Hi everyone. Skip Montreux here with two short pre show announcements.
First, Dez and I are sorry for being away for such a long but as you can imagine things here in Japan have been somewhat unsettling since the Earthquake on March 11.
At the time of the quake Down to Business English had a several episodes in the production pipeline and today’s episode is one of them. I apologize if today’s topic seems a little bit out of date. The others will be released in short order and Dez and I should be back on track with current business stories very soon.
The second announcement I’d like to make is in regard to the Year in Review 2010 eZine. You will hear Dez & I talking about it later in the show and I just wanted to announce that 25% of proceeds of the Year in Review will be donated to Japanese Red Cross Earthquake Donation Fund.
Thank you for your support.
This is Dez here reporting to you from the sunny island of Malta which doesn’t really have anything to do with today’s story it just happens to be where I’m reporting from. I’m here for my holiday and some winter sun and in that respect Malta hasn’t disappointed. A steady 15 – 20 degrees and most days sunny, but without the blistering heat of the summer season. Valletta, the capital, is a beautiful city reminiscent of Florence and did you know they have temples dating back to 2500 BC? Anyway enough of my holiday let’s get to our story today on electric cars. Yes, let’s do it. Let’s get D2B on electric cars. Are they a viable alternative to the internal combustion engine yet?
If you have been listening to the show for a while now, you will no doubt remember that until recently I had been living in Newcastle in the North East of Britain. A city with a surprisingly modern outlook on architecture and the arts, especially considering its industrial past. I shouldn’t have been surprised to see that Newcastle was one of the first cities to introduce charging points for electric cars in the parking spaces in the city centre. Public opinion seemed to be fairly well split between; a great idea that will encourage people to start using electric cars and a waste of money, we should have waited to see if people bought the cars before building the charging points. This is a classic chicken and egg argument and time will tell if the provision of charging points means that Newcastle becomes an early adopter of the all electric car. Another city installing charging points across the city centre is Nottingham so if there are any listeners in either of those two cities, perhaps students at the Universities, do write in if you see any cars using these charging points.
The hybrid car, with both petrol and electric motors, has been with us for some time now and has gone from being the eco-statement of Hollywood stars to a fairly well established technology. Led by Toyota’s Prius, the hybrid has the great advantage of not having such a limited range as the all electric vehicles as the petrol motor is used to provide drive and to recharge the batteries while the car is in motion. The next generation Prius is said to have solar panels built into the roof to provide additional charging to the batteries. Probably not a lot of use in Newcastle at least in the winter but in sunnier countries it might make a useful addition to the car’s eco credentials. Interesting though hybrid cars are it is the all electric car that is the focus of this episode.
There have been a selection of all electric cars and scooters available over the past few years, from the sporty but pricey Tesla Roadster to the bargain priced G-Wizz, but none of the big manufacturers has stepped in with an all electric model. Until now that is with Nissan set to be the first with the Leaf followed by the Chevrolet Volt or Vauxhall Ampera for the UK market.
The Leaf has already been released in Japan and the U.S. and has gained some notoriety unfortunately for the wrong reasons. Nissan has been partnered with the French car maker Renault for a decade or more and there is a free flow of technology between the firms. Well Renault recently sacked three top managers who allegedly had been selling the electric car technology featured in the new Leaf to a Chinese competitor. All three of the sacked managers have denied the accusations as have the Chinese firm in question but this perhaps shows the potential the automotive industry sees in electric cars. Nissan and Renault have jointly invested $4 billion in electric vehicles and are seen as one of the leaders in the field.
So lets take a look at The Leaf, the vehicle that so much fuss has been made of. The cost in the UK is set to be £28,990 although the government will subsidize that by £5000 bringing the cost to the purchaser down to £23,990. That still makes it an expensive car to buy. For comparison purposes the base price of the Pruis is £20,695 while the most basic Volkswagen Golf would set you back just £13,610. As can be seen the upfront cost is considerably higher for an electric vehicle. There are other benefits though. If you drive in London there is no congestion charge which is a big plus and additionally there is no road tax. These are the incentives offered in the UK you would need to check those offered where you live if you were considering an electric vehicle.
Okay let’s move on and take a closer look at The Leaf. Nissan claim up to 109 miles, 175 kilometers, between charges and a top speed of up to 90 miles per hour ,145 kilometers per hour. Both of which make round town driving and the odd short hop on the motorway feasible. Where all electric cars fall down though is if you need to drive longer distances even if it is only occasionally. A lot of people, probably myself included, would be happy with an electric car for 90% of their journeys but what to do when you need to make a longer journey?
Enter the Chevrolet Volt, or the Vauxhall Ampera for the UK market, which works as an electric car for most journeys but has a small petrol driven generator which can recharge the batteries when they get low. The combined battery and generator give the Volt a much more reasonable 375 mile, 600 kilometer range, which should take care of even the longest journeys you might consider taking. The Ampera is predicted to cost a hefty £28,995 and that is after the £5,000 government incentive has been subtracted. Much though I’d like to do my bit to save the planet that is a bit out of my price range. So is there a more cost effective option? How about the Vectrix electric maxi-scooter with seats for 2, a range of 35-55 miles and a top speed of 66 mph, a100 kph, and costing in the region of £8,000. That is a price I could afford but the big question would have to be whether I could keep to my life within such a short range. Still I guess if I had to make a longer journey I could always take, well my bicycle or the train.
