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Electric car buyer’s guide: what you need to know

Electric car guide

Opting for a car that runs purely on battery power can feel like a risky move for many motorists. On the plus side, an electric vehicle (or EV) with zero tailpipe emissions will ensure you do your bit for air pollution, while also feeling suitably smug that you’ll never have to visit a petrol station again. Think of all the money you’ll save.

But you may also be asking yourself reasonable questions, such as how far can I drive before the battery is drained? Will I end up stranded on the roadside with no way to recharge it? And how long will it take me to recoup the extra cost of my advanced car’s elevated price tag? We’ve got the answers to all those niggly questions right here.

Do all manufacturers offer an all-electric option?

Not yet, but there’s an increasing number of electric cars on sale. From the Tesla Model X SUV to the humble Volkswagen e-Up city car, buyers have a huge range to choose from if they want to opt for an EV. That’s why 15,474 new electric cars were registered in 2018 – an increase of 13.8 percent from the previous year.

Nissan was the first to offer a truly convincing EV option when it launched the Leaf back in 2010. It was the first bespoke, mass-produced electric car in the UK, and it gained popularity thanks to its respectable range of up to 155 miles if you opted for the 30kWh version, and the fact that it drove like a normal car.

Electric car range UK

But an ever-increasing number of manufacturers have invested in the technology since, so you’ll now find electric cars on a number of forecourts across the UK. These include Renault’s Zoe supermini, Volkswagen’s e-Golf, plus BMW’s cutting edge lightweight i3.

In 2019, we’ll see a new raft of electric cars hitting the market, including the Jaguar I-Pace, Audi e-tron, Kia e-Niro, Tesla Model 3 and the Honda Urban EV.

What’s the typical range of an electric car?

Many electric cars go further than you perhaps think. It’s natural to have a little range anxiety when you’ve been used to filling up at ease on regular fuel, but modern EVs promise to run for between 150 and 200 miles in real-world use when fully charged. That figure does vary, depending on which model you opt for, but future models are likely to offer upwards of 300 miles.

Of course, using the air con, heaters and other battery draining in-car features will reduce that range further still, as will cold weather. But if you’re using the car for a commute, and there’s charging point at work, then you should never have to worry.

For long-distance journeys that are likely to stretch beyond that range, you’ll need to use a high-voltage power supply for at least half an hour for a reasonable recharge. Better still, plug it in overnight for a fully charged battery in the morning.

How much does it cost to recharge overnight?

Electric charging at home

You recharge your EV using the supplied adapter cable, which plugs straight into a special high voltage socket, which you can have fitted to the outside of your house or garage. The cost of the electricity used to recharge is then typically around £3 for a full charge, costing you roughly 2-3p per mile, depending on your EV’s range. Compare that to the cost of a tank of fuel, and you can start to see why this technology is such an appealing option to many motorists.

Where else can I charge an electric car?

If you’re struggling to find a suitable spot to park and charge, websites such as Zap-Map have them conveniently mapped out for you. Log on, and it will show you exactly where the chargers are located. These could be in town centres, supermarket car parks, motorway services stations and offices. It will also reveal how many charging points there are, the type of connector offered, and even user ratings.

As the availability of these charging points is often the deal breaker for motorists contemplating an EV, huge efforts have been made in the UK to keep their numbers rapidly rising year on year. At the last count, there were reportedly 7,000 charge point locations across the UK, providing nearly 12,000 devices and a massive 20,000 different connectors. On that note, if you’re unsure which connector you need, there’s also a search facility to find the right one for your model.

Of course, if you buy a Tesla then you’ll also have access to its ever-growing Supercharger network. Currently, there are around 1,400 sites that contain about 13,000 plug-in points between them. A half an hour charge here can add 170 miles to your Tesla’s range.

Where’s the best place to live in the UK if you own an EV?

electric Smart charging in London

Surprisingly, Scotland is in with a shout here! Although Greater London has 23.8 percent of all the UK’s connectors, Scotland is second with 14.1 percent. Next up is the South East with 13.8 percent.

In reality, the ease of locating a charging point in London is easier than anywhere else in the country, meaning there’s a little less risk of range anxiety if you own an EV in the South East.

