The Electric Car has a history but is there a future in the UK or will there be a better option?
The invention of the first Electric Car was in 1830 but was not perfected until the creation of rechargeable batteries in 1859. By 1912 50 companies were producing 34,000 electric cars. Once the development of the electric starting motor occurred and the price of fuel was cheap then the electric cars industry vanished. The oil crisis in the 1970’s caused some re-emergence of electric cars but the high costs made them very difficult to sell; as manufacturers found it impossible to make profits and abandoned the project. In 1980’s fuel and oil prices dropped and anti-pollution devices were developed for cars which still didn’t make it a viable proposition for manufacturers to progress further with electric cars. Then it was found that emissions from fuelled vehicles were causing high pollution which made the government and car manufacturers re-think ways to improve vehicle emissions and pollution. In 1990’s a major change occurred with development of new improved batteries which would extend the capabilities of electric cars. Electric vehicles were manufactured for companies to use as fleet vehicles delivering over short distances. Government intervention made car manufacturers further their research into electric cars. Progression has only really developed in recent years due to the oil crisis in the world, as the world’s oil levels will seriously fall below the requirement for international demand and concerns about the greenhouse effect. All major car manufacturers are developing designs that will have customer appeal and therefore give them the advantage in the marketplace. At the Electrical Vehicles International Meeting held in October 2008; the UK Department of Transport headed by Geoff Hoon stated the government’s intention to fund 3 main programmes, the 1st being the encouragement of development of electric vehicles, 2nd a competition through the Technology Strategy Board providing up to £20 million for electric and other hybrid car research and development projects, 3rd Low Carbon Vehicle Procurement Programme to speed up commercial viability of the electric van market. The Government is planning to reduce CO2 emissions 26% by 2020 and 80% by 2050; to do this it will be necessary to introduce an alternative method to current diesel/petrol driven vehicles. Diesel/petrol driven vehicles caused approximately 58% CO2 emissions in 2009 (Hoon, G – UK Department of Transport) the government is offering subsidy of £100 million to manufacturers and up to £5,000 to consumers purchasing an electric car, but there are only 9 models that qualify. To qualify for the grant the car must be new, have a driving range of 70 miles and reach a speed of 60mph. Therefore, the question should be asked whether this incentive will be enough to persuade a purchaser to buy an electric car, because the actual cost of purchasing the electric car is a lot more expensive (approximately 80%) than existing vehicles. The cheapest electric car is £8.5k but a second hand one would be approximately £3,000 less for a 2-year old model but be aware that the age of the vehicle and the age of the battery may not be the same. It would be advantageous to have a new battery with a second hand car. Not until 2030 will the costs of the vehicles stabilise and are going to be more within the medium price range for consumers (UK Department of Transport – 2011). Depreciation is a serious issue due to the newness of the market. The major item to get used to with an electric car is the ‘silence’ which can be good for listening to music, having conversations and total peaceful thinking time. It can take some getting used to having no noise from the vehicle and may disturb you when driving as reactions may be different and pedestrians may behave differently, as they cannot hear the noise of the engine, making you having to be aware at all times and on...
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