I considered a pure electric vehicle. I have a fishing buddy who lives in West London and has a Nissan Leaf. He speaks highly of it but he also has a diesel 4x4 that he takes fishing. My own experience with pure electric vehicles has brought home their limitations. A few years back I participated in the RAC Future Car Challenge, an event that showcased low carbon vehicles in a run from Brighton to London. I was navigating for Edd China of Wheeler Dealers fame. Edd is a brilliant engineer and was an inspirational companion for such a journey. But for some reason the overnight charging had left us without fully charged batteries and we had to pause in West London to recharge. Range anxiety was on this occasion fully justified. I also had to remind myself that there aren’t many charging points accessible to someone in a field in the late evening in Hampshire.
That led me to plug-in hybrids. There are several power-train configurations that are badged as plug-in hybrids, with both four and two-wheel drive. The choice has been very limited until recently but the major German manufacturers have now launched plug-in hybrid versions of some of their best-selling models. The RAC champions responsible motoring and as Chief Engineer, I am often asked for advice on choosing a car. I usually change the subject. It’s difficult to buy a poor quality car these days and so much is down to personal preferences. I often point out the benefits and limitations of different low carbon options. With plug-in hybrids, fuel consumption is highly dependent on the mix of journeys undertaken so the manufacturer’s figures can be misleading.
I struggled to find a valid reason why I shouldn’t opt for a plug-in hybrid. I can forget range anxiety. I can take it into London without incurring a congestion charge and with little likelihood of being impacted by low emission zone restrictions. I can get a vehicle with four-wheel drive for when I have to cross muddy fields. And I can buy a vehicle within my budget with a £2,500 Government grant.
And finally, I will no longer have to duck and weave when asked why I am not driving an ultra low carbon vehicle when the organisation for whom I am proud to work advocates responsible and sustainable motoring.
...Only time will tell whether I got it right.