That is the story on electric cars. Probably the answer for most of us will be that the technology is not quite there yet. But it wasn’t that long ago that a computer took up a whole air conditioned room and now almost everyone has one. It is fair to expect electric cars to go the same way.
Now it’s time to get D2V, Down to Vocabulary with the electric car story.
Skip: Believe it or not, the first episode of D2B was released on March 10, 2010.
Dez: And since that very special day, Down to Business English has released 24 episodes covering a wide range of business stories.
Skip: To celebrate the first anniversary of Down to Business English, we are very happy to announce the release of The Down to Business English Year in Review eZine.
Dez: What is the Year in Review eZine you ask?
Skip: That is a very good Dez. The Year in Review eZine is a PDF magazine that reviews five of the most popular D2B episodes released over the past 12 months.
Dez: And it is much more than a simple review. Included in the Year in Review are 50 new vocabulary explanations not covered in the original episodes, as well as 50 TOEIC style listening comprehension questions.
Skip: And that’s not all. In addition to MP3 audio and audio scripts of extra vocabulary and comprehension questions, The Year in Review also includes a never-before released, special episode of Down to Business English that we proudly call D2B Unplugged.
Dez: In D2B unplugged, Skip and I give you an update on the five stories we review in the eZine.
Skip: The ‘unplugged’ episode is a great chance for you to listen to authentic, spontaneous English between 2 native speakers. The five stories we review and update are Google vs. China: exiting the dragon….
Dez: ….The BP Oil Spill: an economic and environmental catastrophe…
Skip: …Facebook: an issue of privacy…
Dez: …FIFA and the business of the beautiful game…
Skip: …and University Fees: the business of education. All in all, by purchasing The Year in Review you receive over 40 pages of review material, 50 new vocabulary explanations and over an hour of new listening material.
Dez: The Year in Review eZine is not only great supplemental study material, at the very reasonable price of $20.10, it is also a great value. If you are enjoying and if your English listening skills are benefiting from Down to Business English, we would so much appreciate your support.
Skip: To get your copy of the Year in Review digitally delivered to your computer, just visit our website at www.downtobusinessenglish.com and click on the Year in Review link at the top of the page.
Dez: We thank you for your support.
Skip: Yes, we sincerely do appreciate it!
The first word I have for you is the adjective blistering which is usually used to add emphasis to a noun. In the story I talk about the blistering heat of some Mediterranean destinations in the summer, and here blistering emphasizes just how hot these places can get. A further example would be a stocks blistering performance recently showing the stock had risen at a very fast pace.
Next up is the adjective viable which means that something is realistically possible or achievable. In the story I ask whether the use of electric cars really can viably replace the internal combustion engine. High speed trains have become so convenient recently that they are fast becoming a viable alternative to flying, even across quite long distances.
Next I have a phrase for you; a chicken and egg argument which is used to compare two things and say it’s impossible to judge which of the two came first. In the story I compare the wider spread use of electric cars with the provision of charging facilities and state that it is a chicken and egg argument which should happen first. A further example would be the comparison between the recent rise of TV chefs and people’s renewed interest in food in the UK. Did the chefs become popular because people were more interested in food or were people more interested in food so the TV programmes hosted by these chefs became more popular, a chicken and egg argument.
Now we have the noun phrase to be an early adopter which is a person who takes on a new technology or fashion before the majority of people and is influential in the development of the product before it reaches a wider audience. In the story I talk about whether residents of Newcastle will be early adopters of the electric car as they have access to charging points. A further example would be that the computer industry was an early adopter of such work place practices as more casual wear and fashionable in-house restaurants and coffee shops.
Next we have the noun notoriety which is also often used in its adjective form notorious. Both of which means that something is becoming noticed or famous and interestingly for negative reasons in the adjective form, but less so in the noun form. In the story I discuss the notoriety that Nissan Leaf has been enjoying due to the industrial espionage rumours. A further example would be the notorious hedge fund manager Bernie Madoff who took a huge amount of money from investors to hide his losses.
Now we have the noun phrase congestion charge which is a fine placed on cars that drive in the city centre usually during day time hours to discourage people from taking unnecessary trips by car. In the story I discuss how electric cars don’t have to pay this charge as they don’t have any emissions so are not harming the environment which was the main reason such charges were introduced.
Finally we have the adjective hefty which is used to show that something is overly large or heavy. In the story I mention the hefty price of the Vauxhall Ampera compared to other cars. A further example would be the hefty fines some of the UK based banks are being charged recently for misleading customers.
That is all the vocabulary I have for you today.
That just leaves me to say thanks and I hope that the show and the vocabulary would prove useful to you in your workday lives. Don’t forget to download the audio script and read it while listening to the show and please drop us a line on www.downtobusinessenglish.com if you see any these electric cars driving on streets in your city. You can also check us out on the Down to Business English Facebook page.
See you again soon. Bye for now.