July 27, 2018

Electric Vehicle Movement Gathers Momentum

The ‘Road to Zero Strategy’ And Electric Vehicles

The movement towards the electrification of UK motoring has gathered momentum, following details of the government’s ‘Road to Zero Strategy’ and the acquisition of leading charging provider, Chargemaster, by oil giant BP.

What is the ‘Road to Zero’ strategy?

As part of moves towards the planned ban of all non-hybrid petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, the government’s ‘Road to Zero Strategy’ targets 50-70% of new cars sold annually to fall into the Ultra Low Emissions (ULEV) category by 2030 (a 10-year earlier deadline).

Recognising advancements in technology, the government says that within three years (that is from 2021), it expects to define an ULEV as a car or van that emits less than 50g/km, rather than the current level of 75g/km.

Another key part of the strategy for growing electrification is a push for charge points to be installed in new-build homes and for new lampposts to include vehicle charging points.

The government’s plans will also see the launch of a £400 million Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund to help accelerate the roll-out of charging infrastructure, by providing funding to new and existing companies that produce and install charge points.

The government will also continue to offer the Plug-In Car and Van Grants to October 2018 at their current rates, and in some form until at least 2020.

What's happening in the alternative fuel vehicle space

‘Transformative’ years to come

In announcing details of the ‘Road to Zero Strategy’, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said that the coming decades were going to be “transformative for our motor industry, our national infrastructure and the way we travel.”

He went on: “The ‘Road to Zero Strategy’ sets out a clear path for Britain to be a world leader in the zero emission revolution – ensuring that the UK has cleaner air, a better environment and a stronger economy.

“The government‘s mission, as part of the modern Industrial Strategy, is to put the UK at the forefront of an industry that is estimated to be worth up to £7.6 trillion per year by 2050.”

The ‘Road to Zero’ document highlighted a potential issue surrounding “adequate vehicle supply”, adding that there are currently just 38 cars eligible for the plug-in car grant, with supply a particular challenge for commercial vehicles.

Grayling added: “The ‘Road to Zero Strategy’ is technology neutral and does not speculate on which technologies might help to deliver the government’s 2040 mission.

“The government has no plan to ban any particular technology – like hybrids – as part of this strategy.”

Oil companies changing course

Meanwhile, as further evidence of the swing to electric, oil giant BP has acquired Luton-based Chargemaster in a plan to roll out a network of ultra-fast electric vehicle charging points at its forecourts across the UK. The acquisition will see the creation of BP Chargemaster as a wholly-owned subsidiary of BP.

The move marks a significant development in the plans of the world’s major oil companies to change their business models to add battery recharging to their forecourts, thus ensuring they remain viable when it comes to powering the vehicles of the future.

The Chargemaster acquisition is intended to bring a wealth of electric vehicle expertise in-house, including the facilities to design and build domestic and public charging points, relationships with multiple vehicle manufacturers, and the 6,500-strong Polar charging network, which is said to be the UK’s largest.

BP Chargemaster’s priority is likely to be extending that network to BP’s 1,200 UK forecourts, with the first rapid chargers set to be installed within 12 months.

The network will include the company’s 150kw Ultracharger charging units that are reported to be capable of adding 100 miles of range in ten minutes, some three times faster than most of the UK’s existing rapid charge network.

As the automotive world begins to shift from traditional carbon fuels in favour of electric power, several of the major oil companies have moved to diversify their offerings.

Last year Shell announced the acquisition of New Motion, a Dutch company specialising in electric vehicle recharging, which operates more than 30,000 private electric charge points for businesses and homes in the UK, Netherlands, Germany and France.

It also provides its customers with access to a network of more than 50,000 public charge points across 25 European countries, serving more than 100,000 registered charge cards.

Shell has since announced the opening of a new on-forecourt rapid charging service, Shell Recharge, with ten Recharge points now open in London, and a roll-out of the service soon to take place in the Netherlands.

How easy is charging an EV?

Very easy, says Go Ultra Low, the body set up to promote the uptake of electric vehicles, which is funded by the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) and eight vehicle manufacturers, working in association with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

However, not all 100% electric and plug-in hybrid cars and vans have the same charging socket; there are, in fact, three main types.

But, says Go Ultra Low, the good news is that there’s now an agreed standard for the sockets found on the latest charging points – all now using the universal ‘Type Two’ socket.

That will fit the ‘Type Two’ connector found on the end of the charging cable that comes as standard with all electric cars, so drivers should have no problem plugging-in to a public charging point.

How quickly your car charges depends largely on how powerful the charging unit is, together with the charging capabilities and battery capacity of the particular vehicle. As a general rule there are three charging speeds for pure electric cars:

  • Rapid charging units (43, 50, or 120kW) could charge up to 80% in as little as 30 minutes.
  • Fast charging points (7-22kW) can fully recharge some models in 3-4 hours. The majority of public points are fast chargers.
  • Slow charging points (up to 3kW) are used for longer charging times, around 6-10 hours, depending upon the car. This applies mainly to some homecharge and workplace units.

Rapid chargers don’t have sockets, but have the cables built in, so you simply use the one for your car to connect up. Homecharge units can be specified with either a Type Two socket, or with a cable already attached.

Some cars also come with charging cables that connect to a standard 13 amp socket. A dedicated homecharge unit is the preferred method of charging at home.

If you would like any more information on this subject, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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