Voices: Independent readers give their verdict on electric vehicles - from ‘not the answer’ to ‘the best option’

Independent readers give their verdict on what’s preventing mass EV ownership  (Getty)
Independent readers give their verdict on what’s preventing mass EV ownership (Getty)

This week industry bosses told The Independent electric cars could cost British motorists an extra £6,000.

The anticipated hike all comes down to whether Rishi Sunak can strike a post-Brexit deal with the EU on tariffs - and the news reignited the long-standing debate on EV ownership.

So, we asked you what you thought about electric vehicles. We wanted to know if you thought price was already the biggest barrier to greener travel on our roads. We also asked whether a spike in cost would put you off purchasing an EV or whether other factors were still at play.

Independent readers were divided, while some long-term EV-users were quick to sing the praises of the technology calling them the “future”, others were anxious about the availability of public chargers and the capacity of batteries.

Here’s what they had to say:

‘EVs are nowhere near as good as they are said to be’

Cost is of course a big issue but there are others that bother me, such as the use of cobalt and lithium, child labour, limited supply, insecure sources and I really would like to see the lifecycle benefits of EVs properly assessed.

Then there’s the sheer weight of the vehicles and the damage to the roads and, maybe, parking issues caused by both weight and size. And on the rare occasions they catch fire it seems very dangerous.

There’s also a major problem with sufficient capacity in our energy grid to cope with a really large transition to EVs, which will require billions in investment to fix.

I desperately want to see genuine solutions but am concerned that EVs are nowhere near as good as they are said to be for this and I haven’t even mentioned range, cost of insurance or cost of replacement batteries.


‘Electric cars are NOT the answer’

Electric cars are NOT “the answer” and never will be. Hydrogen fuel cell cars ARE the future as will become clear sooner, not later.

The only caveat is that they have to be kept outdoors as garaged they can leak hydrogen which of course is highly flammable and just starting such a car after a week in a garage could well mean----BANG !

Hamish MacDonald

‘We would always have to charge at a commercial charge point’

Like many people, we have no parking or garage facilities at our home, no off street or on street dedicated space. What puts us off is that we would always have to charge at a commercial charge point and pay their higher tariffs. Assuming we could find one near home.


‘A great future beckons with electric cars’

I have a BMW i3 and find it great. It has a range of up to 200 miles in the summer and around 100-120 in the winter. It does all my local driving including an up to a 100 mile round trip once per month.

I charge it at home and that makes it a lot easier and I hope to get a split tariff in due course.

I do have a petrol car for long trips i.e. a 1000 mile trip to Sweden to see my wife’s family. This trip would not be really practical in an electric car at present but I am sure that range will increase at a reasonable price in the future and that re-charging will take little more time than a coffee and a cake in the service areas.

The greatest thing is how quiet the car is when driving, just road and wind noise and if I do not race along we can talk quietly and easily - a great future beckons with electric cars.


‘Focus on the superior driving experience’

I started my EV journey in 2014 and will never look back. A good way to help estimate the saving is to establish the cost per mile. The cost per mile for my current EV is roughly 10p (I don’t have a cheaper night rate contract) and my wife’s [ICE] car is 20p. If you use 10,000 miles a year, your saving will be a very moderate £1,000. You need between 6 - 12 years to make up the EV premium (the maintenance of EV is probably cheaper though).

Solar panels are not as useful as expected unless you have a lot of panels and a battery facility. Average weather will provide less than 2 kWh benefits to your EV, so the saving is minimal.

My 9 years of EV experience tells very clearly that an EV is a better car. Saving in fuel cost or from solar panels shouldn’t affect your switching decision. I would suggest to focus on its superior driving experience.


‘Lack of adequate charging infrastructure’

The barrier to EV ownership is 50/50 between price and lack of adequate charging infrastructure for those like myself who don’t have the option of installing a charging point.


‘EVs are useless in huge geographies’

EVs could be mandated for large urban environments and commuters. For huge geographies and low population densities such as Canada and parts of the USA, with long distance travel in cold climates, EVs are useless. As always, it depends on requirements and the application.


‘You’ll not get me into an EV, no way Jose!’

There is a huge swath of the motoring public for whom as little as £3-5k is as far as they can stretch to buy any car, what chance for them to ditch ICE and join the ‘revolution’?

I hear also that insurance for EV’s has gone stratospheric due to the elevated costs of repair and delays in getting parts. This will inevitably result in many very young EVs being written off when an equivalent age ICE could likely be a viable, and more timely, repair.

You’ll not get me into an EV, no way Jose!


‘Price, charging, range’

It’s the same old same old: price, charging, range. Until all of these issues are solved there will always be a problem with mass use of EVs.


‘EVs best option once two conditions are met’

An electric car is always, without exception, going to be the best option for the average person once two conditions are met:

A) The price comes down to a more affordable level, at least on a par with petrol/diesel cars, preferably lower, as will soon definitely be the case.

B) Battery charging alternatives are scaled up. Already the top of the range car batteries can be fully charged from zero in as little as ten minutes - and that is improving all the time. Another idea which is already being used in Japan, and I think Sweden, is swapping out batteries. Garages/shops keep a stock of car batteries and you just drive in and they swap out your depleted one for a fully charged battery. Takes less time than to fill a car with petrol. The garage then charges your battery and sells on to another customer. Brilliant.

Once those two conditions are widespread you will never see me with an inefficient smelly and nasty petrol car ever again. No way Jose!


Some of the questions and answers have been edited for this article. You can read the full discussion in the comments section of the original article.

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