Martin Kirby Column; When Push Comes To Shove and On Guard
CHARGING TO THE RESCUE
With much fanfare and good PR for Dale Vince and his company, Ecotricity, Forest Green Rovers football club took delivery of a fleet of Nissan Leaf electric cars last week.
Now I'm not about to have a dig at electric cars because I actually like them. I've driven one and in general use, I couldn't fault it. The biggest problem with any electric vehicle is, unless you only want to potter around town, they are totally impractical, but more on that later.
Sadly one of the club's Leafs broke down after only a couple of days and the incident started me wondering what actually happens when an electric car grinds to a halt. After all, you can't 'jump start' it.
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So I contacted the AA and asked how their patrols deal with the problem of a dead Leaf. (I should point out that other breakdown organisations are probably just as adept, but the AA was first to reply).
Firstly, the man in the van is fully trained to work on electric and hybrid vehicles and I'm told that 'Most of the common breakdowns are no different to a conventional vehicle but there are important differences, for example, how to jack them up if the battery is set in the underside'. The AA is also testing a portable fast charger that would give drivers the equivalent of a 'gallon of fuel' to get them to the closest recharging point.
I was told by the AA's technical team that; "The Nissan Leaf is a very reliable vehicle and so therefore we would assume it has run out of charge. The vehicle will require recovery to a place where it can be charged. The drive wheels must be off the road so the minimum will be a front lift. Of course the vehicle can be full lifted on a flatbed truck if required".
Which brings me back to practicality. Even with the 'gallon of fuel equivalent', the car would still need to visit a charging point, which means it's occupants going nowhere for at least 30 minutes on a fast charge. The Government has promised to install 8,000 charging points for battery powered cars around the UK, but if as many people convert to electric as the Government would like, drivers in the queues at charging stations are going to be in for a long wait. Let's say a car can be 80% charged in 30 minutes. If you are third in the queue, you'll be sitting around for an hour before you can even plug in – a lot longer than the average wait at a petrol station! The money being used to build charging stations would be better spent on developing batteries that extend the car's range.
Finally, we are constantly reminded of how cheap to run electric cars are, compared to conventional ones. If we all convert to electric cars, what do you think will happen to the cost of electricity? I'll give you a clue – it's the opposite of down.
SOME TALK OF ALEXANDER…….
We are justly proud of The Gloucestershire Regiment, which dates back to 1694, but I've discovered that there are many veterans of an earlier regiment living in the county.
The Grenadier Guards have their roots in 1658 and the Chairman of The Grenadier Guards Association Gloucestershire Branch, Peter Jones, tells me his branch is 100 years old this year. To help celebrate, they have secured the attendance of the Regimental Band at Lydney Town Hall on Friday 19th April for a concert. The band of the Grenadier Guards is acknowledged to be one of the finest military bands in the world and helps to put the 'great' back in Britain.
Anyone interested in joining The Grenadier Guards Association should call 01594 530154 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Membership is open to all serving and non-serving Grenadiers, and anyone who has served in any of Her Majesty's Armed Forces can apply to join. Here's to the next 100 years!