Taking the electric car is an experience in itself. We have a few of them around the organisation ready to be borrowed providing you have passed the special test. They range from the upmarket Leaf which tends to reside at County Hall to the car that I took today from Meadowfield.
We’re in the middle of the latest round of presentations. Because of the way that their business runs we start at Meadowfield which allows the schools’ engineers to hear what is going on. They are rarely in the building as they tend to work from the schools and so we tag the presentation onto their training time. It works fine other than I have to get across Durham a little earlier than I would like.
I needed a car to go from there to Spectrum in Seaham and then back to Meadowfield via County Hall. It’s a journey of about forty miles. We are trying to stop people using their own vehicles and so I picked the electric one. They are usually available as not everyone has passed the additional test. I also like to pick them as they appeal to my sense of wanting to try something new. I’m terrified of getting stuck in a rut and so am constantly looking for that next best thing.
I really like driving the electric cars. They are quick, responsive and fairly quiet, especially at low speeds. But they are a faff. You can’t just open the door, leap in and start the engine. You have to find the card that allows you to release the cable from the charger, store it away in the boot and make sure you know you’ve got your head around everything before you press the go peddle. OK, these things are not such a big deal. It’s no worse than putting petrol or diesel into your normal car except that you have to charge the electric ones every five minutes.
When I left Meadowfield the battery was showing full but by the time I arrived at my first destination it was just over half full. Levels were getting dangerously low by the time I approached county Hall and I was on a wing and a prayer when I finally pulled up back at Meadowfield. I’d tried to drive as efficiently as possible by keeping the power indicator in ‘efficient’. I’d even turned down the heating and switched off the lights to save juice. It was all a bit Apollo 13.
Electric car technology is improving quickly but there is some way to go. As with all new technologies the manufacturers are caught in a bind. In order to develop them further they need to get enough people to take it up to drive the change. In order to get enough people to take it up then it needs to be good enough to be of use.
Today the electric car would not be suitable for my needs. It would not have covered my daily commute. However, I see the odd one when I’m out and about and so they must work for some people. No doubt in a few years’ time they’ll have it cracked and I’ll wonder what all the fuss was about.