Driving an electric car could soon become the norm – here’s everything you need to know

Every year, we see more electric vehicles on the UK’s roads. A total of 108,205 fully-electric vehicles or EVs were sold in 2020, representing a 185% increased compared to 2019.

That’s according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which says that 1,631,064 cars of all types were sold in the UK last year.

Coronavirus meant that 600,000 fewer cars were sold compared to 2019, the largest year-on-year decline since the Second World War.

While the number of new petrol and diesel cars sold fell, the number of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid cars sold increased.

Just over 10% of all vehicles sold in the UK last year had some level of zero emission running capability and could be plugged in.

What are the reasons behind the increase in sales?

There are a number of reasons behind the move towards electric and eco-friendly vehicles. Drivers who are conscious of the environment see driving an electric vehicle as their way of doing a little bit to reduce CO2 emissions.

More people are being drawn towards EVs as their prices begin to fall. A greater number of carmakers are producing electric vehicles, not just high-end, expensive brands like Tesla.

Tesla Model 3 (Image: Tesla.com)

Tesla Model 3 (Image: Tesla.com)

People with a more modest budget are now able to shop in the electric market. Electric car owners can get vehicle tax reductions, cheaper public parking and make big savings on re-fuelling.

“We believe the rise of the EV will continue in 2021 and worldwide sales could soar 50% this year. From a demand perspective, the costs of ownership and the range available are getting more attractive to drivers, with new affordable models entering the market.” Rico Luman, ING

Arguably the most important reason for the present and predicted future shift in buying approach is the Government’s environmental ambitions.

It has announced plans to end of the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030.

Between 2030 and 2035, new cars and vans can be sold if they have the capability to drive a significant distance with zero emissions (plug-in hybrids or full hybrids). From 2035, all new cars and vans will be fully zero emission at the tailpipe.

A poll by the RAC of 3,068 motorists showed a rise in the number of people who plan to make the switch to electric when they next change their car, from 6% in 2019 to 9% in 2020.

What is the difference between the car types?

Electric Vehicle (EV): A car that runs solely on electricity that’s stored in an on-board battery that you charge using a cable. It doesn’t have a petrol or diesel engine, so that means it produces zero emissions.

Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV): A car that also has an on-board battery that powers an electric motor. You plug the car in to charge the battery. A PHEV also has a normal combustion engine, which needs fuel, that kicks in once the battery runs out of charge. The engine also generates more electricity to help recharge the battery. Depending on how far you drive, you may only need to use the battery power but the combustion engine is there if you run out of juice.

Self-charging Hybrid Vehicle: A car that has both an electric motor and a combustion engine. You don’t need to plug this type of car in, instead the car charges itself by recycling energy mainly through the braking system. You only get a fraction of the electric range that a PHEV gives you, meaning the combustion engine will be in more regular use. As a result, you will emit more CO2 when driving.

Read more: ITV News

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