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The future’s electric whether we like it or not

I HAD a rare afternoon off from my family commitments over the holiday period and so I treated myself to a walk.

And what better place to take some exercise than the ubiquitous new car forecourts of Milton Keynes. Funny how you flick from one shiny thing to the next, thinking ‘I could see me in that’, ‘now that I like’, ‘Oooh, not for me’ and so on. But the theme for this particular walk was: The Future.

Rather like when you know you’ve got your school photo coming up, you prepare by getting your hair cut or when you know the mother-in-law is coming round for tea, you shove everything that’s not nailed down in to a cupboard, and the boot of your car, and the loft….Anyway, you get the picture.

The future is electric of course and it’s coming like it or not. So it’s now a question of when, not if I should join the ‘Clean Green Battery Brigade’.

Let’s look at the evidence: Electricity is cleaner and greener (is that even a word?). Electricity is sustainable. Electricity is cheaper. Electric cars are quiet, fast, affordable and responsible. And the more of us that buy them, the more affordable and available they will become another day.

Case closed.

New case: Car ownership will be replaced by car usage, say the mobility prefects. “Traffic patterns could change significantly in the future, with mobility experts predicting a switch away from car ‘ownership’ to vehicle ‘usage’ “. Hmm, a reality? Or an attempt to scare the pigeons?

Can we really see a day, in our lifetime, where we will awake to an empty garage, having already summoned an autonomous car to arrive at precisely 08:00 hours for the short commute to work. Then we lovingly wave it off to its next appointment only for it to return again at 18:00 to obediently complete the trip home.

Really? If we are to believe the prefects, that’s exactly what will happen. And to a point, why not. The Department for Transport tells us that today’s cars are parked 95% of the time and so what do we care?

Once in the robot, it would suck the music from my phone (so no need for my CDs in the boot). The machine would keep me safe, control my climate, take me on the best and fastest route and save me all manner of taxes, from direct taxes (car tax, fuel tax) to indirect car taxes like speeding fines, parking costs and fines, repairs, maintenance, depreciation and so on.

A reliable and cost-effective (we hope) solution, which does everything I need. And on the days it’s just too busy, I could take the bus or share a ride with a neighbour or God forbid… walk.

I came away without a new car, and a sinking feeling heading home, almost expecting my already saintly all-electric neighbours’ curtains to be twitching as they gasped at my irresponsible irreverence in my 3-litre, fossil-fuel burning, noisy, irresponsible poison-puffing dinosaur, only to choke their flowers, and wake their babies. Maybe I should walk home, or better still, just have no car.

On the plus side. It would free up my whole garage for the stashing of my excess trinkets, in time for when the fuhrer-in-law lands. More tea?

Paul Kitchen is managing director of Proper Marketing. www.propermarketing.co.uk

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