back to article How practical is an electric car in London?

If you revel in the independence a car gives you, then electric is not for you. The quoted range of 100 miles (161km) sounds fine, but that's a bit like a quoted ADSL speed. Your mileage may vary. The truth is that if and when the car goes flat, you are in deep doo-doo. Run out of petrol and you can walk to a petrol station, …

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  1. Rakkor
    Holmes

    On Street Parking

    Where I live in SE London 90% of the houses have no allocated parking, I'd like to know if there's an answer to this other than "move to a less pikey area"

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: On Street Parking

      Unless you want to see parking garages built like most other cities, then no. The answer is going to be to move.

      Personally, when the part of town I live in has more residential cars than parking spaces, it IS always time to move. It usually means I can no longer afford the rent, anyway.

      That said, electric cars will be the dominant car within the next 20 years. Fast charging, 250+ mile range at ~$30k will spell the end of the ICE almost overnight.

      Thank god.

      1. Peter Clarke 1
        Coat

        Re: On Street Parking

        I know some people put extremely loud systems in their car but to ban In Car Entertainment is a bit draconian.

        Oh, wait ...

      2. Thomas Gray

        Re: On Street Parking

        "spell the end of the ICE". Err, right. Not everyone lives in cities, you know. And some people even live near to power stations, which is simply where your pollution (in fact, a great deal more - given the inherently wasteful nature of electric generation and motive power) gets pushed.

        I've an idea: re-build Battersea Power Station for the exclusive use of electric vehicles. Then London would see EXACTLY the consequences of all this "free, clean" electricity.

        1. Magnus Ramage

          Re: On Street Parking

          Regarding pollution and electric cars - yes, there is a risk of simply pushing off the pollution. But less-polluting electricity generation is being actively pursued in a number of ways (renewables, carbon capture, even nuclear), needs to be solved anyway for other purposes, and is certainly in principle feasible. The ICE by contrast is inherently polluting, and the best to be expected is more efficient engines or small-scale remediation of their effects.

          That said, it would be very interesting to do a comparison of carbon emissions (and other pollutants) from an ICE vs the equivalent emissions from a standard gas- or coal-fired power station, for the generation of sufficient power to drive a car a certain distance. And then of course, as Thomas Gray suggests, to look at the local distribution of those pollutants.

          1. Psyx

            Re: On Street Parking

            "That said, it would be very interesting to do a comparison of carbon emissions (and other pollutants) from an ICE vs the equivalent emissions from a standard gas- or coal-fired power station"

            For me the difference is obvious: A car is less efficient than a power station. And whereas a car spews out fumes at street level, in densely populated areas, power stations don't. Electric is the future of cars... it's just going to take us a while getting there. Remember that the first petrol engined cars weren't exactly practical, either.

            1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

              Re: On Street Parking

              Remember that the first petrol engined cars weren't exactly practical, either.

              You have to remember that the first petrol engined cars were competing for market share with a horse.

              The horse had very limited range, low top speed, little comfort, was expensive to keep, and required daily maintenance.

              An electric car that had free parking (in London), free charging, and could use bus lanes would work for me as a daily driver / snotter to get me to work. At £30k, it'd only need to work for 5 years to beat the train on price. I'd still keep my petrol cars for longer trips / fun (a mans gotta have a hobby), and have the eleccy car in addition.

              Unfortunately ecofeco is wandering about in fantasy land if s/he expects the changes described to come about in 20 years. They won't. Nor will most of our power be provided by windmills.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: On Street Parking

                An electric car that had free parking (in London), free charging, and could use bus lanes would work for me as a daily driver / snotter to get me to work. At £30k, it'd only need to work for 5 years to beat the train on price. I'd still keep my petrol cars for longer trips / fun (a mans gotta have a hobby), and have the eleccy car in addition.

                So as long as you get everything for free, without any of the restrictions imposed on other equivalent personal transport, then it "works" for you? Well, I'm sure it does...

                1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

                  Re: On Street Parking

                  So as long as you get everything for free, without any of the restrictions imposed on other equivalent personal transport, then it "works" for you? Well, I'm sure it does...

                  I was trying to be positive :) Leccy cars just won't work for me in any realistic scenario.

                  While I simply don't buy the whole MMGW/AGW/AAGW/Whatever the mentalists are calling it this week, I am pleased we're at least looking at alternative fules in case the petrol runs out in 50 years when my potential grandchild wants to learn to drive. I don't believe it will, but only my wife is *always* right, so a plan b is ok with me.

              2. Psyx

                Re: On Street Parking

                "You have to remember that the first petrol engined cars were competing for market share with a horse."

                Err... they were primarily competing with electric, diesel and steam driven cars and horse-drawn carriages, rather than simply horse-back riding.

                "The horse had very limited range, low top speed, little comfort, was expensive to keep, and required daily maintenance."

                Horses don't have a very limited range, or a low top speed compared to early cars, and carriages were more comfortable than early petrol driven vehicles. Old car also require daily maintenance.

                The electric vehicles were also ahead on the comfort front and far more popular for a while. What finally gave petrol engines the edge they needed were decreased running costs (cheaper petrol), better range than the competing electric cars and an electric starter motor which meant they no longer needed to be hand cranked (which had pretty much made them useless for anyone who can't hand-crank an engine or afford a lacky to do it for them).

                "it'd only need to work for 5 years to beat the train on price."

                The ridiculous cost of public transport is indeed...ridiculous. It should not cost us more to catch a train than for one person to drive to London and park there all day.

                "I'd still keep my petrol cars for longer trips / fun (a mans gotta have a hobby), and have the eleccy car in addition."

                Likewise. But that is indeed because I am a motoring enthusiast and WANT more than one vehicle, rather than for a legitimate, practical reason. If I was simply a 'car gets me from A to B' person, it would make more sense for me to have the one car and rent when required.

                1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

                  Re: On Street Parking

                  Err... they were primarily competing with electric, diesel and steam driven cars and horse-drawn carriages, rather than simply horse-back riding.

                  Sure, but electric, steam, and diseasel cars were worse than the horse, so the horse was the best option available. Once the car could achieve a similar daily range (albeit at a lower speed per hour), the future of transport was set.

                  Horses don't have a very limited range, or a low top speed compared to early cars, and carriages were more comfortable than early petrol driven vehicles. Old car also require daily maintenance.

                  Sure they did. A horse can optimistically go about 40 miles per day. The Benz Patent Wagon, the frist commerically available petrol car, could do that in 5 hours. The first long distance trip in one was some 66 miles in a day, during which the lady driver (Mrs Benz) invented brake shoe lining, and had to locate pharmacies at which to replenish the fuel. The vehicle carried 3 people on this occasion, which no horse could do over a similar distance even if it could cover the ground.

                  The very first petrol powered car had already beaten the horse in all but top speed.

                  To compete with a modern car which can hold say 70mph all day with a few fuel stops, you'd need more than 8000 horses (assuming a 200 horsepower car). The modern leccy car has 120 years of automotive development to overcome, which is a very different and difficult challenge.

                  Likewise. But that is indeed because I am a motoring enthusiast and WANT more than one vehicle, rather than for a legitimate, practical reason.

                  I need a cheap track day car (for when I run out of talent or get collected by someone else that has), and my proper car. The wife also needs a car (something less powerful and costly to run than mine).

                  Realistically, my wifes car could be replaced by a Leaf - but since it cost £500 to buy and has been reliable for the past 3 years, she may be waiting a while before Nissan want to do a like for like swap.

                  1. Psyx
                    Pint

                    Re: On Street Parking

                    "Sure, but electric, steam, and diseasel cars were worse than the horse, so the horse was the best option available."

                    The horse was not the best option available though, as evidenced by the increasing popularity of electric cars and bicycles in the era. The horse wasn't even the best option against the horse-drawn carriage. For non-urban transport the steam locomotive was the best option.

                    "Once the car could achieve a similar daily range (albeit at a lower speed per hour), the future of transport was set."

                    That's selecting a line of reason after the matter to fit the modern issue, though. It was not solely increased range that sealed the deal, as said: It was the increased practicality due to other technical advances improving the design, that they became cheaper to run AND the range outstripped electric cars (which were slowly starting to win the battle against horses). Range was not the deciding factor... because of the train again. And remember we're talking old cars. 100 miles in a 100 year old car is a bit of an adventure, not a trivial matter.

                    "Sure they did. A horse can optimistically go about 40 miles per day."

                    [Heard of the Pony Express? ;) I know it's not overly relevant, but every long-distance horse messaging or courier or stage-coach network changed horses regularly.]

                    "The vehicle carried 3 people on this occasion, which no horse could do over a similar distance even if it could cover the ground."

                    Which would be relevant if the late Victorians were covering long distances on horseback, but they were not. They used carriages (which held more than the cited vehicle) for shorter runs and trains for longer runs. Trains left cars of any kind and horses standing for long-distance travel.

                    Which is relevant today: The combination of short-range electric car and long-range public transport normally moots the need for a long-range electric car... or would do if public transport didn't suck balls quite as hard as it does. *grumble*

                    "you'd need more than 8000 horses (assuming a 200 horsepower car)."

                    HP != BHP, remember. And 'horsepower' doesn't even equal horse power.

                    "The modern leccy car has 120 years of automotive development to overcome"

                    It can bootstrap a lot of that by simply using existing automatic tech though. We don't need to invent windscreen wipers again. Most of what we have learned is relevant to electric cars. It will take a lot less time, this time around.

                    Petrol cars spent the first half of their existence as pretty much a luxury product, rather than a mainstream one. I doubt it will take electricity as long to catch up. It'll be a bit rubbish if it does!

                    "I need a cheap track day car "

                    No such thing, is there? ;)

                    "but since it cost £500 to buy and has been reliable for the past 3 years, she may be waiting a while "

                    This is my problem, too: I do so *few* miles that coughing up for a new car that's much more efficient would be an epic waste of cash. Especially given that my motor only costs about £250 a year to service and maintain.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: On Street Parking

                  It would have been impressive if the first petrol cars had been competing with Diesel. Look at the dates of the Diesel and the semi-Diesel (Ackroyd Stuart) patents. The Otto patent was in 1862. And neither the Diesel nor the semi-Diesel were suitable for use in cars for many years after they were invented.

                  Steam driven cars were never more than a joke, and the usual steam driven road transport was the traction engine.

                  The GPP is quite right because the horse was the motive power for the various carriages in use. It was slower than quite early petrol cars, which was why a 20mph speed limit was instituted (and there were many cases of prosecution of motorists for exceeding it.)

                  In the early days just about all cars had chauffeurs as they were fabulously expensive, so the starting method wasn't a disadvantage - in fact it was an advantage as it further reduced the chance that a knowledgeable employer would dispense with his chauffeur.

                  No, what limited the replacement of horse drawn carriages and electric cars in the esrly days was the availability of petrol, which had to be bought from pharmacists in 1 litre quantities. In other words, distribution and range were the same factors that are affecting electric vehicle adoption today.

                3. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: On Street Parking

                  "The ridiculous cost of public transport is indeed...ridiculous. It should not cost us more to catch a train than for one person to drive to London and park there all day."

                  Believe it or not, the UK has the lowest cost public transport in the EU.

                  Lowest OVERALL cost. Lowest subsidies. In some EU countries, rail and local tram/bus subsidies are over 80%.

                  What that means is that the trains in Holland are cheaper for the end user, but only because the dutch taxpayer is pumping money in on the other side to keep it all running. If average tax rates were 50-60% in the UK like they are in webfootland, there would be all sorts of scams cooked up to keep service levels rotten and prices high whilst sucking at the govt cash spigot.

              3. HippyFreetard

                Re: On Street Parking

                The real problem with electric cars right now, is the VHS/Betamax problem. Nobody wants to buy a car until the charging stations are everywhere, and nobody wants to build charging stations until they know which system everybody will use.

                The recent patent airdrop by Tesla has the power to kick-start the industry. I would say 20 years is realistic. Some cars already go 100 miles before needing charged or swapped, so I only see that improving.

                40% of Scotland's electricity comes from renewable sources, and there is investment in more. Reducing our reliance on oil (be it American, Russian, Middle Eastern, or our own) and other finite fuel sources has got to be a good thing.

                I don't think it will totally replace petrol in 20 years, but I think the industries will run concurrently until petrol cars occupy the same classic niches as horse-drawn carriages, steam trains and sailing boats (which are still thriving industries, if reduced from their heyday).

                I would say using a combination of solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, and hydro, we could eventually make all our electricity renewable. Efficiency will increase. With car companies competing for custom and more customers bringing better mass production, the price of the technology will come down. 20 years is quite realistic.

                Tesla is bringing out a budget model next year or so. It won't be long before those start being sold second-hand, and we'll all be buying them. If his system wins out, other companies will develop their own compatible versions, and the technology will become standard.

                1. Naughtyhorse

                  Re: make all our electricity renewable...

                  Oh dear....

                  no we won't

                  as of last year the 1GW offshore wind generation input (offshore tends to feed in at 400kV) required 500MW of diesel jennys standing by for when the wind didn't blow.

                  the paltry amount generated by onshore wind (generally fed in to the 132kV network) really didn't matter.

