Sunday, May 24, 2009

5 reasons why electric cars should rule London's roads

I don't drive. More precisely, I can't drive. To be honest, I used to drive a 4x4 jeep around during my army days and I suspect I still have my military license around somewhere but I don't qualify to drive a civilian car.

Well, I had a chance to convert my military license to a civilian one just before the end of my national service after clocking 7,000 km. First time round, I blew it when the end of my jeep hit the metal bar during the parallel parking test and the clanking sound as it hit the ground could be heard a mile away.

Second time round, I managed to perform both rear and parallel parking within five minutes, an achievement for someone who has never got to worry about parking in the fields; during training exercises, the 'parking lot' is demarcated by the spot where you stop your vehicle. However, I flunked the test when I tried changing gear while doing a right turn at a busy road junction thus setting the jeep on a free wheeling a the whole of 1.5 seconds, which seemed to the tester 1.5 seconds too long.

So there I was, with 7,000km of mileage under my belt and nothing to show for it. Till this day I have to rely on the generosity of my friends to drive me around in the country. I suspect one of whom will be reading this so just to let him know that I'm all ready for the next trip to Wales if he so plan to return to London anytime soon.

Anyway, Boris Johnson has become my favorite person earlier in April when he outlined the plan to put 100,000 electric cars on London's roads and pledged £20 million to the project and challenged the government to come with with twice that amount.

Doing so will turn London into the electric car capital of the world and nudge Britain towards the eventual lowering of carbon emission. More importantly, it would wipe the smug off Top Gear Jeremy Clarkson's face. Regardless of what car lovers say, there are five good reasons why electric cars should replace the likes of Aston Martins and even the regular Volkswagen's Golf.

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1. Cost
- though the start up cost of the electric car scheme is not going to be cheap due to the lack of economics of scale but it's really a chicken and egg issue. Once the initial infrastructure is provided for, the no frills electric car will cost less than the average sedan.

2. Reduce oil dependency - with the reliance on petrol reduced, Londoners wouldn't have to hold their breath every time Iran ran a missile test.

3. Cool factor - imagine zipping around in a two-seater electric car which engine remain ever so silent even upon acceleration. Three point turn? What's that?

4. Maneuverability - the increased agility of an electric car due to its smaller chassis would fit right into the London's narrow streets and lanes. Heck, you could even drive one right up along the pedestrian pavements as well.

5. Cleaner - Lesser carbon and particle emission, enough said.

There some debate on whether the introduction of electric cars in London would indeed lower carbon emission. The electricity supplied to the cars has to come from somewhere and most electricity generated in the UK are from burning of coals. That can't be good.

Furthermore, the loss of energy transmitting electricity all the way from the generators to the charging point cannot be ignored. Well, that would be a great motivation to build more nuclear plants, isn't it?

Also, there is this grumble about the limited range of an electric car. The last thing you want on your drive to Cardiff is to have to look for a plug point every now and then. Until someone comes up with a solution for that, electric cars will most likely be restricted to London itself.

Who knows? I might just go get myself a license so that I could go whiz around in an electric car.

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6 comments:

Reeta said...

I never used to worry about not having a license in Singapore. Now that I'm here and my work place is in the middle of the countryside, there was no way I could do without my little Polo.

I suppose it's different in London.

To be fair, they go on and on about electric cars and how great it will be but nothing seems to be getting done in terms of getting the infrastructure together. Once that's up and running, it will be brilliant. Especially not having to pay road tax as well...

foongpc said...

I think it's cool to drive an electric car. But the oil giants would probably go all out to stop the production of such cars!

Btw, thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving your comments. Much appreciated! : )

qiwoman said...

I would love to learn to drive and for me too, the most Eco friendly pimped out ride will be my latest toy. Oh How I miss Covent Garden and China Town lol..I am in Richmond, BC at the moment and just got married. I used to have the green not mean blog and other blogs but now just gonna have one big random blog.

Dutchie said...

U know CK, u hv saved a bundle getting ur driving lessons from the NS. I think it was abt S$40/hr in the 1980's.

NL has started with trials of electric cars in selected cities. The garbage trucks I read, cruised at 20km/hr n the shoe-sized car shown in ur blog goes at 45km/hr. Ikea has gone on the bandwagon as a supplier of the power points. Makes me think, why not just add a power point at every existing petrol station ?

I had a good laugh when I came across an article that the hummer in the US has converted to electric. The power pack alone weighs 300kgs - man, oh man, when will those people ever learned to conserve energy ?

C K said...

@Reeta,
I wonder how it's like to work in the countryside. I mean, working in central London is somewhat like working in Singapore's CBD. But I guess it's a refreshing change for you.

Well, the Mayor seems to be getting to setting up the infrastructure but I wouldn't be surprised if he starts backpedalling if his budget gets cut.


@foongpc,
You know what? I wouldn't be surprised either. Then again, the energy companies are also looking forward to develop 'alternate' energy sources as it gets more difficult to reach untapped oil fields.

@qiwoman,
It's really difficult to get a single blog running and I have no idea how some regularly update and maintain a couple of blogs. Well, unless you are a full time blogger, that is. :)

@Dutchie,
Eh? When I left NS, it was more like $25/hr in Singapore. Any idea how long is needed to fully charge up a car? I mean, it would be quite ridiculous to wait for an hour or more for your electric to be charged up, isn't it? If only, there's a huge battery of some sort... definitely not those 300kg packs!

Dutchie said...

The time for recharging was not mentioned in the news report. I supposed Ikea uses a sort of power surge to "tank"up the cars within minutes. That could be the reason why the power points at home r not suitable for the job.