Drive electric! - all you need are some solar panels and a three-pin plug

Written by Sue Round on .


Are electric cars really the cars of the future? According to a report published this week by Bloomberg New Energy Finance “Electric vehicles are on track to accelerate to 54 per cent of new car sales by 2040.”  And today (July 24) the government are publicising plans to make us all generators of electricity.

Commander Charles Heron-Watson, secretary and chief executive of the Royal Merchant Navy Education Foundation based in Hungerford and who lives in Ramsbury, is a strong supporter of the electric car.

He has recently had a letter published in The Times on the subject. He told Times' readers he did not believe that fears more electric cars could put the National Grid at risk were justified - or sensible.

He told “I was irked by the naysayers, I’m a ‘can-do’ person...and I’m in competition with my cousin to see who can get the most letters published!”

After owning several hybrid cars, Charles Heron-Watson purchased a BMW i3(Rex) a year ago: "It’s a remarkable car, so well built and it comes with a Range Extender. It can out accelerate a Porsche up to 35mph."

"It has of course, no gear changes – just press three buttons and turn one knob and off you go. It’s cheaper to insure and costs around 2p per mile to run. It recharges off an ordinary domestic plug and is not damaging to the environment."

"I use clean solar power. The increased cost of the domestic electricity bill is offset by the tariff gained by the solar power. The car has got everything going for it.”

According to BMW the car has a range of 195 miles. However, the Range Extender has a 650cc two-cylinder petrol engine as a generator to provide back-up charging, and giving 231 miles.

It takes 40 minutes for the BMW i3 to be charged to 80 per cent of its capacity with direct current(DC) and under three hours for alternating current (AC).

There are currently around 4,000 publicly accessible locations with plug-ins to re-charge electric vehicles and these can be found on Zap-Map. However, in order to use these the electric car owner must subscribe to each individual company (and there are eight big networks and many more smaller ones) - at a cost of around £5-£6 per month.

Charles Heron-Watson told “It’s like the early days of mobile phone networks – there’s no co-operation and there's overlapping. You can’t just plug in with a credit card and pay different companies different amounts.”

The nearest public EV (where 'EV' stands for nothing more complex than 'Electric Vehicle')  charging point is at the George Lane car-park, Marlborough - but at the time of writing this article Zap-Map was reporting it was out of service!

With Volvo announcing this week that from 2019 it will only manufacture electric or hybrid cars and Macron’s French government intending to ban diesel and petrol cars by 2040, it sounds as if the UK is going to need many more EV charging points.

Charles Heron-Watson believes “Electric cars are an interim solution and not the ultimate answer. My own view is we will go into hydrogen fuel cells, but only an idiot predicts the future.”