Can we really make electric cars viable?
Posted by Amelia Boothman on June 26, 2009
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On Tuesday 23rd June the Government announced the world’s largest ever coordinated trial of environmentally friendly vehicles, which to me is about time, as the technology is not right yet to make these cars really practical, so without a push car companies won’t make the effort. It’s a £25 million project, the aim being to try and achieve what is still very far from reality, to make ultra-low carbon vehicles an everyday feature of life on Britain’s roads, in less than five years. People can take part in long-term trials of everything from electric Minis and Smart city cars to sports cars and electric vans.
Like any other electrical appliance, the cars have plug sockets instead of a petrol cap, which means the electricity needs to be sustainably sourced to be really green. Anyone interested in taking part will need to meet fairly specific criteria (which I and most of my friends don’t!). “You’ll have to have a garage, for example, and you’ll have to have a fairly modern electrical wiring system,” said Emma Lowndes of Mini UK. A normal socket would take over 10 hours to charge the Mini’s battery! They’re talking with Scottish and Southern Energy about putting in a 32 amp box into homes to make a more realistic charging time of 4 hours. Miguel Fonseca, Managing Director of Toyota in the UK said a hybrid car (which they of course make), which can be driven in electric mode and can also use petrol efficiently, was more ideal because of the lack, of advanced infrastructure to charge an electric car quickly. Unfortunately the hybrid car is not as eco-friendly as we’d all like, it needs two engines for the electric and the petrol modes and many small petrol cars such as our very own James Littlewood’s VW Blue Motion do many more miles to the gallon!
Some of the vehicles can travel for 100 miles on a full charge. One of the featured vehicles was the “Lightning” sports car, a 100 percent electric vehicle capable of reaching 130 miles per hour. Personally I’d love to run an electric car for my 50 miles commute but currently I can’t charge one as I live in a street with no off road parking and many of these car’s batteries would flatten before I got home. I guess its still an eco pipe dream for most of us!