Electric cars Q&A: Your questions answered by our expert

It's been revealed that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned within a decade, and hybrid cars by 2035. The new plan is part of the Government's £12bn green industrial strategy and poses many logistical questions to consumers and an industry already in transition. 

The move is part of Boris Johnson's 10-point green plan as he attempts to "reset" his premiership, but has already come under criticism. 

Some have pointed to a lack of infrastructure and planning, while others are concerned that the car industry is being used as a scapegoat as Britain struggles to address the environmental challenges ahead. 

Over lunchtime on Wednesday, the Telegraph's Motoring Editor, Paul Hudson, answered your questions on electric cars. You can find a recap below and the full Q&A is at the bottom of this page. 

Will hybrids still be sold in 2030?

Hybrids were also due to be banned in 2035, but have been reprieved; the 2030 ban affects only conventional petrol and diesel engines. Excellent point about motorcycles – I’ll have to check, although electrification is also gathering pace in the two-wheeled world.

How long after the ban will I be able to run my petrol or diesel car?

No word on that yet. I think there will be exemptions, e.g. for classic cars. For the moment, the ban only applies to sales of new cars. While there are still question marks over home or street charging for all (not everyone has broadband yet!) there will still be a place for petrol and diesel – although the fuel is likely to cost more as volumes decrease.

What happens when there is a power cut?

Another potential issue with infrastructure, which we need to address now. If it’s bad, it’ll be like during the last tanker drivers’ strike – no one will be able to go anywhere, unless they have a home generator. 

Will the value of electric vehicles now rise?

It’s true that prices of used EVs are likely to rise. One saving grace is that hybrids have been reprieved until 2035, although it remains to be seen whether TfL will keep them congestion charge-exempt.

Will lorries, coaches and long distance buses be exempt from this scheme?

As far as we know, yes. There are already electric trucks and buses and more, better ones are sure to follow. Hydrogen fuel-cell technology has been touted as ‘the answer’ for commercial vehicles (it’s also an intriguing alternative to battery-electric propulsion for passenger cars).

How much is it going to cost to plug in an EV at a service station?

There’s always going to be someone who’ll charge a premium price because they have you over a barrel. At the moment, and EV is significantly cheaper to run –the cost of a full charge is about a third of that for an average petrol-engined car. And the purchase cost will come down (albeit gradually) as EV volumes increase and batteries become cheaper to produce. 

Will the new measures need to be passed in Parliament? 

Yes any legislation will have to be ratified in the usual way. You never know, Parliament might turn out to be highly enthusiastic – although constituents are sure to voice their genuine concerns.

How to ask a question 

If you want to ask a question for a future Q&A, simply leave your queries in the comments section at the bottom of this article or send an email to [email protected].

Thank you for all of your questions!

We've been inundated with questions but we're going to wrap up today's Q&A for now. Do keep adding any further questions you have to the comments section at the bottom of this article and your queries may be answered in a future Q&A. 

We will post a recap of this Q&A at the top of this page shortly. In the meantime, you sign up for our cars newsletter from our motoring team at the Telegraph here

I regularly drive from South London to the Highlands, how will this work in future?

A question on long distance driving from Dickon C. J. Prior.

"I regularly drive from South London to the far North-West Highlands in 15 hours. This is perfectly feasible even though I need to stop for three complete fill-ups of unleaded (gulp).

"How will this work in the future? Will the infrastructure be in place for the Scourie Filling Station to charge my electric car from vapours to the brim while I nip next door for a coffee?"

Paul: The Government has acknowledged the potential problems with charging infrastructure, with a commitment to invest, but range remains the major concern with the take-up of electric cars. Battery technology will undoubtedly improve over the next 10 years, too, but it’s another issue that remains to be seen.

Will the new measures need to be passed in Parliament? 

F Prefect has asked how the new Government plans will be ratified.

"Presumably this will have to be passed by an act of Parliament? In which case it’s not going to happen. "

Paul: Yes any legislation will have to be ratified in the usual way. You never know, Parliament might turn out to be highly enthusiastic – although constituents are sure to voice their genuine concerns.

