The drive towards a growing UK car parc of electric vehicles is gathering momentum by the day, particularly with last month’s Queen’s Speech in which the government reinforced its determination to develop the electric and hydrogen-powered vehicle sector (see News Extra, page 10).

But also with the regular announcements by motor manufacturers who appear to be totally focused on electric vehicle technology. Volvo Cars, for example, has just announced that every Volvo-branded vehicle it launches from 2019 will have an electric motor, and it is placing electrification at the core of its future business. Then there are those announcements about record sales of alternatively fuelled new cars, up zillions of per cent over the previous year (until you look more closely at the figures and find that they only account for 4.4% of overall new car sales).

Now I have to confess to always being a bit cynical about the role of electric vehicles in easing the world’s environmental issues, which is surely the ’driving’ force behind such moves. After all, currently as I understand it (please correct me if I’m wrong), most electricity comes from power stations, which use heat energy from burning coal to turn the turbines. And what about those batteries classed as ’hazardous waste’. What becomes of them at the end of their useful life?

But then I saw a programme recently about driverless or ’autonomous’ cars, which not so long ago seemed like a totally ridiculous idea. However, if you believe motor manufacturers, they’re ’just around the corner’. The research and development is continuing at speed, with the role of the driver diminishing in stages, and the first real landmark apparently scheduled for 2018 with ’hands-off’ driving on motorways.

These companies favour electric vehicles for the development of such technology, so while it might take a few years, it seems we’re ’charging’ into an electric future.

In the medium term this is good news for the forecourt sector, which is seen as having a pivotal role in accommodating the growth of the electric vehicle-driving population.

Time to get plugged-in?