The Cornish Guardian on 21st June 2017 ran a letter saying that we were being brainwashed into thinking electric cars were the future, and that EVs were not for ordinary people, focussing mainly on the charging issue. I sent a response to the paper, which wasn’t published, and this blog post is an extended version of that letter.

It is not brain washing to say that the future of cars is electric.

They are cheaper to run than internal combustion cars. They have fewer moving parts and so are cheaper to service, too. They emit no CO2, and no NOx and particulates. If all vehicles were electric, Camelford (to take an example) wouldn’t have an atmospheric pollution problem.

The time it takes to charge an electric car is publicly available (this was questioned by the letter writer) – just look up the sales brochures for any electric car. Charging time is typically 10-15 hours from a standard three-pin plug, 4-6 hours from a home charging unit and 30-40 minutes at a motorway rapid charging point, depending on battery capacity. It will be less, of course, if the battery is not fully discharged when you begin, which is likely to be the case.

Where to do the charging is a good question. Till now, you needed to be able to park on your own property to charge at home, which is not possible for many people, as the letter writer pointed out. However, some London boroughs have just started installing charging points in lamp posts, which is low cost because the electricity supply is there already. What is more, they are doing it without designating special electric car parking spaces in the road. This works at present because there are many more lamp posts than there are electric cars. Click this link for a “Fully Charged” video on how lamp post charging works.

Away from home, some employers provide charging points to charge up at work. The new Truro park and ride has a dozen or so dedicated parking bays. Motorway service areas have rapid charging points, as mentioned above.

This is all good, but they do not provide the solution for everyone. So what do we do in future, as the number of electric cars increases? The trap here is to fall into thinking that you have find a complete solution right from the beginning, or else the whole thing is impossible. After all, in the early part of last century when petrol cars appeared, motorists had to carry extra cans of petrol with them because they didn’t know whether they’d be able to buy more out on the road. As a result, infrastructure began to appear – garages selling petrol.

There are only 100,000 plug-in vehicles registered in the UK, and a good chunk of them are hybrids, so I am pretty certain that we are talking tens of years before we have more electric cars than lamp posts (5-10 million), or than vehicles powered by internal combustion engines (35 million). There is time for ideas to emerge and be implemented. (Incidentally, I love the description of internal combustion as “suck, squeeze, bang, fart”.)

I can quite easily see that people who own a bit of land in a village, say, could spot a commercial opportunity in setting up some charging points, maybe even installing some solar panels and storage to provide the electricity. And new housing developments (of which we are seeing plenty in Cornwall – but that’s another story) could also include charging points in appropriate places from the outset. More thought will give more and better solutions.

No one is being forced to buy electric cars. Some of us are choosing to do so.


The writer, Kevin Smith, is the communications director of WREN, but the views and opinions expressed in this blog are his own and should not be interpreted as the views of WREN.