As the electric vehicle movement gathers pace, EV Powered has spoken to key voices within the sector to find out what it needs to continue to grow.
Alternative Base Charging
Joel Teague, Co-Charger: “It’s obvious that public charging is absolutely essential – nobody wants an EV without it. What we have to accept is that on its own it’s pointless because without base charging, nobody’s got an EV in the first place. Home charging is sorted; those people are switching. The rest aren’t, and they’re getting spiky about it.
“What exactly am I suggesting? We start by changing how we look at EV charging. We need to re-model our thinking and the narrative from the user perspective.
“We have a lot to work with, and the list is growing: workplace charging, mobile ‘charging as a service’ in vans, trailers and even robots; “take a battery home” services; gadgets to route cables under, through and over pavements; kerbside and lamp-post chargers – and of course my personal passion, Community Charging, where neighbours share private chargers. The problem is that not enough people hear about that.
“Let’s have the whole industry talk about three elements of charging: Home charging, alternative base charging, and public charging. Everyone needs one of the first two plus the last one. Everyone’s included and everyone can see how to make an EV viable for their circumstances.
“This is a good move for absolutely everyone, not least public charging companies. More confident Joes means more EVs on the roads sooner, which mean more revenue for public chargers when those people are away from home. We may not be able to do much about how much of the charging pie public charging gets, but by supporting alternative base charging we can double the size of that pie.”
Joe Tighe, Kleanbus: “97% of UK buses are powered by diesel engines that emit large amounts of carbon, oxides of nitrogen, and particulate matter – and there are a staggering 35,000 of them on the road. The country faces a major challenge to rapidly decarbonise this vital transport sector and is struggling to move quickly enough.
“Replacing these vehicles with new electric buses is very expensive for private companies and government subsidies will take many years given fleet turnover rates. The solution of repowering buses with electric powertrains rather than replacing is staring us in the face and has huge potential. They could bring about fully electric bus fleets six years earlier than relying on roll out of new zero emission buses alone. This could give a potential saving of over 4Mt CO2 and deliver health benefits of improved air quality sooner. It also far more sustainable to extend the life of an existing bus, which has either already paid off or can continue paying off its embodied carbon, as well as avoiding the need to add more vehicles to landfill.
“Kleanbus offers a fast and efficient way towards zero-emissions, making buses cleaner, quieter, more comfortable, and more valuable assets for operators.”
Jordan Brompton, myenergi: “As the transition to electrification continues at pace, the EV industry needs widespread support to help maintain its impressive momentum. After all, replacing every petrol and diesel car on UK roads is going to take a fundamental change in public opinion.
“Ensuring that the charging network is fit for purpose, accelerating supply volumes from vehicle manufacturers, incentivising adoption through government-driven frameworks and investing in a future-proofed aftermarket capable of servicing ageing vehicles are all hugely important. However, so is achieving consensus over the science behind EVs – as well as the supporting insight to back this up.
“Indeed, while zero tailpipe emissions and the ability to charge from renewable microgeneration have always proven hugely attractive sustainability credentials for those considering the switch to electric, others have been quick to jump on the negatives – such as initially higher embedded emissions and the use of precious metals in battery production.
“It’s fair to say that significant research already exists regarding the long-term comparison between electric powertrains against the internal combustion engine, but clarity and uniformity is needed. Once and for all, we must agree on the fact that EVs are better for the environment – and have the clear, reputable data to back this claim up.
“This would prove a game changer for the industry and would help to dispel any rumours that are currently impacting the speed of transition. In my opinion, this is exactly what the industry needs right now.”
Skills a priority
Deepak Farmah, ERS Hub: “We’ve let too many sectors disappear or become design houses, letting other countries manufacture our technologies…we can’t let this happen to electrification and clean mobility.
“The opportunity is huge, and we’ve got some of the brightest minds in the industry. Now is the time to seriously look at capacity and capability, ensuring we have the people in place – with the right skills – to take advantage of the emerging demand for power electronics, machines and drives.”
