THE RISE OF ELECTRIC CARS

An in-depth look at a motoring revolution

“We must at some point achieve a sustainable energy economy or we will run out of fossil fuels to burn and civilization will collapse.”

Elon Musk

CEO Tesla Motors, 2016

Elon Musk Elon Musk

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

The end of petrol and diesel?

The question of whether electric cars will at some point replace petrol and diesel does now seem to be settled. In 2017, the UK government announced that from 2040 it will ban the sale of all new diesel and petrol cars and vans in this country, putting a definitive date on a change that was probably set to happen anyway.

The issue of harmful pollutants was one of the main reasons ministers cited for introducing a ban. And, although air quality in the UK has been improving significantly in recent decades with reductions in emissions of all of key pollutants and NO2 levels down by half in the last 15 years, according to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, it still remains a major problem.

Over 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK are linked with air pollution, according to the Royal College of Physicians. The organisation says pollution has been linked to illnesses including cancer, asthma, stroke, heart disease and diabetes. What’s more, such health problems have a knock-on effect to our health services and businesses at an estimated annual cost to the UK economy of £20 billion.

While the government announcement initially sounded promising to those in support of low-emission motoring, 2040 is still a long way off.

 So, what should those interested in buying an electric car do now? As this report will show, despite electric vehicles gaining a lot more attention in recent years, many drivers still aren’t particularly clued up on this area of motoring.  And common anxieties remain - particularly around range and charging. Meanwhile, perceived high costs and even doubts around the eco-credentials of EVs continue to put people off.

 So if you’re thinking of going electric for your next vehicle - or wondering whether you should be - this report will aim to shed some light on this rapidly-developing area of motoring.

The history of the electric car

One of the first things many people think of when talking about electric cars is the US manufacturer Tesla and, more specifically, its high-profile CEO Elon Musk – also known as the bloke that inspired Robert Downey Jr's on-screen portrayal of Iron Man.

Now Tesla and Musk are certainly an important part in the story of the electric car. But what some people might not realise is that electric cars have been around for a long time. A very long time. Here is a quick overview of how electric cars have developed from way back when, to the present day.

Source: Chevrolet

Toyota plug-in Hybrid

What is an electric car?

One of the first things to establish is what we mean by an EV, as there are three main types. Warning, several acronyms lie ahead!

Firstly, there are battery electric vehicles, or BEVs for short. These are what’s known as fully electric vehicles. And, as the name suggests, they rely on electricity from a battery. BEVs use an external electrical charging outlet to power them up, and due to this fact they can also be known as plug-ins. One of the good things about BEVs is they use a clever technology called regenerative braking. When you step on the brake, the momentum of the car puts charge back into the battery. This means you get free power when you slow down. 

Next are plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEVs, which are powered by both fossil fuels and electricity. They are also known as extended-range electric vehicles, or EREVs. These cars use regenerative braking and electricity from being plugged in to power them. In addition to this, the petrol or diesel engine is then used to extend the range of the car by recharging the battery as it goes along. 

Finally, hybrid electric vehicles, or HEVs, tend to use a combination of both battery and engine for power. The electric motor initially powers the car and continues to power it at lower speeds, drawing on electricity from the battery. Then at higher cruising speeds the combustion engine kicks in. While it’s working, the engine can also power the car’s generator, which produces electricity and stores it in the battery to be used later on. 

In this report we’ll be primarily focus on pure electric vehicles (BEVs). However, we’ll try to be explicit about which type of electric vehicle we’re referring to as and when appropriate - hopefully using as few acronyms as possible.

Current state of play

Totoya Prius Totoya Prius

Source: Toyota

Source: Toyota

So now you know the difference between the different types of electric vehicle, your next question might be “how many people are actually driving these things at present?” The short answer is not that many. But the number is growing all the time.