Are there any roadside recovery services for electric cars?

Yes, most of the manufacturers offer their own bespoke breakdown and recovery package for the EVs that they sell. The major breakdown recovery companies, such as the AA and the RAC, offer EV-specific services as well.

What’s the typical lifespan of the battery?

The last thing you want is to end up with a car that, like a modern mobile phone, begins losing charge and becomes impossible to take out on anything but short stints. However, while EVs are not exactly new technology – let’s not forget that Sir Clive Sinclair was the trailblazer for electric car back in the 80s, when he unveiled the Sinclair C5 – they haven’t been on the road long enough to really know how those batteries will perform over, say, ten or twenty years.

Nissan Leaf

Some manufacturers – such as Renault and Nissan – offer a battery leasing scheme to alleviate those concerns. So if the cell fails, owners can automatically swap it for a new one. That also makes these cars much more attractive to second-hand buyers. While other brands will provide you with a separate warranty for the battery (typically five to eight years).

Are there any grants or subsidies for electric cars?

Yes! The Government’s Plug-In Car Grant offers up to £3,500 (or 35 percent) off the list price of an EV, while current Vehicle Excise Duty rules mean that EVs costing less than £40,000 are now the only cars that are road tax exempt.

Those with a higher price tag fall foul of a new Premium Model rate introduced in April 2017, however; albeit it at a discounted annual Vehicle Excise Duty of £310. That compares to a slightly higher rate of £450 a year for all other Premium Models. EVs are exempt from congestion charging in the Capital, and other cities which operate similar schemes, however.

Will an EV cost more to buy than its conventional fuel equivalent?

Volkswagen e-Up

Almost certainly. The increasing popularity of EVs means costs are coming down, gradually. But you should still expect to spend at least £20,000. As you can see below, the on the road price for the VW e-Up is around £7,000 more than its petrol-powered equivalent, even after deducting the government’s £3,500 Plug-In Car Grant. Although the price difference isn’t always this high between EVs and their conventionally-fueled equivalents, if you’re looking to reduce spend, opting for VW’s plug-in version of the Up might not make sense.

To be sure, you need to work out how long it would take to recoup your losses, opting for an electric version of this city car. To do that, you need to work out your annual fuel bill for both. Fortunately, we’ve done the maths for you (see below), and show that make an annual saving of £550 with the e-Up. Offset that against the £7,000 initial outlay, and you can see it would take around 13 years to recoup the extra initial outlay for the EV version of this car.

  VW High Up 1.0-litre 90PS (5-door) VW e-up 82PS electric motor
Price (OTR) £13,360 £20,150^
Average fuel/charge cost 120.6 per litre* £3
Combined mpg 64.2mpg 3p per mile
Annual fuel/charge cost^^ £854 £300

Of course, for most of Britain’s EV owners, the main decision to opt for an electric car is not a financial one. The big draw is these cars’ ability to ease motorists’ eco-conscience, thanks to their zero tailpipe emissions, and the impact that this ultimately has on reducing air pollution in the UK.

*Based on average fuel prices (March 2019)^Price includes £3,500 plug-in car grant^^Based on annual 10,000 mileage

Trump’s America buys more electric cars than Europe

Electric car sales USA America Trump

The United States has overtaken Europe in the league of markets buying electric cars. Around 361,000 EVs were sold in the USA in 2018, compared with 302,000 in Europe.

That US figure also makes up 2.1 percent of market share, compared with Europe’s two percent.

It’s a curious development during the presidency of Donald Trump, who is hardly know for his environmental concerns.

The American market actually saw a 120 percent surge in sales of electric cars during the last quarter of 2018, compared with the same period in 2017. Over the same period, Europe was up 33 percent.

Electric car sales America Trump USA

The tables could soon turn, however. America has the advantage of being the home market for Tesla, including the newly-released and more affordable Model 3.

Added to that, Europe actually saw a slowdown of debuts for electric models in 2018 compared with 2017. Just seven new EVs came to market.

This year and in years to come, that’s due to increase dramatically, with the Model 3 among the 20 electric models due to hit showrooms. A lot of these debuts will be more affordable, too. Honda’s E Prototype looks particularly appealing, along with Peugeot’s electric 208.

