Rise of more efficient combustion engine 'biggest threat' to electric vehicle market

Costs associated with running an electric car are currently much higher than conventional vehicles but that could be set to change, according to new research.

Work carried out for the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP) by Element Energy reveals the combustion engine will reign for around another two decades before prices become competitive.

The report Influence on the low carbon car market from 2020 to 2030 shows costs will level out, but reveals electric car ownership will remain more expensive until somewhere between 2025 and 2030.

At around this point the cost of an electric vehicle, which the report estimates is currently £5,000 more, will fall to between £500 and £750.

Ironically, thought while the report predicts the gap closing between electric and combustion engine cars, the biggest threat to the emerging industry appears to be improving technology in making petrol and diesel engines more efficient.

Speaking to edie.net report author, Alex Stewart, said: "Pure electrical vehicles are still much more expensive and as a result appeal more to the early adopter market.

"An electric car remains much more expensive over the first four years of ownership, when you take into account the initial purchase, insurance even when you take into account government subsidies and the reduced running costs.

"The biggest threat to the electric car market at the moment is the improvements in diesel cars, like the work Ford has announced in getting 83 miles to the gallon for its new Focus.

"But we cannot ignore the benefits of electric vehicles as this could result in not investing in infrastructure leaving us with problems in the future."

Mr Stewart predicts continued improvements will make diesel a cost effective car for the near future.

While a Plug-in Prius, rather than the regular third-generation Prius, will be the environmentalist's best choice or the 'sweet spot' over a fully electric vehicle for the next few years, added Mr Stewart.

LowCVP managing director, Greg Archer and edie awards judge, added: "The study points to an evolution in the car park over the next 20 years as a range of technologies delivers a marked improvement in fuel economy.

"Drivers choosing the most efficient models should see their fuel costs fall, initially there will only be a modest take-up of electric or hydrogen vehicles and most of these are likely to be plug-in hybrid vehicles with a lower electric range, lower total cost of ownership and no risk of running out of charge.

"More significant take-up of battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles is possible after 2025 with tax incentives."

Luke Walsh


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