The Sunday Times 21 April 1991
Austria had ideas for recharging electric cars nearly 20 years ago. Solar panels will charge batteries, but the optimism of the ÖAMTC in setting up the free filling station I wrote about has not been borne out. Solar cells might produce enough power to run a small scooter a mile or six but despite decades of airy talk Austria has 4.5million cars of which only 2800 are electric. Campaigners want 100,000 by 2020 and what they contemptuously term gas guzzlers phased out entirely, yet despite tedious conferences, well-funded academic papers and hopeful debates, practicalities are overwhelming. Electric cars are as old as the industry but like so-called renewable energy from subsidised wind farms they remain unattainable except within towns. Dr Thomas Weber, head of car research at Mercedes-Benz, which spends €4billion every year second-guessing what the politicians will try to appease shrill cries from the Eco-biassed, readily admitted to the Fleet Street Group (see older blog) that if the lobbyists got their way, we would all need not one but two cars. Human ingenuity can not yet square the circle. Nobody knows how fast fuel cells will develop but the nature of electricity still defies storage in anything as readily portable as a car fuel tank.
Pious hope. Kerbside charging with road painting and metered refuelling