back to article UK warned not to bother racing US, EU on EV subsidies

A think tank says Britain is trailing its European rivals in the transition from fossil fuel to electric cars, and Brexit isn't helping. But subsidies won't either, the report insists, which pushes for more support for local battery production. Policy Exchange, a Conservative group, authored the paper, claiming Brexit had made …

  1. alain williams Silver badge

    Availability of charge points

    There are not enough of them to give confidence that one can complete a long journey without undue delays.

    We also need to be able to pay with a credit card rather than having do install yet another app on the 'phone -- there are far too many different apps needed.

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Availability of charge points

      And we still don't have the infrastructure in place to get electricity in sufficient amperages to the chargers. It appears that the charging stations on the M3 Fleet services southbound side are STILL not working. I think they started installing those pre-pandemic.

      I know there is a document from the national grid saying they (in theory) can cope but the national grid doesn't supply to the actual charging stations AND we had the recent revelation that renewable projects are getting stuck waiting for grid connections with the grid saying they need a lot of investment in infrastructure.

      From personal experience some charging stations can only charge one car at a time. You get 'waiting for electricity' until the other car is done.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: M3 Southbound EV Chargers

        I have a bit of background to the problem as I live close to the M3 in N.E. Hampshire.

        The Row of Tesla SC's has been there since late 2018. The issue is that to get power to them will require closing the whole M3 for around 12-15 hours. Power is available on the other side of the Motorway (Northbound). Closing the road will cost the operators a huge amount of money.

        There is a housing estate close to the SB service area but the developer being a typical cheapskate only arranged for the minimum sized substation from the Grid. I looked at buying a house on that estate pre-covid but found that the supply to the house was only 60A (230V) with no prospect of upgrading it to 100A. Cheapskate developers strike again. running a 7.5kW home charger (32A) is not advisable on a 60A supply. I didn't buy the property. My current house was built in 1930 and has a 100A supply.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: M3 Southbound EV Chargers

          Blimey, I knew they'd been there a while! Now this is one of those TRULY stupid things. In that time the M3 has been upgraded to 'smart' motorway including MANY closures (usually on the rare occasions I needed to drive up or down the M3) and we had the lockdowns with reduced road usage so lots of chances for joined up thinking to string some wires across a bloody road. The lack of joined up thinking/planning in civil engineering makes my blood boil.

          Heck, run the wires on top of the piss bridge. (if you've been to fleet services you will know what I'm talking about)

          I live out in the sticks and have a 100A service. Isn't the latest advice to run 3 phase to new houses?

          1. cyberdemon Silver badge

            EVs never going to be feasible with the current levels of driving

            The reason those superchargers aren't working isn't so much due to feasibility of getting the cables across the bridge, it's because the wider 33 kV and 66 kV "medium voltage" distribution network is overloaded and it just doesn't have the capacity for the megawatts required by the supercharger station. There's a huge backlog going back about 12 years for projects trying to get a grid connection, be they power stations, solar farms, wind farms, Import/Export connectors, supercharger hubs, business parks or housing estates. In general the only places being approved for large amounts of power are sites of former/decommissioned power plants which already have a grid connection i.e. HV pylons and a big HV transformer. But there are very few new pylons going in, because they are expensive, they spoil the view, etc. And HV transformers are really hard to get hold of, because we can't make them here, lots of countries need them, and Putin has been blowing a lot of them up lately, so the price of new ones has gone up.

            The reason you only have a 60A fuse at home, is because the low-voltage distribution grid in your area is overloaded. The housing developers didn't want to pay for extra transformers and fatter wire on your 400V "ring main", so it's 60A for you. And if you all use 60A at the same time, the transformers will trip. I have a 100A fuse, but I notice if I turn on my 40A electric shower, the mains voltage (at a socket on a different breaker) drops by 10-15V, depending on the time of day. That means the cable under the road combined with the transformer has a resistance of 0.2-0.3 ohms, and its efficiency drops as the load increases and the wire gets hotter. Sometimes it could be as low as 75% efficient, i.e. 15% of the power is lost heating up my local transformer and the underground cables. This lost heat goes up with the square of load, so I can only imagine what it would be like if everyone on my street had an EV and Heat Pump. We'd need some kind of rota so that we don't overload the local grid. Out in the sticks, it's a little easier since you are more likely to have an american-style system with a 11kV transformer on a pole outside each property. There are much fewer buried 400V cables. But still the 11kV system could be overloaded, and it's pretty much impossible to measure that yourself.

            With EVs and Heat Pumps, we are ditching two out of three energy distribution systems (ie the gas grid and road-transported fuel) and combining their load into the one which is already the most expensive, unreliable and overloaded.

