But guess what? Catalytic converters did nothing but good, and if you look at the steady, across the board fall in crime rates (at least until recently) since lead was removed from petrol, they maybe did more good than even we know. Diesel became a brilliant power source – at least until some stressed out engineers at VW spoiled it all – speed cameras still tend to exist only on roads that weren’t much fun in the first place and while the weight of cars did spiral, now most new cars that are launched are actually a touch lighter than those they replaced.
So I have to accept that I have become one of those people of whom, decades ago, I’d have been pretty disdainful. For a long time now I’ve known the electric revolution was coming and there was very little about it that didn’t look like a massive step in the wrong direction. Would people really pay for a car that couldn’t go very far on a single charge and then required hours or even an overnight stay before you could continue your journey? And where was all that electricity going to come from? We are told all the time that our grid is already maxed out and that we’re going to struggle to keep the lights on in future, so what happens when you add a few million electric cars draining the system?
And yet slowly, like an oil tanker that been hard to starboard for the last couple of hours, I’m starting to come around. A few weeks ago I toddled off to Abu Dhabi to drive the new Audi E-tron and was impressed by how far it would go on a charge, even when cruised at the 100mph motorway speed limit they have on one stretch out there. But I was even more impressed by the 150kW chargers Audi brought with them, which injected another 200 miles of range into the batteries in not much more than 20 minutes. Few people want to drive further than that without a break and few journeys are of that distance, so if you really can do a 400 mile journey with a coffee break in the middle, I don’t think many will regard that as a hardship.