Please provide an overview of the key themes and relevant INDUSTRY TRENDS surfacing in UK media coverage over the past three months relating to electric vehicle charging, including electric vehicle sales, notable partnerships and company news, government infrastructure incentives and other discussions of note.
Hello! Thanks for your question about the key themes and relevant industry trends in the electric vehicle market surfacing in the UK media in the last three months. The short version is that sales are expected to rise significantly, due to lower purchase and manufacturing costs of EVs, as well as an increased availability of charging ports. Still, consumers are concerned over the ability to charge their cars, and that the cost is still too high. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.
KEY THEMES AND TRENDS IN THE UK
1. SALES are expected to rise for electric vehicles, due to the cost of ownership being expected to lower to the level of petrol-powered cars by 2018. The UBS recently raised their 2025 forecast to £14.2 million, an increase of 50% from their original forecast. This would account for 14% of global car sales. Others have a less optimistic view, citing that current market penetration for EVs in the global market stands at about 1%, and that the predicted levels may not be seen until mid-century.
Choices of vehicles are also improving, with the best-selling car brands offering EV models including superminis, large family cars, hatchbacks, estates and vans. Sales of alternative fuel vehicles has risen 29.9% in the first quarter of 2017, compared to the same period in the previous year.
It's not just in the regular car sales sector that EVs are doing well and continuing to grow. Online auctions have seen a range of stock from Nissan, Toyota, and even BMW EV vehicles, with the BCA reporting an average monthly penetration of 27%. In any case, EV sales are reaching record highs across the board.
2. PRODUCTION is less expensive than previously thought and there is greater potential for more savings in production costs, which means prices may continue to decrease on electric vehicles. However, while the cost of electric vehicles is due to rival those of petrol-powered vehicles by 2018, manufacturers won't reach parity until several years later, in 2023. As manufacturing costs for electric cars continue to fall, "manufacturers are weighing up the investment cost of traditional engines against electric, as well as the levies they face over the emissions of their fleets."
Two British companies (Mkango Resources and Metalysis) are expected to begin working to research and develop components for EVs made using neodymium, a rare earth. This is in response to the growth in the EV car market requiring a large number of magnets to go into their engines. Developments are also being made in the EV market regarding batteries. Potentially, up to 10,000 new jobs could be created in Coventry in a national centre to develop batteries for the electric vehicles of the future, if the go-ahead is given.
Clearly, parts manufacturing is beginning to shift into the EV realm. Even companies who previously worked solely in the production of parts for traditional petrol and diesel-run vehicles are looking for ways to transfer into the EV market. Johnson Matthey is turning its sights to electric car batteries and cleaning up air pollution, previously dealing in catalytic converters.
3. GOVERNMENT FUNDING/INCENTIVES
The government's involvement in the United Nations Climate Change Conference has played a big part in the improvements of the EV industry. They reaffirmed their pledge that almost all cars and vans would be zero-emissions by 2050 at the conference last year. Electric motoring eliminates the cost of fuel and is tax free. With the added government incentive with the plug-in-car grant, which provides 35% towards the purchase price of an EV (max £4,500).
Businesses may have an increase in EV fleet vehicles, thanks to the plug-in-car/van grant. For vans, the plug-in van grant only provides 20% towards the purchase price, up to £8,000. Still, fleet operators would stand to save the most by investing in converting to EV options.
The UK has been looking into the possibility of electric roadways since 2013 to put the country at the forefront of electric and autonomous vehicle adoption. Now, the tech giant Qualcomm has developed the first successful option in the industry. The government has also announced they will invest £62 million to help develop low- carbon technology in the UK.
4. CHARGING POINTS/INFRASTRUCTURE
The government’s pledge to invest £35m in the ultra-low emission vehicle sector will help the improvement of the UK's EV charging infrastructure keep pace with the market. E.ON has launched their own EV charging points for businesses to help meet the growing demand. Organizations that stand to benefit most from this launch include industrial business parks, sports event venues, hotels, and other institutions with high-capacity parking lots.
Improvements in batteries also increased EV range to 100 miles on a single charge. EV fuel costs are approximately 2p per mile, compared to 10 or 12p from traditional petrol and diesel-powered vehicles. Customers who take advantage of off-peak energy rates stand to save a considerable amount.
The main concern regarding infrastructure is the UK's current energy networks. Should no changes be made to the current infrastructure to deal with the rapidly growing popularity of EVs, it could be a "recipe for disaster," according to the Green Alliance. Without proper improvements, it will result in "grid congestion, expensive short notice network upgrades and inadequate generation at peak times." The UK government is actively working to solve this concern. In Wales, the Swansea Council is exploring how they can help make sure the correct infrastructure is in place to support the growing demands in the area. It is likely that without such support from businesses and organizations working in collaboration with public bodies like this council, that the demands will not be met.
5. CONSUMER SENTIMENT still shows concern over range in EV vehicles, but Qualcomm's development of a wireless charging road has the potential to solve that anxiety if incorporated into the nation's road network. Such a road would also reduce travel times for EV customers by eliminating the need to search for charging ports along the way and then having to wait for their vehicle to charge before proceeding.
Another company that is battling perceptions over EV vehicles is Chargie, an Airbnb style booking site that lets you sign up to charge your vehicle in someone else's driveway, or rent out your own charging port. As of May 2017, the website was still in its testing phase, but the potential for increasing convenience for EV customers is paramount. The company's founders believe it will help increase the popularity of EV vehicles in the UK.
Ultimately the big sticking points for UK consumers are still cost and the availability of charging ports, resulting in concerns over purchasing one themselves. Though vehicle ranges and available charging ports continue to increase, 48% of consumers still worry they will be unable to charge their cars. Also, a lack of information about the industry is a rising concern. A Freedom of Information Request in Scotland revealed its authorities spent £962,442 on 147 EVs since 2011. The TaxPayers' alliance accused the local authorities of "being far too quick to spend taxpayers’ money before carrying out a thorough examination of what families are getting in return for their taxes."
6. TOP BRANDS/COMPETITORS include Tesla and GM, both of which are both estimated to lose earnings on their base models, only achieving a profit on their vehicles with consumer upgrades. According to The Week, the best EV vehicles being released this year include:
-Volkswagen e-Up! (compact city car)
-Tesla Model X (SUV)
-Faraday Future FF 91 (SUV)
-Hyundai Ioniq (sedan)
-Jaguar I-Pace (SUV)
-Nissan Leaf (hatchback)
-Tesla Model 3 (sedan)
Trends amongst the top competitors include improved range into the hundreds of miles, as well as more affordable pricing. Still, the more affordable options (Volkswagen and Nissan) still run for around £25,000. More expensive options can run from £60,000 and above.
Honda's new electric car (Clarity) is getting a great deal of attention for all the wrong reasons. It's expected to cost the same as the new Chevy Bolt and upcoming Tesla Model 3, but will have just one third of their ranges. Honda seems to be sticking to its guns about hydrogen fuel cells being a better long-term bet.
To wrap it up, the current trends involve increased sales of EVs, changes in manufacturing and production in order to lower costs and prepare for future demand, and government incentives. Major concerns in the industry continue to involve the infrastructure, especially with regards to charging port availability. However, there are some promising advances and initiatives by different companies to battle these concerns. Thanks for using Wonder! Please let us know if we can help with anything else!