That number increases to 33 in 2020 and 45 in 2021. So maybe 2018 was a bit of a fluke for America.

Tesla takes the credit?

VW MEB available to third parties

Over the course of last year, the Tesla Model 3 became the USA’s best-selling luxury car. The entry-level model from Elon Musk’s breakout electric car manufacturer made up 68 percent of electric car sales in the final quarter of 2018 in the USA.

The maturity of the European market must be commented on, too. While Tesla is the electric beacon in the US, Europe’s long-standing car manufacturers are gearing up for major investments in electric vehicles. Volkswagen is even offering out its Modular Electric Toolkit (MEB) architecture for sale to third parties.

Audi, Mercedes and BMW have their own new EV onslaughts to come. Where we all stand globally in 2019 and 2020 will be very interesting, as will how market share for electric vehicles progresses.

Either way, neither Europe or America was going to come close to China. Electric vehicles had a four percent market share, with more than 150,000 EV sales in December alone. For reference, that’s half of the annual EV sales in Europe.

Electric dreams: amazing cars of the future debut in Geneva

Pininfarina BattistaThis year’s Geneva Motor Show may well be a watershed moment in the movement towards the electrification of cars. From tiny superminis to luxurious off-roaders and even hypercars, seemingly everything has the potential for battery power in 2019.

We’ve taken a look at some of the most impressive battery-powered concepts and production-ready vehicles making headlines in Geneva.

Kia ‘Imagine by Kia’ concept

Kia is not messing around when it comes to the future of electric cars, and the special ‘Imagine by Kia’ concept proves it. Yes, the name might be a little weird, but this high-riding four-door crossover features dramatic styling inside and out. A compact electric powertrain sits beneath the swooping exterior.

In fact, Kia has used the Imagine to take a shot at other car manufacturers, and the trend for giant multimedia screens. The Imagine features 21 individual displays across the dashboard, as a “humorous and irreverent riposte” to modern trends.

Alfa Romeo Tonale

Arguably one of the prettiest concept cars making its debut at the Geneva show, this plug-in hybrid SUV manages to stand out against the countless competitors on display in 2019. Not only is it Alfa’s first step into the mid-size SUV category, but also the first car from the Italian brand to feature a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The name comes from the Tonale Pass, located in the Alps and not far from the Stelvio Pass – which lends its name to Alfa’s current SUV offering. Although pegged as a concept vehicle for now, a production version seems highly likely in the near future.

Volkswagen I.D. Buggy

The Volkswagen Group has a range of concepts on display at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, all making use of the new MEB modular electric platform. Volkswagen has become adept at platform-sharing, and the move to electric vehicles means that attitude will only increase in importance for the company.

The beauty of the modular MEB platform is that it allows different bodies to be added. Volkswagen is even touting the idea of offering it to third-party suppliers, just like dune buggies of old. For now, this is very much a concept, albeit with 204hp from an electric AWD system.

Skoda Vision iV concept

Making use of the same MEB platform, but in a much more production-focused design, Skoda is rightly excited about the Vision iV concept. There’s a dramatic coupe-crossover design, with more than 300hp on offer from the electric drivetrain. The traditional wing mirrors have been replaced by cameras, and the centre console can be moved.

Vegans will be pleased by the vinyl fibres used to finish the seat-backs, while the carpets are made from pure biodegradable wool. Ignoring some of the more fanciful design features, we can expect to see an actual production version of the Vision iV towards the end of 2020.

Audi Q4 e-tron concept

Seemingly even closer to reality than the Vision iV, and naturally using that same MEB platform, Audi’s Q4 e-tron is just one model in the brand’s major electric vehicle strategy. Set to become the fifth production electric vehicle from Audi, the Q4 will go on sale in 2020.

An 82 kWh battery uses almost all the space below the passenger compartment, but allows for a range of up to 279 miles when fully charged. Top speed is limited to 111mph, but 0-62mph takes just 6.3 seconds.

Seat el-Born

It’s that Volkswagen MEB platform again, but this time with a Spanish flair to proceedings. Appearing somewhere between a tall hatchback and an MPV, the el-Born will be Seat’s first all-electric car. Expect a range of 261 miles on a full battery, plus the ability to charge to 80% capacity in just 47 minutes.

