Electric vehicle uptake; how ready are we?


It’s no surprise that we’re beginning to see a decline in the uptake of diesel cars throughout the country, with the news the government will ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, and with electric vehicles (EVs) becoming more accessible, affordable and genuinely attractive purchases for more and more people.

Whilst many of the more established models of electric car have higher upfront costs than their petrol and diesel counterparts, in their lifetime they make back those costs. Currently, fully charging a Tesla costs just £1 to £3 per day, with a £10-a-year fee to use nation wide charging points.

Among the wider motive of tackling climate change, poor air quality is becoming the focal subject for incentivising people to ditch the combustion engine, citing it as the “biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK”.

Yet, with electric cars presently comprising less than 1% of new sales, prompting a mass shift will require a lot of changes, and it appears the country is less than ready for such a dramatic move.

As of December of last year, figures show there were 132,000 electric and hybrid cars on UK roads, with 2017 seeing the biggest increase in EV purchases: 47,000 for the year. This is a stark contrast to the 25.5 million petrol and diesel cars currently out there.

However, although the likes of Gloucester and the Cotswolds rank 4th and 10th respectively on a list of the highest percentage of electric vehicles in the UK, neither area seems well enough equipped for an influx of electric car purchases. Gloucester has just 2 working public charge points in the city, equating to less than 0.001 public charging points per electric vehicle.

This is a similar story in the city of Bristol.

Although research has found that Bristol has the third highest number of people who have considered purchasing an electric vehicle at 63%, a survey of drivers has found that 73% of Bristol motorists could not name a charging spot near them.

While it is still early days and the existing picture seems somewhat bleak, there are those being proactive in helping create a greener future on the roads.

The Government announced last year that £400 million would be pumped into creating a world-leading electric car charging infrastructure, with charging locations being added around the UK daily. Even in July of last year, 255 locations were added in just 30 days.

One particular company looking at helping to incentivise the electric vehicle uptake by providing the latest charge points for homes and places of work, as well as solar PV, is Mypower.

Managing Director, Ben Harrison, said that while the number of charge points throughout the country may appear low, they don’t actually take into account businesses and public facing enterprises that provide charge points, as well as personal home charging points. Adding these would produce a figure of well over 100,000 dedicated EV charging points in total.

Speaking of Gloucestershire’s high number of electric car owners, he said, “We’ve seen enquires for charging points at homes and commercial properties increase significantly in the last 6 months. Those really savvy home and businesses owners are also installing solar panels on their roofs to generate their own electricity which means they charge their cars for free.”

This idea is being touched upon by some of the electric car giants such as Tesla and Nissan, both offering the option for home solar PV panels to produce your own electricity, and pump it straight into your car, saving you money on household bills alongside your now non-existent petrol bills.

Combining this with an energy storage device for use when it’s needed can set a family on its way to being nigh on self-sustainable.

Purchasing all of this technology can be pricey to begin with, leading into a few thousand before a car is even bought, however with the certainty that this will be the norm in the next few decades, costs will plummet and become accessible to practically everyone.

It’s currently being suggested that charging points can be implemented into existing street lamps with government grants distributed throughout councils to help with the adaption.

We look forward to the days of solar-powered electric cars, but until then, there are plenty of great options that will help you do your bit.