Electric cars, am I right? Fads, yeah? A misguided also-ran, to be viewed with all the derision usually reserved for the likes of Betamax and the Sinclair C5, yes? A threat to engulf the world in a cloud of smug, thankfully thwarted by the efforts of Clarkson et al, eternal champion of the 3mpg mid-life crisis machines.
Electric cars were always doomed to fail, weren't they? The world wasn't ready. They were out before they were even in.
Except, not at all. Electric cars are here to stay, and 2014 will be a landmark year for their production.2014 – The Year of Electric Cars
Global information company and research firm IHS have predicted that production of electric cars could increase by as much as 67% in 2014. This means that by this time next year, we'll be closer than ever before to considering electric cars as “the new normal”, as opposed to an experimental/irritating alternative.
This huge surge in the production of electric cars will be partly driven by the new Euro 6 emission standards, due to be introduced towards the end of the year. Couple this with the introduction of new models and falling prices, and the worldwide installed base of electric cars is projected to reach 1.1 million by the end of the year.
On top of this, the charging infrastructure for electric cars will continue to grow across the world. Meanwhile, affordable 40kWh batteries will soon become commonplace, capable of at least 150 miles motoring on a full charge. “Range anxiety” could soon become as outmoded a term as “The Millennium Bug”.
Electric cars remain, on the whole, more expensive than their diesel and petrol-powered counterparts, but in 2014 you might begin to notice a change. The price of lithium-ion batteries is falling thanks to fierce competition between manufacturers Panasonic and LG Chem, and the price of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf has already dropped by around $6,000 since 2012.
Of course, the mainstream embrace of electric cars won't in itself save the world. These cars still use energy, and until all our energy is drawn from renewable sources, electric cars cannot really be said to be totally emission-free.
There's also the manufacturing process. With all the shipping and raw materials used, it can hardly be described as green. Be that as it may, neither should these inconvenient truths be used to derail the entire green motoring debate (or to describe those who understand the importance of electric cars as “idiots”, Jeremy).
So, whilst 2014 will be a record year for electric cars, the battle is far from over. We still have a very long way to go, but things are definitely moving in the right direction.
Images from Wikimedia Commons.