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2040: Yes, But Have They Thought It Through?

Following the government’s announcement that the sale of petrol and diesel cars must stop after 2040 a taxi driver was interviewed by some television Johnny. He was broadly in agreement with the idea but wondered how taxi drivers – for example – would manage given the EV range issue as it stands today.

In a day, he estimated, he would need to charge up three times and made it clear that long-haul trips, airport runs and the like, would be out of the question.

That raises other questions. It’s entirely conceivable that smaller, much more powerful battery technology is on the way, allowing for much longer range equivalent to a petrol-powered vehicle; but it’s not here yet. That’s just the start of the problems.

Charge It In 2040

Nobody, when taking the family on holiday, is going to be prepared to wait a couple of hours or so to add more fuel. They just won’t. Naturally, the official thinking behind this, I reckon, is as a surreptitious way of getting people onto public transport for those long distance journeys.

That’s all very well in principle but the realities of rail travel today, the expense, the changing of trains, the delays and the ‘not really handy for our hotel’ argument all make a strong case for sticking with the motor – even if, by then, we can only buy second-hand ICE motors. HMGov is hoping that the vanity, white elephant known as the HS2 railway line will makes us change our minds. It won’t; it just makes us angry. If I want to get to Manchester 20 minutes early, I’ll leave 20 minutes earlier thanks, thus saving millions.

So, unless superfast chargers are introduced to fill up the new generation batteries in minutes AND assuming that there is a charging infrastructure worthy of the name in place in the scant twenty-three years available, this idea is not going to fly with the great unwashed public.

The Councils

No.10 has said that there will be a £3 billion package of spending that will tackle air pollution on the road to 2040 and the clean air Utopia. Of that, £255 million will go towards helping councils deal with diesel emissions. Seriously? £225m is a drop in the ocean. Split between all the town halls in England and Wales means that each council will get chump change. Then you have to remember who the money is being given to; I wouldn’t put most of my local councillors in charge of a ‘bring & buy’ stall at the local church fête.

To achieve that which is desired by 2040 is going to take a lot more sorting out then seems to be realised. This sort of thing is easy to say (the government got the idea from the weird and slightly crazed French president) when none of the originators will be in the job come E-Day. As is usual with parliaments, someone else can pick up the pieces.

We have a green lobby that says No! to nuclear power. If we truly are to go electric in the future then a couple of windmills on Greenham Common are simply not going to cut it. Our National Grid as it is could not even come close to powering an EV nation. Where will the power stations go? The current new build, Hinckley Point, is rife with dispute, running late and over budget and not likely to come on line for another ten years. We’re going to need a few more than that. Can it be done by 2040? No.

Polluting Commercials

There are ways to pressure the public to get them to change to another way of doing things and it is called tax. Vile smokers! Take that! It’s another thing entirely to take on the road haulage industry and business users though. What’s the solution there then? Rail transport? See above.

In short, they have not thought this through. DriveWrite has driven several electric cars and liked most of them. The Renault Zoe is terrific, for example. Most drivers don’t really have a problem with the technology only the implementation. Here in the UK the approach to a national charging infrastructure has been has been piecemeal to date and the EV is only really good for local journeys right now. How is it going to work for trucks?

The Scheming Minority

Successive governments recently have taking to kowtowing to whoever shrieks the loudest for fear of losing voters. The fact that these pressure groups usually number a tiny few in a population of some 70 million is neither here nor there. That’s why we have these crackpot reactive decisions being made.

By making the announcement this lot have crept our of their lairs demanding action now, not in 2040. Here’s the news for them: Apart from penalising and demonising diesel owners there’s not a lot that can be done instantly.

By all means clean up the environment as soon as possible but for goodness sake, just for once, show some common sense. Geoff Maxted