Car manufacturers promise a big future for alternative-fuelled vehicles and produce concept designs with alarming regularity, but judging by the number actually on the road, you could be forgiven for thinking that battery-powered transport will never amount to more than the city cars sold that have found a niche market in London.
The electric car-manufacturer Tesla has recently delivered the first 250 of its Roadster sports cars, but progress towards a mass-market electric vehicle that matches the performance of a petrol-driven equivalent is agonisingly slow.
One man who is doing his utmost to champion the cause is John Wayland, an American engineer who has spent the last 15 years quietly developing a street-legal electric car that now regularly outpaces petrol-powered sports cars on the race track.
|Radical-looking electric cars|
Increases in environmental awareness and the cost of fuel have not altered the fact that the appearance of a car is still a huge influence on its popularity – a fact that has not helped electric cars, which are about function first and foremost. A radical-looking car like the Aptera (pictured right), which goes into production this year will do much to change the image of electric cars for the better.
A spokesperson for the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) said: “Electric cars like ‘White Zombie’ and the Aptera capture the imagination and that is half the battle when promoting alternative-fuelled vehicles.”
Electric cars: What’s good, what’s not so good
|Electric cars: What’s good||what’s not so good|
|In environmental terms, probably the best car option around especially if the electricity it uses comes from renewable sources||Generally low top speed (although electric cars can have surprisingly quick acceleration, so they can keep up with city traffic without any difficulty)|
|Zero emissions from the car itself makes it a saint in the city||Limited range (until now) and lengthy recharging times means they are not suitable for long journeys|
|Extremely quiet||The batteries cause pollution problems when the time comes to dispose of them|
|Exempt from the London Congestion Charge, no road tax and only pennies per mile to run||Expensive to buy|