Imagine the satisfaction of driving your environmentally friendly electric car for 1,500 miles without having to stop to recharge the battery – a distance more than four times as far as the best and most expensive model currently on the road.
Under the bonnet is a revolutionary new type of battery which, unlike those used in conventional electric cars, can also power buses, huge lorries and even aircraft. What’s more, it’s far simpler and cheaper to make than the batteries currently in use in millions of electric vehicles around the world – and, unlike them, it can easily be recycled.
This might sound like a science-fiction fantasy. But it’s not. Last Friday, the battery’s inventor, British engineer and former Royal Navy officer Trevor Jackson, signed a multi-million-pound deal to start manufacturing the device on a large scale in the UK.
Austin Electric, an engineering firm based in Essex, which now owns the rights to use the old Austin Motor Company logo, will begin putting thousands of them into electric vehicles next year. According to Austin’s chief executive, Danny Corcoran, the new technology is a ‘game-changer’.
‘It can help trigger the next industrial revolution. The advantages over traditional electric vehicle batteries are enormous,’ he said.
Few will have heard of Jackson’s extraordinary invention. The reason, he says, is that since he and his company Metalectrique Ltd came up with a prototype a decade ago, he has faced determined opposition from the automobile industry establishment.
It has every reason not to give ground to a competitor that may, in time, render its own technology obsolete. Car industry sceptics claim Trevor’s technology is unproven, and its benefits exaggerated.
But an independent evaluation by the Government agency UK Trade and Investment said in 2017 that it was a ‘very attractive battery’ based on ‘well established’ technology, and that it produced much more energy per kilogram than standard electric vehicle types.