Electric cars will always be “the next big thing”

It appears that our commitment to greener cars is likely to hit the buffers in years to come as the prohibitive cost of maintaining electric cars becomes reality. Car makers have made great strides in embracing green technology and have managed to significantly reduce the carbon footprint of many cars. Indeed the larger manufacturers are likely to have more eco friendly cars in their range than not and the fact that they are still desirable models, and the performance and attractiveness undiluted, means that the car buying public are happy to invest their money in greener cars and do “their bit” for the environment.

Fully Electric cars however are quite a different matter. Not only are they expensive to begin with but despite what the “I absolutely love the Nissan Leaf” brigade might have us believe, let’s be honest, they’re just not particularly desirable. Not only that, they are also likely to see their residual values slashed by up to 70 % over 5 years, due to the fact that when the battery is due for replacement the cost is estimated to be a whopping £8,000! The truth is the fundamental problems with electric cars still remain; lack of scientific breakthroughs on battery technology, range anxiety and cost.

Now I believe that most of us will happily do our bit for the planet but that perhaps it does not extend to pouring money down the drain just to establish our green credentials and until someone comes up with a way of significantly reducing the cost of replacement batteries and an environmentally friendly way of disposing of them, then they will continue to be what they always have been…the next big thing.

It’s like the Emperor’s new clothes in many ways; with the lack of advancement of the concept electric cars will never be more than a gimmick and once the novelty wears off people will think “I don’t know why I ever bought this thing”. In the long run it is unlikely than anyone except the most ardent “greenie” with the deepest of pockets is likely to want to buy one.

Anyone for a ride in my Sinclair c5?

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10 Responses to Electric cars will always be “the next big thing”

  1. Tom August 2, 2011 at 3:24 pm #

    Hmm, where to start on this massively over-simplified argument?

    Firstly, electric cars CAN be desirable. In the same way that you probably hanker after an Italian supercar rather more than you get excited about a diesel hatchback, if I won the lottery tomorrow, I’d go out and buy a Tesla Roadster. For the most part, I think younger people are far less attached to the internal combustion engine.

    It won’t be long before the breakthrough on battery technology arrives and all of us will be laughing as we pass you stuck refuelling at the services with new chemistry providing a ten-fold increase in performance and energy density, meaning we can do 1,000 miles ‘as standard’ in many battery-powered vehicles.

    Finally, you’re putting all electric vehicles in the same camp. There are different business models emerging that get away from large battery replacement costs. Talk to Renault about its battery leasing model – it’s incredibly common-sense and will fit in with consumers’ current expectations and outlay when it comes to owning a car.

  2. Tom August 2, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    …what those rubbishing electric cars don’t seem to understand is that gasoline has a fixed energy density. Pretty much the only way to make an improvement is to burn it more efficiently.

    Battery technology is improving in a way that means new chemistries open up new doors in terms of energy density and therefore the potential range of electric vehicles.

    I’m not saying electric vehicles are the silver bullet. There won’t be a magical increase in their performance and we’ll still require a mix of electric, hybrid, petrol and diesel vehicles on the roads for the next two or three decades in order to meet the emissions targets set out in UK legislation.

  3. Buddy Hightower August 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm #

    Sheesh! In your own way you are as deluded as the gear heads who think oil ain’t never gonna run out. “Not long” before we have a 1000 mile range from a freakin battery! Wake up smell the cofee and then drink some my friend. BATTERIES ARE NOT THE ANSWER!

  4. Ling Valentine August 2, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Hey, Buddy Hightower, I own “Sheesh”. Less of the “Sheesh” please.

    The answer to all this argument lies in far higher fuel prices. That will be the main catalyst for any advance in technology.

    So, why do most people (including the foolish AA President, and many, many voices, etc) constantly clamour for cheaper petrol and diesel prices? Pandering to populist stupidity.

    In my view, we would do well to see £5 a litre of fuel. That will really enable an advance in alternative vehicle power. It’s a (popular) mistake to demand cheap fuel.

