Are the government's targets for electric cars realistic?

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Are the government's targets for electric cars realistic?

Electric cars lead the way to the future of driving and the majority of governments worldwide are looking to cut down their carbon emissions.

The UK has invested in electric charging points, introduced low-emission zones and banned new diesel and petrol vehicles from 2040. These efforts show that the government is making strides to make electric vehicles the car of choice in the UK, but are their targets realistic?

UK electric car targets

In terms of lowering emissions in the UK, the government’s long-term target is to cut emissions by 80 per cent from the 1990 levels by 2050. As we approach the halfway point, the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions have fallen by 42 per cent from 1990 levels.

Increasing the uptake of low emission vehicles helps towards achieving the target above and according to the guideline target recommended by the government’s climate advisors, the goal is for nine per cent of vehicles in the UK to be electric by 2020.

Meeting the targets?

Although the UK appears to be well on its way to achieving the greenhouse gas emission target by 2050, earlier in 2017 it was revealed that nearly 40 million people in the UK live in areas where there are illegal levels of air pollution. Britain has also been exceeding the EU’s nitrogen dioxide limits since 2010.

In the first six months of 2017, UK car buyers registered more electric and plug-in hybrid cars than in any previous six-monthly period. Despite this, electric cars currently make up just over one per cent of the car market in the UK. Forecasts by the Department for Transport (DfT) also show that the UK is only expected to reach half the target figure of nine per cent of the market by the end of the decade.

The Committee on Climate Change has previously said that electric cars should make up at least 60 per cent of new cars and vans sold in the UK by 2020. They state that drivers can be persuaded to make the change by providing financial support, tax incentives and a strategy to roll out electric vehicle charging infrastructure as well as tougher emissions standards on new car sales beyond 2020.

Although targets are fairly modest in comparison to other countries it seems as a while, the UK is falling short.

How do the UK’s plans compare?

Norway has the highest per capita number of all-electric cars in the world. Of the country’s 5.2 million population, there are more than 100,000 electric cars. The figures only show signs of improving and in 2016, electric vehicles made up nearly 40 per cent of the nation’s newly registered cars.

Norway and the Netherlands both plan to phase out all fossil fuel powered vehicles by 2025. So when you compare these dates with the UK’s plans to ban new diesel and petrol vehicles from 2040, the plans seem very modest.

Changing perceptions

Having the right facilities and road structure is, of course, important in encouraging electric car uptake but there is more to it than that. It’s about educating the public of the benefits and helping them to understand what electric cars are capable of.

Ultimately, a change of perception is needed. Aside from the environmental benefits, the public generally have negative associations of electric cars when, in truth, many are capable of the same as a regular vehicle, if not more. The public needs to be better educated on electric cars and how technology has improved to make newer electric vehicles faster, cheaper and has increased range.

Hire an electric car UK

Green Motion car rental takes its environmental policy seriously, championing best practices and attitudes to ensure that our impact on the environment is kept to a minimum.

If you’ve yet to try an electric or hybrid vehicle, renting can give you the perfect opportunity to do so before committing to a purchase. For more information about the range of vehicle available at the Green Motion branch nearest to you or a destination that you’re visiting, browse our online booking platform.

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