Another day, another crackpot government initiative. This one is the electric van, ugly step-sister of the electric car. Last year was to be the year of the electric car, and for the 892 people who bought one, it probably was. For millions of sensible motorists, the future is the internal combustion engine.

If the electric car makes no sense, then  the electric van is pure madness. Despite a thumping £8,000 subsidy, it will still cost twice as much as a conventional van, and even Justine Greening, our newish Transport Secretary, struggled to make a case for it. Electric vans are cheaper to run than a diesel only because of another shower of subsidies – no fuel duty (or the VAT on it), no congestion charge and no road tax. Even then, the sums depend on the batteries lasting 100,000 miles – and on nobody stealing it for the valuable innards.

The environmental benefits are illusory, too. Modern cars hardly pollute in the old-fashioned sense of the word, while shifting the CO2 emissions from the city to the power station makes no practical difference to the climate. In terms of useful energy extracted from fossil fuel, burning to create electricity which is then piped to a socket to be pumped into a battery and turned into motion is thermodynamic nonsense. The electric van does indeed have a future, of sorts: it’s called the milk float.

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