Sale of petrol & diesel vehicles to be banned by 2040

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Post by dyrewolfe on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 2:44 pm

The government has announced it plans to end the sale of petrol and diesel-engined vehicles...quite a bit sooner than you may have been expecting.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40723581

On the one hand this makes sense, with many manufacturers now offering hybrid, fully electric or hydrogen powered vehicles. The prime driver behind this is to cut nitrous oxide emissions, which can become dangerously concentrated in urban areas (thousands of deaths every year are linked to respiratory illnesses caused by vehicle emissions).

On the other hand, is this realistic, given that within the next 23 years there will have to be a recharging infrastructure (or hydrogen filling stations) in place, that are the equivalent of the current garage / service station network?

Which might be a bit awkward, as there will still be lots of conventionally powered vehicles on the roads, for a few decades more at least...until their owners decide to scrap / replace them.

Will manufacturers have figured out how to make essentially silent electric vehicles noisy enough that we don't have to worry about running over careless pedestrians who didn't see us coming?

Will battery technology have developed to a point where we don't have to stop and recharge every hour or two when doing motorway speeds?

Have they factored in the environmental and economic costs of mining the raw materials required to produce the batteries and will there be a recycling scheme in place?



Another potential problem I foresee is generating and grid capacity. We've already had stark warnings from the utility firms about generating capacity being uncertain, due to our failure to replace our ageing nuclear power stations sooner. Also, how will the grid react when hundreds of thousands...eventually millions of people are recharging their vehicles on a regular basis? I live out in the sticks, in an area where power outages of up to an hour are a semi-regular occurrence, so I'm not totally convinced about the current infrastructure's ability to handle a lot of extra capacity.

Have they figured out who is going to pay for and deliver all the infrastructure and upgrading necessary for this to work? If not they'd better get their skates on as projects on this scale typically take anything up to a decade, or longer.

France has a similar scheme planned, so we're not the only ones following this course of action.

I'm thinking there will be a lot of oil barons, sheikhs and oligarchs getting a tad uneasy...


While this is pretty much inevitable at some point, I do wonder if the government has got its time scale right and whether it has got the plans in place to enable a smooth and orderly transition...

Do we think this is feasible? Do we even care (will we have collected our bus passes by then)?


Last edited by dyrewolfe on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 5:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by Ent on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 2:52 pm

You've summed it up pretty well there.

I've no problem with getting an electric car, I'd get one tomorrow if it performed well and I could charge it easily enough and get enough miles out of a charge.

Thats the challenge, not the cars themselves Imo.

Will the aa have a giant battery in a roadside assistance van for those of who run out of juice lol

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Post by Samo on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 2:54 pm

Ent wrote:You've summed it up pretty well there.

I've no problem with getting an electric car, I'd get one tomorrow if it performed well and I could charge it easily enough and get enough miles out of a charge.

Thats the challenge, not the cars themselves Imo.

Will the aa have a giant battery in a roadside assistance van for those of who run out of juice lol

Thats exactly the problem with electric cars, but with technology advancing at the rate it is they should have ironed out those creases in 20 years.

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Post by navyblueshorts on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 2:56 pm

Good post Dyre. Re. the 2040 date though, it's a politicians deadline, so subject to as much change as is needed I reckon.
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Post by Pr4wn on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 3:14 pm

Also, no plans on replaced the old diesel buses and trains. - they scrapped electrification, remember?

Also, in placing this onus on councils, which are massively under-funded as it is, the Tories are simply abdicating responsibility for this.

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Post by Ent on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 3:28 pm

Would be nice to see modernisation of the infrastructure, including safe cycling lanes the way some of the Northern European countries did decades ago.

Cost would be phenomenal I imagine.

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Post by Pete C (Kiwireddevil) on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 4:27 pm

In terms of charging points, there are already companies selling street lights that double as car-charging stations. So as street lights get replaced people (in urban areas at least) will be able to come home and plug in on the street outside their houses.

Battery lives are steadily improving, the biggest issue currently (after charge-point availability) is time-to-charge an empty battery
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Post by navyblueshorts on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 6:02 pm

I wonder what UK Government will do about the fuel duty that will disappear as a result of this? Presumably, just stick a charge per kWh (or whatever) that people draw to charge their vehicles? What duty do current electric vehicles have to pay when charging? Anything?
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Post by dummy_half on Thu 03 Aug 2017, 10:08 am

Samo wrote:
Ent wrote:You've summed it up pretty well there.

I've no problem with getting an electric car, I'd get one tomorrow if it performed well and I could charge it easily enough and get enough miles out of a charge.

Thats the challenge, not the cars themselves Imo.

Will the aa have a giant battery in a roadside assistance van for those of who run out of juice lol

Thats exactly the problem with electric cars, but with technology advancing at the rate it is they should have ironed out those creases in 20 years.

There's a healthy dose of wishful thinking in this - batteries and electric motors are not new technologies where rapid gains are possible (Moore's Law certainly does not apply), and the efficiency and size of batteries is limited by chemistry, hence is not amenable to major size reductions. Some improvements in size and efficiency can come using things such as Li-air batteries, but even here there are limits (and currently drawbacks in discharge/recharge)

Electric motors are highly efficient (>80% and commonly >90%) at converting the electricity input to power at the drive shaft, so there's not much to gain there. By contrast, internal combustion engines currently work at about 30 % efficiency in respect of the thermal energy from fuel being converted to power at the drive shaft - some residual heat is used for in vehicle heating, but most is wasted. The high tech engines in Formula 1 at the moment run about 50% efficiency).

The problem for increasing the range of electric vehicles is that this needs more batteries, hence more weight (and noting that the weight of the vehicle does not change as the batteries drain), and so you get significantly diminishing returns as you are using more of the power simply to move the batteries.

The other areas that need continued work are recharging rates and longevity / recycle efficiency of the batteries. The latter is something we all experience with mobile phones - new batteries hold significantly more charge than those that have been through a number of discharge-recharge cycles, to the point where after maybe 200 cycles you will seriously be thinking of changing the battery.

All this before raising questions regarding infrastructure: the demand for electricity to recharge EVs will cause a significant increase in the demand for electricity (and don't buy the concept of overnight charging, as unless ranges can be increased to about 400 miles, people will want to charge whenever the batteries run flat), and at present the UK has very little reserve in generating capacity, and large-scale generation (Hinkley C for example) is taking an absurd amount of time to develop.

Colour me very sceptical that (fully) electric vehicles will be a genuine replacement (i.e. in terms of speed, range, carrying capacity and cost of operation, including refill/recharge times) for those powered by internal combustion engines within 25 years. I actually think hydrogen fuel cells are likely to offer a better long term solution, but their development is not as far along as battery-powered EVs

Of course, there's always the possibility that there will be a technological breakthrough that makes all of this moot, although at present I think this is more likely to come from changes to internal combustion engines (increased efficiency and removal of the NOx* constituents from exhaust gases) than for batteries.

* Remembering that this 2040 law is based on air quality for nitrous oxides and particulates, not relating to CO2 / greenhouse gases.

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