OXFORD is primed for an electric vehicle revolution but substantial challenges still stand in the way, a summit has heard.
Car manufacturers, city leaders and academics came together in Oxford this week to discuss how to encourage more people to buy electric cars in light of concerns about carbon emissions and air pollution.
Mairi Brookes, the sustainable city team manager at Oxford City Council, who is responsible for co-ordinating efforts to introduce the world’s first zero emission zone in the city from 2020, conceded it would be ‘quite a challenge.’
But she said the council had learnt an ‘enormous amount’ from on-street charging pilots on residential streets which has already led to more people deciding to go electric for their next car.
It has helped look at questions such as who owns the chargers and who will install and maintain them, all of which will be fed into an evaluation currently being completed.
Oxford’s affluent areas and engaged community contributes to the city being seen as an ideal location for ‘early adopters’ of electric cars but numbers have so far been low, according to Ms Brookes.
She added: “We are a small city with big ideas and that is a really powerful combination.”
Tom Hayes, board member for safer, greener, environment, said he felt all the key stumbling blocks – price, range and complexity – were being addressed.
He said: “We have heard the price of electric vehicles is dropping dramatically, that the range they can go is getting ever further and owning one is becoming simpler, with people having easier access to quicker chargers.
“I think people should feel reassured they are becoming cheaper, growing in number and availability, simpler to operate and can drive further.
“They are the best way to keep our air clean and ensure we can continue to enjoy driving.”
Tony Douglas, BMW’s head of brand for its ‘mobility services’ including charging, car-sharing and parking, said councils should introduce as many pilot schemes as possible to get people used to seeing and using electric and autonomous cars.
He added: “People are complicated but what really motivates them is getting it out there and letting them try it out. We need to move away from talking about this to proving it works with real people.”