A Whole Lot about ICE…
It’s going to be a very strange year. We all have COVID-19, the United States has a new president, and the UK is out of Europe; finally, irrevocably masters of our own fate. Sort of.
BOJO has trumpeted his eleventh hour, super deal; others are rather less sanguine. The Financial Times, hardly a left-leaning scandal sheet, opines : “After four and a half painful years, we have reached the end of the beginning of Brexit. We have a deal. It is, inevitably, a damaging deal for the British economy compared with remaining inside the EU.” Hardly a ringing endorsement.
Just today it’s been revealed that Brits can’t control EU airlines, so all our shares become non-voting. Meanwhile, in Scotland, it seems that a new referendum on independence is becoming unavoidable and, given the damage that the “super deal” has done to major parts of the Scottish economy, the most likely outcome is a parting of the ways.
It’s not looking too much better for Northern Ireland. They now exist in some kind of parallel universe where Ulster is, at the same time, part of the United Kingdom and within the EU so as to allow the land border with Ireland to stay open.
Meanwhile, we are moving towards a new green, clean future. Most houses here use natural gas for heating; however, from 2023 no new houses will have gas powered heating. Instead, they will use hydrogen, or heat pumps which, of course, use electricity. Remember this, I will come back to it later. The government has also determined that no new ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars can be sold the UK after 2030. That is five years earlier than the previous deadline. So, what does this mean for the parking industry?
It certainly doesn’t mean that future sites will become a sea of car chargers with every bay set up so its occupant can hook up to the grid. The average driver does about 30 miles a day, so, based on claimed ranges, most cars would be quite happy being charged once a week. That said, “independent” consumer tests are suggesting that some claims could be inflated by as much as 40 percent.
The problem isn’t the average driver, but the people at the extreme ends of the spectrum. One of my friends in sales does about the same mileage in a month that I do in a year. Most days he exceeds the maximum range of all but a tiny number of e-cars. His job depends on instant unlimited mobility. For sure, he can “top up” on the road, but takes time that he hasn’t got. Filling the tank of your gas guzzler takes a few minutes. Even the most rapid electric chargers add a nought to that.
Even getting your charge may not be as easy and reliable as the government would have us believe. Vehicles occupying charge stations are using the charging capability about 17 percent of the time. The rest of the time, they are simply waiting for the driver to return. Neither is it certain that if you find a vacant charger, it will work.
A survey showed that nearly a quarter of the current infrastructure isn’t working at any given time. And unlike gas and diesel where anyone can pay at the point of delivery, many EV charging points are “in a club” and for members only.
One innovation to ease the access to EV charging points has just been launched. A sensor will detect if the bay is being used for charging and if the vehicle is not an EV it will be flagged and, presumably, be given a citation. I wonder if the same penalty will be applied to the 83 percent of EVs that are not charging?
Electric vehicles clearly have a future. In the year just gone, just about 10 percent of new vehicle sales in the UK were plug-in vehicles, but with the best intentions in the world this does seem only a partial solution.
Oh yes, remember the electric heating? Add the power needs of EVs and we are going to need a higher-capacity grid and a beefed-up generation capability. Nothing planned in the needed timescale and we already depend on France for peak load support. And they don’t like us much after Brexit.
Now, the reason for all this is to protect the environment, creating a greener, more sustainable transportation process. Whether it does or does not is far from clear. Research has already shown that, like for like, an electric vehicle produces more particulates than a diesel engine equivalent. The zero-emission claim used to push EVs is nothing more than sophistry. The emissions are not zero. They totally depend on how the power is generated. Wind or solar power is fine. Power from a coal power station is probably worse than an ICE. And nuclear? That’s a whole other debate.
Now, new research by the The European Environment Agency shows that an electric vehicle produces about 60 percent more pollution than a traditional car during production. It is estimated that an EV has to travel some 50,000 miles before it becomes less polluting than an ICE car. It’s fortunate then that batteries normally last for well over 100,000 miles before they need replacing.
Many years ago, a friend who ran one of the early parking enforcement companies told me about, what at the time, was probably his worst day on the job. One of his patrols had seen a car parked illegally with no one around and so, unsurprisingly they wrote it a citation.
Move forward a few days and they got a call from the wife of the owner. Yes, the car was parked illegally, but the reason for this was that her husband had had a heart attack and had been chucked in the back of an ambulance and carted off to the local hospital where he was now recovering.
All a bit traumatic, all a bit horrible and, given the circumstances, perhaps the fine might be waived? Unfortunately, the phone was answered by a soon-to-be-former employee who had no humanity, no common sense, and a very weak grasp on the realities public relations. “No, you did the crime, you pay the fine!”
Wifey called the media, the media called my friend, and it took about five seconds to void the citation and send flowers, good wishes, and a very public apology to the couple. What else could he do? Roll the clock forward a few years and another lady in another car park finds herself giving CPR to a guy who has collapsed. She is right under the operator’s CCTV enforcement camera, so there is absolutely no doubt that they know what’s happening.
When the guy is sorted out and carted off, she returns to her car and leaves only to get a fine in the post later for overstaying. OK, they didn’t link the car and the Samaritan the first-time round, so she appeals, citing the circumstances that led to her overstaying. Nothing doing: “The ticket was correctly issued, and payment remains due”.
They won’t collect the fine, it would never get through the appeals process, but just how much reputational damage have you incurred for a £100 fine?