UK Cold to the Electric Vehicle

BRITcar
BRITcar

In a recent survey conducted by specialist insurance firm Adrian Flux, only about two percent of individuals in the UK would be most likely to purchase an electric vehicle in the next half decade.

The company surveyed a thousand of its clients and it found that about seventy percent would not consider switching to electric vehicles. The remaining twenty eight percent still have that wait and see attitude as to how the market unravels in the next few years.

Despite such cold reception to electric cars, the market is further opening up to the idea of making these vehicles a staple on UK roadways. There are about thirty new fully electric range extended and hybrid models that would hit UK showrooms in the next year and a half. Electric car naysayers have also been assured that the recharging infrastructure for electric cars is also in full throttle, with 654 charging points in Metro London alone. This is more than any other city in the European Union, where many cities of the UK that dominate the top ten in EV accommodating cities.

Expense still is a major issue, despite the grants amounting to about £5,000 for each purchase of an electric car. According to Gary Bucke of Adrian Flux Insurance Services, the reluctance to switch to these electric vehicles are attributable to the perceived ‘hassle’ of a vehicle relying on charging for power.

He said, “People are worried that they can’t just ‘drive and go’ and that they will have to plan ahead depending on how far they plan to travel each day and the ‘range’ of their car. Although the majority of people’s car journeys are short, they still want to know that – if they choose – they could travel long distances in their car without having to worry about finding a charging station. There are options available, such as range extended electric cars with petrol or diesel generators to provide extra electricity and hybrid cars which recover energy from the movement and braking of the car.”

Despite the promise of lower fuel costs, there are other areas that electric car owners would incur expenses aside from the high purchase amount. Bucke adds, “In insurance terms, insurers still have reservations about electric cars mainly based on their cost and the disposal of the batteries, which can push up the premiums.”

This though can surely be corrected with the new program instituted by the European Union. This program is a four year €41.8 million partnership to improve the up-take of electric cars throughout the Union.

The goal of the program is to develop the know-how and experience in selected regions throughout Europe as well as improve the acceptance of electric vehicles throughout Europe. According to European Commission Vice President Siim Kallas, “Transport is current 96 per cent dependent on oil for its energy needs. This is totally unsustainable. The Tranpsort 2050 Roadmap aims to break transport’s current oil dependency and allow mobility to grow.”

Opel Ampera Release Held Back

EUcountries
EUcountries

The Opel Ampera, the European version of the much ballyhooed Chevrolet Volt, would remain in the continent’s showrooms until the current investigation by US federal investigators have been resolved. The main issue would be the battery fires that have resulted during crash tests.

According to the Director of Product Development Communications of Opel, Mr. Andrew Marshall, “We are in the position that we can wait a little while before we deliver customer vehicles while we come up with a solution to the battery situation.”

Several hundred Amperas have been built Stateside, particularly in Hamtramck, Michigan. These cars together with the Volt started to arrive late last month in dealerships in many European countries such as France, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Many more Amperas are in transit and it is hoped that Opel would be able to sell 10,000 Amperas in the next year.

Marshall noted that many prospective customers were on a waiting list and said, “People are impatient to get in them. There have been no refunds requested, as far as I know.”

Earlier this month, General Motors offered to buy back the Volts it had sold to American owners if there were many concerns regarding fire risk. This issue though was premature in the case of the Ampera, according to Marshall, but the company was prepared to come to a solution with concerned customers who had ordered the cars.

He further added, “We’re aware of what GM is doing in the States, but we are not aware of anyone coming to us about safety issues. But if they do and they are insistent about them, we would talk to them about a resolution. We’re waiting for a signal from General Motors but it’s all obviously connected with the analysis going on at NHTSA.”

The decision to wait for the investigation results from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was taken by the CEO of Opel/Vauxhall, Mr. Karl-Friedrich Stracke. There have been three separate product introductions for the Ampera. The first was supposed to be ongoing had it not been any delays in the delivery. The price was pegged for Euro 42,900 for the plug-in hybrid or nearly $56,000.

Despite the different styling of the Volt and the Ampera, there are many similarities between the two. First would be the lithium-ion battery pack. Then, there is a gasoline-fired engine generator that turns on after the electric motor’s battery has been depleted. The Ampera has stylized alloy wheels as standards with side skirts rather than black plastic. Aside from these differences, the power train and the battery pack are practically identical. The only exception would be four drive modes for the Ampera, compared to just three with the Volt.