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Will We See Fast and Reliable Electric Vehicles’ On UK Roads?

Electric Cars it would seem have been avoided like the plague of the last half century – like an ugly albatross we do not wish to be associated with. The last few years has seen some positive leaps in electric vehicle innovation and economic acceptability. What do we need to utilise to jump the next hurdle?

After decades of empty promises ZEV’s [Zero Emission Vehicles] such as Electric Cars, Hydrogen Cars, Hybrid Cars etc. are slowly beginning to ply our roads. This short entry will focus mostly upon EV’s – Electric Cars and how they teeter on the edge of public acceptability.

Fear of acquiring a ZEV still rides in the British psyche. These are just some of the expressions I have recorded off normal everyday people in the last five years alone….. (Yet equally have heard the same terms reiterated through the last three decades from many different people.)

“I don’t want one – I’d be ridiculed!” (Technological unfounded prejudice)

“Bloody milk float!” (Poor design and socially unacceptable vehicle appearance)

“I don’t want to run out of juice in the middle of nowhere!” (Dead battery syndrome)

“It’s took expensive!” (maybe!)

For most it is basely assumption based on no Hot Springs real empirical evidence. People need to have access to ZEV’s in order to understand their durability. BMW’s testing stage of the ‘Mini-E’ is such a demonstration project that allows selected members of the public to gain acceptance of the EV’s.

Available for roads right now are some meaty variations of Electric Vehicles, for example the Tesla Roadster or the Nissan Leaf. Toyota are revisting their former RAV4 jeep and bring out a superior second generation electric RAV4 for 2012.

There are some incentives to drive electric: Free parking and low car tax? This may be available now – yet with more EV’s on the road prices inevitably will creep up – yet not just yet; maybe 2020 onwards.

Running costs:

Petrol per mile costs Versus Electric per mile costs – the main issue. In 2011 the 40 litre (relatively small tank) petrol/diesel capacity costs almost £60 to fill up to cover 300-360 miles per tank. An electric charged up car would cost Less than £1 with a 150 mile capacity (this takes into consideration domestic electric charge increases)… people can easily understand the savings.

So what holds us back? An electric car will cost between £20,000 to £100,000 which at present the average family cannot afford. Celebrities, trend setters or industry are the only ones at present to really get their hands on electric cars the last few years. They all set the example though and inevitably prices will fall giving wider access to the rest of us.

Will the UK Governments to purchase a new ZEV help more of us to buy electric?

Will the insurance cause us concern or detract us from going EV?

Recharging / Refuelling:

The main issue is charging – be it domestic/in-house or on-street charging points. It will have some potential issues to rise before all is harmonious. People who live with on-street parking may suffer charging issues (people pulling cables out for tomfoolery) when trying to juice up their EV.

Many homes can be designed with garages in mind. Safer security, lower premiums on charging and peace of mind as you can charge your car from the home sockets in a locked safe environment. By using common sense design we will overcome all these issues. More research needs to be done – perhaps a small incentive for all EV purchases to undertake several surveys over 2-3 years of ownership where they can feedback in all [positive and negative] issues raised.

Recharging points are becoming a reality as the megacities around the world are embracing on-street charging to keep our national fleets of ZEV/EV’s juiced up and running. Charging can be done (trickle style) overnight of 4-8 hours or quickly a 30 minute burst which would charge 50-80%… enough to get you home!

Many will complain that in the UK our electricity sourcing is from fossil fuels, which if we all suddenly own electric cars and start charging up overnight we will throw emissions up a hundred fold (thousand fold?)….. yet there are opportunities ahead.

Yet nocturnally we have mild over production of electricity in night generation (we can’t just switch off the coal/gas power stations) this could easily feed our overnight charge without necessarily increasing emissions.

The potential of the Off-Shore Wind Farms adding another 2-3 GW capacity over the next few years would easily meet our ZEV demands for the next decade of evening chargers – so we’d not be reliant on coal, oil or gas electricity generation whatsoever.

Could it be things are actually falling into place as a large minority of us become electric car users over this new decade?

Overall:

The UK is gradually getting there. Since electric cars were being discussed and experimented on in the mid-20thcentury (some functional models in the early 1900’s too!) with occasional viable models like the GM Impact (1990) which became the doomed GM EV1 – things have progressed further.

It’s not just about technical fixes and good innovation; it’s about human behaviour, responsibility and rational contemplation. It is a new era and now many will become EV owners how do we ensure it won’t be another crash and burn EV-1 episode again?

We are optimistic the stumbling blocks are lessening and getting further apart. What can you do?

 

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