We’re closing the year by republishing our ten most popular articles in 2021. Here’s number two: Jonathan Miller writing in April about the woes of owning a battery-powered vehicle.
I bought an electric car and wish I hadn’t. It seemed a good idea at the time, albeit a costly way of proclaiming my environmental virtuousness. The car cost €44,000, less a €6,000 subsidy courtesy of French taxpayers, the overwhelming majority poorer than me. Fellow villagers are driving those 20-year-old diesel vans that look like garden sheds on wheels.
I order the car in May 2018. It’s promised in April 2019. ‘No later,’ promises the salesman at the local Hyundai dealer. April comes and goes. No car. I phone the dealership. No explanation. The car finally arrives two months late, with no effort by Hyundai to apologise. But I Iove it. It’s quiet, quick and with the back seats down, practical with plenty of room for the dogs. It does insist on sharply reminding me to keep my hands on the steering wheel, even when they’re on it. And once alarmingly slamming on the brakes for no discernible reason.
I’ve installed a charger in my driveway so I plug the car in. It works first time! Then the boss turns on the kettle and every fuse in the house trips. The car is chargeable, but only if you don’t cook, wash clothes or turn on the dishwasher at the same time.
First road trip. Off to the centre of France with the horse-obsessed boss to watch a three-day equestrian event. I consult an app that promises an high-speed charger half way to my destination. We arrive and hunt and ultimately find the charger. It doesn’t work. Range anxiety? More like a panic attack.