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Are electric cars the future?

Diane Hall


Electric car at charging station

The impact the latter have on the climate is prompting the change, as the government pledge to slash the country’s carbon emissions by 78% before 2035.

However, whilst electric cars are all well and good from an environmental viewpoint, we’re quite a long way from everyone driving one. The infrastructure to charge millions of electric vehicles isn’t there; there’s a fear that we could overwhelm the UK’s electricity supply. Though industry experts insist that recent efficiencies mean we’re using less electricity than we did in 2002, MPs in the transport sector warn that blackouts could occur if we all switched to electric cars.

Greater demand for electricity will surely see power stations pumping more harmful stuff into the air. Are we actually reducing emissions, therefore?

On top of that, how everyone will charge their cars is an issue—people in flats and/or terraced houses may have a lot of problems getting the charging lead to their car in the absence of a garage or driveway.

Snow day in England

Snow can be an issue for Electric Cars

Snow day in England

And what about motorway traffic jams? The sheer volume of traffic on the roads today often causes standstills on most motorways. Unlike a petrol or diesel car, there’s a very real chance electric cars could run out of charge in such a scenario (particularly in snow or very cold weather), leaving drivers stranded. With depleted EVs clogging the roads up, recovery vehicles would struggle to reach them. It just sounds like a recipe for disaster, not the innovative, green move it’s meant to be.

There needs to be more charging points across the country. The two charging ports most service stations carry would not be enough to cater for the needs of a motorway full of electric vehicles all requiring charge. It’s okay for now, but that’s because only a small portion of the population are driving them. 67 million people live in the UK, and if even half of us switched to electric within the next nine years, the demand for more charging points across the country, the need for clear access to a charging point in all new homes, and solutions to tackle the problem of charging access in older properties, are all things that would instantly need addressing.

And how will the government replace the loss of tax they’ll encounter? The tax element of the petrol and diesel we consume equated to £20 billion this year, which is a lot of money to find elsewhere when the economy is already stretched.

At the moment, electric cars are expensive and out of most people’s budgets. Though new diesel and petrol cars will no longer be manufactured from 2030, the used car market will boom if the price of electric vehicles doesn’t reduce. It will be yet another way to divide rich and poor.

The insurance for an electric vehicle is typically more expensive than it is for today’s petrol/diesel cars. Repairs can be more costly and most electric vehicles are usually heavier than you’d imagine, due to the sheer weight of their batteries.

One of the reasons the country is trying to reduce emissions is the risk to people’s health from less-than-clean air. Though electric cars don’t expel harmful chemicals into the atmosphere, they still have an impact on some people’s health—for example, the miners who retrieve lithium from underground, which EV batteries require. A quarter of this crucial metal comes from Chile, and the amount of water used in the mining process drains the supplies of eighteen indigenous communities residing nearby. The problem has coined a term: destructive mining.

Electric cars have their positives, without a doubt. However, it does beg the question as to what MPs get from pushing drivers into these vehicles when there’s so much that needs to happen for EVs to truly become a part of our lives. After all, previous governments pushed petrol and diesel on us under the guise of being kinder to the environment, only for this to be disproved later.

The cynical amongst us may believe that the reason electric vehicles are being touted so much is because there’s a flood of MPs and lords who have shares in EV companies, and that they’re just out to make as much money as they can from the manufacture and sale of EVs during the term of their governance.

What a thought, eh?

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