Are electric cars the future?

For the past month or so I’ve been driving the all-electric Peugeot iOn, an experience that has completely changed my outlook on electric cars forever.

At the end of last week I swapped to a new Peugeot RCZ diesel and of course, the first thing I had to do was go to a petrol station and top it up with diesel.

It occurred to me this was something I had not done for weeks, I actually couldn’t remember the last time I’d even entered a petrol station forecourt and boy I did not miss it.

I did not miss queuing up after work, jostling for the pump on the correct side of the vehicle. The unpleasantness of opening the fuel cover to release the strong smell of diesel vapours, for it to only get more intense as soon as you pick up the pump handle. Now your hands are covered in the oily mess too.

The queue of impatient drivers waiting behind you snaps you back to reality. Now you’re anxiously waiting for the furious noise of the pump to kick in as the number recognition system (or “cashier”) approves your vehicle. It’s finally time to pull the lever and “fill ‘er up”.

It’s not over yet though. God forbid you go over your set mark of £20 that you arbitrarily set yourself for reasons you can’t explain, perhaps it’s written in the highway code; you drive on the left and this is the amount you put in your car. None of that matters though now, right now it’s imperative that you do not exceed that amount, as if it makes a difference. Of course you go over, by a penny. You were aiming for £25 right?

If you’ve not already had the rigmarole of the “pay at pump”, inserting your card, enter pin, selecting that you want your points, inserting your points card, removing your points card, selecting that yes you did definitely want the points, inserting the points card again, only to just give up and take the receipt which you’ll never take in store and claim the points anyway. If you’ve not had that pleasure, it’s now time to enter the shop.

There’s always at least three people in front of you, which gives you plenty of time to scope out the confectionery that you wouldn’t ordinarily buy, I mean you’re on your way home, you know you’ll only spoil your dinner (right mum?). It’s too late, you’ve already committed now, it’s just down to choice. Do you want a Kit Kat chunky or a Boost? It’s “3 for £2”, better get both, and a Double Decker because you’ve not had one for years. You grab them like they’re going out of fashion because you’re next in line.

You’ve been so distracted by the pretty colours of “sugar and spice and all things nice” that now you’re desperately trying to remember what pump number you are. The cashier is staring at you blankly, as if to say; you had one job, just remembering your pump number and you couldn’t even do that! Idiot.

“Twenty five pounds and one penny?”

The cashier asks inquisitively.

“Yes, that’s the one.”

You say hesitantly as you were sure you’d not gone a penny over.

“That’s ‘twenty seven pounds and one penny’ altogether, card?”

Defeated, you agree to the payment. If only you’d gone for £18 in the first place, then this horrible mess could have been avoided! You begin to wonder if you’re developing OCD.

By the time you leave the shop, the patience of the person waiting behind you at the pump has worn thin. You can just feel those burning eyes staring at you as they judge your chocolate purchases. Fatty. You give the obligatory apologetic wave as you fumble with your keys.

You’re in, ready to go, and so begin to pull away, narrowly missing a young lad with no time for nonsense and a death wish as he darts across the forecourt into the safe harbour of the shop, but never mind that, there’s now another tussle to leave. I don’t know why you’re surprised though.

What a palava! This is what I do not miss.

Sure you have to plug in the Peugeot iOn every single day without fail to ensure you get the 60 (93 quoted) miles range it states when you power up but when you’re only travelling to and from work, a total of 6 miles and perhaps a mile to the supermarket on the odd occasion, the range hardly becomes a factor.

Lest we forget that this is still early days for Peugeot. The next generation of electric cars that are already available will do well in excess of 300 miles on a single charge and these are proper sports cars, with a price tag to match.

The Peugeot iOn is light and energy efficient, but at a cost that it’s become a bit of a running gag in some circles, sometimes akin, at best to a golf buggy. Of course, it is more substantial than a golf buggy with air conditioning, automatic gearbox and five doors that feature electric windows. However, I’m not sure you’d fit your golf clubs in.

It’s small size is ideal for city driving and it’s nippy too. You can get up to 30 miles per hour within a few seconds, which I think surprises some bystanders as you dart passed them with nothing but a “woosh” sound.

That’s not all though. It also takes motorway driving in its stride. Although it can keep up with the majority of law abiding citizens, if you want to stay in the “eco” zone, to conserve your range, you might find yourself around 65 mph. You may think that you would want to go faster, but getting the machine to give you more miles is now the aim of the game.

All in all, the Peugeot iOn is a great little car for getting from A to B, so long as you’re not expecting a world of luxury. It doesn’t however do the desirable C on weekends, which was ultimately the reason why I wanted to give it up.

Although driving the new Peugeot RCZ will go some way to fixing my now damaged street-cred caused by the Peugeot iOn, I must admit that I will miss its quirks almost as much as I will miss not having to go to the petrol station.

So, are all-electric cars the future?

This pundit says most definitely yes. Sorry Clarkson.

Sure we might not be quite there just yet, but it’s a paradigm shift that’s going to happen. We won’t refill our cars at refueling stations when they are low, no, instead, much like your mobile phone you’ll simply make it a habit to charge it each time you park up.

Try as you might to disagree and fight for what you know, it will be in vain as the future generations will simply accept it as a given, probably blissfully unaware of the concept of a petrol station, gone and forgotten joining the ranks of floppy disks and the Sony Walkman in history books, or “Wikipedia” as they’ve now manifested themselves.

Are you ready to live the electric dream?