It’s no secret that electric and hybrid cars are growing in popularity. Whilst alternative fuel vehicle registrations were up by 30% in October compared to a year ago, all-electric registrations increased by a gigantic 86.9%.
The government plans to ban new petrol and diesel vehicles in the UK from 2040 in accordance with its £3bn Clean Air Strategy. So, are we driving towards a cleaner future, or are there more diversions to navigate before we arrive at our destination? Read on to take a look at the road ahead.
What’s the Difference Between All-Electric & Hybrid?
Let’s cover the essential details first. An all-electric car, or ‘pure’ electric vehicle (EV), self-charges its own battery, and runs without the use of petrol or diesel fuel. Hybrid cars do have electric elements within their powertrains, but still retain their internal combustion engines, and will almost always charge their batteries with this engine. Both vehicles can be re-charged using your home electricity supply, or at service station charging points.
What Are the Benefits?
Although the maximum grant for all-electric vehicles has been reduced to £3,500 as of October 2018, there are a few tempting incentives put into place by the government under the Clean Air Strategy. All-electric vehicles with a list price under £40,000 are exempt from road tax* and the London Congestion Charge. Hybrid vehicles are not eligible for any grants, but they are supported through lower road tax rates and local incentives like free parking or business schemes.
Both present significant savings on fuel. Running costs of an EV are 3-4 times cheaper on average when compared with the internal combustion engine. Using the UK’s most popular EV as an example, a full charge of the Nissan LEAF will cost you around £3.64 when charging at home, which equates to a 235-mile range.
You’ll also enjoy a quieter vehicle with its reduced emissions. If you’re concerned about your environmental footprint, EVs are a great way to make an impactful change on the chemicals we churn out into the atmosphere on a daily basis.
What Are the Issues?
'Whilst there are more than 19,000 connectors in the UK, critics have raised concerns over the amount of ports available vs demand. The need to charge is a disadvantage in itself – it takes far longer than filling a fuel tank, with a half-charge requiring an average of 45 minutes.
What actually happens if you’re starting a journey that will go over your range, or what if you run out of charge on the road? Speaking to the BBC in October, Tom Callow of Chargemaster, the UK's largest provider of EV charging infrastructures said, “It doesn't happen a lot… the reality is that once you start driving an electric car it is a different kind of culture. You are not filling up, you are topping up, and you drive differently and top up when available."
Although not a fix-all, one solution is to plan your journeys in advance. Apps like Zap Map can help you locate your nearest charging port, but the navigation systems in most electric cars can factor in ports along the way as they plot a route. What’s more, corporations like OVO Energy are collaborating with other businesses to explore the possibility of using street lamps as charging points.
Speaking of streets, we may need to start paying more attention to how EVs will affect the safety of pedestrians. All-electric and hybrid vehicles emit a significantly lower amount of noise when on the road, which means the ‘stop, look, and listen’ mantra will become all the more prevalent when safely crossing our roads.
What Does the Future Look Like?
Although ‘pure’ electric cars aren’t ruling the roads when it comes to market share, hybrid vehicles are being hailed as the middle option – a merging of both worlds that reduces anxieties over range and emissions while we transition to an all-electric future.
In the long run, we also need to address indirect emissions caused during the production of these vehicles. Will the manufacturing processes become cleaner? It’s a hard truth that we can’t ignore the impact vehicle production has on the environment, and this is yet another challenge manufacturers will have to address when planning for the 2040 deadline.
Is It Worth Making the Switch?
We’ve established that there’s still a lot of ground to cover during the next decade and beyond for the switch to be made, but EV ownership is slowly becoming more of a reality for many road users. Researching your options and being realistic about the type of journeys you make are the keys to understanding if you’re ready to consider an EV as your next purchase. Are you a long-distance commuter? Would current re-charging issues sway your thinking, or are you ready to take the plunge?
We’re excited to watch how the automotive industry rises to the challenge, and we’ll always be on hand to answer any questions you might have – on electric vehicles and any other make or model.
Find your local Eurorepar Car Service centre here.
*Remember, you still need to apply for vehicle tax even if you don’t need to pay, and if your car is priced at more than £40,000 registered after 31 March 2017, then you may need to pay extra. Check here.