With the political will and clear and consistent policies to encourage take-up, optimism is high for the mass adoption of EVs. However, according to Siemens, doubts linger over insufficient charging points, limitations with respect to connecting charging infrastructure to the power grid and high vehicle prices.
Bernard Magee, director Siemens future grid commented: “The decarbonisation of transport will require the major expansion of today’s electric and low emission vehicle infrastructure, but these barriers are not insurmountable. To date approximately 120,000 charge points have been installed in the UK and more are needed, particularly in remote locations. There were also nearly 60,000 new EV and hybrid registrations last year. While the figure represents a relatively small percentage of overall vehicles sales the industry is confident the uptake will continue to drive investment at national and local levels.”
According to Zap-Map, monitors of the UK charging-point map, there are now 8,471 EV charging sites in the UK with a total of 13,613 chargers, compared with 8,400 fuel stations. The number of charging sites has surpassed that of fuel stations for the first time and has increased by 57% in the last 12 months. Although an important milestone, the UK is still said to need an additional 28,000 public charging points by 2030, double the current number, to support an estimated fleet of seven million EVs by the end of the next decade according to research by Deloitte.
Magee continued: “By leveraging existing infrastructure, these ‘electric avenues’ provide accessible, reliable, affordable and simple charging points to help accelerate the increase in privately-owned EVs. Charging your car is becoming as simple as charging your phone, they’re less expensive to run, nicer to drive and are much better for the environment”
Adequate infrastructure is also a primary concern for fleets that are exploring an electrification strategy. While 16 of the UK’s largest van fleets have committed to zero tailpipe emissions from vans in cities by 2028, fleet operators face numerous complexities including vehicle charging management, data usage, total cost of ownership for vehicles and significant up-front capital costs.
“New mobility providers such as car-sharing clubs and specialised rental companies covering shorter distances in urban spaces are the biggest operators of EV fleets today. And the appetite for them among larger operators will grow as the technology improves, prices come down and battery charging infrastructure improves,” Magee explained. “Heavy goods vehicles are further from electrification than light duty vehicles, so expect a mix of power sources to be part of the transport landscape for the foreseeable future.”
On pricing, Magee said: “Better technology, improvements in energy density and more choices plus the economies of scale will drive prices down. We can expect EVs to reach cost-parity with conventional cars in a matter of years from now.”