Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt Mike Waters' blog: 22 December - A green Christmas?
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Mike Waters' blog: 22 December - A green Christmas?

Date: 22 December 2014

Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company

I talked a lot this year about new vehicle technologies; the pros, the cons, the practicalities and the take-up. There is no doubt that hybrid, and to some degree fully electric, plug-in vehicles have made strides in the market. We seem to be moving past the initial hype and speculation and now looking at the realities of driving these vehicles day-in-day-out.     

Most days I read news articles which suggest that we are becoming more accepting of the technology and that it is improving. For example, Ford dealerships in the California, New York and Michigan have begun to install small wind turbines and solar panels to generate clean electricity which they use to charge their EV's. It gives them enough power on their forecourt to charge an electric Ford Focus 870 times.

However, even with a changing mindset, keeping these vehicles charged is a concern as the Ford example shows. Limited range combined with the time that it takes to recharge the battery currently makes electric vehicles a niche option. It means that they are most practical for motorists and businesses carrying out regular short journeys. If you drive a long way on a regular basis, they aren't for you which is where plug-in hybrids and range extenders fill the gap.

As with all new technology, over the next couple of years I would expect to see it improve. I'm sure that if it was as quick to recharge an electric vehicle as it is to fill up with petrol or diesel, we would see a new audience opting for these cars. Now a new mobile phone battery has been patented which could eventually make this a reality.

It can reduce mobile phone charging time from hours to minutes and it is thought that the same battery technology could be applied to electric cars and vans too. Traditionally batteries use a graphite anode (negative end) with a metal oxide cathode (positive end), along with an additive that helps facilitate electron exchange. This new design replaces the anode with a gel which allows a faster charge. 5 minutes of charging, about the same time it takes to refuel could recharge the car, with this charge lasting up to 10 times a current battery. 

If it delivers what is being promised it would be a massive step forward, and I'm sure it won't be the last advancement in battery technology. Our mindset is now more accepting of new vehicle technologies and this acceptance looks destined to grow in 2015.

Mike Waters is senior insight & consultancy manager at Arval, the leading vehicle leasing and fleet management company.