With high fuel prices and island locations on the same warming planet as every other sovereign state, the United Kingdom could benefit enormously from electric cars.

Plug-in vehicles could not not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions and consumer "fuel" costs, but also moderate the health effects of air pollution created by a passenger fleet that's presently about half diesel vehicles with only primitive emission controls.

DON'T MISS: UK Official Says Encouraging Diesel Cars To Lower Carbon Was 'Wrong'

Now, researchers have calculated an estimate of the extent of the potential beneficial impact.

A new study claims large-scale electric-car adoption could cut U.K. oil imports by 40 percent, and save £1,000 ($1,495) in fuel costs per year per driver.

2014 BMW i3 in London

2014 BMW i3 in London

This would lead to a 47-percent reduction in carbon emissions, the study by Cambridge Econometrics found.

Commissioned by the European Climate Foundation, the study also found that emissions of nitrogen oxide and particulates could be essentially eliminated.

That would massively decrease cases of respiratory illness, potentially saving another billion pounds (about $1.4 billion) in healthcare costs.

SEE ALSO: U.K. Plug-In Electric Car Incentives: Why Haven't They Worked? (Oct 2013)

These emissions have become the focus of European politicians and the public recently, as groups try to challenge the decades-long dominance of diesel cars and improve air quality through stricter emissions standards.

However, these benefits can only be realized if electric cars are deployed on a large scale--and that's still a long way off, according to The Guardian (via Charged EVs).

Frazer-Nash Metrocab range-extended London taxi

Frazer-Nash Metrocab range-extended London taxi

The study's results assume there will be more than 6 million electric cars on U.K. roads by 2030--and 23 million by 2050.

It also assumes most of the energy used to charge these cars will come from renewable sources.

Right now, consumer interest in electric cars doesn't appear to be strong enough to support that level of growth.

A U.K. government survey from June 2014 found that only about 1 percent of drivers would consider a plug-in for their next car, and a December 2014 Automobile Association (AA) poll of 16,000 drivers returned similar results.

Nissan e-NV200 Taxi for London

Nissan e-NV200 Taxi for London

The national government offers buyers subsidies of about 5,000 pounds (roughly $7,400) for new electric-cars but, the government recently killed a big proposal to expand charging infrastructure.

The plan would have grown the number of U.K. charging stations from 703 in 2012 to 1.2 million by 2020.

Still, there is some evidence that consumer tastes may be starting to change.

In the same December 2014 AA poll, 84 percent of respondents listed fuel economy as one of their top criteria for a new car, while 55 percent cited low emissions.

Plug-in electric-car sales in the U.K. for 2014 were also four times higher than in 2013, with 25,000 claims submitted for government subsidies.


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