We undoubtedly witnessed a turning point for both electric vehicle (EV) sales and charging infrastructure development in 2015. In fact it was a successful year for the industry as a whole. The market going forward will undeniably be influenced by two key events this year: the VW scandal and COP 21. The overriding focus for governments will be air quality – specifically in cities – and the associated health impacts, and car companies will link EV to quality of life and not just purely economics.

I said last year that it’s a slow burn, not an explosion, and this is still the case as figures stand at a 1% market share of new car sales. This also has to be matched with a current finite capacity to make EV’s. If you believed the hype from some parts of the industry and press, 2015 was the year which would see hundreds and thousands of cars on the road; this was never possible. My biggest concern for the future is that policy makers think that ‘EV is now done’ and they move on to other flagship ideas. There is a massive amount of work still to be done.
What we have seen in 2015
We now have what I call; ‘City Strain’ this is where current installed capacity is either redundant or cannot meet demand, as more and more vehicles hit the streets. Installing 3/7kW chargers in cities on streets has probably had its day. We now have to move to charging hubs and the ‘fuel stations of the future’ with chargers delivering a min of 50kW and up to120/150kW.
Rapid Charging is the king
Research we have carried out with Newcastle University will be published this year and will show the market demand and accelerated use of rapid chargers. However reliability is still a concern. The most important thing to drivers is that the network is reliable and it is true that the network is still currently not without its issues. Enormous efforts have been put in place to ensure that reliability is being addressed and that 2015 will see the creation of a robust network. Despite a lot of speculation and politics the multi standard rapid charger is here to stay.

Predictions for 2016 onwards

Batteries
2016 will see the arrival of higher density batteries leading I believe to a point in the future where 60kW will be the standard for the average city car. Nissan’s CEO Carlos Goshn has said this recently.
Payment
Paying for charge points will start to be phased in and it has to happen. Drivers know this and I believe if the price is set correct will accept it.
Vehicles
There will be multiple announcements of new vehicles and some companies such as Ford will get off the fence and deliver EV to the European market.

Distractions

Hydrogen
My words last year were; “I’m certainly not predicting that 2015 will see hydrogen vehicles become a common sight on our roads”. My opinion is that hydrogen for passenger cars is a distraction and 60kW batteries will render them not viable. I cannot see any business case being made for private cars. There is a possibility for busses and trucks if the refining costs are sorted and a viable transport method is found.
Wireless
Static is a possibility but I believe dynamic is not going to happen. The redesign of vehicles plus the infrastructure costs makes any business case extremely hard to make.
Driverless
This has received a lot of publicity and funding, which I believe together with the other distractions should be greatly reduced and spent on EV infrastructure. It is in fact increasing levels of autonomy being developed and not driverless. We already have driverless and they are called Autonomous Guided vehicles (AGV).

And for us
And finally, for Zero Carbon Futures, we’re looking forward to our 5th year of operating as a consultancy firm in this sector. 2015 saw us grow our reputation as a project deliverer, we gained an enormous amount of expertise and recognition from ‘My Electric Avenue’, ‘The Rapid Charge Network’, as well as working with The Electric Highway to support their network development. We also ran our first ever conference in Croatia which was a big learning curve for us.

Contact: colin.herron@gateshead.ac.uk

Zero Carbon Futures is an electric vehicle consultancy which manages and delivers projects which help towns and cities increase EV uptake.

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