Future of electric cars
My own specific future for electric cars will be my Nissan Leaf. This is because I went with the option of buying the car outright and I didn’t want to go down the route of leasing. Many people are predicting we won’t own cars in the future, but we’ll have some sort of subscription which will allow us to use a car whenever we need one. My circumstances with where I live and the amount of driving I do I prefer to own my own car. Due to my age and the state of play of my working life I thought it would be better to have a car I don’t have to pay anything for on a monthly basis for however long it would be necessary. Someone living in a city with multiple choices for public transport would have much different priorities. If you can get full use out of public transport then, that’s fantastic. A bicycle is all some people need to do the daily travel to work and back. Or one of those little electric scooters or an electric unicycle. For me though, I like the idea that the car I have now will last me a good long time. What about the future of electric cars in general?
We don’t all live in Norway
If you do live in Norway you might be of the opinion the epoque of electric vehicles was already with us. About 40% of new cars in Norway are fully electric. The Norwegian government have created the conditions where it’s easy to justify buying an electric car. The charging infrastructure has been put in place. There are monetary incentives to help people make the right choice. Ironically the Norwegians have been able to do this on the back of the wealth coming into the country from the oil industry. They have seen the writing on the wall though and are looking towards a long-term future. They are divesting some of their investments in the oil industry. No government investment is going towards the further exploration for oil deposits. The future is for renewable energy and vehicles able to use renewables. Norway is a shiny example of the transition to e-mobility in Europe and the world. What about elsewhere?
Spain Lagging Behind
In comparison to Norway there’s a huge contrast to the way things look for electric vehicles at present in Spain. The take-up for electric vehicles is slow and the red tape to get the incentives are a barrier to the spread of e–mobility. The charging infrastructure across the country is patchy at best. Cities like Barcelona have a good infrastructure for electric vehicles. A city like Sevilla on the other hand has very few electric charging points. Same thing with the regions, Catalonia is looking forward and doing well, whereas Andalucia is lagging behind. Then if I go north from where I live into France, the provision of charging points is really very good. Even in small villages you find charging points. I’d like to see the European Union sending money to add charging infrastructure where it is needed.
Oh to have a Tesla
One of the reasons for buying a Tesla would be the supercharger network. I’d be able to drive from the bottom of Spain all the way to the top of Europe in Norway using superchargers. Tesla have provided a killer combination of charging network and long-range vehicle autonomy. For some drivers buying a Tesla would be the only choice which would make sense. My needs of an electric vehicle don’t quite fit in that bracket yet. I would still love to be a Tesla owner and driver. We can all dream, can’t we. Have to be grateful for the push and impetus to make the motoring world embrace electric vehicles. VW have 70 electric vehicles coming out over the next few years. Most other vehicle manufacturers are seeing the writing written large on the wall too.
Are Electric cars too expensive?
The cost of buying an electric vehicle still has to fall drastically in order to be the sensible option for the majority of drivers. It may well be the running costs are so much cheaper with an electric car. Not everyone can afford to pay the higher price for an electric vehicle. Even if there are savings making the car cheaper in the long run. When people can buy a car for the same amount of money I paid for my fossil fuelled Renault Clio is when electric vehicles will take over. The Renault Zoe does provide a way around high purchase costs with a battery leasing option. Whether it works out financially depends on how many kilometres you do per month. With the Clio I was paying around approximately €60 per month in fuel. Battery leasing is around €50 = I was still wondering when I was thinking of buying an electric car, how much I would have to pay for the electricity on top of that. I wasn’t keen on the battery lease idea.
Secondhand electric cars
Perhaps the answer for the budget conscious electric vehicle buyer is in the second-hand market. There are second-hand Nissan Leaf and the Renault Zoe cars. A good way to get into the electric future of car driving. You need to know something about batteries in second-hand cars. How do you know if they are in good condition or not? Battery degradation is something to watch out for. How many kilometres can you drive in a car which has a smaller battery capacity than when it was new?
I have found when buying second-hand cars you are to a certain extent buying somebody else’s problems. The previous owner possibly had a good reason for getting rid of the car. You could be lucky and find one where the owner was just buying a new car just because he wanted a new one. Then again, a second-hand car could have been causing problems for the owner and that was the prompt for purchase of a new vehicle. It’s hard to tell whether you’re going to be lucky one way or the other. I got unlucky with a Kia Carnival which is why I decided to make sure my next car was going to be a new one. New cars can have problems, but it is less likely and there is the warranty to fall back on. With my Leaf I am good for eight years with the warranty on the battery.
How long is the transition going to be?
It depends on how long the current fossil cars are going to last for. Here we are talking about the cars already on the road as well as the new ones being sold right now. Here in Spain I’m still seeing a lot of new cars going on the road which are fossil fuelled. The government is not giving enough encouragement to early adopters to make the choice for electric power. We see cars on the road which are 10 years old, maybe even older than that. So any new cars being sold at the moment running on fossil fuels have the potential of still being on the road in 10 years time. There’s going to be a need for regulations to encourage a changeover to electric vehicles. The rules and regulations to keep old polluting cars out of city centres are good for improving the air-quality. Someone living near to the city will want to have a car they can drive in these clear air zones. This could be an example of how legislation will help to hasten the transition. There are all sorts of promises from city and national governments saying they will ban fossil fuelled cars in 2030 or 2040. It seems a long way off and sometimes I wonder if I will see much of a change in my lifetime. As I walk in the street and a diesel car goes by stinking the air around me I feel annoyed and disappointed. Maybe I shouldn’t be so impatient. Change will come when the world is ready for it. Hopefully disastrous climate change doesn’t come too soon and make it too late for the electric vehicle revolution to have an effect.
On a brighter Note
It is extremely rare for someone who has driven an electric powered vehicle to go back to driving a fossil fuelled car. It’s so much cheaper to drive an electric car. The cost of electricity is more stable than the cost of fossil fuels. This makes it easier to predict how your finances are going to fare for a year or two in advance. It is not just in the cost of the fuel, but also lower vehicle maintenance costs. There are fewer moving parts to wear out and break in an electric vehicle. You are unlikely to have to change brake pads. There are no timing belts to change in order to avoid expensive engine repairs. You don’t have exhaust systems which need to be replaced. No oil changes are required or spark plugs to change. So basically, there’s a whole lot less hassle with electric car ownership.
The use of the happy pedal
One of the things all of us electric car drivers love to pieces is the instant torque. It’s this instant acceleration we get at whatever speed we are driving which gets us to rename the accelerator pedal the ‘happy pedal’. Electric vehicle owners are highly aware of how much energy is being used to cover the kilometres or miles. We don’t tend to overuse the happy pedal as it means we are using more of the battery energy when we do. It’s really nice it’s there when we need it. It always brings a smile on my face when I have to quickly get up to the correct speed to merge into traffic. I’m always happy to have the power to accelerate and overtake a vehicle as safely as possible. Fossil fuelled cars feel incredibly sluggish in comparison. Driving an electric car is not all about wanting to save the planet. Driving electric is also fun.