Switching Over – The Future is Electric

Switching to an electric car could be a very good move, but it does require a different way of thinking about your vehicle ownership. In this article recently published on HiHub online, Anna Turner in collaboration with Cambridge EV’s examines the benefits and the challenges.

2021 was the most successful year in history for electric vehicle uptake, with more new battery electric vehicles registered than over the previous five years combined, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Perhaps that should come as no surprise: under current Government plans, the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2030, with some new hybrid cars allowed until 2035. Although there are no signs that this legislation will apply to second-hand petrol and diesel cars, many people are already looking to switch to an electric vehicle (EV).

The Draw of EVs

With a more environmentally friendly and virtually noise-free operation, largely low maintenance, low charging costs and currently no road tax, EVs appear an attractive alternative for drivers. Nine out of ten motorists who have already made the switch to an electric vehicle say they won’t be buying a petrol or diesel car again.

A brief survey of Cambridge EV owners on Facebook suggests that electric cars are:

“fun to drive: no gears, just go and stop”

“very efficient and cheap to run”

“a dream to use and offer instant torque [which] gives them great acceleration from a dead stop”

More widely in the Cambridge area, the fact that a £4.2m solar farm is planned in Waterbeach to help power electric bin lorries serving Greater Cambridge also speaks for itself. As does the recently announced purchase of 30 new battery electric, zero emission double-decker buses to operate on the Park & Ride and Citi2 routes.


However, prices for new EVs are higher than for their petrol equivalents, and Government grants for the purchase of new electric cars and installation of off-street home chargers are being steadily reduced, with the latter becoming unavailable to homeowners living in ‘single-unit properties’ such as houses and bungalows from the end of March.

‘Range anxiety’ – fears that a vehicle won’t have enough energy storage to reach its destination – coupled with an underdeveloped charging infrastructure are the main concerns for the everyday EV motorist.

In addition to these are the wider challenges facing EV manufacturers sourcing raw materials, and the problems of efficient car battery recycling which concern the scientific community and authorities.

However, there are many advantages to owning an EV which far out number the concerns. As technology improves along with the growth of the UK charging infrastructure, now has never been a better time to move over to electric motoring.

Managing Director Andrew Ballard says

“Since an EV does not have many moving parts, time and costs involved in servicing an electric car are not as high as for a petrol or diesel car. And with a smart electric tariff for home charging, ‘filling-up’ may cost up to 4-5 times less for the same mileage”.

EV Introduction Day in Histon

But an EV calls for a different way of thinking, which is why we recently held an EV introduction day in Histon on Saturday 26 March, to give local residents the chance to find out more. The event was a huge success with lots of customers old and new turning up to speak to us about all things electric.

Andrew Ballard commented:

“Changing to an electric car can be a challenge even to those with a lot of knowledge and experience in the industry as it requires a different focus. So we thought a friendly information event for the community may help people understand EVs better.”

It gave us the chance to allow people to take a test drive in a range of electric cars and motorbikes around the Cambridge countryside and to answer any questions people had on everything from how to charge an EV to how long does a charge last.

Charging challenges

Taking a bird’s-eye view can ease anxiety about how far an EV can travel on a single charge. With an estimated EV range average of 175 miles, Top Gear experts believe that less than 1% of journeys in this country are longer than 100 miles.

So, focussing less on car features and more on understanding one’s own patterns of behaviour would be something to consider while choosing an EV. Weather conditions and the style and speed of your driving may dramatically reduce the range though. This is where a reliable network of public charging points would be indispensable.

Although there is a push for a better charging infrastructure across the country, progress has proved complicated. There is a notable absence of a uniform approach among different public charging providers to charger-vehicle compatibility and methods of payment, and factors such as land ownership come into play too.

The latter is obvious from the difficulties faced by the South Cambs District Council in their EV charging points roll-out. These include the challenges of negotiating the potential locations of chargers with third-party landowners.

Histon & Impington’s County Councillor Ros Hathorn commented:

“Current efforts to improve the charging infrastructure are disjointed. Absence of a national strategy outlining areas of responsibility and sources of funding makes councils and businesses hesitant about investing in public chargers. Both the County Council and the District Council are working on a strategy and trialling different models.”

That said, more grassroots support rather than an entirely top-down approach may help the change gain momentum. Ros would be happy to hear from villagers and local businesses interested in joining a working group to help advance the network of public chargers locally.

EVs in the Village

South Cambs District Council has allocated a budget of £150,000 to installing electric vehicle charging points in the area. Councillor Steve Hunt noted that once a review of the EV charging infrastructure in the District is done,

“we should know more about the current level of public charge provision, where there are gaps, and where chargers might be put. The Council has ongoing objectives to encourage the expansion of electric vehicle charging points across our sub-contractors and partners, and to explore the expansion of electric vehicle charging points in our sheltered housing schemes”.

The Parish Council is yet to be consulted.

If you would like to participate in the development of the local EV charging infrastructure, contact Ros Hathorn at ros.hathorn@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.