Evie, our Nissan Leaf, is three weeks old today and has covered just over 1000 trouble-free miles. That will have cost around £25 in electricity and saved £150 worth of petrol.
Lest anyone should think I’m a born-again eco-warrior, I’d like to state for the record that I’m as much a petrolhead as the next person. I adore the sound of a Ferrari on song; I try never to miss MotoGP on TV; and I still yearn for a two-stroke motorcycle from the 1970s – for the sound and the smell!
But I’m also a bit of a purist from the engineering point of view, and it’s simply a fact that the electric drivetrain produces better power and torque characteristics than an internal combustion engine – with much less fuss. There’s something very satisfying about ditching all those moving parts: pistons, valves, chains, oil, gears, clutch – not to mention oil pump, water pump, alternator and starter motor – and replacing them with a ‘simple’ motor and battery. The environmental benefit is a bonus.
To my mind the internal combustion engine is in the same phase of development as was the analogue audio turntable when the CD came along: fantastically refined and sophisticated given its basic operating principle, but no match for the new technology at any reasonable price point. To pursue that analogy further, I hope that the combustion engine will continue to be developed; not for the mainstream perhaps but as a niche product for the connoisseur.