“Government has committed £500m to support 169,000 jobs in zero emission vehicles and this is just the tip of the iceberg…electrification touches many industries, including aerospace, agriculture, energy and marine.
“The ERS Hub is an important new weapon in the sector’s arsenal and will help firms understand what skills are needed through a Body of Knowledge and a cutting-edge skills diagnostic tool.
“You will be able to find training courses through a trusted directory, as well as sourcing new talent through an interactive jobs board. The platform will also be a vital resource for people looking to make the transition into electrification.”
James Widmer, AEM: “The primary challenge most companies face is identifying and sourcing the essential skills required to meet market demands.
“The UK urgently needs a solution to upskill employees to compete globally – the ERS Hub will help the sector to begin solving this critical problem that is holding back progress.”
Mike Strahlman, Piclo Flex: “In my view, the next ‘phase’ in the evolution of EVs is the provision of flexibility to the grid.
“As of the end of May 2023 there were around 780,000 fully electric cars on UK roads (up 17% from 2022), and with this, the load on the energy system – in the form of charging demand – has also increased. This demand adds strain on a system which already faces challenges in terms of congestion, curtailment and supply/demand imbalances.
“That said, it’s not all ‘bad news’. In simplistic terms, each home with an EV also presents an opportunity for the grid in the form of an extra ‘connected’ battery asset. These assets, if managed in a smart way, can provide a decentralised flexibility resource to system operators and help to alleviate the constraints on the grid as well creating a new revenue stream for the owners.
“Even better news – these assets are being used already today to support the UK’s flexibility needs. Companies like Octopus Energy and ev.energy offer services to EV owners which utilise their EVs ‘assets’ and in exchange, offer value to the end customer.
“For those that don’t take advantage of such services, you can still participate. When the Smart Charge Point Regulations were introduced last year, steps were taken from charge point manufacturers to ensure the ability for EVs to be charged with an optimised interaction with the grid or energy system – including off-peak charging and phased charging times. This has been a great start.
“However, even though the functionality exists, not every EV owner is utilising it – instead, they have to make a choice to optimise their charging routine, or sign up to a service with an aggregator, to participate. Once you are ‘plugged in’ to a flexibility service, a marketplace like Piclo Flex can help leverage your EV asset.
“In a nutshell, I would urge the EV industry to facilitate more active participation and educate all players in the sector – drivers, charge point manufacturers and operators, and service providers – on the benefits of participating in flexibility services. There’s a huge opportunity to make a material difference and at the same time, generate some additional value from an asset.”
Education, education, education
Dr Chris Pateman-Jones, Connected Kerb: “Change can be scary for all of us, especially when it involves such a radical transformation in how we live our everyday lives. The use of mobile banking apps seemed fraught with peril as recently as the turn of the century, but now they are trusted companions for personal finance. The prospect of planning a journey based on the availability of electric vehicle charging points remains anathema to many of the uninitiated. Range anxiety, hassle and cost provide a troublesome trio of perceived barriers to making the switch to electric. It is incumbent on everyone not just in the EV industry but society in general to know the facts about e-mobility.
“Myth-busting is the active ingredient in any recipe for change and that’s why Connected Kerb has a comprehensive community engagement programme in all the local communities where it installs and operates charging points. We hold webinars for residents, landowners and local authorities to demystify electric vehicle charging and how it can make their lives easier in the long run. But we don’t just preach. We listen too. We support local authorities in taking the EV message to the streets but encourage both EV users and non EV-users to provide their feedback on any proposals we publish. Winning the hearts and minds of communities is essential to enabling a full transition to electric. Furthermore educating future generations, our children’s children, is paramount. At Connected Kerb, we regularly visit schools and colleges to talk to children and young people about the benefits of EV in an attempt to enhance their climate education – and maybe even pique an interest in a future career in the industry.”
Collaboration and incentives to calm the EV used car market
Philip Nothard, Cox Automotive: “In the US, the Biden administration has introduced a $4,000 tax credit for the purchase of used BEVs under $25,000, which has led to a significant increase in their adoption.
“It is essential that similar initiatives are implemented here to encourage the adoption of used BEVs and support the growth of this market. Until then, there will only be more instability and volatility.”
