The latest edition of Jaguar World Monthly magazine has an excellent article by the Editor, Paul Walton, about a road trip he made from Toronto in County Durham to Moscow in East Ayrshire via New York near Newcastle using a Jaguar I-Pace, which for the uninitiated is an all-electric vehicle. Officially Jaguar Land Rover claims the I-Pace has a range of 292 miles, but in reality maximum charge amounted to a range of 201 miles.
The writer encountered all sorts of issues, mainly relating to the poor infrastructure available in 2019 for electric vehicles. The charging points that were available sometimes failed to work due to software issues, while the faster 50kW DC chargers were sometimes unavailable, resulting in the slower 43kW AC chargers being used. Even with the faster 50kW DC chargers, Paul Walton had to allow at least 90 minutes to get the full 201 mile range. Plugging into a domestic electric supply was even slower than a 43kW AC charge. When using wipers and lights, the I-Pace used 1.5 miles of range for every mile travelled.
If this is the future of motoring, then things look bleak.
What to do… what to do?
Yes, I know that the range of electric vehicles is likely to improve and that charging should become quicker, but will they improve significantly by 2040 when the last petrol and diesel-engined cars leave the production line?
Electric cars will be fine for commuter journeys and shopping trips, and they can be charged up overnight from the domestic supply, but are they really viable for longer distances?
Every year I make the annual pilgrimage to the NEC Classic Car Show from my North Norfolk home, a distance of 168 miles, or 336 miles there and back. With an electric vehicle, I would have to stop for a charge up, but as I would be stopping for an evening meal anyway, the time delay would not be an inconvenience. However, this is the 2019 scenario, when there are few electric vehicles on the road. What happens when we get to the 2040s when most vehicles are electric, and all new cars will be?
Will there be queues for charging points? The 10-minute stop at the filling station might morph into the 30-plus minute wait at the charging point with stressed out motorists waiting impatiently for you to finish topping up your power banks so that they can take your place in order to resume their journey. Due to the longer wait to replenish a vehicle’s range, will more and more charging points proliferate? Will there be huge car parks adjacent to main roads full of charging points?
Are EVs going to be worth the hassle?
Will some people decide that it is not worth the hassle and adopt alternate means? It is possible that some people will retain in use petrol and diesel cars as long as the fuel is still available. I personally can’t see the internal combustion engine disappearing off our roads until the mid-2050s when the last examples wear out from neglect, unless of course the Government outlaws them before then.
Another point about the migration from the internal combustion engine to electric power that is overlooked is that the Government stands to lose billions in tax revenue from the sale of fossil fuels.
At the moment one can get a Government grant for going electric but, once electric use is widespread, these grants are bound to morph into taxes. The Government has to make up its revenue somehow and the notion that electric power is cheap can’t last forever. We will end up paying, somehow, some way, just as we have always done for road use.
Will it be the age of the train?
Then there is the railway system. Neglected for most of the past seven decades for being yesterday’s transport system, and brutally pruned of thousands of miles of track thanks to an all-party consensus that looked on the rail network as a drain on the nation’s resources and road as the future, the race is on to get Britain’s railways fit for the 2040s and a possible seismic shift in our travelling habits.
That’s because some of us may decide that the hassle of long-distance electric car travel is simply not worth it. An electric car journey to the appropriate railway station, the bulk of the journey by train, and another electric car journey from the station, be it a hire car or taxi, to our ultimate destination. One can see this as a sensible approach for retirees – in other words, get rid of the car altogether with all the hassle of taxes and maintenance and rely on taxis and trains.
Don’t get me wrong, I can see the benefit of going electric on environmental grounds, and a lot of this has been forced on central Government by legal action from the environmental lobby, but in rural areas the effects may be far reaching. What do other people think? Any feedback to this article will be most welcome since most of it is probably ill-informed speculation!