Now it’s the turn of the Germans to jump on the Electric Car political PR bandwagon. They are in ‘Illustrious’ company. We had the Portuguese commit to Electric Cars a while back and Boris wants to make London the Electric Car Capital of Europe. And out own national Government wants to throw £5k at electric car buyers. But frankly, this is far more about ‘Green’ posturing than either real intent or positive direction.
The German Government has stated that it wants to see million electric cars on the roads in Germany by 2020. Which is a very big ask when you consider there are less than 1500 in the whole country at the moment. But even 1 million electric cars will have a negligible impact on the economy – or the ‘Planet’ – in comparison to the 40 million cars in Germany.
But where’s the sense? Sure, for real inner-city use electric cars do have a place. But I still don’t see their viability as a sensible option to a real car in anything other than congested urban areas. The electricity still has to be produced – and that is dirtier than conventional cars in many cases – and the concept of zero emission electric cars would only be possible if the electricity generated was nuclear powered, or the electric cars produced their own electricity on-board from Hydrogen fuel cells.
But this posturing by Germany is also about creating an atmosphere to encourage industry to invest in battery technology. There is a fear by the Germans that they will be left behind in the race to produce the next generation of batteries for electric cars. But the German car companies are already on the case with this. VW has teamed up with BYD – one of the leaders in new battery tech – and Mercedes has taken a 10% stake in Tesla.
But none of the car makers sees electric cars as a huge part of the car landscape in the future – Audi reckons it will only ever be around 5% of cars as plug-ins.
This just seems like a PR stunt. Electric cars – as they are perceived at the moment as plug-ins working from the national grid – will only ever be a niche product.