Ayeisha Thomas-Smith wrote this post about the future of electric cars in the UK.
Awareness of green issues has risen massively over the last decade. In the UK, is there any realistic chance of motoring becoming green?
The Electric Era
Since 1997, when the Toyota Prius arrived, electric and hybrid cars have been the darlings of the green motoring movement. Hopes for these vehicles have been high, but so far they haven’t quite been met. In the UK, less than 1% of all new car registrations are for fully electric vehicles.
Hybrids fare a little better and the Vauxhall Ampera was the 2012 European Car of the Year, winning rave reviews from the UK motoring press. While hybrids eliminate the ‘range anxiety’ of electric cars, they still use fossil fuels. However, they cost a lot and it takes a long time to recoup that through running costs and for some drivers it may never happen. For many people, a car’s image is a big part of its appeal and it could be argued that, in general, electric cars have some way to go on that front.
From How To Drive Smarter This Holiday. Photo credit: Toyota.
There is reason, however, to be hopeful. In 2013, the UK Government committed £37m for funding the installation of electric car charging points across the country. Within the next decade or so, we should see improvements in battery technology and infrastructure that make the day-to-day driving of an electric car a realistic proposition for more people. Electric cars are based on emerging technology and as this matures, prices are likely to drop.
What about now?
In the meantime, drivers have important matters to consider. Even though the Prius is more than ten years old, the number of hybrid/electric cars on the second-hand market is low. This means that, for the wave of drivers now looking to replace their car but unable to afford a brand new electric vehicle, the choice in this area is very limited. One has to ask whether it is greener to drive an existing car until it drops or to scrap it and ‘go greener’?
It is clear that electric and hybrid motoring is evolving, but we have yet to see the full picture. Hopefully, ten years into the future, there will be so many electric cars on UK roads that everybody will have a realistic chance of owning one. Whether that actually happens is up to motorists, manufacturers, dealers and politicians. It may be an interesting decade.
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