After just one week since I announced that I was taking my Nissan Leaf around Britain I am starting to get excited! The idea of showing the public that even with limited range (100 miles) and an embryonic charging infrastructure an EV (electric vehicle) can still do long trips with ease. It is true that this first generation of EVs are designed with your daily commute, school run and shopping in mind but that does not mean that we should not be looking forward to when the electric vehicle takes over as the car of choice for most families but to do that it must have the range between charges of at least that of a comparable fossil fuel car and be able to charge to full in a sensible time when on long runs. We are not there yet. In fact we really only have the first generation of EVs available now but with a little planning and flexibility these too are very capable for long journeys as my Round Britain trip will show.
I accept that to make these long journeys now requires some industrial strength planning. It isn’t what a typical family might be prepared to do when visiting Grandma 300 miles away. But as range increases on available models and the charging infrastructure matures so trips of 150, 200 then 250 miles will become commonplace. Eventually, EVs will be just a capable as fossil fuel cars are today, EVs will be the main vehicles being sold and we will all wonder what the fuss was all about.
So what am I hoping to achieve with my Round Britain trip?
I have 2 main objectives…
Firstly to show the public that long trips are possible with the EVs of today, to show that EVs don’t keep running out of power, to show that charging away from home is possible right now with a little planning and to show that almost everything that Top Gear said regarding the trials and tribulations of owning an EV is actually wrong! If I can drive a Nissan Leaf with a 100 miles range Round Britain, visiting every Nissan Leaf dealer, then imagine what is possible in the near future when range is 150 or 200 miles and there are 10 times the number of charging stations that exist today. I am confident that this will be the case in as little as 3 years! I am also confident that prices will fall to more normal levels over that period. New ways of funding will also be developed where the battery is leased making EVs even more affordable.
Secondly, I want to dispel some of the myths regarding the electricity we use to charge EVs. It is true that when charging from the normal grid there is CO2 and other emissions generated at the power station. However, it is significantly less than the emissions generated by even a good fossil fuel car and as more and more renewables are brought online so it will get better and better. It can be reduced even further by charging overnight when the emissions are lower and there is spare capacity and even further still by charging from renewable sources. I buy my power from Ecotricity on their Economy 7 100% renewables tariff. Ecotricity are leading the field in generating electricity from renewable sources (solar, wind etc) and when I use Ecotricity I get power that is 100% from renewables and I am helping Ecotricity develop more renewable sources for the future. OK, it costs a little more but I am happy in the knowledge that the profits they make will mostly be ploughed back to generate more renewable sources. I want all EV owners to charge overnight whenever possible and switching to an Economy 7 tariff might be the way to go. I also recommend that people switch to buying their power from Ecotricity if they want to help build the renewable generation of the future. No other power company invests more in renewable sources than Ecotricity.
So there you are. You can expect more from me on about these issues over the coming weeks in the build up to the trip and over the following months.