Electric appeal

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The thing I least expected when I first got into an all-electric car was how it would completely alter my relationship with these wondrous machines.

I was the sort of man who could walk along a city street chatting with an old friend about marriages, education and the stresses of fatherhood and I would hold my hand up mid-sentence so I could listen to the throaty warble of a Mercedes-AMG SLS 6.2-liter V8 as it rumbled past.

All I hear now is a ridiculous waste of a non-renewable fuel in an absurdly expensive, oversized four-wheeled status symbol only a very ‘special’ type of person would have the desire to own, if you get my thinking.

Having driven well over 50,000 miles (80,000km) in electric cars, I’ve started to reconsider not only how transportation is powered and where the fuel actually comes from but also how these vehicles are built, where the materials come from to construct them and how long they will last.

I’ve started to consider the ridiculous and dated design restrictions of fitting an enormous IC engine, clutch, gearbox and exhaust system into a small metal box and the incredibly liberating and refreshing lack of such restrictions when it comes to electric car design. And as a society, we are just beginning to see the possibilities.

The knee jerk resistance to these innovations is also starting to wane – especially as more people are starting to think seriously about the realistic possibility of an electric car in their lives. Of course, there are still hundreds of hurdles to cross but if you have somewhere off the road to park an electric car and a roof that can support a few solar panels, it will become increasingly foolish not to have both.

In the past two years, I have driven over 8,000 miles (13,000km) on solar power alone. Okay, this is out of a total of 34,000 miles (54,000km) or so, and it’s only in the summer months, and I only plug the car in during the day if it’s sunny, but 8,000 miles at zero cost and zero CO2 is a minor miracle.

An electric car really is fuel agnostic, it doesn’t give a hoot where the electricity comes from and will still work. That’s not something you can claim for a fossil burner.

A few years ago the hastily arrived at conclusion, based on our experiences with laptops and phones, that batteries would fail after a few thousand miles and electric car owners would have to fork out a fortune to replace them. The original battery, to quote a well-known TV car pundit, would of course be “plowed into land fill”.

Now it is becoming clear that the battery will likely outlast the car, and only a fool would throw a car battery away as they’re far too useful and valuable. As time passes and more electric car drivers cover more miles, the long-term economies of electric driving are nothing short of embarrassing.

After 40,000 miles (64,000km), my Nissan Leaf will have been cheaper than if I’d bought a bottom-of-the-line Ford Focus and driven the same distance and, more importantly, it will continue to get cheaper. No expensive servicing, no replacement timing belts, oil, oil filters, catalytic converter, the list goes on and on. The biggest expense I’ve had is a puncture. Oh, and screen wash – blimey that’s expensive!

I live in the sticks and, according to numerous motoring pundits, am exactly not the sort of person to use an electric car. They are, so we are constantly told, for city driving and urban mobility, to use a marketing phrase. While this is true in that air pollution in cities would be immensely improved if the majority of vehicles were electric, I have found my EV completely usable in the countryside.

Everyone I have spoken to, argued against and debated the topic with agrees that there will come a point where the line on the graph depicting the cost of fossil fuel and the line depicting the cost of an electric car will cross, the only disagreement is when that will happen. Next year, five years’ time, 10 years’ time – does it really matter? Because it will happen. In fact, nobody argues that it won’t. Electric cars are here to stay.

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