 While only around 500 electric cars - of all varieties - were registered per month during the first half of 2014, this was up to an average of almost 4,000 a month during 2017. That’s according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

 Due to the amount of attention EVs are getting at the moment in the media, it’s easy to feel like you should already know a lot about them. However, this shouldn’t necessarily be the case. True, electric car sales have been rising; car manufacturers are bringing out new EV models at an ever-increasing rate; and you will have no doubt seen an increase in charging points on roads and/or outside people’s homes. But alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) – those that don’t run solely on traditional petroleum fuels (petrol and diesel) - still only make up a tiny proportion of new car sales.

In March 2018, 24,126 AFVs were registered in the UK. Out of this, the number of pure electric vehicles registered stood at 2,904. This compares with 296,349 petrol vehicles, and 153,594 diesels. Looking across the whole of last year, AFVs formed only 4.2% of the new car-sales market. By comparison, petrol held a 51% share and new diesel vehicles took a 45% slice of the pie.

 So, if you’re a driver who still feels like this is a relatively new and minor area of motoring at present, you’re right: comparatively speaking it is. Although that’s not to say it isn’t important. If nothing else, the sheer number of acronyms involved clearly makes it so!

Source: SMMT

What do drivers think?

So, we’ve established EVs are still very much in the minority. However, it seems a significant section of the driving public are at least open to owning an electric car sometime in the near future.

“Who are these people?” we hear you cry. Well, Confused.com conducted a poll of 2,000 drivers - of all ages and from all parts of the country. Of these:

  • 1% owned a pure electric car
  • 1% owned a hybrid,
  • 29% owned a diesel vehicle
  • 65% owned a petrol-powered car.

But nearly a third (31%) said they would consider buying a pure EV for their next vehicle, and over half (52%) said they would consider a hybrid. Of all age groups, drivers aged 35 to 44 were the most likely to consider an EV, while those aged 55 and above were the least likely.

When it came to the government’s 2040 ban on all new petrol and diesel cars, 35% said they either strongly or somewhat agreed. Meanwhile, 32% either strongly or somewhat disagreed. And 33% neither agreed nor disagreed. So if our research is anything to go by, the driving public is split into roughly three equal camps: those who support the ban, those who don’t support it, and those that either have no opinion or simply don’t care.

As for when drivers think electric vehicles will outnumber petrol and diesel cars on UK roads

  • 14% think it will happen as soon as during the next six to 10 years,
  • 27% said it will happen between 11 and 20 years
  • 16% will think it will happen between 21 and 30 years.

What do you think? Are you considering an electric vehicle as your next car? Do you agree with the government ban? And when do you feel electric vehicles will outnumber petrol and diesel cars?

Perhaps you’re still unclear about why owning an electric vehicle might be a good thing to do. Well, don’t worry, we’re going to be taking a look at the benefits of going electric next.

Why should I own an electric car?

Source: Confused.com survey

Our 2,000 drivers were asked what they thought the benefits of owning an electric vehicle might be. Perhaps unsurprisingly, matters relating to the cost of running an EV were listed as among the greatest benefits.

Almost two-thirds (65%) said cheaper road tax was one of the main plus points, while over half (55%) said cheaper running costs, and more than a third (37%) thought the fact electric cars can have certain tax savings and incentives was advantageous.

However, environmental reasons were another strong motivating factor. Almost two-thirds (65%) cited reduced carbon emissions as a benefit of owning an electric car, while four-in-10 (41%) said that reducing reliance on fossil fuels is a good thing.

When it came to actual motoring matters, the likes of quieter and smoother driving, the fact that you can charge the car at home and lower maintenance requirements were also mentioned as substantial benefits.