            Therefore I believe we can never* get close to 100% EV adoption. There simply isn't enough resources to make that many plus the infrastructure upgrades needed to support them. Manufacture of batteries and solar panels is horrendously polluting and water-intensive at the best of times. Copper, cobalt, neodymium mining is pretty nasty too. It will be a lot nastier when we scale it up by a factor of 50. Recycling of batteries is very difficult and quite dangerous, and we still use NMC batteries with flammable electrolytes, because those are the only ones with acceptable range and performance in EVs. Sodium and LFP are too heavy. We are closing the plants that make Diesel engines and throwing out expertise before we have a proven alternative - especially true for haulage.

            Policymakers are pretty stupid, but I don't think even they are so stupid that they think that everyone will be driving an EV and using a Heat Pump to heat their house in 10-15 years time.

            However, the one thing that it is clear is that we are running out of resources. Even if Piers Corbyn turns out to be right and that the world was warming up anyway with or without our help, his point is moot because the world's capacity to support this many human lives is dwindling either way.

            Fusion is never going to work. Fission has become too unpopular and expensive. Other eco-nonsense ideas like gravity well storage and heat batteries are complete utter hogswash, they cannot work anywhere near the scale needed.

            * I think what has to happen is one of:

            • Only the rich get to drive. The grids may fail regularly as they do in South Africa, but the rich will have their own solar panels and batteries, and everyone's quality of life will suffer, including the rich. I don't think we in the west will accept this, and there could be civil war in places like America if they tried to ban Gasoline and told everyone to fork out for an EV and solar panels or stop driving.
            • Everyone agrees to drive no faster than 40mph and to use public transport where possible. This could be enforced by technology e.g. your Connected Car fines you if you drive more than 40, or if you drive further than your rationed annual distance. We would also need to wash less frequently and avoid using more than a couple of kilowatts each on EV charging and home heating/cooling, especially when there is low availability of renewables and/or our local grid is overloaded, and this could be enforced by our smart meters, which all feature a remote-controllable disconnect switch which could be used if we exceed our power-ration. Again, I think this could cause bloody revolution in places like the UK, US, Europe.
            • Nobody agrees on anything, and a devastating third world war obliterates most of humanity, so that there are very few of us left to drain the planet's resources.

            I think that the WEF et al. are clearly aiming for number 2. To use surveillance and technology to enforce a new eco-normal. A lot of people are understandably upset about the erosion of freedom that this implies, but I think it is clearly better than option, 1 and maybe better than option 3, it depends on my mood.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Availability of charge points

        You are correct. National Grid in this context refers to the transmission network; which is by and large fine (but needs upgrades to manage new connections and replacement of older kit).

        The weak link are the distribution networks I.e. those at 132kV and below down to your property. Those local substations to your house? If everyone has an EV on charge, the wear and tear on them (if not the thermal limits) will break things.

        Lot of new build needed. As one of el regs anonymous transmission engineers it says it all that I don’t want an EV yet.

        Far better idea to put a couple of grand into buying some small scale generation of your own.

        1. jimbo22

          Re: Availability of charge points

          "Far better idea to put a couple of grand into buying some small scale generation of your own. "

          Locally generated power on a massive scale is the only way such large local demands could possibly be met. But "all this green crap", as Cameron put it, is precisely what they did away with early in that administration. So the incentive is largely gone, and a decade (and counting) of progress wasted.

  2. SW

    Aptronym or lucky coincidence?

    Byline - Jude Karabus or maybe that should be Jude Car_or_Bus

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Aptronym or lucky coincidence?

      Nominative determinism

  3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "The erratic conduct of UK industrial policy over the last two years has been confusing for business and bad for investment."

    Only the last two? Since 2016 seems more likely and it seems unlikely to improve whatever party is in power. That's the difficulty with taking irrevocable steps.

    1. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      I think 2016 is far to recent - back to Maggie at least and probably before.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        re : back to Maggie at least and probably before

        Harold (Mr Gannex and Pipe) Wilson announced the 'White Heat of Technology' in his first term as PM.

        In the second term, all that went out the window then Dennis Healey, the Chancellor had to go begging to the IMF for a loan. Since then it has all been on in times of plenty and OFF at other times.

        The lack of consistency of Government Policy has killed so many otherwise viable projects. Personally, I find the blame lies squarely at the feet of the Treasury. Their often crazy rules are to blame.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      There wasn't an industrial policy at all since 2015 or so.

      In the last couple of years the Tories have been flailing about, backing things at random then cancelling. Including changing import/export rules at the very last moment.

      Several ports even built massive facilities at great expense to meet those deadlines and import regulations - that were all cancelled a few weeks before they were due to come into effect. They're now mothballed (and everyone fired) until Sunak makes his mind up as to what importing and phytosecurity actually means.

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Harold Wilson

        As previously mentioned, he had an industrial policy. No government since has had one. It's too hard, involves pissing off too many international interests, and people don't like the price rises. Anything since has been looking at events and calling it "policy". "Knowledge Economy" anyone?

