Category Archives: Sales

2017 set to be landmark year for electric cars

The future is bright for electric cars in 2017, as new figures released recently indicate that more than 100,000 plug-in cars could be on UK roads by the middle of this year.

This prediction is fuelled by record numbers of electric car registrations in 2016, with volumes rising 29% on the previous 12 months. In fact, every quarter of 2016 produced year-on-year growth, with the total number of EVs on UK roads now at more than 87,000.

More and more UK drivers are becoming switched on to the cost-saving benefits and convenience of electric motoring, which resulted in 36,907 electric vehicles being registered between January and December last year, a number that’s set to grow this year.

The ever-increasing selection of electric cars available in the UK is another factor aiding the rise in the market. More than 35 plug-in models are available at the moment, which is four times the number on the market just five years ago.

Plug-in hybrids were particularly popular in 2016, as registrations rose by over 40%. Models such as the BMW 330e, Volkswagen Golf GTE and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron proved to be among the most in-demand.

Source: Go Ultra Low

Kia Soul EV on charge on a London street (Image: M. Willis/Getty/Go Ultra Low)

The Guardian view of the car industry: an electric future

The world is moving faster than we think towards more automated vehicles powered by renewable energy

Gone are the days when cars made in Britain were British. Monday’s sale of Vauxhall/Opel to Peugeot meant only the transfer of two large English factories from the German subsidiary of an American firm to a French company, accompanied by the ritual promises that jobs would be safe. These seem insubstantial, given that the new management plans to save €1.7bn a year from the old Opel operation, while the Vauxhall factories made a heavy loss after the pound’s post-referendum slide. Yet the contortions of government policy which once accompanied threats to the car industry went quite unseen this time. But there is one small aspect of the deal in which it appears that Mrs May’s industrial strategy might be an intelligent deployment of very limited resources. The future of the car industry is clearly electric, and the development of battery technology – something the government plans to support – will be vital.

Kia Soul EV on charge on a London street (Image: M. Willis/Getty/Go Ultra Low)
Kia Soul EV on charge on a London street (Image: M. Willis/Getty/Go Ultra Low)

Against the protectionism practised by the Chinese government, which is determined to dominate the world market, and to supplant the Japanese and Korean firms which now provide most of the world’s batteries, any effort by the British government is likely to prove inadequate. Especially a British government which has ended its own participation in the single market; but at least it is playing in the right game.

At the moment, wholly electric cars are still a tiny minority of those on the road, but their number is growing very fast as they become more affordable and more practical. Their advantages to society are obvious: they pollute far less than internal combustion engines, and use less energy too. A city of electric cars will be cleaner and quieter than our present stinking streets. And at some stage in the next decade, their advantages to private drivers will become overwhelming. The electric car will become a mainstream status symbol and it is the buyers of internal combustion vehicles who will feel like weird outsiders. The Dutch parliament has considered a measure which would make all cars sold there electric by 2025. A recent thinktank report suggests that 10 years after that a third of all the vehicles sold in the world will be electric.

New electric cars must travel further and need less time to recover from their journeys than those that can be bought today, when long journeys are still fraught with anxiety. This means lighter batteries that hold more charge and can be charged more quickly; they are appearing already and the huge amounts of global investment make it likely that progress will continue and technology will supply what the market needs.

Stepping back for a moment, the rise of electric and largely automated cars might change the world around us almost as profoundly as the internal combustion engine did. Part of this is their obvious role in transportation. All-electric traffic will be faster, reversing the trend of the last century. Lighter cars will accelerate and brake more quickly, while increasing automation will mean traffic moves more freely. If those trends continue, the private car might disappear altogether, replaced by a network of hired autonomous vehicles, at least within cities. The beginnings of this development are already visible in the reluctance of young people to learn to drive.

Less obvious, but just as important, are all the symbolic values of cars. It’s not just for Bruce Springsteen that they embody freedom, autonomy and power. The car that you own says almost as much about your social position and your aspirations as the clothes you wear. Car ownership was for much of the world a mark of status in the way that owning a horse made you a knight. The coming revolution threatens far more than the vehicle manufacturing industry. If cars do come to be valued for their usefulness, not as means of ostentation, the motor car would become only a status symbol for the rich, as useless, if still as loved, as the private horse now is.

Source: The Guardian

Vauxhall Ampera EREV

UK budget announcement on electric vehicles doesn’t go far enough

Specialist management consultancy Baringa Partners has responded to the UK Chancellor’s Budget announcement of support for electric vehicles (EVs) saying the support doesn’t go far enough.

Policies should be designed to support the roll-out of rapid charging access across the UK, according to Baringa. While the Chancellor’s announcement of support for the development of batteries for electric cars will go some way to alleviating customers’ fears about range, more work is needed to change the perception that electric vehicles are not as reliable as their petrol and diesel peers.

