Plugged in: is electric really the way to go?

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It was interesting to read a report by Andrew Keddie in the Southern Reporter (March 10) regarding Scottish Borders Council’s successful application to the Scottish Government for funding for low carbon vehicle procurement.

These vehicles will have a “typical running cost of three pence per mile compared to the current cost of around 40 pence per mile’’. This is a great saving for SBC if the figures are correct.

However, the part of the report that makes alarm bells sound to me is further on in the article.

The first being from Councillor Riddell-Carre who says ‘’We are at the beginning of the era of electric cars – the transport of the future – and it is excellent that the council is able to use this grant to promote sustainable transport and allow us to make savings in the essential services delivered by our social workers’’.

Councillor Frances Renton then goes on to say her department was “more than happy to engage in the initiative and support the first initial steps in developing an electric car infrastructure in the Borders’’.

Have these councillors put any thought into the cost implications of having more electric vehicles?

This initiative is a fantastic idea if all the funding for procurement of vehicles comes from the Scottish Government. On the other hand, if Scottish Borders Council have to fund the procurement of the vehicles it does not seem such a favourable idea.

The reason I’m concerned about this is that, from the figures stated in the report, if SBC has to pay for another three vehicles, this would be £90,000 (no charging stations needed as they are in place) from Council Tax coffers. With this in mind, based on a saving of 37 pence per mile (current 40 pence less new cost of three pence) the three vehicles would have to cover a total mileage in excess of 243,000 miles before any saving would be made by SBC.

Please correct me if I have done my sums wrong, but I can only go by the figures submitted by SBC.

I say well done to John Martin for securing this initial funding in the first place and this employee should be treasured by SBC.

I’d like to finish by asking please, whoever is in charge of making decisions about future spending at SBC, have a wee look at the figures I have submitted and see what you think of them before signing the cheque for more vehicles.

David Black

Newtown St Boswells

I was interested to read Andew Keddie’s article about SBC’s intention to spend the Scottish Government’s £105,000 grant on 3 Citroen C-Zero electric cars and charging stations.

This particular model cannot be purchased and is only available on a four-year lease, mileage restricted to 10,000 per annum - total 40,000 miles. At a cost of £498 per month (incl VAT), the lease works out at £23904 + charging station £5,000 – total £28,904; residual value nil.

As a comparison, a new Citroen C1 can be bought for £6,000 at the moment. Calculating on the same basis of 10,000 miles per annum @ 53 mpg, fuel usage is 188.68 gallons. At a rough cost of £6 per gallon of petrol, the annual fuel cost is £1,132.

Multiply that by four years = £4,528. Add the cost of the car @ £6,000 and you arrive at a total of £10,528. Calculating the residual value of a four-year old, 40,000 mile economical car at, say, £2,528 leaves a total cost of £8,000.

Ask your readers – if you were spending your own money, which option would you take?

I am sure that we can all think of better and more worthy causes to receive Government grants. Aren’t they supposed to be looking at ways to cut expenditure?

Iain Taylor

Town Yetholm