It might be named after one of Barcelona’s most famous districts, but the forthcoming el-Born will be built in Germany. Volkswagen’s Zwickau factory will be responsible for churning them out, with production slated to begin in 2020.

Honda E Prototype

We were wowed by the original Urban EV concept, and hoped Honda would put it into production unchanged from that cute creation. Thankfully, Honda seems to have listened, with the E Prototype borrowing much of the Urban EV’s style, but in a more practical five-door hatchback body.

Curiously, Honda admitted to designing the production car before the concept version, seeing the show model as necessary to generate interest. It certainly worked, and a finished car should go on sale with a battery range of around 125 miles. Perfect for urban life.

Pininfarina Battista

At the opposite end of the scale to the Honda, the Battista offers up an astonishing 1,900hp from its electric powertrain. That huge amount of power means 0-62mph in less than two seconds, but all with the smug eco-satisfaction of using electricity.

The Battista marks the first actual production car to be sold under the Pininfarina name alone, with 150 units to be offered to customers. They’ll need to stump up some £2 million for one, but that seems almost reasonable for the performance on offer. That it looks rather a lot like a Ferrari 488 can only be a bonus…

Aston Martin Lagonda All-Terrain

Aston Martin Lagonda All-Terrain Concept

On an Aston Martin stand featuring two shock new supercars, it was almost easy to overlook the importance of the Lagonda All-Terrain. Any other day this would be major news, as Aston sets out its stall for Lagonda to become an all-electric brand.

A production version won’t appear before 2022, and Aston Martin is obviously light on details at the moment. But expect an electric all-wheel-drive setup, long-range battery capabilities and a luxurious interior. Oh, and the key levitates in the centre console using magnets.

Mercedes-Benz Concept EQV

Thought the MPV was dead? Not according to Mercedes-Benz, which is bringing the idea back with electric power. In fact, the MPV concept is perfectly suited to electric propulsion, as the battery packs can fit neatly beneath the flat floor of the EQV.

Although billed as a concept vehicle, this looks fairly close to being ready for production. A 100 kWh battery pack offers up to 250 miles of range, while the interior can be configured to seven- or eight-seater layouts. Not sexy, but a practical EV future.

Skoda Klement electric bike concept

 

Skoda Klement electric bike

Not content with creating electric concept cars, Skoda has also unveiled a concept bike in Geneva. An electric motor attached to the rear hub generates 4kW, allowing for a top speed of up to 28mph. Thankfully, the brakes feature ABS assistance.

Given that Skoda began life manufacturing bicycles, the Klement is a neat nod to the history of the company. Although we imagine LED lights and an electric range of 39 miles are ideas Skoda’s founding fathers could only have dreamt of.

Fiat Centoventi

Another genuine surprise at this year’s Geneva show, the Centoventi is a 120th anniversary present from Fiat to itself. Radical in nature, the styling previews what is expected to be the next version of the Panda city car. Fiat is mooting the idea of selling them only in one colour, with buyers able to have panels wrapped to their own preferences later.

Even more radical is the electric powertrain underneath. A sliding rail connects the battery packs, allowing more to be quickly added to boost range, with a maximum of 310 miles. The tailgate can be used to display digital messages, and the roof also acts as a solar panel.

21 million new electric vehicles expected by 2030

Electric vehicle charging

An additional 21 million electric vehicles (EVs) will be on the road globally by 2030, according to data released by Deloitte.

EV adoption is expected to gather pace, rising from two million at present to four million in 2020, then 12 million in 2025. By 2030, Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) will account for 70 percent of total EV sales, says the consulting firm.

Growing consumer demand for greener vehicles, coupled with policies offering financial incentives for EV adoption, while restricting the use of diesel and petrol vehicles in inner cities, are seen as the primary factors behind the accelerated adoption of EVs.

Deloitte even predicts that by 2024, the cost to own a BEV will be on a par with that of a petrol or diesel vehicle – that’s just five years away.

‘Tipping point’

Michael Woodward, UK automotive partner at Deloitte, said: “In 2018, we saw global EV sales surpass two million units for the first time; twice those sold in 2017. In the UK, the cost of petrol and diesel vehicle ownership will converge with electric over the next five years.

