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Spring Edition 2017

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CLEAN DRIVING by Ryder Ryan of "Range anxiety - sweaty palms and increased heart rate when you only have a few miles left of charge..." I’d hazard a guess that if you asked most people on the street when the first electric car was produced, they might guess at twenty years ago. But should they tell you that it was around 1890 thanks to a certain American chemist called William Morrison, kidnap them, and take them straight to your next pub quiz! In fact, by 1900, electric cars were in their heyday, accounting for around a third of all vehicles on the road. However by 1935 due to high prices, electric vehicles had all but disappeared. Fast forward to 1997 and Toyota launch the Prius; the first, mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle. Now, all the mainstream car makers are offering high-quality electric models, either battery only, electric or plug-in hybrids. Personally, I’m not convinced that the hybrid vehicle has a long term future. It still currently costs more to purchase than its fossil fuelled equivalent and the running costs are not significantly better compared to "You could buy a Renault Zoe from £14,000 right up to a £130,000 Tesla P100D" a petrol engine vehicle in regular use. Given the speed at which the efficiency of electric car batteries are improving, I believe that the need to have a petrol engine combined with an electric one will soon be redundant. However, the hybrid option has proved to be a gentle introduction to electric based transport and I suspect a large part of its success is because it overcomes many of the current negatives of the full EV (Electric Vehicle). These are (a) poor mileage range resulting in ‘range anxiety’, sweaty palms and increased heart rate when you only have a few miles left of charge just as you pass the last exit for 12 miles on the motorway!) (b) it is a significantly more expensive option compared to its fossil fuelled equivalent (even with the current government subsidy) and (c) a convenient charging point is required at home because finding one when out can be very frustrating. Despite all this, there is still a positive environmental argument for having an EV in the family. Clearly this argument is stronger if you live in a city or town with excellent public transport facilities should you run out of juice! But even for those who live in the countryside, provided you have a second car for longer journeys, then an EV should easily cope with driving habits that are within its working capacity parameters. Today you can buy a Renault Zoe from £14,000 right up to a £130,000 Tesla P100D. Tesla currently dominate the premium end of the market and have demonstrated how to produce a terrific EV albeit at a cost. With technology improving at its usual breakneck speed, most manufacturers seem to be launching yet another updated version of the EV almost annually. Lastly, for any prospective EV purchaser, my advice would be that given the speed at which the EV world is changing, you should carefully consider the choice of purchase method. For example if you went down the contract hire/rental route, you could change the vehicle every two years and benefit not only from the upgraded model but most importantly, from the latest battery range. I’m sure if William Morrison was alive today he would be astounded by how things have changed in the hybrid/electric car world since his first attempt and probably even more astounded at the cost of a pint of beer at your local pub on quiz night! 14 15


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