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BBC EV challenge criticised

The BBC’s London to Edinburgh electric car challenge has been criticised by EV supporters and those in the automotive industry.

BBC journalist Brian Milligan began driving from London to Edinburgh in an all-electric Mini, using only publicly accessible charging locations.

The first issue raised by critics of the challenge is the choice of vehicle – the BBC said it chose the Mini E as it was more affordable than other available EVs of similar specification.

However, the electric Mini is a test vehicle produced for trials, and is not yet publicly available. Critics argue that an EV already launched would have been more appropriate and informative, such as the Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-Miev.

Milligan reports that on his journey, "one worry is quickly overtaken by another".

He experienced both "range anxiety" and "charging post anxiety", commenting that the Mini’s range was insufficient and charging posts were hard to find, possibly occupied by another EV driver and took far too long.

However, the critics argue the reality is that current EVs and their accompanying charging technology are designed for short commuter trips and inner city or sub-urban driving, and the majority of the established infrastructure mirrors this.

A 484 mile journey across Britain is beyond the intentional use for most electric vehicles of today; making the entire expedition an “unfair and meaningless test”.

As noted by Next Green Car's director Ben Lane: "While EVs do not suit all journeys, recent trials have shown they are ideal for regular city trips and commuting. No one is suggesting that they are the vehicle of choice for crossing the country or for trips more than 100 miles.

“The fact that a city-based family may need another car for longer trips is much less of a problem than it used to be as city Car Clubs are now available across the UK. Furthermore, most of the research suggests that charging at home, not on-street, will be how most future EVs are refuelled. Having a nation-wide recharging network is not necessary to kick-start the EV revolution."

To help try and redeem EV's reputation, and to prove that electric cars can drive longer distances, a driver from the Tesla Motors Club is to drive the same route in a Tesla sports car and aims to beat Milligan to Edinburgh.

The Tesla will stop twice for charging, with the aim to "counter the ludicrous anti-EV reporting from the BBC."

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