“Supported by existing government subsidies and technology advances, this tipping point could be reached as early as 2021. From this point, cost will no longer be a barrier to purchase, and owning an EV will become a realistic, viable option for new buyers.”

electric car drovers wouldn't go back to petrol or diesel

Woodward continued: “Those that can successfully build trust in their brand, ensure a positive customer experience from initial sale through to aftercare, and reflect consumer shifts towards the sharing economy in future business models will successfully navigate this.

“Equally, continual investment in engineering talent and the formation of partnerships with bespoke battery producers and third-party mechanic networks will also be important.”

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Volkswagen is going to deploy mobile electric car charging stations

VW mobile charge points

VW has opened 2019 with a preview of its new mobile charging solution. It’s another example of how car makers are innovating to solve the challenge of how to eliminate electric car range anxiety for good.

What is it?

In simple terms, it’s a middle ground between having an extra onboard battery and being restricted to hard-wired charge points. Volkswagen’s compromise is essentially a power pack that can be set up almost anywhere.

VW describes it as a ‘flexible charging station’ that can be set up ‘independent of the power supply wherever it is needed’. Think along the lines of a mobile version of Tesla’s power wall – banks of batteries that Volkswagen can deploy wherever it sees fit.

It’s not a be-all solution to what many see as an under-prepared infrastructure. Rather, says VW, a temporary solution that allows electric cars, such as the upcoming ID. range of VW EVs, to charge wherever a charge is needed. Volkswagen cites pop-up events, parking lots and business premises as examples. A service can be deployed and provided quickly and easily, without the fundamental long-term structural changes needed for a permanent charge point.

What’s it made up of?

VW mobile charge points

The MEB (VW Modular Electric Toolkit) battery pack that forms ‘the energetic core of the charging station’ can store up to 360kWh of power and can charge up to 15 cars at once. The MEB is also used in Volkswagen electric cars. Batteries that need exchanging in cars can potentially be re-used in columns in future.

As you’d expect, it’s fully quick-charge capable. Up to 28kWh can be delivered in as little as 17 minutes – that’s 80 percent of the charge capacity of the current e-Golf. The power pack can be plugged in so that it doesn’t run down. If it is sat independent of mains power, the stations that get to less than 20 percent are to be exchanged for a charged one.

A temporary approach doesn’t mean you’ll be hard pressed to find one, however. You’ll be able to use apps to find your nearest VW charging station.

Other advantages of the charging stations? They’re capable of connecting directly to renewable sources of energy. Generating wind or solar power? You can store it in a Volkswagen mobile charge point. Say goodbye to dirty coal-made electricity and hello to genuinely carbon-neutral electric automotive power, potentially…

When can we expect to see them?

VW has no intention of slacking on this. The first mobile quick charging stations are to be deployed locally in Germany in the first half of this year as a pilot, before expanding to other locations in 2020.

Thomas Schmalz, Chairman of the Board of management of Volkswagen Group Components, highlights the long-term usefulness of the project. As well as plugging gaps in the infrastructure today, suitable points for permanent charging locations can be mooted for tomorrow.

VW mobile charge points

“Cities can, for example, find out the most suitable places for a permanent charging point before making major investments in developing the network.

“In addition, it will be possible to set up a large number of charging stations temporarily – exactly when and where they are needed”.

All in all, it sounds like a great temporary solution as well as a way to prepare for a more hard-wired electric car future.

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UK not electric car future ready

The UK is behind on its journey to an electric motoring future

The Institute of the Motor Industry reports that only London is on track for electric car uptake. The UK is allegedly behind in terms of infrastructure and workforce training

Smart ForTwo EQ

Opinion: I challenge anyone to drive an EV and not enjoy it

Smart ForTwo EQ EV

Range anxiety and infrastructure woes notwithstanding, I challenge anyone to drive an electric car and not enjoy it. 

Enjoying a car can mean different things, of course. It’s not like the Smart Fortwo EQ, the car via which I re-acquainted myself with electric power, is a scintillating B-road ripper. Nor is it a cosseting limousine, pleasantly devoid of the agricultural clatter of internal combustion. It’s just a car, a Smart, with batteries and electric motors where an engine used to be.

