Last week the UK Government moved forward its plan to ban new petrol and diesel vehicle sales by a decade to 2030. In a series of quick read articles, Deeper Blue takes a brief look at the landscape surrounding our transition to EV.

This article sets the scene with a high-level look at some of the key challenges and how the industry is working to create the solutions.

At Deeper Blue, we work closely with automotive manufacturers both in the UK and globally every day. We established some time ago that electrification is the single biggest subject keeping the industry awake at night. Following the ICE ban announcement, representatives of the automotive industry have justifiably raised concerns about the ability of suppliers to adapt to this significant legislative change in such a limited amount of time.

Whilst a large number of European states are also planning a ban on the sale of non-electric vehicles, the announcement by the UK Government represents a shifting of the goalposts for manufacturers by 10 years.

The Inside View

Although many share the government’s ambition to decarbonise road vehicles, it is evident that the proposed legislation “sets an immense challenge”, according to Mike Hawes, CEO of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Mr Hawes has also stated that “Outright bans risk undermining the current market for new cars and our sector”, advocating government incentives for consumers to purchase new EV’s, rather than disincentivising the sale of petrol and diesel cars. Vice chair of European technology-led battery producer InoBat, Dr Andrew Palmer similarly raised the argument. Whilst the bid for net-zero emissions is a cause worth pursuing, “Governments’ should define the problem and let engineers innovate the solution”.

Further institutional and infrastructural hurdles may serve to hamper the government’s attempt to phase out non-electric vehicles. The Institute of the Motor Industry recently stated that approximately 5% of all mechanics in the UK are adequately trained to work on electric cars, significantly limiting service options for EV owners.

The Infrastructure

The relative lack of EV charging points across the UK and mainland Europe also poses a barrier to the transition. Many nations such as Denmark, Belgium, and Finland have invested heavily in EV infrastructure, as well as providing incentives and subsidies for EV charging points. It is apparent, however, that much more remains to be done if these nations are expecting to meet the forecast 1000 – 2000% increase in EV’s on the road by 2030.

Companies across the globe have been putting forward their solutions to the electrification challenge, with most fuel stations across Europe now offering EV charging points. The UK’s first all-electric charging station due to open later this year and many local authorities have begun to introduce on-street charging points. Innovation is leading the change too and with ideas such as the conversion of lamp posts into EV charging points already proving popular in cities such as London.

Organisations such as Electrify America are setting a strong precedent for others to follow. They have been responsible for the construction of over 650 charging stations, and 2300 individual charging points across the United States. Governments across the globe are looking for industry to lead the charge (excuse the pun) and propose the solutions that will support the transition to EV. Electrify America CEO, Giovanni Palazzo, believes that the key to this is collaboration. ‘The success of EV is based on successful partnerships being developed between software companies, local and state government, utility companies, hardware suppliers, automotive manufacturers and customers.”

The Customer

Representatives of the EV industry have also seen the Government’s commitment to ending the sale of ICE vehicles as a positive step forward in encouraging consumers to go green. As Jamie Hamilton, head of Deloitte’s EV department, stated “This show of commitment to EV’s should help convince consumers that it is worth investing in the technology ahead of the 2030 deadline”.

One of the major challenges for consumers has always been affordability (to covered in more detail in future posts). Whilst there are substantial savings once the car has been purchased, the initial outlay is still high. The extension to the Government’s Plug-in Car Grant (up to £3,000) will certainly help and manufacturers are working hard to offer customers affordable options both in terms of vehicle choice and ownership models.

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