from a new report by the research company IMS Research.
It’s not just the USA that is switching on to electric cars either. Electric car recharging stations, which totaled 135,000 worldwide back in 2011 could easily grow to 10.7 million by 2020 – just seven years from now. The report stated that this is being led by growing numbers of electric-vehicles starting to hit the highways in the U.S.A., China, Japan and Germany.
“While sales volumes may not reach the levels imagined in the hype of 2009, it is clear that there needs to be recharging infrastructure in place to support this change in mobility,” said Alastair Hayfield, associate director at IMS Research, and the creator of this new report.
Both cheap electric car conversions, and expensive factory-made electric vehicles make up for the U.S. currently having a total of 5,894 electric car charging stations. This is according to the U.S. Department of Energy. From here, as more gasless cars take to the streets, things will get even easier for electric car owners.
This is also very good news for those building electric cars on a budget, as an increase in the number of places to plug your car in, means you can spend less on a big battery pack; instead getting something more economically sized for shorter distances.
Good news all around, and there has never been a better time to get in the garage and rip the engine out of an old gas burner.
Here’s a rare behind-the-scenes look at where I work in Slovakia!
When I’m not yammering on about electric cars, I’m hard at work here at Radio Slovakia International’s English section, where we broadcast all that’s new and interesting happening in Slovakia.
This year marks our 20th anniversary – yep, we’ve been broadcasting since 1993! This means some celebrations are in order, with each language section (English, French, Slovak, German, Spanish, and Russian) creating a presentation.
Here is the entry from the English section, created by yours truly, and acted out by my fellow workmates.
Are we in line for more of these, or will things change? It’s your choice.
It’s almost election time in New Plymouth, which means you get the choice to pick the city’s leaders for another term.
Did you make the right decision last time? I know I didn’t. This is because I probably made the exact same mistake as you: I decided on my chosen councillor because of their personality, their smile, or the amount of times I saw their billboard on the side of the road. What I (and you) should have done was choose a councillor based on what they’ll do for the city.
New Plymouth is not a big city, so naturally over the years I’ve had the chance to meet some of our elected councillors and the mayor himself. The mayor, Harry Duynhoven, for example is a very friendly man outside of work and I like him. I like his views on electric transport too, and he has some interesting ideas. In fact I like him so much I decided to vote for him to become our mayor at the last election.
Harry Duynhoven – A very nice guy but as a mayor he has let me down.
As a mayor however, he has fallen short of representing the majority, and as an elected public official, representing the majority is the most important factor. Regardless of who you vote for or what your interests are, you have to agree that if you’re not representing the majority of the people that voted for you, then you can’t be considered a very good public official.
This has meant that despite actual street protests and angry public outcries outside the council building, he continues to encourage councillors to increase spending and our property rates & rent. Now I can see with hindsight that voting for him was a mistake on my part and I apologise for this.
The councillor I voted for to help make the right decisions for our city was Pauline Lockett. A friend told me that she cuts through the crap, so to speak, and gets things done. It turns out that simply wasn’t true, as council meetings have shown her to do the opposite. Boy, do I feel like the idiot. I have been let down by Ms Lockett, as she has not clearly not used her council role for the benefit of the majority. For this I am partially responsible, and for this I also apologise.
If both public and internet discussion is anything to go by however, a great deal of other voters feel exact the same way.
So what’s important for you in the 2013 New Plymouth council elections?
Let’s be honest. New Zealand is in a long, long recession and experts don’t see us ever getting back to the dreamtime good-old-days of the mid 1990′s to mid 2000s. Those days of growth, growth, growth are over. The days of housing booms, families spending up large, and company-paid trips are gone. Permanently.
Now just take a moment and let that sink in for a while.
Almost a quarter of our entire country’s population has since moved overseas, and our small cities like New Plymouth are struggling with population figures and property prices stagnating.
Talk to anyone working in a shoe shop, cafe, or clothing store in town and they’ll tell you the same thing: As a city, New Plymouth is quite sick and people are generally broke. There’s just not enough growth and not enough money in our small towns. The party, as they say, is over.
The unwanted Len Lye art gallery: Another reason your rates & rent is currently skyrocketing
Despite this, massive public spending (particularly on art) keeps going up, which means more money is required from the ratepayers. In fact, according to the NPDC CEO, it is now certain that your rates will rise by 5 to 7 percent every year, for the next 10 years.
