Opinion : Are trends electric?

Jaguar I-Pace

Editor Keith Adams’ recent article about how he is falling out of love with driving has got me thinking.

Perhaps the root cause of our disenchantment with driving in the final decade of new petrol and diesel cars is the sheer volume of traffic on the road. Driving would be alright if it wasn’t for all the other motorists on the road at the same time as yours truly!

As stated, from 2030 you will no longer be able to to buy a new petrol or diesel car, and if having a new jalopy outside your house is essential to your lifestyle, then it appears you only have one choice, electric.

Range anxiety

I perceive that there is a widespread assumption that all the vehicles on the road will be replaced by electric vehicles, and that the National Grid, or equivalent if you are not a UK resident, will not be able to cope with all the recharging. Certainly all the manufacturers would like that to happen. But will it?

The advantage of petrol and diesel cars are that performance degradation over time is slight, and they can be quickly refuelled for long distance travel. In addition to this they are cheap to buy used, from as little as a few hundred pounds. It is this rock bottom bangernomics that has resulted in our overcrowded roads.

You don’t have to be a member of the Gentry or a high-powered executive to be mobile. But is this all about to change when we go electric?

Is the cost model going to change?

Let’s be blunt, many of you reading this don’t want to buy a new car. Like me, you make do with a used car, probably a diesel, because of the widespread perception that they are more economical.

As I see it, at this point in time, a used electric car does not look like very good value for money. But if we want to stay mobile we might not have any choice. My concerns about electric cars relate to battery life.

By the time a car in theory depreciates into the kind of price range that might tickle my fancy, the battery might be shot and too expensive to replace. The most I have ever spent on a car was £6700, and that was more than a decade ago.

And lots of people can only afford to spend a tenth of that on a car. How will they remain mobile? How will they get to work to pay their way in the world?

Keeping old petrols and diesels on the road

Will it be cheaper to get your local garage to patch up your petrol and diesel car instead of going electric? After all, I have two classic Minis, both manufactured in 1990. I pay to keep them going and it probably costs me less annually than a monthly payment for a new electric vehicle.

In a cost of living crisis we seem to be embracing a new form of technology that excludes the poor. At the moment electric cars are expensive, and while costs may come down as demand increases, they may not come down far enough by 2030 to suit the budgets of existing car buyers.

I suspect vehicle manufacturers are concerned that car sales will fall off a cliff in 2030 if they can’t get prices down to an acceptable level that will appeal to new car buyers. The move to electric may well cause great upheaval and trauma in the European motor industry. Everything is being turned on its head.

It may well be that, after 2030, traffic volumes may begin to decline, as the availability of cheap used internal combustion engined cars falls, and in their place come electric vehicles with dubious battery life, that may or may not be value for money. Will the less affluent be priced off the roads?

In the end only the used car market will decide, and we will have to wait for that. When it does come time to make the big switch, you can obtain competitive electric vehicle car insurance with ROLLiN’ to ensure your ride is protected.

MINI Cooper SE

Ian Nicholls
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53 Comments

  1. This is a really interesting article, and I agree with the opinions expressed. I’d add a couple of points. Energy prices are currently at very high historical levels, making electric cars expensive. They can also take a long time to charge, and the charger infrastructure is currently very poor in rural areas. I am also of the opinion that cars are far too big these days. Giant ugly SUV’s and flat bed trucks seem to rule the road.

  2. Looking at the future in terms of the present is never a very accurate way of predicting anything – look at HG Wells’ novels. Technology will develop and improve, both in batteries and charging. Tesla have recently been reducing their prices because the competition have caught up, and market forces come into play.

    It’s not so long ago that we were told the future was diesel; look what happened to that.

  3. Try as I do, Electric cars & SUVs just don’t excite me. Okay, they are quieter but I don’t like the way they “creep” up on corners when crossing roads. The current lack of charging points in both town & rural areas is another put off as well.

    The cost of a new EV is also prohibitive, so for the foreseeable future I will stick with my MKIII Focus 1.0 Ecoboost. By the time it’s all electric, I will probably have given up driving (?)

  4. Having had 3 big break through announcements last week, a new material that helps produce green hydrogen quicker and cleaner, a ew conductive material that has near zero resistance ad a bacteria that eats hydrogen out of thin air and makes electric, predicting the future is definitely impossible

  5. Would not want to predict things either, also find the trend and overreliance towards electrification at the expense of everything else concerning and not that different to the push towards diesel.

