Electric cars – a good move?
Stephen Potter, Professor of Transport Strategy at The Open University, who is leading a pioneering electric car project, offers his views on the development of this green transport.
“Rather than the electric cars themselves, the electricity-generating side could well be a serious blockage to the uptake of these new vehicles,” says Professor Potter. “Fast, high-voltage charging points would need to be publically available and this is no small task.
“If electric cars were to be widespread, we would need to have a massive programme to build new power stations – at least doubling the number we currently have. If most of this is to be in low-carbon electricity generation then that equates to an awful lot of nuclear, wind and tidal power stations. And we are already pushed to replace the existing nuclear stations, let alone build a lot more.
“Furthermore, a key point is that electric cars are only as clean as the fuel used to generate the electricity. And without a really serious programme to decarbonise electricity production, then the reductions in CO2 will be relatively minor.”
Professor Potter also believes that the government is off target in aiming at the private car owner, and that a smarter option is available.
“Electric vehicles have a different cost structure to petrol/diesel cars. They are more expensive to buy but the running costs are low. They are not well suited to the way we are used to buying cars, but would be better as part of an all-in lease package.
“What the government should be doing is supporting the development of electric cars in fleets for city car clubs. This is where the leasing form of financing is accepted and people pay all-in by the mile. This and other ‘public car’ schemes could also engender greener travel patterns as a whole (in other countries, membership of car clubs often substitutes for second and third household cars).
“This would also mean a more limited charging infrastructure would be required, patterns of charging are more managed and so problems of electricity demand are reduced.”
This comment was originally posted on Platform