The electric car ban has been brought forward to 2035 from 2040 (including hybrids). The question is – is this possible? The next question is does the UK government have a plan. There’s no sign of one. It looks like greenwash ahead of COP26 to me. Lets consider the size of the challenge. There were 32.5 million cars on Britain’s roads in 2018 (plus at least 3 million vans and a number of trucks that will be in the millions). Looking at cars only. In 15 years to get all the petrol and diesel vehicles off the roads you’d have to sell about 2 million a year. Sales whist they doubled last month are nothing like that. So what might need to be done to achieve this? There are many lessons we can draw from Norway where electric cars now account for over 50% of all new sales.
- First you have to go for it. The Norwegians have a generous grant scheme (ironically ours is about to be scrapped), this maybe why sales last month were so high with people trying to beat the deadline. In addition electric cars pay no tax and no congestion charges and are allowed to park for free.
- Second you need to think out of the box. The Norwegians have integrated charging points and parking with public transport. So people do not drive all the way.
- The charging points are I believe free.
- There are plenty of them.
A couple of additional points need to be made. The grid needs to be reinforced so that all the electric cars can be charged. The Norwegians have had problems with this I’ve heard, with localised power outages. To support 30 odd million cars on the road takes a lot of electricity so capacity will need to be increased massively. You can imagine how many charging points we will need as well. Where on earth are we going to put them?
There are of course differences between Norway and the UK. The Norwegians have massive amounts of mature hydropower so electric cars make very good sense. Also its a small market so skewing it is far easier.
One last point has to be made as the electric car ban has been brought forward, electric cars don’t solve the problem of congestion or entirely of particulates. To do that we need to fill of urban areas with cyclists and pedestrians which is far better.