You have to be cynical about this sort of thing from an overall environmental viewpoint. Remember unleaded petrol, “green” petrol cars, then “green” diesels?Another friend PB writes
It’s not a question of “doing down” advances, it’s about retaining a sense of perspective and being realistic.
Technological fixes are always embraced as “the future” but rarely offset the problems they cause or do all that they promise. Autonomous vehicles also have a down side. Volvo recently tweeted to ask what people thought was an acceptable level of collateral damage of pedestrians/cyclists before a vehicle allowed its passengers to be injured.
- Electric cars, like petrol cars, will use half of their lifetime pollution or more in their manufacture/disposal
- Electric cars may be cleaner at point of use but until we have widespread alternative energy, we will need new nuclear, coal, gas, shale oil to fuel them
- Electric cars are generally heavier than petrol/diesel vehicles and disturb more particulates as they travel along the road
- Electric cars do nothing for congestion or personal health, nor do they help children’s mental health. Cheap running may mean more cars on the road, not less, which will compound the remaining problems.
- The electric car lobby will be much the same as the petrol one: they will demand roadspace and “an end” to congestion, which will deny roadspace to pedestrians and cyclists.
- The rate of increase in battery technology is minuscule when compared with that of computer chips (Moore’s law talks of doubling the capacity of computer chips, while battery technology increases at a snail’s pace of 4% a year.
Maybe electric cars are an improvement on what we have now, especially in terms of air quality and if we can get more solar panels on homes. But EVs do not address the issues of congestion, exercise (leading to better health) or allowing children to roam freely (mental health). For a few years at least, there is the issue of whether the electricity is clean (wind, solar, tide) or coal/gas/nuclear.
Development of AVs non-ownership model may result in a reduction in short journeys and daily car dependency.
Other linksnextgreencar.com/electric-cars/statistics - The speed at which electric vehicles are taken up will depend initially on government subsidies and media interest but ultimately their cheaper running costs and - with economies of scale of battery production - their cheaper manufacturing costs will mean that they will dominate.
It looks as though the EV is fading out before it is truly here, if this article is to be believed.
On the Fully Charged YouTube channel, see Clean Space Air Quality Monitor which uses social media to share data.
See video from the Orkneys showing how sustainable energy use can be adopted by the whole of society and *is* scaleable. However with up to 2/3 of the cost of transportation fuel due in tax, and with UK using 44 billion litres of fuel a year it's an eye wateringly large amount of government income under long term threat! Lobbies will therefore be busy smearing the technology and persuading governments that tampering with the status quo is all too dangerous. Maybe that was why George Osborne was persuaded to slash feed in tariffs!
Ecotricity support a connection with EVs to use the car's battery storage to alleviate pressure on the National Grid. YouTube video with Dale Vince.
Look out for Electric Vehicles TEDx talk by Robert Llewellyn: note what he says about the national grid, but that is only 2m cars a day - may be many more on the road.