INEOS Automotive

The future of the electric car

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Chairman of INEOS, makers of the INEOS Grenadier, recently expressed his opinions on the future of electric cars in the UK in the Daily Telegraph.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Founder and Chairman of INEOS Group

Image: INEOS Group

“The electric car is not popular today.   The early adopters have all bought theirs so now the car giants are having to persuade ‘normal punters’ of the merits of going electric.   And they are having none of it.

“There is a rather fundamental drawback with the electric car.  It simply doesn’t do what you want a car to do.  It doesn’t get you from A to B reliably if you are on a long journey.   And you have no idea whether you will be able to fill it up.  Put it together and it’s referred to as ‘range anxiety’.   And it’s very real.

“Electric is fine and dandy for the short local journey, but should you decide to head off for the hills, forget it.   And hence demand has dried up.   Tesla is making 14,000 workers redundant.   Sales of electric in Germany in March collapsed by 30%.   You can’t give a second-hand electric car away in the UK.

“Politicians have been dreaming of vote winning green agendas and utopian engineering and energy switches.   Dreams of course, don’t need to be real.   They don’t need to accommodate the needs of the consumer, the practicalities of installing colossal new infrastructure and the small matter of where all this electricity is coming from?   Coal?

“Flipping transportation from fossil fuels direct to electric is not like flipping a light switch.    The very notion is barmy, which is why the USA predicts electric car take up by 2050 in the USA will only be 20%.   In Europe, our idealists are heading towards 100%.

“The solution is not difficult.   There needs to be a transition period between fossil fuels and green fuels.   And during this transition, the world needs to install the necessary infrastructure and energy modifications and throughout the transition phase the ‘trajectory’ towards green fuels needs to be positive.

“The transition period will also allow time for alternative technologies to emerge.   Hydrogen fuel is clearly an interesting option for larger vehicles either in the form of a hydrogen fuel cell or direct burn hydrogen engines.   There will be other clean fuels too in time.

“The interim solution today which serves the need of the consumer is either the hybrid or electric vehicle with range extender (REX).   I like the latter.   Bear with me.

“The REX is a fully electric car.   It is always electric.   Let’s say it has a range of 300 kilometres.   You can charge it in the normal manner.   However, tucked away under the bonnet is a small engine and a generator.    The engine powers the generator, when requested, which in turn charges the battery.  The engine is not connected to the pedal, so is simple, efficient and reliable.   The car has a modest fuel tank and in total the car has a range of let’s say 700 kilometres.    You can charge it in the normal way, or you can fill up at a gas station.   Why would you ever buy a fully electric car when you have this option of an electric vehicle with range extender with then complete absence of range anxiety.

“This is not the politician’s utopian world, but it serves the consumer well and maintains a very positive trajectory towards zero emissions during this transitional phase.”

(The article appeared in the Telegraph on the 9th May 2024, and was written Sir Jim Ratcliffe, Founder and Chairman of INEOS Group)

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