Anyone from a house painter to an economics professor can tell you that this is a non-sustainable way to run a city. Rates increases of 5 to 7 percent every year is well above inflation, and well above your wage increases. This means that kiwi mums, dads, and individuals just like you are feeling the pinch.
Put plainly, if you have a modest house which costs $2200 per year in property tax, this is what you will be in for:
2012: $2200 + 5% increase of 110 = $2320 2013: $2320 + 5% increase of 116 = $2436 2014: $2436 + 5% increase of 122 = $2558 2015: $2558 + 5% increase of 128 = $2686 2016: $2686 + 5% increase of 134 = $2820 2017: $2820 + 5% increase of 141 = $2961 2018: $2961 + 5% increase of 148 = $3109 2019: $3109 + 5% increase of 155 = $3264 2020: $3264 + 5% increase of 163 = $3427 2021: $3427 + 5% increase of 171 = $3598
Conversely, the average wage in New Zealand increases by only 2% each year, which means cutbacks around the home will be required to pay for the increased spending by the council.
Increasing rates by 5 to 7 percent annually is not a sustainable way to run a city.
If you’re a home renter you might be saying, “Boy, I’m so glad I don’t own a house“. Well, I’ve got bad news for you. This increase in rates directly affects you too. Your landlord or landlady will increase your rent to cover the costs, so your rent will go up by the exact same amount.
This chart above also does not take into account the rise of property value which would happen during those ten years, and which you also pay for in your rates. In short, unless you vote for different councillors you’d better start saving every cent now because you’ll need it when the rates envelope arrives.
I should also point out, that like most New Plymouth citizens, I am not anti-spending. As one of the county’s most beautiful places to live, I think New Plymouth deserves spending and investment. The festival of lights, the Puke Ariki library centre, the maintenance of the foreshore – I think you’ll agree that this is all essential spending – and personally I love it!
But we do need to stop the over-spending.
For example, let’s put the brakes on overpriced art installations. We simply don’t need another soon-to-be-empty Len Lye art gallery (we already have an empty art gallery). Also, we just don’t need overpriced $500,000 German-made designer playgrounds when a cheaper, locally-made one will do just fine. And we simply don’t need more overpriced public art from expensive out-of-town artists. We have enough already.
Additionally, we shouldn’t have replaced the speed humps in Devon Street for the fourth time in as many years. Then there’s bucketloads to be saved by removing council cars (do meter-readers really need cars when the posties have bikes?) and if I see the flowers outside the council building change again I’ll scream.
As you can see, there are endless ways to sensibly save money in this town, and if a normal, everyday person like me can figure out solutions like those listed above in just 1 minute, then there’s no excuse for the councillors’ spending.
A more current take on the “Like No Other” slogan
You should see the faces of my friends and family in Auckland or Christchurch when I show them our rates bill for our tiny house in this provincial town. We really need to stop voting for people that can’t stop spending our money.
The big problem facing people like you and me is that we just don’t knowwhich councillors = spending and which councillors = saving.
Another problem is that the “spenders” make up a slight majority in the council, and always destroy any attempt at spending cuts by the more in-touch “savers“. Remember the so-called Razor Gang from a few years back who promised to stop spending and then we never heard from them again? They were forced into uselessness by the slightly larger, wealthier, art loving “spenders” who voted down all of their suggestions.
So to make your voting decision simple and understandable I have compiled a simple black & white (or should that be green & red) list of councillors and what they stand for.
In short, these are the “Savers” to vote for at the 2013 NPDC elections. If these councillors can get a majority, we should see our rates level out, stop increasing, and even come back down:
John McLeod Heather Dodunski Sherril George Murray Chong Graig McFarlane Shaun Biesiek Andrew Judd
I can hear some of you shouting, “But I hate [person mentioned above]! I’m not voting for them“. That’s fine, just select a different person on that list instead.
For example, this coloured pole is going to cost us $70,000
If you think your rates are too low, and we need more Len Lye centres, more million-dollar German-engineered playgrounds, more $80,000 decorative road signs, and more $70,000 art installations then these are the “spenders” you should vote for:
Harry Duynhoven (Mayor) Alex Matheson Maurice Betts Lynn Bublitz Lance Girling-Butcher Pauline Lockett Marie Pearce Phill Quinney Howie Tamati Reuben Doyle
If you vote for one of the people in red, then you are hereby disallowed to complain about your rates being high for the next ten years.
