Well, you would be laughing if you had a Tesla Model 3 right now, wouldn’t you? Or even a first-generation Nissan Leaf. Hell, even a Reva G-Wiz might turn faces green (and not for the usual reasons) as you tootle merrily down an otherwise-deserted high street.
Yes, perhaps for the first time since we realised the car of the future was to be all-electric, EVs have (albeit briefly, for now) gained the upper hand in a bitterly fought fight with their combustion-fuelled forebears over which is the more usable day-to-day. Indeed, who could have argued over the past few days that they felt more confident of their ability to top up at a fuel station than they would finding an available – or functioning – fast charger?
Word from on high suggests the queues at the pumps will die down and the tanks will be topped up again as soon as panic-buyers stop panicking, but the whole mess has done well to highlight an issue that some of internal combustion’s most ardent apologists might have yet to acknowledge: fossil fuel is finite. And yes, the front pages of the nationals today are devoted largely to whether or not there is actually a shortage or not (surely the very phenomenon of a commodity not being available for general purchase constitutes a shortage?), but the overarching concept – too many engines, not enough juice – is one that we’ve been warned about for many years.
Some of us will be in the fortunate position of having an alternative transport solution on hand while the situation sorts itself out, but for ambulance drivers, key workers, delivery personnel and even the hauliers we rely on to deliver the fuel itself, the inability to do that most mundane of tasks – filling up with petrol or diesel – is all but crippling. And for those unlucky individuals, it’s a nasty taste of things to come if the government fails to make good on its bold promises for Britain’s EV infrastructure.
Early EV adopters will be very familiar with the concept of range anxiety – the fear of being left stranded by an exhausted battery – and how it’s exacerbated by the inadequacy of our shamefully still-nascent charging network. But careful planning can by and large assuage those concerns, so long as you’re lucky enough to arrive at a free and functioning charger.