Electric cars: the good, the bad and the costly | Letters

Green number plates to encourage the take-up of electric cars are welcomed by Stephen Smith, but Rachel White doubts whether electric vehicles are the answer. Plus letters from Dr Howard Mason and Fiona Howarth

In response to the latest research from King’s College London that an increase in air pollution in cities is increasing heart attacks and strokes, the government must announce a national emergency within the UK and introduce radical measures.

The shocking research is the latest in a long line of studies to show the devastating damage of poor air quality – some showing that an average of 100 people die every day.

Results from the ultra-low emission zone (ULEZ) in London have just been announced, showing that toxic gas emitted by diesel engines has been cut by a third – a significant improvement for the millions of people breathing London’s air. Radical measures such as ULEZ are vital and more must be done to incentivise low emission alternatives. The government must act in the interests and health of its people and implement higher taxes for gas-guzzling vehicles, increases in education and subsidies for electric vehicles, and invest in safer cycle routes around major cities. We have to act now to avoid sleepwalking further into a health catastrophe.
Fiona Howarth
CEO, Octopus Electric Vehicles, London

• The government should be applauded for its plan to issue green number plates to encourage electric car ownership (Report, 22 October).

Your article also indicates that the government might mandate charging points for all new houses that have parking spaces. There is another potential government intervention – a communication standard for electric cars – that would enable home charging for all electric car owners whether or not they have a home parking space. Within a few years electric cars will be able to drive themselves on known routes – eg to night-time charging stations. Drivers will need a way to tell their cars how much charge they need by when, and cars will need to be able to negotiate their time of arrival with the neighbourhood charging station.
Stephen Smith
Bristol

• Your article about green number plates overemphasises the role electric vehicles (EVs) can play in the UK’s zero-emission revolution. While they are an important part of the solution to reach the UK’s legal target of net zero carbon emissions, the government should not rely on a single technology. In fact, building a battery pack for an EV is incredibly energy-intensive, and it takes significant mileage before the EV has worked off the CO2 released during its manufacture.

In addition, they will play little part in cleaning up toxic air which plagues our cities and towns. Particulate matter is one of the greatest threats to human health, with no safe levels. And research shows that 45% of it has been attributed to tyre and brake wear in London. Furthermore, they will not make our streets safer, less congested or more attractive places to move around.

Rather than focusing on EVs, the government should be doing everything it can to shift people away from driving, to healthy, clean alternatives such as walking and cycling for shorter journeys. This is the best way to reach a zero-carbon future. The government needs to put an end to building more roads for cars and instead make walking and cycling the easiest and most convenient options for more people. Pedestrians and people on cycles should have priority and networks of protected cycle lanes on main roads should be the norm so that everyone feels more confident travelling around.
Rachel White
Head of public affairs at Sustrans

• Perhaps a better plan to encourage motorists into electric cars than green number plates would be to make the cars affordable.
Dr Howard Mason
Chorlton, Manchester

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters

• Do you have a photo you’d like to share with Guardian readers? Click here to upload it and we’ll publish the best submissions in the letters spread of our print edition

Letters

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Electric cars go like clockwork for me | Brief letters
Brief letters: Nissan Leaf journey | Wind-up VW Beetle | Carlisle’s appeal to students | Dogs’ names | Letters threads combined

Letters

08, Aug, 2018 @5:06 PM

Article image
Electric cars: a long way to go | Letters
Letters: John Armitt and Odd A Jakobsen respond to Adam Vaughan’s piece about electric cars

Letters

31, Jul, 2018 @5:01 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on electric cars: stopped by industry inaction | Editorial
Editorial: Ministers must accept that the market won’t deliver technological change on its own. They will need to get the state involved to meet environmental and social objectives

Editorial

12, Sep, 2018 @5:36 PM

Article image
Standardise batteries on electric vehicles | Letters
Letters: Richard Snape says drivers should be able to exchange a depleted battery for a fully charged one at a service station. Plus Adrian Townsend questions the wisdom of recommending a new Oxford-to-Cambridge motorway

Letters

04, Jun, 2019 @4:04 PM

Article image
Market forces can’t drive uptake of electric cars | Letters
Letters: Sam Wollaston’s account of his electric car journey highlights the lack of a proper EV strategy, says Antony Watts. Plus letters from John Hooley, Janice Gupta Gwilliam and Daniel Scharf

Letters

29, Jul, 2021 @5:15 PM

Article image
Going car-less in the country can be hard | Letters
Letters: City-dwellers don’t face the public transport problems experienced in the country, say Tricia Knott and Susie Medley. Plus letters from Michael Cunningham, Cllr Wesley Harcourt on charging points for electric vehicles, and Bob Caldwell on cycling on roads full of potholes

Letters

15, Mar, 2019 @4:11 PM

Article image
Are electric cars on a road to nowhere? | Letters
Letters: Readers respond to George Monbiot’s warning that electric vehicles are not the solution to the UK’s pollution and transport problems

Letters

25, Sep, 2020 @3:44 PM

Article image
Electric vehicles have a rich past – and a richer future | Letters
Letters: Readers share their views on climate-friendly transportation

Letters

04, Aug, 2021 @3:04 PM

Article image
Electric cars are not perfect, but they are a good start | Letters
Letters: The use of lithium in rechargeable vehicle batteries is problematic but this shouldn’t derail attempts to decarbonise our environment, writes Jamie Adam, while Jim Grozier believes we need infrastructure that discourages car use

Letters

13, Dec, 2020 @5:55 PM

Article image
Rising threat of transport emissions | Letters
Letters: Harold Forbes says the principle of polluter pays is rarely implemented; Jeremy Tomkinson calls for clear policy on lowering petrol emissions; Chris Tidmarsh laments the sparsity of electric-car charging points in Southwark and Lambeth

Letters

08, Mar, 2018 @6:30 PM