Monday, 25 February 2013

I call ‘Bullshit’ on Electric “fear”

Recently, the ex-CEO of Volvo, Stefan Jacoby, announced that electric cars had no future down to the overall “fear” of the car buying public.

Citing our needs to want a reliable, rechargeable car, he stated that our behaviour with mobile phones was a clear indication of this apparent fear.

Granted, we want to know our car will get from A to B, even if there is a bit more traffic than expected, but do we ‘fear’ not making it? No, in the same way we don’t ‘fear’ running out of petrol. We will be peeved. We will find it hugely inconvenient and we MIGHT even use a few more offensive swear words. In the same way we did all these things when Nokia’s charge pin shrunk and Apple’s Lightning charger cable replaced a perfectly usable one.  (Oh, hell was I peeved!)

But, like normal human beings, when we spot that we are running low, we will go to a station and fill up, or recharge in this case.

I’m not saying this is easy. In fact, I’ve just spent the last week, running around on the electric experience “from hell”…if I really wanted to sensationalise things. Was it really hell though? No. Sanity check: Palestine/Terminal Illness/Three-day hangover. No, it was definitely not hell.

A few things didn’t go my way. Living in an apartment with no exterior power point was my first mistake, but half of the reason for loaning the car, was actually to test this theory.

The electric car itself, a Smart Fortwo Electric Drive Coupé, was loads of fun to drive. Hot off the lights, it whizzed around all my little localities, to-ing and fro-ing to friends’ houses, and less enjoyably to charging points. It was cool though.

My experience was hindered by a couple of things, namely my lack of due diligence and Mercedes’ failure to equip me with a charge card. This latter issue, however, was quickly resolved by the lovely people at Pod Point (Thanks, Hannah!).

Cruising around the streets of Soho looking for a point could have been avoided, if I’d pre-scoped the area. But I chose to wing it. Two visits to Peckham and an unsuccessful visit to E14 later, I simply giggled when I saw that the forecourt of Ancaster Nissan was closed on Sunday (bollards up), with a LEAF parked directly in my way anyhoo.

This experience wasn’t an infrastructure problem. Nor was it an electric car problem. It was just pure bad luck. Was I fearful?! NO! I did not fear that the big bad hairy battery juice guzzler was going to come and steal the remaining supply of my charge.

I did what any normal human being would do and returned the six-miles to the point I knew DID work and I left it there overnight.

In fact, it gave me the opportunity to do a bit of training that I’d missed out on all week.  That said, I appreciate 3.8 miles back home isn’t ideal, so I’m pleased to hear the government has announced measures to dole out £13.5m to customers buying electric, on top of their £5,000 tax relief, to help with the cost of fitting a charging station to their home, or in their street.

If having an electric car does nothing else, it certainly widens your social circle. And if you hear manufacturers talking “range anxiety”, don’t believe the hype.

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