November 22, 2014

How do we put More Electric Vehicles on the Road?

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A Nissan Leaf electric car charges at Challenge Bibendum sustainable mobility trade fair in BerlinElectric cars will be the future of motoring. With our society becoming more and more environmentally conscious, we need to get more of these vehicles on our roads. But in order to do that, we need electric cars to become more practical, efficient, and cost-effective.

So what factors are prohibiting electric vehicles from penetrating the mainstream car market? Well, the most pressing problem is that there is a real shortage of charging stations at the moment. Unfortunately, this is a real “chicken and the egg” situation, as to encourage more electric car drivers you need enough charging stations, but to justify the existence of charging stations, you need more electric car drivers.

The US government have been trying to remedy this issue, but have yet to come to a satisfactory conclusion. During his first term in the White House, Barack Obama promised to put 1 million electric cars on the road by 2015. However, just over 31,000 battery-powered and plug in vehicles have been sold in 2012 thus far, which equates to approximately 0.28% of all vehicles sold in the US this year.

Plans in the UK

Where the US faced troubles, the British government are hoping to succeed. In an effort to make electric vehicles more practical, the authorities are aiming to install a series of motorway fast-charge points that could take these cars onto the open road. This network of rapid charge points will be installed in motorway service stations around the country, and are capable of fully charging your car in 15 minutes.

By contrast, conventional charging points usually take two hours to charge your vehicle, and will provide you with a range of approximately 100 miles. These limitations have ensured that electric cars are only really useful for short journeys around towns and cities, which has significantly limited their uptake by consumers.

Ecotricity, the company responsible for installing these new charge points, are hoping that this plan will allow electric cars to partake in longer journeys.

Addressing the “Silent Killer”

As well as being impractical for long journeys, electric cars have also been dubbed as a “silent killer”. This is because they are significantly quieter than conventional petrol cars, and are more likely to hit unsuspecting pedestrians. This issue is particularly problematic at a pedestrian crossing, where electric and hybrid cars emit very little noise over the first five meters in particular.

To reduce this risk, the authorities are proposing fitting each electric car with an artificial noise maker. These plans are becoming increasingly important, especially if the British government plans to rapidly increase the number of electric vehicles on the road. Current industry figures state that there are 2,353 electric and 128,165 hybrid cars on the road, but the government want this number to improve considerably by 2015.

These proposals have been welcomed by several industry professionals, including Robert Gifford, the Executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety. Speaking to the Telegraph, he said “The European initiative is welcome since it would avoid the potential of an unintended consequence of policy: in attempting to tackle climate change, we see a rise in pedestrian death or injuries.”

Going Green?

So it is clear that electric cars currently provide an imperfect solution to reducing vehicle emissions. But there is still promise in the concept, and it is likely that the majority of vehicles in the near future will be electric or hybrid.

So to make things easier for the consumer, there are now electric vehicle charging points that are available for residential use. Take the Schneider Electric EVlink for instance. This easy to use and very safe charging system can be installed on all types of domestic instillation. It is designed to be very user friendly, and will be able to charge your vehicle within six to eight hours.

While six to eight hours may be a long time to charge your car, if you are thinking of becoming an electric vehicle early adopter, owning a residential charging station is essential.

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What are your thoughts on electric vehicles? Are you thinking of purchasing an electric vehicle? Let us know in the comments below… 


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