/ Motoring

What’s stopping you from driving an electric car?

It’s just been announced that a fleet of super-fast charging points for electric vehicles will be installed along the UK’s main motorways. Which? Conversation community member Ian asks if this will be enough to encourage you to make the electric shift…

The new network of charging points will be set up by the National Grid. It has been busy mapping the country’s motorways and transmissions networks to identify 50 sites to ensure that 90% of drivers can drive in any direction from any location, and be within 50 miles of a charging point.

The super-fast charging points for electric vehicles will provide up to 350kW of power, meaning that drivers can charge their cars in 5 to 12 minutes – a comparable time to filling a car up with petrol or diesel.

National Grid says that ‘range anxiety’ is the top reason for drivers not buying an electric car, and it hopes this new network will offer drivers reassurance – but will it be enough for you?

Is cost a concern?

While charging points become more readily available, I think cost may still be stopping many from getting behind the wheel of an electric car. But Stanford University lecturer Tony Seba, who has extensively researched this subject, believes this will soon be a thing of the past:

‘Energy storage costs – for lithium-ion batteries for example – continue to drop at about 16% a year, driving a replacement of power plants on the grid by energy storage and plunging prices for electric vehicles.’

This sounds like good news for drivers – and Seba thinks it will drive a fundamental shift in driving trends in the coming decade:

‘Within just 10 years conventional energy production and transport will have been rendered obsolete by the revolution taking place in batteries, solar power and electric cars.’

More reasons to make the electric switch

And, when dropping battery costs meet the increasing trend towards autonomous vehicles, Seba takes his prediction one step further. He believes that not only will all new cars shortly become electric only, but that people will stop wanting to own their own car, instead preferring to use autonomous vehicle-sharing schemes.

He points out that sheer economics will force the switch: EVs (Electric vehicles) need 100 times fewer moving parts than conventional vehicles, so maintenance costs could be lower.

Additionally, I’ve read that the best EVs can out-accelerate some petrol cars. And with the average car spending 96% of its time parked, a big disruption to the market seems more than likely.

This is a guest contribution by community member Ian. All views expressed here are Ian’s own and not necessarily also shared by Which?.

Will you be joining the electric revolution?

What do you think? Is it far-fetched to expect all drivers to be wooed over to electric in the next 10 years, or is this a future you’d like to be part of? Will the new charging network and lower costs encourage you to buy – or hire – an electric car?


Here’s a pressure group looking to bring the ban on fossil fuelled cars forward 10 years. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/mar/18/uk-should-bring-2040-petrol-and-diesel-car-ban-forward-2030-green-alliance

Just a couple of thoughts. If we all begin to switch to electric cars, that’s going to be an awful lot of subsidies, many provided by non-drivers – oh, and out of our tax, so many will end up subsidising thenselves. The article says oil imports will halve, but where is all the electricity going to come from to energise these vehicles? Nuclear won’t be ready so it’ll probably still be gas – but a lot more of it. And how will the exchequer tax the use of electricity when used in cars? Each will have to be metered. They’ll have to recover the duty and 20% vat currently provided by petrol and diesel.

Needs a bit of joined up thinking, like so many things in politics.


Thats the whole point , how are you going to discuss anything related to the government malcolm when its a case of- dont talk about politics on Which convo ? if you wait till the changes take place then the whole point is lost . You then have to accept a fait acompli . HMG is going to stop using Russian gas for a start do you know how much US gas costs ? You cant get rid of politics nor international economics , its all very well going into a huff and saying thats it the end but every forecast I look at says this countries population is going to pay a whole lot more for energy under the American inspired – “energy security ” -aka -buy our gas at a higher price -or else !


This is not party politics, duncan, but about government “management” decisions if you like. Not the same. 🙂


Is “management ” malcolm not just a “play on words ” what else does a party in power do ? –manage the country and thats what they are judged on. .


