How long before we can switch reliably to electric or driverless cars?

Businesses are always looking for ways to reduce their overheads and among the expenses are the costs of vehicles or paying mileage to employees whose jobs involve driving.

In addition, now concerns for the environment and climate change have moved to the top of the agenda and a business being able to demonstrate that it is “green” can do wonders for its reputation.

So, the advent of electrically powered vehicles (EVs) – and eventually perhaps driverless cars – might be considered welcome news for businesses.

However, according to Wired UK, the UK is well behind Europe in its uptake of EVs.

It says that a report by the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (EAMA) found that in the UK in the first three months of 2019 registrations of hybrids and fully electric vehicles “increased by just 2.9 per cent, compared to the EU average of 40 per cent”.

With very few vehicle manufacturers left in the UK and the UK Government last year cutting subsidies for pure electric cars from £4,500 to £3,500, and completely eliminating the £2,500 grant for hybrid vehicles the manufacturers say it is not cost effective to make them in the UK because of the low volume of sales.

One reason that has been suggested for low sales volumes, apart from the generally higher prices of HVs and hybrids, is that many people worry about the batteries running out mid-journey. Although charging points are increasing, particularly at motorway service areas, there are still places, particularly in the rural parts of the UK, where they are in short supply.

Driverless cars are still a long way off

The BBC’s technology expert Rory Cellan-Jones recently explored the experience of travelling in a driverless vehicle, using a taxi service.

One problem encountered was that the vehicles missed exit points because of a solid line of traffic.

Then there have been accidents, in one case when an Uber car, in which there was a safety driver, ploughed into a woman pushing a bike across a road near Arizona State University.

These illustrate that there are still issues to be sorted out before driverless cars become more widespread and are largely to do with the real problems in mixing the robots, the human drivers and pedestrians on the same streets.

It seems it will be some time yet before driverless cars will become a feature of our roads.