By Adam Raphael
Most of us have follies. Mine is the irresistible itch of an early adopter. Two years ago, I put down a deposit on a Tesla Model 3. Assuming that the company’s erratic genius, Elon Musk, can manufacture it, it is due to arrive any day. That raises the issue of where to charge it. Fortunately, a growing number of our selected hotels now have charging points, so the Guide has created a page on which hotels with electric car charging points are listed. The gap, however, between the technology and the necessary infrastructure, is still disturbingly large.
The predominant fear of electric car owners is ‘range anxiety’, in other words running out of power. The New Civil Engineer, a leading industry publication, predicts that there will be more than one million electric cars in the UK by next year, requiring at least 80,000 new charging points, four times as many as now exist. Rapid charging points which can charge a car within less than an hour are even scarcer. There are fewer than 2000 rapid chargers in the whole of the UK, according to one estimate. Some councils, including my own, have started installing charge points in lamp posts but these are painfully slow, taking up to 24 hours to fully charge an extended range battery.
For hotels this should provide a great opportunity to attract well-heeled guests. As one Guide owner of an electric car noted: ‘The fact of a charging point is something which would certainly convince me to spend a weekend away at a particular hotel.’ Another Guide reader, Chris Bletsoe says: ‘I want to go to Norfolk and stay at Titchwell Manor, but sadly I can’t go. My BMWi3 has an effective range of just over 100 miles. I could just get to the hotel, but they don’t have charging points installed.’
One of the earliest of the Guide’s selected hotels to equip itself is OLD DOWNTON LODGE, which accepted Tesla’s offer to install two ‘destination’ charging points more than two years ago. The chargers were provided free, the £700 cost of installation was met by the hotel. Mr Willem Vlok, the owner of the hotel, says: ‘They have proved their worth. They are getting used quite a lot and definitely helps people find us.’ Another of the Guide’s selected hotels, the GREEN HOUSE in Bournemouth, which prides itself on its green credentials ranging from solar panels and beehives to organic bed linen, also installed a dedicated Tesla charging point and a type 2 charger for other sorts of electric cars a year ago. Its website declares: ‘Soon this won’t be a thing to shout about, because everyone will have gone electric. In the meantime, we’re happy to do our bit helping to push this change along.’
The jury may still be out on electric cars, They cost more than their petrol or diesel equivalents. Their resale values are uncertain. Battery technology, despite the billions being invested in research, is advancing at a frustratingly slow pace. But they are the future.
London’s utra-low emission zone which levies a £12.50 charge on all old diesel cars 24 a day hours is set to be extended to a much bigger area in 2021. Where London leads, other cities will follow. The government is under pressure to accelerate the phasing out of all petrol and diesel cars before the planned date of 2040. Fully autonomous self-driving cars will be here before then. Hotels, which anticipate and cater for this motoring revolution, will benefit.
Those who are sceptical about global warming and the precautionary measures that need to be taken urgently should listen to what is being talked about in schools. Where children lead, their parents follow. Any political party, left, right, or centre which ignores green issues, will lose votes.