The government really want you to start driving an electric car 0

Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features

Photograph: Ray Tang/Rex Features

With new benefits revealed for drivers choosing to go electric, now is as good a time as any to see the petrol pump get ditched and the plugs get switched.

The government has promised to invest £40 million into an incentive aimed at encouraging more people to embrace electric cars. Eight areas around the UK, including London, Bristol and Nottingham, will receive a share of the fund after submitting a number of proposals including building street lights that double as charging points, allowing use of the bus lanes and building parking spaces that would be free for electric cars, saving the drivers up to £1,300 per year.

Transport Secretary Patrick Mcloughlin heralded the winning proposals as “exciting, innovative ideas” that he hopes will persuade more drivers to “choose an electric car.” This is only the first step in a bigger plan to make electric cars more ubiquitous. Mcloughlin went on to describe how it is a “long-term economic plan” of the government to invest “£600 million by 2020 to improve air quality, create jobs and achieve our goal of every new car and van in the UK being ultra-low emission by 2040.” Britain’s drivers are rapidly becoming strong supporters of alternatively fuelled vehicles, and these incentives should only further the trend. In 2015 72,775 alternatively fuelled vehicles were sold, an increase of 40% from the year before.

Of course the reputation of electric cars being impractical ‘hippie’ wagons has meant that there has been some kickback. Colour us surprised. One of the recurring comments is the battery life of the cars, with some models requiring recharging every 85 miles. Furthermore, the variables in driving conditions have not fully been worked out. For example, driving on a cold, winter night with the heating on full and wipers going regularly would, assumedly, affect the projected battery life. A potential problem to more than just drivers of electric vehicles, however, is the unprecedented strain that can be expected on the national grid. If the government are successful in ushering in nationwide electric car users, then simple mathematics would show that a lot more electricity would be needed.