So, that’s what drivers think. However, to get a better understanding of such matters, we thought who better to speak to than somebody whose actual job involves developing the electric motoring market. Poppy Welch is from Go Ultra Low, a campaign that brings together vehicle manufacturers, the government and industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

“Over three years, a 100% electric car could save an average of more than £1,800 in fuel costs and road tax”
Poppy Welch, Go Ultra Low

“The UK electric car market is growing rapidly,” Welch says, “with significant rises in registrations every year since 2011 when the government introduced the plug-in car grant. More than 130,000 drivers in the UK have now bought plug-in cars, a figure that could pass 190,000 in 2018 as new models come to market, retaining the UK’s position as one of Europe’s largest markets for ultra-low emission vehicles.”

Welch adds that one of the biggest advantages of electric vehicles is that they’re much cheaper to run than their fossil-fuelled counterparts. “A pure electric vehicle could cost from as little as 2p-per-mile to drive, compared to 8p to 11p-per-mile for petrol or diesel cars. Over three years, a 100% electric car could save an average of more than £1,800 in fuel costs and road tax compared to an average diesel car. EVs also have the added benefit of lower servicing and maintenance costs, with fewer moving parts and less demand for consumables such as tyres and brake pads.”

Welch explains there are also a number of incentives available at the moment to motorists who would like to go electric.

“The government’s plug-in car grant offers motorists up to £4,500 off the price of eligible pure electric cars and £2,500 off eligible plug-in hybrids,” she says. “There is also up to £500 available off the price of the installation of a dedicated home charge point, while other benefits include free parking in many places, free charging, the lowest levels of vehicle taxation, access to bus lanes in some city centres, and free entry in to London’s Congestion Charge zone.”

There are also cost savings for company car drivers looking to choose a 100% electric vehicle, Welch explains, adding: “Typical benefit-in-kind savings of approximately £1,600 a year are available for a 40% taxpayer.”

EV ownership: a case study

So far so good, it seems. Although the more cynical among us may be thinking, well of course she’d say EVs are the bee’s knees, it’s her job! So what about people that already own an electric vehicle? What do they have to say about it? To find out, we spoke to EV driver Gary Cambridge.

“I’ve had a Nissan Leaf for almost four years,” says Gary. “I’m in the car trade and didn’t want to listen to what Nissan tell me, I wanted to find out for myself so I borrowed one.” Gary continues: “I found the range was a bit less than I’d been told but it would still do 80-90 miles and the cost was about 3p-a-mile. Paying for fuel has never been cheap but I did my homework and realised all the rapid chargers on the motorway network were free.”

“I class myself more as a cash-hugger than a tree-hugger”
Gary Cambridge

Gary adds: “I agree we should all think of the environment – and society is now more aware, which is good - but I class myself more as a cash-hugger than a tree-hugger.” As for what it’s like to drive, Gary says he considers himself a convert to electric motoring. “I bought mine for £14,700 when it was 11 months old. I’ll be amazed if I go back to a petrol or diesel car, although I’ve had those all my life and I sell them. It’s just like driving a Ford Focus – that sort of size – but the difference is that there isn’t any noise.

“You get all the jokes, such as, 'How’s your milk float?’. But nearly 80,000 miles later people are surprised to hear that I’ve still got it. I don’t know anyone that likes paying for petrol but if you want a cheap car then they say you’re tight!” Gary adds: “Friends ask why they make them look like electric cars and that is a fair point. The Leaf does look a bit weird - but it doesn’t really bother me.”

Why aren't more drivers making the switch?

So, it seems there are some not-unsubstantial benefits to going electric. But there must be some reasons why we’re not all sudden converts, suggesting many drivers still have reservations about buying an electric vehicle. Our eclectic mix of 2,000 drivers helps shed some light on people’s most common concerns.

The greatest worry, according to seven in 10 (72%) drivers who were asked what would discourage them from buying an EV, is that “there aren’t many charging stations around”. Meanwhile, six in 10 (61%) drivers polled said “long recharging times” bothered them. And well over half (59%) said the expense of buying an electric car would act as a deterrent. Then there was 8% of the 2,000 drivers that said “electric cars just aren’t stylish.”just aren’t stylish.”

So that’s why drivers are put off buying an EV. But what are the facts behind the concerns? Let’s take a look.

