Fuelled up for change

With hybrids added to the Internal Combustion Engine new vehicle sales ban, will car makers and utility companies be ready for the renewed deadline?

Earlier this month, the Government announced that it was bringing forward the ban of new vehicle sales for Internal Combustion Engine cars from 2040 to 2035 as well as adding hybrids into the mix of prohibited sales.

For consumers in the new car market after that time, the only options will be battery electric vehicles or alternatively fuelled hybrids, a prospect that is certainly the right way to go but can it be achieved in such a short time frame?

The car industry is already well on the way to being prepared for the change as it was already working towards the 2040 deadline. I spoke to Peter Miller at Millbrook earlier this month and the new battery testing facility there is geared up and ready to support the industry in battery development work.

Infrastructure development is woefully slow with some county councils dragging their heels with no fixed plans for charging point installations. According to the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), the availability of charging infrastructure is a major barrier in mainstream consumer adoption of electric vehicles. TRL believes that the provision of rapid charging points every 20 miles on motorways and A-roads will significantly encourage adoption.

It’s arguable that this would even scratch the surface in a world where EVs dominate the roads. Charging points will be needed at homes in rural communities, for residents of tower blocks, at tourist destinations and all stopping points such as car parks, retail outlets, on street parking locations and leisure centres. The demand will be huge and there are currently no concrete plans to meet this demand.

Another option is that of alternative fuels of course. Toyota is well down the road in the development of hydrogen fuel cells and the infrastructure to support them so the possibilities for hybrid vehicle development certainly isn’t closed.

I asked Peter Miller for his opinion on how hydrogen affects the development of EVs. “Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are still hybrids, they still need batteries and so the main focus is on battery development and battery testing,” he says.

Jonathan Newell
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