When it comes to making big changes to how we do the everyday things, this can take time. This is typified by electric cars, which have been making a steady rather than speedy incursion onto our roads en-masse.
The announcement of further Department for Transport support for the electric charging infrastructure in the UK last week certainly piqued public interest (and had our low-carbon transport spokesperson Caroline happily making her way to the news studios).
Registrations of electric vehicles have been on a decent upward curve, helped by government grant schemes and even the occasional not-altogether defamatory review from Top Gear.
And when sponsored articles on the top electric cars from the likes of Auto Trader are creeping into the mainstream press, you know there’s a sense that this is something on the cusp of gathering some serious momentum.
Nissan certainly would be inclined to agree. Their Leaf model has now passed 50,000 sales globally, or put another way, 162 million miles of electric driving.
There seem to be little peaks of electric car publicity every now and then – and now is one of them. On top of the latest UK news, the New York Mayor has set out plans for 10,000 dedicated EV parking spaces in the city within the next seven years, while the gadget bloggers are getting excited about the Casple Podadera, an electric model which ‘folds up’ for parking in tiny places.
No emerging technology can expect universal praise and no controversy, though, and after being embroiled in a heated, er, discussion, with the aforementioned Top Gear previously, manufacturer Tesla is again unhappy with the reporting of a test of the range of one of their vehicles, suggesting a test set up to fail. Being the new kid on the block is rarely a walk in the park.
The advent of the new doesn’t mean giving up on improving the old ideas, either. The University of Sheffield is hoping to use science commonly associated with human health – ultrasound – to improve the health of the combustion engine.
It’s all about getting the optimum lubrication levels for engines: too little results in wear, too much causes surplus oil to be burnt in the engine. The academics’ breakthrough involves ultrasonic pulses being passed through the engines’ enclosed cylinders, enabling accurate measurement. Here’s to slick reduced-carbon performance all round.