  4. Filippo Silver badge

    >Atkinson said he looked forward to the replacement of the "imperfect" solution of current lithium battery tech with greener power, perhaps hydrogen fuel cells, in the future.

    I don't know if I would wait for future tech while holding on to fossils. An imperfect solution that you have right now is usually better than a perfect solution that you don't have and of which you don't know when or even if it will arrive.

    Also, the drawbacks of prolonging fossil usage for an unclear amount of time should be weighed against lithium's problems. It's unfair to compare whole-lifecycle EVs to ignore-all-externalities ICEs. I mean, the only reason ICEs are more convenient is that nobody is paying for disposal of reaction waste; it's just dumped right outside the reaction vessel, wherever that happens to be. There's all kinds of industries that would become vastly more convenient, if they were allowed to do that. But we don't allow it, and we punish people severely when they do it, because it's effin' insane. Except for ICEs. For that, it's fine. At best, we ask manufacturers to make vehicles that dump somewhat less waste. Imagine if we applied that standard to, I dunno, nuclear plants. If ICEs had to somehow deal with their waste, in any way, they'd become obsolete overnight in favor of EVs, even with all of EV's various warts.

    Also, if we're speculating about future tech, then it's legitimate to consider other battery chemistries. Sure, we don't have those right now, but we don't really have a solution for hydrogen's big problems either (e.g. producing it in a sustainable fashion at scale, and containing it safely and reliably at scale). Personally, if I had to choose, I'd bet on batteries, but I'd really prefer for all avenues to keep being developed.

    1. LogicGate Silver badge


      By buying BEVs and PHEVs today, we grow the technology, infrastructure and industry needed to make the better electric cars that we need tomorrow.

      And fuel cells will also come, but due to the current high cost of purchasing, they will come to vehicles that are operated more than 10% of the day, that is to trucks and buses.

      Companies can calculate DOCs and lifetime costs and see that a FC-powered truck makes sense despite the high investment up front. For personal vehicles, the pricetag at the point of purchase is much more important, and the manufacturers know this. However, build enough, and the price will come down.

      Also: trucks can be operated with one refuelling station every 100 km of highway. Try having to drive up to 50 km to get to the nearest fuelling station that has "your" type of fuel for your day-to-day car....

      So no.. Blackadder's plan was not of the cunning variety.

      1. Mjolnir

        Still the next big thing

        While fuel cells may come someday I have been hearing that they are the coming thing since the 1960s

        1. LogicGate Silver badge

          Re: Still the next big thing

          You may have been hearing this for a long time, but today seriously large companies are spending serious amounts of money setting up the production lines for said fuel-cells.

          This has not been the case before.

          1. Snow Hill Island

            Re: Still the next big thing

            The problem with fuel cells is that they either consume hydrogen or hydrocarbons. A hydrogen economy is likely to be a dead end, and synthesised hydrocarbons are not energy efficient compared to battery tech. Biofuels should be abandoned asap because they're either grown on viable farmland we need to feed people, or require land to be converted to arable use which was otherwise growing wild. At least batteries are agnostic as to where their energy comes from, so we can choose the best option for the environment for their production and manufacture.

            I *won't* be buying a fuel cell vehicle unless there's no other option.

            1. cyberdemon Silver badge

              Re: Still the next big thing

              I'm not entirely sure why you think that a Hydrogen economy is a dead-end..

              Atkinson's main argument was towards burning hydrogen in combustion engines, which has been demonstrated since the 80s IIRC. There used to be hydrogen-powered buses etc. and there are still a few hydrogen fuel stations around, e.g. along the M25. One issue is storage. But that can be easily done at low temperatures instead of high pressures, and cryofluid storage tech has come on a long way in the past few decades. A hydrogen-powered ICE could use some of the excess heat from its inefficient engine to re-vapourise its own fuel. That would be a feasible option for road haulage, and batteries are not.

              Yes ICEs are not as efficient as fuel cells could be, but they are still zero-emission and are way cheaper, and so long as the hydrogen is produced from sources such as "curtailed" wind power (we are currently wasting terrawatt-hours of wind power which cannot be effectively transported or consumed by our grid btw, so we could produce hydrogen, however inefficiently we like, with that) it is still basically free energy.

              And, we can convert existing engines, and we don't throw away decades of expertise.

              I agree whole-heartedly on Biomass/biofuels though - we are taking the one thing that really does remove CO2 from the atmosphere - trees- and burning it to produce CO2. And biofuels, we may as well be burning our own food. I'd also take issue with solar when it is installed on what would otherwise be pristine farmland. On rooftops is great, but why are we wasting our best farmland when there is much better sunshine in desert locations which could produce ... hydrogen, perhaps?

