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UK: Mandate required for transition to electric vehicles

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Sir, It is sad, but true, that a number of technologies with great potential for societal good have been adopted only when their use has been legislatively mandated. A notable example is Westinghouse’s railway air brake, which required a Congressional mandate to enforce its use more than 20 years after its invention. The cited uphill battles being experienced by those attempting to introduce electric vehicles (“Tesla Model S reaches latest growth target”, February 21, and “Electric car group finds journey an uphill battle”, February 23) appear to be 21st-century examples of this phenomenon.

As with the Westinghouse air brake, so have we come to the point where the universal adoption of the electric vehicle needs to be mandated, and the compelling reason for this is the unacceptability of the gross inefficiency of the internal combustion engine (ICE) in a climate of widespread economic austerity, low or negative growth and high unemployment. Like the Concorde aircraft, the petrol-burning ICE needs to be retired as a transportation technology that, though technically feasible, is now economically unsustainable. Only some 20 per cent or so of the fuel used in a petrol-burning ICE-powered vehicle results in motion of the vehicle. This means that of the aggregate societal expenditure on transportation fuel, some 80 per cent of this enormous annual outlay does not provide transportation!
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