Electric Vehicles or EVs have got off to a fast start and the pace of change and evolving trends continues in this rapidly changing landscape.
A huge catalyst is that petrol and diesel cars will be banned in the UK from 2030 with hybrids outlawed from 2035. Britain has a legal obligation to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050.
So, what does this mean in 2022 for the UK motorist and what changes will appear this year on the Electric Vehicle horizon?
1. There are going to be a lot more EVs on the road
Finally, the shift in public perception towards EVs is changing with a constantly improving public recharging network, UK drivers are starting to have greater confidence in the range of these vehicles.
There are now over 395,000 pure electric cars on the UK’s roads and in excess of 740,000 plug-in cars, that’s EV and PHEV (Plug-in hybrid) compared with a mere 3,500 in 2013.
2. UK motorists will have more models to choose from
Not a day goes by without yet another motor manufacturer announcing when its fleet will be all electric. Jaguar plans to sell only electric cars from 2025, Volvo from 2030 and Lotus, the British sports car company, intends to produce only electric models from 2028. Consequently, there is more and more choice available covering a wide cross-section of the market, around 100 different models to choose from now in 2022.
3. Contract and lease hire
With a greater commitment to EV technology and more models flooding onto the market, it would be nice to think that prices have started to come down, but this has yet to materialise. New technology is always expensive and prices for EVs remain high due to a number of factors including a shortage of chips and constraints on battery supplies. For 2022, herald the arrival of the electric car subscription service. This is like lease hire or contract hire schemes which many motorists are already familiar with but, the electric car subscription service goes one step better.
Many motorists are wary about the financial commitment involved in the purchase of a new EV. First of all, most of them are pretty expensive and secondly, drivers have concerns about second hand or resale value especially bearing in mind that battery technology is changing all the time and so theoretically, a car could become superseded by new and better tech quite quickly.
Electric car subscription services are as simple as hiring an EV for a month. There is no deposit required and for a fixed monthly payment which includes, insurance, breakdown and maintenance, you can drive away in a brand new EV. Commitment is based on one month, so motorists are not tied into longer contracts of 24 or 36 months with no break clause.
Electric car subscription services get around the high forecourt cost of a new EV and also the disadvantages of traditional lease or contract hire schemes. You can even swap cars within the scheme to a different make and model as your needs change. This is a great way to start driving an EV.
Electric car subscription services are being offered by motor manufacturers like Volvo and industry players like Cazoo and Elmo.
4. Smart charging
Using ‘Smart’ ways to control your energy consumption in the home is not a new idea. Now, motorists can take advantage of smart charging their EV.
Smart chargers communicate with one another, the vehicle and the grid to manage and improve energy consumption and costs in the most efficient way possible.
Drivers can be alerted to situations when the energy demand around them is low, and it is therefore cheaper to charge. Arrive home, plug in your EV and let the tech determine when to start charging the car for the best value.
Smart charging not only helps manage energy costs for the motorist, but it promotes better use of energy. EVs are designed to charge up over a period of time, they don’t always need to be charged quickly or require a full battery to run.
Smart chargers can schedule a pre-determined charging period to only 80% of maximum battery capacity once a week which saves energy, costs and helps to prolong the life of the battery.
Smart charging also allows drivers to filter and access low energy tariffs and renewable energy options.
5. Load balancing
As sales of electric vehicles increase, so will the demands on the national grid. Load balancing can distribute the available capacity proportionally across multiple charging stations and works alongside smart charging to optimise efficiencies.
Load balancing allocates the available capacity across all active charging stations to ensure optimal charging to all electric vehicles within the limits of a charging stations’ capacity. Charging stations that are not being used will not have any electricity delivered, promoting both energy and cost efficiencies.
6. Vehicle to grid charging
Clearly, with more and more motorists charging EVs across the UK, this is going to present some different and unique challenges for the national grid.
A new development is the passing of energy from EV batteries which are not being used back to the national grid during periods of peak demand. It’s like smart charging but it takes the concept one stage further.
Vehicle to grid charging or V2G takes charged power and allows it to be momentarily pushed back to the grid from car batteries to balance variations in energy production and consumption.
The demand on the national grid for power has never been so intense and the industry as a whole is gearing up for the biggest revolution in public consumption it has probably ever seen.
This is potentially a good way for tech savvy motorists to save and/or earn money and this technology also allows EV owners to discharge energy from their cars back into their own homes or office buildings when its most needed. This concept is still in its infancy but watch this space.
7. Public charge points
The availability of charge points in town centres and at busy locations like supermarkets is going to be one of the biggest and most visible developments in the EV sector during 2022.
Lack of publicly available charge points and long wait times have been a huge disincentive for UK motorists in the push to convert to Electric Vehicle technology.
There are lots of stakeholders involved in the roll out of more charge points, those with a commercial incentive and the UK government who are pushing hard to meet their own self-imposed zero carbon targets.
8. Solid-state batteries
One of the challenges for manufacturers of EVs is increasing battery range which has been one of the biggest concerns for motorists coupled with the lack of publicly available charge points.
Battery technology is already changing. Currently EVs use lithium-ion batteries and there has always been concern about their weight, their range and also the less than attractive manufacturing process which is the very opposite of green and carbon neutral – most of these batteries are made in China!
Solid-state batteries are the new development in this area offering a battery life of more than 10 years compared to the current 6 of the average lithium-ion battery. Drivers should be able to travel further on one charge increasing range and reducing reliance on charge points and energy consumption. The concept is already there but gearing up to the demands of mass production is not.
9. Changes in grants and subsidies
The current OLEV grant which is available to help homeowners with the cost of installing their own charge point ends on March 31st, 2022. Will it be replaced with something else?
As EVs become more commonplace on UK roads, the incentives to buy them and support this new technology will change. Also creeping into the picture are more charges for conventionally fuelled vehicles in towns and city centres; some of these rates will be quite punitive for people who make daily journeys.
10. Battery recycling
With the International Environment Agency predicting an 800% increase in EVs over the next decade, electric car battery is soon going to become top priority to avoid battery waste and disposal pollution.
One of the key and easy targets for EV sceptics is the negative carbon footprint which is created when an electric vehicle is manufactured. Once on the road, their impact is carbon zero but there is a debt which must be paid off in terms of their production.
Focus is now turning towards the manufacture of these vehicles and also what happens to them at the end of their lifecycle as motorists dig deeper into the green detail.
The green car revolution is the biggest change to motoring since the arrival of the internal combustion engine around a century ago. As the move to EVs gathers momentum, this is a constantly evolving picture involving sustainable energy requirements worldwide and emerging technology. Hold on tight!