                  As of now, the capacity for embedded generation (mostly solar, but some wind, biomass.. hamsters in wheels etc etc) on the 11 & 33 networks is maxed out, even using suicide tactics like dynamic line rating wont buy much more, and the overall capacity could run a few calculators (assuming the sums weren't too hard).

                  the renewables business in this country is about subsidy farming and that is ALL.

                  Kill the subsidy and get serious about meeting demand (this will happen in a couple of years after regular power cuts become de-rigeur) and we'll be in the nuke building business again.

                2. kiwimuso
                  Thumb Down

                  Re: On Street Parking

                  "Tesla is bringing out a budget model next year or so. It won't be long before those start being sold second-hand, and we'll all be buying them."

                  Oh, that's alright then.

                  And who amongst the less well-off will be able to afford to buy, or at least maintain all this wonderful technology? Even second or third hand. New battery pack? How much to renew those?

                  Mind you it's as bad now with a lot of modern cars. It's OK for the first owner, and maybe even the second owner, but when the bits start going wrong, how is the 3rd hand owner to afford that.

                  $400 to replace a key which allows you to unlock you doors, switch off your alarm, and allow the engine to start. It's a joke.

                  OK for those on regular, reasonable incomes.Tough if you are unemployed and looking for a job, and no adequate public transport for your region.

              4. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: On Street Parking

                "The horse had very limited range, low top speed, little comfort, was expensive to keep, and required daily maintenance."

                Compared to horses, petrol engines _are_ low pollution for locomotion purposes. There was a real fear in mid-19th century London that mid-20th century londoners would be wading through knee-deep horse shit (It was already ankle deep most of the day and thousands of tons was taken off the streets every day)

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: On Street Parking @Psyx

              >For me the difference is obvious: A car is less efficient than a power station. And whereas a car spews out fumes at street level, in densely populated areas, power stations don't.

              A clear case of: out of sight out of mind...

              1. Psyx

                Re: On Street Parking @Psyx

                "A clear case of: out of sight out of mind..."

                No, it isn't.

                It's a clear case of cars pollute at street level and their pollution gets breathed in by everyone on the street, whereas power stations aren't right outside nursery schools and have bloody great chimneys.

                The two might cause the same pollution overall, but having it away from a population centre is very different on a practical level to having it concentrated in our densest populated areas.

                1. Benjol

                  Re: On Street Parking @Psyx

                  Also, if you find a solution for power station pollution, you only have to apply it once. Applying it retroactively to all the ICE cars is mind bogglingly expensive. That or you could just switch to a new, clean power station, still without changing the cars at all.

                2. Alan Brown Silver badge

                  Re: On Street Parking @Psyx

                  whereas power stations aren't right outside nursery schools and have bloody great chimneys fitted with exhaust scrubbers that put any catalytic converter to shame.

                  FTFY

                  Power stations put less overall pollution into the environment than cars even when slag ponds are added into the equation. (Coal ash can be used in making bricks), but more to the point, the remaining lifespan of fossil fuel plants should be fairly short.

          2. Dave 62

            Re: On Street Parking

            Someone did a study, it was in MTZ a year or so ago, I was looking for it recently but couldn't find it.

            Comparing the CO2 output of a modern diesel vs an electric car using typical current UK electricity mix, they were level, with the diesel obviously being more practical.

            Now there is the matter of particulates and NOX, which diesels are rather bad for, but gas/coal stations probably produce *some* other pollutants (gas not so much I know, but still *some*).

            This, iirc, didn't include manufacture and disposal, but I could be wrong on that.

            The reason we're not all chasing electric cars because they are not the best/cheapest/most practical/going to happen soon enough.

          3. Naughtyhorse

            Re: On Street Parking

            renewables, carbon capture, even nuclear are inherently polluting, and the best to be expected is more efficient solutions or small-scale remediation of their effects.

            there!

            fixed it for you

        2. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
          Pint

          In other words, they're not sustainable

          E-cars do not scale. Period. That's the message of the article.

          How come there isn't a wee feisty trailer with a wee feisty petrol- or propane-powered generator? Such an accessory would pretty much solve the entire Range Anxiety issue.

          Also, looking at the picture: I can understand why petrol filler necks have to be on one side or the other. But given the simplicity of an electrical socket, why not have a charging port on both sides of the car?

          1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: JeffyPooh Re: In other words, they're not sustainable

            ".....I can understand why petrol filler necks have to be on one side or the other. But given the simplicity of an electrical socket, why not have a charging port on both sides of the car?" To keep build costs cheap. Each socket or petrol filler cap requires a hole punched in the car body panels, each hole means another stamping operation, so more cost. And then each socket require the socket and more wiring, so even more cost. Luxury cars like the Jags often used to have two filler caps.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: JeffyPooh In other words, they're not sustainable

              Luxury cars like the Jags often used to have two filler caps.

              Because they had two tanks, both of which had to be filled.

              1. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: JeffyPooh In other words, they're not sustainable

                "Because they had two tanks, both of which had to be filled."

                The tanks had a link tube, but it was of limited flow capacity ( to prevent sloshing between tanks on corners) and was often easily outrun by a petrol pump. The only way to reliably fill up was to use 2 pumps or to alternately fuel each side (which was tedious as it took 3-5 swaps to get it done) in one session.

            2. Naughtyhorse

              Re: JeffyPooh In other words, they're not sustainable

              my dad's jag had 2 fillers, cos it had 2 tanks.

              doing about 12mpg you kinda need them.

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: In other words, they're not sustainable

            "How come there isn't a wee feisty trailer with a wee feisty petrol- or propane-powered generator? "

            People have been doing this for a while on their e-vehicles. Some trailers are the front end and complete drivetrain of a donor vehicle (pusher trailers), which is even more efficient on long trips than running a generator.

        3. Paul2724

          Re: On Street Parking

          That's a myth - Google "ev pollution generated by electricity for charging"

          Despite the source http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_car#Air_pollution_and_carbon_emissions is pretty good. The actual results vary greatly depending on what mix of power stations is used, but remember these are 1st Gen EVs (things will only get better as the tech matures) and most countries are looking to reduce their electricity grid's CO2 emissions over time. And already EVs are mostly better overall...

        4. rh587 Bronze badge

          Re: On Street Parking

          ""spell the end of the ICE". Err, right. Not everyone lives in cities, you know. And some people even live near to power stations, which is simply where your pollution (in fact, a great deal more - given the inherently wasteful nature of electric generation and motive power) gets pushed.

          I've an idea: re-build Battersea Power Station for the exclusive use of electric vehicles. Then London would see EXACTLY the consequences of all this "free, clean" electricity."

          Mr Gray, a large gas plant with in-situ scrubbing and filtration would probably be a whole lot cleaner than the sort of catalytic converters you can sensibly squeeze onto a small vehicle. So yes, going to electric from ICE is a sensible idea, provided your stations are equitably located so as not to incur horrendous transmission losses.

          And, you know, get the flock on and build the Gen IV nuke stations that should have been greenlit during Premier Blair's reign if our politicians weren't so utterly spineless when it comes to energy security.

          Clean, safe, low carbon, can be turned on and off at will instead of (literally) going with the wind. Ensure at least one utilises a fuel cycle conducive to recycling our existing waste stocks, and sort out the boneheaded rules of what classes as "hazardous". Putting a watch with tritium elements into a drum of soil does not render that soil irradiated or hazardous in any sane sense of the term. Landfill the stuff that's less harmful than coal ash, recycle the good stuff and bury the vitrified remains of the relatively small remainder that are no good.

      3. Chris Miller

        @ecofeco

        The end of the ICE in 20 years is most unlikely. In the absence of some unforeseeable brand new energy storage technology, neither physics (ultracapacitors) nor chemistry (batteries) can get within an order of magnitude of the energy density of petrochemicals. If you're seeking something with minimal CO2 emissions, technology to produce petrochemicals (or simply methane) using electricity is a much more probable scenario.

        1. Steven Jones

          Re: @ecofeco

          Indeed. The only way that the ICE will disappear is if somebody comes up with a cost effective fuel cell which can work off high energy content liquid fuels (perhaps ethanol). I discount liquid (or compressed) hydrogen as producing it is thermodynamically highly inefficient and it's tricky to store and distribute.

          Batteries have fundamental capacity constraints dictated by electrochemistry. Lithium is already just about the best candidate we have, as it is the third lightest of the elements, but it still has very poor energy storage (in battery form) when compared to hydrocarbon fuels. Battery powered vehicles could well have a role in short range, commuting and delivery functions, but not for long range delivery or a general purpose family vehicle. For those, some form of easily transportable liquid fuel will surely still be best, and at the moment, the ICE is what we have.

          1. DJO Silver badge

            Re: @ecofeco

            Using a fuel cell to break down ethanol then using the power liberated to turn an electric motor is not significantly more efficient than burning the ethanol in an ICE to get the motive force also the materials needed to make fuel cells are expensive and get spoilt quite quickly so a fuel cell would probably have a far shorter life span than a ICE.

            Heart patients will often carry nitrolingual spray, which is just harmless nitroglycerine dissolved in tasty ethanol with a hint of mint oil. This stuff burns like petrol and without the mint oil could be a possible petrol replacement.

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: @ecofeco

              "Using a fuel cell to break down ethanol then using the power liberated to turn an electric motor is not significantly more efficient than burning the ethanol in an ICE to get the motive force"

              ICEs are ~30% efficient AT BEST - which is near full load with a wide open throttle. The rest of the time they're more like 1-5% (or 0% if idling).

              That's not to mention all the complex gubbins and necessary compromises required to try and allow the engine to run at a huge range of speeds and loads, all of which pull down on the ideal efficiency and the hugely complex pollution control shite which goes with thet gubbins to ensure that it's keeping within emissions regulations across that entire range.

              The real contest is between using a fuel cell and a small IC engine which is either switched off or running at optimal load to charge batteries. Of course once you get to that stage you could dump the IC engine entirely and put in a small stirling motor, as they have substantially lower maintenance costs and are just as efficient.

          2. Robert Goldsmith

            Re: @ecofeco

            A lot of research is going into 'flow' batteries which separate the electrodes from the electrolyte so you could just replace the electrolyte much like filling up with petrol (except you'd also want to remove the spent electrolyte).

          3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
            Boffin

            @Steven Jones

            "Batteries have fundamental capacity constraints dictated by electrochemistry. "

            Yes & no.

            From time to time I like to take battery capacity and calculate how much of that volume is (roughly speaking ) made up of electrons (which provide the power) and "everything else."

            Roughly speaking the electrons are somewhere between 1/10000 and 1/1000 of the whole volume.

            There's a lot of wasted space in a battery. Anyone who made a battery that 1% efficient in electron storage volume would be a f**king genius.

            1. Naughtyhorse

              Re: Orly?

              so you are saying a chunk off of a neutron star would make a good battery?

              not for a vehicle surely, it would be too heavy to move.

            2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              Unhappy

              Re: @Steven Jones

              "From time to time I like to take battery capacity and calculate how much of that volume is (roughly speaking ) made up of electrons (which provide the power) and "everything else."

              Roughly speaking the electrons are somewhere between 1/10000 and 1/1000 of the whole volume."

              My bad. I've been running with a 1nm cube for electrons but actually I should have gone with about 1/100 smaller in each dimensions.

              So the actual volume of electrons in a modern battery is about 1/1000 000 of my estimate.

              IOW If you can reduce the volume of non electron storing material battery capacity can rise.

              A lot.

            3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
              WTF?

              Re: @Steven Jones

              5 down votes?

              Just to be clear I don't think batteries are the way to go.

              My ideal solution would a fuel cell battery hybrid running on a sugar solution. Readily extractable directly from plants, carbon neutral, high energy density.

              However whenever someone tells me "This tech's gotten as good as it gets, there's just no big improvements left to be made" my reaction is to go back to first principles.

              A modern battery is maybe 1/1000 of 1% by volume made up of charge carriers.

              That' means this tech is a long way from reaching it's limits.

          4. h4rm0ny
            Paris Hilton

            Re: @ecofeco

            What would be the noticeable differences with an ethanol powered car? Is ethanol significantly more energy dense than petrol? So would we see smaller tanks? Or cars with much longer range? And would they be any better for air quality? That sort of thing...

            1. Chemist

              Re: @ecofeco

              "Is ethanol significantly more energy dense than petrol"

              No. OTTOMH it's about 2/3rd as energy rich per volume maybe only ~1/2 compared with diesel.

            2. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: @ecofeco

              Ethanol is less energy dense. You'll need a bigger tank and also you'll have a lower MPG than with petrol. Talk to anyone who's raced petrol and alcohol burning cars.