    2. tony72

      You don't even need future tech. BYD and CATL are ramping up production of sodium ion batteries right now, which contain no rare earths. Tesla and others are already using LFP batteries that use less (or no?) rare earths. And progress is being made on reducing the amount of rare earths in lithium ion batteries, Tesla eliminated cobalt entirely from its 4680 cells for example. I think the Bean needs to read up on current tech.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Meanwhile, the price of all the fun stuff like copper that goes into electric motors has gone pretty much stratosperic, so maybe the batteries are improving but that other rather vital part is still getting a lot more expensive. Disposal is going to be a nightmare too, and I saw somewhere that it effectively pumps 70% more CO2 into the atmosphere to make an electric car than it does to make an ICE one.

        What's more important is that EV enthusiasts kinda gloss over the fact that to replace generations of cars also produces a LOT of cars that have already been made, are still serviceable, could potentially run on e-fuels if they get that together but no, we're dumping those. Where? Green power solar cells and windmills are presently old enough for some to reach end of life (as do many battery packs), and that too has turned out a heck of a lot more environmentally problematic - again something we knew but casually glanced over when promoting EVs. Toyota hasn't accepted EVs as the be all and end all either and has just developed a H2 car that, unlike the Mirai, actually *combusts* hydrogen, and they als did a JV with Yamaha to produce a V8 doing the same - they're still keeping their options open.

        I would not dismiss Rowan Atkinson so quickly. People who dare speak truth against established accepted tripe say the things that need to be heard, even if we don't like it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          - Copper prices have not gone stratospheric lately, in fact they're down. I'm not predicting they will stay down.

          - The saga of disposal of solar cells and turbine blades is a red herring.

          - The "70% more CO2" argument is also bogus, but the refutation is too long-winded to repeat here. Do the search.

          - E-fuels are a silly idea in vehicles; battery tec is the answer.

          - The "replace [working] ICE cars" argument is a straw-man; everyone accepts that you should either sell your current old banger, or run it to death, before buying an EV.

          - Rowan was mostly speaking tripe against straw-men with stale data.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Corrections

            "eFuels" & Hydrogen are just the route the fossil fuel companies etc want to keep things more-or-less as they are.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Corrections

            Your second to last point is not universally true. The mayor of London announced a scheme, with 9 months warning, to reduce auto emissions (ULEZ extension) by fining anyone with an offending car £12.50/day for driving in large parts of the city. Of course this has caused a drop in the second hand market for these cars (I won’t detail the standards now required, easy to find) and given people a difficult choice - pay the fine for daily living or buy a new car and scrap/sell the old. Huge resentment has ensued with people seeing it as a scheme to “tax the poor and give to the city” and, of course, many questioning the politics of “green” endeavours. Unhelpful.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Corrections

              Disingenuous, but entirely unsurprising of you, not to mention the scrappage scheme and proven health benefits to children..

              And whenever I mention hydrogen fuel, I usually get several well written (but incorrect) rebuffs, that is surprising, isn't it ..

              Electric cars, keeping the fossil fuel industry creaking on.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Corrections

                the scrappage scheme and proven health benefits to children

                Wait, what are you scrapping? Parents? Nappies? I think I lost the thread here.

                Ah, wait, the "think of the children" argument. That's usually a sign that the author lacks confidence in their own arguments.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Corrections

            The saga of disposal of solar cells and turbine blades is a red herring.

            Maybe you ought to read the news a bit more, and the problems of recycling the blades of wind turbine have only recently started to attract some solutions, all which have as yet to be proven.

            But hey, go ahead, pretend you're all eco with your new EV.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Corrections

              The solar panel thing has also been noted in the US.

              1. blackcat Silver badge

                Re: Corrections

                And Australia



                Australia suffered from an influx of cheap and unreliable panels a while back and entire warehouses were full of failed panels.

                I'm a little concerned as the second article says the inverters only last 10 years. I would expect them to last MUCH longer unless they have been poorly designed. I have a dual aspect system with 6 panels and 3 750W inverters. The inverter manufacturer also puts a 3.3kW inverter in the same size enclosure with the same size heatsink which would obviously get a lot hotter. So maybe that is the issue. Poor thermal management is often the killer.

          4. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Corrections

            Copper prices have not gone stratospheric lately, in fact they're down. I'm not predicting they will stay down.

            They're also nowhere near back to what they were when the EV craze started. These high copper prices have triggered another major problem as a side effect: cable theft. In the Netherlands there are reports of entire solar farms having their cabling ripped out for the copper as well as the theft of substantial amounts of train signalling cable, bringing traffic to a halt. Police have noticed a fairly direct correlation between the volume of thefts and the price of copper. Measures such as asking large volume suppliers to identify themselves have been stymied by criminals simply hopping abroad.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Corrections

            Copper prices have not gone stratospheric lately, in fact they're down. I'm not predicting they will stay down.

            Hmm, are you really sure? They're nowhere near back where they were when the wind energy and EV thing started.

        2. Chz

          It may very well take 70% more CO2 to produce an electric car (the data on that is very hand-wavey and I don't have a lot of confidence in it), but no-one ever seems to mention that the production of an ICE vehicle only accounts for 10% of its lifetime emissions.

