Cash Needs to be the King


Cash Needs to be the King

Here in the UK, it is reported that it now costs more to insure an EV than an ICE car. Reading between the lines, it seems that the insurers are so worried about the possibility of a catastrophic event if the battery pack is damaged that, if the unit case is as much as scratched, I exaggerate, but not by much, they scrap it and replace it. Now, if every fender bender is going to cost the insurers up to $20K you can understand why.

Whilst on the subject of EVs, it is becoming increasingly obvious that EV range, like Internet speeds is largely a work of fiction. Over here, your internet service is always advertised as “up to…” with the proffered speed being unachievable in almost all possible conditions. Apparently, as long as the purveyor can demonstrate that it might be achieved, just possibly at midnight, with a full moon, when goblins are dancing round your router, then it’s OK to blatantly mislead. In the same way, EV vehicles are advertised with ranges “up to…” which have little or no connection with reality. 

The consumer organization WHICH found that the average range of EVs was 20 percent lower than claimed. Further, WHICH found that the battery needed 15 percent more energy than claimed to become fully charged. So, if my car should go 200 miles on a full charge, costing say $100, first it will cost me $115 dollars; and second, I can actually only go 160 miles. To actually do the 200 miles would cost about $145.

A few years ago, I bet one of your industry’s brightest stars ten of your Yankee dollars that by the end of the last decade somewhere in the world autonomous vehicles would be available and in use. He was adamant that they wouldn’t, no way, not now, not ever, never. He won the bet and I duly paid up. Although he was right about the timescale, I think I was right about the future. Autonomous vehicle trials are widespread and here in the UK, the government has approved multiple trials with various buses and service vehicles and has announced that restricted use of self-driving vehicles would be allowed from this spring. Well, actually that timescale has just been set back a bit, but it’s when, not if.

It would be an understatement to describe the British government’s attitude to electric scooters as ambivalent. Somebody in the industry gave a good sales pitch to a politician and they enthusiastically promoted the vehicle as a good thing because they would replace cars for commuting. Except they don’t. Somewhere in the government, a voice of caution was raised and so, instead of simply opening the floodgates, the government opted for limited trials. Limited geographically, by the scooters’ performance, and by only allowing scooters provided by licensed commercial providers for hire, and users who are supposed to be of an age to have a driving license. 

“If you’re a private operator running a car park, then it’s your choice how you do business and if you don’t want my pound that’s fine. I will go somewhere else”

It hasn’t worked, of course, and there are probably well over a million illegal privately owned scooters zooming around causing mayhem. The regulated vehicles have a top speed of just 15.5 mph; however, privately owned ones reaching 60 mph are widely available. The accident rates are appalling, but unfortunately there is no systematic data collection. Gradually, one by one, the trials are dropping by the wayside. That will leave just the illegals to be dealt with and Darwinism in action is already eroding their numbers. Meanwhile, Paris has seen the light. In a referendum, 90 percent of those voting wanted the scooters gone.

 Most UK car parks (garages) are multi-level above-ground structures with simple open access for anyone who cares to go in. Sadly, this makes them a destination of choice for those poor people who have decided to end their lives. The numbers are not clear, but in 2022 at least 17 people are known to have died by jumping or falling from car parks. 

Now, Marie Eagle, a member of parliament from Liverpool, has tabled legislation to try to prevent suicide in car parks. The draft law has two principal parts. The first will require that all new and existing buildings be fitted with barriers that, put simply, stop people from jumping. I can’t see any reason not to do that. Maintenance apart, it’s a non-recurring cost that, if done with a bit of imagination could enhance the appearance of the building. One building that I worked on near a sports venue had metal grids designed by the local art college to show silhouettes of sports men and women. 

However, the second requirement to have staff present will be much more contentious. The Bill would require that every parking structure has a staff presence 24/7 at a level set by the government. In round terms, that would cost something north of half a million dollars per post, per year. I do not see the gain, especially if all the decks are caged so jumping is no longer possible.

I think that I have mentioned before that there is a move towards cashless parking in the UK, with more and more sites changing to payment by credit card and/or pay by phone. If you’re a private operator running a car park, then it’s your choice how you do business and if you don’t want my pound that’s fine. I will go somewhere else. However, if you are a public body offering a statutory public service regulated by law, I believe that it’s a whole different ball game. 

It’s a public service and should, nay must, be available to all. Requiring me to have a credit card and/or mobile phone, neither of which the operator controls access to, is not acceptable. And now Michael Gove, the responsible government minister, seems to agree with me. He has written to all local authorities telling them that they must not take cash out of their parking operations. Well done, Mr. Gove.

Article contributed by:
Peter Guest, Parking Tales from Big Ben
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