Industry experts have known it for some time, but society as a whole is beginning to wake up to the fact that diesel fuel (in particular) is doing more harm than most people realise.
Of course, there has been a ‘green’ movement trying to push fossil fuels out for cleaner alternatives for some time, but it’s only with the recent announcements from the powers that be, that we know for definite that the fossil-fuelled vehicle days are numbered.
But at this moment in time, is there really a credible alternative?
Let’s put aside the arguments surrounding the manufacturing, sourcing of parts and new-vs-keeping old cars – we’re only interested in the end product – the car.
Electric vehicle technology has improved in leaps and bounds over the last few years, which is to be expected once it starts becoming more widely adopted. However, if you’re genuinely looking for a practical and everyday useable car, products are limited.
It’s not surprising to learn that perhaps the one company driving development more than any other is Tesla, owned by Elon Musk.
It wasn’t that long ago that the maximum range of an electric car was <50 miles for a full charge, and charging was an overnight (or all-day) affair. Added to that was the fact that most of the electric cars commercially available tended to look a little … goofy. If you wanted an electric car, you had to make a statement.
Tesla has almost revolutionised the electric car market.
Old Dog, New Tricks
Ford were one of the first large manufacturers to reveal an all-electric car, all the way back in 1967. The Ford Commuta was going to be the ‘next big thing’, but even fifty years later, electric vehicles are the poor relation to the internal combustion engined variety.
The Commuta could have easily been the styling inspiration for the G-Wiz – you’d definitely think that the stylist for the G-Wiz grew up staring at pictures of the Commuta.
The Pros & Cons
As it stands today, prices for electric vehicles are still significantly more expensive than their petrol or diesel counterparts, choosing to help the planet comes at a cost.
Further, although some manufacturers have improved charge times and range, there is still an issue over the length of time that it takes to fully-charge the batteries in any electric car, and you’d need to consider where you can charge the car – it’s fine if you have a garage or off-street parking, but what if you live in a busy area where you may be lucky to park within half a mile of your home?
Statistics tell us that 96% of motorway services have electric charge points, some that are capable of delivering up to an 80% charge within half an hour, but … (and it’s a big but) … what if you don’t use motorways? Or need that final 20%?
Putting charging and range issues aside, an electric car can be a thing of wonder, especially in the early days of ownership.
Almost silent running, superfast acceleration (if that’s your wont) and the knowledge that your carbon footprint is helping to save the planet. Sure, banning diesel and switching from diesel or petrol to something green isn’t going to save the planet overnight, but as the world is beginning to think longer term, we should, too.
The electric vehicle technology is becoming widely adopted by a number of major manufacturers; Volvo have announced that after 2019, all of their vehicles will be electric or hybrid only – there will be no vehicles using fossil fuel as their single power source.
It’s perhaps decisions like these that will really push the development of the technology. We saw a team of researchers announce that they are working on a fluid cell battery that can be recharged in the time that it takes to full a regular tank, simply by flushing the fluid through and replenishing with a new, fully charged fluid.
It’s said that the technology could be used within the existing petrol station infrastructure – being stored and piped through the forecourts just as the petrol or diesel is now. But at what cost? Hopefully, low enough to make it achievable soon.
Whatever views on electric car ownership, at some point within our lifetime, it’s very likely that we’ll all have to make that switch. Now’s the time to start researching the type of vehicle that suits you and your needs, because before you know it, you’ll just be another consumer.