Who pays for free charging? 

A question on charging costs from Geoffrey Turner.

"It’s interesting that low charging is free but there is a small charge for rapid charging.  Who is footing the bill for the free charging?  Someone has to pay and I suspect it is the long suffering tax payers.  

"How long will free charging be available when the whole country has gone electric as Boris seems to want us to do?"

Paul: It depends. Some local authorities subsidise EV charging, others don’t. Tariffs vary between providers. I haven’t come across any free chargers for a while – it was an incentive, but increasingly the user will be required to pay for their ‘fuel’ just as we do currently with petrol and diesel. 

How does air conditioning and headlights affect range? 

Malcolm McIntyre has asked about the impact of air conditioning and headlights on the mileage of an EV.

"What happens to the mileage potential on an electric car if you have both headlights on and air conditioning?"

Paul: It can drop by up to a third in real-world use. Established EV drivers have already become adept at rationing the use of power-hungry features - heated seats apparently use less current than the air-con or heater. The latest LED lights aren’t a huge drain, fortunately.

Where is the money for EVs coming from?

A question from Dudley Kenneth Stringer on the funding for the Government's green plan. 

"Given that we have not yet begun to see the full effects of the present pandemic on the economy, where is the money coming from?"

Paul: Rishi Sunak is rumoured to be considering plans for road pricing to potentially make up for the shortfall in fuel duty revenue:

Would an EV be suitable for towing a caravan? 

J Midlane needs an EV for different use cases. 

"Our household has three cars, all regularly used (one commuting, one shopping or social and one towing or transporting heavy loads). We have no driveway, no off road parking, and often cannot park outside our house, but on the other side of the road, 100m or more up or down the street, or in a different street. How long do our recharging extension leads have to be, on average? Say, 500 yards?

"We also tow a caravan for 100 miles or more in a day, several times a year, and we need to make stops to recharge during the journey – hopefully for five mins or less otherwise we are blocking the recharge point. How far is the range for a fully loaded vehicle plus fully loaded caravan?

"In winter, if stranded, how long will the battery last with the car heater on full?

"I'm very positive about electric vehicles, but need answers."

Paul: We all do! There’s much to be improved – EVs are not the panacea that many people suggest. As mentioned previously, it is imperative that public charging at very least keeps pace with EV take-up and hopefully outpaces it.

As you might with a petrol or diesel car, you’d need to ensure that your EV has as much charge as possible before embarking on a winter journey, in case of becoming stranded.

Breakdown services are likely to carry rapid chargers or at least tow you to the nearest one (in the hope that it isn’t in use or broken).

What happens when battery technology changes?

A question on different generations of batteries from stuart poore:

"What happens when battery technology changes to the value of the current generation of EV’s?  That’s a big problem the technology is still in flux. By contrast, any ICE car built in the last 100 years runs on basically the same well understood principles so you can get fuel, parts and servicing with ease."

Paul: I think batteries will become more interchangeable, or at least replaceable. Electric motors will also evolve - and that technology is even older than the internal combustion engine, not to mention so much simpler. As long as the charging connections stay the same, there’s little impact on the user experience.

Can the public afford electric cars? 

A question from Peter Humphreys on the mass adoption of EVs.

"Has anyone ever polled the population to find out how many of us can actually afford an electric car?"

Paul: Not that I’m aware of, but I receive the results of many surveys in my inbox and the general consensus appears to be that the great British public isn’t yet ready for a full electric car experience.

How much is it going to cost to plug in an EV at a service station?

Stephen Dolan has a question on the cost of charging. 

"How much is it going to cost to plug in your EV at a motorway service station? Will it be horrendously expensive, as their fuel is now or is there going to be a flat rate agreed as I can see that not only are EVs going to be expensive to buy, they will be expensive to run when compared to an average ICE vehicle which is capable of quite high MPG."