That may sound entirely unremarkable, but even the little Smart with its relatively tiny range speaks of a better future. Here’s why…

Instant response

In my opinion, one of the most important things to have in any car is enough puff beneath your right shoe. That doesn’t mean mega-horsepower, just a good amount available as and when you need it. Motorway on-ramps, dicey junctions and other such split-second challenges faced by motorists make a bit of get-up-and-go an absolute essential.

In an EV, immediate electric torque is par for the course. Even if the figure it boasts is relatively meagre, all of the little Smart’s oomph is available the instant I touch the throttle. That’s response and instant punch a Ferrari 812 Superfast or Lamborghini Aventador SVJ can only dream of. 

Smart ForTwo EQ EV

Low EV running costs

It’s the well-trodden path of the EV fanboy, but the numbers are undeniable. It would cost our camera jockey Bradley more than £10 to put 100 miles-worth of fuel in his 1.4-litre Vauxhall Corsa. To top-up the little Smart, you’re looking at pennies.

We could talk about the consumables in Bradley’s Corsa, too, but that wouldn’t register on a first drive. Plus, we don’t want to upset him.

Ease of use

I love swapping cogs as much as the next car enthusiast, but you’ve got to revel in the turnkey-go feeling of the Smart EQ. Put it in Eco mode and the regenerative brake effect is such that you needn’t touch the middle pedal. Press the accelerator to go, lift off to slow down – it’s as simple as that.

I miss the minutiae of matching revs, and making the best of my Renaultsport Clio’s notchy shift, yet the ease of the sweet little Smart is infectious. Unless you’re carving up the Highlands, easing the chore of everyday driving is no bad thing.

Smart ForTwo EQ EV

Electric cars are inexplicably relaxing to drive

Maybe it’s the lack of noise, the less metered inputs, or the fewer inputs as a whole. We can’t put our fingers on it, but electric cars are so effortless, so relaxing to drive. You’ll just need to experience one for yourself to see what we mean.

Smart Fortwo EQ: verdict

The little Smart is a long way from perfect, as are many current EVs and the infrastructure in which we’re supposed to run them. You’ll struggle to match its quoted 100-mile range in normal driving. It’s a city EV and not much more. The charging infrastructure, while improving every day, isn’t what it needs to be. Battery tech needs to get better: more power and less weight is a must. These cars need to get cheaper, too: the Fortwo in this Brabus-styled spec is £22,580 – and that’s after the Government’s Plug-In Car Grant.   

We’re not ignorant of these problems. The point of this piece was to call out the detractors – there’s much to love about electric cars. We challenge you to drive one and disagree.

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EV power

Will electric cars outsell diesel by 2020?

EV power

It will only be a matter of time before electric cars comprise a significant proportion of the new car marketplace. How long that would take has been very much up for debate… but one organisation has conducted a survey – and the surprising findings suggests the time may come sooner than you think.

Leasing company Leasing Options quizzed 2,000 people, who said they expect electric cars will outsell previously dominant diesel-powered cars by as soon as 2020. 

Yes, 2020, for EVs (full EVs, no less, rather than electrified plug-in hybrids) to outsell diesel cars. Seems remarkable, no?

Of course, the sudden fall from grace of diesel, rather than exponential growth in EVs, is a major factor in the predictions: SMMT new car registration data is, month after month, proving damning for oil-burners.

An overall new diesel car sales slump of 37.2 percent last year isn’t helped by the fact that manufacturers have been swift in slashing diesel-powered options, in some cases to nought.

Meanwhile, government policy and support of Alternative Fuel Vehicles, including buyer incentives, have supercharged AFV uptake in recent months and years. Pure EV sales increased 5.7 percent last year; AFV sales, including hybrids and plug-in hybrids, increased almost 35 percent.

The survey also quizzed drivers to find out where buyers’ faith and loyalties lie. Once again, it doesn’t look good for diesel. Around half said they believe diesel is actually a danger to the environment, while 56 percent said they were less likely to buy diesel than they were five years ago.

Diesel power

EVs still have some way to go in terms of public opinion, however, with over half of those surveyed suggesting they don’t know enough about them.

