Sunday, 18 April 2010

Irish to be laboratory bunnies for electric cars

Forget about the Germans, who claim to have invented the car. The Americans too, who say something similar. Disregard the French, the British and the Italians, all with their impeccable motoring heritage. Then there’s the Japanese, with their cutting-edge automotive technology. They are all in the ha’penny place in comparison to Ireland.

You see, Irish governments have always been highly innovative when it comes to the subject of motoring. Or, more accurately, they have always been highly innovative when it comes to devising ways of taxing Irish motorists, who pay far more to buy, run, tax and insure their cars than most other Europeans. But that’s where the Irish expertise on motoring ends.

Funny then, that energy minister Eamon Ryan thinks that we - ahead of the automotive manufacturing nations that actually make the vehicles - are somehow qualified to blaze a trail in electric car technology. You see, it looks like we are all to be volunteered as laboratory bunnies, with Ireland becoming a “testing ground” for the electric car (along with that other famous motoring nation, Portugal). “Bunnies” is the operative term, of course, given that we are talking about motor cars propelled by Duracells.

Of course the airy notion is that all our electric cars – and Ryan envisages 10% of them will occupy road space by 2020 - will eventually run on wind energy. In the meantime, however, they will work on electricity generated from fossil fuels – or imported from nuclear power stations in Britain. So they are as green as a peat bog.

The fact is, we are very lucky that electric cars are so crap, because if everyone went out and bought one, then plugged it into the mains, the national grid and the ESB would go up in a big puff of acrid, electric smoke quicker than you could say “AAA”. But that does not stop our tin-pot politicians from letting on that we are world leaders in a technology that’s about as high-tech as the old Scalextrix set I had as a kid.

Some manufacturers have been working on electric cars for years, but even so, most of them only have a claimed range of about 160 kilometres. Most have to be left plugged in overnight to achieve full charge from the mains – and try doing that if you live in an apartment in town – and most will take about half-an-hour to achieve 80% charge from the so-called “fast” chargers being rolled out… and that’s assuming any of the chargers are unoccupied and available. The truth is, if you tried to go any distance in an electric car, your nerves would be in absolute tatters by the time you arrived at your destination…. assuming you did.

Today’s Sunday Times claims that Richard Tol, research professor at the ERSI, believes that Ryan is “taking too much of a risk by investing so early in an “infant” technology”, pointing out that “other alternative fuel options, such as hydrogen, are also in development and that it could be 15 years before the winner emerges”.

I’ll hold off until then thanks, and not even a Tesla Roadster with a 0-60 time of 3.7 seconds would tempt me into its sterile embrace. What’s the point of that if you are going to conk out and be stranded a few miles down the road? In the meantime, I think leccy cars are best left to those who want to feel smug, and have something to talk about at cocktail parties.

And Eamon Ryan, of course.

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Anonymous said...

hi there MR GM naturally the oirish will lead the way in this electric car effort as always, havent they brought us avation, telecoms, space travel,electricity, potatoe chips,and NAMA shure wasnt the wheel invented by an oirish munk in 1989 on craggy island no wonder the world looks on astonished and envious as the oirish work the world scene and cleanup all around them MR EAMONN RYAN should be put in the same hall of fame as all the other SEANEEN masters of the universe before he borrows money for this madhatters bandwagon wonderfull for him to be so removed from the real world WHAT AGREAT LITTLE NATION CHEERS BH

PonyBoy said...

Ha Ha - "The Bunny Carr" - I kill me!!!

The Gombeen Man said...

@ BH. The rest of the world can but marvel at us!

@ Ponyboy. "Stop the lights!"

Ella said...

HI GM, I won't be rushing out anytime soon to change my Subaru for a battery powered motor. Did you know that of the 3500 charge points around the country only 30 of them will be fast charge (80% charge in 30 mins)? It could, potentially take hours to charge your battery whilst on the road. To charge a car fully at home will take 8 hours. Green and efficient my arse.

