In the last blog, I speculated on the likely response of SUV-hating activists when faced with a hybrid Range Rover made from recycled drinks cans. But this is already becoming a real issue for the car industry.
Interviewing Henrik Fisker in 2011 about the new Surf, he told me he’d run into problems with a Scandinavian politicians who were not happy with the idea of large, heavy, executive car that could spend all day driving around a capital city on zero-emission electric power.
A car like the Surf was not what they had in mind when building a greener future. Displays of conspicuous consumption are not popular in Scandinavia, nor with many European politicians. The political classes have got used to kicking a slow-moving auto industry, but they are increasingly being blindsided.
Shortly after former London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s suggested charging cars emitting over 225g/km of Co2 be charged £25 per day to drive in central London, Porsche launched an entry-level 911 that emitted 224g/km.
Today, luxury carmakers are rapidly bringing plug-in hybrid drivetrains (or range-extenders, like Fisker’s Karma and Surf) to market, because the battery packs are big enough for a day’s urban driving. Indeed, a recent report from the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board confirms these driving habits for most motorists.
A three-month study, using on-board data collection, of 340 EV vehicles across the UK shows that over 40 per cent of individual journeys are under 2.5 miles and 60 per cent under five miles.
This proves, says the TSB, that battery-only EVs are entirely suitable for the typical driver. But weren’t politicians trying to get us to stop making short journeys by car? Isn’t that the whole point of trying to stop us making urban journeys? When it dawns on some politicians that, very shortly, it will possible to do a zero-emission school run in a executive car such as the new Volvo V60 Hybrid or giant SUV, how will they react?
After all, packaging a battery in a hybrid that’s big enough for a day’s running about is easier in a bigger car and the cost of a plug-in hybrid transmission is more easily absorbed in upmarket models.
But I’m sure that’s not the eco-future the activists envisaged and I’m nor sure they’ll take the news lying down. Perhaps we should take a stab at guessing what mad new rules they conjure up to try and stop the new generation of expensive plug-in hybrids becoming the default city cars of the affluent?