Roddy Graham's blog: 18 March 2014 - The future for electromobility
18 March 2014
Roddy Graham is commercial director of Leasedrive and chairman of the ICFM
The news that £170m of EV subsidies will remain unclaimed by the time the Government initiative finishes at the end of 2015 will come as little surprise.
While £400m was set aside in an EV war chest, only £230m is now expected to be claimed back with subsidies of up to £5,000 available for a qualifying electric new car and £8,000 for an electric new van.
The Department for Transport projected 8,600 claims for 2012 alone but admitted that by the end of 2013 only 6,709 claims had been received since subsidies began, totalling £33.5m.
As I have previously highlighted, it is simply mind-boggling that the Government can waste so much money on futile exercises. How much has all this cost to administer and to unsuccessfully market?
Government needed to centrally co-ordinate the roll-out of a comprehensive charging network using a standard multiple plug-in interface in the absence of one standard plug-in socket. Then, it needed to really encourage fleets and private motorists to become the early pioneers and advocates of electromobility.
As it is the whole thing has been done piece-meal with little central co-ordination, leaving much to private investor initiatives such as Chargemaster.
Our own recent driver research has thrown up some interesting insights.
Of the 420 drivers surveyed who provided reasons for their decision not to consider an EV for their next company car, 35% stated range concerns as their primary reason - hardly a surprise!
However, 13% cited a lack of knowledge. This was ahead of the lack of a comprehensive charging infrastructure, which just goes to show how much more needs to be done to educate prospective drivers.
In that regard, the Government cannot be solely reliant on vehicle manufacturers such as Toyota, Nissan, Vauxhall and BMW to educate the market.
Drivers are time-poor and the last thing they can afford to do is sit around while their cars are being charged.
Toyota has revealed that it is trialling wireless charging in Japan. Cars are driven over points in the road surface where they are then charged.
When EVs monopolise road traffic in the future, one can certainly imagine cars being quietly wirelessly charged up in car parks or parking bays as drivers go about their business.
It seems as obvious as the idea of electric buses and taxis topping up their batteries on the move through charging lanes and at bus stops and taxi ranks while stationary.
Naturally, there are still many technological hurdles to be overcome before EVs become the dominant mode of transport, not least in terms of battery technology.
Bosch is one of three names behind a new joint venture to develop the next generation of lithium-ion batteries with double the range capacity in a smaller lighter body.
Between them, major stakeholder Bosch along with lithium-ion battery producer Yuasa and Mitsubishi Corporation aim to make electromobility truly accessible to the mass market by 2020 - a bold vision.
The EV movement is slowly gaining momentum. With Formula E hopefully giving it a much needed publicity shot in the arm later in the year and competition from other sources in advanced battery technology, it can only be hoped that the bold vision of electromobility becomes reality by 2020 and we can all enjoy a cleaner and quieter future on our dilapidated UK road network.