Anna said...

It’s true Ireland in Not ready for electric cars…but interestingly the Dublin bike scheme is a success:
Did you know that that scheme is in a no of cities-and the one with heaviest use of all the free bikes is Dublin? I’m not skilful enough to cycle here (you really need to be very savvy with very heavy and Often dangerous drivers) but each ordinary pushbike in the Dublin bike scheme is used 9 times a day?
Evidently these brave cyclists find this a way to beat the very heavy traffic: Dublin would be Just Transformed if Just a few underground train lines went thru - I never see such heavy snarled – up traffic on the streets of New York or London . Well at least 1 partly underground train route is being dug out at the moment….one thing the idiot Government Did get started before we went bust.

The Gombeen Man said...

@ Ella. No I'd hold on to my scooby for the mo' if I were you. I'm hoping they develop hyrogen technology, so we don't all have to go in those soulless electric things. A standard engine can be converted to run on hydrogen, but it's the current cost (monetary and carbon-wise) of producing it that's the problem.

@ Anna. I'll have to hold up my hands there, right enough. I thought all those bikes would be languishing at the bottom of the Liffey by now, so it is a pleasant surprise. And true, good public transport is the key.

Anonymous said...

What a kip. What a completely genuine sump.

Could you imagine standing around waiting for this thing to charge up? I recall him saying, sure you can stop off and have a cup of coffee. HELLLLOOOO??? If there was anywhere to stop off. Mr Ryan obviously doesnt know Ireland STILL has a 3rd world road network - with 1st world tax expectations! This scheme is INSANE.

Very very Irish this. Same analogy; I remember working for a firm here years ago that spent a few hundred thousand on a complete computer upgrade, replacing the work happily done previously manually. Only to find months down the line that it was a complete disaster and an utter waste of money. Serious money.

Funny how this nut scheme was given to the media after the campaign to "stop off and have a cup of coffee to counter tiredness" - call me cynical.

ALSO I thought HYDROGEN was the next big thing. It makes a hell of a lot more sense than driving around in a car fueled by a wind farm in ballygosomewhere?


The Gombeen Man said...

Yes, D. You'd be a long time sitting over a coffee alright. If you could get one.

Remember our last foray into electric-something-or-other? Cullen's leccy voting scheme...

Anonymous said...

Lol, GM and they say the country has no money now?


Anna said...

A survey done several times over the last 10 yrs showed that an average journey across Dublin took Almost the longest time of any city surveyed- and the survey covered a lot of major cities & cites in the developed world.
The Only other city where the traffic moved more slowly was …Calcutta- because the majority of commercial./ business traffic in Calcutta is moved on foot/ people powered rickshaw/ donkey.(How DOES Ireland Always end up getting into these select little clubs?)
Maybe need more Rick O’Shaws. I do see Rick O’Shaws in tourist places, Stephen’s Green, Grafton st, powered by desperate students. (Stephen’s Green also has horse drawn tourist carriages )
I gather the rickshaw idea was imported from USA tourist locations such as the boardwalks of a few cities.
Yes it seems the Dublin bikes took off, as people found they could get through the traffic quicker on them. I worried about these defenceless little bikes when they were introduced, but Only One has been stolen- it seems they satisfy a need. Reality is Dublin with it’s centuries old narrow streets and (quite large) pop. of approx 1.5 million just Isn’t ready for Motorised vehicles, whether diesel, petrol, or battery on our snarled up streets: not unless there are properly designed 1 ways systems to help traffic flow and underground trains are introduced.
Meantime lets go backwards to go forward: Lets move large nos’s of people on free rickshaws and Horse drawn carriages ! it might improve the capital’s journey times, so we get in the same journey comparison bracket as other EU cities.

SaS said...

Sure, couldn't we pull into all those services stations on our motorways to top up our electric charge...oh, right

Opeldealers said...

Hi all,

we are very lucky that electric cars are so crap and we now able to take ride with electric cars.