Electric vehicles have a rich past – and a richer future | Letters

Readers share their views on climate-friendly transportation

Your long read had some interesting facts (The lost history of the electric car – and what it tells us about the future of transport, 3 August), but it is also worth drawing attention to the extensive commercial use of electric vehicles in the period leading up to the 1970s. At school, I put in the occasional Friday night shift at a large bakery, where dozens of distinctively shaped vans used by the roundsmen were lined up around the walls of the depot, being recharged ready for their morning duties. The same would have been true in most towns and cities.

At university, my trunk was piled up at the end of term in the porch for collection by a three-wheeled British Railways battery-driven tractor unit, with its accompanying trailer, for delivery to the station, and collection by a similar method at the other end. These vehicles were a familiar sight at a time when rail carried more small freight than nowadays. Milk floats were almost universally electric. In many places it was electric trolley buses, rather than buses, that originally replaced trams, until declining oil prices made diesel a cheaper fuel than electricity generated by coal.

There may no longer be bread deliveries and many fewer milk rounds, but they have been replaced on the roads by deliveries of food and other goods bought online. This commercial sphere offers the opportunity for the conversion to electric of whole fleets that operate mainly locally and would seem to be the obvious place for incentives to encourage the required step-change in electric vehicle usage.
Rhys David
Redbourn, Hertfordshire

• Allegra Stratton (Diesel car suits me better than electric, says PM’s climate spokesperson, 2 August) may have a point in that more recharging points are needed for electric cars. It is also true that charge point numbers are increasing all the time, rapid charging is becoming more common and cars’ ranges are now such that range anxiety is becoming a non-issue. But the problem that continues to slow take-up is surely the fact that electric cars are so expensive.

I shall take delivery of a mid-market electric car shortly. I am fortunate to have a well-paid job but, even so, this car would have been out of reach without the benefit of my employer’s salary sacrifice scheme. What hope is there, then, for people without such support to move to electric vehicles?
Michael Gardiner
Burton on the Wolds, Leicestershire

• I was interested to read about Allegra Stratton’s range anxiety and the subsequent “defence” by electric car experts (Report, 3 August). I felt both missed the point: Stratton saying that having to stop the vehicle to charge it would “slow the journey down”, and the response that charging infrastructure is improving. As an electric car driver of six years’ standing, I have certainly suffered from range anxiety, but have learned that what is required is a change in mindset to a view that it does not matter at all if most journeys take a little bit longer – why are we always in such a hurry?
Teresa Heeks
Ironbridge, Shropshire

• Four years ago, my wife and I devised a strategy to reach net zero on transport by 2025. This included: scrap our diesel car and buy a hybrid one in the interim, invest in solar panels with battery and buy an all-electric vehicle by 2025, when range and charging points are more reliable. You’d think our spokesperson for Cop26 could manage something similar.
Jeff Henry

Have an opinion on anything you’ve read in the Guardian today? Please email us your letter and it will be considered for publication.


The GuardianTramp

Related Content

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


31, Jul, 2018 @5:01 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


04, Jun, 2019 @4:04 PM

Article image
Eco-friendly modes of transport for all | Letters
Letters: the Nissan Leaf is a cheap, mass market, fully electric car, writes Stephen Emsley. And David Walker remembers South Yorkshire’s subsidised public transport system


29, May, 2019 @5:04 PM

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


08, Aug, 2018 @5:06 PM

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


23, Oct, 2019 @5:30 PM

Article image
The Guardian view on trade after Brexit: a new cliff edge looms | Editorial
Editorial: Tesla’s decision not to locate a factory in the UK exposes a fatal flaw in Boris Johnson’s plan


13, Nov, 2019 @6:53 PM

Article image
Time to face up to the electric car revolution | Letters
Letters: We should beware of myths about electric vehicles, says David Bricknell; but John Richards still worries about the environmental impact of their batteries


07, Aug, 2017 @5:52 PM

Article image
Tesla's Model X electric car spreads falcon wings at US launch
Long-awaited 4x4 has radar and sonar technology, a top speed of 155mph, and double-hinged falcon-wing doors that open when driver approaches

Graham Ruddick

30, Sep, 2015 @6:25 PM

Article image
Dyson to expand Wiltshire facility to boost electric-car tests
Tech company invests £200m in Hullavington site to double vehicle-testing capacity

Richard Partington Economics correspondent

29, Aug, 2018 @11:01 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


25, Sep, 2020 @3:44 PM