There were some interesting facts in your long read (The Lost Story of the Electric Car – and What It Tells Us about the Future of Transportation, August 3), but it’s also worth calling attention to commercial use. intensive use of electric vehicles during the period leading up to the 1970s. At school, I occasionally worked on Friday nights in a large bakery, where dozens of uniquely shaped vans used by patrolmen lined up around the walls of the depot, being recharged for their morning chores. The same would have been true in most cities.
At the university, my trunk was piled up at the end of the term in the porch to be picked up by a British Railways battery three-wheel tractor, with its accompanying trailer, to be delivered to the station, and picked up by a similar method to the other end. These vehicles were a familiar sight at a time when the rail carried more small goods than today. Milk floats were almost universally electric. In many places, it was electric trolleybuses, rather than buses, that originally replaced streetcars, until falling oil prices made diesel a cheaper fuel than electricity produced by the coal.
There may be no more bread deliveries and far fewer milk rounds, but they have been replaced on the roads by deliveries of food and other goods purchased online. This commercial sphere offers the opportunity for the conversion to electric of entire fleets which operate mainly locally and seems to be the obvious place of incentives to encourage the necessary change of stage in the use of the electric vehicle.
Allegra Stratton (the diesel car suits me better than the electric, the PM’s climate spokesperson said on August 2) might be right in that more charging points are needed for electric cars. It is also true that the number of charging stations is constantly increasing, that fast charging is more and more common and that the range of cars is now such that anxiety about range is no longer a problem. But surely the problem that continues to slow adoption is the fact that electric cars are so expensive.
I will be taking delivery of a mid-range electric car shortly. I’m fortunate enough to have a well-paying job but, despite everything, this car would have been out of reach without my employer’s payroll sacrifice scheme. So what hope is there for people without such support to switch to electric vehicles?
Burton on the Wolds, Leicestershire
I was interested in reading about Allegra Stratton’s reach anxiety and the “defense” that followed by electric car experts (Report, August 3). I got the feeling that the two of them didn’t get it: Stratton saying that having to stop the vehicle to charge it “will slow the journey”, and the response that the charging infrastructure is improving. As an electric car driver for six years, I have certainly suffered from range anxiety, but I have learned that what it takes is a change of mindset to think. that it doesn’t matter if most journeys take a little longer – why are we always in such a rush?
Iron Bridge, Shropshire
Four years ago my wife and I devised a strategy to achieve net zero on transportation by 2025. This included: scrapping our diesel car and buying a hybrid in the meantime, investing in solar panels with battery and buy an all-electric vehicle in 2025, when range and charging points will be more reliable. You would think our Cop26 spokesperson could handle something similar.