As Commander Spock may possibly, but not necessarily, have said, “We have a driving future Jim, just not as we know it”. This is irrefutably true because as we know Vulcans do not lie and because as a driving nation we are constantly encouraged to drive cleaner and drive greener. Whether we like it or not the alternative fuel, automotive snowball is rolling on, gaining size and authority as it goes: but what’s in it for us?
Thanks to lower taxes, fuel costs, and, importantly for now as they are disappearing, subsidies on the purchase price, it is becoming clear that electric cars (EV) are definitely cheaper to own and run than the petrol and diesel equivalents here in the UK and in a few other European nations. Advocates of the EV are taking on a sort of ‘told you so’ attitude but they tend to ignore the negative side.
For a start, if the tax on fossils fuels was lowered somewhat at the pumps, it might balance out more (It won’t, but we can dream, can’t we?). Take away the subsidy on EV purchase and it levels up some more. Electric cars are, by and large, quite good fun to drive and certainly easier and, although the range issue remains a stumbling block for many, things are improving on that front too. The new Kia Soul EV for example has managed to squeeze 243 miles out of its Duracell bunnies: Good, but still no cigar. That figure was achieved in ideal circumstances while driving like a parsimonious priest.
For many people, or for fortunate two-car households, an electric car can make sense if mileage is mostly local. For drivers needing to travel around it remains a nuisance to have to hang around waiting for public charging points and this is perhaps the main issue: The piecemeal approach to public charging. It doesn’t matter how good EV’s become if users can’t charge them very quickly and very conveniently.
On the plus side battery technology is moving fast. A new electric car battery breakthrough recently trumpeted might, they say, just have solved the problem in the longer term. We learn that this new technology, currently in development, could allow motorists to recharge in the same amount of time that it takes to refuel a car at the petrol pump. We’ll wait and see for now.
Environmentally conscious. Hugely abundant. Hydrogen fuel has massive potential. We will resist the temptation to say that when hydrogen-fuelled cars reach the market, sales will go with a bang. Suffice it to say, with the news dominated by autonomous and electric cars, hydrogen fuel is taking a bit of a back seat. This doesn’t mean though that it is the forgotten fuel.
It was reported as recently as last week that there is potential for hydrogen to catch and even overtake electric as UK ministers pump £14m into research. Toyota in particular are committed to hydrogen's potential to answer the demand for greener fuel and say they are producing fuel cell vehicles, like the Mirai, alongside their other alternative fuel vehicles to power a better future. The thing is though, a product like this can only stand or fall on customer acceptance; in short, are we ready for them?
We like hybrid cars and they are with us right now. Self-charging or plug-in models are the norm. Expect a big push into hybrid technology from Mercedes-Benz very soon and Volvo have already announced that all their new cars will offer this power mix.
Of course, this motive power only works as well as the driver uses it. There’s a knack to getting the most from hybrids but when driven properly can definitely improve upon mileage and produce less emissions over the length of a journey and when it all comes down to it, emissions are what it is all about. This is why here at eCars247 we always clearly state the official CO² emission figure for every car we offer. That helps our customers
to make the right choice