Concluding the debate about diesel v petrol v electric cars

A diesel pump and a hybrid electric car logo.

Hybrid means a mix of electric (EV) and internal combustion engine (ICE), be that petrol or diesel. - Credit: PA

Paul Jolly, classic car specialist and valuer:

This Government has brought forward the date for all new cars to be electric from 2040 to 2030.

For now, hybrids will be permitted from 2030 provided a decent amount of mileage can be covered by electric only power.

Hybrid means a mix of electric (EV) and internal combustion engine (ICE), be that petrol or diesel.

At present, you can refill your car with a fresh tank of fossil fuel energy in a matter of minutes, pay at the pump and be on your way with an extended 500-600 miles capability. 

Until this system can be replicated with standardised exchange battery packs, fossil fuel will always win on long journeys.

However, if you really only ever go to Exeter, Newton Abbot or The Willows for your shopping, then the electric (EV) car will do it provided you can charge up at home every night.

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Even a day trip to Taunton should be in range but Bristol and back, probably not without stopping for a re-charge. 

A quoted 180 miles range is optimistic for some mid-range EVs and realistically, you should halve it to be safe. The colder the day, the more power consumed.

But do not think about this exercise on the grounds of saving money.

Electric vehicles will cost you dearly starting with a purchase price of at least 20 per cent over the equivalent non-electric car even after Government subsidies.

Then the real unknown. Depreciation. Inevitably, new EV prices will drop as will used ones. 

A full overnight charge may not cost as much as a tank of fossil fuel but you will be charging more frequently, probably daily, and beware getting distracted on arrival home in the rain and forgetting to plug the charger in when you have an early train to catch next morning.

A home charger is essential. These will cost around £900, less any available grants. 

A standard 13-amp plug only charges the battery to about 80 per cent and even then, takes over 24 hours.

The high-capacity home charger has the ability to fully charge in a few hours, but it needs you to be able to park off the road at home.

Residential roads strewn with a mesh of cables is not the way forward! 

City dwellers who street park overnight will have to rely on public charging points.

Look around at your usual stopping points. Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s Tesco’s and M&S. Do you see electric charging points? No, nor do I.

And what if the motorway service points are fully occupied or out of order?

If you have a second ICE/hybrid vehicle for the longer trips, then a local EV could work.

It is highly desirable to potter up your local high street without a whiff of tailpipe emission but as a sole vehicle, then you need to make a judgement as to your requirements. Maybe do nothing for now.

I can see that pure electric cars will work in large cities especially when punitive charges are implemented against diesel/petrol usage but elsewhere then hybrid will be the probable answer.

There is also no need to rush into this. 

In theory, you will still be able to buy a new petrol/diesel car with no EV capability for another eight years and then keep that for another eight or so years.

However, a compromise might be a hybrid, if you need a new car and is at least a move in the inevitable direction.

These can achieve 30 miles pure electric power for local use, get you home from anywhere at any time, and show your green credentials.

As with all things, cost and convenience is what will drive our purchasing decisions and I am not sure these alternative power systems are there yet.

Keep a watchful eye on the evolving situation and do not be pushed into any purchase you have not thought through.