Britain not yet ready for switch to electric cars

Posted: 9 July 2008

The British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown said last week that his aim was for all UK motorists to be driving electric or hybrid cars by 2020. But, says the Environmental Transport Association (ETA), that will not be achieved through the use of punitive motoring taxes alone.

Recent increases in the price of fuel and road tax have contributed towards increased sales of smaller and more efficient cars, and Gordon Brown suggests that these costs will help make possible a switch to alternative-fuel vehicles within 12 years.

But, says ETA, most drivers find electric and hybrid cars an 'expensive and impractical' alternative to petrol and diesel models.

2007 Toyota Prius
2007 Toyota Prius
2007 Toyota Prius hybrid saloon.
A spokesperson for the Association said: "Many government ministers already have the use of a Toyota Prius hybrid car, but at almost £18,000 (US$35,000) this type of car is out of reach for most people - high motoring taxes cannot cajole every British driver into an electric car if the market is not ready."

If all drivers today switched from conventionally-powered vehicles to electric cars, the national grid would be unable to cope, says the ETA. It says the question of where this additional power would come from was not addressed.

ETA believes that an across-the-board tax on carbon would foster the conditions needed to develop electric car technology to a stage where it represents a viable alternative to conventionally-powered vehicles. At present,it points out, electric cars do not have the range to make them practical for long journeys.

Research by ETA has shown that two out of three motorists have no idea how much CO2 is emitted by the car they drive

The government has said it will soon begin educating motorists on 'eco-driving techniques' - those passing their driving test will soon be tested on whether they can drive in an environmentally-friendly way. The ETA publishes a list of green driving tips at www.eta.co.uk

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