My Book, The Weight of EVs, and of Course Brexit


My Book, The Weight of EVs, and of Course Brexit

It’s done, and by the time that you read this my new best-selling book on garage design should be available to buy from the UK’s Institution of Structural Engineers. Well, there are perhaps just one or two slight exaggerations in that sentence. I am one of several authors and although our contributions are  acknowledged, we don’t get our name on the cover. 

That said, my contributions seem to have been well received and even praised by the independent reviewers, so all in all I feel pretty chipper. Best seller? Well sort of: we have no formal national design standards here, so the earlier editions of this book have filled a rather obvious void  and I wouldn’t think that there are many building design offices that don’t have a copy of the last edition for reference. 

I am not sure what you guys have as an equivalent. The excellent “Parking Structures,” written by Mary Smith and her colleagues at Walker Parking is now over 21 years old and the world has moved on considerably since 2001.

The need for a new guide is absolute. Cars have got bigger and heavier as new models develop. For example: the VW golf has got four inches longer and two inches wider since 2001. Now, with the move to electric vehicles, like for like EVs can be up to a ton heavier that the same model with an ICE. And this is getting serious. 

Heading upmarket from the compact Golf, larger electric vehicles are now reaching weights that exceed the maximum design floor loading for buildings constructed in the 60s and 70s. As the proportion  of EVs increases, it is surely only a matter of time before someone punches through the floor of an older structure. 

It looks like it will soon be necessary for owners/operators to post weight limits at older car parks, not least of all to duck liability when the inevitable happens. Perhaps, John, this necessity is worthy of a slot at PIE, because, at the moment, the industry response seems to be to put their fingers in their ears and go LA, LA, LA very loudly.

Another unexpected consequence of the planned shift to electric vehicles is the need to totally rethink the assumptions around ventilating car parks. All current designs and standards are based on the assumption that cars are burning fossil fuels and producing toxic fumes. This is no longer true. 

We already have a small percentage of EVs and, if the government prevails then a steadily reducing proportion of cars will produce exhaust gas. By 2030, at least over here, no new ICE cars will be sold and within a decade, the residual ICE fleet should just about have disappeared. The need for ventilation will not vanish but, by 2035-40, it will be minimal. The rationale for EVs is to reduce greenhouse gasses, so why run continue to run obsolete ventilation systems when they are no longer needed? 

Darwinism in action? When an aircraft has to be evacuated in an emergency, the plan is that passengers get up and leave. If everyone goes at once, the whole aircraft will be safely emptied in minutes. Sadly, the reality is that time and time again passengers block their fellows’ escape as they try and grab the cases and bags they just can’t live without. And of course, sometimes the delay and chaos that they cause means that they don’t live. 

We recently had the automotive equivalent of this behavior in a shopping mall near Bristol. In the Cabot shopping center, the fire alarm system was triggered meaning that the center had to be evacuated., Did the people evacuate the center? Did they hell? Instead, they went back to their cars and tried to drive out resulting in a gridlocked car park that took 90 minutes to clear. 

If there had been a fire, casualties would have been measured in hundreds, if not thousands, and of course it would have been the car park operator’s fault. I do  remember a few years ago when a large car park was gutted by fire in Liverpool. The car park staff were threatened with violence when they tried to stop members of the public from entering a building, which was fully alight from top to bottom. 

As the philosopher said, “You can’t treat stupid,” and given that there are too many people in the world, perhaps it’s past time we stopped trying.

Meanwhile, back in the place where government policy and reality collide this winter, TESLA owners are apparently having to queue for three hours or more to access a public charger. Also, it seems that over here, new EV registrations have fallen  off a bit of a cliff. Between the second and third quarter of 2021 new registrations rose by just under 20 percent. A year later this had fallen to 9.8 percent. 

To me this is hardly surprising, government subsidies for vehicle and home charger have all but disappeared, electricity  prices have rocketed, charger network growth is moribund, and perhaps the final nail in the coffin is the decision to start charging EVs an annual vehicle excise charge. It’s a week or two since I did basic economic theory at kindergarten, but I don’t remember the lecture on how to promote a policy by attaching financial penalties to following it.

Brexit. Apparently, this is going absolutely swimmingly, exceeding the government’s wildest expectations. In fact, it’s going so well that the government has  commissioned a report to enumerate all the wonderful life enhancing achievements and benefits that we are now enjoying. Only, for some reason they have stopped publication. I wonder why?

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