As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Australia’s Best New Car News, Reviews and Buying Advice

Should Petrol Cars be Banned?

Should petrol cars be banned?

The UK’s Liberal Democrats have recently proposed that petrol and diesel cars be banned from the country’s roads by 2040. The idea that any nation could be using vehicles fuelled by alternative fuels by 2040 seems like a very remote possibility and Australia is no exception. As of 2011, there were almost 12.5 million passenger cars, with New South Wales and Victoria making up around two thirds of that figure. The environmental necessity of replacing these vehicles has seen many potential solutions offered, from the sensible (better public transport) to the weird (dolphin-shaped cars) so we asked ourselves the following questions: what are the possible alternatives to petrol and diesel cars; and will they be any better for the environment?

Electric Cars

The electric car has some way to go if it is ever to usurp the petrol car. But Evans Electric in Australia has come close to perfecting the electric car. The problem with the idea of running on electric cars is that recharging batteries the raft of batteries will be so much more time-consuming than just filling up at the pump. Evans Electric has designed more energy efficient in-wheel engines which bypasses the need for gears and transmission and deploys energy into each wheel as required. They also generate a nifty 800-horsepower and 1250nm of torque.

electric car

Ammonia Engines

New Scientist recently published an article discussing whether ammonia is the future of clean fuel? When burned it produces nothing but water and nitrogen, the most prevalent gas in the atmosphere. However, production of ammonia itself is highly energy-intensive to produce and involves burning a fossil fuel to produce the hydrogen necessary to react with nitrogen. It accounts for the somewhere between 2 and 3 per cent of the world’s energy budget. Ammonia has been used as a fuel during World War II and as one component fuel of the X-15 supersonic aircraft, however it is much less powerful than petrol or diesel and would not work in standard, Otto cycle engines on the market.

More hybrids

This is a much more realistic vision of the future. As if to quash the dreams of the Liberal Democrat party, Exxon Mobil, the world’s richest company, has predicted that by 2040 half of all new cars will be hybrids. The batteries for hybrids, much like for full-on electric cars, add a significant amount of weight to the cars. This is where the experts come in: nine European manufacturers are developing energy-storing body panels which will charge faster than conventional batteries and reduced the weight of car by around 15%. Toyota is also researching body panels that would harness solar energy and store it.

The big question is what will happen to all the current vehicles if petrol is banned in the future. Will governments have to subsidise the retrofitting of electric or ammonia engines to petrol cars? And unless these measures were employed in China and the US it’s doubtful we’d see a dramatic change in the environmental impact of motoring. For now we’ll just have to make do with our petrol cars.