Electric Cars Won't Save the Planet (They Use Too Much Power)

Daily Mail (London), June 17, 2010 | Go to article overview

Electric Cars Won't Save the Planet (They Use Too Much Power)


Byline: Sean Poulter Consumer Affairs Editor

THE technology used for electric car batteries is so backward they will die after only two years, experts have warned.

The cars will also be extremely expensive to run and cover far less distance on one battery charge than previously claimed, they say.

David Cameron recently confirmed the Government would go ahead with a [pounds sterling]20million grant to help Nissan build electric cars in the North-East of England. In Scotland, [pounds sterling]7.7million of funding for green vehicles was announced yesterday by First Minister Alex Salmond.

As part of the drive to replace As part of the drive to replace petrol and diesel-powered cars, a Government incentive scheme offers those who buy electric vehicles a [pounds sterling]5,000 rebate. There are also plans to spend millions on building a network of charging points.

But research by the Institution of Engineering and Technology suggests that claims about the performance of electric vehicles are 'pure fantasy'.

A team at its magazine, E&T, found the batteries are likely to burn out within two years, requiring expensive replacements. It says the batteries, which use the same lithium-ion technology as mobile phones, are unlikely to be able to run for more than 100 miles between charges.

Experts at E&T said the gap in performance between conventional cars and electric vehicles is so huge that consumers will not want to convert to electric.

They pointed out that a standard model Ford Focus or Volkswagen Golf is capable of travelling more than 360 miles on one tank of fuel, easily maintaining 70mph.

For an electric car to offer a similar level of performance, the batteries alone would have to weigh 1.5 tons. They would be larger than a conventional car and cost about [pounds sterling]100,000, experts warned. The cars themselves will cost [pounds sterling]30,000.

'Manufacturers' range calculations are based on running a complete cycle from full battery to empty,' the E&T experts said.

'Yet they already know that to have any hope of getting a reasonable life from lithium-ion batteries, they should not be run from full to empty but should be kept between 20 and 80 per cent of their charge.' Peter Miller, of automotive consultant Ricardo, said: 'To get a vehicle that behaves the same way as a petrol or diesel model is not viable for the foreseeable future.' Nissan claims its Leaf electric car, which will have a range of 47-138 miles, can be recharged to more than 80 per cent capacity in only 30 minutes at charging stations.

The company seems likely to get round the problem on battery burnout by leasing them to customers, so they don't need to go to the expense of buying them outright. …

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