Switching to EV’s

If you’re a private car owner you may have been having the debate with yourself for some time now. Should you trade in your petrol vehicle and buy an EV instead? The environmental argument for it is there, plus there is a big push to expand EV charging infrastructure. But is it enough to get the wide spread adoption needed to meet emission targets?

In a recent poll 19% of respondents said they wanted to switch to EV’s while 24% said they’d prefer to go the route of a hybrid. Not quite what environmentalists want to hear but it’s certainly a big improvement on polls from 2 years ago where only 2% of responded indicated they would consider an EV for their next car purchase.

What’s causing the hesitation?

Initial reservations were related to battery lifespan and distances the vehicles would be able to cover. The distance concern is a bit of a moot point in reality as the average distance travelled by urban motorists is just 10 miles. But still, this has improved significantly in recent years with most EV’s able to comfortable travel 85 to 150 miles. Additionally improvements in battery technology has enabled booster charging for short periods of time and greater battery capacity. Then there was the argument of vehicle costs. Only a small percentage of the market can afford new vehicles and EV’s are still significantly more expensive than fuel vehicles. However, as the market matures, second hand EV’s are now becoming available at very affordable prices. This could provide an opportunity for greater adoption by people who want to go the EV route but who have been constrained by budget.

Slowly but surely the stumbling blocks for EV’s are being removed, and there are big plans afoot to improve EV infrastructure, but industry experts still have their concerns. Even based on current demand, there are not enough charging stations available in urban areas, never mind rural regions. The plans to stipulate that each home is to have it’s own EV charging unit are good in principle, however, four out of five London vehicle owners park on the street. They do not have a driveway or a garage so would be reliant on publically available charging infrastructure should they switch to EV’s. While some shopping centres have charging stations there aren’t nearly enough to meet current demand. Most people would have to drive at least 10 minutes to the closest charging station and then have to queue and wait while their vehicle charges. Not many people are likely to be willing to do that.

EV’s or nothing

What many people may not be aware of is that in the not too distant future they may not have much of a choice when it comes to switching to an EV. The government has set a target to outlaw the sale of petrol and diesel fueled vehicles by 2040. It’s a dramatic step to force motorists and businesses to start thinking about switching to EV’s sooner rather than later. Twenty years may seem a long time away, but when it comes to meeting emissions targets, it’s not soon enough. The EV law is part of the government’s target to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

Opportunities being created by EV’s

It goes without saying that the switch to EV’s is creating major opportunities for both the renewables and recycling industries. A greater reliance on batteries, coupled with a greater consciousness of environmental issues means there will be a responsibility to find more efficient ways of recycling batteries and related components. The good news is that as battery technology advances many of the improvements are made with longevity and recyclability in mind. Because recycling batteries remains a hazardous pursuit this creates a barrier for new market entrants, so there is great opportunity for existing operators to expand their operations.

Equally the increased demand for EV’s will generate greater demand for renewable power. As more wind and solar farms tie into the grid, it will help to grow the industry further. As one of the EV infrastructure challenges is rural charging availability, a solution may be to set up smaller EV charging stations in rural hubs that are powered by wind or solar, thereby broadening the EV charging network.

One thing is for certain, the switch to EV may be slow, but it will happen, and when it does it will require an infrastructure that is extensive and able to be supported by renewable energy. What do you see as the challenges and opportunities in rolling this out?