A surprise announcement by Volvo last week seems to have marked the end of the road for the combustion engine.
All of its new models will feature some form of electric propulsion by 2019.
Previously synonymous with square, reliable estate cars capable of being run into the ground, the brand has been gradually turning a corner.
The announcement saw a noticeable shift, with a huge spike in interest in Volvo and electric vehicles, marking a new era for the brand as much as the wider industry.
So will electric vehicles join the fast lane quicker than we thought?
Volvo’s news came the same week we expected to see the first Tesla Model 3 off the production line, marking a similarly big week for Tesla, with claims that it will be able to drive at least 215 miles on a single charge and come in at its most affordable price yet: $35,000.
Other manufacturers are making a race for the lucrative hybrid and electric vehicle market, with Mercedes-Benz recently committing to 10 new electric vehicles by 2020 and Renault focusing on the affordable end of the market.
But while manufacturers are making commitments to match consumer demand and deliver choice, and registrations of electric vehicles were up 17% in the first quarter of 2017 compared to the previous year, we still have a bumpy road ahead to true mass adoption.
Critical to success will be how quickly the supporting infrastructure can be in place to ensure the experience matches the hype.
In the Queen’s speech last month the government outlined its new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill.
The bill marked the government’s commitment to encouraging the use of electric and self-driving cars, calling for more electric charging points at motorway services and petrol stations around the country with a new ambition:
‘Almost every car and van to be zero-emission by 2050’.
This is an essential next step. Advances in technology are allowing the new Tesla 3 to accelerate to 60mph in under six seconds and helping Volvo realise its vision of a world where a combustion engine takes second place to electric propulsion. But those advances are outpacing our ability to support this potentially life-changing innovation.
These incredible developments really need to be met by a similar enthusiasm to bring them to reality – with the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill we might just be starting to see that come through.
Let’s hope we can keep the pace up.
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