10 Apr 2019

Electric Car Sales Are Up, But What Does That Mean For Road Users?

Electric cars have been a regular sight on our roads for a number of years now, with the success of trailblazers such as the Nissan Leaf generating enough interest amongst buyers to secure a cleaner future for the industry. Nine years after the Leaf first entered production, reports are coming in of a huge increase in electric car sales. In fact, January 2019 saw sales of EVs (electric vehicles) leap by 110% in comparison to the same time last year.

That's a massive jump for purely electric, non-hybrid vehicles - representing 1,334 sold over the 635 for January 2018 – but what does it mean for car manufacturers and road users? Here's what you need to know about the future of electric cars, and how it will affect you:

  • For a start, the increase in EV units sold hasn't gone unnoticed by the UK Government. The grants available for those buying electric cars have been slashed due to the high demand, with a new maximum grant of £3,500 coming into effect earlier than planned, while hybrid vehicle sales have become exempt from government funding altogether. Buying an electric car is getting more expensive then, but as more units are made, it is hoped that the price will begin to fall.
  • One of the main concerns buyers have when considering an electric car is the range. Research carried out by DrivingElectric.com (an independent consumer advice site) has shown that 37 percent of motorists would be drawn to by an EV if the range could reach 300 miles. That's been something of an impossibility for electric models up to now, but the good news is that longer range batteries will be with us sooner than you may think. The new Hyundai Kona Electric, for example, is already capable of covering 292 miles, which suggests that the continued anxiety around range may stem from consumers not being kept up to speed with the progress being made.
  • Another concern that is regularly cited is that electric cars are too quiet, with the potential for accidents being higher as pedestrians fail to notice them approach. The relative silence with which electric cars travel is an issue that the motor industry has never faced before EVs, and it can cause real problems in low speed, pedestrian-heavy areas such as residential streets and car parks. The USA is already putting regulation in place that will see all EVs required to emit sound when travelling up to 18.6mph by 2020, so expect that solution to be rolled out elsewhere shortly after.
  • With the Government's plan to have removed diesel cars from the roads completely by 2040, it looks like the future is looking bleak for traditional combustion engines. Groups such as the WWF are questioning whether the Government can live up to its commitment, whilst the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) believes the target date is simply too far away, and not enough policies have been set out. “The clean growth strategy is ambitious in its aims to build a thriving low-carbon Britain but ambitions alone are not enough,” said Lord Deben, CCC chairman. “As it stands, the strategy does not deliver enough action to meet the UK’s emissions targets in the 2020s and 2030s.”
  • If electric cars are to become the norm within the next twenty years, then a large revamp of the UK's charging network will be necessary, as the current system could not cope with so many EVs. If we are to power towards the greener future that is being promised, you can expect to see a lot of changes to the way we drive along the way.

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