If we’re to believe what we read in the news, or see on the telly, the internal combustion engine is slowly killing the planet, using up valuable fossil fuels whilst simultaneously emitting toxic gas. The Internal Combustion Engine, however, has become such a core part of our transport habits that it’s hard to see what else could take its place. There’s a clear need for people to move around the planet, so perhaps a bit of pollution is just the price we pay for that?
Several car companies disagree with that point of view and are developing vehicles that produce no pollution at the point of use (i.e. whilst driving). I’ve already thought a bit about hydrogen fuel-cell cars, and have to admit that I’m pretty taken with them. I like the idea that they emit only water vapour, and they still have the convenience of being able to quickly fill up the tank whenever you need a top-up.
There is another eco-option, though: electric vehicles. Think Toyota Prius without the petrol engine. Or, even better, think Tesla Roadster!
Environmentally friendly vehicles still have a bit of a reputation for being boring and, well, slow. The Tesla Roadster most definitely does away with that idea, though, looking like a Lotus Elise (Tesla point out that the car is definitely not just a converted Elise) it certainly looks sporty. And it’s quick, with a top speed of 125mph (electronically limited) and 250 horsepower of, well, power. Acceleration is by all accounts immense, getting a big thumbs-up from TV’s Vicky Butler-Henderson when she ran a Tesla at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Robert Llewellyn (of Scrapheap Challenge and Red Dwarf fame) also had a day in a Tesla, and recorded the highlights for posterity. Acceleration was one of the things mentioned here too. Have a look at his video and see what you think. Just a quick warning for the delicate, Robert does get a bit excited and a few expletives escape.
I would absolutely love to have a car that runs on such an affordable “fuel” as electricity, but the car itself is not cheap by any means (£94,000 according to Autocar.co.uk). I would also worry about the range (approx 200 miles on a full charge) and the time it takes to charge up again (current best-case is 1 hour). I drive a lot, and the idea of having to stop even for an hour to recharge strikes me as immensely inconvenient. New battery technology is coming that can charge up blisteringly fast, but are electric vehicles going to have to remain a niche market until then? I’m not sure, and if Tesla wanted to give me a test-drive to help me make up my mind I’d be more than happy to take part! But, since that’s fairly unlikely, I’ll ask you… what do you think?
And if you have any thoughts on the hydrogen vs. pure electric debate, why not throw them into the ring too?
The Mayor of London wrote an article about his Tesla day last week, which you can read here.