              As for air quality.. are you talking about at the tailpipe or for the whole chain of growing, fermenting, distillation and delivery as well as tailpipe emissions? Methanol is actually more efficient to produce (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methanol). But politics play a big part of this

              1. h4rm0ny

                Re: @ecofeco

                Ah, thanks for that. I remember now so yes, ethanol fueled cars don't seem like a good idea any time soon. For air quality I was referring to at the car end. I'm well aware that it is just shifting the problem elsewhere but as far as I'm concerned, the entire chain should begin with Nuclear power and end with either batteries or (potentially better from what I've just learned) hyrdogen fuel cells.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: @ecofeco

              According to Wikpedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline_gallon_equivalent) Ethanol has about 66% of the energy of petrol (or gasoline as they call it). So the tank would need to be 50% bigger for the same range.

              The problem with Ethanol is the energy used to produce it and the fact that it uses farmland that would be better used for growing foods. Recent price rises in some foods can be blamed on the rush to grow crops for Ethanol instead of for people [citation needed].

              Anyway, wouldn't you rather drink the Ethanol? Watered down with suitable flavouring, of course!

          5. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: @ecofeco

            "Lithium is already just about the best candidate we have, as it is the third lightest of the elements, but it still has very poor energy storage (in battery form) when compared to hydrocarbon fuels."

            Flow batteries have much better characteristics for vehicle use, but they're a lot harder to engineer for mobile applications.

            Amongst other things you can dump/refill used/charged electrolyte, which would reduce recharge times considerably, without the hassle associated with changing out a single several-hundred-kg lump, and would enable fixed-side electrolyte polishing, without preventing use of charging posts for day-to-day short-run operations.

        2. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

          Re: @ecofeco

          Yeah, it would be great to see methane produced using technologies unsuitable for electricity generation (eg, wind, solar). We already have the distribution networks to store and pipe this stuff around, and no dangerous or expensive batteries or exotic slush hydrogen required :-)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabatier_reaction

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @Rupert Fiennes

            "Yeah, it would be great to see methane produced using technologies unsuitable for electricity generation (eg, wind, solar)."

            Volume, mate. That's your problem. Total wind and solar output is around 3 million tonnes of oil equivalent (MTOE) annually. Total transport fuel demand is around 63 MTOE. Factor in the 50% end to end losses of renewable power to transport gas and all the wind and solar energy in the land would meet 2% of your transport demand. How much more of the country do you want coating in PV and wind farms?

            From a performance point of view chemical fuels are a far better bet than batteries, so power to gas is a more promising technology, but it relies on huge volumes of electricity to cover an worthwhile fraction of electricity demand. If you electrified most UK transport you'd need about four times the generating capacity we have at present, and the only technology going to deliver that is a vast build out of nuclear.

            1. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

              Re: @Rupert Fiennes

              Serves me right for not doing the sanity check first then :-)

              Thanks

            2. Dave Bell

              Re: @Rupert Fiennes

              There's an argument that solar-electric is close to competing with coal. Whether you get the power when you want it is the big issue, and it hinges on some assumptions about future costs of fossil fuel. But all those cars recharging while parked up for the day would certainly ease some of the wrong-time problem, and the pollution benefit can be pretty big.

              (OK, it's the Chinese. They've built something about four times as long as HS2 in under three years. They seem rather better at these big projects than we are, though I am not sure I would want to be getting in their way.)

      4. Naughtyhorse
        Unhappy

        Re: death of ICE

        30k+ miles per year, at motorway speeds, sometimes 3 or 4 passengers, out in deepest darkest Norfolk miles from the nearest house, never mind charging point....

        I cant wait.

        1. Psyx

          Re: death of ICE

          "30k+ miles per year, at motorway speeds, sometimes 3 or 4 passengers, out in deepest darkest Norfolk miles from the nearest house, never mind charging point....

          I cant wait."

          Well, it's not for everyone. But no product is, and just because some people aren't perfect customers it doesn't make the whole concept useless, just as cable modems are also a moot product for you.

          But I do about 1-2k a year, seldom for than a handful of miles. So an electric car would theoretically be great for me. And if I did want to go further, it'd be cheaper to rent for a day than to have a more expensive car to run on the other 364 days.

          1. Naughtyhorse

            Re: death of ICE

            I believe that's what busses are for.

            But an upvote nonetheless - I appreciate that I and the other 25 million or so other non metropolitan drivers are a special case :-) and the article does mention London, which is a pretty hateful place to drive in.

          2. Psyx

            Re: death of ICE

            "I do about 1-2k a year, seldom for than a handful of miles. So an electric car would theoretically be great for me. And if I did want to go further, it'd be cheaper to rent for a day than to have a more expensive car to run on the other 364 days."

            Wow... some thumbs down on my own assessment of my personal situation.

            *slow hand clap*

            How do you work that out, geniuses?

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: death of ICE

          Electric cars have their uses, as to ICEs. The problem is people buy an ICE vehicle sized to cater for their once-per-year trip to Bognor and occasional trips to Ikea when 99% of the time a G-whiz would do.

          It really is cheaper to size for your normal needs and hire something else (or pay delivery fees) for the few times you need something larger.

          I'm as bad an offender as any. My commute is 12 miles each way down country lanes in a large family car. My excuse is that I used to have a small one but it got squashed one day by a tractor coming the other way. The size is mainly to have more crush space available.

      5. tony72

        Re: On Street Parking

        I won't cover the same ground as other posters, who have already pointed out some issues with the reality of what you suggest. But I would have to ask, why do you find the end of the ICE even a desirable thing? The electricity your electric cars run on isn't created by magic, much of it comes from fossil fuels, and you can work out the emissions by looking at the energy mix supplying the grid you are charging on. I don't have figures for the UK, but in the USA, electric cars in areas with the cleanest energy mix were equivalent to a petrol with a 95mpg fuel efficiency, but in the areas with the dirtiest energy mix, they were only equivalent to a petrol car with a less than 40mpg fuel efficiency. Read this report for example, excerpt "About 37 percent of Americans live in regions where a Leaf’s greenhouse gas emissions would equate to a gasoline-powered vehicle rated at 41 to 50 m.p.g.". I get 50+mpg from my diesel Scirocco.

        With combustion engines becoming ever cleaner, and the energy mix of our electric grids not changing significantly anytime soon, it's simply wrong to promote electric cars on environmental grounds. Clean petrol/diesel cars are competitive on emissions, and the other advantages are huge.

        1. Fuzz

          Re: On Street Parking

          Don't forget they're talking US mpg, 50mpg in the US is around 60mpg over here due to the larger gallon.

        2. Psyx

          Re: On Street Parking

          "But I would have to ask, why do you find the end of the ICE even a desirable thing?"

          Well...

          1) As a motoring enthusiast, it's kind of exciting to see a new technology being born and harnessed.

          2) Electric cars are very quiet. we have the opportunity to turn our cities into quieter, more pleasant spaces to live in. People living next to main roads might get a decent night's sleep.

          3) Cars pollute at street-level, rather than power stations which pollute a nice long way away from schools et al and have nice big chimneys to get the grime out of the way.

          4) Lots less moving parts in cars. They should be much more reliable in the long-term (battery difficulties aside. Switchable packs are a first step).

          5) The theoretical performance is staggering: Massive acceleration, lower centre of gravity, no gear-changes to slow you down, less mass.

          6) Safety. The new Tesla leaves every other car behind in crash tests.

          7) If we can't make our energy more efficiently in bulk somewhere than we can in little boxes on wheels, we're doing something wrong. Although cars might today be as or less polluting than power stations, that will change as the balance of our grid moves more towards more efficient less polluting production, be it fission, fusion or harnessing the power of tie-die by burning hippies.

          8) It would be nice to break our reliance on importing oil from unpleasant dictatorships.

          1. strum Silver badge

            Re: On Street Parking

            Interesting that the only response some people have to 8 cogent points - is a silent downvote.

          2. Naughtyhorse

            Re: On Street Parking

            1) if you like electric you are not a motoring enthusiast

            2) quieter cars makes for more pedestrian accidents and people who have lived next to main roads for any length of time get used to the noise and find it hard to sleep without it.

            3) because pollution you cant see is not polluting??

            4) Is reliability an issue with modern cars? I cant think of a single instance where my car failed to start or broke down in the last 15 years

            5) Not necessarily less mass - there's a fucking great big battery to lug around, if gear changes slow you down... see point 1

            6) the tesla only did well in those tests because the battery went flat before it reached the wall and it slowed to almost a halt before impact.

            7) see elsewhere in this thread for the problems relating to loading even a small proportion of road traffic to the grid.

            8) you do know where the batteries are made right?

            there fixed it for you, with only 1/2 my tongue in my cheek

            1. Apdsmith

              Re: On Street Parking

              Hi Naughtyhorse,

              I think one of the points I've not yet seen made on 3) is that fitting various random devices to strip out NOx etc (or even carbon capture, assuming it ever actually works) may be feasible for 1 x Drax but it considerably less feasible for 5,000 x petrol engine cars...

              Ad

              1. Naughtyhorse

                Re: On Street Parking

                and my dads jag did 12 mpg while my mondeo does 50mpg

                QED

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: On Street Parking

              "2) quieter cars makes for more pedestrian accidents and people who have lived next to main roads for any length of time get used to the noise and find it hard to sleep without it."

              Bullshit. I have for most of my life and I still prefer quietness.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: On Street Parking

          " "About 37 percent of Americans live in regions where a Leaf’s greenhouse gas emissions would equate to a gasoline-powered vehicle rated at 41 to 50 m.p.g.". I get 50+mpg from my diesel Scirocco."

          Your 50 miles to a UK gallon is about 40 miles to a US Gallon. Your 40 Diesel miles are equivalent to about 35 petrol/gasoline miles, from a CO2 point of view.

          So even the 37 per of Americans who live in areas with the dirtiest energy mix are doing better than your Scirocco.

          And new regulations in the US will be cleaning up the output from those dirtier power stations in the coming years.

        4. Son of Steve

          Re: On Street Parking

          Why?

          1. Electric cars are quiet. In years to come people will be as amazed that we put up with so much noise in our cities as we are amazed that in years gone by they put up so much horse manure. (Please, if you feel the urge to suggest people will be mown down, resist: people will get used to it, and there is plenty of low-level noise from tyres on the road.)

          2. Electric cars are smooth and unless you have experienced driving a car that doesn't vibrate you don't know what you're missing. Torque however is amazing.

          3. Many of the figures here about the energy potential of petrol miss the point: pollution shifts from our cities to central locations where there may be no pollution at all, or where its harmful effects can be scrubbed and captured. Look up recent news stories about Marylebone Road in London. This is a very big deal: exhaust gasses coming out of a chimney hundreds of feet high are not comparable to diesel particulate being belched out at ground level.

          4. Electric cars are much safer - see all the fuss about the three Tesla fires, and compare that with statistics about ICE cars. Ford Pinto, anyone?

          5. It's undeniably true that the infrastructure just isn't there right now. But it's easy to see how it could be. There could be chargers at every car park bay. Even in cities, there could be chargers on every pavement, just as there used to be parking meters. Is that uneconomic? Maybe - but unlike the roll-out of petrol stations beginning a century ago, the basic infrastructure - mains electricity - is already there. It is clean, safe, and efficient - and getting more so. As Lac-Mégantic in Quebec showed all too clearly, that cannot be said of oil. Granted, something has to fire power stations. But natural gas doesn't pollute sea-life when it spills. Not everyone will have, or want to have, a Tesla. But do bear in mind that the majority of their Superchargers are solar-powered.

          Lastly, the statistics quoted (which I do not take at face value but for the sake of argument) show that in the worst case, the electric car is better than the majority of the ICE car fleet. That's the worst case, on somewhat suspect data. I must be missing something about the point here.

          Of course, for some people - many, perhaps most people - in 2014, range anxiety is an overwhelming factor. But a car is not a once-only decision. Right now, the answer is no. Next time, maybe it's marginal, or maybe you get the serial hybrid like the Volt or BMW i3. The time after that, when the Tesla Model E (or whatever it will actually be called) is on sale? Maybe it's a yes. I'm not sure about 20 years either, but I do think this will be a dynamic with a tipping point, and that tipping point may not be so very far off. And yes, I think that will be a very good thing.

        5. GrantB

          Re: On Street Parking

          Strangely negative way at looking at it to point out that 37% of Americans might be using dirty power that adds to total emissions. Surely that means that most Americans ( near two thirds) would reduce emissions by using a Leaf? Not to mention that vehicles like your diesel VW are far less common in the US compared with vehicles like the Ford F150.

          Even if there wasn't the option of buying electric cars, then the stats you present show it would be better for the environment to retire some of the big coal powered thermal generation and move to pretty much anything else, up to and including nuclear.

          But key thing is that 'your milage will vary'. Here in NZ, power is relatively clean; the vast majority being hydro, geothermal and wind with gas/coal mainly being used to top up at peak. Add to that, second hand Nissan Leaf's are available as second hand imports from Japan for about £10k, and one suddenly looks like a reasonably option for a second car.

        6. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: On Street Parking

          "The electricity your electric cars run on isn't created by magic, much of it comes from fossil fuels, "

          With any luck that will change soon.

