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Holes easy to spot in government's electric car promise

picture of charging points
An awful lot of more these are needed

It didn’t take long for the holes to appear in the government’s plan to scrap petrol and diesel-powered cars by 2040.

Environmentalists said the time line is just too long.

Unions said why scrap railway electrification and then propose it for road vehicles, while those in the City said by 2040 it would most likely have happened anyway.

READ: Britain to ban diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040

READ: GKN boosts investment in electric vehicle technology as it reports rise in first half profits

But it’s a big promise and the kind that sticks in the memory.

One big thing in Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s favour is that momentum does indeed seem to be with the electric car.

BMW’s decision to assemble the electric mini at Oxford was announced yesterday, while France’s move earlier this month to announce its own 2040 deadline took away a lot of the shock value.

Brokers see price parity between electric and non –electric vehicles as early as next year when Tesla’s ramp-up hits full swing.

Morgan Stanley also predicts more electric cars being sold in 2040 anyway, but the big problem is not likely to be the cars but the infrastructure to supply enough electricity quickly enough to power them.

For example, the current in UK houses is too small at present to allow mass adoption of home charging of electric vehicles.

Where would the charging point be? Outside the home, at the end the street or are garages just going to install a whole new variety of pump.

Norway for example has ten times more charging points than the UK.

Finally, can the National Grid cope? So far it is only handfuls of cars that are being charged at the same time but even on this scale pilot schemes have reported local problems when chargers connect simultaneously.

One pilot suggested a third of low voltage circuits across Britain will need upgrading based on its experience even for a low speed charger.

The amount of electricity required, meanwhile, is said to be the equivalent of nuclear station Hinkley Point, a project itself labelled recently as risky and expensive by the National Audit Office and years behind schedule.

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