Last week’s poll: electric vehicle switchover

Engineer readers believe that reinforcing electricity infrastructure will be the most helpful measure in the switchover from internal combustion to electric vehicles

We received a strong response to last week’s poll, with 671 readers responding and over 50 comments. A clear majority of respondents, 52%, said that reinforcement of electricity infrastructure would be the most helpful measure in the switchover. The next most popular option, with 19% of votes, was improvement of funding for hydrogen infrastructure, indicating that fuel cell technology is still a subject of much interest for powering electric vehicles. The introduction of scrappage grants to get the most polluting vehicles off the roads was the choice of 12%, while 3% supported the introduction of charging to enter zones most affected by poor air quality. A relatively large proportion, 13%, declined to pick one of our options.

Our comments section reflected the lack of clarity in the government’s recent announcement that sales of new internal combustion engine vehicles will be banned after 2040; several readers called for clarity over whether this ban would include range extended hybrids with an internal combustion engine powering a generator to charge batteries.

Keith Nuttall pointed out that the BBC stated that hybrids would not be banned, while the IEC said that they would; G Davidson said the proposal was not for electric vehicles, but for ultra low emission vehicles emitting less than 75 g of CO2 per kilometre.

Steve proposed a measure which some civil servants would surely describe as “courageous”, namely reprivatising energy generation.

“Given we have stopped investment in gas fired power stations, can’t get a single new nuclear station built without massive subsidy, have killed the coal industry, and have spent so much on useless windmills we can hardly see in any direction without the view being blighted, the only way to move this forward is to take the grid back into public ownership, and bring planning authority similarly with no appeal process, and just get on with it.”

Sebastian Broady wondered whether technology would advance fast enough: “It might be 30 years or more before we have a smart grid with the capacity to support 30 Mil + vehicles. Hydrogen just doesn’t have the energy density – you also need enormous pressures or cryogenics to store enough of it. High-efficiency hybrids are the way to go for now.”

Please continue to send us your views on this topic.