A ban on conventional petrol or diesel cars seems likely. It won’t happen for decades, and the details have yet to be even discussed, let alone confirmed, but it’s safe to assume that the simplest powertrain – an internal combustion engine driving the wheels via a mechanical transmission – will one day seem as old-fashioned as a manual choke. Replacing it is a patchwork of alternatives. As we understand it, all cars will need to be capable of some zero-emission driving; moving without emitting any pollution from the tailpipe. That includes both battery-electric and hybrid cars, as well as a handful of alternatives that remain niche products at the moment. But what’s the difference between an electric car and a hybrid? Why are some hybrids different to others? Is there anything else available? What about hydrogen fuel cells? And is a hybrid an electric car? There’s a great deal of confusion surrounding this. Car manufacturers’ primary concern is selling cars, rather than informing the public about technology, which is why general understanding of these issues can be hazy. What’s more, knowledge takes a rather circuitous route from the engineering laboratories to the press (via marketing departments and PR agencies) so some of the information printed on the subject is simply wrong.
Telegraph 6th May 2018 read more »
Leaked reports yesterday appeared to suggest that the government is considering including some hybrid cars in a sale ban to be enforced by 2040, much to the misguided anger of Prius owners and the auto industry. In fact this suggestion doesn’t go far enough, and to clear our air, meet our international responsibilities and seize the economic benefits of clean vehicles, we need to end petrol and diesel vehicle sales, including hybrids, way before 2040. This is not just a business or industry issue. Climate change, driven by our carbon emissions, is one of the biggest threats to nature. If we’re going to meet our Paris climate commitments, the UK will need to be a “zero carbon” economy by no later than 2050, as Conservative MP Claire Perry said in Parliament last week. That means maxing out the cheapest low-carbon technologies (like fully electric vehicles), with no space left for half measures like hybrids. The narrative of the “transition” technology here is pervasive, but often just slows down much needed transformation. The calls for a dash for gas as coal plants close is a classic example, because a mix of renewables and flexible technologies is far cheaper than building new gas plants to run inefficiently. We’re seeing the same thing in transport: a dash for hybrids that is actually costly for consumers and slows down efforts to protect people and nature from pollution. Going full electric is often presented as a leap too far, and making baby steps into hybrids seems the sensible way forward. But ending petrol and diesel vehicle sales in 2030, including hybrids, makes more sense for motorists and the environment for two reasons. Firstly, 100 per cent electric vehicles are more convenient than conventional cars. You cannot fill up conventional cars while you’re tucked up in bed, but you can charge an electric one. Electricity is also cheaper than fuel, making 100 per cent electric vehicles competitive with conventional cars for many drivers already. This will be the norm by the mid-2020s, and most fully electric vehicles will even be cheaper to buy than normal cars well before 2030. Conventional hybrids run on fuel and use it to charge a battery that enables a limited amount of electric driving. But because you can’t plug in, you don’t get the benefit of filling up at your leisure with cheap mains electricity. You still have to drive to a petrol station and pay more for the privilege.
Independent 6th May 2018 read more »