A weekly guide to all that’s rotten about car ownership, plus some good bits
The Scottish Government is to invest nearly £17 million in green transport – good news direct from Scotland’s First (Street Smart) Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
Cries of “What about the poor and the NHS?” from the carping crowd who voted No to self-determination, the same who call progress Whitehall making welfare payments as rare as an oasis in the Sahara, and selling off the English NHS to Virgin laudable. One day Virgin will sell some of its businesses to a foreign investor and our rights will go with it.
How is the largess to be spent? Some £16.7m of funding will be used for 1,500 more electric vehicle charging points and 100 electric buses. (Nicola, who writes your announcements? Please find a better phrase for ‘electric vehicle uptake’.)
I plan an electric car as my next car purchase, probably my last because it will outlast me. I’d like to think the car of the future is one you can hand to your son or daughter, not because it’s clapped out, but because it’s in perfect order. The body will be made out of a non-rust, pliable material, there will be few moving parts, and interiors won’t need five dead cows to swathe it in luxury. (We used to be very happy with vinyl!) When the batteries give out you just line up new ones, the old reused for solar panels. Replacing a worn-our petrol engine takes hours of labour. Batteries are held in a protected tray under the car, pulls out, empty, fill, slide back.
I like the forthcoming Honda and Mini, though I favour the compact and very clever Honda for its extra height and its claimed 15 minute full charging time from empty.
Self-pleading aside, the money also will help expansion of the Switched on Towns & Cities initiative to create 20 new ‘electric towns’ by 2025. The new funding comes on top of around £20m to help people make the transition to electric vehicles and £4.8m of grant funding for 500 ultra-low emission vehicles in the public sector fleet.
Nicola made the announcement on a visit to the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service (SFRS) headquarters in Cambuslang. The SFRS has committed to reducing its carbon footprint with plans to introduce up to 100 ultra-low emission plug-in vehicles to its light fleet.
The service is also actively looking at how it could use its 356 fire stations across Scotland to support the ongoing development of charging networks.
Our government’s policy is to ban the sale of all new combustion engines by 2032. That goal puts us in the vanguard but European nations are destined to get there before us. They have lots of electric cars to choose from and charging points to service them, while the UK holds back Scotland’s environmental advances.
“Electrifying the road network and transforming the way we travel is vital to reducing our carbon emissions, tackling climate change and improving air quality. Last year’s Programme for Government set out our ambition as a country and some key steps including making the A9 Scotland’s first electric trunk road. This year we want to go further still, and through the package of support we’re announcing in this year’s Programme for Government, as well as our continued investment of £1 billion a year in low carbon and public transport, more people will be able to play their part in putting Scotland at the forefront of low carbon travel.”
Lovely stuff. (Nicola, please find another phrase for “package of support“.) Through continued investment, and work to encourage communities to embrace the social change required, we can make our towns and cities more desirable places to live and work.
Oh, and while I remember – when the charging stations are in place bring in legislation to cap costs to a minimum!
Now for the downside – with no control over keeping what we earn we have little chance to catch up on Norway. And we are handicapped by the Ministry of Transport being a reserved department. This week it cut the grants to buy electric cars. (See below.)
Compare the UK’s situation with Norway, the example that proves the success of incentives. Over half of all new cars registered in Norway last year were plug-in hybrids or BEVs, and two of the bestselling cars are fully electric.
Voting Yes to self-rule makes sense by every act of England’s regressive government.
GROUSEY’S FOOTWELL FINDS
Dyson is too big to fail
James Dyson, creator of the cheap ball barrow, the painfully expensive vacuum cleaner and extortionate hairdryer, the enthusiastic cheerleader for ditching the EU, has decided to build his electric car in Singapore. Informed readers will groan because they know Singapore recently signed a trade deal with … the EU. We are told it’s an entire car rather than an electric motor for vehicles. Going down the Sinclair C5 route for a hoover salesman sounds a bit risky to me. His purpose-built two-storey plant is part of a £2.5 billion investment. His own money? Are you kidding? Production is set to be launched in 2021. In a letter to Dyson’s UK employees, CEO Jim Rowan waxed lyrical: “Singapore offers access to high-growth markets as well as an extensive supply chain and a highly skilled workforce.” There’s Brexit patriotism for you.
Edinburgh has had a 20 mph maximum inner city experiment running for months. The council is asking for feedback from drivers and cyclists. Once you take out the anti-SNP trolls from the council website – and who would not like to take out SNP trolls? – the few lone souls leaving opinion invariably pronounce the scheme a failure. Nobody is willing to police it. There’s always peer pressure if you can get it to work. Not hard for me to adhere to the limit in my wee engine Smart, with intermittent success, but I’m often taken aback by drivers passing me at 40 mph. The telling of the tale will lie in accident reduction figures. Edinburgh has some of the worst Kamikaze jay walkers anywhere.
Reduction of government grant
The Tories have slashed the inducement they offer us to give up our flatulent cars and buy environmentally passive vehicles. They did this in the week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned of impending Armageddon. We must turn the gas down to a peep. Hybrids lose out entirely, electric is down to £3,500. That means the price of electric cars to you will go up from £1,000 to £3,000. The reason given by the Department of Transport is electric cars are getting cheaper. Aye, cheaper for the few not the many. (Renault Twizy excepted.) The decision is bizarre. For endangering the planet those responsible should be made to breath exhaust fumes for an hour in a locked room.