Electric vehicles are the future – but is the UK ready?

12th September 2018 | Commercial Energy

Electric vehicles currently make up just 4.3 pe cent of new vehicle registrations nationally. But the UK is seen as a European centre for electric vehicles because of government incentives for carmakers to invest in production capacity. However, a lack of costly infrastructure has held back development. According to the National Infrastructure Commission, battery power could save the UK £8 billion a year by 2030 as electrification is estimated to reduce energy usage by around 50 per cent, making everything much cheaper to run.

As well as economic benefits, going electric on the roads improves UK energy security through the reduction in reliance on oil and dependence on oil-producing nations. While reductions in operational costs and pollution are the obvious benefits of electrification, electric transport is also set to underpin the autonomy revolution as the UK seeks a lead in the fourth industrial revolution and, in particular, self-driving vehicles.

“When compounded with autonomy, electrification promises to reduce congestion, dramatically cut road traffic accidents and bring mobility to the immobile,” says Robert Harwood, global industry director at engineering simulation firm ANSYS.

Electric Vehicles

Exciting though this may sound, environmental factors are primarily driving the government’s policy decisions in this area. Diesel buses are around four times more polluting than private cars. With the clean air zones being introduced in a number of UK cities, and motorists deterred by congestion and parking costs, the need for an efficient and clean bus service is greater than ever.

“Air pollution is the greatest health problem after obesity in the UK,” says Matthew Pencharz, a former deputy major of London and now non-executive director for Off Grid Energy. Indeed, poor air quality results in around 40,000 deaths every year, 9,000 of which are in London. “Electrifying transport reduces harmful tailpipe emissions carbon emissions,” Mr Pencharz adds. “The UK already has a low and decreasing grid carbon intensity, and there is broad support across government.”

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