Electric Vehicles

Will UK Drivers Ever Learn To Love Electric Cars?

Electric cars have been around for a long time. Since the late 19th century they have been touted as the better alternative to the petrol driven variant but have never quite lived up to this billing.

In the UK, commentators such as Jeremy Clarkson have been derisory of electrically powered cars, stating that they are not cars you would actually want to own. With the public agreeing with Mr. Clarkson, electric car sales in the UK remain anaemic. Recently, sales in Britain have dropped by 90 per cent, going from a peak of 397 units in 2007, to a mere 55 units in 2009.

However, in America the likes of George Clooney, Matt Damon and Arnold Schwarzenegger are all famous owners of electric cars and a recent entrant on the market is attempting to break free of the aesthetic capitulation of earlier cars such as the G-Wiz. The iconic Tesla Roadster is a car that is not afraid to do things differently, using lithium ion batteries to give it a range of some 240 miles. With a top speed of 125 miles per hour and 0-60 in 3.9 seconds, and all this power resting on a Lotus chassis, Tesla claim that this car is five times more efficient than the average combustion engine. This is certainly an impressive technical achievement that motorists may actually want to buy. The one major obstacle in the Tesla becoming a staple on British roads is a retail price of £90,000.

The idea that styling is responsible for the failure of the electric car to capture the imagination of the British motorist is not true. The reality is that the technology has limited the practical effectiveness of electric cars.

The G-Wiz, retailing at £8,000, is one of the best selling electric cars in the UK, but its top speed is no faster than a horse at 40mph and it has a range of up to 50 miles. Maybe this is enough for a city commuter in London, where the average speed is 10mph, but for longer journeys it is next to useless. Other electric vehicles, such as the much more expensive Fiat e500 retailing at £25,000, are not much better with a top speed of 60mph and a maximum range of 75 miles.

The main issue for the electric vehicle market has been the same for over 100 years. Current battery technology is nowhere near the same level as electric vehicle technology. Manufacturers at present are not able to produce a battery that can deliver power, range, and reliability at an affordable price to the consumer.

Until these issues are resolved it will sadly remain a rarity to see commuters behind the windscreens of electric cars.

Daniel Collins writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.

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