    A trend towards a diversity of alternative power options as well as drop-in fuels compatible with existing infrastructure that avoids the food vs fuel dilemma would be a better approach. At the same time have been hearing how promising the likes of Bio-Butantol fuel and others potentially are over the years once it is economically viable to make though little else.

  6. EV’s are intrinsically linked with the global warming scam, allowing a minority of people to dictate to the public the motive power of a new vehicle sets a dangerous precedent and will only be used to force more and more restrictions to the lifestyle we enjoy

    • No-one will enjoy any kind of “lifestyle” if global continues unchecked. Petending it isn’t happening isn’t an option.

      • Global warming and cooling has been happening for millennia, the currant mantra is more about enforcing a minorities views on the majority facilitated by ignoring any evidence to the contrary. To keep this car related the environmental lobby has been vociferous in its opposition to both cars and even personal transport, if you think they will stop with banning ICE vehicles you are mistaken – I’ve seen numerous calls for the outright ban on personal vehicles

        • @ John, in the world some socialists and greens inhabit, any form of individual transport is evil, unfair on poor people who can’t afford cars, and everyone should be forced on to state controlled public transport. Remember when Ken Livingstone said he wanted to ban cars, it seems his successor Mr Khan is trying to make this real.
          While most of us on here do accept the need for reliable, good public transport and some of us on here love trains as much as cars( like me), would it really be practical for a family of five to give up their car and do the weekly shop on a bus or spend a massive sum on getting to a holiday resort on the train. I can, for example, catch a bus and train to work, but as this wouuld take three times as long and would be a complete misery in bad weather, I’d sooner drive, as would most people I work with.

          • agree completely, electric cars are the thin end of a very large wedge the greens/socialists (largely interchangeable politically) intend to drive into the heart of our lifestyle. I wonder if the regular posters on here will become interested when the same interests start legislating classic vehicles off the road

    • “EV’s are intrinsically linked with the global warming scam” – I’d rather breathe in the emissions from an EV than an ICE. Whatever you think of the overall picture, you can’t deny that air quality (and therefore health, life expectancy etc) would be far better without exhaust fumes in your face constantly.

      Your other remarks are just silly – maybe it’s time to stop taking the tabloids… Greens and socialists aren’t exactly the same and a move away from private transport (where the average car sits doing nothing except taking up space and costing you money 90% of the time) would be welcome as car-sharing schemes on every street corner would be far more efficient and make our neighbourhoods look nicer. Nobody is trying to imprison people and the key question is why would they?

  7. Electric cars are expensive to buy, and when charged from a domestic source of electricity, cheap to fuel(ie charge the traction battery), a factor the low rates of tax charged for domestic metered electricity and the high fuel duty taxation upon petrol and diesel. The situation may change if road pricing is brought about, electric vehicles being taxed by distance and time of travel to recoup the lost taxation revenue of fuel duty to HMRI.
    The Galileo navigation system has the two-way facility to identify or report a vehicle position, perhaps Galileo will be the means by which road-pricing of driving is implemented.

  8. The big advantage for electric cars will be lower servicing costs, no oil filters, oil, air filters and fuel filters to change at servicing time, and also less chance of a breakdown caused by an engine problem like a perished radiator hose. However, the main problem will be battery life and a failed battery that could prove uneconomic to replace, meaning older cars could be prematurely scrapped if a battery dies at 8 years old. I would hope as with most internal combustion cars technology will develop that means electric cars should last for over ten years.

  9. Watch the amount of tax on petrol and diesel go up after 2030, as the Government tries to retain the tax income, whilst also forcing reduced pollution from non-electric vehicles

    • Wont be just tax on petrol and diesel going up, additional tax will be applied to electricity used for vehicles – shades of the dash for diesel. The banning of ICE is about control nothing more or less

  10. I think that batteries will become interchangeable whereby you swap a discharged battery for a charge one. Already happening in China. That technology will mean that car costs could come down.
    As for human induced climate change: it is happening. My brother in law who is an eminent ex Royal Geological Survey geologist convinced me with his ice core data from the North pole. Sadly it is happening. That is not to say that capitalism has a way of making money out of it. Some worthy; some not.

