Torch, Torchy, the battery boy ….

Torchy was launched on TV to the unsuspecting young in 1960. A puppet show, whereby the main protagonist ‘Torchy’ was powered by a battery. Was this a subconscious predictor of the future ? Was it a precursor to ‘ Govey, Govey, the battery boy ‘. In a strangely Orwellian manner, one of Mr Bumbledrop’s , Torchy’s on screen creator, opening lines was

I hope you are going to work..

I have to think that this was in the back of Micheal Gove’s mind when announcing the ban on the petrol and diesel cars in 2040.

I don’t have any issues with this strategy, and would buy a battery driven car now, if they were less expensive and had longer ranges. I am also very confident that  the battery technology will have reached that stage within 23 years, assuming I am still capable of driving. It is the ‘knock on effects’ I am less convinced about .

Assuming the charging technology remains the same, but much more efficient than it is today, Property developers both commercial and residential need to putting into place now , on new sites big and small the infrastructure needs of a society where everyone has an electric vehicle. Is this happening or being discussed ? I don’t think so.

What is going to happen in existing sites ? What is going in older urban housing stock , with no garages and no front gardens, yet all residents have vehicles ? Will the whole concept of a garage forecourt, or motorway service areas have to be rethought? Charging technology will undoubtedly get much faster but I can’t see it being as quick as shooting a load of liquid through a hole in the side of your vehicle ( I keep saying vehicle, as I am not convinced cars will be term associated with vehicular travel in the 2040’s). If this is the case the occupants will not want to hang around inside their transport doing sod all, and I suspect the forecourt operators will want them up and out of the ‘car’ spending money in their shopping mall.

In addition to the environmental benefits , there is a much touted cost benefit to electric travel . How so? Yes, currently the cost of recharging is relatively attractive. Come the advent of all vehicles being refuelled by electricity I can’t see this continuing. For starters, with petrol or diesel there is still the element of competition and the conditions of the oil market. With electricity it comes from one source the National Grid. In 2016 there were approximately 45 billion litres of petrol and diesel sold. At an average price , say £1.10, that is £50 billion , a good chunk of government revenue and the balance organisational sales income. This huge  chunk of money cannot just be written down as a ‘saving’ to the economy . Quite the opposite, it will be an economic loss.

None of this matters, well it does, but you could chunder on for ever, listing the implications. As far as I am concerned, the significance points are the motor industry will, and is sorting out the technology and they will achieve what needs to be achieved within the time scale. Government, and that is not just the UK, will not have produced a plan to completely redesign the relevant social and physical infrastructure. The change needs long term cross party  planning .

That plan , even in outline, needs to developed now or maybe ‘Govey’ is thinking

I hope it is going to work….

And here’s another thing…part of the motivation to move towards electrification is the need to move away from the limited resource of fossil fuels. What are batteries made of ? Stuff like cobalt, lithium, nickel, manganese…which are ? Yep, all are from a limited resource.

For those of you wanting to know more of the philosophical futurism of ‘Torchy’ (or a representation of ‘la la land’ government policy) the link below will take you to the first episode..


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