The electric vehicle industry continues to see fast paced change every year. In 2016 we predicted three key themes – all of which have become reality:
Larger capacity batteries – we saw 30kWh then 40kWh batteries available during 2016.
Charging for charging – charging for free couldn’t last forever. The business model for the return on investment on electric vehicle charge points is still very uncertain but it was understandable to us that fee structures needed to be introduced and it was no surprise when Ecotricity announced theirs in 2016.
More models on the marketplace – with over 30 makes and models of electric vehicles on the market by 2016 it was definitely the year when consumer choice grew. And with VW group declaring their intentions to be the market leader and JLR unveiling their plans, this growth will continue.
We also witnessed something that no one could predict: the backlash following 2015’s dieselgate.
Dieselgate really focussed the attention of politicians and the media towards the need for alternatives with questions being asked about how best to facilitate this change. For me, therefore, 2017 will be very much about seeing some of the necessary key ingredients coming together to help accelerate the uptake of alternatively fuelled vehicles.
The perfect ecosystem for mass-scale adoption
Clean air zones – 2016 saw the announcement that four cities will ban diesel cars by 2025, marking a shift from vague aspirations to actually setting a cut-off date. In 2017, I hope that more cities and authorities will follow suit in making such declarations. Bans like this will also force the hands of bus, truck and fleet operators so it will be interesting to see what will become the dominant fuel for those vehicles: CNG, hydrogen or supercapacitors.
Local authorities taking action – There’s been some local authorities that have really focussed attention on all aspects of sustainable transport however there are also a large percentage of authorities that have yet to make any investment in charging infrastructure. I think 2017 will be the year when the remainder will start to act.
Fear of litigation – This is something which could be a game changer in cities. Let’s take the smoking ban, for example. That was introduced to protect people who were exposed to cigarettes in their normal place of work. Local authorities and companies are now waking up to the fact that they could, in the near future, face litigation from those working and living in urban centres exposed to high level of pollutants.
Fines for car companies – This is nothing new, EU fines have been in place for many years now to encourage OEMs to reduce their fleet averages. What we need this year is for the CO2/km level to reduce even further, removing hybrids from the equation and eventually leaving zero emissions as the only option.
Changing public opinions – As a result of dieselgate we are also seeing the public becoming more informed about transport emissions. Let’s hope that as a result we begin to see a shift in their buying behaviour.
Fuel companies having to pay attention – Finally, the existing big carbon fuel deliverers have, until recently, held fast against putting in electric vehicle charging points or alternatives such as hydrogen. Shell seems to be the progressive one by installing electrolysers and making noise about EV charging points. It will be interesting to see what happens in 2017 when shareholders see the market changing.