With more electric cars than diesels expected on Capital’s streets by 2020 is Edinburgh ready for the electric boom?

New car electric charging stations installed in the car park at FountainPark.
New car electric charging stations installed in the car park at FountainPark.
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MORE electric than diesel cars will be driven on Capital streets by the summer of 2020 at current sale rates, new research reveals.

MORE electric than diesel cars will be driven on Capital streets by the summer of 2020 at current sale rates, new research reveals.

And more than half of drivers surveyed say they are now less likely to buy a diesel car than they would have been five years ago.

But despite millions of pounds worth of investment in infrastructure, concerns remain as to whether Edinburgh is ready for the electric revolution.

A survey by Manchester-based Leasing Options found half of people would like to help the environment by switching to an electric car.

The company’s report, Death to Diesel, came up with a forecast based on analysis of trends revealed in Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) sales data.

Sales of diesel cars have slumped following the VW emission scandal last year and the government announcement that they will be banned by 2040.

The German car manufacturer caused global outrage after it was found to have cheated US emissions tests with its diesel engines.

Japanese giants Nissan and Toyota, meanwhile, have vowed to begin phasing out diesel cars from 2021.

Latest data from the SMMT showed that diesel sales have fallen by more than a third (37.2 percent) over the last year – leading to speculation the end could be near for the fuel type.

Simultaneously, Westminster is introducing policies to support the growth of the Alternative Fuel Vehicles (AFVs) market, with sales of electric cars increasing by 5.7 per cent last year.

Car leasing company Leasing Options commissioned the research after seeing an increase in interest in electric cars.

They also surveyed 2,000 drivers to find out more about people’s attitudes to electric and diesel cars.

The survey also found that nearly three-quarters (74 per cent) of drivers worry about finding charging points.

Drivers of electric cars in Edinburgh have reported combing the city for charge points with many out of order or vandalised.

Owners of electric cars can sign up to the free-to-join Holyrood and city council ChargePlace Scotland scheme.

The city council runs charge points at 16 sites across the city, with enough space for 40 cars at any one time.

It also runs charge points at 13 sites just for council staff – providing a further 22 parking spaces.

Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, said: “Encouraging the use of sustainable, low emission transport is of utmost importance to the council and the promotion of electric vehicles will be part of this.”

Edinburgh is already home to 8.4 per cent of all of Scotland’s licensed plug-in vehicles while the council aims to unveil an electric car strategy in the autumn.

“Our work in this area will complement a range of projects designed to promote cleaner, greener travel, from an emissions-related pricing for residents’ permits to the forthcoming implementation of a Low Emission Zone, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact on our health and wellbeing in the years to come,” said Cllr Macinnes.

The 40 car charge points for public use in Edinburgh have been paid for by the Scottish Government.

Since 2012, the SNP administration has invested £15 million in the development of public car charge points across the country.

In the current financial year, a further £15m has been allocated to increase the numbers further.

But Graeme Robertson, 53, owner of Clan Garage on Roseburn Street, Murrayfield, has yet to see any drastic drop-off in diesel cars.

“People tend to stick with them because of their reliability and economy. When they’re older and they trade them in, they might change then. People like their car and so they tend to keep hold of them. If the car has started to get on a wee bit, I’ll tell them they might be better off putting their money elsewhere.”

Future is electric as technology heralds new age of travel

Writing exclusively for the Evening News, Barry Carruthers, Head of Innovation at ScottishPower, gave his take on the rise of the electric car.

“There’s no doubt the electric vehicle revolution is gathering pace and for those in the energy industry today’s analysis of trends comes as no real surprise,” said Mr Carruthers.

“As an energy supplier, we’ve already made huge improvements in how clean our energy is. Scotland is already coal-free and by delivering renewable power via our onshore windfarms, including the UK’s biggest at Whitelee on the outskirts of Glasgow – there is a massive opportunity to support cleaner transport through electric cars and buses too.

“But ensuring we can support this shift in behaviour is key. For years people have been encouraged to use less electricity yet projections show as we move further towards clean green power, we’ll be asking people to using more – but in a sustainable way.”

Mr Carruthers drew on personal experience in lending his support to the age of electric.

“My family car is electric, I know first-hand that the barriers are not as big as perceived. On average, more than 90 per cent of our journeys are less than 25 miles and our car is parked 90 per cent of the time – outside work, the train station, the shops or at home.

“We only top-up our battery charge once or twice a week and often away from home. I use

the ScottishPower app when I need to find the nearest charger to my location so I’ve never experienced so-called ‘range anxiety’ – only ‘range awareness’.

“At home, my smart meter keeps me informed and via my mobile device, I’m always in control.

“The future is more than just transport however; it’s about having ‘smart homes’ with technology supporting our daily lives wherever we are, all underpinned by cleaner greener power.

“Electric vehicles are just the beginning.”