It’s been an interesting week in the United Kingdom as the government reveiled a ban on the sale of all new diesel and petrol engines by 2040. At it’s core, this means that after 2040, no car, lorry or vehicle could be sold if it is solely powered by petrol or diesel engines (hybrids that combine electric with diesel/petrol will still be allowed). It is a big decision by the UK goverment for which other countries may start to follow suit with. However, what does this decision really mean and is it the start of an electric dominated automotive market? Here is an analysis from the view point of an Automotive Engineer.
Is the ban needed?
The first question that needs to be raised if it is really needed, at all. 2040 is 23 years away. For technology, this is an absolute lifetime away. For example, 23 years ago, the year was 1994 and the internet was barely born. It is crazy to think how far we have come in the last 23 years so it is fair to say we will develop things far quicker in the next 23 years.
The point to this is that electric cars are already being produced. Tesla have just released the Model 3 for the mass market and there are already electric vehicles with great performance and great range, competiting directly with petrol and diesel engines. The Tesla P100D is probably the best of them all, with 300+ miles range and 0-60 in under 2.5 seconds.
Therefore, imagine how far electric cars will go in the next 5 years, let alone 10, 15, 20 or 23 years.
What does this mean for Petrol and Diesel engines?
Unfortunately, the future for petrol and, especially, diesel, does not look bright.
The ban is not related to carbon emissions from engines but more to do with the air quality that is reducing in cities due to petrol and diesel engines. Both types of engines produce a very harmful type of gas, NOx, which is pretty harmful to humans when inhaled. Therefore, eliminating petrol and diesels should remove the harmful gases from being concentrated in cities and towns, improving the overall air quality that we breathe.
However, diesels produce far more NOx than petrols, which begs the question why petrol have been made to look as bad as diesels. For this reason, I could potentially see the government being more leniant on petrols in due course, since it is diesels that have been the worse offenders, especially after the Volkswagon diesel scandal.
Ultimately, I think we can all agree that we are heading to electric cars. Some are out now and, if you have the money, are affordable. But, for the mass, petrol and diesels are still the best financial option.
This ban has concurred with the direction the market is heading. But, to be honest, the ban won’t accelerate or work as a catalyst towards the electric cars dominantion to the automotive sector, since this should happen way before 2040.