          The chinese are determined to make MSRs viable and that can't happen soon enough

          They're intrinsically safer than BWR reactors of any description

          produce less than 1% of the waste (which isn't particularly radioactive)

          unlike metal-cooled reactors the metal can't catch fire, unretrievably encase your fuel rods or oxidise

          they run so hot they can be directly used as sources of process heat in industry (steel/glass/concrete/methane production all spring to mind) and for electricity generation that level of heat allows thermal efficiencies currently only approached by gas-turbine cogeneration plants.

          Much as I like them, windmills/tidal/solar are passing fads for the most part, only practical where grid supply can't be obtained.

          They can't provide baseload energy and the energy they do provide can't be matched to demand without expensive secondary storage.

          Tha storage is barely viable for a household, but completely unviable for industrial demands.

          Doing it with batteries is stupidly large, pumped water storage doesn't have enough capacity for more than short peaks, all forms of compressed gas will have overall efficiencies in the region of 5% (thermal losses) and producing methane or similar will never produce enough saleable gas to outweigh the initial installation costs - especially in a thorium MSR economy which can do the same thing for 1% of the cost.

          Electric cars might not be the only way of the future, but it's quite likely that as oil/gas gets more expensive it's cheaper to manufacture methane as a sideline of a MSR plant when electricity demand is low. At that point the russians are going to find their chickens coming home to roost.

      6. David Cantrell

        Re: On Street Parking

        A 250 mile range doesn't help if you need to drive further than that, like I will be next weekend. Sure, you'll be able to recharge en route, but recharging is very VERY slow compared to just pumping some squashed dinosaurs from one tank to another. You will need a ridiculous number of charging points at service stations - including those on the back roads, not just motorway service stations where they have the parking space - if you are to avoid humungous queues.

        You either need some way of getting 1.5GJ (about the amount of energy in a typical car's full fuel tank) of energy into a battery in a couple of minutes (so an 8-ish MW power supply) or you need some way of swapping batteries automatically. Both are, umm, "challenging" problems. The current Tesla S, according to Tesla's marketing materials (so take this with a pinch of salt) will take *three and a half hours* to recharge with 250 miles worth of energy using their studliest charger. This is why electric cars are only suitable for commuting - journeys you can do on a single charge, with a long break to recharge at both ends. Trouble is, in cities you don't want people commuting in cars at all, because of congestion - you want them commuting by train or bus instead.

        1. Psyx

          Re: On Street Parking

          "A 250 mile range doesn't help if you need to drive further than that, like I will be next weekend. "

          Quite right. And a lawnmower is useless for me because I don't have a garden. It's still a good product for others, though.

          "Trouble is, in cities you don't want people commuting in cars at all, because of congestion - you want them commuting by train or bus instead."

          Ultimately the crux of the matter. I don't want Google to save me time by inventing a self-driving car: I want it to be cheap for fifty commuters to be in one vehicle. Public transport that doesn't suck is something we'd all like to see, I think.

        2. mikeyw0

          Re: On Street Parking

          Not sure what marketing materials you've been reading, but a Tesla 135kW supercharger (they opened the first of these last weekend in London to coincide with delivery of the first vehicles, and are rolling them out nationwide) will add 150 miles of range to the Model S in 20 minutes. That's less time than it takes me to go to the loo and buy and drink a Starbucks coffee, and a short stop to get out and stretch your legs every 2.5 hours of driving makes for a very pleasant experience...

          1. David Cantrell

            Re: On Street Parking

            Here's he Tesla marketing bumf I referred to: http://www.teslamotors.com/en_GB/goelectric#charging

        3. stu 4

          Re: On Street Parking

          "or you need some way of swapping batteries automatically. Both are, umm, "challenging" problems. "

          actually pretty straightforward for the 2nd one.

          Ignoring the elephant in the room (that until 100% of of power comes from nuclear they are just as polluting as petrol/diesel), and assuming that for political reason we want to all be driving electric cars, then the solution is very clearly a standardized battery (or range of batteries), all swappable in less time than to fill yer tank with petrol.

          It's no more of a task than burying massive underground tanks of hydrocarbons all over the place to support refuelling.

          It would also remove the drawback of owning/paying for batteries up front. You'd just pay for a 'refill/replacement' just like you do for, say a new tank of calor gas.

          Some checks on serviceability of packs to be replaced, etc and it is perfectly workable.

          I'd imagine a bay you stop over, and robot/mechanism removes battery from bottom of car, replaces with new one, charges automatically based on amount of charge left, age of cells, payment plan, whatever.

          Placing stations with this technology and 'stock' of battery packs is no more daunting than burying massive tanks of petrol everywhere surely.

          As I say though.. it ignores the elephant in the room. imho.. before you'd do this investment you'd need 2 things:

          1. clean power

          2. commitment that said power remains untaxed (since the only reason electricity is cheap other than scale is the lack of 80% tax)

          Without those 2 things, your investment is relying on no one caring about the elephants.

      7. Irongut

        Re: On Street Parking

        "Fast charging, 250+ mile range at ~$30k will spell the end of the ICE almost overnight."

        I can 'charge' my petrol car in a couple of minutes, get 450+ miles range with an average of 67mpg and very low emissions and it cost approx £12k. Your dream electric car (which isn't even possible atm) still can't compete with that.

        1. Piro

          Re: On Street Parking

          I can 'charge' my diesel car in a few minutes also, get over 600 miles of range with 55~ MPG and it cost me £3K. It's also a big estate so I can haul pretty much anything.

          Although admittedly it is in no way fair to compare used and new prices, this is simple reality. How much is a used electric car going to be worth, seeing as the battery is considered a consumable, and the battery alone will cost more than an ICE car in decent nick? "Good money after bad" comes to mind, as an example, I bought my car just over 2 years ago, it's a '57 plate. If a battery pack in say, a Nissan Leaf goes: http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=9820 $600/module - 48 modules in the full pack http://www.electricvehiclewiki.com/?title=Battery_specs - $28,800, then my guess is that vehicle is a write off. Does writing off cars because of batteries sound green?).

          Yeah, electric cars have a long way to go. It seems fine now if you're an early adopter in many ways, but it in no way can scale the same way ICE vehicles have.

          The sheer amount of energy we can pour in a tank in the form of refined oil in a brief time would require some genuinely INDUSTRIAL electricity supplies at every forecourt around the country and many more charging points than petrol pumps. Not to mention a battery chemistry that is going to take that kind of abuse on the chin every day.

      8. ItsNotMe
        FAIL

        "That said, electric cars will be the dominant car within the next 20 years."

        Right...just like computers would bring about the "paperless office". Still waiting for that to happen.

        That fantasy was first coined around 1975...slightly more that 20 years ago.

        http://www.businessweek.com/stories/1975-06-30/the-office-of-the-futurebusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice

      9. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: On Street Parking

        I find it incredible how many of you are NOT keeping up with developments.

        ICE is dead already for both passenger and commercial vehicles. The only things stopping it from being widespread TOMORROW are the lack of battery factories and price of the vehicle, both of which will be resolved within 10 years.

        And that's being VERY conservative. The 20 year figure was for the rarity of the everyday ICE car on the road. Only the very poor or enthusiasts will still be driving them.

        For those of you NOT keeping score, within the last 5 years we have gone from almost no one but Tesla successfully offering electric cars to almost every manufacturer offering one. Teslas car already has the 300 mile range and so will the next models being built. (yes built, not proposed: built)

        Do try and keep up.

    2. Chairo
      Windows

      Re: On Street Parking

      You can find the answer to this question in Tokyo. No parking - no car. Oh, and no free public parking in the whole city, anyway.

    3. Matt Bryant Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Rakkor Re: On Street Parking

      "....move to a less pikey area". Pikeys have caravans, they park them where they like. I would suggest you mean a less Chavvie area.

      When I used to rent a place it had no allocated parking, just street parking. It was about five minutes walk from Esher rail station, so if you had to go out on an early shift you usually came back to find some commuter had nicked 'your' parking space, a delivery van was parked in it, or a tradesman's van. That was back in the '80s when I was firmly convinced the majority of London Councils despised all motorists and just viewed us as mobile tax opportunities. I doubt if they will love electric cars any more than they did petrol ones.

    4. Julz

      Re: On Street Parking

      What about reconverting the downstairs bedroom back into a garage?

  2. Robert E A Harvey

    Identification problem

    "...allowing electric cars to drive in bus lanes.... California allows electric cars...car pool lanes,..."

    Given how ordinary all cars look now, surely this would require all electric cars to have a BFO "E" stencilled on the bonnet in flourescent paint, so that the camera operators would know they are entitled?

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: Identification problem

      "surely this would require all electric cars to have a BFO "E" stencilled on the bonnet in flourescent paint"

      No, it would be done like the Congestion Charge in London - number plate recognition and checking in a database of those who've paid.

    2. Craigie

      Re: Identification problem

      Nah, it's all in BFO database, which would just be checked against the car reg automatically. Simples.

    3. Nuke
      Meh

      Re: Identification problem

      "...allowing electric cars to drive in bus lanes.... California allows electric cars...car pool lanes,..."

      Why TF should electric cars be allowed to use bus lanes (or car pool lanes unless they are actually car-pooling)? It would be more logical to allow IC cars to use bus lanes and not the electrics, to minimise the CO2 emitted by the IC engines when idling. Petrol cars must generally double their emmissions per mile in town thanks to the stoppages and idling; my own car's consumption doubles at least. And yes, I do turn off my engine if I see a delay, unlike most drivers.

    4. kraut

      Re: Identification problem

      Given that the bus lanes are already used by buses, taxis, motorbikes and bicycles, not to mention plenty of motorists (that know where the bus lane cameras are), I hate to break it to you: the bus lanes in London are already full.

  3. Psyx

    I can foresee the immediate obvious backlash for using Bus lanes:

    1: Taxi drivers throwing another massive fit*

    2: Cyclist safety groups having a massive fit, as the taxi lanes would be populated by buses, taxis cyclists and cars that are 'too quiet' or something.

    But it's actually a good positive idea that would work right up until electric cars really took off.

    * As of last week's tantrum, I'll be using Uber and the like and never stepping in a black cab again. Unionised blackmail over competition does not elicit my sympathy.

  4. Buzzword

    More privileges?

    "allowing electric cars to drive in bus lanes"

    Electric cars already get tons of favours, in particular a £5k bung to buy the damn thing in the first place. Subsidised parking, worth another £5k a year in central London, is an obscene amount of money to shovel at them. I can't possibly see how you justify letting them drive in bus lanes too.

    Besides, private cars are hardly the biggest cause of air pollution in the capital. The few people rich enough to drive and park in central London generally have newer and well-maintained cars. As a pedestrian and occasional cyclist, it's the taxis and white vans which make me cough and splutter the most.

    1. Psyx

      Re: More privileges?

      "I can't possibly see how you justify letting them drive in bus lanes too."

      Would it be a problem for you personally, then?

      The only way it would affect your motoring is if you use those lanes yourself or can't stand the thought of a hippy getting to work faster than you in the morning.

      1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

        Re: More privileges?

        "I can't possibly see how you justify letting them drive in bus lanes too."

        Would it be a problem for you personally, then?

        It'd be a problem for me, yes, unless cyclists were banned from the bus lanes when leccy cars are approved.

        At the moment, the slowest cyclist can be overtaken by the bus so while they might cap the busses top speed for a short time, the bus either overtakes and pulls away, or the slowest cyclist eventually gets far enough ahead of the bus while its collecting passengers to stop delaying it.

        If cyclists continue in the bus lanes and are joined by leccy cars, then the fastest leccy car is capped at the pace of the slowest cyclist. Only now the bus is also stuck in a tail back of leccy cars, so can;t regain time by going faster between stops. The whole city then moves at the pace of the slowest, which despite what brake/ecotard groups may tell you, isn't actually a good idea.

        1. Craigie

          Re: More privileges?

          Sorry, what? Are you saying that leccy cars can't overtake cyclists? We're not talking about the Sinclair C5.

          1. Vic

            Re: More privileges?

            Are you saying that leccy cars can't overtake cyclists?

            Very many petrol cars seem unable to; are you saying that electric cars will necessarily attract more highly-skilled drivers than the norm?

            Vic.

          2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: More privileges?

            Are you saying that leccy cars can't overtake cyclists?

            Not while remaining in the lane, unless they crowd the cyclist up the kerb. To overtake requires that there be enough space in the adjoining lane to pull out, in which case the leccy car could be using that lane just like an ICE one.

          3. TopOnePercent Silver badge

            Re: More privileges?

            Sorry, what? Are you saying that leccy cars can't overtake cyclists? We're not talking about the Sinclair C5.

            Its not a speed issue, its a problem of width - London has very narrow lanes (where two exist). Ironically, the C5 would seem to be the answer to passing the cyclist as it'd have loads of room.

        2. Psyx
          Pint

          Re: More privileges?

          Considering how many fumes buses spew out when they have to slow down and accelerate past a cyclist, the most rational thing to do would be to ban cycles from the bus lanes, and make them bus, taxi and electric lanes...

      2. Buzzword

        Re: More privileges?

