Families who are willing to exchange their petrol or diesel car for an electric vehicle are being sought to take part in a Government trial of electric cars. The cars to be used in the trial are likely to be a combination of pure electric vehicles, which are powered only by their batteries, and plug-in hybrids which have a petrol engine that starts up when the battery runs low.
Transport minister Geoff Toon said electric cars would appeal mostly to two-car families who used the second vehicle primarily for short journeys around town. Families that are willing to take part in the trial will have to be prepared to run the risk that the car’s battery will run flat during a journey and then take several hours to recharge, but on the bright side they will enjoy running costs of approximately two pence a mile plus discounts on congestion charges.
It seems that the Government needs to find out if electric cars are practical, the most advanced electric cars currently developed have a range of less than forty miles before they need recharging. Motorists who drive short distances can only benefit as long distance motorway driving is not an option. Access to electric power points must be an issue, if you live in a high rise tower block it’s not going to be easy to charge the car. The cost of electricity has increased dramatically and it seems that the advanced batteries are expensive.
The trial will be part of a £100 million five-year programme to stimulate the design, manufacture and purchase of electric vehicles. Manufacturers have been invited to participate which includes lending vehicles which emit 50g of carbon dioxide per kilometer or less. Another part of the trial will test 150 electric vans in cities throughout the country. A large part of the programme will be spent on research to improve technology primarily with the life of the batteries.