    • interpreting data from ice cores is highly subjective and not definitive poof of human driven global warming

      • I take it you have examined the same ice cores as my brother in law. The ice core data was used in conjunction with other data too obviously not in isolation. I just believe an eminent scientist over ‘John’. Human induced climate change is not some big conspiracy dreamt up by some global cabal. It is flipping obvious that are actions are having a significant effect and we all need to get a grip. However any capitalist society will have those who will exploit a market…it is sadly human nature.

        • unsurprisingly I haven’t personally examined the same ice cores as your brother in law but other scientists have and not all agree with human driven global warming, yet only non dissenting views are heard on MSM. One example being the BBC would many years ago allow counter points to be made against human driven global warming – not known and not for many years.
          But lets ignore any inconvenient views opinions or explanations, another example being electric cars being eco friendly, green or environmentally friendly which they are not, or the calls by some greens/socialists for restricting or outright banning personal transport, flights for the general public anything but a plant based diet

    • @ Merlin Milner, it would make sense, say, if a battery becomes a warrantable part for 7 years, and if it fails before this date, it can be replaced free of charge. Also for older cars, I would hope batteries become a lot cheaper in the long run, as someone with an older electric car could be hit with a very large bill if the battery dies.
      I am hoping as the 2030 deadline approaches that charging an electric car becomes as quick and as easy as filling up with petrol and the cars have a range of 500 miles like an economical supermini. There are signs that the range is getting longer for electric cars, with many now capable of over 300 miles, compared with 200 miles 5 years ago.

      • @ Merlin Milner
        according to the greens/socialists to prevent climate change we must give up private transport, flights, oil based products and eat an exclusively plant based diet – as you believe so strongly in climate change have you give up all or even any of these things?

  11. There’s a big price war in EV’s in China at the moment, eg VW ID4 and Toyota BZ4X now starts at $25k – wonder if it will spread here?

  12. A recent episode of Fifth Gear Recharged did a piece on used EVs in which they discussed battery degradation which they said was around 10% after 6 years. Given that the average car trip in UK is under 10 miles it should mean that for most people a range of 100 miles should be adequate for most purposes, which means a used EV should work well in everyday use. So you can be a little kinder to the environment without having to be a member of the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati or degrading yourself by sitting next to such people on the bus.
    5th Gear EV item https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Jzikra3K48
    DfT transport stats 1972 onwards, https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/nts01-average-number-of-trips-made-and-distance-travelled
    And before anybody asks, no, I don’t currently practice what I am preaching here :-/

    • not entirely sure you can be kinder to the environment via electric vehicles given the devastation lithium mining produces, its almost as if electric vehicles are being pushed as part of many agendas and non of them environmentally friendly

  13. Cars in general are much greener than they were 40 years ago. Obviously the massive rise in electric and hybrid cars is helping, as well as the steady demise in diesel cars, but petrol engined cars are vastly better than in 1983. Back then, petrol was leaded only, with all the nasty pollutants that had, fuel consumption was higher, and many older cars had very high emissions levels and burned oil as their engines wore out. These days, it is possible to buy a supermini that can average 60 mpg on a long journey, where something like a Mark 1 Fiesta would be in the low forties at best, and even the biggest cars can return 25-30 mpg. ( I can remember Jaguars and Rolls Royces that would do 10 mpg.)

  14. Electric cars are great if, you can charge them up at home, many of us can’t. Public charges are expensive and not always working, or you have to Q to use them.
    You do mainly local or at least, rarely if ever drive more than 80/100 miles from home.
    What happens after 2030? For those of us who do regular long journeys and no off road parking.
    I hope this is being considered!!

    • oh its being considered just not in the way you think – not enough chargers will soon equal you not being permitted to own or use personal transport – this is what the greens want

      • More like what the billionaire tax dodgers want you think by deflecting the issues while robbing you blind!

        • its fairly obvious the original green agenda has been subverted by big business and a totalitarian country which has made little secret of its desire to dominate

          • Funny you should say that because they normally seem to need pathetic morons like you to keep the status quo!

          • insulting anyone who does not agree with you is childish and no doubt an attempt to shut down debate and control the narrative

  15. Go back forty years, and the only products to come out of China were cheap transistor radios and poor quality children’s toys. Now they dominate production of computers, mobile phones, clothing, electronic goods, and are starting to make inroads into the car industry with MG and Polestar electric vehicles and another company is to start exporting electric cars. Like the Japanese in the seventies, the Chinese are making cars that are cheaper than Western rivals, well equipped and reliable. Also MGs have come a long way from the MG6 and their cars are as good as their rivals and with a 7 year warranty to win over buyers.

