In the midst of the coronavirus, a sliver of good news has emerged; battery electric vehicles (BEVs) seem to be thriving in comparison with their polluting ICE alternatives.
Of the 4,321 cars registered in April, 1,374 were BEVs, accounting for 31.8% of the market. This unprecedented increase made BEVs more popular than diesel, and almost as popular as traditional petrol cars.
While the number of cars on the road plummets, local air pollution throughout the UK has improved considerably. Cleaner air has been linked to improved respiratory health, and electric cars emit significantly less particulate matter and NO2 than ICE vehicles.
The question is, will this last? Will consumer behaviour change, now that we have glimpsed a future of cleaner air that could be brought about by electric cars? Hopefully, this trend will continue long after the threat of COVID-19 passes, as the imminent danger of the climate crisis continues to loom.
However, it’s misleading to assume that the reason EV uptake has not been as rapid as it could be is that drivers are unaware or uncaring about air pollution. The upfront cost of purchasing electric vehicles is still prohibitive for many, and the lack of public charging infrastructure makes the reality of owning an EV challenging for those without off street parking.
In order to support this trend of improved awareness of the environmental benefits of electric cars, we need to improve access to affordable, reliable charging everywhere. Not just in cities and charging hubs, but for destinations where drivers are already parking for long enough to get charged up.