The Government's decision to require all cars sold after 2040 to be plug-in hybrids with a minimum 50-mile electric range strikes us at Autocar as a bold move in the direction of clarity and sets a standard that the industry has decent prospects of achieving.
The standard is stringent enough to make a real difference to CO2 outputs (toxic emissions are already mostly defeated), yet it's not so far in advance of what the best performers in the green car business are already achieving. Toyota's Plug-in Prius, for example, can already go 30 miles on a fully charged battery. With 20 years of battery development and some perfectly plausible size and weight cuts, Toyota might hope to double that. Perhaps treble it.
There will be complaints from the car industry, because this undoubtedly cuts across programmes on which they may have spent millions. And, again, they have not been consulted. But what pleases us is that we reckon this basic recipe for a plug-in hybrid with a 50-mile range need not spoil cars as we know them.
We can easily see a lighter, slightly smaller, composite BMW M3 in our mind's eye. The new electric propulsion is bound to give a car an even crisper step-off to provide extra regenerative braking and to save fuel, and whose price is absolutely bound to rise.
Our view? This isn't perfect but it could have been a lot worse. It's quite likely that, from a driving point of view, the cars of 2040 might now be even than we were expecting them to be.