New research has shown that the United Kingdom is now the third largest buyer of electric cars in Europe. The popularity of hybrid vehicles is expected to continue to rise in the country as the government continues to offer subsidies to consumers to provide incentives to buy alternative fuel vehicles.
Reports show that there will be approximately half a million electric vehicles in Europe by Christmas time. The lead purchase countries in Europe are The Netherlands and Norway. Dutch consumers are so keen on electric vehicles that around 8.8 per cent of all new vehicles which were purchased in the country were fully electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid type cars. Although the total number of vehicles sold in Norway was fewer than the total number of vehicles sold in The Netherlands, the overall market share for electric vehicles is much higher. Around 18.7% of new vehicles that were sold in Norway in the last 12 months were electric vehicles. Norway also boasts more pure electric vehicles (as opposed to hybrids) than anywhere else in Europe.
In the United Kingdom, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles have proven to be far more popular than pure electric vehicles so far. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles can be plugged in and charged up when charging stations are available, however users can easily switch to a secondary fuel source when they need to. Petrol, diesel or autogas are the normally the secondary fuel source which is used in these vehicles. This means that it is easier for users to travel to an unfamiliar area where they do not know the electric infrastructure. However, some critics argue that these vehicles should not be considered as true electric vehicles, as they are only a greener mode of transport when they are operated in electric mode.
Some of the main brands of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are not able to go more than 50 kilometres before they must be switched to a traditional fossil fuel source. Manufacturers argue that these vehicles are ideal for short city driving, because they reduce emissions levels in spaces where air pollution is actually a greater concern. If the electric vehicle infrastructure was better in cities, drivers would be able to move between destinations with ease and then charge up their vehicles whilst they were parked.
The government’s transport minister has recently agreed to invest £35 million into improving the hybrid vehicle infrastructure in the United Kingdom. The funds are designed to support electric vehicles, as well as other types of hybrid vehicles which are authorised for use in the country. This investment is believed to have twin motives. On one hand, the investment should help to make electric vehicles more suitable and more appealing to British drivers. On the other hand, the investment should also help to make the United Kingdom a more appealing place for those who manufacture and market electric vehicles. This could help to boost other aspects of the UK economy and may help to secure a large number of jobs in the vehicle manufacture industry.
The funds will be used on a variety of different aspects of electric infrastructure, but will include new charging points especially for taxis and other similar vehicles. It is hoped that this will encourage a higher uptake of hybrid vehicles in this industry. The department will also continue to fund grants for those who are buying new plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Eligible buyers may be able to claim back thousands of pounds against the cost of a new vehicle.
In addition to the government’s own commitment to improve the electric vehicle infrastructure, one of the country’s main autocare providers has also promised to improve the situation for those who own an electric vehicle. Halfords have said that they will have the knowledge and expertise to be able to service the major types of hybrid and electric vehicles at all of their autocentres by 2018. At least one member of service staff at every autocare centre will be trained in how to service electric and hybrid vehicles. This is a huge step forward for alternative fuel vehicles, as it will give vehicle owners mainstream opportunities to get vehicle servicing. It is likely that this will help to lower routine servicing costs for consumers, which may help to make hybrid vehicles a more appealing prospect.
In part, the United Kingdom’s commitment to hybrid vehicles may be because of the popularity of electric vehicles in China. More electric vehicles are sold every year in China than are sold in the whole of the European Union. China is the largest consumer of electric vehicles in the global market, and the Chinese economy has the power to shape global markets. Keeping up with China can help countries to stay relevant in the global marketplace.