There have been some significant advances in the EV industry this year – both for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure development. We have heard announcements from car companies, governments, cities, mayors, power and fuel companies. The facts of the year have also been accompanied by a good dose of fiction, hype and selective interpretation. So what is our take on the EV news of the year and who are the winners (and losers) of 2017.
Our particular highlights
The black cab turns green
After years of development, it was a significant milestone when the London Taxi Company announced their all-new electric TX. We’ve always seen the taxi industry as key to EV development – not only through the replacement of large fleets but also to help change the public’s perceptions of electric cars as they are introduced to an alternative. And it is also great to see that these vehicles will be made in the UK.
The new Nissan LEAF
More impressive to me than the Volvo announcement, is this year’s reveal of the new Nissan LEAF as it is still one of only two cars which provide volume. With its new looks and its 40kWh battery, this could indeed be a game changer, tipping the range to just around the 160-mile mark making an electric car far more accessible to many more people.
High powered chargers
It’s almost impossible to believe that in 2011 we were installing 3kW charge points only. So to see 300kW rapid chargers hit the market this year was really significant. Initially, of course, this will have a small impact at the moment because all current cars are limited to taking just 50kW of power. Where they will come into their own will be when the new higher performance vehicles and next-generation batteries come on the market. This will reduce filling-time to around 10 minutes.
London and Harrogate buses
A solution for city centre pollution is urgently required and we must find an alternative fuel for buses. This year saw the emergence of three real potential options in the bus space: battery buses, opportunity charging and FCV buses. London is leading in battery buses and there are currently trials in Harrogate with overhead opportunity charging. This will definitely be a topic to watch in 2018.
2017 most talked about
The story this summer that the UK Government were to ban all diesel and petrol cars by 2040 caught a lot of attention – although somewhat misinterpreted by the press. It was a move we welcomed, however, the statement was actually referencing a ban on all vehicles without electric drives – so hybrids with ICE engines will still be on the market at that point. I personally hope we see more policies to come before 2040 such as the move towards no-emission zones in cities.
It was called a ‘landmark’ move by the manufacturer when they announced this summer that they will stop making vehicles fuelled purely by an internal combustion engine. It’s certainly positive news that the company will be offering five pure-electric models between 2019 – 2021. However was it the bold move that the media claimed? The high profile announcement also gained a lot of airtime this summer. However, Volvo is still a late-comer to EV manufacture so we suspect that the move was partly PR spin and the reality is that Volvo will be mainly making cars with electric drivetrains as opposed to all-electric vehicles.
Trucks and FCV
The year’s disappointment to me is the lack of movement in two areas – trucks and fuel cell vehicles. In the truck space, there’s a lot of noise, however, no real contenders. And whilst we’ve seen some positive movement on FCV infrastructure this year, through Shell-installed electrolysers, I suspect that these will be under-utilised for some time still as the numbers of vehicles sold to private buyers is still zero.
Villian of the year
This year’s biggest frustration for me has definitely been the continuous bashing of EVs and myth spreading by many of the UK’s media. It is bordering on ‘fake news and it is frustrating just how much the media gets wrong. So for every positive announcement, there’s been a raft of misinformation put out by the media. From The Times’ story that there were only three charge points in Wales, the ‘kettle stories’ which claimed that EVs could melt the grid through to the news that we would need 11 new nuclear power stations to cater for all these new electric cars. These two scenarios could be correct – but only if 30 million EV drivers decide to plug in at the exact same time on a cold day in February which is the same as that number all going to the petrol station at exactly the same time!
Zero Carbon Futures is an electric vehicle consultancy, specialising in the development of EV projects and infrastructure.