In the UK, under the Paris Climate accords, all-new petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040. This is a very bold step by the government and it only leaves 20 years to build the infrastructure (and cars) for this new future. In this blog, we’re going to look at the implications of this.
Why are traditional cars being banned?
The reasoning behind the ban is that the emissions of cars are bad. In particular CO2 and N20. Carbon dioxide contributes to climate change and Nitrous Oxide is toxic. Petrol cars emit the most Co2 and Diesel cars produce the most N20. These emissions contribute to climate change (though 760 million cars worldwide still produce less CO2 and N20 than the world’s 15 largest ships, but that’s a debate for another day)
Are all traditionally fuelled cars going to be banned?
Older cars will not be banned as they will already exist. There will still be new cars that are fuelled by petrol, but they must be hybrid technology. For all the “clean” hype around hybrids, they still use fuel. For example, a Toyota Prius (one of the most well-known hybrids) uses a gallon of fuel for every 66 miles. Which though efficient, is still burning fuel.
Are we ready to change to electric cars?
At the moment, no. The UK is one of the world’s worst spenders on infrastructure. For an industrialised nation, the UK’s infrastructure is so bad it is the second bottom of the G7 with only Italy coming below it. During these times of government spending cuts (at a time when interest rates are at an all-time low bizarrely) this means ignoring infrastructure. The amount of electric charging points around the country is around half of the number of petrol stations. Most charging ports only have two outlets and there are very few charging points in rural areas.
The strain on the National Grid will be noticeable. To power all of the UK’s existing 26 million cars the National Grid will have to increase electricity production by 36% and increase capacity by 49%. This is a massive change in power generation from petrol/diesel onto the National Grid. This will mean massive power generation projects, whether they are renewables (wind, hydro, tidal power generation), fossil fuel (coal, oil and gas – all of which have emissions themselves) and Nuclear (which produces radioactive waste)
What does this mean for the driver?
Currently, if you own an electric car, at best the range you will have is around 300 miles with a Tesla. This means that for a trip from Glasgow to London you’d have to stop to charge at least once. This would add half an hour on to your journey time due to stopping and charging. This is with the most efficient charger available today. We still have 23 years to work on charging and battery technologies which should increase efficiency. We are still a long way from a battery charge that is as quick as filling up a tank.
I reckon there will be some kind of penalties for owning petrol cars after 2040, similar to our Road Tax today for emission levels, though I expect the price to be far more expensive than it is today, possibly prohibitively expensive for most people, though this is just a guess at this moment.