Air pollution has been one of the main talking points of 2019; with reports of major cities like Oxford, Manchester and Newcastle Upon Tyne going far beyond the legal limits for carbon emissions, it’s clear that something must be done to make our air safe and breathable. The UK government already has plans in place to introduce clean air zones in several major cities, as well as plans to ban the sale of all new petrol and diesel cars by 2040. There has been a clear increase in sales of electric vehicles in the UK over the past ten years, with new EV registrations reaching an all-time-high last year. With these figures expected to rise again in 2019, we take a look at how the EV market in the UK is progressing and how EV manufacturing has permanently changed the face of the automotive industry.
The demand for eco-friendly vehicles has seen several prominent car manufacturers adapt their current offerings. Jaguar and 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.
2018, Jaguar Land Rover revealed plans to open their flagship EV manufacturing factory in the UK, however, the decision has been plunged into uncertainty following Brexit. Asked in Paris whether the firm would build electric cars in Britain, CEO Ralph Speth commented that:
“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.”
In spite of the uncertainty, however, electric vehicle manufacturing looks set to continue making 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.
The manufacturer has also made significant improvements to its flagship electric model, the Nissan Leaf. The 2011 model had a range of just 75 miles, but progress in the industry has since taken huge leaps towards its new 235 mile range – progress that could be intrinsic to the future success of the model, and for the industry. Additionally, they also fitted the first one pedal driving system – an optional system that allows you to transform the accelerator into an e-pedal to function as a start, stop, accelerate and brake pedal.
One of the main concerns for electric vehicle owners on a global scale has been the lack of electric vehicle charging points, however, a recent surge in the amount of charging points being built, as well as related services such as EV charger installation could see this all change. 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.
Demand for electricity looks set to increase too. 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.
Another concern amongst car owners is the amount of time that eclectic vehicles take to reach a full charge. 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.
The boom in electric vehicle manufacturing has changed the face of the automotive industry for good. Drivers have realised the harmful effects of their petrol and diesel automobiles, and the government’s plans to introduce a number of zero-emissions zones in several major cities are underway. 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!