Electric vehicles – getting from A to B

 

Sir, – Diarmaid Ferriter (“Can celebrity SUV virtue waving please cease?”,Opinion, October 15th) is absolutely correct that bigger cars are worse for the environment, regardless of being electric.

Two basic needs dominate when calculating how much energy a vehicle consumes, the energy required to accelerate, and the energy required to overcome road friction. Both of these increase in linear fashion in relation to weight.

An electric car, due to the weight of the battery and other drive train elements, is much heavier than petrol equivalents. For example, a petrol-engine Mini Hatchback weighs 1,085kg, while the Mini electric hatchback weighs 1,365kg – an extra 280kg, or 25 per cent.

On a typical day 90 per cent of the electricity generated in Ireland is sourced from fossil fuels, ie fossil fuels move 90 per cent of the weight of an electric car. In the case of the Mini this 90 per cent equals 1,228.5kg – considerably more than the total weight of the petrol engine version. In order for the Mini Electric to require less fossil-fuel energy than its petrol sister, the contribution of renewables to electricity production would need to be a steady, reliable 25 per cent.

At some point in the future when this figure is achieved, electric cars will begin to contribute to a better environment. In the meantime, environmentally conscious motorists would achieve much more by switching to the smallest, lightest vehicle possible, than by just swapping their big “gas guzzler” for a hybrid or electric equivalent. – Yours, etc,

JOHN THOMPSON,

Phibsboro,

Dublin 7.

Sir, – I, like many, am in favour of a stable environment and, as such, six months ago made the switch to electric vehicle. All was well and satisfactory until yesterday when I had the unavoidable necessity of a long trip which would require a full rapid recharge in order to get home that evening. Imagine my surprise when, halfway through charging, the ESB’s “ecar connect” app on my phone politely informed me that I’ve been charged an “overstay fee” equal to about 31 per cent of the cost of the recharge.

I suppose I understand the need to share the scarce infrastructure of charge points. However, the message to me is clear: don’t go electric if you drive long distance; not only is the infrastructure inadequate, but you also get penalised for utilising it.

I’m trying to imagine the furore if the country’s service stations were to impose a substantial surcharge on petrol tank refills greater than 80 per cent of the tank’s capacity. – Yours, etc,

FERGAL

DALTON,

Belgooly,

Co Cork.