If you’ve been following the news at all over the last few years, then you’ll have noticed that climate change and global warming have started to dominate the conversation. One of the biggest topics is carbon emissions, with countries across the globe promising to reduce theirs and promote alternative fuel sources as we all work together to try and make a cleaner and healthier planet. But this will have an impact on us all as we take steps to reduce the effects of climate change. Driving is one of the biggest targets.
The UK government have announced that, by 2030, no new cars or vans that are powered by petrol and diesel will be sold. Some hybrids may still be allowed, but if it’s an exclusively fossil fuel vehicle, it will not be sold. It has been described as part of a new green industrial revolution.
But switching from a type of transport that has been popular for over a century will not be simple. So is the UK ready for a total petrol and diesel ban?
One thing that an electric revolution will need is a strong charging network. Over the last few years, the number of charging points has grown a great deal. You’ll now spot them at most supermarkets and service stations – at least on motorways and in large towns and cities. While it still takes a long time to charge, the speeds are increasing year on year. But to make it work, the number of charging points will have to grow substantially. Waiting to charge your car for half an hour will not be feasible if the number of electric cars keeps growing.
The technology inside hybrid and electric vehicles has improved dramatically over the last few years. The Toyota Prius really led the way when it came to hybrid vehicles, and the change in attitudes it helped spark has meant many car companies are working on electric and PHEV versions of their most popular makes and models.
Year by year, the efficiency of electric cars improves. The range grows from a few dozen miles to the hundreds, with cars like those built by Tesla able to extend over 200 miles on a single charge. And it’s not just the range, with the size of the batteries and the speed of charging improving.
A switch to electric vehicles will have an affect on those driving petrol and diesel cars. It may be that car companies won’t want to support their older fossil fuel vehicles. It might be harder to get repairs on your car, and you might end up paying more road tax. The number of petrol pumps on the road will also decrease, as charging points become the preferred and more profitable option.
The second-hand car market is huge. But will the sudden change mean that the market is completely disrupted? Will buyers want to choose a used electric or hybrid, meaning demand outstrips supply and prices will rise. Good for sellers, but not for buyers. Will the change mean that rich people all drive the cleanest, most efficient vehicles, while poor people are trapped in their old gas guzzlers?
It’s no secret that the effects of climate change are starting to be seen. Rising sea levels, melting ice caps, stronger and longer heatwaves, if you pay attention to the news, it can be a frightening watch. So to avoid the catastrophe, on both an environmental and human level, we really can’t afford to delay.
So any incentive for people to switch to electric has to be welcomed. After all, the technology is developing rapidly. Who knows what the range will be on electric cars when it comes to 2030?
Aside from the climate change issue, there has been growing unease at how much damage diesel does to people’s lungs. Air quality in busy urban areas has become a lot worst in recent years, as the sheer volume of cars means more traffic, more emissions and more pollution in the air. The actual impact of the emissions is not yet known, with court cases and studies looking at whether its unsafe or not to allow diesel cars on the road. Some city centres have already banned diesel engines from entering, and this is likely to spread as the ban comes closer to being put into effect. Clean air means cleaner lungs, meaning a healthier world for everyone.
Of course, one of the big bonuses of an electrically powered road system is that we all spend less money on our cars as we don’t pay for petrol or diesel any more. How much we pay for a recharge will likely increase in price as more of us are added to the network. But we will be paying less, and not just at the pump. Electric engines are also more efficient than combustion engines, with less parts that can go wrong. So while there may be breakdowns, there are likely to be fewer than you would with a petrol or diesel engine vehicle.
2030 is still almost a decade away, and who knows if the target will be pushed back before then. If it looks unrealistic or the appetite of the electorate is more for personal choice, then you can see that date being postponed.
But it’s clear that there needs to be some action to help prevent a looming climate catastrophe. So even if the government doesn’t put in a hard break, we all need to take a look at the types of vehicle we drive. The health and economical benefits can be found now, so you can potentially get ahead of the government order.
Whatever happens, electric cars are going to get better and better. So why not switch to something that has the same performance as a fossil fuel vehicle but without the fumes?