SO! after commuting by car to London daily (90 mile round trip) for the past 5 years I didn’t think anything would change my vehicle requirements, step forward Sadiq Khan, he won the London Mayoral Election in 2016 and started making some changes which would ensure that vehicle emissions targets were met, amongst which was bringing forward the expansion of the Ultra Low Emission Zone.
Now whilst this didn’t directly affect me, as my car was already efficient, with low emissions, it did however, get me thinking about the future and what we should all be doing to improve our environment, so I started looking at Electric Vehicles, my understanding of them was that I wouldn’t be able to find one that suited my needs, I’d probably have to go for a Range Extender model (they use a petrol engine to recharge the battery whilst driving, lower emissions than a standard car), this didn’t appeal to me.
However, a couple of manufacturers had increased the battery capacity on their vehicles recently, so I took a look at those, 150 miles claimed range, nonsense (like MPG figures), but, on the plus side, they weren’t too far off, 125 miles on a full charge, that was suitable, but there were a number of other factors to consider, if only I could have an extended test drive, BMW wouldn’t provide this for the i3, but Nissan did for the Leaf, due to a bit of scheduling luck I was able to get one for 5 days, this is how all test drives should be, I was able to try out all the usual trips I do and some of the less common ones, during which the Leaf dismissed any fears I’d had about switching to an EV.
It’s quite a different driving experience, for some reason I feel calmer when driving an EV and I also drive in a calmer manner, something which I think many people should do, there’s too much anger on the roads, particularly around town, however, driving around in a Leaf at the lower speeds, it is quite serene.
Around this time I also found out that the car park I use near work is being lost due to the HS2 development, so I would have to park elsewhere, nowhere else was as cheap, so my fuel and parking costs were set to increase to £5,500 a year! £5,500 a year just to get to work, no thanks!
I set about working out the costs for driving an EV in to work, £0 Congestion Charge, £0 Road Tax, Parking in Westminster £0 (provided I move the car every 4 hours) and a theoretical cost of charging at home of £2 a day (roughly £500 a year), so we were left with the tough choice, £5,500 a year to get to work, or £500 a year to get to work, a no brainer, so I placed an order.
So the financials made sense, it’s green credentials are obvious (there are no emissions, it doesn’t even have a tailpipe) and I started to think, why doesn’t everyone do this?
The reason, so it’s claimed, is ‘Range Anxiety’, with the irony being that a lot of people barely do 40 miles a day, so range isn’t an issue for the majority, it’s just a perceived problem.
In my opinion it must be the charging infrastructure, whilst it is good now and always improving, this is the real issue, and if you don’t have off street parking then you can’t get a government grant to help get a home charging point installed, without which you are just relying on the public ones, the technology is good now, but it needs to get quicker, Tesla is a good example of how good/quick it can be if you have plenty of money and as it becomes more popular it will become cheaper, until then, driving an EV will take a little preparation and planning.