Will I run out of power?

According to our research, a UK driver’s biggest concern about owning an electric car is the number and availability of charging points. It’s a fair worry, as running out of power mid-journey tends to leave a certain image in one’s mind.

For us it’s being stranded in a country lane; it being the UK, it’s probably raining; it’s growing dark; a not-altogether-friendly-looking farmer has just passed in his tractor smirking at the silly city folk and their silly futuristic car; all the while two small children are screaming in the background and an angry partner is cursing the day he or she was convinced to buy an EV. Not pretty, is it? But how likely are you to face this sort of scenario?

In short, if you do most of your driving within - or even between - urban areas, then it’s highly unlikely. According to Zap Map, which monitors the UK’s charging infrastructure, there are currently 5,602 locations around the country where you can charge your EV. Among these locations there are 9,424 charging devices, offering a total of 16,130 connectors [figures correct at time of writing].

And this number is rising all the time. A quick glance at Zap Map or similar websites shows there are hundreds of charging points in the UK’s major cities. Even medium-sized towns have at least a dozen while many smaller towns usually have a handful.

However, if you’re heading off the beaten track, then some planning ahead may be required. Thankfully, Zap Map offers a handy route planner letting you plot the location of charge points along your journey. While using this planner, you’ll need to check what type of charging points are available, as this may impact your journey time quite significantly.

For example, EV charge points are categorised as either “rapid”, “fast” or “slow”, depending on how quickly they can charge a car. Rapid charging units can provide an 80% charge in around 30 minutes. Fast charging points take around 3-4 hours to fully recharge some EVs. And Slow can do the same in about 6-8 hours, which is the method used by most owners when they charge their vehicle at home overnight.

Range anxiety

Concerns around the availability of charging points is closely tied to a concept known as “range anxiety” – the range of an electric car being how far it can go without needing to be recharged.

When it comes to range, this is an area that is improving all the time. A quick look at electric car website EV Obsession, which has listed the 10 electric cars with most range [December 2017], shows a car such as a Kia Soul EV can officially do 111 miles on one full charge. Others, such as the Volkswagen e-Golf have a range of 125 miles, and the Nissan Leaf can do 150 miles. Meanwhile, high-spec models such as the Tesla Model S are advertised as being capable of doing an astonishing 335 miles on a single charge.

Saying all that, it’s worth bearing in mind this: on a daily basis we don’t actually tend to drive very far. Poppy Welch from Go Ultra Low explains.

“One of the biggest barriers to growth in the EV market is the common misconception that electric cars are not suitable for most people as the range is too limited. However, research from the DfT’s National Travel Survey showed that in 2016, 98% of car journeys in England were less than 50 miles, well within the 125-250 mile range of the latest 100% electric cars.”

EV mythbuster

A look at two common misconceptions

Nissan Leaf. Source: Nissan

Hyundai IONIQ. Source: Hyndai

VW E-Golf. Source: Volkswagen

Tesla Gigafactory concept. Source: Tesla Motors

While we’re clearing up misconceptions, let’s take a look at two more. The first is that EVs aren’t actually much more environmentally friendly than petrol or diesel cars because - as the argument goes - they still run on electricity generated by fossil-powered power stations.

To help shed some light on this, we spoke with Dale Vince, the founder of green energy company, Ecotricity. “It’s a myth of EVs - the claim that unless you run them on renewable energy then they make no difference to overall pollution levels, they just shunt the pollution from tailpipe to smoke stack [power station],” Vince says.

“The typical fuel efficiency of an internal combustion engine car is 15 to 20% - the rest of the energy in the fuel is thrown away as waste heat. The typical fuel efficiency of a fossil-powered power station is circa 50%. So just by switching from locally-burned (in lots of little engines) fuel to more centrally-burned fuel in big power stations, there’s a massive increase in fuel efficiency and corresponding reduction in pollution for any given amount of driving and number of cars.”

