London mayor Boris Johnson announces plans to make London the European electric car capital.
Plans have been revealed to install 1300 electric vehicle charging points in the capital by 2013 but will it be worth it?
From the highly anticipated Nissan Leaf to the popular Mitsubishi i-Miev, electric vehicles are officially here and ready to take over the market. With extremely low car tax, exemptions from the London congestion charge and virtually no pollutive emissions, there are many motorists who are already keen to jump onto the electric car bandwagon.
While the design and notion of electric vehicles are not in doubt, the practicality of the vehicles is still some what of an issue. From sky high prices for the chargers to the current lack of electrical charging points, there are many who feel that the negatives far outweigh the positives when it comes to electric cars, however that could all be about to change.
This month it’s been announced that over 1000 public charging points will be rolled out across the capital next year to cater for anticapted public demand. The move supports London’s ambition to become the European electric car capital and is being supported by London mayor Boris Johnson who has just announced electric and green vehicles will receive a 100% exemption from the capital’s congestion charges.
The ‘Source London’ network marks a collaboration between Transport for London and the city’s borough authorities and could be rolled out to other parts of the UK if it proves successful. The network should include 1300 charging points by 2013 and it could allow users to charge their vehicles for as little as £100 a year – a figure the project developers hope will attract motorists who are already fed up with sky high petrol and diesel prices.
The London mayor is keen to get 100,000 electric vehicles on to the streets of London “as soon as possible” after a recent HSBC report estimated that the electric car market could be worth as much £440 billion by 2020, however not everyone seems as keen. While the news has been welcomed by some motorists, there are many who are questioning the relevancy of such a project in the current economical climate.
These concerns come after projects in other areas of the UK failed to attract as much attention from motorists as was hoped. So far not a single motorist has signed up to the £22,000 electric charging point scheme which was released in Cambridge last month – £17,000 of which was funded by UK taxpayers. This failure has left tax payers questioning whether their money is being put to the best use during this economic period.
So is the ‘Source London’ network a much needed addition to the London transport system or is it all just a waste of money? And could London ever realistically become the European electric car capital?
At the moment it’s hard to tell. While there’s no question as to the viability of electric vehicles, questions are being raised over the functionality and practicality of such vehicles in a transport system which is already struggling to survive with the capital’s current commuters.
The heart of the arguement seems to lie in the timing of the project. Following announcements in the last few weeks that there will be devastating public sector cuts, some tax payers feel that their money could be put to better use in a number of other sectors.
On a more positive note, the addition of the new charging points means London will actually have more charging points than petrol stations – something which will inevitably encourage drivers to ditch their traditional gaz-guzzling vehicles in favour of new emission-friendly vehicles which they can charge inexpensively, quickly and conveniently. There’s no doubt that this will have a positive effect on the city’s pollutive emissions and could lead to a cleaner, brighter capital and an improved quality of life for residents.
Gaining the title of European electric car capital would obviously give London a boost and would be a great title to hold following the Olympics in 2012. Many feel the title would show that London is at the heart of the EU and at the centre of pioneering technology in the motor industry – something which can’t be a bad thing!
Whatever your feelings on the new scheme, the project is sure to have an effect on the state of London’s already overcrowded commuter system. If things go according to Boris Johnson’s plans, electric vehicles will make up 5% of the capital’s total vehicles by 2013 – something which will definitely not go unnoticed by the city’s motorists.
Will the scheme be a success? Again it’s hard to say but with an estimated price tag of around £60 million for the mayor’s scheme as a whole there are sure to be lots of people with crossed fingers in the capital over the next few years.