        It wouldn't be a problem for me personally if Romanian gypsies were allowed to drive horse-drawn wagons in bus lanes, and I'd love to see that headline in the Daily Mail. A great many things wouldn't be a problem for you or me personally, but if that's the requirement, then none of us can hold an opinion about anything.

        Three points:

        Firstly, as stated earlier, we already give electric car drivers thousands of pounds in subsidies. I estimate the privilege of driving in bus lanes to be worth another couple of grand annually. There are better ways of spending that kind of money.

        Secondly, at the margin, more cars in bus lanes will mean slower journeys for bus users. The effects won't be evenly distributed: some bus lanes will remain virtually car-free, while others will be chock-a-block with electric cars at peak times.

        Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it sets a dangerous precedent. If we allow electric cars into bus lanes, soon every other group in society wants special privileges too. Minicab drivers? Blue badge holders? Urgent Amazon deliveries? Google's self-driving cars? Members of the Olympic committee? (Oops, we've already had that one.) We might as well go the whole hog and turn bus lanes into toll lanes.

      3. Vic

        Re: More privileges?

        The only way it would affect your motoring is if you use those lanes yourself or can't stand the thought of a hippy getting to work faster than you in the morning.

        The purpose of a bus lane is to get buses around the city more effectively.

        EVery time you allow soething into that lane that is not a bus, you compromise that purpose. I've already seen it on a regular basis in Southampton with useless taxi drivers; adding electric cars to the mix will just make it worse.

        Buses are mass-transit; they are an important part of ferrying people around, even if you yourself do not use them. So putting electric cars into bus lanes will diminish transport for everyone using the roads, even if it achieves a short-term gain for those buying the cars. I don't think that's a good thing...

        Vic.

        1. Psyx

          Re: More privileges?

          "The purpose of a bus lane is to get buses around the city more effectively."

          From my non-London perspective, the problem with the buses is not that they are slowed down by traffic. Bus lanes are not the crippling factor or massive enabler to their use. The problem is that the service sucks, is hugely intermittent and is grossly over-priced.

          I'd quite like to see bus lanes around here getting used more than once an hour!

          [None of that invalidates your points, it's simply my local observation on the horrific waste of space that bus lanes are around here. Money should have been spent on making the service better, rather than building them and butt-f*cking everyone else]

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: More privileges?

            The problem is that the service sucks, is hugely intermittent and is grossly over-priced.

            I'd quite like to see bus lanes around here getting used more than once an hour

            I wouldn't disagree, bus lanes take over 33%-50% of road space, but only take a few % of road users away from cars, hence making the jams worse because the cars are forced into less space.

            The only way to get them used more than once an hour would be to make the buses smaller, so that you don't have huge vehicles with 90% of the seats empty (which is why they're so expensive even when subsidised). The logical endpoint of that, of course, is 5-seater buses with flexible destination parameters,otherwise known as "cars".

            1. Vic

              Re: More privileges?

              The only way to get them used more than once an hour would be to make the buses smaller

              I disagree.

              IMO, driving is a privilege, not a right. I would like to see people take more care over that privilege.

              I see *awful*, dangerous, hideous driving every single day. I would like to see people stopped for such behaviour, and their driving privilege revoked. It doesn't need to be for long - a week's ban would be effective - but it needs to be enforced.

              In this way, public transport would be more heavily used - and people would get used to using it too, so they might choose the bus even after the ban has passed. The traffic remaining on the roads would be marginally reduced, and those drivers still driving would have demonstrated sufficient observational skills at least not to get caught doing anything stupid.

              I don't expect to see this happen, though :-(

              Vic.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: More privileges?

                > IMO, driving is a privilege, not a right. I would like to see people take more care over that privilege.

                Driving is a privilege? Wow. And I thought we lived in a free society.

                Welcome back serfdom. We missed you so much....not.

              2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

                Re: More privileges?

                I see *awful*, dangerous, hideous driving every single day. I would like to see people stopped for such behaviour, and their driving privilege revoked. It doesn't need to be for long - a week's ban would be effective - but it needs to be enforced.

                It would be enforced until the next election, when those responsible would find themselves looking for new work.

                Much as I'd like to see poor driving punished, I don't agree that it would push people to public transport, not over a 1-week ban. More likely the banned driver would find another family member to drive them for a week, and that person would probably be less used to driving in heavy rush-hour traffic, and the overall standard would go down.

                I'd prefer to ban all the gadgets which make it possible to drive without thinking. Ban parking aids, hill-start aids, automatic lights/wipers, lane followers, sign cameras. If people want to drive make them actually drive, if they want the car to drive them by itself, they should get the bus.

              3. TopOnePercent Silver badge

                Re: More privileges?

                IMO, driving is a privilege, not a right.

                WRONG. Driving is an entitlement - read your licence.

                Cyclists usually trot out the "driving is a privilege not a right" line when they want to pretend that cycling is a right, which of course it isn't. Cycling later became legally permissable due to a cyclists attempt to evade the law having knocked someone over on Muswell Hill, with the judge determining that the cycle was also governed by the 1835 Highways Act - the same act that forms the basis for the cars use of the roads.

                1. Vic

                  Re: More privileges?

                  Driving is an entitlement - read your licence

                  The very fact that you need a licence demonstrates that it is indeed a privilege, granted by the Government.

                  If it were a right, you wouldn't need a licence.

                  Vic.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: More privileges?

                    > The very fact that you need a licence demonstrates that it is indeed a privilege, granted by the Government.

                    It's all part of the master plan to make us grateful for the crumbs that the government hands us.

                    Before long, you'll need a license to take a shit.

                    Licenses are merely instruments of control that the government wield to remind us who are the masters.

                    Passports are the same. Want to cross into another country? Not unless we say so. Time was, you needed permission to leave your village from your liege lord. The world is just a bigger place now and we've gotten used to doing as we're told. And they wonder why there is so much apathy in the populous these days....

                  2. TopOnePercent Silver badge

                    Re: More privileges?

                    If it were a right, you wouldn't need a licence.

                    There's no specific licence for me to pop round and bang your wife either, but that doesn't make it my right to do so.

                    Driving is not a right, and its not a privilege: its an entitlement having passed the (allegedly) appropriate testing. Provided I'm not caught breaking road traffic law too often, I'm entitled to drive for the rest of my days.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: More privileges?

              "Bus lanes take over 33%-50% of road space, but only take a few % of road users away from cars, hence making the jams worse because the cars are forced into less space."

              Thereby encouraging people to leave their cars behind and use public transport.

              Or it should, but public transport is so full of drawbacks that it doesn't work like that.

      4. Nuke
        FAIL

        Re: More privileges?

        Buzzword wrote : "I can't possibly see how you justify letting them drive in bus lanes too."

        Psyx replied : "Would it be a problem for you personally, then?"

        Bus lanes don't go on for ever, and in any case things like roundabouts and junctions only have a limited physical capacity in terms of vehicles per hour. Therefore your electric (or any other car) passing me in the bus lane while I am waiting in the traffic jam for the rest of us will ultimately be no different from your jumping in front of me in the queue. Which will delay me by one additional car's worth and as such IS a problem for me personally.

        Bus lanes are justified for buses because so many people are aboard a single vehicle. They are not justified for anything else - not taxis, not electric cars.

    2. Evil Auditor Silver badge

      Re: More privileges?

      Buzzword, everyone wants the transport infrastructure to favour their preferred mode over the others. That's why electric cars should be allowed to use bus lanes. And a very reasonable justification follows: there are few enough electric cars in London. I for one demand that Lotus cars are allowed on the bus lanes - there are few enough of them in London.

      Seriously, I cannot see why electric cars or for that matter any other non-public transport (except bicycle) should be privileged in such a way. Unless, of course, I convert the Lotus to electric ;)

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Flame

        Re: Evil Auditor Re: More privileges?

        "....I convert the Lotus to electric". Sacrilege! Burn the heretic!

        Besides, Lotii spend most of their time being fixed so can't pollute that much anyway. :p

        1. Evil Auditor Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: Evil Auditor More privileges?

          Don't worry, if I wanted that, i.e. a heavy leccy, I'd buy a Tesla.

          Although I hear the newer models are quite reliable, we all know what Lotus stands for (Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious). Been there, still there (cf. icon).

          1. Vic

            Re: Evil Auditor More privileges?

            > Lots Of Trouble, Usually Serious

            I had an Esprit. Lovely car.

            "Lotus" is mis-spelled, though. The "U" should have been an "A"...

            Vic.

            1. Evil Auditor Silver badge

              Re: Vic "I had an Esprit."

              Vic, a Lotus is for life and not just for summer!

              1. Vic

                Re: Vic "I had an Esprit."

                a Lotus is for life

                A Lotus is for the life of your wallet. Mine expired :-(

                Vic.

      2. Nuke
        Joke

        @Evil Auditor - Re: More privileges?

        Wrote :- "I for one demand that Lotus cars are allowed on the bus lanes - there are few enough of them in London."

        I disagree with you there in the strongest possible terms. It should be Jeep Cherokees, not Lotuses. There are few enough of those.

        Oh sod it. Just let everything use the bus lane then we'll all get there quicker. Won't we?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: More privileges?

      Granted it is nearing a decade since I rode my motorcycle in London, and it would be encouraging to know it has changed, but it used to be the buses made my eyes water! No 'coughing and spluttering' - maybe because a cyclist tends to be near the kerb as opposed to a motorcyclist being behind the exhaust?

      Strangely enough, smoking made me cough and splutter back then - so much so that I did finally quit! - but Central London air quality didn't. Whether that means smoking is still worse than breathing exhaust fumes, I don't know; but smoking didn't make my eyes stream, so I suspect it's more about the different poisons. Of the two I'd take nicotine any day, with or without attendant smoke! And not just because you get some gratification from the evil weed.

      I used to ride down from NW7 and it was fun and easy enough and, in a word, 'cool', until Marble Arch, at which point it was like stepping through the portal of Hell. One hot day it was so bad stuck in traffic on Hyde Park Corner I did a left into Mayfair, worked my way to Baker Street then St. John's Wood and headed back home (pausing only to run over some Japanese tourists on this black and white thing in Abbey Road). Though this wasn't actually the time I got a ticket for riding, albeit briefly, in the bus lane. Or even the one for parking on the edge of a wide pavement outside a newsagents in the City (probably to get some fags).

      Actually, one statement above is a lie.

      Anyway, I don't live there any more, so hardly care if the buses still belch pollution. After all, Hyde Park Corner and Westminster are essentially within hawking and gobbing distance; if it shortens the lives of the inhabitants of Parliament Square, I'm all for it!

    4. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: More privileges?

      "As a pedestrian and occasional cyclist, it's the taxis and white vans which make me cough and splutter the most."

      The visible stuff isn't particularly dangerous.

      What's dangerous in London is nitrous compounds - which are mostly emitted by modern diesels, as EU standards don't regulate NO emissions.

      The real reason there are so few eurodiesels in the USA is that most of them can't meet USA emissions requirements.

      The americans have been regulating NO emissions since the 1970s when lean burn petrol engines started kicking out high levels. (which is also the reason that Stoichiometry was legally mandated in petrol engines, as usa-sourced catalytic converters of the time couldn't control it)

  5. Picrosso

    Alleviate anxiety with a hybrid perhaps

    I've just ordered an Outlander PHEV to reduce the risk of running out of juice. Pure electric, currently, does not seem the solution - bigger, stronger batteries will be needed. My new car, although to be used in Newcastle primarily, will allow me to charge: at home off solar panels, local supermarkets and council/private charge points, not forgetting the on-board generator. There's also the back-up of a petrol engine for another 400 miles or so. Pootles around town are catered for by the electric range (albeit only about 30-odd miles) with the benefit of petrol for longer journeys. All-electric vehicles will, eventually, replace the all-hydrocarbon but the half-way house approach of hybrid could suit many, certainly in the short-term especially as they, too, are free of road fund licence and congestion charge.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Alleviate anxiety with a hybrid perhaps

      Outlander PHEV eh? A fool and his money etc.

      I drove one in the US recently. Piss poor fuel economy. max 600 miles from a tankful of 'gas'.

      Remember that the 'P' stands for Potentially.

      Then there is the cost. In the US the entry level car costs $24K + tax. The UK Version is 31K GBP. Ok that included Car Tax and VAT but.... it is not a cheap option. Sad really because apart from the poor fuel consumption it was a great car to drive.

      1. Paw Bokenfohr

        Re: Alleviate anxiety with a hybrid perhaps

        The P stands for Plug-In.

        And although I'm not buying one (no need) it doesn't get bad reviews. Though I am sure the OP will be immediately cancelling his order now that your (Anonymous) judgement has been given.

      2. Psyx
        Facepalm

        Re: Alleviate anxiety with a hybrid perhaps

        "max 600 miles from a tankful of 'gas'."

        Yeah, that makes it useless then, doesn't it.

