Electric vehicle adoption is “happening faster than any of us anticipated,” said Daniel Lyons of Shell’s e-mobility division, speaking at the UK’s EV Summit on 1-2 September. The event reviewed developments in the uptake of EVs with over 80 in-person delegates in attendance and 400 online.
Demand for electric vehicles in the UK has increased by 120% in the first half of this year, with plug-in hybrid sales up 153% and with that increased demand comes the need for greater charging infrastructure, affordability and accessibility.
The EY Mobility Consumer Index (MCI), research from EY launched at the EV Summit, shows:
• 41% of consumers surveyed plan to buy an electric vehicle (EV) as their next car, up 11 percentage points since November 2020
• Environmental concern is the top driver for purchasing an EV
• 66% of all consumers would be willing to pay a premium for an EV.
The full spectrum of UK decarbonised transport should be fuelled not just by customer demand and suppliers but by government too, the consensus seemed to suggest.
“Government should be refusing to buy internal combustion engines, promising greater tax benefits, and approving planning reforms for charging points,” said speaker Mark Richards, Partner and Co-Leader of the Energy, Environment & Infrastructure Team, BCLP.
EV Summit speaker Katie Black, Head of the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles, OZEV, said, “It will be absolutely essential for the energy, automotive, and manufacturing industries to come together to achieve our shared goals. Our next step this Autumn will be to publish a government electric vehicle charging strategy.”
She added, “Our ministers are clear that they want the roll-out of our public infrastructure strategy to be as market-led as possible.”
Ade Thomas, Founder of Green.TV Media, organiser of the event together with Oxford City Council, comments, “In order for the EV movement to succeed, customer demand must be married with manufacturer commitments and appropriate charging infrastructure.”
Manufacturers pledged their support and timelines for going fully EV or carbon-free during their speeches at the EV Summit, including:
• Hyundai: every product with just one exception is electrified in some form.
• Polestar: plans to create the first truly carbon-free vehicle by 2030.
• Volkswagen Group: announced that 26 million EVs will be built by 2030 from 18 e-production locations globally.
However, there are challenges to face, as Paul Wilcox, Managing Director of Vauxhall Motors commented, “We have pledged to be pure EV by 2028, but to make this transition possible, we need a frictionless, simplified environment to make this work.”
Ade Thomas added, “One of the key challenges facing electric vehicles currently is attaining a charging infrastructure that’s suitable for a variety of vehicles and locations, and sufficiently embedded throughout the UK.
“Accessibility for all demographics and physical disabilities is also critical in order to avoid marginalising sectors of the population.”
Announcements from key infrastructure speakers at the EV Summit suggest great progress is being made across the UK:
• Ubitricity (now owned by Shell Electricity) is aiming to place 50,000 on-street charge points by 2025 to provide a viable solution for EV owners without driveways, working hand in hand with local authorities.
• On-street and car park charging is critical, as Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, commented, “People without driveways includes those living in tower blocks and modern developments, which are often in areas where air quality is poorest.”
• Neil Isaacson, CEO, Liberty Change, noted the importance of making EV accessible to all, saying “Our focus is helping local authorities to develop their infrastructure to ensure that everyone has equitable access to charging.”
• Naeem Farooqi, Director of Sustainable Transportation & Asset Management Solutions, Wood, identified charging blackspots: “Isolated geographic areas experience ‘charging deserts’, whereby rural locations lack the necessary infrastructure to maintain an EV.”
• Naeem also pointed out that roadside charging needs to be accessible to wheelchairs, which includes accounting for space, height, and terrain.
• Catherine Marris, Head of Innovation at Motability expanded on the theme, commenting that “In 2035 in the UK there will be up to 2.7 million disabled drivers and passengers, with over half relying on public charging ports. This is a rare opportunity to design for accessibility from the start and build a more inclusive future for years to come.”
• Pod Point highlighted the importance of choice of charging options. The firm offers 4 choices – home charging, workplace charging, en-route charging, and destination charging, and commented that “All need to be implemented before EVs can become commonplace”.
Making use of existing buildings and driver stops will be an important plank in rapidly increasing the charging network, as Daniel Lyons of Shell commented. “We have a vast network of traditional filling stations, 45,000 across the world, many of which will be ideally placed to provide fast EV charging on the go.”
InstaVolt announced plans to implement 5,000 rapid chargers by 2025.
The event also included announcements in relation to EVs in fleet and industry, including Volvo Trucks, which pledged to aim for electric in half of its European truck sales by 2030.