LIKE it or not, we are all going to have to embrace electric vehicles in some shape or form from now on. It's a given.

COP26 has highlighted the fact that climate change is going to be a driver for the economy and of the conscience of everyone in the road to next zero. Farmers I suspect are sceptics of moves to change to electric vehicles in any way shape or form.

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However, with tough environmental audits seen as the way forward for the industry to rubber-stamp its green credentials in the run up to aiming for the Scottish Government's net zero carbon ratio by 2035, there is no reason why the industry should not embrace at least in part the switch to electric.

In fact, in all likelihood, supermarket contracts might actually demand it, or be so tight that it forces the change in any case.

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The stats show just how much the market is moving in this way. In 2021, new plug-in vehicle uptake rates have accelerated so rapidly that more will join Britain’s roads in 2021 than during the whole of the last decade, according to a forecast from SMMT.

A total of 271,962 new battery electric (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) were registered between 2010 and 2019. However, as the UK hosts the COP26 environmental summit, SMMT now expected Britain to break its plug-in records, forecasting that businesses and consumers will take up around 287,000 of the latest zero-emission capable cars during 2021 alone – around one in six new cars.

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Based on current forecasts, BEV registrations are also expected to exceed those of diesel by the end of 2022. Manufacturers have responded by making sure that more than a quarter of all car models available in the UK can now be plugged in.

Businesses – and that means farming business too – have been particularly incentivised to invest in plug-in cars thanks to a range of tax breaks and grants, meaning around two in every three new BEV registrations this year have been for fleets.

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Even more significant, however, is the need for turbocharged investment by both the public and private sector into the essential public charging infrastructure required by a growing plug-in market place. At the moment that is lacking, but for those fortunate enough to own some form of renewable energy, like a wind turbine or solar panels, it's probably a no brainer in terms of being able to 'top up' at home.

In this issue, we take a look at some of the better PHEV (plug-in hybrid vehicles) on the market and in the coming weeks, we'll look at 'pure' electric vehicles – and why there's less need to have range anxiety!

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AEV (All-electric vehicle) – also called BEV (Battery-electric vehicle) which runs on an electric motor only, using on-board batteries that you can plug in and recharge.

E-REV (Extended-range electric vehicle) – an AEV/BEV that has a range extender (usually a small internal combustion engine) to increase range.

Hybrid (conventional) – A vehicle with an electric motor and a full-sized internal combustion engine that uses regenerative braking to charge the motor.

PHEV (Plug-in hybrid vehicle) – These have both an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. As the name suggests, they can be plugged in to recharge onboard batteries.

MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent) – Is determined by seeing how far a vehicle can travel on 33.7kWh of energy, the equivalent energy in one gallon of petrol. Used for comparing fuel efficiency of EVs and conventionally-fuelled vehicles.