Sunday, 31 July 2011

The chicken and egg - electric cars

What came first, the electric car or the charging post? That's the chicken and egg question that people have been asking for years and - with most electric car batteries limited to roughly 100 mile ranges - have generally answered with the latter.
Fortunately, charging points are cropping up all over the place, from supermarkets and NCP car parks to roadsides. This Wednesday, electric car charging firm Chargemaster said that it would open a private network of 4,000 total points across 100 cities, dubbed 'POLAR', by the end of 2012. London's public network increased to 400 points last month, and will eventually be increased to 1,300 by 2013.
But despite this slow but steady progress, car-makers are increasingly back-pedalling on the importance of charging points. Most of the major electric car makers I've spoken to recently have been at pains to emphasise they don't think public charging points are important for electric car take-up. Early adopting electric car owners, they argue, will charge overnight and plan their journeys so that the spectre of 'range anxiety' - running out of charge - won't be a problem.
The motoring industry is even cannily repackaging electric cars as second cars, rather than replacements for combustion engine ones. "The majority of charges will be done overnight," said Paul Everitt, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, for many, an electric vehicle will be a second car. "Much of the infrastructure isn't about fulfilling demand – it's about creating reassurance."
This new approach is an admission that even moderately comprehensive charging coverage is still a long way off - and companies like Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault have electric models they need to flog now and in the coming months.

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