Ban petrol and diesel in 2025: Sir Richard Branson has called on the UK government to fast-track its ban on combustion engine cars
Sir Richard Branson has called for the government to fast-track its plans to banish the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2040, suggesting the deadline should be brought forward to 2025.
The Virgin magnate, who sponsors a team in the electric Formula E championship, said the UK should follow in the footsteps of other European nations by culling combustion engines in seven year’s time.
And a separate report released this week says the best time to make the move to a plug-in vehicle is two years earlier.
The sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned in the UK from 2040 under government proposals to tackle air pollution.
However, Mr Branson says the restriction should come much sooner and sit in line with other European nations, such as the Netherlands and Norway.
The Virgin boss told BBC Newsbeat: ‘I honestly think that we’ve got to bring everything forward because there are concerns that we could actually have sea levels rising by over 100ft if we lose a big chunk of the Antarctic.
‘Therefore we’ve got to move the process of moving to clean energy quicker than most governments around the world are doing.’
With around 32 million cars on UK roads today, the chances of everyone ditching petrol and diesel in seven year’s time is slim.
There’s also the added issue of the power grid not yet being capable to cater for all these electric cars tapping into the nation’s electricity source – something that will need to be upgraded in the time between now and 2040.
However, a new industry report has suggested motorists should consider making the switch to an electric vehicle two years earlier than Mr Branson wants the ban on petrol and diesel cars introduced.
The suggestion has been made by comparison site Confused.com as part of a new report looking into the slow uptake of electric vehicles in Britain.
It said 2023 would be the ideal time for motorists to ditch combustion engines, with more vehicles being added to the market to drive down prices for the consumer and a wider availability of public charge points that motorists can access away from home.
It made the recommendation after surveying a 2,000 UK motorists about the widespread reluctance to run an electric vehicle right now.
Wait 5 years: Confused.com’s new report says motorists should wait until 2023 to buy an electric car
According to the latest official registration stats, pure electric models have made up just two per cent of new car sales in the first four months of 2018.
On of the biggest hurdles for drivers continues to be the ‘eye-watering’ price tags for electric cars.
Almost six in 10 (59 per cent) of the panel said they were put off by plug-in vehicle values.
With prices for a small supermini like the Renault Zoe starting at £20,000 and stretching all the way up to Tesla’s range-topping Model S costing £127,000, motorists are still seeing more value in petrol and diesel models at the moment.
The high price of EVs is one of the biggest hurdles stopping drivers from buying them. The top of the range Tesla Model S (pictured) currently costs more than £120,000 – the same as a Porsche 911 Turbo
However, electric cars should become far more affordable by 2030, as manufacturers develop new models and reduce the cost of batteries – one of the core reasons EVs are so expensive at the moment.
Insurance data collated by Confused.com also found that electric cars can be up to £370 more expensive to insure than your average petrol or diesel car at the moment – though industry insiders have strongly refuted the difference in premium costs for zero-emissions models.
Another financial obstacle is the current lack of incentives from the government to aid the purchase of these pricey cars.
The Government’s existing Plug-In Car Grant was recently extended to October 2018 – and in some form be available until 2022.
The list of category A fully electric cars – those eligible for the highest £4,500 grant – was updated yesterday to include Jaguar’s just-launched I-Pace SUV.
The Jaguar I-Pace – a car we have driven this week – has just been added to Category A of the Plug-In Car Grant and is eligible for a £4,500 subsidy
However, restrictions put in place – for hybrid models in particular – have meant it hasn’t been used by as many low-emission car buyers as you might expect.
In fact, a little over a third (37 per cent) of electric and hybrid vehicles bought so far this year have qualified for the grant, the SMMT confirmed.
While price is a huge stumbling block, almost three quarters (73 per cent) of the panel polled said they remained reserved about buying an electric car due to a lack of available charging points.
Currently, there are 16,130 connectors in 5,602 locations across the UK, according to Zap Map.
But if installations of new charge points continues at the current pace, there will be an estimated 27,004 locations for motorists to plug in by 2023.
Confused.com said it expects to see a 440% increase in the number of plug-in charge points in the UK by 2023
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, said: ‘It’s not a case of ‘if’, but ‘when’ electric cars will become more affordable and viable for the everyday driver.
‘While there are a number of incentives which help to bring down the cost of EVs, Confused.com’s report says that motorists wanting to watch the pennies should consider sitting tight.
‘In five years-time drivers should really start to notice a difference in the price tags of electric vehicles, as the cost of batteries comes down and more economical models enter the market.
‘And manufacturers should have a lot more confidence in the commercial viability of the technology as EV infrastructure becomes embedded across our transport network.’
Those who have already made the plunge and are drive electric cars now will still reap the rewards of being an early adopter.
The comparison site’s report said an owner can save an average of £1,800 on fuel and road tax in three years, as well as savings on parking, which is free for EVs in many car parks.
Carmakers need to shoulder some responsibility for slow EV take-up
Green transport campaigners Transport & Environment said carmakers are failing to achieve their own targets for sales of electric cars.
It said manufacturers have not brought enough new models to market and are instead complaining about a lack of recharging infrastructure and incentives.
The group also blasted brands for not pumping more funds into the advertisement of these low polluting vehicles.
Currently, there are around 30 battery and fuel cell electric models on sale in Europe.
That compares to about 370 conventionally-fuelled models.
T&E said it was clear that the already limited selection of EVs were not available in showrooms and are subject to long waiting times on orders for those who do want them.
It added: ‘Data purchased from leading marketing analytical company Ebiquity shows that carmakers are making very little effort to market electric models.
‘Whilst around 30 per cent of British, French and German consumers say they would consider buying an electric car, just 1.5 per cent of advertisement spend was on zero emission models and 1.4 per cent on plug-in hybrid models in the EU’s largest car markets: Germany, France, UK, Italy and Spain.
‘Across the EU, advertising spend is likely to be significantly lower than this percentage as little promotion of zero emission models is likely out of the major new car markets.
‘In Norway (where 4 out of 10 cars sold were battery or plug-in hybrids in 2017), OEM’s advertising spend on zero emission cars as a proportion was much higher (10 per cent), indicating companies tending to follow demand rather than creating a new market.’
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