Let’s tell Gov­ern­ment where to plug their elec­tric car plan

Bray People - - What's On Guide - COLM lam­bert

Once upon a Christ­mas, some 25 to 30 years ago, a young boy who grew up to have his bald head plas­tered on the top of a news­pa­per col­umn re­ceived a present from Santa of an elec­tric-pow­ered re­mote-con­trol car.

Oh, how de­lighted he was that De­cem­ber morn­ing as he plugged his new toy in to charge up, be­fore traips­ing around af­ter it in the sit­ting room and up and down the hall, steer­ing it around ob­sta­cles like wrap­ping pa­per and lit­tle broth­ers. The ‘beauty’ of it was that it didn’t need any bat­ter­ies that the all-see­ing and all-know­ing Santa al­ways seemed to for­get, and so weeks if not months of model motoring fun seemed as­sured - un­til the down­side of it be­came ob­vi­ous too.

Yup, you could charge it up all right, but it very quickly went flat. Give it about fif­teen min­utes, and in­stead of speed­ing like Lewis Hamil­ton, it crawled like an ould one in a Mi­cra. Five min­utes later, and all you could do was pre­tend you were in a car park. And so you had to give it an­other hour charg­ing up be­fore you could drive for a fur­ther fif­teen min­utes. The nov­elty quickly wore off, and the toy was despatched to the at­tic, along with the bro­ken Action Men and the jigsaws with the pieces miss­ing.

But now a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence awaits many of us each and ev­ery day, but for real this time, if the greens we have in gov­ern­ment get their way with their lat­est wacko plan. Ba­si­cally, they want 250,000 of us to be driv­ing elec­tric cars in just twelve year’s time - no mat­ter how crap they are.

And oh boy, are they crap - a fact that the woman they wheeled out as a sup­posed shin­ing ex­am­ple to us all didn’t even try to deny.

That woman was Gene Feigh­ery, a Green Party coun­cil­lor in Dun Laoghaire de­spite the fact that not a sin­gle per­son has ever, ever voted for her as she was merely co-opted onto the coun­cil af­ter her pre­de­ces­sor re­signed due to the work be­ing too much for her - why try get elected in the first place if you’re not up to the job?

Ms Feigh­ery has bought some­thing called a Mega City plug-in car (sounds like some- thing that skangers with red jumpers would shout about in a cheap TV ad), and told us how de­lighted she was that it even ’looks like a real car’.

It doesn’t go like one, though. Top speed is just 80 km/h, or 50 mph, so you’d be only slightly bet­ter off your­self than those ould ones in the Mi­cras. It goes even slower up­hill, she says. You only get about 80 kilo­me­ters (again, about 50 miles) out of a sin­gle charge, so if you’ve any sort of com­mute to work at all, you’ll have to pull in on your way home to change the bat­ter­ies. Oh, and you’d bet­ter wrap up well while driv­ing, be­cause ac­cord­ing to Ms Feigh­ery, the heater doesn’t work very well. Maybe the dealers will throw in a free scarf and pair of gloves to try get round that one.

But even if the cold doesn’t bother you, and even if you’re a city dweller so things like the lim­ited speed and range aren’t much of a hand­i­cap, ques­tions still re­main - the big­gest one be­ing where or how are you sup­posed to plug the damn things in?

At home, by drap­ing an ex­ten­sion ca­ble out your sit­ting room win­dow? What if you live in an apart­ment, with an un­der­gound park­ing space? Have you to go looking for a 100-me­tre ca­ble reel to feed power from your third floor home to your Mega City car in the base­ment? And how is all this ex­tra elec­tric­ity go­ing to be gen­er­ated any­way? Don’t we still de­pend on fos­sil fu­els in most of our gen­er­at­ing sta­tions, so is the whole plan not just a lit­tle counter-pro­duc­tive?

Still, if it were just an­other wacko pie-inthe-sky plan, it wouldn’t be so bad as we could just laugh it off and wait for it to be for­got­ten about. But €1 mil­lion has al­ready been given to some crowd called Sus­tain­able En­ergy Ire­land for re­search into how to get the plan the work. A task force has also been set up, prob­a­bly not leav­ing much change out of an­other mil­lion by the time they’re fin­ished. And that’s all on top of an­other plan re­cently an­nounced to make up to €400,000 avail­able in tax al­lowances for peo­ple who want to buy a bike to com­mute to work, in­stead of driv­ing.

Put all that to­gether, and you’ve got al­most €2.5 mil­lion to be flit­tered through. This from a Gov­ern­ment that couldn’t af­ford €10 mil­lion for the cer­vi­cal can­cer vac­cine for young girls. Let’s tell them where to plug in their elec­tric car plan, and where the money would be bet­ter spent

in­stead.

You’ll get about half-way home in your elec­tric car be­fore hav­ing to charge it up again. Just try not to go up too many hills on the way.

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