      3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Alleviate anxiety with a hybrid perhaps @AC "600 miles per tank"

        In what world do you live where 600 miles to a tank of petrol (not diesel) is a criticism??? I don't buy new cars (it's a matter of pride to keep cars going as long as I can), and the maximum range I have had out of a car was 600 miles in a 1999 diesel Citroen Xantia. The Subaru Legacy (naturally aspirated petrol) I have had for the last nine years will just about do 400 miles if I drive like a granny down the motorway. I have recently had hire cars that might have done a bit more than 600 miles, again, if driven very economically (I think the Citroen C3 Picasso was in that ball-park). However, I do like my mate's recently acquired four year-old Renault Megane Sportback 1.4 - we recently went a 300 mile trip to Norfolk and back in a day, and the range indicator suggested we could have done another 500 miles!

        tl;dr - 600 miles is a good range. What was your point?

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: charge: at home off solar panels

      Keep us updated as to how well that works for you. I'm interested in your experience.

      That said, I doubt your solar panels will be doing much recharging outside of weekends. If you take that car to work, then you're back by evening, so not much influence from solar.

      But still, I'm interested in how well solar panels work up north, so do keep us informed please.

      1. Picrosso

        Re: charge: at home off solar panels

        I don't get the car 'til late August so the best solar generation time this year will have passed. However, as I work from home a bright day would allow me to plug-in during the day. We also have fast-charging points at our local supermarket (less than a mile away) - handy when shopping! To add to the solar bit - our house is East/West oriented so we have panels on both sides of the roof to get maximum benefit of the day. Although the peak generation is not as great as a pure South oriented roof we do get power for longer. I'll try to get some figures when I get the car.

    3. Gordon861

      Re: Alleviate anxiety with a hybrid perhaps

      The new Outlander looks like a really interesting bit of kit, perhaps El Reg can get one to play with and report back?

  6. Seanmon

    Dead end.

    Electric cars for personal transport are a dead end and I wish car manufacturers would stop trying to sell us this shit. The technology is a backward step in every possible way, in terms of speed, comfort, reliability and sheer usefulness. Unless there's an order of magnitute improvement in battery technology in the next decade or two, electric cars are never going to compete with an internal combustion engine, with an extra can two of petrol in the back when neccessary. In the UK at least, they're not even particularly beneficial to the environment - most of that leccy is still being produced by burning hydrocarbons.

    The place for electric cars is limited range taxi runs in an urban environment. No one cares about the performance of a taxi. Range is not a problem - no-one gets a taxi to go 300 miles. By staying near the city, charging points can be made available. Get the pollution out of our city centres, and use an ICE for the long range stuff.

    If google gets a move on, they could even be made self driving. It's easier to make a machine learn a defined area of a city than to make it deal with the near-infinite set of circumstances you might find driving about randomly.

    1. Robert Goldsmith

      Re: Dead end.

      I'd have to disagree here. The vast majority of trips taken in cars are less than 40 miles so range is much less of an issue than people's perception of range. Range prediction on electric cars is many times better than for an ICE so you don't need to panic about refueling when the car predicts 'only 50 miles remaining'. 5 miles remaining is when I start worrying :)

      As for comfort, speed, reliability and usefulness I'd say electric is already surpassing ICE. Have you ever tried an electric car? 100% torque from a standing start, incredibly smooth acceleration, no engine noise or vibration, no gear change (not even an automatic gear change) and only about 4 moving parts compared to over 200 in your average ICE. No exhaust, no CAT, no engine oil, no spark plugs, no injection pump, no gear box. Basically none of the bits that tend to need checking and replacing on an ICE.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Dead end.

        One of the big advantages of electric, as I see it, is being able to harvest the energy wasted in braking, and not using power when stationary. It's fairly easy in an electric car, not so easy in an ICE car (flywheel systems don't yet seem to be up to the job although that could change). So there is an immediate energy saving when going electric (or hybrid).

        It's this fact that make me think that electric will the way things go. There are other benefits of course, smaller motors mean more space in the car, currently offset by battery size of course, but batteries can be placed lower down and out of the way. Better torque curves, better stability control (thinking multiple small motors perhaps one per wheel).

        The only real downside is the range. I'd certainly go electric once they get a decent 200 out of the bottom of the range/cheap cars - I think Tesla may be able to do that in the next couple of years.

      2. James Pickett

        Re: Dead end.

        " none of the bits that tend to need checking and replacing on an ICE."

        Apart from a large and expensive battery of indeterminate life, which you will probably want to change before it wears out because the range will have reduced so much.

        1. James Hughes 1

          Re: Dead end. @James Pickett

          Are you spreading FUD? Because as I understand it, Tesla's are doing considerable mileage with only a minor range reduction.

          Or do you have empirical information from a modern electric car that you would like to impart? A link would be good.

      3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Dead end.

        The vast majority of trips taken in cars are less than 40 miles so range is much less of an issue than people's perception of range.

        That's a spurious argument. Even if 95% of your journeys are < 40 miles, you're screwed for the other 5%, unless you're flush enough to have two cars, which is even less environmentally friendly.

        Classic response, of course, is "just rent an ICE car for the 5%" but that only works because the overwhelming majority of cars are ICE. If most cars were electric then ICE cars would only be required for rental, and there would be huge demand at bank holiday weekends and little for the rest of the time. That's not a viable business model for any rental agency, they can't afford to have fleets of tens of thousands of cars sittting idle, even if anyone was willing to make such cars at a reasonable price.

    2. M7S

      Re: Dead end.

      I have to disagree. I live in a very rural area (see rants ad nauseam in other posts about broadband, public transport etc) and there's no facilities within reach by foot, reasonable bicycle journey etc so I'm pretty wedded to the car/motorcycle on a daily basis.

      I like the idea of something like the BMW i3 as a 2nd car (not main car, at least not yet) for the runs of about 6 miles to the shops once or twice a week, the twice daily 20 mile school round trip (no, its not private, council had no places locally) and the odd relatively local night out (maybe 20 miles to the nearest town). Price is a different matter but on the basis that I can plug it in each night, so long as I dont find that the power has been "nicked" as part of some national grid storage/balancing scheme (as proposed in other articles) when I need it, then this should be fine. If I lived in the city (as I have done) the probably even better. Hopefully with the tech improving over time then as my current ICE vehicles reach the ends of their lives I might dispose of all except (probably) the very old Land Rover for use in very very poor weather.

      They will still be a place for ICE for many users some time to come, but I'm actively looking at an electric motorcycle for the daily commute (45 road miles each way), only the cost (they are excluded from subsidy, presumably due to prejudice regarding the image of motorcycling, one manufacturer has just pulled out of the UK due to lack of support for the vehicle class from HMG) and lack of a fairing for year round use is putting me off. I've found a couple of suitable models that will cover the round trip on major roads (Brammo and Zero for the curious) and for the final bit into London and the City they are perfect.

    3. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

      Re: Dead end.

      Most of the time, an electric-only vehicle will do just fine as long as there are charging facilities at both ends of the journey. When there aren't or when the driver is going further, then the electric-only vehicles will not work.

      If you are dead-set on building a vehicle that is carbon-neutral etc etc, then a mostly electric vehicle with a fuel motor to extend or recharge the electric batteries is the only option. Apart from carbon-based fuels, the only sane alternative would be ammonia as this can be liquified and kept liquid at reasonable temperatures and pressures, isn't wildly explosive or dangerous and isn't stupidly energy-poor.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Dead end.

        "would be ammonia as this can be liquified and kept liquid at reasonable temperatures and pressures, isn't wildly explosive or dangerous"

        15-minute exposure limit for gaseous ammonia of 35 ppm by volume - so moderately toxic.

    4. Somerset John

      Re: Dead end.

      "The place for electric cars is limited range taxi runs in an urban environment. No one cares about the performance of a taxi. Range is not a problem - no-one gets a taxi to go 300 miles. By staying near the city, charging points can be made available. Get the pollution out of our city centres, and use an ICE for the long range stuff."

      I'm guessing you don't know many taxi drivers. They can, with good fortune, get long runs, sometimes hundreds of miles from a single hire. They usually love jobs like that. That is not the main problem with your comment though. A range of about 60 miles is probably useless for a taxi. Without guaranteed access to a rapid charge point, and ability to get a neat maximum charge in a few minutes (say 10 minutes perhaps) leccy will not work for taxis.

    5. Psyx

      Re: Dead end.

      "in terms of speed, comfort, reliability and sheer usefulness. " <citation required>

      How are electric cars inherently slower (clue: They aren't, they're theoretically faster), less comfortable (they aren't: They're quieter and just as comfortable), less reliable (they aren't: Far fewer moving parts and bits to break) or useful (except as regards range)?

  7. Robert Goldsmith

    Electric cars work fine for me

    I live in the centre of Birmingham and work in Worcester. I drive 60 miles a day including 40 on the m42 and m5. I charge at home at night and happily do the round-trip commute with 20-40 miles left in the 'tank' (20 miles in winter, 40 in summer). I own a Renault Zoe and have done over 11,000 miles in it in 8 months. I've also been down to London in it (which did take a little planning) and Oxford. For me, the 3 hours free parking in Birmingham centre is a 'nice to have' (parking charges in Birmingham are extortionate) and the free motorway chargers were useful for Oxford and London but the £25/month 'fuel' cost (used to be £180) and the incredibly comfortable drive are what I like most. Oh, and the 1.3 tonnes of CO2 I've not produced.

    1. Joe 35

      Re: Electric cars work fine for me

      "but the £25/month 'fuel' cost (used to be £180) "

      I think you forgot the **at least** £70 a month battery lease cost ?

      So you are saving £90 a month at best, and since the car, from what I recall is about double the cost of a petrol equivalent, the time to pay back is far longer than you'd keep the car.

      There are other reasons to get an electric car but money saving isn't one. Yet. Unfortunately.

      1. Peter G Green

        Re: Electric cars work fine for me

        Depends of the deal you get... I picked up a brand new Nissan Leaf on lease for £10K total cost of 3 years (7K miles pa). The battery lease doesn't come into it. So I'm saving well over £100pm in fuel, cheap to insure, no road tax, cheap servicing.

        Nissan have even set up a lifetime offer for owners of Leaf cars so they can "borrow" an ICE car, rent free for up to 2 weeks per year. Good enough for a long trip or a few weekend trips.

        I agree, they're not for everyone, but mine is great. Takes getting used to, but if your driving habits can stand it, I'd go for electric.

      2. flipper

        Re: Electric cars work fine for me

        Rubbish.

        My previous car cost £224/month, and I spend £180 on petrol for it.

        My Leaf costs me £255/month, and I use about £40 of electricity (in reality, even less as I have Solar Panels too).

        (And, before you ask, no, I didn't have to put down a huge deposit. About £800 in total, in fact).

        There's no additional battery lease cost.

        So yes, saving money is a reason - for me. Oh, and I do 18000 miles/year - my daily commut is about 70 miles round trip, so it's not just a car for very short journeys. I'd be paying much less than £255/month if my mileage was lower.

        1. James Hughes 1

          Re: Electric cars work fine for me @flipper

          That sounds pretty good - in the UK? Is that a standard sort of leaf cost, because my commute is about 75 and my Civic is on its last legs (@213k miles). Sounds like it might be a viable option.

          1. flipper

            Re: Electric cars work fine for me @James Hughes 1

            Yes, that's UK.

            I did get an especially good deal, but there are plenty of deals not too far from what I paid.

        2. James Pickett

          Re: Electric cars work fine for me

          "my daily commute is about 70 miles round trip"

          Will it manage that on a cold winter day in a year or two, when the battery is no longer new, and you need the heater, lights and all ancillaries?

          1. flipper

            Re: Electric cars work fine for me @James Pickett

            "Will it manage that on a cold winter day in a year or two, when the battery is no longer new, and you need the heater, lights and all ancillaries?"

            There's no reason to believe it won't.

            The heater in the latest generation cars uses almost no additional energy (it takes about 1 mile overall from the range) and neither do the lights etc.

            I *might* have to drive slightly more carefully to get home in the very depths of winter, but evidence of other Leaf owners isn't showing that much degradation of the battery yet, even after 50000+ miles, so it's unlikely to be a major issue.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Electric cars work fine for me @James Pickett

              "The heater in the latest generation cars uses almost no additional energy "

              Oh, you've got a magic heater

        3. Joe 35

          Re: Electric cars work fine for me

          "There's no additional battery lease cost."

          There is with a Renault Zoe, which is the post i was responding to.

          Good for you with the Leaf, sounds like you have hit a sweet spot there, though to be fair a 70 mile round trip is in fact two, 35 mile drives, which I think most would classify as "a short trip". DO you top up at work?

          Whilst my "normal" commute is only about 15 miles each way, once or twice a week I need to do anywhere from 50 to 100 mile drives. Each way :-( An electric car (unfortunately) cant match this kind of useage and owning two cars makes no sense at all.

          Once they have around double the range we see now, lets say 250 being easily attainable, I think the use will really take off

          1. flipper

            Re: Electric cars work fine for me @Joe 35

            Do I top up at work? No, there's no facility to do that.

            There are rapid chargers near by if I'm desperate, but I won't need those on more than very rare occasions.

