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This week's official demise of leaded petrol has emboldened environmentalists to demand that all fossil fuels should be kicked out with equal finality. But as fast as scientists create cleaner automotive energy, other, previously unconsidered, obstacles keep getting in the way.

A UK think-tank, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, warned this week of a £260bn (R5-trillion) shortfall in tax revenue by 2040 if the government's plan to ban petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 is successful. That is because owners of electric vehicles (EVs) are exempt from many of the duties imposed on other vehicles. According to the report, an average motorist contributes about £1,100 a year in fuel and excise duties. An EV owner pays about £20...

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