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What Car Should I Buy? Tonight

What Car Should I Buy? is on ITV at 7.30pm Photo: ITV / Tonight

The car industry is changing and fast. The government has said that by 2040 cars that run purely on petrol or diesel will no longer be sold in this country.

Diesel sales have fallen rapidly in recent years and increasingly electric and hybrid options are becoming available. New figures show that sales of electric vehicles reached a record high in August, now accounting for one in every 12 new cars purchased in the UK.

Many of us have been left asking the question: what car should I buy? Tonight Ginny Buckley explores the conundrum facing car buyers.

WATCH VIDEO: Electric Cars - Fact or Fiction?

Leeds is one of five cities that have been tasked by the government to introduce a Clean Air Zone to tackle pollution levels. They are considering charging older commercial diesel vehicles a daily fee to enter the city centre, along with all diesel and petrol taxis. Earlier this week the boroughs of Hackney and Islington in London both launched Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle (ULEV) Streets, which prohibit petrol or diesel cars altogether at certain times of day.

The National Grid are preparing to cope with growth in the popularity of electric cars. They say that plans are in place to ensure that home charging is staggered while we sleep, to ensure that even if every single car on the road was fully electric, we aren’t going to run out of electricity.

Actor and advocate of electric vehicles Robert Llewellyn describes how developing ‘Vehicle to Grid’ technology could transform the way we use energy.

Robert Llewelyn Credit: ITV / Tonight

You can run your house at peak electricity cost times from your car and then charge your car when electricity's really cheap at night.”

– Robert Llewellyn

But what is it really like to live with an electric or hybrid car right now? Tonight tasked Mark and Di to replace their diesel car with an electric car for a week.

Mark and Diana Credit: ITV / Tonight

Despite describing the car itself as fantastic, Mark and Di faced time consuming difficulties with public charging points. They took a trip from their home in Yorkshire to London, and when they tried to charge up en route the first three chargers they tried were either broken, too slow or required a pre-paid card only. At one point they had only five miles left on the clock, giving the couple first hand experience of what is known as ‘range anxiety.’

A journey that should have taken just over three hours ended up taking six and a half. They are not alone in thinking that the charging infrastructure in our country needs to progress.

Gareth Dunsmore Credit: ITV / Tonight

Other countries are investing heavily in infrastructure and I think there is a lot we can learn from our European cousins”

– Gareth Dunsmore, Electric Vehicle Director, Nissan Europe

Electric and Plug In Hybrid cars can be charged at public charging points, or at your own home. But a third of houses in England don’t have access to off-street parking. In 2016, the government allocated £6 million to a scheme where local councils can apply for funding for residential on-street charging points.

Kensington and Chelsea council are one of the local authorities that have signed up to the scheme. They are converting council lamp posts into charging points for residents. In the programme, Ginny Buckley visits Kensington to try out a lamp post charging point first hand. Residents can join the charging scheme by purchasing a cable, which has an inbuilt meter allowing them to plug into any of the Council’s lamp post chargers, 24 hours a day. Charging at lamp posts is being rolled out in 12 London boroughs.

Only 24 councils have so far applied for funding from the government's On-Street Residential Charge point Scheme. Geographically, out of these councils:

  • 14 are in the South
  • Three are in the North
  • Three are in the Midlands
  • Three are in Scotland
  • One is in Wales

Tonight issued a Freedom of Information request to all local authorities to find out more about how councils are approaching charging infrastructure to residents.

We asked each council whether they have plans to apply for the government’s On Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme? Out of the 257 that responded:

  • Only 7% had applied already
  • 17% are planning to apply
  • 51% have no current plans to apply
  • 25% were unable to confirm whether they plan to apply

We asked responding councils who have already applied for the scheme for details of how much money they have been granted, and how much progress has been made. The responses confirmed that a total of at least £1,709,597 of government money has been granted to councils through the scheme, and at least 69 on street charging points have so far been installed through the scheme.

Tonight also asked all councils who have not applied for the scheme whether they have any plans to install any residential on street charging points in the future at all. Out of the 257 councils:

  • 28% do have plans to install residential on street charging points
  • 40% do not have any current plans to install residential on street charging points
  • 25% were unsure or unable to confirm

Our FOI results also show that the total number of residential on street charging points installed by local authorities that responded (both through the scheme and not) is 1,265.

We asked all local authorities how many residential on street charging points they plan to have installed by 2020. The results show that councils plan to have installed a total of at least 4163 charging points by 2020, but this is based on the responses of only 19% of the councils, as 81% of the councils were unable to provide a number.

What Car Should I Buy? is on ITV this evening at 7.30pm.

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