We drove 250 miles the other day to visit a house for sale. Like every other Brit we’re obsessed with houses, specifically about how to make vast amounts of money out of them. Our latest ruse is places blighted by road noise. The expectation is that, sooner or later, silent electric vehicles will make it less of an issue. We’re only half joking.
Having been bombarded with galloping amounts of news and information about electric cars recently, we’re suddenly not so sure it will be decades before they catch on. The industry’s rate of development is quite shockingly fast.
Whiling away the journey on Twitter, the latest gem was transmitted seamlessly into the cabin. IBM has launched new software to support charge roaming – much like mobile phone roaming – across Europe. Part of the EU’s Green eMotion project, the infrastructure is expected to be up and running by 2015. You will be able to charge and pay anywhere in Europe using your UK account.
This year, Tesla’s Model S will go on sale in the UK with its real world range of just under 250 miles, enough for London to Brussels, while BMW will launch its electric ‘i’ sub-brand with the i3 city car and i8 sportscar.
Big money is pouring into electric vehicles and their disadvantages – range, charging points, speed of charging, sales, residuals, and battery life – are having chunks taken out of them all the time.
Now, we’re not advocates for electric cars. Far from it. A life’s ambition is to own a V12-engined Aston Martin. We’re not particularly green either, other than a fastidiousness about recycling, nor are we convinced that electric cars per se are environmentally friendly (if the power is generated by a coal fired power station for instance, not forgetting the horrific chemicals sloshing about in the batteries). But they are happening whether we like it or not, with the clear potential to change the way we live.
Tiny electric motors means no large, heavy internal combustion engine to lump around, or find a place for inside the car. Simpler mechanicals mean electric cars can be serviced at your home. Since they can, in principle, be charged from any socket the energy needed to get them moving will be cheap – there’s no way to distinguish between the stuff that goes into your car and the stuff headed for your fridge freezer.
Well publicised already are the dangers to pedestrians from silent electric vehicles prowling the streets. In houses without driveways, will there be wires trailing all over the pavements, or will parking spaces outside houses be reserved for owners to charge their cars at night? If cars are powered from the national grid how many more power stations will we need, and where will we build them?
An important part of the European Commission’s road charging proposal is the ‘polluter pays’ principle, both noise and CO2. But there isn’t any pollution from electric vehicles (at the point of use anyway).
This is plenty to be going on with but even so we feel we’re scratching the surface. Our new house buying strategy is a long shot for sure, but not because it won’t happen, but because of the (vanishing) amount of time it will take to realise.