Electric cars: Charging ahead?

  • 27 July 2011
  • From the section Technology
  • comments
Media captionWATCH: Rory Cellan-Jones tries out one of the battery recharge stations

For the last couple of days, I've been trying out the most expensive gadget anyone has ever lent me.

It's a Mitsubishi MiEv, an electric car which costs around £28,000. I had borrowed it to use in some reports on a new network of charging points at Britain's motorway service stations.

The idea is that electric motoring will only take off if motorists aren't permanently worrying about running out of power.

Tootling around town in the car, I was impressed - it was surprisingly nippy, easy to park, and a comfortable drive.

But right now it's hard to see how electric cars add up as a proposition for anyone but a wealthy environmentalist.

The car dealer at Mitsubishi tried to explain how rapidly the car would pay back the initial cost in saved petrol and congestion charge costs - but how many motorists will swallow that when they could get two or three petrol cars for the price of an electric vehicle?

And even with the new charging point network, you will end up spending hours at service stations waiting until your car is ready to go.

And, having watched in horror as the power gauge flashed a warning to me on my way back into London from the M25, "recharge anxiety" looks like it may be a recurring anxiety for electric motorists.