"I am always impressed when motoring 'pundits' say 'electric cars will have low resale value' because they must have developed time travel. How does anyone know? You can guess, but often those guesses are based on misconception and bias.
"The only second hand electric car I've seen sold was a 1998 Toyota RAV E4 which sold on E-Bay two years ago for more than it cost originally. I would suggest that electric cars will hold their value more than pundits predict..."
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Robert Llewellyn is perhaps best-known to the public for his stint as Kryten on the phenomenally-successful cult classic Red Dwarf, and as presenter of Scrapheap Challenge. But away from television, he is a playwright, an author a stand-up and much more besides.
Robert is phenomenally passionate about cars, which is complemented by his incredible enthusiasm for clean electric technology. In an exclusive interview with MotorTorque, Robert Llewellyn was kind enough to give his thoughts on the future of electric cars, the green industry in general, what governments can do to help cut emissions and the long-term benefits of cutting the carbons from our daily diet.
On 'leaving fossils in the past'
Robert recently attended the 'Electrifying road transport: between now and 2050' conference (sponsored by Renault-Nissan) in Belgium. On his blog, Robert praised the forward thinking of those of those in attendance, but also lamented in part how long it will take for a fully-electric future to be realised.
So, what foundations can we lay now to change our way of thinking?
"I think it is imperative that we try and encourage people to see the big picture. What we are doing now is simply unsustainable and very short-term.
"Of course oil isn't going to run out, but equally it is only going to get more expensive. We can become more energy independent and that would take a massive burden off our government as regards foreign policy and dubious conflicts we might be drawn into.
"We are uniquely blessed in the UK regarding resources for renewable energy and we should be encouraging that above all else.
"Diesel is my real bugbear, it is filthy, the fumes are carcinogenic, (a recent World health Organisation report on this thorny topic has been largely ignored by the British press) there is no such thing as 'clean diesel' and it is a technology we should ditch as fast as coal-burning power stations."
On political science
Though Robert, like most electric advocates, is keen to see a change in public philosophy regarding electric vehicles, we wonder if the government could be doing more to publicise green technology.
"I don't envy politicians, it's a delicate balance. Clearly the government know they don't have much choice. In the long run we have to stop burning oil, but as we know, burning oil is very popular, particularly among men.
"Suggesting to some men that they stop burning oil is tantamount to removing their masculine identity. Talking therapies are available gents, just saying...
"So if taxpayers' money is used to encourage electric car use, bull-necked men who believe burning oil is a fundamental white-male right tend to get very moody.
"There might be alternatives. Short-term electric car-rental schemes are becoming very popular. If you live in a big city, imagine not having to own a car but still being able to use one whenever you wanted.
"Car2Go and similar systems in Europe - soon in Birmingham - represents a step-change in the way we use cars. No booking, no special parking place, no return it to where you got it. Get in drive, get out, forget it. Perfect for electric cars and a way to massively reduce congestion and pollution in our cities."
On the Nissan Leaf
It's no secret that Robert's in love with the Nissan Leaf. It's refreshing to hear that he doesn't buy into the very-public perception that electric cars are weak on the road, and are likely to cut out midway through a journey.
"Regarding range anxiety, the first thing I always say is have you ever run out of petrol? A lot of people have and obviously, it goes without saying, you just pour more petrol in and off you go.
"If you're near a petrol station, if it's open, if you've got a can, or you call roadside assistance and they pour petrol in for you. However you deal with that situation it takes time, so you try and avoid it. You plan ahead.
"I've now driven 18,000 miles in a Nissan Leaf and I've never run out. I've gotten close, but I've never actually ground to a halt and burst into tears. If I am about to go onto a motorway and drive 90 miles and the battery indicator says 30 miles range guess what. I don't do it.
"However there are now charge points at nearly every motorway services, I've used many of them. It takes longer, you have to plan ahead. It's not going to suit everyone but it is possible. When I drive from my home into central London, the overall fuel cost for the 220 mile round trip is less than £2.
"That means when I drive a heavy old fossil burner I have a different kind of anxiety which is focussed directly on my wilting credit card."
On going electric
But what would Robert go for today, entirely from a consumer point-of-view?
"It depends on so many things. Personally I would go for a full electric because I now have the experience that for over 90% of the journeys I need to make, it is more than adequate.
"I've driven the Ampera and more recently the plug in Prius, both brilliant cars, both will prove themselves to be very popular. I would say the plug in hybrid will be the most common in the next 5-10 years, with the all electric steadily growing as people realise they do actually work."
On a Fully Charged future
Robert produces Fully Charged, an online show that looks at energy consumption and highlights how we can change our attitudes. He also produces Carpool, a brilliant car-based chat show that started online and was picked up quickly by digital channel Dave. Can shows like these on more mainstream avenues help change public perceptions?
"Ahh, the TV industry, yes, I certainly have issues with certain aspects of it, but generally I think we have a vibrant and diverse TV culture in the UK. Maybe too much cooking, singing, absurd competitions and cooking, and did I mention singing? But, every now and then, breath-taking brilliance.
"One of the reasons I have tried putting TV-type shows on the internet was to see if it could be done. Thanks to new technology it is now possible to create a show outside the existing broadcast system.
"I started with Carpool and have continued with Fully Charged. I then experimented with Carpool on broadcast TV and while it was anything but a disaster, it feels like its true home is on the internet.
"More people watch it there for a start and more importantly people from all over the globe. About 40% of Carpool views are from outside the UK, same with Fully Charged.
"I would of course love to present a well funded, prime time popular mainstream TV show about the future of energy, engineering, electric cars and associated subjects. I think it's a vitally important topic and one that is still largely ignored by mainstream TV."
But is the web the best forum to highlight matters such as electric cars and their benefits?
"I don't know if it's the best forum, it's the only one I've got. I sometimes rant to my chickens but I don't get much feedback.
"Certainly the experience of posting things online, text and video is so much about the conversation. It's not broadcasting, in the old model you said your piece, maybe 2 months later you'd get a letter but that was about it.
"When I post a new episode of Fully Charged on YouTube, the response is instant and often challenging, but generally positive and informative. It really does feel like an intense conversation in a very noisy crowded room, it can give you a headache but you leave feeling invigorated."
Written by John Meadowcroft