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So after a tip-off I succumbed to watching Top Gear…

31 July 2011
So after a tip-off I succumbed to watching Top Gear…

By Robin Haycock, Head of Transport, The Climate Group. 

I was reminded of my own words on Friday when someone told me I had to watch Top Gear at the weekend because it was going to do its usual brand of negativeness towards a positive future for all, and look down on EVs. Why? Because after moaning about the fact that the BBC used to have a remit that stated they should be balanced in their views, I realised I was in danger of losing touch with popular programmes such as these. 

But I am getting ahead of my blog and not explaining myself. As way of explanation, I met a senior executive from an oil company a couple of years ago at a UK conference (won’t tell you which one…),  and he presented straight after me.  The conversation we had was good; we had differences of opinion, but were civil. The key thing I took away was that the senior exec was eloquent in his delivery, but crucially had read every book on the environment that I had read and was incredibly well informed of his ‘opposing views’ so that he could explain why the solution this particular oil company was taking on the environment was good for humanity and the planet in equal measures.

I learnt that you should not stick your head in the sand, you should not just listen to the messages you like to hear, and you should listen to the arguments from the opposition to make you a better and more rounded person. Or as the godfather series of films pointed out ‘keep your friends close and your enemy closer'!  

So I sat through Top Gear to the disgust of my guests, in order to bring you these counter arguments to what's important to me in order to support the inheritors of this planet (your children), and in finding ways by which they can enjoy a positive low carbon world where 9 billion people can live in reasonable harmony, through utilising the ‘real time’ energy from the sun landing on our productive hectares of land.

The Top Gear article decided to find – as usual – the weakest – but transient - part of an emerging technology to try and prove that electrification of transport was not going to work.

They found where there were no public charging points in a large area and aimed their cars at that point… not very intelligent,  but I am sure it is typical of Top Gear journalism… (must try and watch this more regularly to see whether this is true, but it is rather tiresome).

So what did we theoretically learn? That you shouldn't aim your EV at places where there is nowhere to charge them - well done - maybe not progressive on my point,  but I would suggest the following:

  • We are seeing a rise in the installation of charging points, and the map – just like with the mobile phone network – will fill out on the sat nav guided network they refer to.
  • A combination of government and private-funded initiatives mean that recharging infrastructure is set to spread steadily in the coming months,  but as the report by OLEV stated, most people will charge at home so there needs to be a balanced approach for many reasons (too numerous to bore you with).
  • Finding the extreme price for electricity is a little pointless, just like finding the extreme price for gasoline in some remote island, but I suppose it could be deemed as funny; look at the new offerings for vehicles and overnight charging, and you know it makes sense.
  • Fast and rapid charging is the exception to the rule in most trials and normal people's driving patterns because most people drive less than 20 miles, and most cars are parked up for 23 hours a day. Actually that's the main reason why personal cars are a waste of money generally, but then I have vehicles so am just the same as most people!
  • So fast charging – in proportion to normal charging – will be minimally necessary in a normal persons driving and therefore battery life will not be significantly reduced
Oh well,  I could go on,  but then that would probably get very dull… I hope my point is made reasonably.

I suppose one amusing conclusion I drew from the article was that the two presenters have come to realise they are becoming ‘time expired’ and have even started to explain in articles such as these that they are dinosaurs.  So let’s look forward to the day when they are not damaging our future generations ability to move freely around our transport system by trying to argue against technology that will deliver near zero carbon and low energy whilst still having fun (see my earlier blog on BMW's fab news).

Ho hum.

Go back to my EV blog

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