Tuesday, 12 January 2021

The Government giveth ...

… and the Government taketh away … After years of Government grants to subsidise the purchase of private electric vehicles and the offer of free electricity at public charging points, the times they are a-changing. Grants are reducing or disappearing and stickers on previously free public chargers now announce that the minimum charge is £1 or 30p per Kw.

I found this out when I turned up at my two nearest public charging points. The first one is close by the M8 motorway. Fair enough I thought, this is to catch the motorway users, so I went to the next one in the nearby industrial/office complex. The same stickers on all 8 machines!

It was to be expected I suppose, but it still hits hard. Maybe I just missed the helpful advisory public announcements in the press or on telly. Or maybe not.

And no coin in the slot operation here either. Pay by card or call a phone number. There is a big red 'emergency' button 'for strict emergency use only' - I didn't press it.

At least this time the press appraisal vehicle was rather more ideally suited to the job of passing time productively while the energising current flowed. However, there was another drawback. The nearby cafe was shut - and no takeaways either, so no coffee and no triangle (or two) of shortbread covered with a thick layer of caramel and slabbered with chocolate. That will be on my list for stockpiling  ahead of the next lockdown!

The sport of rallying may be in shutdown these days but the process of assessing and appraising vehicles for the 2021 Scottish Car of the Year awards is now underway. This week's vehicle was right up my street with suitable accommodation as befits a peripatetic motoring journalist. In fact the test report was pretty much written up while sat inside - snug and warm as the sleet fell outside.

The actual 'test' process is rather more difficult these days with Covid restrictions changing almost every week. It's all about managing the risk I suppose. Each vehicle goes through a pre delivery 'nuclear decontamination deep clean' (well, that's what it looks like) and then another one when it is collected. But since I don't have a 'domestic' quick charger installation at home, any hybrids or electric vehicles have to be charged up at the nearest public chargers.

In the past I have tried to charge up electric vehicles on the standard domestic supply but that can take anything from 24 to 48 hours for a full charge from empty, despite what some manufacturers claim. And yet, progress continues to be made in the technology. Some vehicles can now be charged up fully in 8 to 12 hours or given a boost in 4 hours to 80% capacity, and those times are reducing with each new vehicle announcement or technology advance made.

Meanwhile continued effort is being expended on battery technology with more efficient batteries promising quicker charge times and delivering their power longer, but it begs the question. If we all have to go electric in the next ten years how will that affect rallying? Quicker chargers? Mobile chargers? Swappable battery packs? Or will the general public tolerate a sport which continues to use fossil fuels?

More on  this shortly ...

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