Spark the change: what electric vehicles need next
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Infrastructure, power demand, lost revenues...we delve into the real problems behind the move to EVs
We’ve not run a family car now for at least ten years. We gave it up for environmental reasons and found some added bonuses in financial savings, more exercise and less stress. That’s not at all unusual for London – the majority of Londoners don’t own cars. And since we ditched ours, many friends and relatives joined us in becoming car-free households too. The kids complained at first but now they're older it’s they who won’t let us buy another internal combustion engine. Their generation may be the spark that really sets the electric drivetrain rolling. A survey this month found they were highly influential in purchasing decisions (see graphic below).
The motor manufacturers are all busy developing new electric ranges. Almost without exception they expect to replace their petrol and diesel models with electric on the forecourts before sales of the former are halted in 2030.
The cars, it seems, are no longer what we’ll be waiting for. Now the problem is the lagging infrastructure to support them. Conor McGlone looks at what will be needed in the UK to support 30 million EV chargepoints and 20 million heat pumps: 70 per cent more electricity and £330bn of investment by 2050. So far, we’re running behind schedule to get there.
The price of gas today is concentrating householders’ minds on renewable alternatives or, in fact, any alternatives. EVs use a heck of a lot leccy; but they could also help to make microgeneration more useful if they can store what would otherwise be wasted energy and give it back to the home or the grid when it’s needed. Chris Edwards focuses on the grid to find out what it would take to make that a reality.
The switch to electric brings another headache for the government: what will become of all those duties on fuel and other taxes on driving? Road tax was abolished in 1937 because, as Winston Churchill argued, no one road user type should feel it has more moral right to the highways than any other. Most of the road network is built and maintained by county councils, while motorways and major A roads are the remit of National Highways, which receives revenues from Vehicle Excise Duty, a tax on exhaust emissions which would make EVs zero-rated. The Treasury will also lose fuel duty and VAT on fuel. So where will it get the money from at a time when it should be investing in EV infrastructure and the road network for autonomous vehicles? Conor McGlone looks at why all roads lead to a tax on EVs.
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