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  • "Fuelcard Frank"

“Get your hat, scarf and coat dear, we’re buying an Electric Car!”

“Get your hat, scarf and coat dear, we’re buying an Electric Car!”

I was recently reading an article by one of the World’s most prestigious tyre manufacturers where they had published ideas to make your Electric Vehicle travel further and “reduce your range anxiety”

One may have expected tips such as ‘make sure your tyres are correctly inflated’ or even ‘check the wear on your tyres to ensure your wheels are properly aligned’, but no, these weren’t mentioned, perhaps because those good and solid tips also apply to all vehicles. They gave mainly two recommendations:

1st: Don’t use the heater, wrap up warm!

In colder weather using the heater to raise the internal temperature to a comfortable 21 degrees may reduce your driving range between 15% to 25%. Their solution is to suggest that you reduce the temperature in the vehicle and wear warmer clothing, hat’s coats, scarfs perhaps? And only reduce your range by the lower of these figures, perhaps!

Now when motoring started just over 100 years ago the pioneers thought that they were at the cutting edge of technology, and they were! However, having had horses and carriages/carts as their basis of design, the idea of a heater didn’t occur back then. As with all inventions, the horseless carriage was developed and improved over the years and by the early 1960’s, the only car that you could buy in basic trim with no heater was the Hillman Imp which in 1964 would have cost you £575, with the heater an ‘optional extra’.

Designers and developers of vehicles want to show their ingenuity and skill and new conveniences and accessories are added regularly so that our motoring for business or for pleasure is even more enjoyable, sociable and comfortable. They have added Climate control for our comfort and electronic driver aids to help us drive better, and I like these developments designed to improve my driving pleasure.

So are we to now simply reverse these development and discard 100 years of progress, just to increase our driving range to something reasonable, which we’d already achieved with petrol/diesel vehicles? Wow, and I thought that abandoning Concorde was the first time in recent history that we had reversed technology!

And whatever you do DON’T USE THE AIRCON............ or you’ll get even more range anxiety!

The second method of reducing range anxiety is to drive slower.

Once again we are reversing the gains that we have striven to achieve over 100 years. Now I know that all the Snowflakes and road safety army will praise this as being a good thing. But is it? Less people die on our roads today than in previous decades because of improvements to vehicle design. Vehicles are safer at high speed, stop quicker, and manoeuvre more safely. Inside we have a plethora of Airbags and crumple zones to keep us as safe as possible. Now, please excuse me “talking foreign” for the next bit but that’s how the article to which I refer is written. On a journey of 200 kms if you reduce your speed from 130kph to 110kph you lose 20 minutes of your day and save a ‘little bit’ of range (amount unspecified)

It also suggests ‘freewheeling’ down-hill, which I was always taught was dangerous as you don’t have full control of the vehicle, so I’m not convinced that’s a good idea, and going slower uphill isn’t a great plan either!

OK, so let’s take that aprox 200 kms journey for example from Cheltenham on the M5 to, say Exeter, a similar range. The M5 on this stretch has a number of long gradients, so for each of these the article suggests that we slow down a bit to save range.

The UK speed limit is 70 mph **back in UK speak again! So as we go uphill we must slow to 60mph. Might this cause a traffic jam at busy times? The trucks and coaches are already having to slow down as they find inclines more challenging so the left lane is full, so now the middle lane will also be full of all these EV’s that the Government want us to buy, and don’t for a minute think of pulling into the outside lane and zooming past as your range anxiety will rocket in proportion to your right foot pressing down! This extra 20 minutes is growing into 30 minutes, or as we wait in the inevitable traffic queues, an hour or more!

Need more convincing? Like ‘Stats’? OK, read on.

Any journey can be measured as the ‘footprint of a vehicle on the road’. A vehicle travelling for 60 miles at 60mph has a footprint of one hour. Simple you may think. But that same vehicle travelling for 60 miles at say 40mph now has a footprint of 1 ½ hours. Well, you may say, leave earlier and arrive safer, all very laudable, but many people drive for their work in van’s trucks and cars and they cannot afford that lost time, and if they are forced into it, guess what; the cost of your delivery or purchases increase, feeding inflation which all Governments seek to avoid, so maybe not the best of plans.

And here’s the ‘Stats’

Last year (09/2019 to 09/2020) the UK Government statistics showed that despite an 18% reduction due to COVID, vehicles travelled 288.7 billion miles in the UK. 52.9 billion of those miles were on Motorways. So for example if we were to increase our journey time on those Motorways by just 10% by driving, for example 60 mph rather than 70mph this increases our driving footprint by13 million hours per year! That’s 3.6 million more days on the road and the inevitable traffic jams that will surely result from it!

· Vehicles with internal combustion engines and gears are designed to run most efficiently at better MPG at higher speeds.

· EV’s with only one gear run furthest per charge at low speed.

· In fact we may as well complete the nostalgia trip of hat’s scarf’s and over-coats by adding the man with a red flag walking in front of our shiny new Electric Vehicle’s as that’s how they will achieve their best range!

So in conclusion we will roll back 100 years of amazing vehicle developments to gain what? Slower, colder journeys with frequent stops to re-charge. EV’s are part of our lives now and whilst they are suited to city driving, they are less so for long distance. They will improve but they’re not there yet, and at aprox twice the price for a long range EV, are a poor bargain presently. In my view, Hybrids are a better way forward. Electric in the City, efficiency on the road.

We should learn from history rather than repeat it. Last time we as a nation went back this far was 400AD when the Romans departed and the Saxons arrived. Central heating, piped drinking water and flushing sewage were all lost for about 1500 years, do we really want to repeat past mistakes, again?

Fuelcard Frank.

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