There has been a lot of discussion in recent times about hybrid and electric vehicles on a couple of the motoring forums I am a member of.
The problems I see right now are:
1. Current (forgive the pun) technology.
2. Infrastructure to support charging
3. Clean energy to support the above
4. Limited range
5. Cost of hybrid and electric vehicles compared to modern clean petrol and diesel engined cars.
It is coming on in leaps and bounds but I just do not see it as a viable alternative at this time to fulfill a mass market transport system.
Infrastructure to support charging.
Who is going to pay for this to be put in place? As a driver of a normal internal combustion engined car, I do not want to be hit with more taxation
to install this for what is, right now, a limited market and of no use to me personally. This would involve regularly spaced charging locations along
all major motorways and trunk roads, as well as places or work and at home. Fine if you have off-street parking in which to do the charging!
Clean energy to support the above.
I remember seeing an article a while back discussing the adoption of electric vehicles for the East London 2012 Olympic games (is the world going to
end before or after?
) and how the power would come from clean hydro-electric generation in Scotland. This is, of course, nonsense as any
power from this source is channeled into the national grid, along with all other sources.
I also have a problem with the "carbon footprint" generated by the production of the vehicles before they have even left the factory. Most cars
these days are assembled from parts that can come from all over the world and are transported by dirty airtravel or by sea, to the point of assembly.
If they were made from parts all manufactured within a short radius of the assembly plant, itself using clean energy, then maybe they can at least
come off the production line with some green credentials.
Hybrid vehicles have the definite edge here, with their diesel or petrol motors charging the batteries, but pure electric vehicles just don't cut it
for many people. Ideally, these would best serve those who live and work within the confines of large towns or cities, but again a limited number
A lot of people driving company cars now get hybrids as part of their employers green image. However, the style of driving needs to change to get the
most from these cars. Driving them above the speed limits with hard acceleration will use just as much fuel as a pure diesel or petrol engined car.
Perhaps more so as the engines used are smaller and thus need a heavier right foot and higher revs to get the same performance the drivers previously
experienced in their oily predecessors!
The Tesla, for example, always seems to be touted as a fine example of this new technology. Yeah, it's perhaps a cool fast sports car, but drive it
as such and your range will drop by about two thirds.
Cost of hybrid and electric vehicles compared to modern clean petrol and diesel engined cars.
The pricing I am seeing for some of the current crop of these hybrid and electric vehicles puts them out of reach of many of the average motorists.
For the price of a basic spec Toyota Prius, I can get a more practical car that will give me close to or better MPG figures and cost several thousand
pounds less - where is the incentive for me to part with my hard earned cash?
In summary, it's not that I am opposed to such things, it's just that a lot more thought and effort needs to be put into the requirements for
supporting green motoring, not only by the manufacturers but by the government too.
The driving public also needs to change attitudes as well in order to adopt these new vehicles. For the last couple of years I have adopted a more
relaxed, slower driving stress free attitude to my daily commute. The advantage has been a marked increase in fuel economy and I am not bothered by
everyone flashing past me on the motorways, going hell for leather well above the national speed limit. I don't mean I drive like a nervous Nun but
a little less speed, gentler acceleration etc sure does help with the increasing costs of driving. I'm quite happy to continue doing that and
driving an older car rather than pay to drive an illusory "green" vehicle.