Vauxhall Ampera EREV
Vauxhall Ampera EREV

“The Chancellor’s announcement of funding for research into batteries for electric vehicles is a positive first step, but it doesn’t go far enough” said Natalie Bird, Senior Consultant at Baringa. ““The transport sector trails the energy and industrial sectors on decarbonisation. Despite significant uptake in electric cars since 2011, the rate of eligible vehicle registrations slowed substantially last year. Although the UK’s 2050 Greenhouse Gas target theoretically allows for later action, the combination of pressing air quality issues, consumer interest in electric vehicles and advances in self-driving technology provides a real opportunity today to kick-start the decarbonisation of the transport sector, which will reap long-term benefits.”

Ms Bird added that in these early stages, bolder policies that reduce costs and influence public perception are needed if the Government wants to see more people get behind the electric wheel. This means providing more certainty to investors, producers and consumers about the vision for the future of the market. In the longer run, the Government may need to shift the balance of policy away from direct subsidies and towards more technology neutral mechanisms such as a wider carbon tax for the transport sector, to discourage the use of conventional vehicles.

The Government should also recognise the ongoing evolution of the wider transport landscape and the potential shift away from private vehicle ownership towards greater use of ‘on-demand’ flexible modes of travel such as car sharing schemes, and ensure policies take this into account. This may be accelerated by self-driving technology, which in turn could dramatically transform road transport demand patterns, and it would be good to recognise that link in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Source: Renewable Energy Magazine

Government to invest in developing batteries for electric vehicles

Spring Budget 2017: The government will invest in the development, design and manufacture of batteries to power the next generation of electric vehicles.

The investment will form part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which will receive an initial investment of £270 million in 2017-2018.

In his Spring Budget 2017 speech, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the £270 million investment will be used to develop disruptive technologies, such as robotic systems and driverless vehicles.

The ISCF forms part of the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), which was announced in the Autumn Statement 2016. This includes an investment of £390 million in ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV), renewable fuels, and connected and autonomous vehicles by 2020-21. This funding also includes an £80 million investment in ULEV charging infrastructure.

Claire Evans, head of fleet consultancy at Zenith, said:

“We saw £270 million allocated to keep the UK at the forefront of disruptive technologies that will include funding for the development, design and manufacture of batteries to power the next generation of electric vehicles. Increased range on new battery technology will speed their adoption by fleets.

“The £16 million made available for a new 5G mobile technology hub will also support the move toward driverless vehicles. A £690 million competition for local authorities to tackle urban congestion and get local transport networks moving again is a welcome addition.”

Source: Employee Benefits

New autonomous vehicle insurance and electric vehicle infrastructure

Self-driving car insurance and electric vehicle charge point measures introduced in Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill.

New insurance rules for self-driving cars and measures to improve provision of electric vehicle charge points will be introduced today (22 February 2017), as part of the Vehicle Technology and Aviation Bill.

It is hoped these measures will help the UK to become a world leader in these technologies by breaking down some of the barriers that could limit companies from testing them here.

Measures around insurance for self-driving cars will ensure better protection – a single insurance product for automated vehicles will now be able to cover both the motorist when they are driving, as well as the car when it is in automated mode. This will mean innocent victims involved in a collision with an automated vehicle will have quick and easy access to compensation.

Self-driving vehicles will allow the driver to hand full control and responsibility to the vehicle when technologies are turned on.

The measures follow a consultation by the Department for Transport on the issue of insurance for self-driving cars that closed in September 2016. The Secretary of State will be given the power to classify which vehicles are ‘automated’ and subject to the new insurance requirement.

Chris Grayling, the Transport Secretary, said:

Automated vehicles have the potential to transform our roads in the future and make them even safer and easier to use, as well as promising new mobility for those who cannot drive.

But we must ensure the public is protected in the event of an incident and today we are introducing the framework to allow insurance for these new technologies.

David Williams, Head of Underwriting, at AXA UK, said:

This is a positive step forward that provides clarity to insurers to ensure we design our products appropriately. It keeps protection of the general public at its heart which we hope will encourage early adoption of some really impressive technology.

The vast majority of accidents are caused by human error and we see automated vehicles having a massive impact, reducing the number and severity of accidents. As well as making our roads safer, insurance premiums are based on the cost of claims and therefore we expect substantially reduced premiums to follow.

Other measures set out in the Bill will mean easier access to infrastructure for electric vehicles. They could also ensure the right infrastructure is in place for the growing market for electric vehicles.

Motorway services and large fuel retailers could be made to provide electric charge points and hydrogen refuelling stations under planned new laws.

The measures could also make sure data about the location and availability of charging stations is openly available, and make it easier to use the different networks which are available. They follow a public consultation on measures to improve charging infrastructure.