            A fifty mile drive is no problem, nor is 100 miles really - with Rapid Chargers at almost all Motorway services stations you could top up to 80% while having a coffee/toilet break. Yes, it's not as convenient, but it's definitely do-able.

            I agree, though, once the range increases it'll be a different ball-game. I actually thing the sweet spot is likely to be 150 *real* range, which shouldn't be too far off being a reality.

      3. Robert Goldsmith

        Re: Electric cars work fine for me

        The Zoe is the same price as an equiv. spec'd Clio (£15k). My old car was costing me £180/month in petrol while my Zoe is costing me £100 in battery rental + £25 in electricity. I also get free breakdown cover included in the rental so that saves me as well. Taking everything into account I am about £50/month better off with the Zoe.

        If I really wanted to save money the Ecotricity charger on the M42 is free so I could save myself another £25/month but I don't see the point.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Electric cars work fine for me

        £189/month + £70/month "battery hire" - do they really have that little confidence in their battery? - = £249/month

        About 50% more than my monthly fuel cost, but substantially less than the overall running cost of a 8 year old 2 litre petrol car ( depreciation is essentially zero, but maintenance and insurance add up)

    2. Aitor 1

      Re: Electric cars work fine for me

      I would love that electric cars were "the thing".

      But if you save 155 a month, it will take you very long to justify the price.

      And really, a small generator connected to the AC part would be what, 500 pounds more? weigtht about 90 pounds? That would allow ppl to travel far at 60 miles, so no problems with habing to plan for that 5% of travels.. there, solved! at least that part, BMW got it!!

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. boltar Silver badge

      Re: "allowing electric cars to drive in bus lanes"

      "Ridiculous. A car with one person in it in a big city is probably wasting road space

      (unless you have to carry tools and parts to do your job, and then you'd probably need a van anyway)."

      Depends where in a big city and which city. Transport in city centres is usually good - in the suburbs, not so much. If I need to go visit a friend or relative I'm not waiting 15 mins for a bus to show up then have to change halfway , wait another 15 mins then sit there as the bus stops every 300m to pick up passengers and end up taking 2 hours to do a journey that I could do by car in 30 mins. And thats assuming I don't need to carry anything large or heavy. To coin a phase - fuck that.

  9. Moosh

    When are we going to have mini nuclear reactors in our vehicles?

    1. aBloke FromEarth

      Screw that: I want a flux capacitor, and I want it now.

      1. hplasm Silver badge
        Happy

        Re:screw that

        I also want a flux capacitor, and I want it six months ago, just before the thunderstorm.

    2. Darryl

      Mr. Fusion to the rescue

  10. Ian 62

    What happens when we reach "peak electric car"?

    If electric cars keep getting all this stuff for free, are we going to go broke when enough people have electric cars?

    The subsidy on the purchase price

    Congestion charge exemption

    Free electric charging

    Free parking

    Bus lane/HOV use

    Reserved spaces

    Or... Will the government of the day suddenly change the rules when they realise how much cash they're missing out on compared to the days of the 'evil ICE'?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: What happens when we reach "peak electric car"?

      These encouragements are handed out at the moment to incite people to buy electric cars. If and when people start buying them en masse, you can be sure that the government will cut the funding and attendant favors.

      At that point, you'll be back here complaining that car parking is expensive again, that you have to drive with everybody else again, that you no longer have reserved spaces, etc... and car dealers will be whining that the government is crimping their sales because no more subsidies.

      The wheel turns slowly, but nothing stops the complaining.

      1. chrisf1

        Re: What happens when we reach "peak electric car"?

        Yep - exactly what happened to the lower taxation for diesel fuel. Oh and then they ended that and put a 3% surcharge on diesel use for company cars.

    2. James Pickett

      Re: What happens when we reach "peak electric car"?

      I believe this is already approaching in Norway, where there has been a greater uptake thanks to the generous subsidies, which are becoming unsustainable. Their government is now claiming that they didn't say it was permanent (although I suspect they didn't say it wasn't, either) and things will slowly revert to normal as the tax breaks disappear. I certainly wouldn't want to be stuck above the Arctic circle with a dead battery...

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to improve the range of electric cars.

    They could improve the range of electric cars if engineers could only harness the power of smugness and self satisfaction that electric car drivers give off.

    1. Peter G Green

      Re: How to improve the range of electric cars.

      Glad to see you're "really" contributing to the discussion...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How to improve the range of electric cars.

      What you perceive as "smugness" is actually anxiety about getting home. It is Prius drivers that exude smugness. I know because I was one until the inability to tow or fit a roof rack finally became a serious annoyance.

    3. Psyx
      FAIL

      Re: How to improve the range of electric cars.

      Oh, you're re-stating a joke that was on Southpark about 5 years ago, and took the time to type it in for us.

      You so funny.

  12. Valeyard

    How to Improve electric cars

    Put the manufacturers in direct competition with each other

    Formula E is going to cause massive leaps forward in this field, as people look for the best manufacturer in this new area they'll be killing each other to win the electric racing world title

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: How to Improve electric cars

      And remember Le Mans had hybrids in the first four places this year.

    2. Simon Rockman

      Re: How to Improve electric cars

      And the Deltawing did a whole electric lap, but there is a huge difference between this kind of bleeding edge and practical stuff.

      Simon

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    City vs Rural

    Run out of petrol and you can walk to a petrol station, fill up a can and walk back. Run out of amps and you need to be close to a charging point. This massively impacts on the perception of range.

    Ironically this would work for Me. It's roughly 25km between fuel stops around here but there are plenty of houses and farms between.

    The biggest problem is cost. I looked at the hybrid version of my current motor and it would take nearly 10 years to pay back the extra outlay and that's doing roughly 24km per annum.

  14. flipper

    Borough boundary confusion

    I drove into London in my Leaf on Saturday. It was surprisingly painless and I found a space, with charging, relatively easy (just off The Strand).

    I'd planned ahead, and discovered that in the City Of Westminster, parking is free and I could stay for 4 hours, which fit my plans perfectly.

    I plugged in and went for lunch.

    While eating I decided to check the ParkRight app (City Of Westminster's app) and it told me the street I'd parked in was not in their zone, which meant I was no longer certain I could park for free.

    I ended up running back to my car, mid meal, to move it. Bizarrely, the street I was in *was* classed as City Of Westminster - but only on one side, the side without a charger. So I moved my car, but lost the ability to charge...

    So, though pretty painless, the 4 hour limit is a bit mean at weekends, and the lack of clear signage on the other side of the street (Holborn side) meaning I wasn't sure if parking was free, was confusing.

    I'll definitely do it again (but only at weekends).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Simply put, the technology is not there yet both in terms of infrastructure and batteries

    I'll wait until you early adopters have suffered through the pain for the "privilege".

  16. James Pickett

    I hope the Dept of Energy (and Climate Change!) has done its homework, as it seems to be encouraging us all to use electric vehicles while simultaneously closing power stations at the behest of the EU. Charging an EV at home will at least double your consumption (more if it needs frequent full charges), which is hard to reconcile with the present 2-3% capacity margin that has already resulted in this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-22845487

    1. James Hughes 1

      Fuck me, you really are anti electric.

      Are you absolutely sure recharging an electric car will at least double your electricity consumption? Figures please, would be interested in those.

      1. Chemist

        "Are you absolutely sure recharging an electric car will at least double your electricity consumption?"

        Well our average daily electricity consumption is 18kW.h - so using an electric car even moderately (50 miles/day) would double our consumption. ( a Leaf charging empty-full is supposed to take ~25kW.h)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          1: It'd still be cheaper than purchasing the same amount of energy over the local forecourt in liquid form.

          2: Offpeak charging would make it cheaper still.

      2. James Pickett

        "Fuck me, you really are anti electric."

        Not really - I'm fairly neutral, but I can add up.

        Most electric cars require more energy (kWh) to re-charge than the average household uses daily. The Tesla requires more than double (60kWh).

      3. Robert Goldsmith

        Charging an electric car does massively increase electricity consumption.

        My household electricity usage is ~ 9kWh/day and my 60mile daily commute means my car uses ~ 16kWh/day which, given some losses in charging (it is not 100% efficient) equates to about 18kWh usage.

        Switching to eco7 meant my daily household bill was a bit higher but the cost of charging the car overnight dropped significantly.

        It costs me ~ £1 to charge my car 18kWh which works out about £25/month (I don't commute on weekends).

        There is an argument that this is bad but I am using electricity overnight which helps the Grid by reducing the 'bath tub' effect and I'm buying my electricity from a renewable provider meaning my bills are being used to build more renewable energy sources and my usage is being matched by renewable units at some point.

        Remember, with electric cars you can improve their co2 footprint *after* the cars have been purchased without needing to retro-fit them. Upgrade the Grid and all the electric cars get that bit cleaner. You can't do the same with a fleet of ICE cars :)

    2. aBloke FromEarth

      Even worse situation: they closed a whole bunch of (perfectly good) nuclear power stations in Germany (because Japan's prone to earthquakes) and have been increasing the amount of coal power. All the while promoting the use of leccy cars.

      *headdesk*

      1. James Pickett

        "they closed a whole bunch of (perfectly good) nuclear power stations in Germany, because Japan's prone to earthquakes"

        Nicely put! Also a useful illustration of Green thought processes, if that's not an oxymoron...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Green thought processes" - you appear to have dropped your unnecessarily broad brush and are now painting with a roller. Fairly neutral my arse.

          1. James Pickett

            "Green thought processes"

            Mostly for effect, but I'm glad it worked.. :-)

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bicycles and scooters

    I think at the moment the one electric vehicle option that makes sense for cities is the electric bicycle/scooter. They're used mainly for shorter journeys, and they can be charged in a reasonable time by a 13A socket. For bicycles, there is even pedal backup. The battery can be removed and charged indoors.

    But...the Department of Transport does its best to discourage them. Idiot requirements like a 200W limit (meaning that the one time you really want the motor on a bike, climbing hills, it's useless), the requirement always to have to turn the pedals to keep the motor going, and the refusal to distinguish between ICE and electric for scooter taxation, all suggest that they aren't wanted.

    A robust bicycle with a 600W motor and decent brakes would be a workable form of urban transport, with a top speed around 20mph and a P/W ratio around 7-8HP/ton (6kW/tonne in real units) giving the ability to climb a steep hill at at least walking speed, but the organisation that hasn't even got around to legalising Segways for postmen and police doesn't seem to be in the slightest interested.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Bicycles and scooters

      "The refusal to distinguish between ICE and electric for scooter taxation, all suggest that they aren't wanted."

      They aren't. Western govts worldwide are more or less actively discouraging the purchase of small motorcycles due to very high injury rates for riders(*). At the extreme end, New Zealand has compulsary personal injury insurance built into vehicle licensing and motorcycles end up costing over twice as much as cars each year.

      (*) Yes, I know, most crashes are the fault of 3rd parties but that doesn't make the riders any less injured. Small (under 12kW) bikes put people in the danger zone where they're going too fast to stop quickly but don't have enough power to go around trouble and most riders tend to exacerbate the problem by riding in the "oil slick" or in the kerbside wheel lane.

  18. BugMan

    Make Electric Cars wait

    If eco-freako electric car drivers really cared about the environment, they wouldn't be looking for benefits like driving in bus lanes and getting priority over everyone else - It's obvious the most environmentally friendly thing for the to do is for them to give way to everyone else, so that the emissions of gas-guzzlers are minimised - that's why I never give way to Pri-arses

    Make then wait......

    1. Psyx

      Re: Make Electric Cars wait

      "If eco-freako electric car drivers really cared about the environment, they wouldn't be looking for benefits... I never give way to Pri-arses"

      Wow.

      Good to see that you're not resentful, though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Make Electric Cars wait

        He may not be resentful, but he is a bit of a cunt.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Last mile...

    Once upon a time, you couldn't get broadband internet because it didn't get to your doorstep.

    Now, electric cars can't park anywhere because there are not enough plugs, conveniently close. Just give it time.

    But I'm still waiting for laws to make it illegal to someone unplug your car without your consent. Because you are liable to find such punks everywhere.

    1. James Pickett

      Re: Last mile...

      "unplug your car without your consent"

      Urban schoolboys will be taking note. Unfortunately.

      1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

        Re: Last mile...

        You mean that the power leads aren't locked in place somehow???? I had never considered that as even a possibility. Plug-locks must be a business opportunity for someone.

        1. Richard Scratcher

          Lock and load

          My Nissan Leaf can lock its charging plug, and the other end is locked to the charging post until I release it by swiping my card to end the charging session.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Last mile...

      "But I'm still waiting for laws to make it illegal to someone unplug your car without your consent. Because you are liable to find such punks everywhere."

      That's one of my concerns, but apparently there's an electromagnetic locking mechanism to prevent such things. Some wag will still try and rip the cables out, which might prove interesting.

  20. G Murphy

    Driving in to central london

    is a pretty silly thing to do at the best of times, regardless of the propulsion system your vehicle employs. Buses, trains and tubes are all available frequently and fairly cheaply during working hours. Having to take two taxis and park in a less than ideal location is a symptom of driving anything in to central London during the week and expecting to park exactly where you want to.

