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The Future is Electric: Is the UK ready for electric vehicles?

 

Following the government announcement on a ban on all petrol and diesel car sales from 2040, the debate around the future of electric vehicles (EV) in the UK and the work that needs to be done around infrastructure is heating up. Is the country ready for the electric future? And if so, what will the future look like?

As part of efforts to tackle air pollution and climate change, governments around the world are introducing bold initiatives. Both the UK and France have committed to stop sales of all petrol and diesel cars by 2040. China is also aggressively pushing new energy vehicles by introducing a system of steadily increasing quotas that will reward carmakers for producing ever more battery-powered vehicles starting in 2019. China currently dominates the global EV market in terms of manufacturing and ownership, with more than 1.8 million electric vehicle owners and drivers. This is more than half the global total, with more than 3 million electric vehicles on the roads around the world.

In 2017, the UK EV market had a record year, averaging over 4,000 new registrations per month – compared to just 3,500 new registrations over the entire year in 2013, signifying a huge spike in demand.

Meanwhile, car manufacturers are also jumping on the EV bandwagon. For example, Volvo has announced that they will produce only electric or hybrid vehicles from 2019. While BMW-owned Mini will also start the production of its electric version in the UK from 2019.

Although EV’s still only make up a fraction of the total car fleet in the UK, the shift to battery-powered vehicles is clearly picking up speed and momentum. That’s why the debate has evolved from ‘if’ to ‘when’ this green revolution will spill onto the roads and whether the country will be ready for this seismic change.

The problems that come with electric vehicles

One aspect that has been particularly targeted by EV critics is the lack of charging points across the country. While there are only around 100,000 electric vehicles on the UK roads at the moment, the rapid increase in EV popularity is making many drivers and policy makers nervous. Half of households in the UK don’t have off road parking, which makes charging a vehicle at home a very impractical task and calls for alternative solutions.

Some of the most popular potential charging solutions include installing charging points across fuel station forecourts as well as investing in ‘flash battery’ technology.

In response to the growing demand for easier-to-find charging stations, the EV charging infrastructure in the UK has experienced a rapid expansion over the last year. More than 20 companies and organisations are currently at work installing and running nationwide or regional car charging networks. Meanwhile, some researchers are doubling down on developing an ‘instantly rechargeable’ battery that would allow cars to run for long distances from as little as a five-minute charge.

Although no one can confidently say how quickly the battery technology will advance over the next few years, one thing is becoming more and more apparent as we begin embracing clean energy on a mass scale: smart batteries will play a key role in the energy grid of the future. And while there are many questions that remain unanswered about the future of EV market in the UK, we know for certain that the environmental and health concerns as well as increasing fuel prices will propel the growth of this industry and the general uptake of battery-powered technology.

EV News Daily

On July 21st, Chris Wright, our Chief Technology Officer sat down with Martyn Lee from the EV News Daily podcast to talk about Moixa, EVs, V2G and the future of renewable energy in the UK, if you would like to have a listen you can do so here.