John Hayes, Minister of State for Transport said:

If we are to accelerate the use of electric vehicles we must take action now and be ready to take more action later. I recognise that to encourage more drivers to go electric, the infrastructure needs to become even more widespread than the 11,000 charging points already in place and more straightforward. We are determined to do all we can to make electric vehicles work for everyone and these new laws will help make this a reality.

Source: Gov.uk

A Mini comes off the assembly line at its factory in Cowley, near Oxford (Image: L. Neal/AFP/Getty)

BMW considers making electric Mini outside UK due to Brexit worries

Suggestion that carmaker could produce vehicle in Germany instead of Oxford comes amid fears over Vauxhall’s future

The new electric Mini could be made in Germany rather than the UK because of the uncertainty caused by Brexit.

Most Minis are manufactured at its plant in Oxford, one of the biggest factories in the country, but BMW, the owner of the brand, is considering making the electric version of the car in Germany.

A Mini comes off the assembly line at its factory in Cowley, near Oxford (Image: L. Neal/AFP/Getty)
A Mini comes off the assembly line at its factory in Cowley, near Oxford (Image: L. Neal/AFP/Getty)

If BMW decides to make the Mini outside of Britain then it would be a major blow to the government. Greg Clark, the business secretary, wants to put electric vehicles and battery technology at the heart of the UK’s industrial strategy, describing the sector as an “emblematic area of focus”.

The doubts about where the electric Mini will be built is one of a number of issues threatening to derail the revival of Britain’s car industry. The government persuaded Nissan to commit more investment for its plant in Sunderland but there are fears that jobs could be lost at Vauxhall’s factories in Ellesmere Port and Luton if PSA Group, the owner of Peugeot, completes a deal to buy General Motors’ European business, which includes Vauxhall and Opel.

BMW announced the launch of the battery-powered Mini last year and it is scheduled to go on sale in 2019. The German company says it will make a decision this year about where to produce the car. However, the German newspaper Handelsblatt has reported that BMW is considering building the Mini at its plants in Regensburg and Leipzig rather than Oxford. Another option for BMW is to produce the car in the Netherlands, where roughly one in three Minis are already made.

The German carmaker is likely to hold talks with the British government before making a decision but is concerned about the prospect of the UK leaving the single market and being charged tariffs on imports and exports.

The company insisted it was business as usual at its four sites in the UK. In a statement, it said:

“The decision on where to build the full-electric Mini will be taken this year.

“As formal negotiations between the UK and the EU have not even begun yet it is too early to comment on what Brexit will mean for our business.

“The BMW group has always made clear that we believe integration of the UK into the EU single market, maintaining free movement of goods, services, capital and talent, would be best for business. What’s important for us is that the UK’s negotiations with the EU result in uncomplicated, tariff-free access to the EU single market in future.

“As a major investor and employer in the UK, the BMW group urges the government to take the concerns of international business into account. Not only free trade but also cross-border employment opportunities and unified, internationally applied regulations are of proven benefit to business, the economy and individuals.”

Source: The Guardian

Milton Keynes EV Experience Centre

Country’s first electric car showroom to open in Milton Keynes

Chargemaster has won the contract to set up and operate a new EV Experience Centre in Milton Keynes.

This will be the UKs first-ever shopping centre multi-brand showroom. Milton Keynes was awarded £9 million Go Ultra Low Cities funding in January 2016 to encourage the uptake of low emission vehicles and hit the target of 23 per cent of all car sales being electric or plug-in by 2021.

The project is due to launch in spring and will be situated within the city’s premier shopping centre. The ground-breaking new project will help residents understand the true potential of EV ownership.

As well as showcasing the latest EVs and exciting technology, highly trained independent professionals will be on hand to answer visitors’ questions and refer them to relevant local dealerships or partner leasing companies. As an added bonus, Milton Keynes residents and businesses will also be able to test drive a range of vehicles on a short or long-term basis.

Milton Keynes EV Experience Centre
Milton Keynes EV Experience Centre

Brian Matthews, head of Transport Innovation at Milton Keynes, said:

“Our commitment to making Milton Keynes a go-to destination and flagship Go Ultra Low city starts with our residents.

“We’re delighted to be working with Chargemaster on this project, and are confident that the team is best placed to champion the EV sector, considering their knowledge and experience of the industry.”

David Martell, Chargemaster CEO, said:

“Being part of such a high-profile and diverse project is very exciting for Chargemaster.

“The centre will be the first of its kind and we are sure it will pave the way for other cities to follow.

“We are looking forward to welcoming Milton Keynes shoppers and showing them everything that going green has to offer.”

Read more: MiltonKeynes.co.uk

EV Charging Station (Image: Foter)

Vattenfall To Switch Its Entire 3,500 Vehicle Fleet To Electric Vehicles

Vattenfall is one of the largest utility companies in Europe, with operations in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom.