    1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

      Re: Driving in to central london

      Buses, trains and tubes are all available frequently and fairly cheaply during working hours.

      My train ticket costs more than my mortgage.

      Try getting a train into one of the northern or western stations and then get to Canary Wharf for work. Walk, train, tube, dlr..... it all just takes so long, and its pretty well unreliable - most weeks one of the "unholy trinity" breaks down or experiences significant delays or strikes or staff absences.

      Public transport is great for very short distances, but hasn't been the future for a very long time now. The age of rail has been and gone, and anyone that thinks night busses are safe should feel welcome to travel through Croydon on one for a couple of nights.

      Now if we wanted to look to the future, it'd look a lot more like petrol or electric motorbikes travelling in on roads that are built over the top of the disused rail lines, with the train stations turned into multi-story motorbike parking..... Or we could just carry on with our current inadequate and crippled infrastructure hoping somehow that the train and bus will one day make sense again (they won't, of course).

      1. Vic

        Re: Driving in to central london

        Now if we wanted to look to the future, it'd look a lot more like petrol or electric motorbikes

        I'd love one of these[1] - if only they weren't so damned expensive :-(

        Vic.

        [1] Yes, there is an electric one. It won its class in the 2010 Progressive Insurance Automotive X-prize, with the highest MPGe of any of the class winners at 205.3 MPGe. And I think that's rather cool.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Driving in to central london

          I'd be very worried about travelling in an enclosed two wheeler. It takes too little to go wrong to have a fall over in traffic incident.

          The Vectrix electric scooter was pretty good (I know someone who has one) and is excellent for central London use. But nobody bought them.

          1. Vic

            Re: Driving in to central london

            I'd be very worried about travelling in an enclosed two wheeler. It takes too little to go wrong to have a fall over in traffic incident.

            That's why it has two additional wheels that come down at the sides.

            Even if you forget to put the wheels down, it will land on one of the additional wheels, and you can get going from that position.

            Vic.

        2. James Pickett

          Re: Driving in to central london

          "205.3 MPGe"

          How big is a gallon of electricity, then..?

          1. Vic

            Re: Driving in to central london

            How big is a gallon of electricity, then..?

            The "e" stands for "equivalent". Google can help you find out the definition...

            Vic.

  21. Nigel 11

    What's wrong with plug-in hybrids?

    In a city-communter environment, is anyone really going to run them off the petrol bit unless the worst has happened and the daily charge has run out?

    So give them the same urban-area advantages as pure electrical cars. After all, if someone with a pure-electric car needs to make a long journety, he's going to use his other car, or hire a conventional car, so the CO2 emission will also be the same or worse. (Worse, if two cars have to be manufactured instead on one).

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can you afford $15K to replace the battery pack?

    I hope everyone's taking into account the replacement cost of the battery pack in their calculations - that's $15000 for a Nissan Leaf as well as the steady loss of per-charge mileage year-on-year. With costs like that, or even if it were half that, the car is effectively scrap metal after the battery dies because nobody's ever going to fork out that much to get a used car running again.

    I really want electric cars to work but today's implementation is just too flawed to be a long term solution. Now if the manufacturers could just standardise on the power pack then I could drive into a 'petrol station' and my pack would be automatically swapped out for a fully charged one. I'd pay for the differential in charge plus an ongoing usage tax towards their manufacture and my old pack would go off for charging at a power station.

    1. Piro

      Re: Can you afford $15K to replace the battery pack?

      The cost of the pack is something people would like to avoid talking about.

      Some want to see it rolled into a lease, well, that won't work for most people.

      Most people want a car free of debt that they can patch up when absolutely necessary.

      Having a car that has a slowly shrinking fuel tank that costs a lot to replace is clearly a problem.

      If people say "oh, but they'll get cheaper over the years" - that may be true, but it sure won't be for the old packs, and even if it was, they can charge you whatever they want.

      Ever tried to buy a projector bulb for an old model? Just as expensive, if not more, than a new one. The good old razor and blades model.

      1. Robert Goldsmith

        Re: Can you afford $15K to replace the battery pack?

        Just to point out that the 'shrinking fuel tank' happens with old ICE cars as well because the engine wears and the fuel economy drops. Can you honestly believe a 5 year old Diesel achieves the same mpg as a new one of the same model?

        1. TopOnePercent Silver badge

          Re: Can you afford $15K to replace the battery pack?

          Just to point out that the 'shrinking fuel tank' happens with old ICE cars as well because the engine wears and the fuel economy drops. Can you honestly believe a 5 year old Diesel achieves the same mpg as a new one of the same model?

          Evidently you know little of modern engines.

          Provided the oil and filter are changed after every winter, and 6-7k whichever is sooner, a modern engine is good for more than 250,000 miles. 5 years would be about 50k, and there'd be almost no engine wear at all.

          Changes are good that because the engine is ran in properly that both power output and mpg will have improved.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Can you afford $15K to replace the battery pack?

            I beleive it can take up to 20 000km for a modern Diesel engine and gearbox fully to run in. Less for a car, but the detailed records I kept over several years of a 46 miles daily commute suggest that for a VW 1.9l lump of the period, it was around 10 000 miles. The difference wasn't great - from 43 to 46mpg - but when I sold it at 60 000 miles it was still doing around 45.

    2. Robert Goldsmith

      Re: Can you afford $15K to replace the battery pack?

      The battery pack on the Zoe is ~ £7000 but you rent it rather than buy it so it is replaced when needed in the rental cost.

      For the Leaf you do have the option to buy it. The Leaf battery is slightly cheaper at ~ £5500 but that's only if you need a whole new one. Cells wear unevenly so in almost all cases you can re-condition the battery by replacing a few cells rather than the whole thing. This is a much cheaper option that depends on the number of cells replaced but averages only a few hundred pounds rather than £5500.

    3. Aaron 10

      Re: Can you afford $15K to replace the battery pack?

      Where are you getting your $15K figure from? A 16kWh pack for the Volt is $3K. That's the same size as the i-MiEV. The LEAF is 1.5 times larger, so make that $4.5K. There are LEAF drivers with over 100,000 miles on their cars and they haven't had to replace their battery. Stop spreading FUD.

  23. Jim O'Reilly

    Britain (and the US ) need smaller cars

    There is a partial solution to congestion sitting at hand, and it isn't this crazy electric car thing. Most commuting is done solo, so why not require 1 or 2 person sized vehicles. These would be super-compact, gas efficient, but most importantly, you can park at least 50 percent more cars in the same spaces, and they will effectively reduce traffic by around 30 percent, just by taking up less space on the road. They'd be cheap to manufacture, too.

    1. llodge

      Re: Britain (and the US ) need smaller cars

      I think they have tried this but smart cars haven't really caught on.

      1. jason 7
        Facepalm

        Re: Britain (and the US ) need smaller cars

        Yeah hard to make it work when everyone thinks that as soon as they have a baby they have to buy a Tiger Tank to protect it.

        Bizzare.

  24. Aaron 10

    Bullocks

    If you are having that many problem with your battery going flat, the problem isn't the car nor the infrastructure. IT'S YOUR INABILITY TO PLAN YOUR ROUTE EFFECTIVELY.

    I have never run out of power, nor even come close, in a Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Why? Because I plan my route. I don't drive farther than I know the car can go.

    I thought this was The Reg, not Top Gear.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bullocks

      You plan your route to the trendy Shoreditch bar where they sell non alcoholic topiary cocktails out of a miners cap or whatever for £16 a head. Probably let electric vehicle drivers park in front of the urinals too.

  25. jason 7

    And yet...

    ...if the laws passed that demanded a 100mpg Urban 1000cc engine delivering 85BHP we'd have it within a few months.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And yet...

      I presume that the law you would need passed is "the gas laws are hereby suspended and the Carnot cycle equation will be replaced with one to be issued as a Statutory Instrument".

      The capacity of the engine isn't important; to reduce friction, use fewer cylinders. If the cylinders are too small it is difficult to get thermodynamic efficiency. The optimum for a petrol engine is around 300-450cc, and for Diesels rather bigger, so a 3 cylinder 1500cc Diesel is a good starting point.

      Well, we have those, and with all the turbocharger gubbins and the rest they can achieve a government rating of around 72mpg in a supermini, and a real world rating more like 60.

      Hybrids are actually a bit better when you take the higher density of Diesel versus petrol into account. In real world conditions the Yaris Diesel gets 61mpg, and the hybrid gets 57 on petrol.

      Now consider that my perfectly ordinary, normally aspirated small MPV gets a real 45mpg, and you can see that the benefits of all that advanced technology, hybrid or Diesel, has only reduced consumption by about 20%. And you want to reduce it by twice as much again. In a few months.

      Believe me, with the amount of money spent by Toyota, Ford, BMW and Mercedes on engine efficiency, if 100mpg on either fuel was possible in a practical urban vehicle, it would have happened long ago. But the law of diminishing returns has been in action for a long time now. In fact, with all the technology in modern Diesels, an engine fault can already cost far more than the savings from any possible efficiency gains.

      1. Truth4u

        Re: And yet...

        Was at the engine room in the science museum recently. HUGE engines with tiny ratings. Probably use most of the power carrying their own weight. We've come a long way.

      2. Vic

        Re: And yet...

        The capacity of the engine isn't important; to reduce friction, use fewer cylinders.

        Or use some exotic materials...

        My old Chemistry teacher had great tales to tell about his previous life as an industrial chemist. He'd worked on a ceramic with a negative coefficient of expansion such that it could be combined with the alloy used in an engine to create zero-expansion parts. The resulttant engine was far more stable with temperature, and so could be run very much hotter (with the corresponding gain in efficiency).

        Cheap it was not, though :-)

        Vic.

    2. Simon Rockman

      Re: And yet...

      This is what was behind the Japanese Kei car concept. It produced some amazing little cars like teh Honda Beat, S-cargo, and the Suzuki Cappuccino. I had a Cappuccino but really lusted after an Autozam AZ-1.

      If we had a car industry where the factories were British owned there would be more incentive for regulation which as closed in the same kind of way.

  26. Jim Birch

    Meanwhile, outside the square...

    Self driving cars that wander off to charge themselves as required during off peak usage times seem a more likely future to me. This not just an energy issue but also as much to do with the unreliability of human drivers and the ability to use the transit time doing something more enjoyable than swearing out your cortisol at other drivers. All right, what could be more enjoyable than that but you know what I mean. Supply and demand can be balanced in part with peak charging. Seriously, if there is no parking why would you want to own a car that you aren't using it 95% of the time? Currently, we own cars for two main reasons, firstly, car manufacturers want us to and devote a massive resources to normalise the idea, and secondly, and soon historically, paying for a driver is very expensive so we supply this component ourselves.

  27. Truth4u

    nuclear vehicles

    Could you put a small reactor in a vehicle the size of a hummer? I'm sure you could.

    Then you get to be green and the biggest thing on the road.

  28. Neil@bondenglish

    You're Just Moaning about Parking

    The author is merely whinging about parking problems which affect all London drivers,

    then attempting to use an electric car to game the system

    and bleating even more when he fails.

    Absolute rubbish.

  29. CPE Bach

    Hydrogen??????????????

    No one seems to have considered Hydrogen Cycle engines and I wonder why, when this discourse has by definition to be carried out by folk who are interested in "new technology". It is already embryonic if you take a look at

    http://www.hyundai.co.uk/about-us/environment/hydrogen-fuel-cell?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Hydrogen%20Cars_BRD_EXT-BMM&utm_term=%20+hydrogen%20+engines

    (an advertisement admittedly) you can see that there seems to have been quite a bit of progress on that front.

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Hydrogen??????????????

      Going by Wikipedia, the energy efficiency of a Hydrogen fuel cell can currently be around 60% with theoretical potential significantly higher. It also gives an efficiency for an internal combustion engine of about 25% in a modern car. I would love to see hydrogen fuel-cell powered cars take over. Wikipedia also gives energy densities of 46MJ/Kg for petrol and 142MJ/Kg for Hydrogen. Given petrol is already more energy dense than lithium-ion batteries by a considerable margin and hydrogen is way more energy dense than petrol, it seems to me to make massive sense to be pursuing Hydrogen. Why aren't we?

  30. h 2

    Tax On Fuel

    So when we all 'flip' to electric vehicles, how do we have to pay the tax on the fuel? I assume we would have special metered charging electric points at home.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Tax On Fuel

      nah the energy companies will just put up everyone's bills across the board. much more profitable to gouge people than do it fairly.

    2. TopOnePercent Silver badge

      Re: Tax On Fuel

      So when we all 'flip' to electric vehicles, how do we have to pay the tax on the fuel?

      <donsTinfoilHat>

      That's what Galilleo is all about - swapping to per mile charging rather than a tax on fuel, plus tracking every car or bike everywhere it goes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "plus tracking every car or bike everywhere it goes."

        They always say... this is so great... you can use it to track a rapist or abductor, they never say, hey when you're not being raped and abducted, you are still being tracked by the government for no reason...

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