Over the last couple of instalments of our Opportunities & Challenges In The Energy Sector 2023 series, we’ve discussed energy use at home and in the workplace, and now we’ll be looking beyond our indoor surroundings and to the future of transport!
From 2030, the sale of brand-new petrol or diesel vehicles will be banned in the UK and although sales of second-hand vehicles will still be permitted, the change puts additional pressure on drivers to switch to electric sooner rather than later. However, surveys show motorists may not be quite ready for the change: in research conducted by RAC, only 14% of 3000 respondents said their next car purchase would be for an electric vehicle.
So, why the resistance to going electric? It comes down to a handful of factors:
Availability of Charging Stations
Around 60% of the RAC survey participants said they were put off by the lack of availability of charging points, especially as many people (26%) indicated they do not have access to off-street parking at home, making charging more difficult.
However, as of January 2023, there are 37,261 public charging points in the UK, with the vast majority (76%) being classed as Fast (7-22kW), Rapid (25-99kW), or Ultra-Rapid (100kW+). Even the slowest of these can give an electric car a minimum of an extra 30 miles of range in 70 minutes (which is usually the maximum length of stay at most charging stations). Rapid and Ultra-Rapid chargers, on the other hand, can charge an electric car to full in under 2 hours, giving up to 238 miles of range on a Tesla Model S (most cars will charge to 75% in under an hour, however, the final 25% alone usually requires an extra hour due to the resistance in the battery).
As it’s estimated UK motorists drive an average of 20 miles per day, this would mean drivers would need to make 1-2 trips to a local Rapid charger every week, or even less depending on the range of their vehicle. It’s also important to remember electric vehicle technology is still very new and as demand rises, more charging stations will be made available – in fact, the UK Government has budgeted £1.6 billion to help install a network of 300,000 charging stations by 2030 (over 8 times the current number of chargers).
Electric Vehicles’ Minimum & Maximum Range
Going hand-in-hand with the worries about charging stations, there are also concerns about the total range of EVs, with almost half (49%) of respondents stating they wanted to wait for the technology to improve so they could travel further on a single charge.
There are many different types of electric vehicles on the market today, from bikes to cars, vans, and even planes. Looking at a range of each of these, here is a quick summary of the average and maximum distances they can travel on a single full charge:
Bikes: 20-100 miles on average, but up to 130 miles with the Raleigh Centros
Motorbikes: 100-150 miles on average, but up to 200 miles with the Damon Hypersport
Electric cars: 150-300 miles on average, but up to 487 miles with the Mercedes-Benz EQS Saloon
Electric vans: 100-180 miles on average, but up to 205 miles with the Citroen e-Dispatch (and similar models)
Electric buses: 118-130 miles on average, but up to 250 miles with the Equipmake Jewel E double-decker bus
Lorries: 140-155 miles on average, but up to (a record-breaking) 682.88 miles with the Futuricum Logistics 18E Lorry
Plane: In a world first, Eviation Aircraft’s Alice flew 250 miles carrying 9 passengers in October 2022
While some of the above figures may be lower for electric vehicles compared to their petrol or diesel counterparts, some are certainly close to achieving the same average range. In fact, focusing on cars in particular as they’re the most common mode of transport for many people, some electric cars are surpassing petrol cars for the distance which can be travelled on a “full tank,” meaning we are getting closer to having the technology available to offer longer range travel in EVs for more affordable pricing in the near future.
EVs & Vehicle Maintenance Costs
Surprisingly, the percentage of motorists discouraged by the upfront cost of an electric vehicle fell from 57% in 2021 to 38% in 2022; however, over 47% of respondents were worried about maintaining the vehicle due to the rising cost of electricity.
Looking at upfront cost first, the push to “go green” has resulted in greater competition amongst manufacturers and with greater availability of electric vehicles and EV technology, the price of owning an electric car has gone down. These days, the starting price for brand-new electric vehicles is around £20k, and the cost of used electric vehicles can be as low as £5k for older models. As electric cars have much fewer moving parts, older EVs can still be reliable despite having a large mileage.