No, I don’t think so. The government is charged with dealing with taxes, for example, and commenting on that is not political in the way that commenting on whether Labour is supporting Russia is, for example.


It can be tricky, but we have to consider only what the government of the day will propose as legislation or pass as legislation and, as far as possible, we have to avoid politicising it. And, to be fair, all the major political parties are split, anyway, so in effect whomever is party leader of the big parties is managing a coalition.

It’s also interesting to look back and see how little the two main parties have differed over the years. Depressing, too.


I agree Ian , it is depressing but no different from the Republicans+ Democrats , they name call each other but when you look deep into their policies and actual actions they differ little .


As much as i quite like the idea of electric cars, i think we are still a long way off being a real alternative, There are just too many obstacles to overcome on cost and practicality, for starters you have to break the 300 mile range of real road driving to tempt people away from petrol and diesel cars, second is the cost of replacing the battery pack which had a limited life compared to a conventional engine and cost considerably more, so much so at present it makes a car approaching this point worthless. third countless people park on the road where do you charge up ? there is not sufficient infrastructure in place to support anything other than a gradual take up of the electric option .


Well, yesterday we signed all the papers to ensure delivery of our new plug in by mid-June, and I’ve continued with the homework which is essential before getting one.

On charge points: they’re appearing in all sorts of places, now, and Polar have just announced a tie-in with Ovo, so that Ovo are now offering an EV package which ensures free charging at all charge points. Charging to full takes a little over 20 minutes with a Rapid Charge filling point, so that’s not unreasonable. However, finding where all the charge points are is a tad time consuming and not always that easy. ZapMap offers the easiest solution, but still not perfect. Supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, theme parks and Motorway service stations are installing them and with an Ovo package the filling costs are nil.

On the battery I think you’re looking at that the wrong way round. You can’t compare the fuel source with the engine – which is what you’re doing. Batteries have an estimated 7 year life span but already manufacturers are offering various lease / rental / exchange deals and that should only improve. More importantly, the cost of the batteries is plummeting, 16% in a year, so it’s impossible to make a firm comparison. You’re also overlooking the fact that EVs have 25% of the moving parts a fossil fuel vehicle has, so you’ll save on parts, labour and servicing.

On Roadside charging Yep, that’s the current problem. But we’ve already discussed how it can be achieved,and many companies are now offering free charging at work, so it could become possible to do that instead of having to try it at home.

Our vehicle is coming direct from Japan, so we’re waiting and researching but the picture seem to be one of increasing availability of charge points, better deals for charging, plummeting cost of battery packs and a delightfully quiet driving experience.


as i said i do quite like the idea of electric cars, As for charging and the life and cost of replacing wether you buy outright or have a lease agreement i did say at present the cost was too high and i know as with anything new these will drop, i only compared on present known costs not what they may be in the future which is why i said at present,As for free charging that’s only until enough switch then they will just up the cost of power to cover the cost of the lost fuel duty, my work is not within a built up area and work have absolutely no plans to install charging points so short of having charging points at the kerb outside your home where are you supposed to charge up.


Gordon – A hybrid might be a sensible option for you, and if I was replacing my car now, that would seem to be the best option.

Although many car owners don’t have their own garage or drive, many do and could charge their car at home. Anyone who needs to charge their car at work as well as at home might do well to live nearer where they work. Whether we will see kerbside charging points in the near future is uncertain, making a hybrid a more practical alternative for many.

How the government will recover the lost fuel duty remains to be seen but making electric vehicles an attractive option at present will encourage installation of public charging points.


Agreed Wavechange a hybrid is probably a better option for myself both on vehicle cost and practicality and probably the biggest percentage of the population at the present stage of development of fully electric vehicles, As for living closer to my work not an option for myself or many as that depends on the cost of property in the area you work, I’m not Anti electric and do look forward to the day electric cars will be truly green something that only depends on how the electricity is generated, I also back any government support to speed up installation of infrastructure