This list will be updated as regularly as possible before the elections take place, so if I’ve missed someone, feel free to add their name in the comments box, and be sure to label them as a spender or a saver so that others know.
You now have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
With that in mind, happy voting!
Update: I’ve found out that Mr Reuben Doyle is running for council this year and thinks this is blog post is “ANTI New Plymouth” propaganda. Using his warped logic, this means most New Plymouth citizens are anti New Plymouth as I’ve seen nothing but support for reining in spending. Reuben Doyle on the other hand thinks the city’s financial problems will be solved if we increase spending. Good luck with that approach, Reuben.
Ford’s self-proclaimed “Best motor in the World” fares poorly compared to an electric motor.
According to an interesting article from Green Car Reports’ Antony Ingram, it turns out that small turbocharged engines such as Ford’s much touted EcoBoost simply don’t make the grade in the real world.
The article goes on that say that Consumer Reports tested such small displacement motors in the real world and compared them with their on-paper economy claims with bad-for-PR results. Consumer Reports revealed that Ford’s Ecoboost-powered Ford Fusions which use a turbocharged, four-cylinder engine actually achieved worse mileage and worse performance than larger, naturally-aspirated counterparts.
Not only that, the four-cylinder engine in the 2.0 Ecoboost also loses even more on the grounds of engine refinement to the typical V-6 units in the class. Adding insult to injury in the case of the EcoBoost engine, there’s now a Facebook page where regretful owners of new EcoBoost engines can complain about how apparently bad they are to live with.
One of the many complaints about the Ford’s self-proclaimed “Best Motor in the World”.
What struck Green Car Reports (and me as well) as the most alarming failure from Consumer Reports’ testing is the Ford Escape powered by a 2.0 Ecoboost engine. It was slower in a 0-60 mph test by 1.5 seconds, compared to a standard 3.5-liter V-6-engine Toyota RAV4, but here’s the kicker: It achieves the exact same 22 mpg economy.
So why by a small displacement turbo engine if apparently it’s clunkier, slower, and with no economy gain? Beats me.
As always, if you want real power and breathtakingly high economy in one motor, get an electric car instead.
A difference in culture: We’re a warm and caring nation – unless you dare to mention your aspirations.
Like many New Zealander’s, I’m proud of my country. We make the best wine in the world, we own some of the best scenery in the world, we are champions at rugby, emperors at cricket, we care for one another, we are friendly, and we are naturally creative.
Yet there’s one part of my culture that I’m not proud of: Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS) is an odd, yet incredibly common phenomenon in New Zealand. In short, people with TPS will to cut you down with words when you declare an ambition to succeed, or when you state an accomplishment. It’s something all New Zealanders have grown up with, and it’s part of our culture.
“Who would do such a mean and hurtful thing?” you might ask? Sadly, it’s likely to be your friends, your family, or your workmates. Someone who is on an even footing with you. A good example would be in a typical New Zealand workplace where there are, say, 10 staff who all get along (more or less). Then, one of these kiwi staff declares that he or she would like to (as a random example) live in Italy for 5 years.
There will be some workmates that will say, “Wow, that would be a dream, to learn the language, eat the food, and drink the wine!” but unfortunately there would also be the immediate detractors. Even though this man/woman’s dream of living in Italy doesn’t affect the workers in the slightest, a percentage of these workers would offer passive-aggressive remarks such as, “I couldn’t do that, it’s so dirty there,” or perhaps, “My sister holidayed in Italy for 3 months and hated it. It was horrible for her – but I’m sure you’ll do fine”.
These Tall Poppy Syndrome exchanges happen every day, right across the country. But why? Why would the people in that workplace example say such negative things to a fellow co-worker? I mean, it’s just a harmless future ambition, and the person’s goal doesn’t affect them at all.
I’ve lived in Europe for a year and a half now, and there’s barely a trace of TPS here. Additionally, I have a plethora of American & Canadian friends on Facebook and the support I get from them is breathtaking. I could say I want to build the world’s fastest desklamp and they’d say, “Go for it buddy!”, and they would mean it too! A large percentage of my New Zealand friends however would question “Why would you do that?” or “I don’t want to bring you down, but…“, which is immediately followed by them trying to bring me down.
