Mike Waters' Blog: 28 April 2009 - Chicken and egg scenario
28 April 2009
Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.
There remains a great deal of uncertainty around what we will be using to fuel our vehicles in the future.
The front runners include biofuel, hydrogen and electric but until consumers get a definite steer as to which is the favoured option they are not going to be trading in their petrol or diesel models.
Electric has been prominent within this mix for a number of years now but one of the big stumbling blocks has always been a lack of infrastructure.
We know that most electric vehicles have a poor range and therefore without a comprehensive network of charging points across the country the technology will never truly take off.
However, recent announcements from the Prime Minister and Mayor of London suggest things may me be progressing.
Gordon Brown has said that electric car trials will start in 2010 in two or three UK cities. While councils are currently being invited to put their names forward to become "green cities" the Government is also talking to big business about a national recharging network for electric vehicles.
It looks as though one of the cities in question is likely to be the capital. Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has announced a vision to make London the top European city for electric vehicles. He set out a series of proposals which he hopes will encourage the use of 100,000 electric vehicles in London alone.
Johnson has proposed a wide-ranging set of initiatives which include: working with businesses, local authorities and the public sector to deliver 25,000 charging spaces across London, converting 1000 Greater London Authority fleet vehicles to electric, guaranteeing exemption from the congestion charge for electric vehicles and the continuation of the London Electric Vehicle Partnership to co-ordinate the introduction of electric vehicles.
The Mayor said: "The time for simply talking about electric vehicles is over - we need real action on the ground to make the electric vehicle an easy choice for Londoners."
With this statement he is right - encouraging noises about electric vehicles are not enough, until the public can see real action the technology will remain a pipedream.
Electric vehicles are the perfect example of the chicken and egg scenario. Until the infrastructure is in place people won't buy the cars, but until the demand picks up countries will be reluctant to invest in the infrastructure.
However, with countries across Europe beginning to commit to electric, it is no surprise that the UK is taking this technology seriously and electric vehicles may be set for a bright future.