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An electric future – has the revolution arrived?

There’s no denying that the switch to electric driving has been slow off the starting blocks. When the first Nissan LEAF came off the production line in Sunderland in 2013, I believed the transition to electric driving had truly arrived but today electric cars are still in the minority.

However, change is coming. Latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that electric car sales in the UK are rising at a dramatic rate. There are now on average around 2,400 electric cars registered each month, representing just over 1% of the total new car market.

In my opinion there are two major factors which have contributed to this rise. Changing attitudes and practicalities.

I strongly believe that one of the biggest impetus to change will be people’s growing concern about air pollution. Over the last 18 months, the topic of pollution and the associated health impacts has moved up the public’s agenda helped by the growing attention from the UK’s media. As transport is the second largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, the Government needs to act now and the introduction of Clean Air Zones in towns and cities will be an incentive for many, especially fleets, to make a switch.

But more importantly, electric cars are becoming a more viable option for many individuals and businesses. The choice has grown significantly and there are now over 35 electric cars available, ranging from city run-arounds and sports cars to 4x4s and family hatchbacks, as well as nine low emission vans. As battery technology develops, we’re also seeing the range of these cars increase. Take the Nissan LEAF for example, the maximum distance travelled on one charge is now 130 miles – more than enough for most people’s daily journeys. If taxi drivers can make EV work, and many of them are, then we all can. With significant tax breaks, low fuel costs and Government grants both off the purchase price of a vehicle as well as home and workplace charging, businesses are suddenly waking up to the fact that there is the potential to make significant savings over the life of the vehicle.

Having worked in the automotive sector for more than 40 years, I feel that there’s never been a more important time than now. Electric cars are on the verge of becoming mainstream and I really believe that children being born today will never drive a petrol or diesel car.

At Zero Carbon Futures, we’re undertaking research to help understand how cities and countries can prepare themselves for the rise of the electric car and to answer the many questions that policy makers have of when, how many, what next and what legislation will drive this transition forward.

About Zero Carbon Futures

Zero Carbon Futures is an automotive consultancy specialising in developing and delivering projects that support the increase of electric cars on the roads. The company’s projects, on behalf of various clients, range from large-scale, national electric vehicle charging infrastructure roll out, feasibility studies on behalf of UK towns and cities through to demonstrating the possibilities surrounding the second life use of batteries.

Author: Dr Colin Herron, Managing Director, Zero Carbon Futures

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