Government climate spokesperson ‘won’t swap diesel for EV’

Allegra Stratton accused of reinforcing damaging myths after saying she ‘doesn’t fancy’ going electric

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 5:02 pm
Updated Tuesday, 3rd August 2021, 5:38 pm
Allegra Stratton said that an EV did not currently fit with her lifestyle (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The Government’s climate spokesperson has been accused of perpetuating damaging myths about electric cars after saying she had no plans to ditch her diesel VW Golf in favour of an EV.

Allegra Stratton said that the 13-year-old diesel car suited her lifestyle better and she wouldn’t switch to an EV until the technology and infrastructure was more advanced.

She told Times Radio that she used the third-hand Volkswagen for trips of between 200 and 250 miles from her north London home to family in Scotland, Wales and the Lake District and did not want to face the prospect of “quite a long stop to charge” with her young children in the car.

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Allegra Stratton has been accused of perpetuating myths around the UK's charging infrastructure (Photo: Gridserve)

Stratton said her son was keen for her to switch to an electric car but said: “Right now... they're all journeys that I think would be at least one quite long stop to charge. And my kids are seven and four and I don't fancy it just yet.”

She added that she might consider swapping her Golf when “the stop times for recharging improve so much that it's half an hour”.

Adrian Keen, CEO of public charging firm Instavolt, pointed out that many facilities can already add more than 100 miles of range in less than 30 minutes and said that Stratton's comments were damaging to the Government's own efforts to encourage drivers to switch to EVs.

He said: While public charging speeds do vary between networks the technology is improving and charging speeds are increasing. InstaVolt’s newest 120kW chargers can add over 100 miles of range in 15 minutes and we are continuing to review faster charging hardware with a view to bring 150kW+ chargers to market this financial year.”

Keen added: “Myths surrounding reliability and accessibility to EV charging points have been among the key barriers to entry for consumers when it comes to purchasing EVs. Comments like Allegra’s continue to perpetuate these barriers, by fuelling archaic negative connotations with EVs. In her position of authority as government climate spokeswoman, it’s potentially incredibly damaging to the EV sector - and the government’s climate change targets as a whole - to hear that she is not encouraging uptake, rather damning it.”

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AA President Edmund King, himself an EV driver, also questioned her arguments, pointing out that the average range of an EV is now more than 200 miles. He said: “Unfortunately too many views on EVs are myth, based on hype and unwarranted range anxiety.

"Even on a rare journey of over 200 miles the driver should stop to take a break anyway for road safety reasons, so why not combine it with a rapid charge that takes just 20 minutes to go from a quarter charge to over 80 per cent?”

Toddington Harper is chief executive of Gridserve which operates a high-speed charging hub in Essex and has just taken over the running of the Electric Highway motorway charging network. He said it was “great” that Stratton was looking forward to the days of 30-minute recharges as it was already the case on his network. He told The Times: “Last week, across the Gridserve Electric Highway network we charged over 7,000 electric vehicles, and the average charging time was only half an hour.”

Last week Stratton said that the Government’s net zero plan to reduce CO2 emissions was too far away, adding: “We have to be changing our carbon emissions output right now so that we can stop temperature increase by 2030. We have to feel the fierce urgency of now.”