Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Boris Johnson's electric car scheme short circuits

Boris Johnson's "electric car revolution" may be defeated if he fails to convince sceptical London boroughs about the scheme, according to a new report.

Some councils are refusing to provide charging points amid worries that it will increase congestion, and dangers to other road users.

The London Councils report raises concerns about:

  • The extra congestion caused by the scheme
  • The dangers of allowing 'silent' vehicles into bus lanes
  • The dangers of trailing electric cables on the street
  • The costs of installation and maintenance
  • The principle of subsidising car use
  • The risk that the technology will become obsolete

The plans to provide discount parking for electric cars may also cause the boroughs some problems.

Last year the City of London abandoned their own scheme to allow free parking for electric cars because it:

"encouraged car use instead of the use of public transport, walking and cycling"

Some London boroughs remian worried about this planned £60 million subsidy for drivers.

According to the report:

"It is questionable whether it is appropriate or equitable to offer public subsidies to support the purchase of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles would be most accessible to business users and to households with access to off-street parking (for overnight charging), and the resources to purchase a vehicle in order to benefit from heavily subsidized private travel, thus giving the impression that significant public subsidy is being made available to those who may in fact need it least."

London Councils have called on the Mayor to delay the scheme until these concerns are acknowledged and met.

19 comments:

Tom said...

"Electric vehicles would be most accessible to business users and to households with access to off-street parking (for overnight charging)"

This is the killer - there are plenty of places in London where however rich the inhabitants, they don't have off-street parking, let alone the millions who live in flats and the like with parking, if available, many yards from their door. This is because London wasn't built with cars in mind, let alone electric cars.

You'd basically end up subsidising a few rich people with access to off-street parking to scoot about in electric sports cars. Bad policy, Boris, in fact staggeringly stupid. Cars outside cities, there's a point - inside cities you should do nothing to encourage them, however they're propelled.

Helen said...

Tom - couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

The scheme won't be used by enough people to cause congestion.

AdamB said...

So best case scenario, the scheme's a flop and nobody notices? Hmm

Helen said...

I'm envisioning the charging points becoming white elephants like the self-service ticket machines which were introduced on one-person-operated buses in the early '70s; nobody used them, they didn't work and ended up being roped off, sat on by kids then removed.

AdamB said...

Just realised that I forgot to link to Boris's plan. Here it is:

http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor/publications/2009/docs/electric-vehicles-plan.pdf

The plan is to have 25,000 charging points by 2015, although the vast majority will be provided 'in partnership' with businesses. That's a big ask by any measure. It's also a big risk.

Appealing of Ealing said...

AdamB said...
"So best case scenario, the scheme's a flop and nobody notices?"

I'd rather vote for a mayor who had a crappy scheme that flopped and nobody noticed, than one who had a crappy scheme that worked and everybody noticed...like having a congestion tax in Kensington.

There seems to be an assumption, especially among those who have known little more than a "New" Labour government, that politicians have to be meddling and interfering in everything that everybody does, prohibiting this and encouraging that, with subsidies and taxes.

The irony is, most lefties I talk to, are just as fed up with today's politicians as I am, and see them as the same bunch of useless idiots that I see.

So why then don't they come to the same conclusion as me, which is to tell them to bugger off with all their stupid schemes, and if they feel that at least they should appear to be doing something, then have the decency to propose a scheme that can quietly fail.

AdamB said...

£60 million is a lot of money to spend on something that quietly fails.

"There seems to be an assumption, especially among those who have known little more than a "New" Labour government, that politicians have to be meddling and interfering in everything that everybody does, prohibiting this and encouraging that, with subsidies and taxes."

What like drinking bans, immigrant amnesties and electric car subsidies?

Appealing of Ealing said...

AdamB said...
"£60 million is a lot of money to spend on something that quietly fails."

Yes, it might be an appalling waste of money -- I really don't know enough about it to make a judgment. But actually it's extremely small change compared to the unbelievably colossal sums that Labour have wasted on their dumb projects...like wars, and id cards and and and ...where did I put that list...

"What like drinking bans, immigrant amnesties and electric car subsidies?"

The drink ban was in line with a policy of no interference, in the same way we wouldn't allow five a side football on the tube either.

