The news (7 February) about the installation of electric car charging points prompted me to do a quick sum on the potential total requirement on the basis of 100 per cent conversion to electric traction (unlikely, I know).
A typical fill-up time for a petrol (or diesel) vehicle is approximately five minutes. A time often quoted for an 80 per cent fast charge for an electric vehicle is 20 minutes, ie four times as long.
Additionally, the refuelling interval for a petrol vehicle is typically 300 miles; that for the electric is 100 miles, ie three times as often.
It follows that, to achieve the same level of service, there would need to be 12 times as many charging points as there are currently petrol pumps.
Since most existing filling stations would be unable to increase their capacity, their “turnover” would effectively decrease by a factor of four, so they would have to increase their margins by the same number to compensate.
Those motorists unable to squeeze onto a forecourt would have to re-charge at the parking bay outlets where they could enjoy the pleasure of paying even more for the space in addition to the “fuel”. What joy.
The question remains to be answered as to what the motorist will do with all those 20-minute waits. Help restore the profits of the filling station by having a relaxed cup of coffee and then pay a pound to use the essential toilet facilities, I guess.
So, many millions of pounds of hard-earned taxpayers’ cash are to be wasted on providing charging stations for battery-powered hatchbacks?
As a motor engineer with 53 years’ experience, I can assure you that electric cars don’t work because electricity is not a fuel. It is merely a method of power transmission.
It’s the same as hydraulics, cables, hydrostatics (your car’s braking system depends on them), mechanical linkages (as in the “movement” of a steam locomotive) and the essential operation of the internal combustion engine where reciprocation is converted to rotary motion by a crank – just like a bicycle.
But politicians and green activists have failed to grasp the basic physics, engineering, heat input and purity of motion.
Energy has to be generated. That needs fuel. Imagine a battery-powered airliner, freight train, container ship, oil tanker, military aircraft or HGV.
So why are private cars the prime target? Let’s get real.
Instead of trying to provide more charging points for electric cars, a better solution would be for the manufacturers to provide a block of connected fuel cells of a manageable size instead of a single large battery.
These fuel cells could be swapped by the drivers for full ones as they are depleted. The infrastructure to support this already exists – petrol stations.
Recharging the depleted fuel cells would be a good way of using electricity produced by wind turbines instead of trying to feed it into the national grid, which is like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.
The belief that electric cars are greener than ordinary ones depends on a study by Arup and Conex. That study depends on the wild claims of manufactures and ignores the very substantial amount of energy required to manufacture the batteries, let alone the greater weight of electric vehicles.
In contrast, our study, which is based on fundamentals, shows that the electric car is likely to emit more carbon than a conventional one. Detail is available at topic 31 of www.transport-watch.co.uk/topic-31-electric-cars.