Once again Top Gear demonstrates that they are to serious motoring media what Mugabi was to Human Rights, with their shameful review of two electric cars.
On the episode aired on Sunday 31 July 2011 on BBC2 they test drove t,two of the new fully electric vehicles (EV’s), the Nissan Leaf and the Peugeot I-on. These cars are specifically designed for city motoring as they are congestion charge free and are able to find free parking in many London boroughs. Did these two points get mentioned? Not a bit of it, instead Jeremy Clarkson bemoaned the low range of the cars, whined about the lack of recharging points and sniggered like a puerile school boy about how the cars would only be a status symbol for the ‘green brigade.
Furthermore, in addition to parking in disabled bays (see : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/top-gear/8674888/Top-Gear-criticised-for-parking-in-disability-bay.html) they compared the electric car generation to dodgem cars at a fun fair, suggesting that the UK roads needed to have electric wires above them for these cars to work fully. Sadly missing most of the scientific developments of the twentieth (yes 1900 onwards) century from Tesla amongst others.
This sort of (and I use the term incredibly loosely) journalism is an insult to the first iteration of fully electric vehicles and consideration should have been given to the purpose of the cars (trying to go on a long journey is like asking a motorcyclist to carry a dining room table on the back of his bike – completely inappropriate) and that they are in development. They mentioned that the price of the vehicles are considerably higher than the cost of a petrol equivalent, but neglected to mention the lower servicing costs (far less moving parts) and that the cost per mile for ‘fuel’ is significantly cheaper.
Their only mention of fuel price was to compare filling up the most economic small petrol car and comparing it to re-charging the electric cars fully at the most expensive time of the day – hardly a fair comparison when most people will either charge the car at overnight rates, will use the free charge points at many supermarkets or could even be able to re-charge for free at home or the office if solar panels have been fitted to the buildings. Hardly a considered and fair review.
They did not take into account at all that these are a brand new style of technology, consider if you will the humble mobile telephone. The original 1980’s phones were huge, cumbersome, had limited range, the batteries went flat incredibly swiftly and they were highly expensive. Now consider the more recent mobile telephones, which are small, light, inexpensive, can last for days, can access the Internet all around the Country, have clear digital sound and can be used as satellite navigation devices, camera’s and HD digital camcorders (oh, and mine is also a torch!). If the journalists in the 1980’s had reacted in the same way as Clarkson and his cronies then we would still be looking for phone boxes and wondering why the Internet had never appeared, why everything takes so long to achieve and why our planet has run out of raw materials.
I wrote an article explaining that I felt that electric cars were only suitable for a very small number of motorists in their current form, but with the correct backing then they are the way forward. I hope that you take Top Gear as seriously as most the people I know, as a joke TV program that is meant to amuse rather than inform, but if you must take it seriously, then please look into the true pro’s and con’s of EV’s for yourself.
I would appreciate any comments that you have on how EV’s can be enhanced and driving can be safer, cleaner and more enjoyable for all.