The Prime Minister, in his Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution, has confirmed that the UK will end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2030.
The plan also states that the Government will “allow the sale of hybrid cars and vans that can drive a significant distance with no carbon coming out of the tailpipe until 2035.” Green Car Guide understands that the details of this statement are yet to be confirmed, but that the sale of certain plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) and range-extended vehicles can continue until 2035. That means that new ‘non-plug-in hybrids’ won’t be on sale after 2030.
Paul Clarke, Founder and Editor of Green Car Guide, comments “Here at Green Car Guide we see this announcement as no surprise. The overriding priorities are to tackle climate change and address the issue of poor air quality. Therefore action needs to be taken by the Government.
“Having reviewed all the leading green cars since 2006, we would definitely say that electric cars are much better to drive for the majority of people than petrol and diesel cars, thanks to the refinement, responsiveness and ease of use of EVs. And of course EVs have much cheaper running costs. We’ve also been involved in various EV trials and surveys which all support the fact that most people prefer the driving experience of EVs compared to petrol and diesel cars.” (Fully Charged’s survey in 2019 showed that 9 out of 10 electric vehicle drivers would never go back to a conventional car).
Of course there are challenges. Many people believe that EVs are too expensive. It’s true that the prices of EVs are typically more than petrol equivalents, in some cases by a considerable margin, however EV fuel costs are very low, resulting in the whole-life costs of EVs usually being cheaper, and most people pay monthly for EVs – potentially £300 – £400 per month. However obviously more work could be done to make EVs more affordable.
Another common objection to EVs is the driving range. Yes, there are some new small EVs that are designed for city use that have a range of around 100 miles, however most new EVs now have driving ranges of at least 200 miles, and over 300 miles in some cases.
Then there’s the issue of the variety of EVs that you can buy. But there’s actually a wide range of EVs on sale today, with many new EVs due to appear over the next 12 months or so.
Green Car Guide has existed for 14 years to provide independent advice about green, hybrid and electric cars. We provide honest opinions in our reviews of EVs, and we wouldn’t be doing our job if we said the UK’s public charging network was perfect, because it isn’t. We recently drove 400 miles in a Honda e, which has a real-world range of around 100 miles. This provided yet further evidence for us that the rapid charge point provision at motorway service stations is simply not fit for purpose today, and it’s certainly not fit for the mainstream adoption of EVs. Out of four motorway service stations that we visited, the rapid charging points at two weren’t working, and in all of the charging locations, various non-battery electric cars were parked – ie. blocking charging – in some of the bays. Our full story about this is coming soon, which we will submit to the government’s forthcoming charging consultation, but we’ve written about similar issues with the UK’s public charging network before.
Perhaps the biggest issue relates to how people charge an EV if they don’t have off-street parking at home. There are solutions such as charging from lamp posts, and perhaps better solutions such as charging hubs, which are like local petrol stations, but they dispense electricity rather than petrol, such as those being built by Gridserve. However the big benefit of charging at home (apart from the convenience) is the low cost of fuel – which could even be free if vehicle to grid charging is used. We’ve got a long way to go for public charging to compete with that.
One common accusation levelled at electric cars is that they will create a situation where the UK’s electricity grid can’t cope. Electricity industry experts, including National Grid, simply say that this isn’t true. There may be some local electricity networks that come under pressure, but projects such as Electric Nation are addressing smart solutions to this issue.
The Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution also included announcements about £1.3 billion of funding for EV charge points – hopefully addressing our issue with public charging above; £582 million in grants for those buying zero or ultra-low emission vehicles – hopefully helping to address our affordability issue above; and funding for the development and mass-scale production of electric vehicle batteries (some of this funding may have been announced previously).
On the last point, this refers to the production of EV batteries rather than EVs, and we would suggest that this is too little and too late. Although the UK Government is mandating that all new car and van buyers have to purchase electric vehicles by 2030, the Government over recent years hasn’t had any strategic investment plan to significantly grow the EV manufacturing capability of the UK automotive industry. The vast majority of cars that UK buyers are buying today, and will be buying up until 2030 and beyond, will be manufactured in countries such as Germany, Korea, America and China rather than the UK. This is a huge missed opportunity for UK automotive and for the country’s economy.
And at the time of writing, the UK is leaving the European Union without a trade deal, which the SMMT has repeatedly warned will mean extra costs for manufacturers, resulting in new cars being more expensive. Some estimates have suggested that this might mean £2,800 could be added to the price of an average new EV, which would wipe out the current £3,000 plug-in car grant, and this might translate to around £100 per month extra on an EV leasing deal.
So it’s good news that we all have a 2030 target to aim for, but there’s lots of work to be done along the way. Hopefully the new Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) England can help, by representing EV drivers’ views about the challenges to Government.
And finally… communication. Green Car Guide is here to help. We have spent 14 years delivering expert and independent communication about green, hybrid and electric cars – we have lots of resources to help people make the switch to electric cars, such as:
Green Car Guide is a project of Automotive Comms, which specialises in communication about electric vehicles within the industry.