A NEW car has been spotted in our area, making the noise of a fighter jet. Yellower than a sherbet lemon, it gets children in its vicinity wildly excited. “Rev it, rev it!”, they chant, and the driver – the Rev – obliges. Birds vacate the trees, babies bawl and shopkeepers come out to see what’s causing the commotion. Followers of Jeremy Clarkson would immediately know what model this low-slung show-stopper is, but all I can tell you is that it ain’t electric.

There’s no way I could make our car roar. The best it can do is hum. When it switches from electric mode to petrol, there’s a brief growl, as if it’s reluctant to dip into the tank, but far from giving bystanders a fume-fuelled thrill, it is so quiet it’s more likely to run them down before they’ve even noticed us.

I’ve been driving a hybrid for several years now, but our most recent car is by far the most technically advanced. Once, I had to keep below 30 to stay electric; now, so long as it’s not climbing through the Grampians, we can be touching 60 and still use little more than power a toothbrush. It comes with an app that scores your skills as an e-driver, and offers advice. “Easy on the gas” is its dominant theme. That’s all very well, but on the M9, with an HGV in the rear view mirror, coaxing the accelerator as if it were a child faced with a plate of broccoli doesn’t feel like an option.

READ MORE: Let the church bells ring out

Hybrids are the LibDems of the eco-car movement, keeping a foot in both camps. The day is fast approaching, though, when I’ll have to take the plunge and go all-electric. It sounds, as David Cameron was wont to say, the right thing to do; whether it’ll be easy is another matter.

As part of the UK’s bid to become carbon neutral by 2050, the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles, including hybrids, is to be outlawed by 2030. I suspect this deadline might prove elastic, but nevertheless there’s a huge political drive to get us into a fuel-free mindset so we can be effortlessly rolled over this historic line into a fresher, healthier future.

Given the grim statistics of death and illness caused by air pollution, something certainly needs to change. The number of cars registered in the UK in the past 25 years has risen by over 40%. With almost 33 million on the road last year, if this rate of increase continues there could be 45 million before the middle of the century. Yet at the moment, despite the plethora of alluring adverts for all-electric Lexuses, BMWs, and other deluxe brands – utterly unaffordable for most of us – last year the UK had 667,519 hybrid electric cars. A further 194,000 were fully electric, and almost 10,000 others fell into the “range-extended electric” category, where a vehicle self-charges when it’s running low.

That’s not a lot, especially considering there are fewer than nine years in which to get us all to shift into a greener gear. Yet is it any surprise? Those who bought diesel cars at the urging of the government, who assured them it was the environmentally friendly option, now have little alternative but to drive them until their chassis has a prolapse. At the same time, cars are lasting longer, meaning people hold onto them for, on average, eight or more years. And so they should. After all, the green brigade is always reminding us that the most sustainable thing you can do is use what you own until it falls apart. No wonder the brave new world of clean electric vehicles is taking its time getting here.

So, by the time the sight of an old banger engulfed in exhaust fumes is as distant a memory as steam billowing from the Flying Scotsman, will we be enjoying a seamlessly efficient all-electric transport system? I have my doubts.

READ MORE: Trigger warnings on Romeo and Juliet? Whatever next!

For a start, public charging points are a nightmare. In the past month, e-motorists in Scotland have been frustrated by the number of out-of-service chargers. In Edinburgh last week, almost a third of its 18 free ChargePoint Scotland units didn’t work; in Aberdeen, only 22 of 31 were functioning. Worst of all, one day this network’s 64 points at a low carbon hub in Stirling failed, because it went offline.

Three years ago an author, making from Cumbria to the Wigtown Book Festival in her electric car, was left stranded because she could not recharge it. She arrived almost an hour late, and only after the festival sent an emergency car to collect her. Recently, the swimmer Lewis Smith commented: “there’s a whole world of anxiety not knowing if you are going to be able to drive somewhere…and get back again.” He had just driven miles between three charging units in Glasgow in search of a volt.

The so-called “range anxiety” caused by stories like this is the main reason most of us are dread relying entirely on electricity. Added to which, the capacity of the national grid to cope with a massive increase in fuel-less traffic has yet to be proven.

But there are other reasons to worry too. As petrol cars are phased out, there will be increasing pressure to install a home-charging point to avoid congested public hubs. Helpfully, the RAC has estimated that there are 18m households in a position to turn their garden into a forecourt. Yet ripping up green space and smothering it in concrete feels like committing a criminal act. If hundreds of thousands of acres are lost to plants and wildlife, how does that help the planet? It’s like going to the doctor and, after promising to give up alcohol, taking up smoking instead.

With a ticking clock hanging over everyone’s heads, it seems incredible – and indefensible – that our infrastructure and strategic planning remain in their infancy. When drivers of electric vehicles are in a more precarious and potentially dangerous position than gas-guzzlers; when trying to shrink our footprint risks a night sleeping behind the wheel, or asking to be towed to a garage, it gives powerless an entirely new meaning.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of the Herald.