“It’s a myth of EVs - the claim that unless you run them on renewable energy then they make no difference to overall pollution levels”
Dale Vince, Ecotricity

Vince adds: “On top of that the grid is comprised these days of 25% renewable energy anyway, and the bulk of the rest is either gas or nuclear - both low-emission sources compared to diesel and petrol. In fact, the average emissions of an internal combustion car are 196g CO2/mile, whereas a Nissan Leaf running on grid average electricity would be just 56g C02/mile. So they emit almost four times less harmful CO2 per mile.

“The great thing about EVs is that they can be run on 100% renewable energy and I would recommend anyone that has one to do so – there are plenty of tariffs out there offering that – as it enables zero-emission driving. Better yet, install your own solar panels and generate your own.”

A second common myth about EVs is that, should they take off in a big way, we’ll all be dealing with power cuts as the National Grid won’t be able to cope with the extra demand for electricity.

Vince explains: “As for the grid, no problem. If all 30 million of Britain’s cars were full on EV, we’d need an increase in grid-delivered power of just 12% - that’s not a massive amount. And, because most of the charging will come at off-peak times, it won’t require new grid infrastructure, wires or power stations.

"This 12% increase in mostly off-peak times will improve the efficiency of the grid - its load factor will rise from today’s 50% to something better. Smart charging is key to this, but it’s very simple to implement.”

So there we go: two big EV myths busted!

Why are electric cars more expensive to buy?

Now back to our poll of 2,000 drivers. Over half (59%) said the expense of buying an electric car would act as a deterrent. And to be fair, they may have a point.

The price of a new Nissan Leaf Tekna ranges from £28,390. A new Volkswagen e-Golf hatchback could set you back £28,230. And a Hyundai Ioniq pure EV costs from £24,995. Even the Renault Zoe, one of the least expensive EVs on the market, will still set you back £20,670 for the Signature Nav model.

And we haven’t even started on the likes of Tesla’s Model S hatchback, which can cost anything from approximately £67,000 to £127,000 – although admittedly it’s aimed at the premium market. But why do EVs cost so much? One of the main reasons for the comparatively high prices is the batteries.

“Batteries have a large impact on the performance of an electric drive vehicle, and account for an extremely large proportion of the cost of such a car,” says a report by Japanese IT consulting firm the Nomura Research Institute [November, 2017].

Most EVs use lithium-ion batteries, which you may have heard of as they’re also used in mobile phones and laptops. Several major chemical and/or technology companies - Samsung, LG Chem and Panasonic being some of the more well-known names - are currently leading the way in terms of battery production. However, as the Nomura Research Institute report explains, some manufacturers are starting to build their own plants too. This is fuelled, in part, by worries about a lack of supply in the future and is an attempt at eventually bringing costs down.

One of the most famous of these plants is Tesla’s Nevada-based Gigafactory, which it started building in partnership with Panasonic in 2014.

Once complete, Tesla expects the Gigafactory to be the biggest building in the world – and entirely powered by renewable energy sources. But more importantly for drivers, when it’s up and running it says the cost of its battery cells should fall significantly through economies of scale. This, combined with other innovations, should help it produce cars that are more affordable.

Another manufacturer hoping to be able to cut costs is BMW. As reported by Reuters [March, 22 2018], BMW’s CEO Harald Krueger recently said his firm was looking to mass-produce electric cars from 2020, when its current technology is expected to be profitable enough to scale up for volume production. Other manufacturers have made similar statements of intent.

In summary, then, it appears that costs will still be prohibitive for many drivers. Although this looks set to change in the future as EVs become more and more affordable.

What does it cost to insure an electric vehicle?

Alongside the purchase price, one of the major costs when buying any car is motor insurance. Looking at Confused.com's own data, the cost of insuring an EV or hybrid tends to be slightly higher than a diesel or petrol.