Politicians should stick to important things like cutting crime...beyond that they should get lost.

barry rochford said...

Well, yes 'appealing of Ealing' you are quite right New Labour has wasted £billions and hundreds of liuves on wars, but you aree aware that the former Mayor opposed such wars, while Boris suppoorted them.
However, I have sympathy for this scheme as it is potentially progressive, provided that it is not aimed at lining the pockets of pockets close to Boris's friends.
However, as with all Borisisms, its a headline grabber to remind everyone he's about. People say that's a good idea. Of course there are technical problems, no money so it goes away.
Heard anything about bus conductors lately?

Appealing of Ealing said...

"but you aree aware that the former Mayor opposed such wars, while Boris suppoorted them."

Boris and AofE are not joined at the hip. I opposed the war vigorously.

Anyway, thanks to Adam for the pdf link. I'll read it.

bluepillnation said...

AofE:

The question is, would you *still* have opposed it if a Tory Prime Minister was the instigator?

Anonymous said...

I think Boris Johnson is on the right track. We have been depending of fossil fuel for far too long. It is time for a change. No doubt there are a few drawbacks on pure electric car right now, but we shouldn't ignore it.

Can't wait to see all the electric cars on the road.

Thanks for the post.

'Will

AdamB said...

A slightly better standard of spam than usual...

saifu03 said...

Classic Boris to be honest:
sounds a great idea at first (good headlines) - does not stand up to scrutiny;
allows him to use language from 1950s kids books (such as whizzy etc) appealing to his supporters (see everything, ever);
provides back door subsidies to richer people under pretence of equality (see CC charges);
copies wholesale ideas used by foreigners but as they are foreign, allows London to be "leading" (see velib)

It is kind of true though that it sounds good, London should lead electrical transport - but it should be electrical public transport.
Personally, my major problem with London's public transport at the moment is the rickshaw. I don't know how much it costs to ride one but it is ridiculous that buses carrying hundreds of people should be held up throughout London by people mincing about on the back of rickshaws. Rickshaws, in London, are not a proper type of public transport - they really strike me as a poncy show-off ride. Electrify them - some electric scooters would be good.

I put the above on the Guardian, afterwards, I read that about 5% of CO2 in London is from buses and 40-50% is from cars. With this being the case, this may be a better policy than I initially gave it credit for as making 10% of all cars drop emissions would be the same as affecting ALL buses. Even better to promote public transport though.

AdamB said...

Thanks for re-posting saifu03!

Anonymous said...

I wouldnt encourage car use in London - I've got one and hardly use it, except for shopping, cos of the traffic.

But, what if, with the help of all those installed power points, electric bikes were available that could glean enough charge in a few minutes for a short commute to work? Wouldnt need a special parking place for them and they would burn less than a car so presumably would charge quicker..


I'd gladly swap my CB500 for one if it could do up to 40MPH, cos thats all you need within the M25.. at my age pedaling 12 miles everyday or sitting on a bus for 2 hours is not appealing..

MB said...

Many of these concerns are unfounded. The City of London conducted no formal research into electric car use, and specifically whether there was any evidence that people bought and used electric cars instead of using public transport.

Their concerns appeared to be entirely based on perception rather than fact and I received written confirmation from council officials that no research was carried out to either confirm or disprove these perceptions.

The G-Wiz Owner's Club - with over 700 members - did carry out this research and offered its findings to the council. However, all offers of assistance were completely ignored by the council.

With over one thousand electric cars now in daily use in London, there is enough practical experience and knowledge of electric car use available for councils to see what happens in real life rather than try to make up excuses.

The G-Wiz Owner's Club remains willing and open to provide assistance to councils wishing to find out the truth about the use of electric cars in London - warts and all. This has been offered directly to councils in the past and to be fair, some of them have welcomed it with open arms. Others, however, prefer to stick with their own perceptions than risk finding out the truth.

saifu03 said...

Will the G-Wizz group give a good indication of general usage of electric cars. It is very much early adopter territory isn't it? It definitely CAN provide some indication but, for instance, using the views of British Film Institute members may not be indicative of what will happen at the multiplexes.