I drive an electric car because it helps in learning about the future of transportation. My previous car was a diesel car over 10 years old with 120,000 miles on the clock and capable of doing at least the same mileage again before needing to be junked. Continuing to drive that car would have been greener in the short term. The carbon dioxide emissions associated with driving my electric car – when the carbon intensity of the electric grid is taken into account – is similar to an efficient diesel car.
On a sunny day I can charge my electric car from the solar panels on my roof but that claim is not green either. Over the year we generate a large proportion of our domestic electricity but I shouldn’t double count it. There is hope that we can decarbonise the electric grid and then electric cars can be green but we are a long way from doing that. Whatever way you look at it, electric cars are not green.
To learn about the future transport system, is a good reason to drive an electric car. My lesson number one is that public charging points is a red herring. You do not head out beyond the range of the battery on the chance of a public charging point. You charge at home using cheap (and lower carbon) night-time electricity or at work where staff car parks should be covered in roofs of solar panels feeding into the cars parked underneath. The idea that you might head out beyond the range, trusting that there is a public charging point available and working, is not an option you consider.
The other lesson to feed back to the electric car manufacturers is that drivers do not need more range. That is an idea that comes from people who drive conventional cars. An electric car is for relatively short local journeys. As battery technology delivers more efficient batteries the saving should be used to the best advantage. That is reducing the cost, weight and embodied carbon in the manufacture of the car. We electric car drivers want greener electric cars, not longer range.
The final lesson of driving an electric car, and finding it little different to a normal car for city driving, is that the greenest transportation system would be less clogged by cars. The greenest transportation has two wheels a saddle and is fuelled by bacon butties (muesli and soya milk if you prefer).