I had mixed feelings as I walked into the vast exhibition hall on Avenue Joan Carles 1 in Barcelona. This is the home of the 27th Electric Vehicle Symposium that takes place in different locations every 18 months or so. Last time it was huge and in Los Angeles, the next one is in South Korea and if it’s really been going 27 years, then that just shows how slowly things have progressed.
However, I predict a bit of a hockey stick in the graph, things are now moving very fast.
The mixed feelings I experienced were maybe as a result of attending too many events like it. Trade fairs, exhibitions, electric car demonstration days, endless rows of stands occupied by slightly tired looking sales teams all hopeful that finally this sector of the manufacturing world would really take off.
However, what is different about this event is the general mood and sense of purpose that’s floating around.
It’s certainly no longer a bizarre collection of start-ups and innovative garden shed companies showing off in wheel motors for slightly eccentric 3 wheel electric mobility units, although there is a bit of that knocking about.
The exhibition covers everything to do with electric cars, taxis, bikes, motorbikes trucks, busses, luxury hybrid yachts and supercars, but also charging units, battery technology, infrastructure systems, energy capture and storage units.
Lots a big, multi national companies are represented, Renault, Porsche, BMW, Nissan from car companies but also Qualcomm and their wireless charging technology, Brammo motorcycles from the USA, local and state governments, lots of them, politicians of every hue, transport ministers eagerly pawing at information leaflets.
Basically proper people with proper jobs who make decisions. So what the hell am I doing here?
Well I’m attending the event to give a talk about electric vehicle use and chair the closing panel discussion. It’s fascinating for an electric vehicle nerd like me, I would imagine for the average sane person it would hold less of a thrill.
What is clear though is the momentum behind this rapidly emerging technology. I no longer feel like a lonely fool blowing a worn out one-note trumpet, ‘parp parp parp, electric cars parp parp parp, they’re not as bad as Clarkson tells you, parp parp parp.’
It’s a sad and tuneless song and I’m knackered from playing it.
I don’t have to any more, the tide has turned, every country from Slovenia to Norway to France to even the UK, every state from Oregon to Massachusetts is obsessed, yes, I’m talking crazy keen to stimulate and support the mass adoption of the electric vehicle.
Not only that, but everyone seems acutely aware of the resistance from the general population, the diminishing but still very large mass perception that ‘electric cars are just not ready yet.’
So for those of you, the majority I’d say, who think the PR created myth of ‘range anxiety’ is a big problem, just check out this one easy to comprehend innovative product.
The Renault Zoe, 100% electric car with a realistic range of between 85 and 95 miles on a charge.
Perfectly adequate for 90% of all the car journeys we do.
But you want to ‘drive to Scotland’ or ‘drive to the south of France on holiday.’
So you pack your bags, hop in the car, drive down to the local ‘EP Tender’ hire shop, hire your trailer and set off. You can now drive an electric car non stop for 500 kilometres.
If there’s nowhere to charge, it doesn’t matter. Buy a couple of litres of fossil fuel and carry on.
The trailer contains a small 2 cylinder petrol engine that runs a turbine that creates enough power to keep the car going for days.
You can adjust it so that when you reach your end destination, you still have a full battery for pootling about without the trailer. When the holiday is over or the long trip complete, return the trailer. It's a single EV solution for every journey.
I think it’s all rather clever and thankfully Renault are keen too. I can’t wait to go to France and have a go, it’s a French company that makes the EP Tender by the way. Bloody clever stuff.
I won’t go on about the inductive charging systems they’re fitting into roads which charge electric cars as you drive along, or the myriad of car clubs, car sharing schemes and brilliant solar powered car chargers I’ve seen. I’ll save that for another day.