AutoRAI 2011: temptation of the electric car

It is quite clear from the 2011 AutoRAI, and certainly when compared to the previous edition of the AutoRAI in 2009, that electric road transport has a prominent place in the reporting on the automotive landscape of the future. A large number of manufacturers, led by Opel and Renault, presented their new electric models. On 14 April a VIP/temptation day was held to show potential users the current situation regarding electric road transport. The day attracted a huge amount of interest, with His Royal Highness Prince Maurits – chairman of the Formula E taskforce that is working on behalf of the Dutch government to smooth the way for electric road transport – posing temptingly alongside a pure Dutch electric car, the Qbee. The day also included various workshops on the benefits of electric road transport and about charging the car batteries. I was able to assist Ruud Koornstra (entrepreneur in the field of green products and also a member of the Formula E taskforce) in this battery-charging workshop.

The VIP/temptation day clearly showed that not only are increasing numbers of electric cars being launched, but also that the infrastructure is improving all the time. For example, very soon it will be possible to recharge your battery quickly at the typically Dutch Van der Valk hotel-restaurant chain while you’re inside enjoying your meal. Even petrol service stations such as Total and BP are planning fast-charging stations (unlike Shell, which is avoiding electric cars like the plague). The future is bright for companies such as Epyon who see opportunities here for new products and services.

For me the highlight of the VIP/temptation day was the moment when I was allowed to drive a fast electric sports car, the Tesla Roadster. It was a special treat although it also involved a mild disappointment. In my former life as a motorbiker, if I wanted to race against the fast car next to me, I would challenge him by revving my motor a bit before pulling away. Now I was probably pulling away much faster than I ever did on my motorbike, but the man in the fast car next to me didn’t even realise we were in a race. Still, maybe it’s for the best. In this way, an electric car doesn’t only give you a fast, clean and quiet driving experience, but it also keeps you from playing reckless games.

Cees de Bont – Chairman D-INCERT

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