Pedal to the floor in my electric dreams

HMMM . . . Santa Monica . . . I murmur to myself, daydreaming of almost perpetual sunshine and warm sand while all outside is white and slippery here. Or almost to myself. Because Emma has that vexing teenage habit of leaning forcefully against your arm, blocking the light and reading over your shoulder. “California. Cool. Can we go there on holiday, Dad?” Well, cherub, maybe . . . but only if we a) win the lottery and b) spend a day or two at the AltCar Expo – the annual green transport show – and check out the electric-powered cars taking the world by storm. (Quietly and steadily, obviously.) “Electric cars? Yuk. That’s, like, so lame. Why do you always like boring cars?” Emma covets a sporty Mini. All that stands between her and her dream is �11,000, 18 months and a driving licence.

With a youthful sense of immortality and a lack of consideration for others, she drives fast and assertively in those dreams. In the real world, my driving style is dismissed as pedestrian and dull. I resist the urge to tell her I did 100mph on the autobahns of Germany in 1987 (and once on the A12 past Woodbridge at 2am – for 10 seconds, just to see if my car was up to it). Although she’d never admit as much, evidence that her father was once born to be wild would destabilise Emma’s view of the universe. Dad’s role is to be simultaneously safe and predictable and the object of tuts and rolled eyes for being so.

I’m reading about cars because one of ours is virtually measuring-up for curtains for its room at the automotive care home. It’s about a dozen years old and has been away for a service and MoT, including work to cut out cancerous rust and weld some new (and unmatching) strips in its place. When it bows to the inevitable, I’d love an electric model in which to commute.

For a long time, electric cars seemed like pie in the sky; but while sceptics scoffed, experts beavered away. Just one example: Nissan’s Leaf (yes, rubbish name) is the first mass-produced electric car to go on sale here (although a �23,990 price tag would require yet another lottery triumph). It can travel 100 miles on a charge likely to cost �2.

With electric vehicles being quiet, Nissan found wind noise became more intrusive. So boffins designed headlamp clusters that deflected air around the wing mirrors, where a lot of wind noise emanated. Wonder if they could do the same with know-it-all and twittering teenagers who want to interrupt their parents’ reverie . . .

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