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Accelerating the Electric Vehicle Transition

With Government plans to end the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040 now confirmed, Green Technologies and Services advisor Jack Smith attended the EV Infrastructure Summit in London to find out latest developments on the electric vehicles industry in the UK.

What is the current situation?

In the UK today there are around 162,000 plug-in cars (and 5,500 plug-in vans). The move to electric vehicles (EVs) will impact not just vehicle manufacturers but the power sector, cities, local authorities, businesses with parking spaces and housing developments. An effective roll-out of charging infrastructure across the UK will be crucial to the economy over coming years.

This growth is a result of continued government and private investment via the plug-in grant scheme, which allows up £4,500 off the price of a new 100% electric car. There are also infrastructure grant schemes that contribute 75% towards the cost of installing electric vehicle charge points at domestic or work locations. These initiatives have boosted the network of EV charging points from a few hundred in 2011, to more than 17,000 at 6,000 locations across the UK.

What are the market drivers?

The government has confirmed its ambition to see at least half of new cars to be ultra low emission by 2030 in its recently published Road to Zero Strategy. Headline measures include:

  • Continuing the plug-in car grant until “at least 2020” and maintaining the 75% contribution to the cost of installing charge points domestically
  • Raising the Workplace Charging Scheme from £300 per point to 75% of the purchase and installation of each point up to maximum of £500
  • £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund to accelerate the roll-out of charging infrastructure by providing access to finance to companies that deliver charge points
  • Mandating motorway services and large petrol retailers to install charge points via The Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill
  • Future proofing planning laws to ensure all new homes built in the UK are “electric vehicle-ready”
  • All new street lighting columns to include vehicle charge points to strengthen on-street charging solutions
  • £40 million for a research and development programme to develop and trial “innovative, low cost” wireless charging technologies

What are the barriers?

Consumer adoption will be key, yet thereare barriers that need to be addressed. Nick King, Market Research and Insight Director at Autotrader. shed light on a recent user survey regarding EVs carried out by the online automotive marketplace. Infrastructure was highlighted as one the main barriers to buying an EV - 54% of those surveyed said they wouldn’t buy an EV because of the lack of infrastructure. With the average UK journey totalling eight miles, the lower costs of a fully-charged

EV against a full tank of fuel, and the ever-growing charge point network, there is an obvious need for further education to alleviate the anxieties and normalise the use of EVs.

What are the opportunities?

National Grid’s strategy and corporate development lead for EVs gave a pessimistic view that the EV charging market is “unlikely to deliver” the charging infrastructure needed to meet the predicated take-up of vehicles.

The understanding of the Transmission Operator is that 15,000 public charge points would be needed by 2030, at an installation rate of two and a half times faster than today. However, the imminent Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund is likely to support such projects, allowing 350Kw charge points to be installed at motor service stations enable drivers to charge instantly from 10% to 80% in five minutes, alleviating so-called “range anxiety”.

UK Power Networks’ Head of Innovation, Ian Cameron, believed 70% of charging would happen at home, creating clusters of electric car users within neighbourhoods. Along with the intention that “all new homes, where appropriate, should have a charge point available” (as set out in the Road to Zero strategy) this creates opportunities for smart charging, where energy suppliers can incentivise car owners to opt into a programme that allows the supplier to curtail charging when energy demand is particularly high. The car owner would receive financial reward from the supplier for their support.

How can the Hub help you capitalise on growing Electric Vehicle market?

GC Business Growth Hub has a team of Green Tech and Services experts who can help provide specialist, tailored advice if your company is operating within or wants to diversify into the electric vehicle infrastructure industry.

The Hub offers a range of specialist environmental services including eco-innovation, energy efficiency and low carbon sector support. Just Enquire and Grow to get started.

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