A fifth car…

Riversimple car

Riversimple car

Our car club goes from strength to strength. We’ve been up and running for just over two years, membership has trebled; we now have 38 households sharing 4 cars. Most of us find we walk, cycle, use public transport and lift share more and use cars less than we did before joining the club, which was all part of the original idea. As our numbers grow, we are thinking about getting a fifth car. We want it to be as ecologically sustainable as possible, yet practical and affordable. I would love it if our next car was not fossil-fuel powered. What are the options?

Electric cars are really beginning to take a major market share in some countries. The Tesla S and Nissan Leaf have been selling more than any petrol or diesel models in Norway in recent months. As Norway gets virtually 100% of its electricity from renewables (mainly hydro) this makes sense, and as the Norwegians develop wind, wave and tidal energy it is logical for them to invest in converting transport infrastructure and domestic heating to electricity. However in UK, like most countries, our electricity comes largely from gas and coal, so converting to electric cars makes less sense. Only if we can recharge with rooftop solar and grid supplied renewables will it be worthwhile.

The efficiency of the cars is also critical, and weight and speed are prime determinants. The Tesla S is quite luxurious, can go pretty fast and has a long range between recharges, so needs large batteries, weights 2,108 kg, so needs more power, meaning more weight. This is not very sustainable unless perhaps it is in a Norwegian context of abundant renewable energy. Lower top speeds, lighter weight and shorter range mean greater fuel efficiency, but the shorter range of some such vehicles was a factor why our car club didn’t buy one of these a couple of years ago.

The Riversimple hydrogen fuel cell car looks to me to be the most ecologically sustainable car yet. I absolutely love the whole systems thinking behind the company, how they do business, how they have designed a 350 kg car which does over 200 mpg and why they plan not to sell them, but only to lease. However they are not in production yet. Hopefully they’ll be available next year, maybe even in Hereford. Then I’ll have to persuade the rest of the car club that they are a good idea, practical and affordable for the club as a whole.

Our car club http://www.stjamescarclub.org

Riversimple http://riversimple.com

Rise of electric cars in Norway http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in_electric_vehicles_in_Norway