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FULL ARTICLE | EDITORIAL 
No two ways about it, the future is electric 
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 15st September 2017 14:07:28 GMT
 

Honda EV concept Frankfurt IAA 2017


"Finally, those in the electric car business, after spending large sums on new technology and frustrating years of going nowhere in particular, may feel as though they’re getting somewhere. 

Yes, on the face of it, new car buyers in Norway, one of the few countries where nearly all the electricity consumed comes from renewable sources, are still taking to electric cars in droves. 

Last month four in ten of all the new cars sold in Norway came with a plug. Impressive stuff. 

Yes, the fact that pure electric cars (BEVs) are sold totally free of tax, thereby creating a more level playing field with today’s highly taxed petrol and diesel cars, helps a great deal. 

Without their tax-free status, few ordinary mortals could or would possibly buy one. 

A case in point is Switzerland, a small country enjoying some of the highest living standards on the planet. 

Just one in a hundred new cars sold in Switzerland this August was of the pure electric type. 

No brainer, Norway’s presently unmatched financial subsidies are at the root of today’s electric car sales surge. 

Right? 

Critics in Norwegian society say that today’s fringe benefits of driving a car with a plug in Norway are probably more potent than today’s heavily subsidised price. 

Driving an electric car in Norway brings huge benefits. 

Tantamount to free motoring, that could be free parking, use of bus lanes, free use of toll roads, tunnels and bridges and a great deal more. 

Critics suggest that Norway’s high-flying electric car balloon, assuming the withdrawal of these VVIP privileges, would lose a great deal of altitude very quickly. 

It is not difficult to imagine that a similar package of privileges would likely spark an electric car sales boom in and around the periphery of Paris or London for instance. 

In much of Western Europe, today’s electric car infrastructure is such that long distance BEV travel, compared with a conventionally powered car, can still be fraught with both risk and adventure. 

No problem for those who can afford to have both. 

That’s a BEV for regular commuting and shopping and a conventionally powered car for most other journeys. 

Other than that, visionaries believe that in just a couple of decades ahead up to three-quarters of the western world’s population will live in cities. 

There, as is already the case today, car ownership will be greatly discouraged. 

And thanks to an efficient public transport system, most of tomorrow’s city dwellers will happily live without their own car. 

Then, before we know it, electric propulsion will be the norm for taxis of all kinds, car-sharing vehicles, mini buses and commercial delivery and service vehicles. 

Electric drive systems are tailor-made for cities. 

However, outside of cities and suburbia, Joe Public is likely to stick to the conventionally powered vehicle for many years to come. 

But even here, one of the few lasting strongholds of combustion-engined vehicles, plug-in cars, thanks to the likelihood of more self-generated renewable energy from roof mounted solar cells for instance, will increase in popularity as time goes by. 

Above all, signs are that in say less than a decade or so from now, the cost of producing a BEV could be on par with a conventionally powered car. 

So today’s subsidies are no longer needed and demand will pick up accordingly.

Reminiscent of the nationwide switch from leaded to unleaded petrol, after an initially difficult switchover period, before long the unleaded variety was available at the pumps across all of Europe. 

The essential switch to Tesla-type rapid chargers and/or hydrogen fuel for fuel-cell powered vehicles is likely to follow the same or at least similar pattern. 

Finally, in tomorrow’s electric vehicle world, given the huge likely jump in electricity demand can be generated from renewable energy rather than coal, the move will also be a blessing for those working tirelessly for a cleaner and healthier environment

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