The RAC is backing a major new national campaign to speed up the switch to electric cars by removing many of the barriers currently facing drivers. But is the RAC really backing the greenest transport option here, or just a fashionable solution to Britain’s congested roads?
FairCharge, which has been set up to ensure the environmental, economic and social benefits of the electric car revolution are properly harnessed, will push key EV issues to the forefront of the political agenda such as the cost, availability and speed of charging as well as battery range and the affordability of switching to an electric car.
The first focus will be tackling the current illogical VAT policy where EV owners who can’t charge at home pay four times more tax for their electricity from public on-street networks. Currently, VAT on domestic electricity is charged at 5% whereas those using public charge points unfairly have to pay 20% VAT. FairCharge and the RAC believe this is an unnecessary barrier to switching to an electric car for the 38% of people who aren’t able to charge an EV at home as they would have no choice but to rely on the public charging network.
FairCharge will also campaign to ensure electricity at public charge points is priced fairly. This will help those needing to recharge on longer journeys and will avoid further penalising those who don’t have access to home charging. There will also be scrutiny of charging providers’ domestic and public charging tariffs, without which there’s a risk that charging an EV on some public networks could become as expensive as filling up with petrol or diesel, undermining the speed of drivers switching to zero-emission vehicles.
VARIABLE GREEN POWER AND A SLAVERY SUPPLY CHAIN
That’s all good of course, but that electricity has to come from somewhere, regardless of the VAT element. Last year two coal fired power stations had to be kick-started to provide power during a calm spell when turbines did not spin their blades. Blades that take decades to decompose by the way and cannot be easily recycled without consuming vast amounts of water, heat and electricity once again.
Then there’s the battery packs in EVs. Surely everyone knows by now that cobalt and lithium is mined by people – and children – working in semi feudal conditions? Most car battery packs have a lifespan between 7-10 years, what happens to the millions of old batteries then? The answer is that a labour intensive and resource hungry process is required to break down the cells and extract the various precious metals inside battery packs. While all this is going on, you have to cope with a risk of fire or small explosion – it’s hazardous stuff. Then they have to go to a battery plant and get incorporated into new battery units.
IE sees huge potential in hydrogen power for cars and vans – plus lorries too, which also allows manufacturers to effectively refubish many existing vehicles. That adds up to a massive saving in the planet’s resouirces because producing every new vehicle costs thousands of tons of carbon, plus the mining of resources and creation of new synthetic materials for body parts, electrical components etc.
If motoring organisations like the RAC cannot back the idea that people on lower incomes have the right to afford to travel in their existing ICE cars, rather than spend 30K-80K on a slave produced EV, then they are no longer motoring organisations. They are working for the battery lobby.