Figures released today show the huge task facing the electric car industry in the UK.
Environmental pressure group WWF-UK says that at least 1.7 million electric vehicles (EVs) will be needed by 2020 and 6.4 million by 2030 if the UK is to achieve its climate change targets.
The organisation's 'Electric avenues: driving home the case for electric vehicles' report shows that there needs to be a rapid increase in the vehicles now if the country is to reduce 80 per cent of carbon emissions by 2050.
The study suggests that the highest levels of EV uptake would lead to very significant reductions in UK fuel demand and equate to more than £5 billion a year in avoided oil imports, thereby representing a strong commercial as well as environmental argument.
WWF-UK says that the combination of extensive EV uptake, people driving less and improving internal combustion engine technologies could reduce UK fuel demand by 80 per cent and deliver a 75 per cent reduction in car emissions by 2030.
The organisation says that people have to play their part. David Norman, Director of Campaigns, WWF-UK, said: ''It is vital that people start consuming and travelling less to make a transition to a low-carbon economy and reduce our dependency on oil and emissions from cars.''
''Road transport accounts for 40 per cent of petroleum products consumed in the UK so a switch from conventional cars powered by petrol or diesel to EVs would have a much needed impact on reducing fuel demand.''
WWF-UK argues that Government subsidies and other incentives will be needed to help increase the number of EVs - a minimum of one in 17 cars by 2020 and one in six by 2030.
The organisation believes that such incentives are needed to tackle customers' concerns about the price of electric cars, their range and a lack of charging points.
WWF-UK says that it wants to see a world powered by 100 per cent renewable resources by 2050 and that EVs will generate only limited additional electricity demand if it is managed efficiently.