Bexley Council is asking residents if they would like to see publicly accessible electric car charging points on their street and has
put out a Press Release and questionnaire today.
It’s one of those subjects one may not get to know intimately until after one has jumped in with both feet and I suspect Bexley Council doesn’t know much about electric vehicles.
They imply that you will get a government grant on plug in vehicles which isn’t strictly correct. You will get a £3,500 grant if the vehicle is powered wholly by its battery and an electric motor. If it’s a hybrid you won’t get anything, plug in or not.
Sadiq Khan has already announced that the 100% Congestion Charge discount for electric vehicles is scheduled for the chop.
Bexley’s survey is very simple. If you tell it you have an electric car and off street parking it will tell you to buzz off, they don’t want to know. Only if you tell it you own, or plan to buy, an electric vehicle and would like to see on-street chargers will it take you to the final page where it simply asks for your contact details. That is probably fair enough but it is not a survey as claimed but an application form to have a charger installed in your street.
There are two big problems with electric cars. They are brilliant to drive, no gears, they just go; quietly and very very quickly. One problem is that you cannot buy any of the popular models straight out of the showroom. There is a waiting list and if you are looking for what is in effect the new standard of 250 miles plus of range you currently cannot buy one at all unless you have £70,000 to spend.
The few that were available can no longer be ordered in the UK. When the waiting list went over a year long the order books were closed.
Six months ago I bought one of only 50 imported at the time. There may be something like 500 now but you can no longer buy one. I worry about the availability of spare parts with so few on the road but on the other hand they are being sold second hand for about £7,500 more than I paid for it.
Charging is a complex issue. I have a home charger (£500 government grants are still available) which is clever enough to divert my excess solar generation into the car and there are enough chargers in supermarket car parks to easily satisfy current demand. My 4,000 miles have cost me precisely nothing.
However that wouldn’t work for everyone. If you are out all day and cannot charge at home things get complicated. There are chargers around - usually at a cost - that will fill a battery at the rate of about three miles a minute and faster ones are coming but that is not the sort of unit that Bexley Council has in mind. They will require an overnight charge to put a useful amount of electricity into a car battery.
There are unlikely to be enough of them to keep everyone happy.
A major problem at the moment is that there are quite a lot of plug-in hybrid cars around and they can only be charged slowly, much more slowly than a true electric vehicle. So they hog chargers for ages when they could if necessary use their combustion engine to get on their way. Meanwhile a battery only powered car may be stuck for lack of a charge point.
Much as I love my electric car and would never go pack to petrol the way forward is fraught with difficulty because governments simply do not think.
I hope Bexley Council knows what it is doing.
By the way, I have had three people tell me that Toyota’s new self-charging hybrids will take over from electric cars. What a con Toyota is perpetuating! In terms of the drive train their ‘new’ self-charging car is exactly the same as the very first Prius they produced more than 20 years ago. It is a dinosaur running wholly on the product of fossilised dinosaurs.