Thursday, September 12, 2013

Three problems with electric cars

The Scottish Government has announced more public money is to be spent to encourage us to buy electric cars in order to fight climate change.

1.  Electric cars are hardly environmentally friendly.  See this source for an analysis suggesting electric cars just shift the problem of tailpipe emissions upstream from the street.  (A while back I posted elsewhere on another report that pinned down electric cars as being little different from efficient traditional vehicles.)

2. Electric cars are hardly convenient.  The are inefficient for anything more than short journeys - with a range of 70-100 miles before charging is required.  And charging can also be inconvenient.  Try charging them in the street if you don't have a garage.

3.  They cost the purchaser and taxpayer dear.  The Renault Zoe can be bought for £14,000 plus £70 per month to hire the battery.  The taxpayer has to pay £4,000 for each of them purchased   And the Zoe, just on the market, is by far the cheapest I am aware of with a £5,00 subsidy for more the more expensive ones.

Oh, and as the Scottish Government markets its policy on electric vehicles, it claims that 'the Government' (ie the Scottish Government) funds the subsidy.  But it turns out it is the UK Government which provides the subsidy.

And the UK Government helpfully notes on its website that up till the end of the end of June a meagre 4,553 electric cars have been sold since the grant came into being.  Compare that to the 1,163,623 cars registered in the first 6 months of 2013.  So we can see the number of electric cars sold is equivilent to 0.39% of all vehicles sold. 

Wait a minute though.  The plug in car grant numbers, that's the 4,553 number, is the total since January 2011.  Perhaps the percentage should be 0.08% - which, doubtless reflects how poor value they are to potential purchasers. 

Oh, and that number of 4,553 electric cars.  Many of them will be purchased with public money and grants such as the ten cars obtained by Edinburgh Council and other public agencies in order to encourage others, as this press relase reveals

So there are not many people buying electric cars.