Electric Vehicles

Will drivers lead the charge for electric cars?

2 March 2010

Five minutes to fill up a conventional car at the pumps versus five hours to charge an electric car

Five minutes to fill up a conventional car at the pumps versus five hours to charge an electric car, is just one of the challenges of the 'electric car revolution'. The switch from petrol and diesel cars to electric vehicles will be a giant leap and needs pioneers to lead the way, according to the AA president addressing a Durham County Council Electric Vehicle Seminar today (2 March).

Edmund King will argue that there is a role for Electric Vehicles (EVs) but that local authorities are essential to help progress with:

  • The need for pioneers
  • The need for early adopters – fleets – local authorities
  • The need for incentives – national and local i.e. free parking
  • The need for infrastructure – charge points
  • The need for planners with vision
  • The need to overcome range anxiety
  • The need to address cost of batteries and safety issues
  • The need for quick charge (5 minutes to fill up petrol v 5 hour EV charge)
  • The need for a change of attitudes towards vehicle ownership

King also points out that we will remain reliant on petrol and diesel for many years, giving vehicle manufacturers time and opportunity to develop technology for electric vehicles.

But depleting oil supplies and increasing demand mean now is the time to develop a good, sustainable, alternative and get drivers used to a completely different method of propulsion/use. Now drivers need to see some direction in a replacement for their existing cars, even if mass electrification is a little way off.

This is why the AA supports the ONE North East vision to put the North East firmly on the low carbon map.

He will also argue:

Plug-in hybrids and range extenders are likely to help fill the gaps between petrol, diesel and full electric vehicles.

There must be much careful thought and appropriate investment so that both the cars and recharging structure can be developed to be available at the same time.

For many people, their first encounter with an electric vehicle was a milk float or basic quadricycle. Although ideal for nipping into the city centre from the suburbs, drivers need real cars for longer trips or even the weekly shop.

So we need pioneers – companies like Nissan (Leaf), Vauxhall with the Ampera and Mitsubishi (iMiev) who are building cars people will want to drive and which broadly resemble a 'normal' car. It is unlikely buyers will accept large increases in cost for something they may, initially, deem inferior.

We'll also need a change in attitude among drivers. We might have to alter the way we choose a car. At the moment many base their selection on the need to drive for the summer holiday with lots of passengers and luggage. In terms of electric vehicles, a smaller car for general use will be more suitable and a conventional diesel powered vehicle could be hired for holidays.

Electric vehicles offer the opportunity to use 'clean' electricity generated from a number of sources and this is a critical aspect in the future of electric vehicles.

Commenting, Edmund King, AA president and a Visiting Professor of Transport at Newcastle University, said:

"We need to make that giant leap from the milk float to the real electric car. We need pioneers to help turn these electric dreams into an electric reality.

"We are delighted that Plugged-in Places funding is going to the North East to help with the charging infrastructure. We need early adopters to lead the charge towards a low carbon vehicle future and so I will be encouraging Durham Country Councillors to get on board with us."

Join the discussion in the AA zone


2 March 2010