I admit to being a Petro head. Petrol is in my DNA, probably. I have owned and driven V12 Jaguars, Aston Martins, V8 BMWs, big Mercedes (one of which was sadly a diesel) and big V8 Audis and a Mini or two. My grandfather was a Bugatti racing driver in the 1930s so I guess there is some heritage there.
I also filmed petrol-powered power boat racing on the Humber Estuary – which led to a crash during a shoot, damaging my back in perpetuity – , a 24-hour Le Mans race and an aircraft formation flight of four Airbus planes, which was hardly carbon-free, but that was in the mid-1990s when “greenness” was not much of an issue. And I couldn’t have cared less apart from the fuel bills.
We currently have an ULEZ-exempt car (with an average of 25 mpg according to its dashboard computer) so aren’t we lucky? It includes local driving and a 1,200-mile round trip to our son and daughter and three grandchildren (in Lille and near Grenoble, France three or four times a year) so relatively “clean” at about 9,000 miles a year.
To buy or not to buy an electric car?
Currently, I have no intention or inclination to buy an electric vehicle, for the following reasons:
- It makes no noise apart from tyre or other sounds to alert pedestrians with their dogs or anyone else trying to cross a street without audible notice of an approaching vehicle; they could be unaware of an approaching virtually silent vehicle.
- I do not know how much charge it requires for an intended journey while I know very well how my good old petrol gauge measures mileage.
- Cost: Richard who is a close neighbour and his experience:
“My wife (based near Hampton Court) looks after rented properties for her clients, many of them in West London, some in Chiswick and in Fulham. So, we decided to buy an electric BMW I4 which is ULEZ exempt, to reduce her daily expenses to visit her clients. The car cost about 50% more than the petrol equivalent.”
And now it’s necessary for Richard to install a power point to charge the car. About £250 for the kit according to Screwfix, plus labour, maybe £200 or so.
- Weight: It also weighs about 30% more than an equivalent petrol car, so the power-to-weight ratio is somewhat reduced. Its bulk in a car park is somewhat larger than most cars and a worry to structural surveyors who are concerned about massively increased car weight in multistorey car parks, which aren’t designed for big, heavy cars…
- Recharging: Local retail charging points are not easily accessible (only three at our local Tesco store) and there are long queues, and often the charging points are out of order, so a home-based charger is crucial.
ULEZ now extended
The Mayor of London (whose official transport is a 2.5 tonne £300,000 armoured Range Rover) has extended the ULEZ car zone to the limits of the North and South Circular roads.
This means anyone straying in to meet a friend or client in Greater London from the Home Counties will have to pay £15.00 each time, every day, unless the person they are visiting can register their visitor on-line (assuming they have broadband or internet access) before any arrival. So, my friends in Putney, Fulham, Hammersmith, Kensington, or Notting Hill Gate will not easily be visited unless we’re prepared to shell out £15 quid or so each time and goodness knows what will happen if we make a U-turn or three-point turn within the “zone”.
Transport for London (TfL) lists various exemptions to the ULEZ charges:
If you have an old car that is registered as “historic” (ie registered pre 1982 and listed as “historic” – check your registration number with DVLA (and, if it’s not, then apply to DVLA to get it registered). If not, you will be liable to an ULEZ charge.
London-registered taxis are exempt, but other taxis older than 12 years are not
Blue-badge holders are exempt as are vehicles for hire to carry disabled passengers
Mini-buses used for community purposes are exempt
Scrappage of old vehicles
The government of London has set up a fund of £110m to give grants to those who scrap their old polluting vehicles.
“Following the success of our last scrappage scheme, which saw the removal of more than 15,000 polluting vehicles from London’s roads, our new scrappage scheme will support Londoners on certain low income or disability benefits, and eligible micro businesses (up to 10 employees), sole traders and charities with a registered address in London. Only eligible applicants with vehicles that do not meet the ULEZ emissions standard will qualify for our new scrappage scheme.”TfL’s website
So not everyone in the new ULEZ area will qualify. Tough luck on the many diesel car-owners who bought their vehicle before 2015 (when the Euro 6 standard for emissions came in), when authorities were still assuring the public that diesel was better for the environment than petrol.
So tough luck, unless you unless you are a cyclist, an ardent user of public transport, or easily able to finance your new ULEZ-exempt EV car. This petrolhead thinks there are still unanswered questions around charging availability, the weight and noiselessness of EV cars, and the environmental cost of scrappage.