        3. Filippo Silver badge

          >the price of all the fun stuff like copper that goes into electric motors has gone pretty much stratosperic

          I put "copper price" in Google, and I immediately get a chart that shows that's outright false.

          >I saw somewhere that it effectively pumps 70% more CO2 into the atmosphere to make an electric car than it does to make an ICE one

          Yes, that line gets repeated frequently. It's deliberately misleading. The keyword there is "to make". EVs make up the difference in manufacturing emissions versus ICEs very quickly, and then gain just as quickly. Unless you're making EVs and then dumping them while they're still almost new, their total carbon emissions are way lower than ICEs.

          >could potentially run on e-fuels if they get that together

          You say that almost as an afterthought, but "getting e-fuels together" is a really big problem, for which we currently have neither a solution, nor a good theory of how to get to a solution. The energy efficiency on e-fuels synthesis is murder, and we don't exactly have terawatts to spare.

          Sure, solutions may be found at some point in the future. The same goes for batteries' problems, though. At any time, someone might come up with a sodium battery that hits all the targets. In the mean time, though, we have to play the cards we have, not the ones we wish we had.

          >People who dare speak truth against established accepted tripe say the things that need to be heard, even if we don't like it.

          Yeah, that line always sounds good, but the problem is that it only works if you're actually speaking truth.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Statistics from referenced sources have properly done the comparisons of EV running of Polish brown-coal generated electric and batteries "made in China" on the dirty, versus Wind and "better" batteries made with (somewhat) more ethically sourced production.

            In either case, the EV still significantly wins on total emissions over lifetime.

            The obvious problem is 1) we need an excess of renewable generation to be built and 2) the networks to carry that excess need building too. By networks, I also include ancillary facilities needed to make it work, such as flywheels for frequency response / inertia; and short duration storage.

            This stuff is happening. There are 30-odd GW of wind and nuke projects booked to connect to the UK alone in the coming 10 to 15 years. Realities of red tape mean it'll probably take longer than that. What we generate and don't use here, we'll sell to Europe. This is a good thing.

            The short sighted part in binning petrol/diesel now is obviously; that one cannot get even a fraction of the population to swap while the infrastructure is inadequate. Get your chequebook out Mister Ofgem. Ahh yes, they don't like doing that because bills already screwed by a combination of "Free Market" BS and the Poo-tin.

            For the UK in particular, the problem of on-street charging properties lacking driveways are badly needed. Local councils also need to get over themselves and allow older properties to install solar. Anything offsetting demand is a good thing, because every kW not being shunted over the distribution network is a kW of network expansion avoided.

      2. EnviableOne

        LFP is Lithium Iron(Fe) Phosphate, which has lithium, but no cobalt, in the cells, but a lower energy density.

        Still doesn't discount the fact that shipping the components from around the world and extracting lithium and the various packaging materials and electrolyte chemicals, along with the clean-up of the ICE production process, means that over 10 yr service life of the battery, the difference between a Diesel and BEV is negligible.

        Sodium-ion batteries have a lower energy density than LiFePO, meaning you need more of them too.

        current tech is not there, the grid can't handle everyone switching to electric: there just isn't enough supply to charge on demand or the distribution infrastructure to fast charge at home. Hydrogen is coming along and requires less new infrastructure, when you look at its efficiency as a storage medium people tend to discount the fat an ICE is only about 20% efficient whereas a fuel cell is between 2-3 times as efficient, and most of the distribution infrastructure used for ICE fuels can be reused, along with cost, refuel times and ranges similar to ICE.

        taking into account new tech like that produced by Viritech (currently working with Ford on the Hydrogen Transit) there is a lot that could be mainstream within 5 years

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I'd like to see a citation for that hydrogen efficiency figure that includes electrolysis of water to create hydrogen vs battery storage of the same kwh of power in an EV battery. Any other source of hydrogen doesn't count, by the way.

    3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      You approach is fine if you have an infinite pot of money to play with. For those of us that don't spending now and then being expected to spend again in a few years is a non-viable proposition.

      1. Filippo Silver badge

        I'm not sure what you mean? Is this about the myth of EV batteries needing replacement? I personally know someone who bought a used Tesla with 300000 km on its original battery, and earlier today I read about someone replacing his battery... at 420000 km. Do you routinely drive ICEs with more than that mileage without spending a load on maintenance?

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Sadly its not a myth and it has been an issue since the start of the hybrid era.

          The Prius and its derivatives have a habit of corroding their batteries leaving you stranded. The Honda insight and early civic hybrid had awful battery management which resulted in maybe 5 years battery life. The first few generations of the Nissan leaf had no active battery cooling at all and most of the ones for sale have pretty poor battery life left. And lets not talk about the LG battery recall on Kia/Hyundai/Chevy/VW due to shoddy manufacturing.

