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Our friends electric

When I was a kid I had Scalextric. For those of you unfamiliar with this, I should tell you that it was an electrified track system on which colourful plastic cars could be raced. Friends of mine had large and costly setups, set up permanently in attics or garages. I was not permitted this indulgence, however, so whenever I felt like playing with it the whole set had to be brought out of its boxes and laboriously put together. I remember the throttle controls having something of a hair trigger so cars tended to hurtle down the straights and fly off on the corners. For these reasons, and because it was necessary to dismantle it again afterwards, it didn’t get a lot of use. What made me think of it was the move towards electric cars nowadays. I imagine the recent difficulties with fuel supply might have added further impetus to this.

I wonder if anyone has considered the practicality of sinking sources of electricity into the road surfaces so that cars can pickup their power directly from the road beneath, in the manner that Scalextric worked. The necessity of charging such a vehicle is one reason why I have not so far acquired an electric car. Doubtless, the infrastructure for this will rapidly be set in place during the next few years but at present I see significant obstacles if everyone were to be obliged to change to one. Service stations on motorways rarely seem to have more than a couple of chargers available and the same is true of service stations on other roads. People fortunate to live in houses with off-road parking can easily run a cable out to charge their vehicles but in this country at least millions of people live in flats, apartments or terraced housing. My mind conjures up a vision of a spaghetti-like tangle of cables along the pavements. Clearly, that’s not going to happen. Given that the authorities appear to be making it impossible to buy a new petrol/diesel car in the very near future I do wonder how things are going to work out. Are people living in such circumstances going to find themselves unable to own a car? It seems to me that this could be an engine for huge social division. It would be nice to think that clever people in government are mulling this over and setting in place cunning schemes to smooth our way to this idyllic all electric future. Unfortunately, I’ve been on this earth long enough to be troubled by a degree of doubt on this point. (Thanks to Mike, on Pexels for the pic)

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