Formula E signed off for the season in London a couple of weekends ago; there’s now a short break until the autumn, when Jaguar joins the fray - I can’t wait.
JUL 14th 2016
Erin Baker – Is Now The Time To Take EVs Seriously?
But when the race quit town, its furniture remained, which is one of the great things about the sport. Chargemaster, which installs the charging points for each race using Qualcomm technology, leaves the points in place after each race, adding to the supply chain in each city. They’re the next generation of charging points, by the way - no ugly sockets and wires, just pads which the car travels over or past, sucking up charge via the naturally occurring magnetic field round an electrical charge.
Do we need yet more of these in towns? Is the growth of electric cars still rising? Yes, is the short answer. The AA forecasts 500,000 new electric or plug-in hybrid cars on our roads by 2020 - that’s less than four years away. The organisation thinks the UK is at tipping point right now, and very shortly sales will absolutely soar.
They’re probably right - if you look at sales this past year, they’ve doubled year on year, with 63,000 drivers applying for the plug-in car grant. Partly that is to do with a raised public awareness of ultra-low-emissions vehicles (ULEVs) - what they are, how they work, what sort of range you can expect, how easy or not it is to charge them at home, the costs etc - but also largely to do with the huge range of cars now flooding the market from most, if not all, mainstream manufacturers.
Look at the choice: Audi, Mercedes, Volvo, Porsche, VW… all premium marques doing plug-in hybrids. Jaguar Land Rover will join them before long, and Bentley has said a plug-in hybrid is in sight.
One of the biggest worries - the batteries themselves - is falling away now. Owners of first-generation Nissan Leafs are finding their batteries still going strong, and plenty of manufacturers now offer eight-year warranties. And batteries themselves are changing: look at the new Honda NSX: it has a battery that charges in one minute, and discharges equally rapidly. Car batteries and their use are developing along the same lines as phone batteries - smaller, lighter, not able to carry a great deal of charge but able to be charged on the go, drawing current from their surroundings.
Few people realise, too, that with a Government grant, installing a charge point at your home typically falls to about £300.
Look, I‘m not in the pay of the ULEV fraternity, and the cars are still massively overpriced - the £4,500 government grant is nothing on a £60,000 car. I wouldn’t and couldn’t buy one, because I have no garage or driveway on which to charge it. But for the 95 per cent of people who travel less than 25 miles a day by car, and have less fraught parking restrictions than me, electric vehicles are starting to look like a no-brainer.
Formula E pic: www.fiaformulae.com
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