    Most people waste a lot of driven miles, driving a car is still extremely discretionary (ie, “let’s go for a drive”). You see people leaving engines running, just wasting fuel, and living far from their work (creating a commute). This should not happen. You don’t switch on your oven for fun, or run a water tap just for the hell of it, or leave the door open on your fridge, or leave lights on all day “for fun”. In the same way, driving should be frowned upon if it’s not a necessary journey.

    What is necessary? Well, that’s up to you, but as I say… people run a bath without guilt, but often prefer a shower and would certainly not just run the water away for the hell of it. Yet a lot of energy goes into providing water, just like into making petrol.

    High fuel prices are GOOD, people will vote with their wallets and frankly learn to adapt to a new style of car use. So increase that fuel tax!

    The answer is not Hydrogen, by the way, terrible stuff: TopGear got that bit VERY wrong.

    But, they were right about the Nissan Leaf and Peugeot i-Skip or whatever it’s called. They are VERY niche and pointless at the moment. Range anxiety is a right killer.


  5. Mangosuthu Buthelezi August 2, 2011 at 5:49 pm #

    I suspect even that robot from Red Dwarf who keeps going on and on about how great electric cars are would have to admit in his darkest moments that the Nissan Leaf isn’t very good. Even though he behaved like a nervous little schoold girl around Carlos Goshn when he interviewed him recently. Mr Goshn probably A. drives a GT-R and B. thinks Kryton is a tit.

  6. Buddy Hightower August 2, 2011 at 6:22 pm #

    Hey lady I do sheesh real good thanks and I dispute ownership. I see “Tom” has backed his EV up a little and has gone from it “not being long” before he is laughing at all of us in the gas station as he goes 1000 miles between charging to EV’s not being a “magic bullet” and their being no “magical increase in performance” because Tom know magic is what will surely be required. EV’s and battery powered cars in particular are the emporer’s new clothes for sure, Tom knows it he just can’t admit it…maybe he has a vested interest I don’t know

  7. Tom August 2, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Vested interests duly declared! The funny thing about vested interests is that they tend to inform you slightly better than people like Clarkson who haven’t done their homework…

    In developmental terms (as in vehicle development cycles), I really believe that it won’t be long before we get genuinely game-changing increases in performance.

    I wonder, have you, whoever you are, ever driven an electric vehicle?

    p.s. I’m about 10 years too old for anonymous forum usernames, so please forgive me for finding this all rather childish!

  8. Greg x2 August 2, 2011 at 10:17 pm #

    Tom what you beleive is your own business but forgive me if I am rather more sceptical. I, like many others, firmly believe that batteries are the problem not the solution. I myself have driven an EV but I don’t need to have done so to know that they simply aren’t viable at the moment. As presumably you are paid to promote EV’s and have declared a vested interest then why is your opinion any more valid than some petrol head who worships the V8?

    Forgive me if I find your comments a little pompous.

  9. Tom August 3, 2011 at 7:58 am #

    “batteries are the problem”

    So what’s your solution then?

    Or do you deny that there’s even a problem?

  10. Ling Valentine August 3, 2011 at 8:22 am #

    No one is quite sure what “the solution” will be, because at the moment you can buy any petrol/diesel car (however much fuel it consumes per mile), waste fuel at a massive rate by driving pretty pointlessly (ie to the fish and chip shop), use as much discretionary petrol as you want, fill up on every street cornet with no shortage or queues and the only complaint is that fuel is a bit more expensive than a year ago.

    So, no need for a “solution” while this state of affairs exists. Hence, the “solutions” are pretty crap.

    Give it 25 years and we may edge towards a proper answer, but in the meantime… oil fuelled cars will be twice as efficient and twice as clean as today, anyway.

    And talking of anonymous forum user-names, I am the only person here declaring my full name (not just first name) and interests, so you all need to shape up in that regard (if you can be bothered). Tom, Bob, Fred,… what use is just a Christian name?



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