getting all het up about electric cars, and how I'd quite like one if only they were priced more reasonably. I have to put my hand up right now and admit I was wrong. One of the huge differences between the approach taken by politics and science is that science has to be eager to admit mistakes and move on - and I got this one wrong on good scientific reasons.
The trouble is, as was the central theme of my book Ecologic, and will crop up repeatedly in my soon to be released business book Sustainable Business, with green issues it is all too easy to let go of logic and go for emotion. And susceptible as I am to iAnything, I let logic go out of the window in my interest in an electric car.
Rule number one with being properly green is to think holistic. I don't mean by this that you should go all fruit-loopy and do a quick meditational chant over your fuel tank, or try acupuncture on your tyres. I mean when thinking of the costs and benefits to the environment you have to take into account the whole life cycle of the vehicle, not just the running costs. So you need to include, for example, CO2 emissions from manufacture, servicing and disposal of the vehicle.
Because of the heavy carbon dioxide output in the production and disposal phases of an electric car, it only breaks even (in terms of savings over conventional cars) on emissions after driving it for 80,000 miles. But the thing is, I (and a lot of others) would only use an electric car for little bitty journeys. The sort of thing I currently use my Toyota Aygo for. It would take me at least 10 years to clock up enough mileage to just break even. The fact is, for most of us, a low emission conventional car with a small engine like the Aygo or a Polo Blue Motion would be better for the environment than an electric car. And cost about 1/3 to 1/4 the price. The only reason to go electric, I'm afraid, once you've looked at this logically is to be a poser.