While the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) averted the last health-related transport crisis a century ago, where horse manure lined the streets, today it is electric vehicles that represent the next major step toward cleaner transportation.
A 2017 UN Pollution report found that air in 44 out of 51 British towns was unsafe to breathe, based on levels set by the World Health Organisation for PM2.5’s (fine sooty particles). Meanwhile London breached its air quality levels for the entire year, in just five days.
“40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year caused by inhaling particulates and NOx“
(Source: Royal College of Physicians)
Hybrid vehicles, despite their improved fuel economy, are compromised; the added weight (and complexity) of carrying batteries and an engine limits their efficiency.
For us to really get on The Road To Zero, fully electric vehicles appear to be the most viable option to immediately reduce air pollution.
For prospective purchasers of a Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV), the most influential consideration is their ability to charge, with range anxiety, purchase cost, and choice of vehicles also contributing to the delayed uptake.
There are currently c.14,000 EV chargers across the UK. However, these tend to be sited in areas of high population density or on primary arterial routes, neglecting large pockets of the country where localised ZEV travel is infeasible. Provision for owners of terraced houses with on-street parking is currently limited to a few streets in London.
Given the approximate 100-mile range of a mid-market ZEV, availability of rapid (or faster) chargers and on-street overnight ‘lamp post’ charging, are key incentives for the public to consider ZEVs as their ‘daily drive’, rather than a second car.
EV charging is less than simple. AC or DC, three charger speeds (Slow, Fast, and Rapid), and eleven different connector types, all serve to bamboozle consumers who are accustomed to choosing between Petrol or Diesel at the pump. Initiatives such as Go Ultra Low attempt to shed some light on the subject, although far more could be done in this regard.
While the plug-in car grant available to consumers for some ZEVs has been cut to £3500 (and entirely for Hybrids), arguably better discounts are available for electric motorbikes and vans.
A £500 Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS) grant is available for offsetting costs of home chargepoints, alongside the Workplace Charging Scheme (WCS), both of which are available from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV).
The On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS), also from OLEV, provides grant funding for local authorities towards the cost of installing on-street residential chargepoints for plug-in electric vehicles.
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