When Will a World with Only Electric Cars Really Exist?

Can a world without petrol and diesel cars become a reality?

Published: 25th October 2017

It’s the green dream; a world populated by electric cars.

And very soon many think it could become a reality, with Volvo the first car manufacturer to announce all of its new models will have an electric motor from 2019 and the UK’s plans to stop selling petrol and diesel cars from 2040. There are still plenty of doubters though, and the full adoption of electric cars will face various issues as it looks to become the norm.

Petrol and Diesel Scrappage Schemes

The UK announced that from 2040 it will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and by 2050 all cars on the road will have to produce zero emissions. Aiming to improve the country’s air quality is the main factor driving the initiative, while France has set the same target to help both fight global warming and help its automakers innovate and become market leaders in electric and hybrid vehicles.

Norway has set the most ambitious plans, with all new passenger cars and vans set to produce zero emissions by 2025. While in New Delhi all vehicles sold will have to be electric by 2030. The Netherlands and Germany have mentioned setting similar targets for 2025 and 2030 respectively, though nothing official has yet been said.

Country Year
Norway 2025
India (New Delhi) 2030
China 2030
France 2040
UK 2040

Other countries including China, Japan, South Korea and Spain have created electric car sales targets, but no plans to phase out petrol and diesel models. Plus, there is a long way to go for many countries without a plan, as 95% of all electric cars are sold across just ten countries.

Electric Car Popularity

There was positive electric car news when the number of electric cars in the world surpassed two million for the first time in 2016. This represents a 60% increase on the year before, when sales passed one million for the first time globally and represents a trend that is growing massively.

However, when it comes to electric car sales as a proportion of overall markets, there is still a long way to go. UK hybrid and electric cars made up just 1.5% of the overall market share (archive 17 October 2017 https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/GlobalEVOutlook2017.pdf retrieved 25 October 2017) for new car registrations in 2016, well behind Norway where this was 29% in the same year.

While China is home to the most electric cars in the world, with around 650,000 on its roads, this is a tiny number considering the country has around 200 million vehicles on its roads in total. It has also overtaken the USA as having the most electric vehicles, which while it may sound good does suggest that the USA’s adoption of zero-emission vehicles could be stalling.

Country Number of Electric and Hybrid Car Registrations % of New Car Market in 2016
Norway 135,000 29
Netherlands 114,050 6.4
Sweden 30,525 3.4
China 645,000 1.5
UK 104,000 1.5
France 108,000 1.5
USA 570,000 >1

Even though electric and hybrid cars are growing in popularity compared to between five and ten years ago, the countries with the largest car markets appear to be slower at catching on. In the USA, almost half of all electric car sales are in California, implying there is still a way to go until there is widespread adoption of electric cars.

Requirements for an All-Electric World

In order to speed up and achieve the electric car revolution, it will require new innovations by governments, car manufacturers and others in the auto industry. Government subsidies and scrappage schemes are one way that countries including Norway and France are encouraging households to switch to an electric car. The UK government has pledged £900 million towards supporting the electric car industry itself.

Another requirement will be introducing more electric charging points, with cars currently outnumbering public charging points by six to one. Plus, the battery life and range will need to be improved for many vehicles, as currently few are able to cover much more than 100 miles on one charge.

Considerations When Buying an Electric Car

If you’re thinking about buying an electric car, there are a few things to consider when looking for the best model:

  • Mileage: For city driving and short trips most electric vehicles will be fine, but if you regularly cover long distances, seek those with a greater range.
  • Charge times: Electric car charging times vary between models, but some can reach around 80% charge in as little as 20 minutes.
  • Recharging points: Check for convenient electric car charging points when you’re out and about, by using a website such as Zap-Map (also available as an app) to make owning one feasible.
  • Insurance: Electric cars can cost up to 45% extra to insure, so this additional cost should be factored in.
  • GAP Insurance: Another type of electric car insurance to consider is ALA GAP Insurance. This protects against the shortfall and financial loss if your car is written off in an accident. Electric cars depreciate very quickly, meaning you could be disproportionately out of pocket in the event of a total loss.

With a lot of positive electric car news in recent years and a clear growth in the number of electric car sales, plans for a world free from petrol and diesel vehicles could well become a reality.

Published: 25th October 2017
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