This week, one of the main stories in the news was about the UK announcing it had brought forwards a ban on the sale of petrol and diesel-fuelled cars to 2035 from its initial target of 2040.
That’s all well and good, but it does have its problems as well. To my mind, the biggest of these is the necessary infrastructure.
You can tell that the great majority of the people proposing these requirements (and expecting everyone in the country to follow suit) live in houses with driveways – or at least off-road parking – as well as the funds to pay for a significant increase to their electricity usage.
However, lots of people don’t live in those situations. Those in blocks of flats, for example, wouldn’t necessarily have access to anything. For those who (like me) live in a house with on-street parking – and even then it’s not guaranteed or reserved parking, so I regularly end up parking a distance away from my place – but even if I were parked outside the house, an electric car would mean dangling a power cable out of the house, and across the pathway that’s regularly used. For that scenario, I’m honestly not sure what the infrastructure requirements would be – and I don’t think anyone else knows either.
The costs are another matter. Yes OK, you’re cutting out the costs of fuel, but if the demand for electricity shoots up that much, then so will the costs of it. Additionally, there are plenty of people who are on paid-supply meters, or high tariffs (whether because of laziness and not changing, or because that’s all they can get because of debt, income, whatever) and that can also be an issue.
Alongside those concerns – and just using myself as an example – there are plenty of drives that fall outside the range of all but the most expensive electric vehicles. An ‘affordable’ vehicle like the Nissan Leaf, for example, apparently has a range of 135 miles. So I could do a return journey from home to London, no worries. But I couldn’t do a trip down to see my friends in Somerset (which I can do in 3 hours currently) without a recharging stop each way. (And again, they don’t have a power point for charging a car down there) Same when I go to see friends in Manchester, or Newcastle.
Hell, I’ve even done daily commutes that would take me past that kind of mileage – and the office was (again) somewhere with no connection to a decent charger, it would’ve been power-cable-tastic – which would have been entirely impractical.
If that kind of target for everyone to have electric vehicles is to be realised, I think there need to be quantum leaps in several aspects, including (but not limited to)
- Infrastructure for charging vehicles
- Battery technology, to improve both the range of electric vehicles, and to improve the speed of charging
- and to improve at-home-storage, allowing the potential for using home-based renewable generation – solar, wind, whatever – that can be stored to provide the charging without draining the grid
- A huge review of the costs of that electricity, and to ensure increases to the supply that will handle all that extra demand
- Consideration of the impact on petrol and diesel industry – including the effects of all the staff who might then be in less demand at filling stations and so on
Personally, I think a lot of stuff round electric vehicles is a load of old cock. I’m not convinced that they’re any more efficient (among other things, there’s a lot of power lost in the transmission over cables, so it needs a *lot* more generation in order to provide the supply) and while they’re less polluting at the point of use, I’m not convinced that it’s doing anything more than moving that around. We don’t know what happens with the constituent parts of the car batteries, or what happens when they expire (or when a car crashes or whatever)
I don’t claim to know what the answer is – but I also don’t think that a wholesale change like this is necessarily the best plan. It needs a lot more thought, and a shitload more planning than currently seems to be happening.
As regular readers will know, I have a really bad habit of reading the small print. (I say ‘really bad’ although it’s not – anyone who doesn’t deserves everything they get. It’s just ‘really bad’ from the advertiser’s perspective) There’s two ads doing the rounds at the moment that annoy me, so you know what? You get two posts out of it. Lucky you.
The first (which arrived in my inbox just now, and motivated me to write it) was for a leasing arrangement on a new car – a Nissan Leaf, if anyone cares.
The deal offered is this :
The 100% electric New Nissan LEAF Visia Flex FROM ONLY £199 A MONTH*
WITH A £3,250 ADVANCE RENTAL CONTRIBUTION
OK, so they mention that “Advance Rental Contribution” (which is a deposit, surely?) right at the start, and already it’s skewing the figures. But then we get to the bottom, and the small print…
Finance is available subject to status on eligible new vehicles registered between 01/04/14 and 30/06/14 in the UK to persons aged 18 or over. Rental stated is for Nissan lease. Advance rental of £5,750 (includes £3,250 Advance Rental Contribution) followed by 48 monthly rentals of £199 a month and final rental of £6,201.
