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Electric Cars

Can electric cars replace petrol and diesel vehicles in a new motoring revolution? That is what innovative companies and governments are hoping, as Peter Morgan reports.

There is a motoring revolution underway: the fast accelerating switch from petrol and diesel cars, to electric vehicles. In Norway, almost 40% of new car purchases are now fully electric or hybrids. Other countries are starting to catch up, and are setting ambitious targets. Britain wants to ban the sale of all petrol and diesel cars by 2040. Oxford wants to ban non-electric vehicles from parts of the city centre by 2020. Motor manufacturers are investing vast sums in the development of new electric models. Those who don't, risk being left behind.
And yet, as Peter Morgan reports, obstacles remain. Many drivers feel "range anxiety", the fear that the car battery will run out before they can recharge it. And electric cars are not cheap to buy.
But costs are coming down fast, batteries will soon last for hundreds of miles, and charge-points are being installed in more and more places. So much so, that there's a new land grab going on for market share. Start-ups are getting in on the act, and even big oil companies like Shell are branching out into this business.
Nevertheless, where will all the extra electricity come from? Will there be standardisation of the charging infrastructure, so drivers don't end up frustrated at a charge-point where their plug doesn't fit?
And while electric cars don't emit toxic fumes like nitrogen oxides, how much difference do they actually make to harmful particulates in the air?
Producer: Arlene Gregorius.

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