          There is a thriving aftermarket for replacement batteries for many of the older models.

          Tesla batteries are generally well put together (hence the initial high $$$) unless you are unlucky enough to have an internal coolant leak.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Do you routinely drive ICEs with more than that mileage without spending a load on maintenance?

          My Toyota truck has more than 420000 km on the odometer, and in the three years I've owned it, I haven't done anything more than change the oil once. So, yes.

    4. MyffyW Silver badge

      I read the Grauniad article and it was fun to see in black-and-white what hitherto I had only heard from Plantagenet/Elizabethan/Regency/WWI TV comedy.

      I came to the conclusion Edmund Blackadder now works for some wing of the continuity fossil fuel industry. And I, for one, wish him as much success as his antecedents.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why is Atkinson spouting nonsense getting so much coverage? It's clear he doesn't know what he's talking about, so better to just ignore him, IMHO.

    1. WageSlave5678

      Re: Atkinson

      Atkinson's article has been pretty thoroughly deunked in a response, posting later in the Grauniad here:

      Mr Bean does fall for the obvious misdirections: citing the Carbon Footprint for vehicle manufacture without taking into account the whole life offsetting from miles travelled;

      assuming battery weight in lorries is a major burden, since batteries are way heaviler than fuel. However, that ignores the additional weight of a large diesel vs. a small electric drive train for equivalent power output, *and* the same in-life savings made from electric power, etc., etc.

      I would expect someone of Atkinson's intelligence and education to think more deeply and do better than that.



  6. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Batteries

      Most of the EV FUD is like listening to a drunk pub-bore.

      1. Col_Panek

        Re: Batteries

        In 'Murica, we listen to anti-EV FUD on Fox News. Same bullshit, less slurred speech.

  7. VoiceOfTruth Silver badge

    Policy Exchange

    -> Policy Exchange, a Conservative group

    I met somebody from this group a few years ago and had an evening of social chat with them. Apparently the group came up with the idea that parents want good schools. They actually sit around, chew the cud, and come up with this as a 'policy'.

    1. cookieMonster Silver badge

      Re: Policy Exchange

      I’d love a job like that

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Policy Exchange

      Did they mention any of the prerequisites for that?

      Like paying teachers and teaching assistants a decent wage, and funding them properly for running costs, buildings, maintenance and the like?


      Thought not. Conservative policy wonks never seem to.

  8. xyz Silver badge

    And them green fascists...

    Yeah, re the buy old vehicle idea... Have an old diesel truck, run my own homemade biofuel through it, have to pay extra annual taxes on it, get ULEZed up the yazoo if I go near a city because it's 2006 made. Further I'm in a forest, the trees don't come with power sockets and solar panels need planning permission which the green nazis won't grant.

    But no worries, they're all freshly showered and in meetings discussing "green" whilst happily drinking their "fair trade" coffee and munching organic croissants.

    As for UK battery inc, it'll be the usual "world class" magical unicornism that somehow never arrives, costs ten times the budget and "lessons will be learned."

  9. codejunky Silver badge


    So we want EV's but politicians are already looking for ways to tax EV's as they lose the cash cow drivers for previous extortions.

    We want industry including battery industry, but don want to generate electricity.

    We want to move to EV's but want to punish travel with 15 minute cities.

    We avoided nukes which would have been online in time for now because they are scary, but now want it as the only viable source of stable energy.

    The left hand needs to meet the right hand and stop pandering to idiot pressure groups. They are never happy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      and stop pandering to idiot pressure groups.

      So true. Hear, hear! The sooner the government(s) stop kowtowing to the Tufton St mob (backed by vested interests and foreign money) the better!!!

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      The EV's what?

    3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      -- stop pandering to idiot pressure groups --

      Dead right, unfortunately squeaky wheels and all that

    4. Chz

      Re: Hmm

      "We want to move to EV's but want to punish travel with 15 minute cities."

      The purpose being to reduce our emissions, I don't see how these ideas are incompatible. Ideally, we wouldn't move to EVs. We'd move to no private vehicles at all. But seeing as how that's very unlikely in the short term, EVs are the bridge to reducing emissions in the meantime.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm


        "Ideally, we wouldn't move to EVs. We'd move to no private vehicles at all"

        Why would this be an aim? The ability to travel as we please makes us all richer. Not trapping our lives to a small plot of land under our lords and masters.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmm

        We'd move to no private vehicles at all.

        Wow. Just wow.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm

          You know currently ~30% of new cars are leased and people don't own them, right? And this % is increasing year-on-year.

          Who really wants a £30-50K depreciating asset sat parked, doing nothing, for 90% of the time you are paying for it?

          1. blackcat Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            Which is why I drive an old beater. Let someone else suffer the depreciation and early life failures.

      3. Binraider Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        Knew that comment would be taken badly.

        People still think in terms of 'my car'. When it probably sits idle 22 hours a day, depreciating and demanding maintenance, and you want to pay for the privilege of that.

