Electric cars a dreadful way to save the planet
18th November 2020 | Commercial Energy
In a move to burnish Britain’s green credentials, Boris Johnson is to announce a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030. He is following other political leaders, including Joe Biden, in promising lavish carrots to energise the market for electric cars along with sticks to outlaw petrol cars. Unfortunately, electric cars will achieve only tiny emissions savings at a very high price.
Electric cars are certainly fun, but almost everywhere cost more across their lifetime than their petrol counterparts. That is why subsidies are needed. And consumers are still anxious because of their short range and long recharging times. Despite the US handing out up to $10,000 (£7,600) for each electric car, for example, fewer than 0.5 per cent of its cars are battery electric. And almost all the support goes to the rich. Ninety per cent of electric car owners also have a fossil-fuel driven car they drive further. Indeed, electric vehicles are mostly a “second car” used for shorter trips and virtue signalling.
If you subsidise electric cars enough, people will buy them. Almost 10 per cent of all Norway’s passenger cars are now electric because of generous policies that waive most costs. Over its lifetime, a £23,000 car might receive benefits worth more than £20,000. But this approach is unsuitable for most nations. Even Norway is starting to worry, losing more than a billion euros a year from exempt drivers.
Innovation will eventually make electric cars economical even without subsidies, but concerns over range and slow recharging will remain. That is why most scientific prognoses show that electric cars will not take over the world. A new study shows that by 2030, just 13 per cent of new cars will be battery-electric. If Johnson bans new petrol cars by then, he would essentially forbid 87 per cent of consumers from buying the cars they want.
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