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Electrical automobiles have a wealthy previous – and a richer future | Letters


Your long read had some interesting facts (The lost history of the electric car – and what it tells us about the future of transport, 3 August), but it is also worth drawing attention to the extensive commercial use of electric vehicles in the period leading up to the 1970s. At school, I put in the occasional Friday night shift at a large bakery, where dozens of distinctively shaped vans used by the roundsmen were lined up around the walls of the depot, being recharged ready for their morning duties. The same would have been true in most towns and cities.

At university, my trunk was piled up at the end of term in the porch for collection by a three-wheeled British Railways battery-driven tractor unit, with its accompanying trailer, for delivery to the station, and collection by a similar method at the other end. These vehicles were a familiar sight at a time when rail carried more small freight than nowadays. Milk floats were almost universally electric. In many places it was electric trolley buses, rather than buses, that originally replaced trams, until declining oil prices made diesel a cheaper fuel than electricity generated by coal.

There may no longer be bread deliveries and many fewer milk rounds, but they have been replaced on the roads by deliveries of food and other goods bought online. This commercial sphere offers the opportunity for the conversion to electric of whole fleets that operate mainly locally and would seem to be the obvious place for incentives to encourage the required step-change in electric vehicle usage.
Rhys David
Redbourn, Hertfordshire

Allegra Stratton (Diesel car suits me better than electric, says PM’s climate spokesperson, 2 August) may have a point in that more recharging points are needed for electric cars. It is also true that charge point numbers are increasing all the time, rapid charging is becoming more common and cars’ ranges are now such that range anxiety is becoming a non-issue. But the problem that continues to slow take-up is surely the fact that electric cars are so expensive.

I shall take delivery of a mid-market electric car shortly. I am fortunate to have a well-paid job but, even so, this car would have been out of reach without the benefit of my employer’s salary sacrifice scheme. What hope is there, then, for people without such support to move to electric vehicles?
Michael Gardiner
Burton on the Wolds, Leicestershire

I was interested to read about Allegra Stratton’s range anxiety and the subsequent “defence” by electric car experts (Report, 3 August). I felt both missed the point: Stratton saying that having to stop the vehicle to charge it would “slow the journey down”, and the response that charging infrastructure is improving. As an electric car driver of six years’ standing, I have certainly suffered from range anxiety, but have learned that what is required is a change in mindset to a view that it does not matter at all if most journeys take a little bit longer – why are we always in such a hurry?
Teresa Heeks
Ironbridge, Shropshire

Four years ago, my wife and I devised a strategy to reach net zero on transport by 2025. This included: scrap our diesel car and buy a hybrid one in the interim, invest in solar panels with battery and buy an all-electric vehicle by 2025, when range and charging points are more reliable. You’d think our spokesperson for Cop26 could manage something similar.
Jeff Henry

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