Written by Hejab Azam
13 August, 2019
The past few years have seen a huge rise in electric car uptake. Major car brands such as Audi, BMW and Volkswagen, have released, or are set to release electric vehicle ranges. When you read any news on the automotive industry, electric vehicles seem to be the running theme. And the UK Government is also placing a key focus on electrifying Britain’s roads by placing incentives on businesses to go electric.
Last year, overall vehicle sales dropped by 7%. But electric vehicle sales rose by 10% – a clear indicator of the desirability of electric cars. Now, even new buildings must be built with electric vehicle charging facilities – making electric vehicle adoption easier. Surely, this progress suggests that electric cars are now more accessible than ever?
The reality says otherwise. There are a still number of hurdles the electric vehicle industry needs to overcome.
It’s common to hear in the automotive industry that there’s a huge demand for electric cars but not enough charging points. But according to an analysis performed by Platform for Electromobility, there are enough EV charging points in Europe. Across the EU, there are 6 electric cars for each public charging point – better than what the European Commission recommended which was 10 electric cars per charging point.
Electric vehicle owners can find the closest charging points using apps such as ZapMap. Most service stations across the country have charging points which can give your vehicle an 80% charge in 20 minutes. And, there are a number of charging stations that are set to launch in the UK, which will give your car a charge in just a few minutes! Studies show that charging points aren’t as a big of a problem as people think. A survey by Clean Technica revealed that 41% of Europeans believe that a charging point is conveniently located to them, and only 2% feel it’s inconveniently located. 41% also said that electric vehicle charging points are very accessible and likely to be available and not blocked.
According to a new proposal by the Department for Transport, new houses, flats and office buildings are now being built with charging points to ensure that the houses and commercial buildings are electric vehicle ready. With most electric vehicle charging being done at home overnight, it makes sense to have one in your house. New street-light installations with built-in charging points are also being suggested to make electric cars more attractive to road users with only access to on-street parking.
The charging infrastructure is expected to keep pace with electric cars until 2020. One of the authors of the Platform for Electromobility analysis explains that this perception of there aren’t enough charging points is a smoke screen. It’s a myth created by the automotive industry to create an impression that they would like to sell more electric cars, but the lack of charging points is holding them back. The main issue is lack of supply.
The biggest hurdle are long lead times. By 2020, OEMs that sell vehicles in the EU need to get electric cars made to meet the 95g/km target. Otherwise, they face billions of euros in fines, putting even more pressure on automotive manufacturers. Research by Driving Electric showed lengthy delivery times for electric vehicles. The Jaguar I-Pace for example has delivery times of between 10 weeks to 6 months. The all-electric Kia Soul is already in low supply – there are only a handful left in showrooms. And the lead time for Hyundai Kona Electric is 10 months! (These lead times are as of August 2019). Even brands such as Audi, Tesla, and VW, are facing lead time issues.
The demand for electric vehicles is rising, but electric vehicle battery supply cannot match this demand. These supply issues are affecting electric vehicle volumes across the globe. China is dominating the uptake in electric vehicles because most electric vehicles sold there are made by homegrown automakers. The batteries in China are of lower quality than Japanese and Korean battery manufacturers – making them cheaper to buy. However, major brands like Tesla, BMW and Audi require tier one batteries which are of the highest quality, to ensure safety, long range and longevity. And because there is such a surge in electric vehicle demand across the globe, companies such as Panasonic, Tesla, LG and Samsung are catching up.
Switching to an electric car can be a big commitment. And having immediate access to one can have an immediate impact on your cost reduction. For example, according to Raw Energy, a diesel Audi Q3 costs on average £1256 per year to fill up. The Jaguar I-Pace on the other hand costs £581 per year to charge. If you’re a business with a fleet, this is a very compelling reason to switch as soon as you can. As a result, your global carbon footprint will be reduced, and you’ll be able to take advantage of government incentives. Additionally, most rental companies provide the option of maintenance and insurance in a monthly package – so you don’t need to worry about the extra costs and admin. For a business, this can make budgeting easier because you have a fixed monthly cost.
Alternatively, if you know you have to wait almost a year to get the electric car of your dreams, surely, you’d want to try driving one beforehand? Long-term rental can be an excellent solution if you want to try driving electric cars before committing to purchasing or leasing one. Electric cars are constantly evolving and updating their technology. Renting electric vehicles means you can avoid tying your money into a car that will soon become outdated.
The electric vehicle industry has a lot of catching up to do. Consumers are ready to go electric, and governments have incentives and plans in place. But, until the battery problem isn’t solved, it doesn’t seem like the electric vehicle supply is going to surge any time soon.