Are Cars Electric?
1st December 2020
ARE CARS ELECTRIC?
by Chris Lewington
If you drive a car, you are no doubt well aware of the recent government announcement to end the sales of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. So what will that actually mean for a village like ours? In ten years time will we all be whizzing around in super silent, tree hugging, electro gliding machines? Will a trip down to Rafferty's or Norman's run the gauntlet of trying not to trip over a multitude of electric cables strung across the pavement to charge cars? Will charging your lovely new motor be as simple as plugging in the kettle for a cup of tea? The future is undoubtedly green but a lot of the choices around cars, charging and infrastructure pose some tricky questions.
Firstly, as all you petrol heads who've read this far without flinching at the mention of the words electric and car in the same sentence will know, it's only "new" cars that will stop being petrol. The average age of a car on the road is around 7- 8 years old. That means a lot of us will still be driving around sitting on top of a fuel tank rather than an outsize battery come 2030. Purchase of a battery electric vehicle (BEV) can set you back something in the region of an extra £10k on a new and even £7-8 k on a 2-3 year old second-hand model compared to a petrol vehicle. So the economy of buying electric needs to be thought through carefully. And that's before we even start to talk about "Range anxiety", the fear that holds many of us back from dipping our toes in the electric waters.
hen you're on that family camping holiday trip down to Cornwall at some point you will pull into a petrol station to fill up the tank. If there's no queue, it's all done nozzle to tank and swipe the plastic in a matter of minutes. So what happens when your electric car nears the bottom of that overnight charge that was going to take you all the way to Lands End? A half-hour stop at a Rapid Charging point at the service station while you grab a coffee and bun will add 80 - 90 miles. According to Zap-Map, which provides a guide to the UK's charging infrastructure, there are currently around 4,800 locations providing 7,500 individual chargers. Soon charging points will outnumber petrol stations across the country!
However not all charging points are the same and this brings us back to Eynsford. Rapid Charge 50Kw points use DC current and are mostly found along major route roads and not all BEV's are adapted to use them. Fast charging points 7kW will take around eight hours to fully replenish an electric car's batteries from zero charge. The majority of public charging stations offer this rate. So most charging of your electric car will be done at home with a charging box installed to fully charge the car overnight. Great if you've got a garage or drive. As we well know, a cursory glance down the high street says otherwise. So if we are all to be driving shiny new electric cars off the garage forecourt come 2030, where are the people with only on-street parking going to charge them?
Kent County Council has been promoting a scheme to help fund charging points but these must be 2m away from the highway so wouldn't be of use for many residents. Possible areas that could be good for charging points are outside the Parish office car park, the village car park, station car park and eventually the new village hall car park. Should we be totally concentrating on charging points for residents' vehicles or should the mix also include rapid charging points for those passing through on longer journeys? What comes first, the installation of lots of charging points or a sizeable growth in the uptake of electric cars? Every parking space that is converted to an electric car charging station is one less place to park.
The government has laid down the gauntlet. The car industry is turning its focus on electric car production. So installing charging points in the village is something that is going to happen. Where, for who, and who's paying is the debate that has hardly started yet. Here in Eynsford and for the whole of the U.K.