With car manufacturers around the world getting ready to announce new electric models this year, 2020 looks set to be the year of the electric car. Some of the biggest players in the industry are launching new products this year, including Mini, Vauxhall, and Fiat. Electric cars have been growing in popularity over the past decade and are no longer targeted towards a niche market, but as they continue to go from strength to strength, what’s next for the industry in 2020?
The history of the electric car
Inventors from Hungary, the US, and the Netherlands produced the first concept of the electric car back in the 1800’s. By 1901, Thomas Edison worked on developing a better battery for the vehicles, thus creating the first hybrid electric car. Following crude oil’s drop in price in 1920, electric vehicles decreased in popularity and petrol and diesel models took control of the automobile market.
Electric vehicle improvements over time
Electric vehicles have improved significantly over the past decade. There are currently over 150,000 electric cars on Britain’s roads and the amount of rapid charging connectors has hugely increased since 2011, including the introduction of CCS, Tesla, and Type2 connectors. While the average journey in the UK is 15 miles, electric cars have always brought with them the anxiety of breaking down or running out of ‘juice’ away from the chargers mentioned above. Maybe in the past they would only be capable of short distances, but currently you can expect a full charge to allow you to travel in the region of 200 miles. Better yet, 96% of motorway service stations can provide a rapid charging point, which will provide a 100% electric car with 80% power in 30 minutes.
What does the future hold?
Automotive experts have predicted that the popularity of electric vehicles will continue. One main reason is the UK government’s projection to stop the sales of new petrol and diesel models by 2040. It also pledged that at least half of all new vehicles will be hybrid or electric by 2030 in its push to reduce vehicle emissions.
Distribution network operator, Northern Powergrid, is a positive example of a company seeking to get ‘hands on’ as part of its preparation for the increase in electric vehicle and associated demand for more connections and EV charging points. It is introducing new charging points across 11 of its own sites to encourage employees to go electric well ahead of the 2040 ban on new diesel and petrol car sales. “We have to get hands on and lead by example,” said the company’s Head of Policy Development, Jim Cardwell. “Although colleagues frequently have to take our vehicles to places where there is no electricity, there is huge internal appetite to decarbonise as much of our fleet as possible, as soon as is practical.”
The company is also continuing work on EV projects which will help the UK in its journey towards lowering carbon emissions. These include a £9.8m collaborative project, announced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and led by Nissan, that will see 1,000 V2G charging points added to the UK’s network. It has also signed an industry-leading Memorandum of Understanding with Nissan to carry out projects that will look at how EVs, batteries and other technologies can support energy networks and is supporting customers looking to connect EVs to its network.
Ed Jones of Nissan EV said: “We’ve always known that Nissan’s EV technology can be used for so much more than just getting people from A-to-B and we’re delighted to be sharing our expertise to help create more sustainable energy networks in the UK. Through the integration of Nissan EVs, we can find new solutions that will help shape a society whose energy use is sustainable, efficient and affordable.”
Such initiatives support plans to make EV charging points more accessible. There are three types of charging available: rapid, fast, and slow. Across the UK, we are noticing a continuous rise in locations to be able to charge electric vehicles. In November 2018, 596 ports were added, and this number is only going to rise in years ahead.
The EV industry is set to continue making progress in 2020. With companies now on board with the changes, and the public embracing the models, the electric vehicle industry is certainly heading in the right direction.