I have owned a car for more than 30 years now, and apart from an occasional company car I have typically bought one from AutoTrader or more recently Facebook Marketplace.
When I was first elected to the council in 2011, I took the plunge and bought a nearly new car from a dealership – finally paid off about seven years later.
That car has now done almost 200,000 miles and I am trying to keep it on the road, as I can’t face the idea of buying another petrol or diesel car and the cost of an Electric Vehicle (EV) – especially one that can transport a family of six – is eye watering.
The used EV market is limited and replacement battery costs are pretty expensive, so it is hard to know if it is a risk worth taking.
The fuel and road tax savings makes the investment in a home charger worthwhile, but range anxiety is the problem.
Early models could never cope with university trips and family visits to the other side of the country and there is no way we could repeat our European road trips to the Netherlands or Switzerland.
A new car would be lovely, and get me as far as 250 miles (enough for a meal stop). Enthusiasts tell me the savings are so great that the up front cost is worth it.
But the most I have ever paid for a car is £17,000 and with an EV costing double this how can I justify such an enormous purchase during a cost-of-living and energy crisis?
That is assuming I could even buy one with year-long waits some manufacturers have on their vehicles.
Then there’s the issue of lithium mining and the carbon footprint of new vehicles, whatever their fuel. Are EVs even the answer? Should we wait for solid-state batteries? Hydrogen? Or car share instead?
The government says it will stop the sale of petrol and diesel cars in 2030. That is just seven years away and with some manufacturers taking production away from the UK there is a risk the supply of new cars will become a problem.
Without proper investment in battery technology, charging infrastruture and research into reducing the environmental impact of all new cars the uptake won’t be high enough to meet this target.
Reaching Net Zero by 2050 has been partly predicated on this, and it makes you wonder whether the Conservative government really understands what needs to be done to actually meet the targets it has set.
The electric vehicle dilemma is similar to that of cycle lanes.You need the infrastructure first or people won’t change their behaviour, but if you put in the EV chargers (or bike lanes) people grumble that they are unused.
If everyone had electric cars and vans, we would need chargers on every street. Should we really be cluttering the streets with hook ups?
For those with driveways it is fairly clear the responsibility lies with the homeowner (or tenant), but for homes without off-street parking this is a far more complex problem.
Taking up valuable pavement space is inappropriate, but on-road charging needs some sort of device that will reduce parking spaces and could see vehicle owners pay more than those who can access domestic priced electric, which is inequitable.
So home charge device with channels in the pavement could be the solution – if people use them properly and they don’t cause a trip hazard, or impact on those with disabilities.
That’s before you consider the grid capacity issues that are seeing councils unable to add charge points to the network – another conundrum for councils to ponder. And what if the future isn’t lithium batteries and councils spend a fortune on that infrastructure? You can see the problem.
So what will I do? Well, the second car has gone – replaced with an electric moped for my husband. No road tax, low insurance and 20p charges via a 3-pin plug! Its range is just 30 miles but its only for round town and it’s reduced the strain on the family workhorse.
Next is an investment in an electric bike, so the car will only go out when there isn’t an option – long journeys, a full week’s shopping or when it’s full of children!
Hopefully my workhorse will last another year and although I feel guilty about the emissions I hope the government will act.
Liberal Democrats have been calling for VAT to be cut on electric vehicles and tax breaks to help make their manufacture more economical.
We need council support to fund charge points and a huge expansion of car clubs and car sharing as well as investment in low cost, reliable and frequent public transport so driving isn’t always the only option.
Doing the right thing for the planet is rarely straightforward, but when it involves spending more than the average annual salary it is not surprising people need to take their time to act.
While we ponder those major changes there are other ways we can and must change our lifestylest.
Liberal Democrat Prospective Parliamentary Candidate, Mid Dorset and North Poole