A weekly look at all that sucks in the world of cars, plus some good bits
The car industry being the bellwether of corporate society, and the industry realising the instruction ‘don’t go to work unless you have to go to work’, actually allows them a free hand, a number of Britain’s car makers are tooling up to start producing cars again.
Land Rover-Jaguar is one company, Vauxhall another. Someone has tipped them off that worker distance is more profitable and sensible to cold storage lock-down, at least for big business. Car makers are leaking money faced by the shut-down, non-production of vehicles and engines, the expensive shift to electric vehicles, and massive fines for cheating customers over unsafe diesel cars. No surprise, then, that they are lobbing the EU hard as they can to shift the deadline for emission controls.
Cars are one of the planet’s biggest polluters and users of natural materials and yet manufacturers want us to return to that situation for as long as possible soon as lock-down is eased. Meanwhile, on the High Street, some are preparing for electric vehicles (EVs) being the norm – by law!
A new type of pop-up charge point has been designed to give owners of electric cars who have to park their EVs on the street the ability to recharge at home.
Although there have been leaps forward in home and public EV charging in recent years, one major obstacle to EV ownership remains the fact that a third of UK households – equivalent to eight million cars and vans – do not have access to a driveway. With trailing leads across pavements hazardous, and residents with no off-street parking ineligible for Government charge point grants, urban EV charging has long been a significant issue to overcome as the UK makes the switch to electric.
A British startup firm named Urban Electric has created a pop-up charge point that can be installed at the kerbside. The chargers deliver a 7kW charging rate, and are said to be suitable for 90 per cent of residential streets.
A trial of what is claimed to be the world’s first pop-up charger EVs is underway in Oxford. Six prototypes of the charging point have been installed in the city as part of a pilot project, developed by product design company Duku and sister firm Albright IP in collaboration with Urban Electric.
The charging points retract underground when not in use, which means they sit on the level of the pavement and are only visible by a ring of light which highlights their position and lets users know of their availability. (See photograph at top of article.)
The trial will take place over the next six months and drivers who signed up to the trial are able to book an electric car which has been made available for the period of the pilot. The £600,000 project won funding worth £474,000 from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and administered by Innovate UK. The trial will allow the companies to verify the reliability of the prototypes and investigate how it fared against daily use, the weather and being installed on a UK street.
Improvements will be made following which a larger scale roll-out is expected.
I much prefer electric chargers in lampposts. Lampposts exist already and no digging is needed. The down side of a pop up version is a. the sod who parks two wheels up on the pavement his car over the charger; b. the masses of pavement lifted to take new cables, and c. more clutter on our footpaths to add to street signage, shop placards, bicycle racks, bins, railings, and so on, and so forth.
Merely excavating pavements to install the chargers outer casing and ducting, while the electrical team pulled in the cables ready, adds another layer of street clutter and no go stretches to daily urban life.
However, there will be places where a pop-up is the best solution. The first installations of the new pop-up or pop out chargers are aimed at residents on the street who have limited access to parking and struggle to boost the batteries of their electric vehicles.
GROUSEY’S FOOTWELL FINDS
Bored out of my skull, I took a drive around old Queensferry village on a sunny afternoon crushed to discover it’s new urban sprawl. What was once a pleasant village is now a mini-Livingston. What caught my attention was not just the lack of sensitivity new architecture with the old, but lines of cars nose or tail to houses. New flats built on green sites have car parks not underground parking bays, an astonishing blunder in the modern age by Planning departments. And most disappointing of all, where was the community? No shops or cafes for people to meet at street level of the flats. What I saw was one ugly multi-development that’ll soon reach Dalmeny and outer Edinburgh. Where is the careful planning for people, rather than kitsch houses for newcomers?
With a distinct increase in road traffic, I can see folk are getting frustrated staying indoors. You have to be careful not to stop anywhere, if not a shop or a petrol station, police are apt to ask for a chat. I wonder how much money car owners have lost staring at their car sitting idly on the driveway or road these last lock-down weeks. Has your insurance company sent a letter to tell you they will reduce next year’s premium for your car’s lack of use? And what about this month’s waste of Vehicle Excise Duty, usually known as road tax? How about an extension on next year’s ?
A Guardian investigation last year found that Exxon has spent €37.2m (£32.4 million) lobbying the EU since 2010, more than any other major oil company, according to the EU’s transparency register. It also revealed Shell spent €36.5m and BP €18.1m lobbying Brussels officials to shape EU climate policy. They were desperately trying to influence European commission officials to water down the European Green Deal in the weeks before it was agreed. They spend a fortune telling us how environmentally friendly they are while simultaneously doing the opposite. Great use of shareholder money.
Happy motoring … maybe!