I have been a bit sceptical about the whole electric vehicle (EV) scene in the past, but that was before Zoë, writes Geoff Maxted from North Swindon.
I used to think that the cars on offer didn’t look very appealing. Then, of course, there’s the range issue, described on BBC Radio 4 as ‘range anxiety’, so they were simply not what you’d call ‘proper’ cars.
Then I had the chance to drive one of them, a Renault Zoë, and was converted on the Road to Tetbury.
Driving the Zoë, I quickly adapted to the vehicle and found aspects of its performance, including acceleration and speed, extremely positive. All EVs maintain the same torque at all speeds and there are no gear changes.
This makes them ideal for the stop-start, roundabout and traffic light driving environment that is Swindon.
Typically, the UK has lagged behind other nations with the building of a viable infrastructure for EVs, but Wiltshire Council has made a start by installing twin chargers at four railway stations. In the fullness of time these will be joined by a county wide and hopefully, a national roll-out.
Swindon could certainly use some for public use, although several larger businesses and car dealers in the town already have them installed.
With careful planning it is possible to drive the length of the country under electric power as many service stations have charging points, and these are becoming faster and more efficient. EVs will slow-charge at home in eight hours, and if you are willing to fork out for a branded charger, times can be halved.
Fuel costs are very low due to the relatively competitive price of electricity. So the benefits of EVs are clear, and with zero emissions they are clean and green, weirdly quiet and don’t attract congestion charging. They are no better or worse to drive than conventional cars, so it’s basically all good.
But not quite. Right now electric cars are more expensive to buy and the choice between buying or leasing batteries is a tricky one.
Overall, though, the case for electric cars is made; as a second car they are ideal.
• Geoff writes car reviews at: