Where would you go if you had 40 free miles of driving?
Could solar power help electric cars?
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Imagine, if you will, a car that would give you 40 miles of driving each day. For free. Gratis. Nada. What would you do? Where would you go?
I’ve been thinking a bit about this, because electric car startup Aptera reckons its cars could give you that free range. It’s an American company aiming to build machines that can run on solar power, rather than always having to plug them into the grid to charge up the battery, and they say that could give owners enough energy to take them 40 miles each day.
On the face of it, 40 miles doesn’t sound massively far. But if you use it every day, you’re saving a tonne of cash. If I were cruising around in my Morgan Plus Six and not being too flamboyant with my right foot, I could reasonably hope for around 35mpg, which at current fuel prices (for super unleaded, obviously) would work out at around £6.70 for 40 miles. So over the course of a month, that’s nearly £208. Or, to put it more starkly, that’s nearly £2,500 a year. I could buy another motorbike for that...
The Morgan has never given me 40 miles of free driving. Not once.
Now, obviously exactly how much energy you’ll harvest from the sun will depend on where you live, and sunnier places will get more distance than, say, Scotland. But you’ll be able to plug the Aptera in to charge as well, just in case the clouds aren’t playing ball.
But if I had 40 miles to play with every day, and absolutely no charge for it, where would I go? Well, I live in rural Herefordshire, but despite being surrounded by trees and horses and people in tweed, there’s actually quite a lot within a 40 mile radius of my house. Bristol, for example – a lovely city. Cheltenham – great shopping. Newport – a place in Wales.
But actually, although this is just a flight of fancy, I have to think about this a bit more. Drawing a 40-mile circle around my house won’t work, because I’ve got to get back again. So we’ll have to tighten it to 20 miles. That still gives me Great Malvern – where my Morgan was made – as well as Hereford, where the SAS live, and Gloucester, which has a Jet Age Museum.
Cheltenham might still be in the picture, just, but I’ll be very low on free electricity by the time I get back. And light as the Aptera is, I don’t really want to push it the last few miles home.
But wait. This is all assuming I can travel as the crow flies, in a straight line. And unless Aptera have left some fairly significant capabilities off their press release, their car can’t actually fly in a straight line. I’ll have to use roads.
That means Hereford is still a go, just about, but the SAS barracks at Credenhill, just beyond it, will be too far. Sorry boys, you’ll have to save the world without me. Great Malvern is too far as well. I could go to nearby Ledbury though, where I used to live. There’s a very nice Italian restaurant there.
The thing is, 40 miles is actually quite a long way, and even when I’m ensconced in the middle of fields and trees and charming village pubs, there’s loads of things I could see. But I’d spend more time thinking about where to go than it would take to actually go there. And I’d have to do it every day. It’s enough to make me want to lie down.
Of course, another idea would just be to go out and drive around for 40 miles and savour the experience. Particularly in a futuristic electric car, in a beautiful rural idyll. Yeah, maybe I’ll just do that.
So what would you do with 40 miles a day? Let us know in the comments below.