Opinion: Why I’m not ready to embrace electric vehicles

GW columnist Andy Parsons explains why he's yet to be convinced about electric cars

Opinion: Why I’m not ready to embrace electric vehicles

Electric vehicles are a fairly new direction, but many forget that they’re an old invention.

Scientists were exploring the potential of using electricity to power a vehicle from the mid-19th century.

Andy Parsons of Shortfield garage in Surrey.

In 1865 French physicist Gaston Plante invented a rechargeable battery that would make electric motoring a more practical proposition.

Indeed, all of today’s purely electric cars owe their existence to Plante’s breakthrough and require plugging-in to recharge their batteries.

But, largely thanks to Henry Ford whose mass production Model T was significantly cheaper than electric alternatives and the need for an extended range from a combustion engine, electric cars had all but disappeared by the early 1900’s.

Electric car revolution?

Then, in 2004, California electric car manufacturer, Tesla Motors began development of its Tesla Roadster.

It became the first road-legal all-electric production car to travel more than 200 miles on a single charge thanks to lithium-ion battery cells.

The Model S was released in Europe in 2013 and the Tesla Model X in the third quarter of 2015.

The Mitsubishi i-MiEV launched in Europe in December 2010 and the Nissan Leaf became the first all-electric, zero tailpipe emission five-door family hatchback to be produced for the mass market.

Now it seems all manufacturers are heading this way.

There’s the Renault Zoe, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Electric Drive, Fiat 500e, Volkswagen e-Up and e-Golf.

The BMW i3, Mercedes-Benz B-Class Electric Drive, Ford Focus Electric, Chevrolet Bolt EV and the super quirky Twizy.

That’s just to name a few.

Cobalt supplies

However, a recent report suggested that the UK’s electric cars will need twice the world’s supply of cobalt.

UK demand for EV batteries will require almost the total amount of neodymium produced globally each year, three quarter’s of the world’s lithium, and “at least half” of the world’s copper.

Materials necessary to replace the two billion cars in the world would require four times the UK’s total annual electrical output.

But why does need a team of scientists to raise the red flag?

In 2013 it was reported that the UK very nearly suffered a national black-out, with just a four per cent reserve of electricity, and the National Grid urged businesses to limit their electricity needs.

Enappsys, which monitors wholesale electricity market data, suggest that the grid had an even more difficult job keeping the lights on last year, when it took new emergency measures to increase supplies with electricity sourced from abroad.

So, my first question is where does the future EV electricity supply come from?

And, what we do with the end of life batteries?

The European Union and China has already introduced regulations which make vehicle manufacturers responsible for recycling batteries.

There is still a question, however, over whether or not manufacturers will use recycled materials due to liability fears.

Many tyre manufacturers, for example, are still reluctant to use recycled rubber.

So, what do we do with these discarded batteries?

For me, these two questions need to be answered before I wholeheartedly embrace EVs as the long term future of cars.

Do you believe electric vehicles are the future? Share your comments below.

Home Page Forums Opinion: Why I’m not ready to embrace electric vehicles

This topic contains 8 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Andy Coulton 56 minutes ago.

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)
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  • #183290 Reply

    DON-1

    Yes I agree with Andy, I think they are a long way of in my view, the city where I operate from is full of student lets & blocks of flats with very few charge points, I think electric cars are reserved for the wealthy few who want to splash our £30k odd to be trendy under the guise of being ‘good for the planet’ sorry I’m not convinced, the recycling aspect alone for these vehicles will be horrendous I think.

    #183336 Reply

    Dougal

    Why does it need a team of scientists to raise the red flag?

    Because changes are promoted by politicians.
    Replace the House of Lords with a House of Science & Technology and you might start getting a more sensible approach.

    #184114 Reply

    Lawrence Wells

    Just trying to install 2 charging points for electric vehicles at my petrol station,the supply to the garage is not enough so it’s going to cost 30k plus to have a bigger supply cable installed not sure if I will bother now electric may be ok for short distance city commutes but is no good for distance motoring.

    #184118 Reply

    Peter Miles

    As far as I can see in my lifetime (I’m 68) purely electric cars will always be a minor part of the mix. Hybrids more so but still not going to replace internal combustion engine power (which hybrids rely on anyway). Diesel I see as on the way out except for HGV’s and other specialised vehicles so it’s petrol into the future unless something changes drastically.

    #184168 Reply

    Stuart down

    I’ve been saying for years hydrogen is the future it’s a really exciting technology, so many of the cars are already out there and the technology really is coming along in leaps and bounds.

    #184767 Reply

    adrian j walker

    LOOK most of the above is correct to some extent, however we must remember what the politicians are not saying. where are we going to get all the electricity from, where are we going to get all the precious metals from to replace all the power cables in the uk, they are over their limit already ( I was an electrical engineer in power distribution) and finally are we going to rape the earth for all the precious materials to make the batteries, what will kill the planet first ?

    #184892 Reply

    Paul baldwin

    Dear readers another problem is soon what to do with 5 year old and older full electric and hybrid cars as the major repair costs make them scrap. I just diagnosed a 2014 golf e with 17k on it and 2 moths out of warranty as having a component failure which Vw know all about It will be interesting to see if Vw contribute towards the repair as it is many thousands

    #185250 Reply

    Andy Coulton

    Research and development in the electric vehicle sector is moving on at a blistering pace. New battery technologies are already being trialled including a “Flow” battery that might be able to take you 5,000 miles without charging. You fill up with electrolyte instead, the old electrolyte is removed from the vehicle (at the same time), this is then taken to a “recharging facility” that is powered by renewables. I agree the current Lithium battery is unsustainable but new alternatives will be developed. I don’t think Hydrogen will be the answer as many argue it has a larger carbon footprint than petrol due to the energy required to harvest it, then there’s the ultra thick and heavy fuel tanks required. Certainly interesting times ahead in the EHV sector.

Viewing 8 posts - 1 through 8 (of 8 total)

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