Friday 28 October 2016

We're not serious enough on electric cars

Published 25/11/2015 | 02:30

Ready to go further? BMW i3
Ready to go further? BMW i3
Land Rover
Toyota Aygo

Everyone lauds the attempts being made to have more electric cars on our roads. There are major drawbacks, of course, with range anxiety prime among them - though with a little bit of management in an urban environment that can be just about coped with now.

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But, without in any way detracting from the effort, we should still bear in mind that electric cars are not emissions free.

Well, most of them aren't. Most rely on power generated somewhere else. And generating that power can invoke considerable emissions. I think we lose sight of that.

I read somewhere recently that an electric car can use as much electricity in one charge as your average fridge does in six weeks. Which is a fair bit if you are charging it every day.

But that shouldn't be regarded as a downer. Why not use the goal of significantly reducing the environmental impact of power for electric cars as an incentive to produce them more efficiently?

And why not encourage wider use of electric cars by making it even more worthwhile to have one?

All sorts of proposals have been made for Ireland (where monetary incentives are quite generous) such as free parking, tolls etc.

But there is a lethargy about our official approach to them and the numbers sold bear that out. Either we are serious or we are not. And I don't think we are. We require a different sort of commitment.

I'm prompted to say so on the basis of charges that are coming down the line. This is a great juncture for the Government to step in and say: "We're going to back electric cars to the hilt and here's how."

That would show real intent.

* Speaking of range anxiety . . . BMW is anxious to play down reports its BMW i3 electric car is ready to go further in the not-too-distant future.

Reports suggested it has developed a new higher-density battery that will extend the range to 200km instead of the current 160kmh. But a spokeswoman in Ireland said it was just press speculation.

* On a different electric-car tack . . . Tesla is recalling every Model S that has been bought so far after discovering a fault with a passenger's seatbelt.

It recently found a Model S in Europe with "a front seatbelt that was not properly connected to the outboard lap pre-tensioner".

There was no crash or injuries but Tesla says: "However, in the event of a crash, a seatbelt in this condition would not provide full protection."

* Despite its travails, Volkswagen is pushing ahead with plans for an electric Phaeton to rival the likes of the Tesla Model S. But it will be three or four years down the line.

* Moving away from electrics . . . Toyota here is claimingit is first in Ireland to fit an advanced safety system as standard to a city car. Its 'Safety Sense' technology pack will be on the AYGO. The company says there is "no extra cost to the driver".

* Good to see Jaguar Land Rover here expanding its retail network with the appointment of the Joe Duffy Group as North Dublin's Jaguar dealer for Sales and Aftersales at HB Dennis.

Based in Airside Motor Park, Swords, the HB Dennis outlet is also a Land Rover dealership.

* And speaking of Land Rover: production of the great Defender will end early next year.

Indo Motoring

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