Get to the point with electric
12:03pm Thursday 20th September 2012 in Letters
IT WAS interesting to read that the council has funded electric car charging points in the Haverfordwest Riverside car park. And I would be interested to know the cost of this installation.
At present there are charging points, usually three, at most motorway service areas.
But we have never seen one used. Has the council actually checked whether there are any potential users, or likely ones in the near future.
My company are importers of fully electric motorbikes, and we have looked at the likely development of battery technology with great care, as at present they are either very heavy or prohibitively expensive.
A set of batteries for a small electric car costs about £10,000, with a lifespan unknown, depending on usage. And these batteries take some hours to recharge, quite apart from their huge weight having serious effect on the car’s performance. (I admit that the new Tesla in USA has a long range and very high performance).
But over the next 20 years the price of lightweight lithium batteries will reduce by about 95% and the output per will double. So the range of a vehicle might increase by two to three times, to a level which would cover most journeys.
At that point, it will be cost viable, and also it will be easy to modify the fitting, and standardise the power packs, so one can drive into a service station and have an exchange battery pack installed in minutes for a very low cost.
But at present an electric car costs over £20,000, even after the state subsidy. So why would one buy an electric car, when an equivalent fuel efficient petrol/diesel vehicle can cost under £10,000 and achieve 70mpg.
As it is, a normal liquid fuel fill-up takes a matter of minutes, so cars can be processed very quickly. But supposing the two sockets in Haverfordwest are occupied.
What would the third car do?
He might have to wait many hours.
The point I am making is that the way forward will not be via slow acting charge-up points. People will assess their vehicle range, leave fully charged and operate withing that range. And it will be essential that the cars be fitted with built in chargers, for topping up at home or at their base.
This works with electric golf buggies, which can run for many hours, and just plug into a standard 13amp socket for charging. My electric motorbikes are the same, with either lead acid/gel batteries or lithium. Each time one completes a journey, the small battery charger is simply plugged in for a top up.
I shall be watching these charge up points to see the usage, or whether they are yet another case of greenphobia.
PETER BELLAN Director, Silentbikes Ltd.