Leap of faith

Arguably the biggest stumbling block to low emissions motoring is the fear of the unknown: the consumer’s fear of investing in the automotive equivalent of the Betamax, and more pertinently, industry’s fear that it could waste vast resources on something no-one wants.

In recent months, the rising prices at the pumps have added a renewed urgency to the debate, and as the cost of running a combustion engine continues to bite, suggestions that consumers might embrace electric cars are growing in volume.

A survey published last week by motor insurance company esure, indicates that almost 75 per cent of motorists would consider driving an electric car. People surveyed at the Eden Project’s Sexy Green Car Show earlier this year said they would be prepared to pay up to 30 per cent more for a car powered solely by electricity.

Admittedly, such surveys are pretty low-scale, they are also just surveys, affording participants the luxury of dreaming whilst freed from the financial pressures of a real-life decision. There’s little chance, for instance, that many consumers would countenance spending 30 per cent more for an electric car.

But it while it might not be much to go on, these little snapshots of consumer confidence in a fledgling market are really all the auto industry has to go on. And ultimately it will be the car industry and not the consumer that has to take the first big leap into the unknown to develop the vehicles and infrastructure that will bring zero-emissions motoring to the masses.

Jon Excell, features editor