Electric Vehicles

The aspects that you don't hear about

Having attended a course and achieved a Galileo Master Certificate in Electric Vehicles (EVs), I thought I would take the time to highlight a few of the aspects about the EV that you don't hear about and debunk a few myths.

One of the most commonly shared headlines is that there will be a ban on petrol and diesel new car sales in the UK after 2040, so we will all have to drive EVs. Simply put, not true. The target is that all new cars are "ULEVs" (Ultra Low Emission Vehicles). Now, the definition of a ULEV is up to the government (more specifically the Office for Low Emission Vehicles), and at present all current petrol and diesel cars fail to meet the definition of a ULEV (<75gCO2/km). That's not to say that the technology won't improve or the definition of a ULEV will change, so you won't be forced to buy an electric car in 2040.

The fact that you don't have to buy electric in 2040 is actually a blessing in disguise - the manufacturing capacity for EVs even by that time is unlikely to be able to support the demand of the entire nation. It's very occasionally that you see this issue discussed, the focus is always, so we have enough charging infrastructure, but if you actually look at the number of vehicles sold (~6500 or 0.5% of new car sales so far in 2018), we have more than enough infrastructure! It's the supply of vehicles, the awareness of vehicles and the sales drive behind EVs that is holding up the development of the sector. Currently, sales are matching demand quite well, but if demand increased, the production and allocation of EVs to the UK (the vast majority go to China, due to the laws surrounding EV implementation) would not be able to keep pace.

Electric vehicles
Electric Vehicle Energy Consumption

Image Source: BEIS

Whilst, it has be said that the UK has the infrastructure for EVs, we don't necessarily have the infrastructure for the infrastructure! For example for a certain manufacturer's charge points there is only one qualified maintenance technician in all of Scotland. Similarly, servicing and maintenance of an EV is not straightforward. Because of the typically high voltage systems used in EVs they are actually classed as industrial machinery and extra training is required to carry out routine maintenance on these vehicles. For example, in London only 1% of technicians can work on EVs.

Finishing with some good news - the other common "myth" is that EVs are not green as the energy stored in their battery comes from burning coal. While that may be true, depending on the emissions of the country's grid and indeed the energy supplier, once you start considering the whole lifecycle of energy things stack up pretty unfavourably for petrol and diesel. It takes 6kWh to refine a gallon of petrol (or diesel) and then there is power required to produce the oil in the first place, so it's double emissions - once when you refine and again when it gets burnt. In the case of an EV at least there is only a single round of emissions that we can focus on improving with renewable energy integration to the grid.

By no means are we against EVs, but it is a challenging time in this space with the technology and policy evolving so quickly and vehicle manufacturers playing catch up in a competitive environment.

Watch this space for more EV and EV infrastructure (combined with renewables) content!

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