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.

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Photo by Marc Heckner on Unsplash

Author: Holly Ivaldi


'Global sales [of electric vehicles] rose 43% in 2020, but even faster growth is anticipated when continuing falls in battery prices bring the price of electric cars dipping below that of equivalent petrol and diesel models, even without subsidies.' Battery prices have fallen by around 90% in the last decade and are continuing to fall:  Electric vehicle 'recharging could soon be as fast as filling up petrol or diesel vehicles': 'Pollution from tyre wear can be 1,000 times worse than what comes out of a car's exhaust': 

Damian Naylor - 23rd January 2021 at 10:03am

Interesting article.While the initial outlay for an electric is likely to be high but not prohiobitive, the running costs are considerably lower, something like 2p per mile compared with 8p for a petrol car. Also, when you set off on your camping trip you will set off from home with a fully charged car and, far from pulling into a petrol station/charging point, you will pull into a supermarket or restaurant and while you stock up or refresh your car will conveniently charge from one of the points provided by Sainsbury, MacDonald's etc. I believe the KCC scheme and the scheme administered by the Energy Saving Trust are intended for residents without off-road parking and I suspect the demand for high speed charging for people passing through will be minimal. The parish council is looking into the siting of charging points and while there does seem to be a minimum distance of 2 metres from the highway there are 1,000 charging points built into lampposts in London, they can't all be 2 metres from the road. The carge point(s) will have to go in in anticipation of the growth in car ownership, but it's the future, even the government thinks so!

Michael Barker - 01st December 2020 at 10:05pm

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