        Were "Johnny Cabs" to be communally available in adequate numbers we can cut down the total number of vehicles needed and probably have better service standards. But such ideas are blatantly communist and anathema to most. I really don't need my own car on the drive. If "rental" were convenient and/or guaranteed not to lead to a turd of a vehicle being delivered, for my own usage it would be significantly cheaper than ownership.

        The 15 min cities thing is always taken wrongly too, but such is certain media's spin and BS to twist the ideas behind it into dystopia.

        There are older solutions to public transport that don't get invested in anything greater than a vanity level. The Tyne & Wear metro is still a fantastic system after 40-odd years. The underground is a way better way to get around London than the diesel soaked and jammed streets (arguably, the only way to get around in sensible timescales if doing moderate distances). But, no, $deity forbid we invest in expensive big things to reduce the need to spend more in total on many smaller items instead.

        1. blackcat Silver badge

          Re: Hmm

          I know its a couple if years old:

          London has a good underground system combined with the Lizzy line, thameslink and overground giving a lot of options on how to get around without needing to put rubber to tarmac yet is still somehow epically congested and crap. I believe it has the highest congestion charge in the world AND the soon to be expanded ULEZ. You'd think this would all help but somehow it doesn't.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm

          The 15 min cities thing is always taken wrongly too, but such is certain media's spin and BS to twist the ideas behind it into dystopia.

          I don't think it's the media per se. It's more the media reporting on the usual alliance of post-covid tinfoil-hatters.

  10. abend0c4

    200,000 employees, mostly in the Midlands and the North

    I presume the lack of precision in that number is because no-one was prepared to venture beyond Zone 6 to actually count them.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: 200,000 employees, mostly in the Midlands and the North

      So no reason to collude with JLR that they receive £1/2bn in subsidies (aka free money) to build a battery gigafactory in automotive manufacturing bumfuck, Somerset. By truck about 3-4 hours from the closest JLR factory in Solihull or Castle Bromwich.

      The only thing that is close and an obvious Brexit benefit - is (former Brexit Delivery Minister) Jacob Rees-Mogg’s North Somerset parliamentary constituency.

      The UK Battery Industrialisation Centre - and proposed gigafactory site - is literally over the road from JLR’s Global HQ in Coventry 15 miles / and 20 mins to the 2 factories mentioned.

      … or the muddy groundwork’s abandoned field and former British Volt Giga-Factory in Blyth, in the North-East…. That the UK Govt already sunk £100m into.

      A Conservative demonstration of the Brexit Benefits and Levelling-up they want.

      1. blackcat Silver badge

        Re: 200,000 employees, mostly in the Midlands and the North

        It doesn't matter what party a politician is from, they all want 'new shiny thing' in their area. Just look at the USA. 'Come build your factory in our area, there isn't enough power/resource for you to operate and you are hundreds of miles from where your skilled workers are'.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 200,000 employees, mostly in the Midlands and the North

        My first reaction to Somerset being the location was similar to yours, but I'm probably being a bit naive when I considered there might be a benefit from being near to a large (clean?) power station.

        And maybe TATA think that they can ship their own steel across the estuary from Port Talbot, if they are still producing any.

        1. NeilPost Silver badge

          Re: 200,000 employees, mostly in the Midlands and the North

          Other than (lots more) money … I can’t see any reason for Somerset over Coventry.

          UK Battery Industrialisation/Innovation Centre over the road from JLR HQ, 2 factories within 15 miles, JLR’s design/development in Coventry at HQ site, planned site for a Giga factory already identified.

          LTI (Geely) in Coventry, WMG and Warwick Uni heavily into automotive, within existing automotive supply chain, JLR engine plant other side of Birmingham in Wolverhampton. Toyota as a possible future customer close in Derby.

          There is no upside at all I can see to it being in Somerset. Esp. as (not so close by) Swindon/Honda long gone, and little commonality with aerospace based around Filton/BAE.

          It’s a head scratcher. Follow the money/subsidies trail - as always - I guess.

          1. NeilPost Silver badge

            Re: 200,000 employees, mostly in the Midlands and the North

            Is Jacob Rees-Mogg downvoting this ??

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Long Term Trends Tell An Interesting Story.....

    Let's look at "growth" ... you know, that concept adopted by Liz Truss and others:

    (1) UK 1995 to present: GDP has doubled (so about 2% per annum)

    (2) China 1995 to present: GDP is seventeen times larger (so about 10% per annum)

    Then there's the current year:

    (3) UK - Jeremy Hunt thinks that zero growth of UK GDP might be possible -- but maybe not

    (4) China - plan is for 5% China GDP growth in 2023

    Now....ask yourself.............where do you think "growth" might be occurring?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Long Term Trends Tell An Interesting Story.....

