In many ways London is the city which leads where the rest of the UK follows, something which the electric car industry hopes will prove correct in the future. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has announced plans for at least 100,000 electric cars to be using London’s roads by 2025 although as you might have guessed, where Boris Johnson is involved, these plans do not necessarily appear straightforward.
So what exactly is going on, what has Boris Johnson promised and what are the potential problems?
Electric cars in London
Boris Johnson has released plans for the introduction of up to 100,000 electric cars to London by 2025 as the capital of the UK looks to lead the electric car revolution across the country. While these plans are very adventurous they are also very encouraging and further cement the electric car industry in the thoughts and hopes for the UK transport network in the future. While the scheme has been well received by the vast majority of individuals and environmentally friendly associations, there is much work to be done and many potential pitfalls to avoid.
Aside from the cost of consumers acquiring the new electric cars of the future, Boris Johnson has put aside £60 million for up to 25,000 electric charging points in car parks and streets around London. This will allow electric car users to recharge their batteries while they are shopping, at work or taking a break in the capital city. Up to now the scheme seems fairly straightforward, funding appears to be in place so what exactly are the pitfalls?
There is no doubt that London has again led the way in the UK with regards to the congestion charge and reducing the number of vehicles within central London. However, due to an increase in cycling lanes, bus lanes and walkways around the city there are concerns that the introduction of electric cars would severely impact upon congestion in the area. It is fairly straightforward, in that the more vehicles on the road the more congestion and the more potential for accidents involving those walking, those biking and those in buses.
Those who have driven to London will be well aware of the almost impossible task of finding a suitable car parking space near your place of work or the area in London which you need to visit. If we are to see up to 100,000 new electric cars hitting London by 2025 we would need to see a significant increase in the number of car parks (specially adapted to allow electric car users to recharge their batteries). Would we see electric car only car parks? Would traditional car owners be discriminated against?
While there is no doubt that the introduction of electric cars would drastically reduce the level of harmful emissions entering the environment, many councillors and opposition groups have suggested they will be significant problems with powering these electric cars. If we're talking about 100,000 cars there may be a necessity to build new power stations, new electric points, new networks and ultimately taxpayers will be expected to fund this.
Many people also forget that traditional power stations, while producing electricity, often release harmful gases into the environment so there is an argument that electric power created using traditional fossil fuels is still causing some damage to the environment. Using more environmentally friendly power supply techniques is more expensive and ultimately may produce less power compared to more traditional methods.
Is the UK ready for an electric car revolution?
While there are a limited number of electric cars already in use across the UK the introduction of up to 100,000 new vehicles in London alone is a substantial revolution. Aside from the fact there is some debate as to whether UK consumers are actually ready for the electric car revolution, is the UK government ready for this substantial change?
As we touched on in some of our earlier articles many people believe that the use of electric cars has been held back from many years simply because the UK government has yet to find a way to replace the significant tax it receives from fuel sales. Whether the government is even remotely ready for the widescale introduction of electric cars is debatable as noticeably there does not appear to be any significant government voice behind Boris Johnson’s scheme.
Could this be the turning point?
The history of the UK is littered with events in London which have eventually been replicated throughout the country often to become the "norm". We saw introduction of congestion charges just a few years ago and the rollout of this particular scheme into other cities around the UK. There is no doubt that if London does decide to take up the electric car revolution over the next few years then it will at some stage be replicated in other areas of the country.
If Boris Johnson, and the team behind him, is able to get support for the introduction of services and parking to accommodate 100,000 electric cars by 2025 this would be a significant turning point in the electric car industry. This is an industry which has been blocked off in the past due to a number of reasons, many of which have never been made public, but one which is gathering support from consumers.
The potential introduction of over 100,000 electric cars in London is a massive move and a very brave project from the Mayor of London. While there are some sceptics who believe the move is nothing but a publicity stunt, there is no doubt that the use of electric cars is something which has been on the agenda of various authorities for some time. It is disappointing to see a lack of government support in public for the scheme but no doubt this will follow in due course if it is successful.
This could also be an important point in history for Boris Johnson who has been taken for a fool by many people but who ultimately, underneath that comical exterior, is actually a very intelligent and forward thinking politician. If he can pull this one off, could we see Boris Johnson as a future PM of the UK?