Recent figures are not electrifying: just over 1,000 new 100% electric vehicles (EVs) were sold in the UK last year. There are now 2,149 EVs on the road, outnumbered by the 2,500 special points at which to charge them. But here's the positive spin: last year's sales are eight times those of 2010. The optimistic might call this a comeback. In 2006 a polemical film on the suppression of EV technology by the car industry, Who Killed the Electric Car?, suggested the plug had already been pulled.
the prime issue is 'our' approach to personal transportation. We buy a car. We drive it. Sometimes, we put petrol in. Who wants extra complications, such as "range anxiety"? But the distance covered has improved. The Nissan Leaf (the world's first mass-produced electric car) claims a range of 100 miles per charge. Research shows that 80% of our car journeys are pitifully short (and therefore disproportionately polluting in a normal car) and well within the capability of an EV.
Nevertheless we (I) still want the ability to drive the length of the country.
By March there will be a national registry of charge points – pod-point.com – and critically, these are fast-charging points: drivers can charge their cars in 20 minutes to two hours rather than eight to 10 hours at home. In fact we're lucky EVs haven't taken off.
If they were charging on every street, the grid would be at peak levels a lot of the time – expensive and not very green.