Electronic Engineering Blog

Living in electric dreams.

So the UK government has banned the sale of cars with ICE (internal combustion engines) that run on Petrol or Diesel from 2030. That really means that we need to start winding down sales of ICE cars from now, and start ramping up the sale of EVs (Electric Vehicles). Right? No. Wrong. It’s all a silly political pipe dream.

So lets just think this through. From 2030 you cannot buy a new car with a petrol or diesel engine. Since there’s nothing else on the market, or even in the pipeline, other than EVs, that means from 2030 all new cars need to be EVs. In fact it realy means that from now on, we need to be selling more EVs and less ICEs.

Cars with petrol/diesel engines won’t just disappear overnight though. Cars being sold NOW will only 8 years old by then. And cars with engines will still be sold (from new) for some years yet.

But the UK simply does not have the infrastructure to move everyone from ICEs to EVs. There are still very few homes with charging stations. There are still relatively few public charge points. Even if we make a huge push starting right now to increase the number of homes with charge stations, there are still many millions of homes in the UK which simply cannot have a charge point installed. What about homes with no driveways? Are you just going to run a cable across the pavement? How will prams and less abled people cope with that? So then you need a charge point at the side of the kerb. Who’s going to pay for the installation of millions and millions of kerb-side charge points?

Even if we do get charge points installed at the kerb side, there’s still the problem of infrastructre. The UK already has a power generating crisis looming. One of the UKs largest generating stations is being decomissioned in August this year (2022). The government asked the operator (EDF) to delay the decomissionong but has been told it is too late. The process has started and cannot be reversed.

EVs are also a step-back in convenience and utility. Even the best EVs on the market only have a range of 130 to 300 miles – and that is under ideal conditions. To increase that range will require a step-change in battery technology which is not currently on the horizon. There is the hope that fully-regenerative braking will help increase that, but that kind of regeneration requires that drivers get used to the ‘single pedal’ mode of driving – which is a big change in driving style, and will need to be taught and learned.

Even so, at some point you will need to recharge your vehicle, and that will take hours. Don’t be fooled by manufacturers claims to get to 80% in a few minutes – try phoning your car dealer and ask them “80% from what starting %? ” – they probably won’t answer you. A medium sized family EV will require about 40 kWH (kilo-watt-hours) for a full charge. That would take 13 Hours with a standard 3 kW socket, or about 7 Hours with a fully-installed proprietary charger. One manufacturer claims you can charge from 10% to 80% in just 18 minutes. But when I asked them how that was possible, they admitted you need a 3-Phase DC Invertor style charger for that. Who has one of them? In fact, very few homes in the UK even have a 3-phase supply.

If you go on holiday with your EV – you need to plan the route around charge points, and need to be sure that when you get to one, there won’t be a massive queue to get plugged in. You need to make sure your holiday destination also has charging available. And who pays for that?

What about fleet operators that currently enjoy deals on fuel prices, and get analytics from drivers providing mileage readings when the fill up. They won’t be able to get charging at fixed prices unless they charge at specific points. Currently all UK EV chargers are ‘dumb’ and cannot access specific electricity deals or charge back to the owner’s account when away from home.

One solution would be to have civic charge-parks, like a large car park in every town, with hundreds of charge points for those who cannot get a charge point at home. But then you need to leave your car and walk to/from the charge-park.

One solution to moving everyone to EVs would be to do away with car ownership completely. Instead of owning a car, you simply ‘summon’ one from the nearest provider. It autonomously turns up at your home and takes you to your destination. You could drive it yourself if you wish, but why bother? When you get to your destination you simply dismiss it, and it drives itslef back to a charge park and re-charges for the next person. Autonomous driving is already a reality, it just needs licensing and a change in public thinking. That chage will come when the futility of moving everyone to EVs becomes a common talking point.

In all seriousness, autonomous vehicles and non-ownership makes much more sense than moving everyone to EV ownership. Most cars spend most of their time sitting about doing nothing, so it’s better for the planet to have fewer cars doing more work.

Petrol forecourts will still be around for a while. But not as long as you think. As soon as the economics of selling fuel make it not worth doing then the dominoes will fall, and fall quickly. The entire process of moving from horse and cart, to internal combustion engined cars took less than 10 years. The same will happen again. Are you ready?

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