In part 1 of our look at the EV revolution, we looked at what is happening at the frontline and how we are at the cusp of the EV revolution. Today, we will look at why it is happening. In a nutshell, governments around the world are really pushing EV use by funding EV development and infrastructure, charging infrastructure is mushrooming, and technology is making it all possible. Let’s start with government interest and then look at infrastructure and then to the future…
China and Europe
Where the US used to take the lead in the world’s affairs, its current government has taken a look backwards. Do I need to say why? Trump. Right, let’s be positive now and look at what is being done instead of sniffing the foul smelling hot air. China, India and Europe are looking forward instead of backwards and this is driving the global market in EVs. India’s government has indicated that it plans to ban all ICE car sales by 2030 but there’s a bit of a problem that one India news site pointed out: “Before we get down to driving battery-powered vehicles, electricity needs to reach every corner of the country. People will consider moving to electric powered vehicles only when their basic energy needs have been taken care of.” Other countries are further down the line.
China is far wealthier and while there are still hundreds of millions of people who don’t have electricity (like India) it is now the world’s biggest EV market in terms of volumes of sales. The Chinese government has two incentives – its major cities have huge smog problems and this is causing a public health issue and secondly, it sees money to be made in selling EVs. The country has given major incentives to car companies to make vehicles with ever greater range. Car makers get tax credits for making cars with a larger range, while car companies building fossil fuel powered (ICE) cars will be banned from expanding their capacity unless they reach ever more stringent emissions regulations. In this way, China sold more than half a million EVs last year. Annoyingly for foreign car makers, only Chinese owned companies get the tax credits – not foreign car makers with factories out there.
While America looks backwards, Europe has its eyes firmly on the road. Two weeks ago, France announced that all ICE car sales would be banned from 2040. Unlike India, 99.99% of French households are connected to the grid (essentially only those who don’t want it aren’t). Norway and the Netherlands are banning sales in the next 15 years too. Steadily we are seeing governments turn away from ICE and forcing car makers to stop making ICE cars. Ultimately, only governments can achieve this when the market would happily sit with ICE engines. Governments can force the issue.
Other than incentivising car sales, governments have had to support infrastructure to make EV car sales more attractive. Range anxiety is something that puts many people off (including me) buying an EV. This is why car companies and governments around the world are building charging networks to help drive the EV revolution.
In November last year, five major car manufacturers got together to develop an EV fast charger network that will be on every major European road. According to Business Car Manager, “The goal is the quick build-up of a sizable number of stations in order to enable long-range travel for battery electric vehicle drivers. This will be an important step towards facilitating mass-market BEV adoption.” The plan is to put in 350kW charging stations eventually, but current technology allows for roughly 150kW. A 150kW charger gives a car battery roughly 100km of charge in 10 minutes, while the 350kW charger will charge the vehicle roughly 100km in 4 minutes, or 300km (190 miles) in 12 minutes. I do a fair bit of long-distance driving and honestly, you need a break every 200 or so miles so this would be about right for your average journey.
Major city governments are at it too. London has announced plans to put in a very good fast charging network to support its famous Black Cab taxis. Transport for London (TfL) have announced it is to spend £18 million on a fast-charging network in the Greater London area, while it has already set up Source London, a membership scheme that allows London drivers to use any one of 850 charge points and is installing a further 4500 by the end of next year.
In another blog, ecartestdrives.com has looked at mapping systems that show EV drivers where the nearest charging point is today. The range anxiety excuse is a weak one now, and just won’t be an excuse in the near future.
Technology – the road ahead
When I was doing my A-levels there was no such thing as online writing or blogging. If I’d said to my careers teacher that I’d be doing this for a living he’d have laughed at me. Computers were for spotty geeks in garages – now they are for billionaire entrepreneurs. EV technology is smashing forward at a tremendous rate. In a recent blog, I showed how in the next 10 years a new battery technology could allow EVs to drive 900 miles between charges. The market case for ICE vehicles won’t exist if that happens – ICE cars will be for collectors and people who have no clue about economics (like Donald Trump).
Renewable energy technology is one of the fastest growing sectors of any market. Battery technology is moving ahead at warp speed. Technology is driven by economics and government, and with Climate Change being the greatest issue of our time, EVs are one of the major focuses of global development to allow growth without causing damage to the atmosphere. New EVs look like any other car on the market (not like Micras) so people are being drawn to them because they are great cars to drive, not because they like to tell the world that they love the planet. That is one of the core reasons that the EV revolution has begun – because people want to drive them. The market has finally got behind EVs and that is why they are here to stay. What are you waiting for? Test drive an EV today!
By Richard Shrubb