It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Swedish government. Not surprisingly, it has a lot of vehicles in its fleet, including 3,500 cars and light trucks. The company has just announced it plans to switch all of those vehicles to electric cars and trucks within the next 5 years.

EV Charging Station (Image: Foter)
EV Charging Station (Image: Foter)

Vattenall has been a leader in renewable energy and sustainable mobility solutions since 2009. It operates nearly 6,000 EV Level 2 and DC fast charging charging points in Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands. Those facilities supplied enough electricity in 2016 to circumnavigate the world almost 1,000 times. It is also a front runner in developing wireless and smart charging technology as well as systems for charging public transit vehicles.

“We already help our customers drive electric by supplying charging points. With the decision to switch our own fleet we do not only contribute to reducing CO2-emissions in Europe, but we also want to set an example for other companies,”

says Martijn Hagens, head of E-mobility for Vattenfall.

Read more: G2

EV Charging Station (Image: Shutterstock)

We’re probably underestimating how quickly electric vehicles will disrupt the oil market

Unpredictably rapid growth happens pretty predictably

Just about every analyst agrees that the electric vehicle market is poised for rapid growth. But how rapid?

It’s not an idle question. The rate of EV growth will have huge implications for oil markets, auto markets, and electric utilities. Yet it is maddeningly difficult to predict the future; forecasts for the EV market are all over the place.

I don’t think the wide range of projections means that we’re blind here, though — I think we can make educated guesses. Specifically, I think history justifies optimism, the belief that the high-end projections (like those in a new study I discuss below) are closer to the truth.

Let’s walk through it.

EVs could do serious damage to oil — or not much

Transportation accounts for a huge portion of US carbon emissions. As recently as 2014, it was behind the electricity sector — 26 percent of US emissions to electricity’s 30 percent. But as Vox has reported, and the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) just confirmed, as of 2016, they have crossed paths. “Electric power sector CO2 emissions,” EIA writes, “are now regularly below transportation sector CO2 emissions for the first time since the late 1970s.”

This is happening because power sector “carbon intensity” — carbon emissions per unit of energy produced — is falling, as coal is replaced with natural gas, renewables, and efficiency.

The only realistic prospect for reducing transportation sector emissions rapidly and substantially is electrification. How much market share EVs take from oil (gasoline is by far the most common use for oil in the US) will matter a great deal.

EV Charging Station (Image: Shutterstock)
EV Charging Station (Image: Shutterstock)

However, as Rice University’s Dan Cohan explains in The Hill, EV forecasts are all over the map.

The EIA’s “Annual Energy Outlook 2017” is much more bullish about EVs than in previous years — its forecast for the EV market is “nearly double its forecast from last year, and nearly 10 times its forecast from 2014.” It no longer thinks hybrids or plug-in hybrids will play a major role. It believes EVs are ready.

Read more: Vox

The Nissan Leaf (L) and Kia Soul on charge on a London street (Image: M. Willis/Getty for GUL)

Electric cars and cheap solar ‘could halt fossil fuel growth by 2020’

Solar power and clean cars are ‘gamechangers’ consistently underestimated by big energy, says Imperial College and Carbon Tracker report

Falling costs of electric vehicles and solar panels could halt worldwide growth in demand for oil and coal by 2020, a new report has suggested.

A scenario that takes into account the latest cost reduction projections for the green technologies, and countries’ pledges to cut emissions, finds that solar power and electric vehicles are “gamechangers” that could leave fossil fuels stranded.

The Nissan Leaf (L) and Kia Soul on charge on a London street (Image: M. Willis/Getty for GUL)
By 2035, electric vehicles could make up 35% of the road transport market, and two-thirds by 2050 (Image: M. Willis/Getty for GUL)

Polluting fuels could lose 10% of market share to solar power and clean cars within a decade, the report by the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London and the Carbon Tracker Initiative found.

A 10% loss of market share was enough to cause the collapse of the coal mining industry in the US, while Europe’s five major utilities lost €100bn (£85bn) between 2008 and 2013 because they did not prepare for an 8% increase in renewables, the report said.

Big energy companies are seriously underestimating the low-carbon transition by sticking to their “business as usual” scenarios which expect continued growth of fossil fuels, and could see their assets “stranded”, the study claims.

Emerging technology, such as printable solar photovoltaics which generate electricity, could bring down costs and boost take-up even more than currently predicted.

Luke Sussams, a senior researcher at Carbon Tracker, said:

“Electric vehicles and solar power are gamechangers that the fossil fuel industry consistently underestimates.

“Further innovation could make our scenarios look conservative in five years’ time, in which case the demand misread by companies will have been amplified even more.”

Read more: The Guardian