Electric cars useless? Yes, I'm with Jeremy Clarkson on this issue
For the very first time I found myself agreeing with the usually self-opinionated Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson when he rubbished electric cars recently.
Who in their right mind would shell out around £28,000 for a car that wouldn't take you from Bath to London on a full battery without the incredible inconvenience of up to eight hours (or more in some cases) for recharging?
Some will argue that electric cars are ideal for city use but even then re-charging facilities are not that easy to access and it comes as no surprise to learn that the enthusiasm for these vehicles is waning rapidly.
The previous government saw the electric car as the answer to many of our environmental problems but the dream has failed to materialise and battery technology still cannot produce a unit with more than a 100-mile range, which is many hundreds of miles less than the most modern economical diesel vehicle.
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Neither are battery-powered vehicles as 'clean and green' as their supporters would have you believe.
The Daily Mail's science editor Michael Hanlon in his 'Sorry, but electric cars are a waste of space' article (August 5), wrote: "If you live in a country where 75 per cent of the electricity is generated using fossil fuels such as coal and gas, as in Britain, then every time you recharge your electric car you will be generating emissions – at the power station rather than the exhaust pipe".
Electric vehicles are nothing new, of course. They are a product of Victorian engineering but then so is the internal combustion engine, so we really haven't made that much progress in well over a century. If that's the case and the billions invested by such as Nissan and BMW in producing pretty useless battery-powered vehicles has been a total waste, then let's go back to the drawing board, see if we can refine the internal combustion unit and come up with a mode of city transport like the cute Rytecraft Scootacar produced by the British Motorboat Manufacturing Company in London between 1934 and 1940.
These delightful little cars originated as a fairground Dodgem and were initially electrically powered from a pick-up pole making contact with an overhead power grid. Designer Jack Shillan quickly saw potential in the tiny vehicle and changed the engine to a 98cc Villiers Midget single cylinder unit and with a top speed of just 15mph, it was said to be capable of turning in a highly-respectable 80mpg.
Such a diminutive vehicle would be ideally suited to the streets of Bath and I am sure that engineering students at our splendid universities could combine old ideas with new technology to create a deluxe variation of the Scootacar. Interestingly, later Rytecraft cars had a larger 250cc engine, three speed gearbox and a top speed of 40mph. A total of about 1,000 Scootacars, including a commercial variant, were made and a few have survived into preservation.
We really don't need lumbering great 4X4 Chelsea Tractors weighing in at 2-tonnes to transport one human being from A-to-B. Let's think small again and help to solve Bath's traffic problems.
COUNCILLOR BRYAN CHALKER Claverton Down Bath