A whopping 63 percent fear EVs are too expensive for them, and good old range anxiety rears its head, with almost three in four worrying about the charging network.

Nevertheless, half of those surveyed still said they’d consider electric power if it was demonstrably as convenient and as cheap as fossil fuels. Over half suggested they’d buy into EVs as and when they became the norm.

Based on this survey, it seems that both the decline of diesel, and the rise of EVs, will be all but exponential going forward.

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Jaguar I-Pace

Most Brits will wait almost 10 YEARS before buying an electric car

Jaguar I-PaceThe emphasis on the transition to alternative fuel vehicles is intense. With diesel all but circling the drain, and talk of the 2040 combustion engine ban in the air, we all have to ask ourselves when we’ll take the leap into an electric car.

For many of us, that moment isn’t going to arrive any time soon.

That’s according to research conducted by Auto Trader. It found that drivers say they plan to wait an average of nine years before buying an electric car.

The research also discovered that motorists fall on both sides of the fence as to whether that 2040 ban is a good thing. While 20 percent were undecided, the remainder of the sample was evenly split in favour and against.

However, shockingly, nearly three quarters were not aware of the government assistance packages for buyers of electric cars and hybrids, such as the money-saving Plug-in Car Grant.

As for the recently-released Road to Zero report, over a third think it’s unrealistic to expect 50 percent of new cars sold to be electric by 2030.

The perceived price premiums, and what is seen as the inadequacy of the charging infrastructure, are why only one in four drivers would consider an EV or a hybrid for their next car.

i3

So what’s needed to convert buyers? In short, awareness, education, incentive and reassurance. We need to know what’s available, know that it’s viable and have good reasons to buy over what we’re used to.

The UK’s charging infrastrucutre needs to be improved, and confusing electric car terminology eliminated. 

“There’s no doubt that electric vehicles are the future,” said Auto Trader editorial director Erin Baker.

“However, our research indicates that there are still significant barriers to adoption, with greater investment in infrastructure and technology needed.

“It’s also crucial that car manufacturers and the government alike ensure that language to describe electric cars is clear and accessible, rather than laden with technological jargon that consumers may find alienating.”

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More than half Norway's new car sales are electric or hybrid

More than half Norway’s new car sales are electric or hybrid

More than half Norway's new car sales are electric or hybrid

Data reveals that more than half of all new cars sold in Norway last year featured electrified powertrains.

Zero-emission cars – mainly battery electric vehicles and a small number of hydrogen-powered cars – made up more than a fifth (20.9 percent) of new cars sales in 2017, according to figures released by the Norwegian Road Federation yesterday.

Meanwhile, hybrids accounted for 31.3 percent of new car sales, including 18.4 percent for plug-in hybrids.

Norway is leading the way in electric cars, with an ambitious goal of selling only zero-emission new cars by 2025. That’s more radical than the UK’s own target, which will only see traditional petrol and diesel cars banned in 2040.

The country is working towards this goal by heavily taxing conventional petrol and diesel cars, as well as offering a number of benefits for owners of electric cars. As well as reduced tax, they can also enjoy free use of tolls, ferries and parking, recharging in public car parks and even the right to drive in bus lanes.

With 98 percent of electricity produced in Norway coming from hydropower, the country’s electric car fleet is seen as being one of the cleanest in the world. This is despite the country being a huge supplier of crude oil.

‘Tesla Tax’ axed

Critics of Norway’s tax-free incentives for electric cars have said they simply allow rich households to buy new plug-in cars on the cheap. In response to this, Norway’s minority government attempted to introduce a so-called ‘Tesla tax’ last year, clawing back incentives on new electric vehicles weighing more than two tonnes  i.e. the Tesla Model X. This lasted for six weeks before the controversial plan was scrapped.

Despite the popularity of electric cars in Norway, the country’s electric vehicle association says meeting the 2025 target will still prove difficult.

“The goal of 2025 is ambitious,” its secretary general, Christina Bu told the Guardian.

“We need to go from 21 percent market share to 100 percent in seven years, which means we still have a way to go even if it’s going in the right direction and the increase compared to 2016 is satisfactory.”

There are long lead times for new electric vehicles in Norway, said the organisation, and manufacturers are slow to meet the high demand.

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