      Are you throwing shade on the Tufton St. acolytes?!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yo!! Quite A List Of A***holes At Tufton Street......But Could Be A Mistake.................

        If you are referring to: ..........................................

        ................................then "Yes"......I am referring to this group...........none of whom seem to understand the word "growth"......................

        ................................but then again, maybe there's a DIFFERENT Tufton Street............................

        ................................please advise!!

    2. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Long Term Trends Tell An Interesting Story.....

      This stat tells a more interesting tale - Energy usage per-capita.


      UK - 5576kWh

      China - 770kWh

      2014 (can't find any more recent numbers)

      UK - 5130kWh

      China - 3905kWh

      So the UK has reduced energy usage by 8% and China has increased by 500%.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Long Term Trends Tell An Interesting Story.....

        Yes, but the UK has increased turd discharge by 500% during the same period.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yo!! Quite A List Of A***holes At Tufton Street......But Could Be A Mistake.................

    If you are referring to: ..........................................

    ................................then "Yes"......I am referring to this group...........none of whom seem to understand the word "growth"......................

    ................................but then again, maybe there's a DIFFERENT Tufton Street............................

    ................................please advise!!

  13. Paul Crawford Silver badge

    That the UK should "focus on other ways of encouraging investment, and on removing obstacles – most obviously high energy costs – that put UK-based battery firms at a disadvantage."

    How about making trade easier with our nearest (and financially much bigger) neighbouring block of countries?

    Oh, forgot, those in charge are the idiots that removed it...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Such was Johnson's fantastic Brexit agreement, the UK can't even make trade easier with the whole of... the UK, let alone its neighbours.

  14. Phones Sheridan Silver badge

    Get down to Charnock Richard Cycles

    Back in the 70s, we used to go on UK seaside vacations, and I recall the streets of said seaside towns were full of 4 man, 4 wheeled bikes that local holidaymakers had rented to get around, a bit like these . I'm surprised these haven't made a resurgence in recent years given how useful and popular they were back then.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Get down to Charnock Richard Cycles

      A relaxation in the unnecessarily burdensome child labour laws and a stock of rickshaws should allow a dynamic market of urchin propelled inner city transport

  15. Bitsminer Silver badge

    Table stakes

    Volkswagen twisted the arm of the ever-popular Justin Trudeau to subsidize a battery "gigafactory" in Canada.

    The factory cost is up to CAD$7G, about £4200 million.

    The subsidy? A production subsidy, assuming lithium batteries have a lock on the market, of £8000 millions. (No product means no subsidy. As if.)

    Stellantis, who made a much smaller subsidy deal before the U.S. IRA act passed, has now downed tools demanding a similar deal from Canada.

    If the UK wants in on the electric-battery business (which seems to be the biggest cost element of EV), that's your reference point.

    Good luck!

  16. PhilipN Silver badge

    I'm with Beanie

    The car industry has had 100 years to make efficient the digging up of minerals and their conversion into and fuelling of the vehicle in your carport.

    Or at least I would like to see a much broader all-encompassing assessment and comparison of the two technologies.

    1. Doctor Tarr

      Re: I'm with Beanie

      It could have all been running on carbon neutral peanuts if someone hadn't pushed Rudolf Diesel off the side of a ship.

      (I have no idea whether the conspiracy is true but it's very interesting)

  17. IGotOut Silver badge

    Still waiting

    Our large village, mostly made up of Victorian terraces has, wait for it, ZERO places to charge.

    Still, I'm sure a thousand or so charge points, plus all the physical infrastructure will be in place by, what was it again? Oh yeah, 7 years time.

    It'll be nice not to have a dozen power cuts a year before we get that far

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Still waiting

      Same in the hippy-dippy West Country town (Pop ~15000) where my parents live. Number of chargers: 0

  18. t245t
    IT Angle

    A less attractive investment location for non-British manufacturers,

    Is there any similar sized economy that manages to thrive doing business with the EU superstate?

  19. Doctor Tarr


    Biggest SNAFU in UK history.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not really sure why any of this is news ?

    "News" implies something unexpected. The UKs ability to fuck anything up is legendary around the world.

    A colleague who was naive enough to believe this could change has just remembered my advising them against getting an electric car 7 years ago, asking how I knew the government could make such a fist of something so critical to industry and the environment.

    If your plans rely on the government doing something, then you are doing something wrong.

    If your plans rely on the government doing something it promised it would do, I would look for another area of interest. Fishermen and farmers should have known that long before they decided to fuck us over.

  21. Binraider Silver badge

    Charging point software needs evolving to be made as simple to use as filling up your petrol or diesel tank. Far too many are hidden behind "please download our shitty 1GB app and register"

    Often in locations with crappy mobile signal and wifi.

    Mandate that, and I'll be there when it comes to replacing my petrol burner. This is not a difficult thing to solve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They should have built it into the charger port.

      Plug in, car identifies itself, charges and bills you.

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