/ Motoring

Are we together in electric dreams? Not when it comes to cars…

Electric cars charging

Electric cars are silent, smooth, better for the environment and many owners love them – and yet sales figures continue to stay low. So what’s stopping us from charging up and hopping in an e-car?

If you were offered the keys to an electric car tomorrow, what would stop you from taking them?

As a nation, we went out and bought nearly 2.7m brand new cars last year, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). But only 10,264 of these vehicles were electric – that’s less than half a percent.

Yet in last year’s annual car survey, it was Tesla and its super-snazzy Model S electric saloon car that nearly broke our scoring system for owner satisfaction.

It showed that owners didn’t just like their cars – they loved them. Here’s what one Tesla owner said:

‘Staggering performance, quiet, has an enormous amount of Tardis-like room… via updates, the car has got BETTER since I bought it. It’s the future.’ (Which? Car survey, 2016)

At their best, electric cars are silent, smooth and clearly satisfying… so why aren’t we buying more of them?

Have you got range anxiety?

Range anxiety is the term given to the worrying feeling that you won’t be able to make it to the next convenient charging point before your car runs out of juice and regresses into what is essentially a lavish metal box on wheels.

But in our tests, most electric cars can get 90-115 miles on a single charge. The Tesla we had in the lab was able to travel over 200 miles between plug sockets.

OK, many petrol cars can go further than this, but with new charging points popping up all the time – and with many cars overstating their miles per gallon (mpg) figure – this isn’t necessarily a big turn-off for electric.

Feeling under-charged…

On the other hand, you might want an electric car but not have the ability to plug it in somewhere at home.

Let’s face it, unless you have a driveway it’s going to be faff to run out a cable to where your car is parked. (And that’s assuming you are able to get a space anywhere near home.)

You may have also investigated the charging points around areas you normally drive – say your local shops – and found a considerable dearth of accessible or convenient charging points.

But if you get a fast-charging wallbox installed at home you should be able to fill your batteries to the brim in three to eight hours, depending on the car. Just be aware that if you rely on a domestic plug, charging times could increase dramatically, stretching to beyond 12 or even 24 hours for a full charge.

…or over-charged?

Electric cars are generally more expensive than their fuel combusting cousins. For instance, a 5-door Volkswagen Golf has a glossy-brochure price of at least £18,280.

Compare that to the all electric Golf (e-Golf). Prices start at £31,680, although the plug-in grant from the UK government will reduce that cost to £27,180.

Still, that’s nearly £9,000 extra to go electric (or to put it another way, the cost of a brand-new VW Up! city car) just to ditch the fuel tank.

What’s stopping us from buying electric cars?

So why aren’t we buying more electric cars? Is it range putting you off – or the price? Perhaps it’s everything above or something completely different. Whatever your hesitation is about buying an electric car, tell us about it in the comments below.

The main thing putting me off buying an electric car is:

Cost of buying electric (41%, 1,090 Votes)

The range (24%, 651 Votes)

Lack of public charging points (12%, 314 Votes)

Can’t plug in at home (7%, 195 Votes)

Something else (7%, 191 Votes)

Charging times (5%, 132 Votes)

I'm not put off - I already own an electric car (4%, 96 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,669

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I think that electric cars are the future so we’ll have to embrace them sooner or later. I went for a test drive with hubby in a Tesla and it was amazing! I love the car and would love to have one! I must admit that am a tad put off by the charging bit as it would be just like me to run out of charge half way through a journey. Also the auto functions of the car e.g. parking itself, require a great deal of self restraint not to push any pedals and just allow the car to do its thing.

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Here is a slightly less emotive press release by Amnesty International UK: https://www.amnesty.org.uk/press-releases/electric-cars-running-child-labour It contains a link to a long report with very reasonable recommendations.

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Duncan: I don’t know what media you read or watch but excessive emotionalism is almost the norm now and often obscures the truth and facts behind the stories. We simply want to read the bare facts – and those are hard enough to come by.

If, on the other hand, you’re talking about implicit censorship which acts through consensus to hide or displace real facts, then you might have a point. But I do believe you’re a bit too concerned that we’ve become the 51st State in effect, although the UK is becoming rather desperate as Brexit increasingly unravels, to make trade deal with our colonial cousins.

Duncan – I’m certainly not wanting the truth to be censored and I am very supportive of raising awareness of exploitation of people to provide us with cars, mobile phones, clothing and even food. It would be interesting if marketing for products carried accurate information about exploitation of people and the subject that I can relate more easily to as a scientist – damage to the environment. I think these are issues that we should all be discussing and better able to relate to.

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It would be relevant to explore how these issues relate to electric cars. Most discussion relates to the the benefits of reducing pollution where the cars are used, and practical aspects such as range and recharging facilities.

Duncan said” I can supply well known organisations as backing of what I said”.

Please do, Duncan. It’s all I ask.

It does appear that motorists are being clearly steered towards electric powered vehicles but is it the obvious choice? What has happened to the idea of combusting hydrogen and emitting H2O in to the atmosphere? I have read that the safety issues can be mitigated? Toyota are working to launch a H combusting car (2022) and another H Fuel Cell based vehicle (2023). Go to the Toyota websites, it is worth the read. Toyota are a global leader in car technology and already have an incredible record in reducing carbon emissions in their standard and Lexus vehicles.

Then there is methanol which can also be a carbon-neutral fuel source. Methanol is already used to power many high powered racing cars. Again a lot of information is available on the web but It does not seem to be that far along the road at the present time.

IMO H combustion and H Fuel cells have many advantages and it will be very interesting to see what Toyota end up doing. It just seems to me that the future for a vehicle fuel source is not clear cut. Ultimately a reduction in carbon emissions is needed at every stage of manufacturing, in vehicle operation and affordability.