The Switch To Greener Vehicles: How The Electric Vehicle Industry Is Progressing In The UK

With the UK government recently outlining plans to ban all diesel and petrol cars by 2040, it is clear that consumers must start making the shift towards greener vehicles. Last year, Oxford city exceeded yearly quotas for nitrogen dioxide in under one month, outlining the need for targeted action on reducing emissions.

The electric vehicle industry has been booming in the UK over the past ten years, with new EV registrations reaching an all-time-high in 2018. Here, we explore how the electric vehicle industry will continue to progress in the UK and take a look at how the market will survive in the wake of Brexit uncertainty.

Progress for UK manufacturers

The consumer demand for greener vehicles has led manufacturers to adapt their current offerings. Jaguar Land Rover are late comers to the electric vehicle market, only recently introducing their first all-electric vehicle, the Jaguar I-Pace concept. But that hasn’t stopped them from pulling out all the stops to catch up, by announcing that they plan to be all electric by 2020 – a big step into the EV industry for new comers. This news followed Volvo’s pledge to do the same but by 2019. The prestige brand promises that all new models produced and registered from 2020 will be fully electric or hybrid – and that their customers will have more choice moving forward.

Of course, uncertainty over the outcome of Brexit has slowed this progress down somewhat. Although it was revealed last year that Jaguar Land Rover were making plans to open an EV manufacturing plant in the UK, the future of the decision now looks unclear.

Asked in Paris whether the firm would build electric cars in Britain, CEO Ralph Speth commented: “We haven’t made the decision because we don’t know at the end of the day the final conditions and we also see uncertainty resulting out of the Brexit discussions so we don’t know where we can do the investment best.”

Despite this, however, the electric vehicle industry looks set to continue its progress. Volvo plan to release their first standalone electric car in 2019. In addition, Nissan has sold thousands of electric models already. They are the brains behind the second most popular electric model in retail, and the bestselling all electric model in the UK, the Nissan Leaf – with over 30,500 units sold in the UK, and over 300,000 units worldwide. The new model has a battery mileage range that is double the range of its previous models. An issue that was apparent for all manufacturers, not just Nissan.

Rapid charge batteries

Whilst battery life is a concern for those looking into purchasing an electric vehicle, progress is being made. The new, quicker charging EV batteries take just 30 minutes using a rapid charge point. Researchers claim they could have developed an ‘instantly rechargeable’ method that recharges an electric battery in the same time as it would take to fill a gas tank – a solution to the biggest headache of electric vehicles. This would revolutionise the EV industry, as battery life and its charge has been the biggest challenge for the industry. The new method is said to use fluid electrolytes to re-energise battery fluids – reducing the need for new infrastructure to support further recharging solutions.

More charging points

A lack of charging points was one of the main concerns highlighted in a recent study on EV ownership. Data shows that there are 11,154 electric vehicle charging devices across 6,749 locations in the UK as of January 2019. However, if the popularity of EVs continues, we will need to continue to build more charging points to fill demand. And if we are to overcome the ongoing headache that is a full battery charging time of 8 hours, we will need an influx of rapid charging points which can charge up to 80% of an electric battery in just 30 minutes, as opposed to slower charge points. Thanks to a multi-million-pound deal with ChargePoint back in May 2017, InstaVolt are installing at least 3,000 rapid charging points across fuel station forecourts across the UK.

According to the National Grid, peak demand for electricity could increase by 50%, if and when the nation switches to electric vehicles – which could be sooner than we think now that a new pan-European EV charging network has been announced too. IONITY, set up by the BMW Group, Daimler, Ford, and the VW Group with Audi and Porsche, launched the network early November 2017, and plans to work on 20 ultra-rapid charging points has already begun as they target for 400 points across Europe by 2020. 2018 is forecast to see the network expand across more than 100 locations with the intentions of making long distance EV travel easier.

It is predicted that as the deadline for the phasing out of petrol and diesel cars approaches, electric vehicles will continue to increase in popularity. If manufacturers can truly cut down the time it takes to recharge the battery, and develop batteries that can travel further, the industry could be revolutionised and experience an influx of drivers wanting to get their hands on an EV!