Of course, owning a fully electric vehicle does mean that its sole source of power is electricity and understandably in the current climate, many motorists are worried about the price of charging. It is important to note, however, that there are many charging points in the UK that are free to use: according to data from Zap-Map, 11% of EV charging stations (3,961) are publicly available at no cost, with the vast majority of these available in Scotland thanks to ChargePlace Scotland and Transport for Scotland. All remaining public charging points carry a fee (and some additionally charge a one-off connection fee to initiate a charge). Prices will vary from network to network, as well as depend on the location of the charger, however, most range between £0.17/kWh and £0.30/kWh, compared to the UK’s average home energy tariffs of £0.34/kWh and above – making it cheaper to charge an EV compared to using the same amount of energy at home. To provide a real-life example, charging a Mazda MX-30 from 20% to 75% using a public Rapid charger costs around £4.81 and provides approximately 80 miles of range; in comparison, getting 80 miles of range in the petrol-equivalent Mazda CX-30 model would cost around £12.99.
With this information in mind, some people are naturally concerned about the added pressure on the energy grid caused by the sudden shift to electric vehicles. The National Grid has, however, dispelled the myths around this topic with an eye-opening statistic showing the UK uses less power today compared to two decades ago in 2002. Thanks to technological advancements and improved energy efficiency across all of our electronics, we’re using around 16% less electricity despite using more devices than ever before. The National Grid also estimates that even if everyone in the UK bought an electric vehicle, electricity demand would only rise by around 10% – meaning even if we switched to EVs overnight, we’d still be using less electricity than we did 20 years ago.
Challenges & Opportunities Of EVs From A Manufacturing Perspective
As with any new piece of technology, the EV rollout has presented additional challenges for manufacturers, technicians, mechanics, and many others; though has equally added new opportunities, created new experiences for consumers, and truly pushed the boundaries of what is possible.
In an interview, Zudu discussed the future of connectivity and EV technology with Mazda Motor Europe GmbH. Speaking about how these systems are evolving and making it easier for users to manage their vehicles, as well as the bigger picture behind the scenes, a representative from Mazda said:
“While smart devices connected to the internet are nothing new anymore, the complexity and number of devices and platforms communicating with each other and exchanging data is rapidly rising. Cars are highly complex machines, operating on every street on the planet, gathering more and more data and current connected vehicles are already integrating with many other devices – most commonly smartphones or other consumer-facing technologies such as Alexa. However, this is only the start as the possibilities of vehicles to communicate with larger parts of the infrastructure – traffic lights, parking garages, electric grid, charging network, etc. – or with new service providers – PHYD telematics insurance, data aggregators, charge point operators or eMSPs, etc. – are still scratching the surface.
“So far, the development and deployment of connected services across the industry was largely focused on the traditional supply chain of OEM-developed services which are made available to end customers or dealers. It is still a rather isolated point of view and not taking advantage of the vehicles’ capabilities to integrate deeper into existing networks and eco-systems. This is an area where we expect significant development and increasing market maturity in the upcoming years. The increasing capabilities of the vehicles and OEM backend systems paired with the growing deployment of smart and connected devices/systems in the total mobility infrastructure and the establishment of mature service providers in this young industry will lead to a more transformative experience with the vehicle and integrate it further into the customer’s life.”
Continuing on the topic of in-car smart technologies, we also discussed the development of Mazda’s MyMazda mobile app which allows users to unlock their car from their phone, track its location, receive vehicle status updates, control the in-car temperature, and lots more. Speaking of the broader challenges of building apps for their MX-30 and CX-60 models, Mazda Motor Europe GmbH said:
“When we talk about connected services internally we do not necessarily refer to the MyMazda app only, as it is one puzzle piece – of course from a customer point of view the most apparent – to provide the connected car experience. For us, the majority of challenges are to connect the backend systems with each other and with the vehicle. It is required for global systems to communicate to regional ones including dealer systems, and all these systems vary significantly. Furthermore including then third parties increases complexity substantially.
“For the MyMazda App itself, we have further challenges mainly related to localization – especially in Europe – with different languages, units etc, and the increasingly stricter regulations concerning customer data and data privacy in general.
“For the initial launch it was a main priority for us to realize a stable range of services – fully localized and legally compliant – in all European markets and then make these services available through an increasingly wider car park.
“How to expand these services involving the vehicle or not with further customer-relevant features or functions is the current focus of our work. The range of services, capabilities of the vehicle and the ecosystem of services providers is constantly progressing with different speeds depending on the market and it is our task to stay up-to-date with these developments and further create a unique position for Mazda and the experience customers can enjoy with our vehicles and accompanying digital platforms.”
Find out more about how technology is changing the energy sector and helping provide better services to customers throughout our article series, or contact our team to start your project.
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