We did a test quote on Confused.com for a female driver aged between 30 and 55 who had no motoring convictions. To insure this person on a petrol car, the average cost of an annual comprehensive motor insurance policy [January 2018] was £567. Meanwhile it was £607 for a diesel car, and £751 for an electric or hybrid vehicle. Running the same quote for a male aged under 25, we found the average annual insurance policy would cost £1,484 for a petrol car, £1,592 for a diesel car and £1,854 for an electric or hybrid vehicle.

Louise O’Shea is CEO of Confused.com. She says, “Our own data shows the number of customers looking to get a car insurance quote for either a fully electric vehicle or hybrid is rapidly increasing.

For example, the volume of fully electric vehicles doubled in 2017 on 2016 to around 2,000 quotes per month, while hybrid vehicles regularly exceed 9,000 quotes per month. However, this still represents less than 1% of Confused.com’s motor quote volumes, so it’s clear there’s still some way to go before the majority of our customers make the switch from either petrol or diesel.

O’Shea adds: “There are a number of reasons for the relatively higher cost of insurance. Generally speaking, electric cars tend to be more expensive to repair, which means insurance costs will typically be higher. There’s also the fact that the EV market is still developing, so insurers currently have volatile data to base their analysis on. This means it could take some time for insurance companies to improve their understanding and prices to settle.

To ensure they’re getting the best deal, we would always encourage EV owners to shop around.”

What does the future hold?

Things in the electric vehicle industry are moving so rapidly that new developments are being had all the time. In fact, when writing a report such as this it’s difficult to keep up.

As we have just explained, the costs of the cars themselves are likely to come down, with 2020 being touted by manufacturers such as BMW as a date by which they hope to produce EVs for the mass market.

Meanwhile, in January this year, Ford announced it will boost its investment in electric vehicles to $11bn (£8bn) in the next five years, with its chairman Bill Ford saying it would have 40 hybrid and fully electric vehicles in its range by 2022. And new electric vehicles are being brought out all the time.

Also, developments in charging are taking place very quickly. As mentioned, the number of charging points is increasing all the time, and the types of location where you can charge an EV is only going to grow.

Even those buying new homes in the not-too-distant future may find domestic charging points fitted as standard. For example, in January this year, Scottish developer Springfield Properties became one of the first companies in the UK to make the infrastructure for vehicle charging a standard feature in all new-build properties.

Among the first to benefit from this initiative will be a 3,000-home community planned for the outskirts of Perth. Announcing its plans, Innes Smith, chief executive of Springfield Properties, said: “The Scottish government has pledged that by 2032 all new vehicles sold in this country will be electric but we anticipate that the uptake will increase rapidly long before then.”

Such developments are only the beginning. What about people who live in different types of accommodation, such as flats? They will also need to be able to charge their electric vehicles too. No doubt mass wireless charging will come into play at some point, with companies even looking at how electric cars can be charged on the move – although we might have to save such changes for another time.

Electric racing: A look into the future with Formula E

When it comes to what lies ahead for the EV market, one of the best places to look is in motorsport. And in particular the ABB FIA Formula E Championship: the world’s first fully-electric international single-seater street racing series.

Formula E, which made its debut in 2014, consists of 10 teams and 20 drivers, with racing taking place in 10 cities across the world throughout a seven-month championship season. Host cities for the 2017-18 season range as far and wide as Mexico City and Marrakech. But, as the Formula E website explains, it’s more than just a racing series:

“Formula E serves as a competitive platform for global car manufacturers and mobility providers to test and develop road-relevant technologies. With 11 inspiring partners and 10 global car manufacturers involved, the series acts as a catalyst, helping to refine the design of electric vehicles and improve the driving experience for everyday road car users all over the world.”

In short, the technology used in Formula E racing cars today will help shape the road cars of tomorrow.

Formula E team director, James Barclay, leads the Panasonic Jaguar Racing team. He explains Jaguar Land Rover’s decision to get involved in this new motorsport.

