Should the government be doing more to encourage people to invest in electric cars?

Jamie Brooker 2019

Jamie Brooker
Consultant, Assurity Consulting
8th April 2020

With the government announcing the ban on new petrol, diesel and hybrid cars is to be brought forward to 2035, should there be more initiatives in place encouraging people to buy them?

The need to reduce global emissions and improve air quality is well known to all. It has been highlighted by the likes of natural historian, David Attenborough and the United Nations as a global emergency. During the current COVID-19 global pandemic, we have seen a sharp drop in the levels of air pollution throughout the world, particularly in levels of transport related pollution, from nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particles (PM2.5). However, it seems inevitable, that once this is all over then people will begin to travel again for work and pleasure, using planes, cars and other modes of polluting transport.

Should the government then be doing more to encourage people to buy electric cars? In my view there are several issues with electric cars, here are two of them:

  1. The mileage they can cover – currently up to around 280 miles without recharging. Although this is improving, the time it takes to fully charge a battery is very inconvenient (up to 12 hours depending on the battery size and speed of the charging point) and there are still nowhere near enough charging points.

  2. Perhaps most importantly, their cost. As an example, currently (March 2020) the latest Kia e-Niro is £34,495 (after the governments plug in car grant) compared to the self-charging hybrid which still uses fuel at £24,855 – a difference of nearly £10,000. Of course, the electric model will be cheaper to run as there is currently no road tax and charging costs are much cheaper than fuel costs, but the initial outlay is the issue here.

In a world where the effects of air pollution and climate change are all to evident, it seems the small steps taken by the government so far, don’t go far enough. There need to be further incentives in place, not just for buyers but also for car manufacturers to produce more of these vehicles and enhance the technology so it’s more efficient. Whether these steps are taken remains to be seen, but if they aren’t, then I believe 2035 is going to be very impractical and costly for us all.