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Electric set to be king as petrol and diesel ban brought forward

Published: 3 December 2020 - Rachael Morling

In an expected turn, the ban on new petrol and diesel cars has been brought forward to 2030, signalling the importance of green initiatives. From 2030, no new petrol or diesel cars will be available to purchase. However, some hybrid vehicles will be allowed until 2035. The goal of the project is to cut carbon emissions and increase the use of more eco-friendly electric cars.

The move comes as part of the Prime Minister’s ten-point action plan on climate change. The plan, labelled a green industrial revolution, includes investment in sustainable energy and greener methods of transport.
 
£1.3 billion in funding will be poured into making electric vehicles more accessible to drivers. The UK will witness the introduction of more charging points, while buyers will receive additional support thanks to a grant being implemented to aid those making the switch. 
 
Many have expressed concerns over the impending deadline and quick shift to electric vehicles. However, electric cars have been quietly growing in popularity for years, with that growth set to accelerate in the lead-up to the deadline. Here, we look at why electric is the way forward.
 
New electric vehicle sales on the rise
A lot of headlines have focused on the fact that new car sales fell in 2019. But it was diesel cars that felt the biggest pinch – the sale of new USD vehicles was down 2.3 per cent overall. Of course, the plan to introduce additional ultra-low emission zones across the country alongside the impending fear of the ban on ICE vehicles was enough to discourage anyone from buying a diesel.
 
The positive news for both vehicle manufacturers and the environment is that the sale of electric vehicles rocketed. In fact, sales of electric vehicles rose by 144 per cent in 2019. Why? Because motorists want fuel-efficient, high-performance, low-emission vehicles. In the modern world we live in, thanks to developments in automotive engineering, electric cars offer exactly that. 
 
We know the picture for the automotive industry looks different in 2020, with lockdown measures vastly impacting car sales. Showrooms across the country having to shut their doors and manufacturing plants unable to take delivery of parts have further contributed to the lack of buying invoked by the recession. 
 
Despite the difficulties of the vehicle sector, the sale of new electric cars has still witnessed a big increase, increasing by 184% year-on-year in September.
 
How did we get here?
The reputation of electric vehicles has had a makeover in recent years. Surprisingly, electric vehicles have been around since the 19th century, but were replaced by petrol and diesel cars because of the cheap price of fuel. As they started to make a comeback, however, electric vehicles had negative connotations. They had poor mileage, were expensive and, in most parts, lacking in what Thierry Henry once described as “va va voom”. 
 
The vehicles arguably got this reputation for a reason. If you went to buy an electric car, often these three attributes were true, and you were hardly spoilt for choice when it came to options either. The Prius changed the game admittedly, but even when it came to prominence, we were still left wanting more. 
As our awareness of environmental issues has increased, leading car manufacturers have jumped on the electric vehicle bandwagon. Brands including Jaguar, Porsche, Renault, Volvo Oldham, Audi, Hyundai, and Nissan have started prioritising electric over petrol and diesel. The latter of the bunch, Nissan, with its innovative model Nissan Leaf, developed exactly what the average car buyer desired – a plug-in vehicle that had a mileage range of more than 200 miles, was powerful and, perhaps most importantly, was affordable.
 
Electric as a cost-effective solution
Diesel and petrol cars might be more attractive to consumers right now because of their prices. However, it would be foolish to think that the currently depleted prices caused by COVID-19 will last beyond the end of 2020, and once the oil market returns to some form of normality, we should expect to see fuel prices return to their average. 
 
One of the biggest benefits of electric vehicles is their low costs to run. You’ll receive a free charging point at your home when you buy an electric vehicle. Charging your vehicle at home will cost approximately 12p per kWh, while charging it at a parking space will cost around 35p per kWh. That means a full charge costs no more than a few pounds, as opposed to £50 or £60 for a full tank of petrol or diesel. 
 
Consumers looking to switch to electric are set to benefit financially in more ways than one. The government is incentivising the move away from high-emission vehicles by offering £3,500 grants for those who do. This will help it meet its ambitious net-zero targets in terms of emissions and air quality by 2050. 
 
Worried about your car running out of charge?
 
Electric vehicles and their alternative fuel source have created ‘range anxiety’. The Washington Post defines this as the “state of fear drivers experience from knowing that their battery could run out of charge and strand them far from a recharging station”.
 
A recent MIT study has debunked this concern by showing how unlikely this is to happen. The study points to the fact that a vehicle with a range of only 80 miles will be suitable for between 84 and 93 per cent of daily trips for most people in developed countries. 
 
It’s also important to note that electric vehicles come with a variety of charging options. In terms of weaker alternatives, level 1 and level 2 produce similar power to what you would usually find in a computer or a washing machine. These are the chargers commonly found in residential housing and parking spaces, providing a basic level of power, appropriate for short journeys. Meanwhile, level 3, found at charging stations, such as BMW i3’s SAE Combo, transfer 80 to 145km in 20 minutes, helping quash this aforementioned ‘range anxiety’ for the everyday motorist embarking on longer treks. 
 
The most powerful chargers, level 4, are exclusive to Tesla. These superchargers power an astounding 270km in 30 minutes. It is predicted that within the next five years, level 4 will be readily available. 
 
Spoilt for choice
One of the biggest issues facing the electric vehicle market for years was the lack of choice. There simply weren’t enough alternatives to petrol and diesel cars. In 2020, however, there is an electric vehicle for almost every need and driving style. Auto Express detailed some of its best electric vehicles currently available on the market. 
 
The list featured the Kia e-Niro, the BMW i3, and the Jaguar I-Pace. The Korean Kia stands out thanks to its impressive range and affordable price, the BMW due to its “tiny running costs”, and the Jaguar earns its place through what has been described as a “premium EV pack”.
 
The coronavirus has impacted car sales in a way that we never could have predicted. But, for all the headlines focused on the drop in overall sales, it’s been a positive time for electric vehicle sales. This bodes well for the future, with the impending ban on petrol and diesel vehicles. Some would say it’s the time for electric vehicles to shine!
 
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