A new study by Cambridge Econometrics, funded by the European Climate Foundation, states that by 2030 low-carbon technologies could make a massive 47% reduction in CO2 emissions, cut £600 from the average motorists annual car fuel bill and reduce the national cost of running and replacing cars by a massive £5-7 billion. Furthmore, the report concludes electric cars will help achieve lower pollution levels in our towns and cities as well as reduce the need for oil imports, thus helping the economy too.
Notably, electric vehicle adoption is singled out as being the most significant cost saving with figures stating that the average motorist spent £1,190 on fuel in 2014, but by 2030 the average low-carbon car will have reduced this by half and electric cars are said to deliver even greater savings, up up to £960.
However, in response to the often criticised pricing electric cars currently adopt, which tends to make them more expensive at initial purchase price, when compared to a comparable petrol or diesel equivalent, the study goes on to say:
“These technically-advanced vehicles will be more costly to buy at the outset, but the initial investment will be outweighed by energy-savings within a few years, leaving households significantly better off. Even if oil prices were to remain at today’s unusually low level, energy-savings would rapidly outweigh the cost of low-carbon technologies.”
Continuing the report to the year 2050, it concludes CO2 emissions from cars and vans could be reduced by as much as 80%. The knock-on effect to health benefits are estimated to be worth £1-1.2 billion for the UK economy.
It’s not all rose-tinted spectacles though, as the report admits these achievements would not be without their difficulties. First on the list is investment in infrastructure, which predicts the need for a transition of jobs from fossil-fuel refinement to electric vehicle recharging and other forms of transport infrastructure needed to support new technologies. Despite this, the report says that overall Britain would benefit from this by having a more resilient economy and a better climate with significant improvements to air pollution. Oil imports could fall by as much as 40% accordingly, meaning less reliance on foreign countries or fluctuating world pricing.
Furthermore, a reduction in oil demand could cause the actual price of oil to fall too, which could help the economy further, although it may have the knock-on effect of making EV adoption more difficult to justify in the eyes of many with cheap fuel at the pumps.
Commenting on the report Edmund King, President of the Automobile Association (AA), said:
“The cost of motoring is still the number one concern for motorists so the fact that low carbon vehicles are driving down costs is great news both for drivers and for Britain’s economy.”
Adding to this, Jerry Hardcastle OBE, Global Chief Marketability Engineer at Nissan, said:
“The report clearly demonstrates how battery electric vehicles will continue to positively contribute to the UK economy. Beyond the jobs that we have created in Sunderland around the production of the Nissan LEAF electric car there will further developments in the products and services that support zero emissions mobility. Over time it is becoming clear that each battery EV is an investment in public health as it will also enable the necessary air quality improvements in urban environments”
Included in the development of electric cars and low-carbon vehicles, has been the renewed effort to “add lightness”, in the famous words uttered by Colin Champman. Carbon and other fibre-based materials are seeing increased effort and focus with respect to reducing weight of cars and therefore increasing their efficiency.
Hartwig Meier, Head of Global Product and Application Development at specialty chemicals company, LANXESS, said:
“No matter the powertrain, lighter is always better. Innovative fibre-reinforced plastics have become a key technology for low carbon and electric vehicles – we expect the market to grow by 8% annually.”