“We made our return to motorsport in 2016 at the beginning of season three as the first premium manufacturer to join the series,” Barclay says. “Back then, Jaguar Land Rover was focusing its attention on the future of battery electric vehicles. Electric battery development is moving so quickly, and Formula E provided us with the perfect platform to showcase our commitment to ‘Race to Innovate’, which enables us to take learnings from the track and apply them to the development of our future road cars. This has been instrumental in the development of the Jaguar I-PACE, our first all-electric performance SUV [launching Summer 2018].”

“The Championship will only become more competitive as we see more premium manufacturers joining Formula E”
James Barclay, Panasonic Jaguar Racing team

As for what the team’s plans are for the future, Barclay adds:

“This season our aim is to be regularly competing for points. Alongside welcoming Nelson Piquet Jr [former Formula One driver] to the line-up, we have a new and improved Jaguar I-TYPE 2 which has so far this season proved its reliability and performance.

"As for the next three to five years we hope that we can continue the developments we have made as we move into an all-new race car for next season. The Championship will only become more competitive as we see more premium manufacturers joining Formula E, so we will continue to ‘Race to Innovate’ and be in the fight for podium positions in the future.”

The electric revolution

But what do motorsport fans think of this new racing series? Will it ever compete with the likes of Formula One? Our own motoring expert, and Formula E enthusiast, Amanda Stretton shared her thoughts.

“For me, I don’t think you can even compare it to Formula One, or any other type of motor racing. It’s totally different. Racing on temporary inner-city streets presents totally unique challenges and appeals to a totally new audience. Many old-school race fans still don’t like the idea of Formula E because of the lack of noise, smell etc.

"But I’d argue that they’re totally missing the point. It does offer wheel-to-wheel racing to the fans of tomorrow, and remember these are people who have grown up in the digital age and are far less frightened of this type of technology. And all this in a fully sustainable and easily accessible way.

“Formula E not only offers manufacturers a real word test bed to develop their electric technology,” Stretton continues, “but it is also cost-capped, making it the perfect solution. Season 5 will see the arrival of Porsche, BMW, Nissan and Mercedes joining Audi, Jaguar and Renault. This weight of manufacturers is totally unprecedented. The sport is only going to grow.”

Stretton adds: “Up till now, because of the limitations on battery technology, the only real electric cars we were used to seeing were city cars or super high-end saloons like the Tesla. These are clearly designed for a certain purpose and at a certain price point. But now because of the massive advances made in the technology (heat management, energy cycles, massive drain and rapid re-charge) through the harsh racing environment of Formula E, electric vehicles of all sorts will be hitting the markets sooner than you’d think. It’s all part of the electric revolution!”

Summary

In conclusion, it now seems not a question of ‘if’ electric vehicles will replace petrol and diesel cars, but ‘when’.

Most of the main sticking points that are currently putting drivers off from switching to an EV, such as range anxiety, are coming unstuck at a rapidly increasing rate. Currently the largest obstacle to mass uptake appears to be the purchase price of the cars themselves, and in the short term this will continue to put many people off from making a purchase.

However, with many manufacturers now putting sizeable amounts of money into developing new electric models over the next two to five years, with reducing the cost of batteries being a major part of this, it seems likely that costs will come down quite significantly within a similar time frame.

Considering how quickly things are moving in the electric car market, the government’s 2040 announcement seems very conservative and it’s likely this motoring revolution will have happened some time before then.

Contributors

Poppy Welch - Go Ultra Low
Dale Vince - Ecotricity
Louise O'Shea - Confused.com
Innes Smith - Springfield Properties
James Barclay - Panasonic Jaguar Racing Team
Amanda Stretton - Confused.com motoring editor
Gary Cambridge

Written by Adam Jolley
Graphics by Jamie Gibbs
Vox pop video by Adam Bate and Alice Campion
Interview transcripts by Rob Griffin
Edited by Chris Torney