But why? Where on earth does this party-pooping syndrome come from?
Wikipedia states that Tall Poppy Syndrome (TPS) is a pejorative term primarily used in the UK, Canada, New Zealand and other Anglosphere nations to describe a social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.
But Wikipedia still doesn’t answer the question, why?Is it jealousy, or perhaps is it a fear of being left behind with the pack? Additionally, why is it so embedded into kiwi culture?
Sociologist Max Weber thinks that TPS is a social mechanism New Zealanders use to equal the playing field. Kiwis use it subconsciously to keep eachother at a similar level. That notion makes sense because in my experience those who are affected by TPS don’t actually mean any harm to their victim/friend when they launch these small, but thinly veiled attacks. They simply want them to stay at the same level as the group. It’s so strongly a part of New Zealand’s daily culture we think it’s harmless.
We’re wrong. Of course harm is being done.
Tall Poppy Syndrome runs through our blood in New Zealand and we teach it to our kids. They use it, and they teach it to their kids. Want to buy a nice car? “A friend had one of those, and it broke down 3 months later“. Want to make a career of being a pilot? “Wow. That’s a big decision. It’s really hard, and the pay’s quite low but I wish you the best“. Want to start a home business selling something? “Be careful, most small businesses fail in the first five years – just saying“. Want to convert a car to run on electricity (an absolute TPS magnet)? -In my personal experience there were just too many to list here!
After undertaking the seemingly unusual act of converting my car to run electricity I’ve put up with enough attempts to cut me down to last seven lifetimes. Maybe that’s why I’m trying to do something about it.
So what can we as a nation actually do about this awfully common social disease? Easy: Learn to know when you’re about to use it, and stop dead in your tracks. That’s all! I know this works because I’ve learned to use it to break free from this destructive curse myself. Catch yourself as the thoughts get to your mouth and freeze. Think about the person, and think about what you’re about to say – or type – into Facebook.
Catching yourself enough, and saying something positive instead might seem foreign and strangely unfulfilling at first, but it gets easier and it gets better with time. Before you know it, it’ll feel awesome to boost people – even if it means they’ll succeed ahead of you.
When you learn to start dishing out the support, instead of the snide comments or gentle insults, your friend base will grow, and people will start to feed it back to you as well.
Just imagine what you could achieve if everyone around you stopped cutting you down, and encouraged you to grow, learn, and prosper. We are New Zealanders; we have everything we need to be proud of ourselves, our country, and our dreams.
Think what you could be doing now if your friends, family, and colleagues stopped asking, “Umm, are you sure?” each day, and started telling you “Go for it!” instead.
Facebook is not there for your benefit, it’s a large corooration aiming to profit. This has never been more evident than in the last few weeks where Facebook has rolled out their “Promote” option.
This means now you have the “Option” to pay to promote your posts. “What happens if I don’t pay to promote my posts?” you ask? Simple, your audience will be restricted to that post. This might not be important if it’s just a picture of a cup of coffee that you’re uploading, but if it’s news about your latest product, or a video of your baby’s first words then you might consider that important.
So how many of your friends actually see what you’re posting if you don’t pay? Not many I’m afraid. Evidence suggests that the algorithm that determines which posts appear in your News Feed, called EdgeRank, has been tweaked so that non-promoted posts are visible for under 15 per cent of your connections unless you pay.
That means if you have 100 friends, less than 15 of them are seeing your posts – and that defeats the purpose of Facebook for its users.
There’s one solution if all of your friends can agree to it however!
Go to each friend, and select “Show all posts” on their page. Then, get them to do the same for you. It’ll take about an hour for the average Facebooker with 150 to 250 friends to do this.
The problem in this method however, is that (as I found out) when I asked my Facebook friends to do the same for me, less than 15% got the message.
I tried reposting it, but again Facebook refused to send it out to everyone but a small group of my large group of friends. Facebook decided for me that the post was just not important enough – unless I got out my credit card.
The other alternative?
Get a Google+ account (it’s Google’s version of Facebook) and copy & paste your updates there as well. After a while you’ll get used to posting in two places at once, and in time your friends will migrate over after growing tired of being ignored by 85% of their friends.