Ban on the sale of vehicles with petrol and diesel engines – has it been thought through?

The recent announcement by the government that it intended to bring forward the ban on the sale of internal combustion engine (“ICE”) and hybrid vehicles to 2035 has raised a number of questions about how this change will impact on our everyday lives which have yet to be answered.

To successfully impose a ban in fifteen years the intervening governments will have had to implement a substantial infrastructure program to install sufficient numbers of charging stations nationwide equipped with the kilowatt capacity to meet demand.

The question of how this additional electricity will be generated, the number of power stations required to do so and how environmental consequences of the power stations themselves is a topic of its own.

However, it might be the impact on our homes where we personally feel the greatest change. Ownership of an electric car assumes that the owner will have a convenient place to charge it either at home or work.

A visitor to London will see that there has been an attempt to start the installation of on-street publicly accessible charging points but this is not replicated to same extent outside the capital. The difficulties surrounding availability of public charging points especially in peak periods and the cost of electricity from these connections will need consideration. The provision of overground cabling comes with the obvious health and safety concerns whilst marketable wireless technology to provide electricity is not yet ready. 

With infrastructure lagging behind, the government appears to be gambling on a general reduction in private car ownership with a sea change in attitude towards greater use of public transport, car subscription services and perhaps eventually Uber-style autonomous “cars on call” instead.

The impact on residential development and movement away from car ownership is an immediate consideration for the house building industry.  Provision of a combination of both charging infrastructure and easy access to other forms of shared transportation will be integral to future planning by both developers and local authorities.

Whether or not the ban on the sale of ICE and hybrids vehicles occurs in 2035 or sooner, the wider impact of this change on how we live has not yet been comprehended fully but is sure to affect us all.

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