A CENTURY ago electric vehicles ruled the roads. Electric vehicles outsold steam and internal combustion combined.

The first land speed record was set by an electric car and battery powered taxis plied for trade in all the major cities of the world. Electric vehicles were the first choice of the wealthy. Even Queen Alexandra used a Columbia electric car for pottering around the grounds of Sandringham.

But within a decade electric vehicles were replaced by cars, lorries and buses powered by internal combustion engines.Their early success was quietly forgotten.

The reasons for the failure are many and varied but one of the major problems was the lack of suitable infrastructure.

Beyond the biggest cities – which had their own charging stations for batteries – drivers of battery-powered cars suffered from what we now call range anxiety: the very real fear that they could run out of juice.

When an ambitious plan to create a coast-to-cast battery charging infrastructure in the United States failed, so did electric cars.

Fast forward to 2018 and electric vehicles have staged a remarkable comeback but the infrastructure is once again holding them back.

Battery technology has advanced but the ‘real world’ range of most electric cars is still less than their petrol-powered rivals and recharging batteries takes far longer than a quick top up at the pump.

If electric vehicles are to have a brighter future – and we hope they do – Governments need to get serious about the charging infrastructure.