The green revolution is coming. As reported by the Financial Times, a new government plan will ban the sale of all petrol. and diesel cars within the next decade.
The plan is part of a package of measures intended to achieve zero net emissions by 2050.
Although developments on the UK’s electric car market have been impressive, the news nonetheless came as something of a shock for many. Within minutes, the FT’s comment section exploded in a heated debate between proponents and opponents of the plan.
There are indeed many questions surrounding the decision. The most important one may well be this: What does it all mean for you?
The end of petrol & diesel: What, exactly, will happen?
The goal of the plan laid out by Boris Johnson, is to phase out petrol and diesel cars quickly. Somewhere between 2030 and 2035, no new petrol cars will be allowed anymore. From this date on, all new cars sold in the UK will be electric.
The news did not come as a shock. Ministers had already shared their intention to make the UK a petrol-free zone by 2040. So the update merely consists in moving this goal a few years ahead.
Not all details are set in stone yet. It is more than likely, FT asserts, that the government may be more lenient towards hybrid cars. Hybrids combine petrol and battery technology and are regarded as an ideal transition technology towards full-fledged e-traffic. They are also very efficient, affordable, cost-effective and reliable, which has made them exceedingly popular with modern drivers.
All in all, however, there can be no doubt anymore: You’ll soon have no choice but to go electric.
Is it possible?
By now, everyone seems to agree that eliminating our dependence from fossil fuels is a good and necessary idea.
The real question is therefore not if we should go ahead with Boris Johnson’s plan. The question is whether it is feasible.
The following points are casting doubt on the project:
- By 2030, electric car technology needs to be up to par with petrol technology. Batteries need to be able to cover longer distances. They need to become more durable and efficient and ideally, their performance should improve as well.
- By 2030, charging infrastructure needs to be improve significantly. Although the amount of charging stations has quickly expanded, it is still well below the required minimum.
- Finally, e-cars need to become more affordable. If the government really does enforce its plans, it must make sure cars remain accessible for the population at large. Otherwhise, driving will turn into a fancy hobby for the rich few.
Let’s take a closer look at these points to see how far we still have to go.
Battery technology: The least of your concerns
Right now, e-batteries are all that people are talking about:
- Will they get me to my destination?
- Will they last for many years or quickly die down on me?
These concerns are more than understandable. However, they really should be of no concern.
The progress battery technology has made over the past few years has been nothing less than miraculous. Going on extensive road trips through the UK is already possible today and this is only going to improve.
And the durability and longevity of batteries is also on an unstoppable upward trajectory.
One of the reasons we’re so confident is that cars are not the only industries benefiting from improvements in battery life. Across the world, mobile phone manufacturers are engaged in a race to the top and both industries can benefit from their mutual improvements.
Charging infrastructure: A case of funding
Building a workable charging infrastructure for emobility is a truly herculean effort. The established network of petrol stations was built over a full century and using the riches of the global petrol giants.
In comparison, the charging infrastructure for ecars will need to grow at a much faster speed. Even if funding increases significantly, it is unlikely that every corner of the country will have enough supply by 2030.
That need not be a tragedy, however.
Electric charging works differently from filling up petrol. It takes longer, but it is not as reliant on the aforementioned network of stations. You can charge your car over night from home and merely top up the battery in case of an emergency on the road.
There are also innovative plans which could allow ecars to be charged using lamp posts. Ideas like this are sure to pop up more and more over the next years.
Will you be able to afford it?
All of this sounds great and exciting, but what good is it if you can no longer afford a car?
Admittedly, ecars are still pretty expensive. And not everyone can afford them. The government’s subsidy has successfully introduced battery technology to the market. Today, around 7% of all new cars on our roads are ecars. That’s not nearly enough. But considering where we came from – next to zero only a decade ago – it is pretty breathtaking. Now the subsidy has come down, however, are we in risk of losing these achievements?
Already today, the UK’s cheapest electric cars, the Skoda Citigo-e iV and the Smart EQ forfour are available for less than £18,000. Yes, that’s still a lot more than many may be able to muster. But it is easy to see these prices coming down a lot very soon.
Just as an example where things could be headed, take the Renault Twizy. One of the more radical and fun vehicles to hit our roads for a long time, it isn’t quite clear if the Twizy is actually a car proper. What it is, however, is: A remarkably decent ride on short trips, the easiest car to park ever and currently the cheapest option available if you are serious about going electric. (The Twizy costs just over £10,000, plus battery lease.)
What does this mean for you?
2030 is a long way off. Still, we highly recommend you prepare yourself for the event.
If you’re looking to buy a car right now and your budget is limited, petrol is still your best option. Petrol cars are affordable, reliable and safe, there is plenty of choice and the second hand market is sizable.
However, especially with new cars, you may be able to get a good deal for an electric car. If you’re interested in a Volkswagen up! for example, why not forgo on some extras and instead opt for the Skoda Citigo-e iV? For around £3,000-£5,000 more you can start your journey into the world of electric mobility.
Does it make sense to buy a second hand ecar? We think it’s not as risky as you may believe. But if you have bad credit, it probably makes sense to stick with petrol for the moment.
Finally, hybrids are stil a fantastic choice. They no longer cost the world and make for an excellent choice if you care for the environment but need to watch your purse as well.
All in all, the new emobility plans of the government may sound like the stuff from a science fiction movie. The good thing, however, is that this future need not feel scary at all.