Electric cars are the future, there's no doubt in my mind this is the case, but one thing is for sure, at the moment, and that is the fact that we're by far going up the wrong road in the promotion and implementation of making electric cars have widespread appeal. The green side of the argument is obvious, they are clean, pollution free, quiet, have no carbon emissions, although of course, much of the carbon footprint of an electric car is probably also down to how the actual powering electricity was generated, for example, coal-fired power station, or from wind or solar power. I would say though, that compared to a normal petrol or diesel car, an electric car was miles ahead in the environmentally friendly path.
The cost of owning an electric car is substantially more than a petrol or diesel equivalent, even though the running costs are less. There are grants and schemes available to make the purchase, or lease, slightly less costly, but the main trouble with electric cars is not only the cost, but the fact that mostly they are made as an equivalent, or purported to be so, to existing mass produced models by the mainstream car manufacturers. This in effect means that an electric car in the UK has to go through the strict safety rules and regulations applicable to a standard car, and of course, this is expensive for manufacturers.
Now I am not advocating for a minute that electric cars should be made without safety in mind, but, for example, in the US at the moment, many States promote Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV), which because of their speed restrictions, are limited to certain roads - they are usually built to have a top speed of 30 miles per hour, and are under a certain weight. As the usual maximum speed limit in a UK city or town is 30mph, and electric cars are in their element in an urban environment, then these types of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles would be ideal, I would think, in the UK. Without having to adhere to the normal and stringent safety rules and regulations as a standard car, I'm sure this type of electric car would be a far more economical proposition to both makers and buyers.
The G-Wiz by GoinGreen is currently the most popular and best selling electric car in the UK, but even the G-Wiz, basically a covered golf buggy, has a price tag of from £10,950 inc vat. The flip side compensations though of cheap running costs, free road tax and low insurance premiums (and free of congestion charge in London), may help to ease the purchase strain but even then, at that purchase price, are they not taking the green driver for a ride? In the USA, the most popular electric car is the GEM, from Global Electric Motorcars. Prices for a Gem e2 start from $7,629 (£4,805 at today's exchange rate). If an equivalent to the Gem was built in the UK, the retail price, it seems to me, would be far lower than the present cost of a G-Wiz. A price war from competing electric car manufacturers may not be a bad thing.
What the electric car needs is a champion, someone akin to a Branson, though with an interest in building and promoting and overseeing the widespread take up of the electric car, especially in the UK. Technology is one thing, and will always improve as time marches on, batteries will get better, last longer, charge quicker, but waiting for improvements to technology is not an option that should be taken. I'm pretty sure a respectable entrepreneur, with some financial backing, could have a halfway decent and sensibly priced electric car, for widespread sale in the UK marketplace, ready in a matter of months rather than years, and I would think this could be done and be profitably sold for around half the price of an existing model, though probably only if some of the more stringent rules and regulations regarding the manufacture and production were relaxed for lower speed vehicles. What of the existing car manufacturers and their plight if electric cars are taken up en masse? Well, that is up to them to adapt to the market, most already have equivalent electric cars for sale, they should not find it so hard to adjust to a march of new green consumers in the car market looking for cheap and easy transport options. If they take the Luddite approach they will fade and die, they have to embrace new technology and new consumers just as every other responsible business should.
I hope to see that interested entrepreneur start production soon. Electric cars are not complicated at basics, four wheels on a platform with some seats, a battery pack, and a motor. In the present day climate of change, the sooner we start to embrace the electric car the better, but not many will have the money or the will to pay the price of driving a green car at the moment. This will change, it would be good to see the change happen before it is forced on us.