Paul: There’s always going to be someone who’ll charge a premium price because they have you over a barrel. At the moment, and EV is significantly cheaper to run –the cost of a full charge is about a third of that for an average petrol-engined car. And the purchase cost will come down (albeit gradually) as EV volumes increase and batteries become cheaper to produce. 

What happens in cold, dark and wet weather? 

A question from william whitmore on the impact of the weather on an EV's range.

"I regularly drive 150 miles which by the sounds of it is easily achieved by many existing cars, my worry is what happens on a freezing cold, wet and dark winters day. When will we get this type of information?"

Paul: I’m afraid that as with a petrol or diesel car, it’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure they have enough fuel (or charge, in this instance) in the event of mishap. It is true that using all the electrical features of an EV will significantly dent its range.

Is the charging device the same for all electric models?

An important question from Chris East.

Chris: "Is the charging device universal across all  electric cars, makes and models? Is it a requirement to have a smart meter when having a charging point fitted at my house?"

Paul: There are a few different connections but it’s pretty standardised. This article tells you all need to know. A smart meter isn’t yet a requirement for home chargers.

Will the price of electric vehicles soar? 

A great question here from Steve Brown.

Steve asks: "Presumably EV prices will rise, and margins soar, if you hand EV manufacturers a monopoly on new car sales?"

Here's what Paul has to say:

"That’s a possibility, of course, however I think the ultra-competitive nature of the car industry will keep prices realistic. It is true that margins for manufacturers will improve as volumes increase and batteries become cheaper to produce. "

Where are the rare minerals needed for batteries going to come from?

Peter Miles has a question about the minerals required to make EV batteries:

"Where are the rare earths and other materials to produce the batteries going to come from? As I understand world production is struggling to meet demand even now."

Paul:  China has a virtual monopoly on production. It is hoped that advances in battery technology, which look promising, improve the environmental credentials of EVs by negating the need for rare elements. If all the power is generated via solar or wind, that’s a virtuous circle.

Who is going to buy a new petrol or diesel car in five or six years time?

A great question from Christopher Hook on the looming ban.

"Who is going to buy a new petrol or diesel car in five or six years time knowing it will be obsolete and no doubt incur punitive taxes?"

Paul: Excellent point. As usual, no one really knows, but I suspect use values may suffer. However, the ban is on sales of new petrol/diesel cars in 2030 – it will still be possible to drive a non-electric car (punitive taxes and city centre restrictions notwithstanding).

Has anyone designed batteries that will power motorbikes for long distances?

A question from Laurence Wilkinson on the plans for scooters and motorbikes.

"What about a plan for all the millions of motorbikes and scooters, of every size and description. Has anybody designed batteries that will power them for 300 miles?"

Paul: Not yet – the best e-scooters can do is 40 miles (but you wouldn’t want to commute on one, I’m sure). In terms of motorcycles, the Brutus V9 has a claimed range of 282 miles, but the norm is about 150 miles – that should be sufficient for most people, although long-distance tourers may want to stick with petrol for a while yet.

What about lorries? 

J Farmer has asked whether lorries will be exempt. 

"What about lorries, coaches, long distance buses and coach tour companies? Will they be exempt from this scheme?"

Paul: As far as we know, yes. There are already electric trucks and buses and more, better ones are sure to follow. Hydrogen fuel-cell technology has been touted as ‘the answer’ for commercial vehicles (it’s also an intriguing alternative to battery-electric propulsion for passenger cars).

How will the electricity supply to vehicle charging points be realised?

A question about supplying electricity to charging points from Keith Scarborough

"How will the electricity supply to vehicle charging points be realised, and what will happen to the old "legacy" systems associated with the internal combustion engine?"

Paul: Converting street lights to EV charging points, as already exist, seems an elegant solution. Otherwise, installing charging points (especially the more desirable fast chargers) will take a lot of development of the grid, electricity substations etc.

The major fuel companies already have EV charging – presumably, as the number of EVs rises and the number of conventional cars declines, more existing fuel stations will have more and more battery chargers.  

