I am an advocate for sustainability and try to do my bit day to day. When I upgrade my car, I will consider purchasing an electric car – but I am in the minority amongst my friends.
I came across an interesting article recently, highlighting the major challenges of electric vehicle (EV) adoption, and it struck a chord.
Changing the attitudes of my ‘petrol head’ friends will be a huge challenge, but for people like me who are open to becoming early adopters and therefore should be easy wins, there are still an astonishing number of obstacles.
The limited number of used cars is the biggest blocker for me – there just aren’t that many available when you look on Auto Trader or equivalent. Websites such as nextgreencar.com and goultralow.com are really useful tools to weigh EVs against one another, see if you are eligible for a charging point grant, work out costs (energy tariffs, tax, journey cost), calculate EV range and nearest charging points via interactive maps.
Luckily our office has installed electric charging points on site, so range anxiety is less of a concern and won’t affect my day to day driving habits.
The article also highlights that everyone must take responsibility; individuals, organisations and governments. What it doesn’t really address however, is that not everyone is thinking about electrification and how this is truly detrimental to wider EV adoption here and now.
It shocked me to hear of a friend (with a similar mindset to me) who recently purchased a new build house off plan. The developer did not and could not offer the option to install solar panels, energy storage or an EV charging point, but they could pretty much customise everything else on the house. It just doesn’t make sense! Had the developer not considered it? Is it not commercially viable? Is this person the first to ever ask? Is there such little demand?
A shift in culture and perspectives is going to be critical. But first things first, let’s make it as easy as possible for those who are ready to go electric! Below I’ve summarised the major challenges facing EV mass adoption summarised from the article. See if you agree, let me know what you think – what are the crunch points for you?
1. CHANGE TAKES TIME
- The market for used electric vehicles hardly exists
- It takes most UK drivers anywhere between one and 15 years to change their vehicles
- We will need many more places for charging electric vehicles
- Because fuel tax is an important source of income for the Government and electric vehicle users pay lower taxes, eventually changes to the tax system seem likely
- Individuals and businesses need to be convinced that electric vehicles suit their needs
2. LIMITED CHOICE
- It is difficult to compare overall costs of EV vs petrol/diesel
- The number of vans on the road is increasing (due to the rapid growth in online shopping), but, e-vans are much more expensive and not commercially viable for many small firms and self-employed delivery drivers
- There is more choice for those looking for a new car, but electric vehicles are disproportionately aimed at the higher end of the market
- High upfront costs and ending of the charging point grant may 'put off' many drivers from buying electric vehicles
3. CHARGING POINT UNCERTAINTY
- What about people living in apartment blocks, or houses without a private parking space. Should they expect charging to be available at bollards or lamp posts along their street?
- Should drivers use facilities at petrol stations, their offices or in empty supermarket car parks at night?
4. WHO WILL PAY?
- Even when a standard design for charging emerges, the age-old question of who will pay for installing it remains
- It is widely assumed that the private sector will build, operate and maintain charging infrastructure in the UK. BP and Shell have taken over market leaders Chargemaster and NewMotion and Tesla is actively rolling out its own charging network at motorway service stations
5. THE ZERO-CARBON FANTASY
- Even 100% electric vehicles are not a zero-carbon solution, there is still an environmental cost
- Sourcing the minerals used for batteries, dismantling batteries which have deteriorated, and building and delivering vehicles to customers worldwide all involve substantial CO2 emissions. It is impossible to break all of the links. Could hydrogen fuel be the long-term alternative solution?
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