    • I dont think anyone is denying the strides the Chinese have made in manufacturing, but equally no one can deny their desire to dominate and having control of large percentage of lithium resources is part of this

      • With the oil barons & weak minded fools like you trying to hold back electric car development for decades it’s not surprising they saw a niche & grabbed it!

        • @ Ray Cathode, can we stop reducing this to the level of Twitter by hurling insults at people you don’t agree with. This ia a forum to discuss motor vehicles and sometimes touch on wider issues and is generally a friendly place.

      • @ John, the transformation of MG from a producer of a second rate family car that barely sold to a major producer of SUVs and crossovers is typical of how China has advanced. Remember the rubbish quality pocket radios they exported 40 years ago, probably the same factories now are making 52 inch LED televisions with Western brand names with decent quality and low prices. MG is the same and while their range of cars aren’t quite up to European levels of quality, they are quite well made, look good and have a huge warranty and low prices.

    • A 7 year warranty from MG is an incentive to buy, as is the long warranties offered by some Korean brands. I often wonder why Ford etc. don’t offer a (say) 5 year warranty from new.

  16. Electric cars are all about company car BIK. People argue the toss comparing them against petrol/diesel as private purchases but everyone I know with an electric car, including me, has one as a company car. I know private electric car buyers exist but I have never met one. My Leaf replaced a 1.5L petrol Octavia and it saves me nearly £3K a year in personal taxation. To drive it is brilliant. Smooth, quiet, fast, instant throttle response. Very useable in the real world. The last petrol cars I had were small turbos such as the VW 1.5 TSi and were awful. Jerky power delivery including the hated ‘kangarooing issue’ that was never fully (or barely partly) resolved on existing cars. Would I buy it as a personal car? No. Because of the range issues. Long journeys are a total nightmare of bi-hourly charging and all the hassle and cost associated with it. Peak car, in terms of utility was for me the turbo-diesel, which is why I have kept my 16 year old Toyota for long personal journeys.

    • I know a few people now who have bought an electric car as a private purchase, most are ‘older’ individuals (one is 80) and mainly use them for local journeys which they are perfectly suited for. So it looks like the resistance to electric cars is falling away and it’s being lead by company car users who appreciate the BIK savings and by the ‘comfortable retired’ who are receptive to new tech and appreciate the convenience of plugging in at home.

  17. The National Grid is not the capacity constraint. Total UK electricity consumption has been falling – De-industrialisation, LED street lamps, Flat Screen TV’s etc. At the same time generating capacity is increasing, including significant renewable capacity. The problem is with local distribution networks. A typical suburban housing estate has cabling and distribution arranged to supply typical domestic loads. If every house suddenly has a 7KW charger installed and these are used at more or less the same time circuits will be overloaded. Not a massive problem to overcome if we where a competent nation that knew what it was doing – but we’re not.

    • an excellent point yet still no abuse hurling from the two users who stalk me – electric vehicles are not environmentally friendly in any way and are the forebringer of restrictions to the lifestyle we all enjoy

      • you never learn do you!

        The only people restricting you are the ones constantly lick the boots of, but are too stupid to realise!

        If you keep postings things like this then you’ll be treated like a common as muck imbecile who keeps the people most detrimental to their well being in power by sucking up to them in the mistaken belief if will actually improve their lot in life!

        Remember if you don’t want to be treated like the garbage here then stop posting things that scream “I’m a suck up to the rich even though I’ve yet to see any benefit!”

  18. Personal computers are on area where energy consumption must have fallen massively in the last 20 years, and nearly everyone has internet access now, unlike in 2003. I had a desktop like most people then that could only run off the mains and had a metal tower, speakers and CRT monitor that would probably consume four times as much electricity as a modern laptop. The laptop I use now can be charged in an hour and run off its battery for 14 hours.

    • I had a clunky desktop PC and separate monitor until 2010 ish, but my dad had a work laptop back in the late 90s that I used to play computer games on until his work got annoyed (how they found out I don’t know…) As soon as he got home I’d grab it out of his hands so I could continue playing Rollercoaster Tycoon or whatever!

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