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Gear up to greener driving
After 2030 you’ll no longer be able to buy a new petrol or diesel car, so prepare to get behind the wheel of an alternative
It’s less than a decade until the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK. Car owners are no longer thinking about if they will switch to a hybrid Hybrid carHybrid cars combine a conventional engine (usually petrol, but diesel hybrids are also available) with electric power. There are three types: mild hybrids, full or 'self-charging' hybrids and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) or electric car, Electric carA zero-emission car that is powered entirely by a battery-driven electric motor they’re now deciding when that transition will happen. In 2020, the demand for new electric, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars almost tripled – one in 10 of all cars sold were electrified.
Why choose a hybrid car?
- If you’re not quite ready to commit to an electric car, they could be the ideal stepping stone from an internal combustion vehicle.
- Some hybrids we’ve tested exceed their conventional counterparts for fuel economy, from tiny superminis to large SUVs.
- Our annual Which? car survey reveals that hybrid vehicles suffer fewer faults and breakdowns than petrol and diesel cars.
Note that there are three types of hybrid cars – mild, full or ‘self-charging’ and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs). They all have a combustion engine, electric motor and battery, but each has its own advantages and depends on how and where you drive.
- Hybrid cars can be expensive to buy, but prices are falling and they’re cheaper than electric cars.
- Which? tests show some hybrid models, including plug-in hybrids, come up short on their fuel economy claims, especially on the motorway.
- Batteries are usually located at the rear of the car and can take up valuable luggage space.
- Read about the best hybrid cars for 2021.
Why choose an electric car?
- Electric cars have no engine or exhaust pipe so they do not emit CO2 Carbon dioxide (CO2)A gas that occurs naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere and is also the main greenhouse gas produced by human activities or other emissions like NOx NOx (oxides of nitrogen)NOx is comprised of two gasses: nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Of the two, NO2 is the gas that causes us the most harm. It’s an irritant that can cause inflammation of our airways, and can affect immune cells in the lungs. Over a prolonged period of time, it is thought NO2 can affect how our lungs work – which means driving will be emissions-free.
- They’re currently exempt from car tax.
- If you have off-street parking at home, you can keep running costs mucher lower than a petrol or diesel car – find out how much it costs to run an electric car.
- Quiet and nippy, electric cars are ideal for drivers who make shorter journeys.
- Government-backed grants are available towards the cost of selected new electric vehicles, but have reduced over time. As of 18 March 2021, for cars that cost less than £35,000 you can get a grant that will reduce the price of buying the car by up to 35%, up to a maximum of £2,500.
- Despite not emitting CO2, there is still a CO2 cost of generating and delivering the fuel (electricity) that electric cars need. This CO2 cost combined with how efficiently the electric car uses its electricity, and how efficiently it charges, all contributes to the well-to-wheel (WTW) CO2 that we give to all cars. Our research shows WTW CO2 costs for electric cars are significantly less than petrol or diesel.
- While some cars now offer a driving range in excess of 200 miles, this is still more limited than a hybrid car.
- The batteries can take hours to charge, depending on what connection points are available. Find out more about how to charge an electric car at home and using charging points.
- Only 8% of the UK’s chargepoints are both the fastest types and currently allow payment by bank card. See below for the expert view from one of our car experts about how this needs to change.
- Read about the best electric cars for 2021.
Adrian Porter, Which? cars expert
You might not drive an electric car today, but the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned as of 2030. That’s less than nine years away and, in that time, the number of electric cars on UK roads is expected to rise to around 12 million by 2030.
Electric cars can’t just be for those who can charge at home. Millions more public chargers will be needed to charge our cars, but what infrastructure exists today in the UK is all too often disjointed, confusing and costly. It’s vital we create a friendly, easy-to-use infrastructure. To start with, we're calling for five improvements and we'll continue working with the industry to encourage the switch to electric.