Japanese car maker Nissan has launched an all-electrical competitor to the Ford Focus, which has the look of a normal car under the bonnet. The Nissan Leaf has an engine that appears similar to a conventional one, with some parts having been ‘bulked’ up so motorists used to the weight of a petrol or diesel engine, enjoy the same control.
To promote the benefits of alternative-fuel cars, the Institute for Public Policy Research think tank are demanding that the government launch a green badge scheme, similar to the blue badge scheme used by disabled motorists. This would allow drivers of green vehicles free access to toll roads, car parks and congestion charge zones.
Electric cars and green vehicles have long been ridiculed as only being fit for use as milk carts or golf buggies. However, the European parliament is to approve moves to increase the production of all low-carbon and electric vehicles. This measure would act as a huge boost for the market and make this type of car a more regular feature on our roads.
Nissan chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, predicts that electric cars will make up around 10 per cent of all global demand for new vehicles by 2020. This could be welcome news for the UK who according to the Committee on Climate Change, an independent government advisory panel, will need to see 1.7 million electric cars on its roads by 2020 to meet its greenhouse gas targets.
A recent RAC poll found that 50 per cent of drivers questioned said that they would consider an alternative-fuel car as prices at the pumps for petrol and diesel continue to soar. A quarter of responders also indicated that they were likely to buy a green car in the next five years, although hybrid vehicles remained more popular than all-electric cars.
With an increase in the number of electric cars set to be seen, the government is being encouraged to consider re-introducing the car scrapping scheme to help remove older cars from the roads. However, this would now have to include being able to scrap green cars too, as the first one’s that were bought also begin to show signs of age.
British motorists bought less than 1,300 all-electric cars in 2012, which is a tiny number when compared to the sales figures of alternative-fuel cars (27,841) and petrol or diesel powered vehicles (1.9 million). This is due to drivers continued scepticism about the performance of electric cars, which can only manage around 100 miles on a single charge.
Despite this, car manufacturers continue to plough millions into creating a vehicle that is not reliant on petrol and diesel, in the hope that hard pressed families will see this as the cheapest and best alternative option for the family car.