Will more drivers go electric as fuel sales fall?

Will more drivers go electric as fuel sales fall?

With the news of a massive drop in the amount of petrol and diesel sold in the UK in the first six months of 2011, it has seemingly increased the possibility of more disgruntled drivers switching more fuel efficient or electric cars in a bid to reducing the long-term costs associated with staying on the road.

Recent figures show that motorists purchased 1.7 billion litres less fuel than during the same period in 2008. This may have been due to the price of petrol and diesel escalating at the pumps. As a result, the Treasury has lost close to £1 billion in revenue as drivers have been forced to take decisive action by either scrapping their cars, downsizing to a smaller model or changing to the revolutionary electric vehicles.

Reflecting on the news in the fall of sales at the pump, Edmund King, AA President, told the Auto Express: “There is no downplaying the impact of record fuel prices on family’s and other people’s lives. A 1.7-billion-litre drop in petrol sales says just one thing – too many car owners cannot afford these record prices and are losing mobility as a consequence.”

  • Does King’s last statement sound familiar?
  • Are you sat there thinking ‘is it time to sell my car’?

However, if you are selling your car then what are the prospects of getting around town? Bus? Train? Taxis? All of which can become expensive over time.

One option that you may think about is going electric. While the cars themselves are quite expensive – you’ll be lucky to get change from around £30k for the current World Car of the Year the Nissan Leaf – the short-term costs are offset by the fact that they are cheap to run.

Sticking with the Nissan Leaf, for example, it can set you back as little as around £1.30 for a journey of just over 100 miles depending on when you charge it. 

Of course, there are also environmental benefits that come with an electric car. It is perhaps safe to say that a reasonable portion of all motorists are more concerned right now with ways of saving money rather than being green.

It’s interesting to note that the Leaf is one of a cluster of electric cars that are hitting the market, which also includes the Toyota Prius Plug-In and Vauxhall Ampera. The government started a scheme at the start of the year aimed at boosting sales which gives a £5,000 grant when you buy an electric car. Philip Hammond, the then transport secretary, had high hopes that “2011 could be remembered as the year the electric car took off” hoping that the initiative could drive sales.

Only Time Was to Tell

Ten months on and a recent article in the Guardian newspaper has revealed that a total of 680 electric cars were sold under the government’s incentivised programme in the first two quarters of this year.

That is somewhat slow progress, but progress nonetheless. When you consider that just 55 electric cars were sold in the UK in 2009 there has been an increase. Another positive for potential future electric car owners to consider is the fact that more charging stations are cropping up all over the UK.

There are issues that people may see especially with the charging stations but these are been addressed too. Fears that different manufacturers would use different charging   systems have been played down as several of the world’s automotive manufacturers have agreed on a single integrated charging system.

There are even patents going through from a US manufacturer for wireless charging. This would involve the electric cars been driven onto a ‘parking bumper’ that would align with their tyres. This is surely going to make the charging a lot easier and quicker.

Going electric may probably not appeal to most drivers for a couple of reasons – mainly the high start-up costs and a lack of widespread charging points – but there’s no doubting that it’s an intriguing prospect for those people who are thinking about selling their car.

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