Questions about electric cars
Compiled by Martin Birley from responses by many people
Number of contributors: 11
Technical questions – batteries/charging
1. What battery technology is being used ?
2. What they are going to do with all the batteries that electric cars use, as it is toxic
waste? (2 people)
3. What's the prediction about improving battery weight-capacity? My first car did
30mpg and was dreadfully slow; my present car does 50 and is extremely brisk.
4. Just how easy is it for a vehicle owner to get new batteries fitted on a local basis?
((This is not an average DIY job owing to the heavy lifting, and heaven help you if
that sort of current is mis-wired !)
5. Could there be a network of high speed charging points (I know, political, but is the
technology practicable yet?)
6. Is anyone going to give us a solar electric recharge or solar panels on the roof as
standard (for the occasional user)? (2 people)
Technical questions – carbon footprint /energy needs / cost
7. How long would it take to replace the current vehicle stock with electric vehicles and
infrastructure? And has the question of the carbon emissions/energy
needs/financial cost of such a programme (+ running and decommissioning vehicles)
been addressed in depth, given our current challenges in these three areas? (3
8. Electric vehicles will only be 'clean' if the electrical energy to power them comes
from renewable sources. Can the additional demand for electricity to power these
vehicles en masse be accurately estimated, and is it clear how this can be cleanly
generated? (4 people)
9. Environmental impact (not just emissions) per mile compared with petrol/diesel
cars? (2 people)
Technical questions – sustainability/scalability
10. Is there enough Lithium and other materials to mass-produce electric cars?
11. What is the estimated lifespan of an electric car?
12. What is the estimated cost of replacement (in terms of money, carbon and energy),
and is this likely to reduce with increased demand?
13. At the moment there is an issue that in a few years we will not have enough power
stations to service the normal demands of the population, so if everyone had an
electric car how many more power stations would need to be built? And will
transport be our priority, over homes/hospitals etc?
Technical questions – other
14. What is the top speed of current electric cars?
15. What is the maximum range in miles of the electric cars we have now?
16. Electric cars seem to be lighter in weight - would petrol cars of similar weight have
17. Are there models that combine electrical and pedal power? Any that can be
powered by dynamo that's charged from exercise machines, microgenerators etc?
18. Are they using the same regenerative technology as the Prius with the kinetic energy
utilized whilst braking? (2 people)
Social effects questions
19. Given that the scale of our climate/energy challenges necessitates significant
lifestyle changes, do you think that investment in mass-produced electric cars
supports or discourages changes like bringing together home, work and leisure
locations as far as possible, reducing travel through new information and
communication technology, and affordable and efficient public transport networks?
20. Could the relatively limited operational range of electric vehicles be seen as a useful
driver to localising production of goods and services, rather than as a technical
challenge to be overcome? Or will walking and cycling always be the more
environmentally friendly options over short ranges, given that even under current
conditions about half of the car trips we make could be switched immediately to
sustainable modes (ref:
21. Why are electric cars so expensive at the moment? Is it scarcity or technology that
leads to this? As they have fewer mechanical parts, shouldn’t they be plug and play,
50% of price, and totally renewable? (2 people)
22. What are the running costs compared with petrol/diesel?
23. What are the main predictors of owner satisfaction? Charging-point convenience?
24. Might increasing the carbon-efficiency of personal transport suffer from a ‘rebound
effect’ (as we have seen in so many areas) by encouraging increased travel? Will we
still all be using private vehicles for short trips, and school runs? (2 people)
25. Regarding ownership of an EV, are MOT requirements waived or partially applied?
Has the insurance industry weighed in yet on rate structures?
26. Would a blanket 20mph speed limit in residential areas shift the cost advantages
away from petrol cars?
27. If they are so good, why is the government not leading the way by making ALL taxi's,
buses, waste collection vehicles ELECTRIC?