Hang on – £5,750 upfront? That’s another £2,500, on top of the “Advance Rental Contribution” – where has it come from, and what’s it for? Even if you take out the first month’s £199, that’s still £2,300 unexplained. Fucking hell.
All told – with all those amounts listed, that comes to £21,503. For a poxy Nissan Leaf.
But then it gets better… (Sorry, “better”)
Once you have paid the final rental you can keep using the car by paying an annual rental of £50 + VAT; if you choose Nissan lease then you will never own the car.
As well as entering in to a lease agreement for the vehicle, you will need to enter in to a separate lease agreement for the battery. Monthly price shown includes the on-going monthly battery lease charge of £70.
Now they’re just taking the piss, surely ? So even when you’ve stumped up your £21,503 – sorry, £21,563 including that little final ‘annual rental’ charge, then you will *still* be paying £70 a month for the fucking batteries?
Up yours, Nissan.
And of course bear in mind, when I’m wanking on about reducing impact and so on, that I’m actually a hundred-and-odd miles away from home this weekend, and I’ve driven the whole way.
So yeah – trying to reduce the impact, and all that piss. And sometimes failing. But it’s worth it.
While – as per yesterday’s minorly ranty post – I’m not epically green, eco, and wanky about ‘saving the planet’, I do believe in lessening one’s impact where possible.
- I’m not the kind of hand-wringing apologist wanker who’ll replace an existing working vehicle with an electric car, or a hybrid. I’d rather use my old one ’til it dies and needs to be scrapped/recycled.
- I recycle what I can, but not obsessively for every separated bit of packaging. Some things just go in the bin. Life’s too fucking short.
- I don’t chuck away loads of unused food, and all that.
- The only reason I use more than one bin-bag a week is because of the cat’s litter tray.
- I’m fucking shit at reducing my annual mileage – mainly due to commuting. Although those longer commutes do (allegedly) help maintain engine efficiency, so *shrug*
- I *try* to use public transport when it’s reasonable/feasible. It’s just that for a lot of things, it’s neither reasonable to do so, nor feasible.
- I don’t leave lights/TVs on etc when I’m not using them.
In short, I try to lessen my impact. I’m not perfect, but nor am I obsessively green.
All told, it seems to be a pretty sensible perspective, and generally pretty well balanced.
And yes, green eco-wankers who bleat on about how we’re “killing the planet” piss me off too.
The planet is [roughly] 4½ billion years old. It’s doing fine – and did so well before Homo Sapiens made its appearance, and will continue to do so well after we screw ourselves up and die out.
Whatever we do – even nuclear war – won’t destroy the planet. Sure, things might change (nuclear winter, global warming, whatever) but change is part of the planet’s life cycle. Ice ages, global tidal waves, mass extinction events. They’ve all happened before, and they’ll all happen again. The human race might be around to see them, it might not.
In typical human hubris, what we actually mean by “killing the planet” is “fucking up our chances for long-term survival”. Changing the environment won’t destroy the world, it’ll just kick off another evolutionary event, and knock our own race off the globe.
The planet itself will carry on regardless.
So fuck off telling me you’re saving the planet. You’re not – you’re actually taking part in an innately selfish human-centric piece of behaviour. That’s all.
On my walks round Milton Keynes, I regularly see electric cars plugged into the provided charging points. Just left there, charging.
Now, is it really childish that every time I see one, I want to either
- Unplug the car and/or
- Move/hide the charging cable/block completely ?
Actually, I know it’s really childish – it’s just I get annoyed by the palpable smugness of these ‘eco’ ballbags who think they’re ‘saving the planet’ by leaving their shitty electric cars plugged in for hours to an inefficient method of energy generation/accumulation…