From charging innovations to rival collaborations: 7 ways the EV revolution is accelerating in 2019
Despite the UK Government having recently dismissed calls to bring its 2040 ban on petrol and diesel car sales forward, the electric vehicle (EV) transition shows no signs of abating. Here, edie rounds up seven sustainable transport success stories of the year so far...
Some may argue that the start of the new year signalled the start of a difficult period for the low-carbon transport transition, with the Trump Administration moving to halve the grant available under the US-wide EV tax credits scheme and the UK Government refusing to move its ban on the sale of new petrol cars forward, despite calls from MPs and green campaign groups.
Such moves, compounded by concerns over the potential economic impacts of Brexit, stand in contrast to several strong years of progress for the British EV market.
Indeed, the UK’s EV stock almost doubled each year between 2011 and 2017, with figures growing at a compound annual growth rate of 89% during this six-year period. The period of 2016-2017 marked a particular boon for the sector, with the number of EVs registered in the UK rising by 50% and many sustainability professionals dubbing the 12-month period the ‘year of the EV’.
Despite political barriers and economic concerns, several stories proving that this trajectory is likely to continue throughout 2019 have landed on the edie newsdesk this month. Here are just seven of the biggest EV announcements this month.
1) The momentum is with us: 2018 was reportedly the 'most successful year ever' for UK's EV market
Yes, recent research from pro-EV campaign group Go Ultra Low found that the UK’s EV market grew by a record-breaking 19% in 2018, with one EV being registered every nine minutes.
The research draws on the latest official Government figures, revealing that the uptake of EVs grew at a similar rate between the UK’s business and domestic car users throughout 2018.
It predicts that this trajectory is likely to continue into 2019, as the measures detailed in the Government’s Road to Zero Strategy are rolled out. The introduction of the Ultra Low Emission Zone scheme in London is likely to spur further progress, Go Ultra Low has claimed.
2) EVs will reach price-parity with diesel by 2022, according to another report
Pure electric vehicles are expected to become as cheap to own and operate as their petrol and diesel equivalents on a worldwide basis by as early as 2022, new research from Deloitte concluded this month.
The professional services giant’s EV forecast predicts that four million new EVs will be registered across the world next year – double the amount sold in 2018 – and that annual global EV sales will surpass 12 million by 2025 and 21 million by 2030.
This trend, according to Deloitte, will be spurred by continual reductions in the costs of EVs themselves, as well as the costs associated with infrastructure and charging. At the same time, the research concludes, governments and cities are likely to continue offering financial incentives for consumers looking to more polluting vehicles.
In the UK specifically, the “tipping point” in the EV transition is expected to come in 2021, largely due to an upcoming £3,500 grant scheme aimed at domestic EV buyers, the forecast claims.
3) Energy giant BP has just invested in a Chinese EV charging firm
In the latest sign of the oil and gas sector shifting away from traditional, high-carbon products and services, BP confirmed last week that it had invested in PowerShare, a Chinese firm which produces hardware and software for EV charging.
PowerShare’s most popular offering is an online platform which connects EV drivers, charge point operators and power suppliers. The cloud-based system, called Series A Round, has been designed to simplify the charging experience and ensure EV owners can charge easily while in public.
BP said in a statement that its investment in PowerShare “demonstrates its continued intent to provide charging solutions and advanced mobility offers to Chinese consumers, both on and off forecourts.”
The move forms part of the oil firm’s low-carbon strategy, which outlines plans to generate reductions of 3.5m tonnes of CO2 equivalent annually throughout its businesses by 2025. It has already purchased the UK’s largest public EV charging network as part of this framework.
4) VW is entering the energy supply market through a new charging and renewable energy firm
In one of the latest signs of the automotive sector’s shift towards electric products, German carmaker Volkswagen (VW) recently announced the creation of a new company that will focus on charging solutions and renewable energy offerings.
The firm, called Elli Group, will offer customers 100% carbon-neutral energy “offerings” - from renewable sources to be used to power EVs and stored in a variety of charging, to energy storage solutions.
These services and products will complement VW’s existing creating a portfolio of power tariffs, charging stations and stationary and mobile storage solutions, with a view that they will increase the appetite for its EV models. The company is striving to offer one electric version of each of its models by 2030.
5) Ford and VW have forged a new partnership to spur the low-carbon transport transition
In another EV success story, VW also announced this month that it will partner with Ford to develop zero-emissions pickup trucks and other low-carbon transport technologies.
The collaborative agreement will initially see the two firms jointly develop a range of commercial vans and medium-sized pickup trucks, which will be launched across all of Ford and VW’s global markets in 2022.
Once this project is complete, the two companies will "investigate collaboration on autonomous vehicles, mobility services and further EVs". The carmakers have both started to explore opportunities in these three fields on a standalone basis.
6) Toyota and Panasonic have also teamed up, to develop EV batteries
Because concerns about how corporates can minimise the environmental impact of sourcing the metals they will need to produce new batteries are beginning to mount as EV uptake rises, Toyota and Panasonic have forged a partnership to develop more sustainable EV batteries.
The two firms confirmed last week that they will establish a joint venture focused on prism-shaped lithium-ion batteries by the end of 2020.
Research and development will focus specifically on some of the most commonly cited barriers to EV adoption, including battery range, charge time and safety. Battery recyclability and closed-loop systems will also be a key priority.
New batteries developed under the joint venture will be sold through Panasonic to Mazda and Toyota subsidiaries Daihatsu Motor and Subaru, as well as Toyota itself, by the end of 2020.
7) And there's a demand: Two in five Brits are now considering buying an EV, a survey has found
After quizzing 2,000 UK motorists to garner their views on sustainable transport last October, renewable energy utility firm Pure Planet this week unveiled the findings.
More than two-fifths (43%) of respondents said they were considering – or were happy to consider – buying an EV for their next car. Overall, one in five respondents said they were “more likely” to consider EV ownership than they were in 2017.
The poll also asked people what factors would be most likely to persuade them to make the switch, with lower upfront costs being the most commonly-cited issue, followed by range and the availability of public charging points.
Pure Planet claims that these concerns are likely to lessen in the coming months, as technology prices come down and capabilities improve.