1 February 2019

A BEV - not just for Christmas?

Reflecting on our event ‘New Mobility LiVE’ last week, the most universally raised point was that people want a clear plan, a pathway to what needs to happen and what they need to contribute to reach a much-promised new mobility utopia.

Many a consultancy and endless experts reassure us that they know what’s next for the industry and what must happen to support the next rollout, but everyone has differing ideas on exactly what should be next and the timescales are wide-reaching. For instance, level 5 autonomous vehicles being widely used on our road networks is anything between four and thirty years away, depending on which expert you ask.

The truth is that there is no one plan to follow and the route forward is highly complex with far too many considerations to allow for a ‘one size fits all’ plan. But how does this help those that are laying the groundwork ensure that they are doing the right thing?

If we take a look at the current widescale rollout of EV infrastructure, we see a rather disjointed and troubling picture.

Local authorities in the UK are tasked with ensuring they allocate a significant portion of their funding into EV supportive infrastructure. So, now they ensure that charging points are being installed within their boroughs, however the uptake of battery electric vehicles is far below the projections that everyone had been working towards these last few years, so for the most part, on average these charging points sit idle, only being used around 4% of the time, which obviously causes frustration for local authorities.

The biggest obstruction to the widescale adoption of BEV’s, from whatever study or survey you look at is range-anxiety. Will every parking space in the country having a charging point change that – I think not, as the defining reason most people choose their preferred mode of transport is what is convenient and works for them. The pace of life in society isn’t going to get any slower anytime soon, following an ethos of ‘we want it all and we want it now’, and if it isn’t ’prime’ then we obviously don’t want it enough!

But it’s more than that, we are used to a system that we can refuel our cars in a matter of minutes, even quicker in recent times if we pay at the pump. People want to charge their BEV’s overnight at home, and maybe at the office during the day, offering a convenience similar to that of the internal combustion engine, and not charge every time they stop somewhere as the vast majority of chargers out there are not rapid chargers, meaning that a 15-20 minute charge is relatively insignificant for the effort of hooking up in the rain.

For the event last week, part of our team travelled the 107.8 miles from London to Coventry in a new, fully charged BEV. It was a cold morning, and they felt that the range of the vehicle didn’t allow for the heating to be turned on for the entire journey. Even with the heating off, 13 miles away from the venue they were looking at 12 miles of range, not allowing them any time for shunting through the morning traffic or even a wrong turn on an unfamiliar road network, an exciting journey maybe, but not in a good way.

So, will 2019 be the year that gets the projections back on track? There’s hope, as a large number of BEV’s are scheduled for release this year, with increased ranges promised. However, you may struggle to get one unless you’ve already placed your order, as some of these cars come with a 42 week waiting time – leaving you little over 3 weeks to place your order in time for Christmas.

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