Popping out for a spin


Tesla Roadster: electric cars can be sexy too

Driving this morning, enjoying the feel of the Volvo’s easy dealing with the deep puddles and burst river banks of the Somerset countryside, I stumbled upon a debate on the noble and righteous Today programme. Presenter John Humphreys (and a gathered couple of pundits whose name I didn’t catch), were engaged in a debate around cars, fuel costs, the environment, and whether or not we had ‘fallen out of love’ with cars and driving.

The discussion centred around how expensive running a car is these days, how the use of fossil fuels is undermining the environment and is in any case doomed to terminal decline. There were comments about gridlocked motorways, emissions regulations and declining mileage made in company cars – and even a note that men in their twenties no longer necessarily aspired to car ownership as extensively as a few decades ago. Humphreys ended the conversation with an amazingly ill-infomed comment about how, across the demographic spread of the nation “people seldom simply ‘pop out for a spin’ for pure pleasure, any more”.

How wrong could someone be?

What was absolutely absent in the debate was anyone to mention the simple beauty of the mechanical conception that is the motor car – or how joyful it is – and still eternally appealing to human beings, to be able to cover a couple of hundred miles in a couple of hours, with complete freedom, in relative safety and comfort.

The chatter about the decline of the motorcar is simply not borne out in the facts: the motorways are gridlocked because people LOVE using their cars (and trains are too expensive). Fuel costs are rising as much because of a rise in DEMAND rather than just a decline in supply.

We’re not apologists for the delusional deniers of climate change – far from it. We simply believe that as long as their are aspirational, dynamic human beings there will be a huge demand for vehicles – and these vehicles may well be motored by fuel cells, the national grid, hydrogen or internal combustion – or perhaps a combination of everything.

But we predict that the desire for movement movement movement that has characterised humanity for the last few hundred years will not wane, simply because the fuel becomes too expensive. We’ll just find new ways to motor.

In fact we think electric cars are beautiful – and that in a few years most of you who read this will own one. In fact: the power of the romance of the internal combustion engine will mean that your petrol driven car or motorcycle will be that special something you will take out for a Sunday spin: and your hybrid/electric/plug-in will be the workhouse – that you’ll continue to enjoy.

One day, too, these sustainable workhorses will become sexy in themselves.

End of monday morning rant. Discuss.