Monday, 4 July 2011

Electric Coventry

I think that I must have been travelling around Coventry city centre with my eyes closed for several months now, because taking a shortcut to somewhere else the other day I happened upon this electric car and charging station. I vaguely remember talk of charging bays being located in the city but had never noticed one until this very day....and it got me thinking

A decade ago when I was working for Royal Mail, they introduced little electric Peugeot 106's, which I think they used successfully for the rural routes. In recent years in Coventry (presumably because of its 'green' credentials) there has been a renewed interest in electric with various offerings from Liberty Electric, Tata and (laterly) Modec. These new-old forms of transport are seen as a pannacea for the looming fuel crisis, which still preserve the right of all to travel as they wish, when they wish and at an 'acceptable' level of comfort (something which until recently was supported in government). Despite the obvious lack of immediate emmisions I do question how environmentally friendly these cars are. I also question the final cost in terms of producing the vehicle and the economic and environmental cost of generating the electricity to charge the vehicle

The other day my daughter and I were talking about this, we stopped on the way to school and for 10 minutes counted the cars going past and the occupants within- the majority only carried one person which in any car, electric or not, does not make good environmental sense. Realistically in a modern age of out of town facilities, not all places are within easy walking distance and not everyone would agree (with me) that cycling is the way to get to most places as it can be tiring, takes longer and makes you a bit sweaty. As a family we do have a car (a battered diesel) and try to use it as little as possible, the school run is completed on the bike, most visits to the shop are either by foot or bike and trips into the city are on public transport- its a realistic compromise. Buying a Prius might temporarily ease my conscience but I don't think it will solve any environmental problems- particularly if you consider its carbon footprint.

I did wonder what the roads would be like if all those people in empty cars used an electric bike, obviously if it rains you still get wet and you don't get a stereo, but in the city something like this will do 30mph and will get you to work and back on a charge.

There is a growing range of well supported bikes, you can find the best reviewed here.