Electric Cars

If you come into the congestion charging zone of central London you will without doubt see some electric cars, usually the Indian made G-Wiz.  Users of electrically powered cars are exempt from paying the congestion zone charge, which is £8 a day, and they get exemptions from paying London’s car parking charges which are usually at least £8 an hour at parking meters, often more than that at car parks. These benefits are the courtesy of the Mayor of London’s initiative, to make London more of a green city than it is.

So if you have to travel into Central London to work every day and you can afford the £8,000 for an electric car, you will save thousands each year.  You can even top up its electric batteries at council expense.

The G-Wiz is marketed as a zero emissions car. By that I suppose that the makers mean that the while the car is driven it does not emit carbon dioxide or other particulates, but of course it is not really in any way a zero emission vehicle. The electricity it consumes has to be made in a power station, and you have around 99% chance that it will be generated by fossil fuel or nuclear power.

In giving all these exemptions for electric cars the Mayor of London is not really making London greener; all he is doing is making London appear greener than it is. When you use an electric car you are simply transferring the emissions from the streets of London to a power station located elsewhere. They still invade the atmosphere. Also with battery powered cars you have to take into account the cost of recycling the battery, in environmental terms, something that the advertising usually ignores.

Treat with scepticism any claim that any thing like transport, housing, or events are “zero emissions” or “carbon neutral”.  There is no such thing as a free lunch.