'Is anyone able to afford an electric vehicle?'

F Clarity has asked a question about the price and demand of EVs. 

"Is anyone able to afford an electric vehicle? The Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) is being extended to cover the North and South circular roads next year. There’ll be so much demand for electric vehicles in London that prices will stay artificially high and be impossible to get. There certainly won’t be any second hand models available!"

Paul: It’s true that prices of used EVs are likely to rise. One saving grace is that hybrids have been reprieved until 2035, although it remains to be seen whether TfL will keep them congestion charge-exempt.

What happens when there is a power cut?

Our next question is from Edward Arthur and it concerns power cuts.

"What happens in the event of a power cut that will no doubt ensue following so much demand on the grid?"

Paul: Another potential issue with infrastructure, which we need to address now. If it’s bad, it’ll be like during the last tanker drivers’ strike – no one will be able to go anywhere, unless they have a home generator. 

What action should we take when queuing to charge our EV?

A question from Edward Arthur about service station charging points.

"What actions should we take whilst we are queuing in traffic on the hard shoulder of motorways to get our EV charged at the service station on a long journey?"

Paul: Demand is likely to outstrip supply in this instance, until the point where existing fuel stations at motorway services have sufficient fast chargers. Long journeys remain the biggest bugbear of EV usage. Rather than carrying a can of fuel, perhaps breakdown services will carry rapid chargers. As with petrol and diesel, it’s the driver’s responsibility to make sure they have sufficient fuel/charge for their journey.

'My daughter has nowhere to charge her car' 

A question now from Ian Procter on charging infrastructure via Telegraph Motoring Club.

"Given the dearth of the current charging infrastructure, there's going to have to be an awful lot of work over the next few years.

"For example; my daughter's car is parked outside her garage which is not next to her house. To charge an electric car she will have to pay thousands of pounds to run an armoured cable in buried conduit from her house to the garage.

"She is disabled so depends very heavily on the car but her only income is benefits. Who's going to pay?"

Paul: I’m in the same boat. I live in a flat in an urban area and I’m a perfect candidate for an EV – but I have nowhere to charge, therefore must rely on street charging.

It is imperative that public charging keeps pace with the growing number of EVs. 

For how long after the ban will I be able to run my petrol or diesel car?

Next, a question on running petrol and diesel cars after the ban, from Ed Feldmanis.

"I intend on running my petrol and diesel cars. For how long after the ban comes into effect will that be a realistic proposition?"

Paul: No word on that yet. I think there will be exemptions, e.g. for classic cars. For the moment, the ban only applies to sales of new cars. While there are still question marks over home or street charging for all (not everyone has broadband yet!) there will still be a place for petrol and diesel – although the fuel is likely to cost more as volumes decrease.

How green can the disposal of knackered batteries be?

Our next question from Janet George is about the disposal of electric car batteries.

"There's no mention of tractors? And how green can the disposal of knackered batteries be?"

Paul: Again, no specifics, although I reckon agricultural vehicles will be exempt (at least for a while).

As we often say, there’s no such thing as an environmental free lunch, with the use of precious metals in batteries and precisely how the electricity is generated. Used car batteries can be employed for storage.

I for one hope that next-generation batteries will have fewer precious metals, meaning less impact on the environment and easier recycling.

Will hybrids still be sold?

Our first question comes from Roger Newark via the Telegraph Motoring Club Facebook group. 

"I presume hybrids will still be able to be sold, and the ban just applies to pure petrol and diesels? There's also no mention of the ban applying to petrol motorcycles as well?"

Paul: Hybrids were also due to be banned in 2035, but have been reprieved; the 2030 ban affects only conventional petrol and diesel engines. Excellent point about motorcycles – I’ll have to check, although electrification is also gathering pace in the two-wheeled world.

Q&A starting in 10 minutes

Afternoon everyone, 

Paul Hudson, the Telegraph's Motoring Editor, will be answering your questions on plans to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030 and on electric cars in 10 minutes. 

Leave your questions for Paul in the comments section below. 

See you soon!