Batteries, batteries, batteries: Where we go from here?
For the past twelve months I've been testing a Nissan Leaf, the all-electric motoring solution. Surprisingly, not only is it supremely quiet and economical, charged from my home port, it is fast, comfortable and very refined. In fact, it feels like a small limousine, considerably more refined even than an equivalent Audi A3 or VW Golf. I would buy an electric car in a heartbeat if it weren't for one snag: Range.
Give the Nissan Leaf a range of 250 miles instead of 85 and it would become a viable car for most average motorists. Everything else but range makes a car like the Leaf a superior vehicle to one with an internal combustion engine. In fact, if most of your motoring is done around cities, including a daily commuting run of up to 30 miles, this is by far the best option.
It's batteries that are the problem. Although battery technology has come on by leaps and bounds this century, spearheaded by the quest for smaller and more powerful devices as well as the best efforts of the car industry, we are not there yet.
Encouragingly, there are clear signs that battery technology is due for a breakthrough. Writing in Pocket-Lint today, Luke Edwards says:
A breakthrough in aluminium-air batteries means that in 2015 we will see the release of the Alfa battery that has 40 times the capacity of lithium-ion. This battery will be able to recharge by simply being topped up with water, be it salty or normal. It should last a hefty 14 days, according to its creators Fuji Pigment and will be out later this year. We'd expect to see these batteries appear in cars first - imagine a fuelling station being anywhere with a water tap. Hopefully mobiles will be next in line.
The Alfa is just one of the new technologies and, for the first time in many years, I am now feeling hopeful that the breakthrough is nigh. Longer lasting, more efficient batteries would transform our lives. We already rely on batteries for so many things, just imagine what the future holds.