“It’s clear that there’s a discrepancy between the demand for BEVs and their availability in the used vehicle parc. I think a powerful antidote to this clash would involve improving awareness, more knowledge-sharing in the industry and, of course, legislative change that makes the process of stocking buying BEVs both more affordable and streamlined.”
Car makers need ‘start-up’ mindset to boost EV sales
Dr Doron Myersdorf, StoreDot: “We are working with many global OEMs and it’s clear that some are already changing their mindset to adopt advanced battery technologies faster. But not every OEM behaves like this, and I believe the entire EV industry will benefit from accelerating its processes and timelines if we are going to collectively undertake the seismic shift to electrification that the world needs.
“With a typical 5-year cycle to implement any new battery technology, we are encouraging global automotive manufacturers following traditional processes to adjust their methods and mindset to more agile business practices when evaluating and implementing innovative technologies. Testing of new technologies such as StoreDot’s Extreme Fast Charge – XFC – cells can be a strict, sequential, and laborious process that assumes a certain level of technology maturity. The upshot is that our game-changing batteries might not get into the hands of car buyers in a timely fashion. As charging anxiety is one of the main barriers to EV adoption, such conservative processes can have consequences for the entire battery and vehicle ecosystem and its ability to vastly and quickly improve the world in which we live.
“Of course, car makers must not ignore crucial elements such as safety and reliability testing, which are a given. But in my experience, some OEMs are still rigidly sticking to testing regimes that hinder the ability to take advantage of battery breakthroughs. Some parts of the automotive industry are currently being held back and will continue to be so unless we all adopt the agility of start-up concurrent engineering practices.”
More driving lessons in electric vehicles
Tim Alcock, LeaseElectricCar.co.uk: “The current generation of learner drivers across the UK are the ones who will be seeing the increase of EV sales become more rapid when the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars comes in.
“With a shift towards EVs already taking place in the UK, such as the £1.6 billion government commitment to revolutionise the electric vehicle industry, it makes sense for a greater number of learner drivers to start using EVs. Of course, the lack of EV driving instructors is an issue currently slowing down the move towards getting more electric vehicle motorists out onto the roads.
“There are few driving instructors in the country who have access to an electric vehicle for their students, as well as the issue of battery range lasting for lessons and the availability of charge points along UK roads.
“The practical driving test will one day soon have to be reformed to suit more pupils who are learning in electric vehicles. The DVLA will need to assess learner drivers’ understanding of things like economic use of battery power and charging techniques, as well as demonstrating braking and accelerating with a single driving pedal.
“But as the country approaches these future milestones and commitments to zero emission vehicles, learner drivers should increasingly be offered the opportunity to drive electric vehicles.”
Battery Intelligence: the key to maximising shared electric vehicle fleets
Joe Jones, Elysia: “With increased utilisation of an electric shared vehicle, it becomes imperative to have a full understanding of battery health and lifetime across the fleet. Elysia enables just that, and its actionable insights can then be used to improve battery lifetime or understand the potential trades and opportunities when considering both operational efficiency and battery degradation together.
“For instance, through understanding the effect of rapid charging, usage behaviour and depth of discharge and how to optimise these for utilisation and battery degradation, Elysia enables the life of the vehicle to be prolonged and ultimately seeks to reduce fleet total cost of ownership (TCO). As well as forecasting and enabling longer battery lifetimes, Elysia gives MaaS providers a complete picture of the battery’s health over its life on fleet, supporting warranty and residual values.”
“The route to net zero in our cities is to have relatively few, but well utilised electric vehicles. This is why shared EVs have so much potential to decarbonise the future of mobility. Private cars get used for just nine hours a week on average3 – a shared EV can replace ten private cars, drastically reducing embedded emissions from vehicle manufacturing, while at the same time improving local air quality.
“However, optimising the management of these shared electric vehicles is crucial, which is where advanced Battery Intelligence supports businesses make more informed battery deployment decisions. Simply put, Battery Intelligence can ensure a shared vehicle operator is able to get the most out of an electric fleets.”