The automotive industry is in the midst of a seismic change. Within a few years, British roads are going to look radically different, with the internal combustion engine largely giving way to electric vehicles which are cleaner, faster, and more affordable – or, at least, that’s the plan.
In order for this to happen, however, motorists need to be confident that they’ll be able to fuel their new vehicles. This means that we’ll see the trusty petrol station replaced by charging points. In the North East, the number of chargers is set to undergo a particularly huge increase from 375 to 2,064. This is a 450% rise in just a single year. Other regions might not enjoy quite the same benefits, but then, they’re not starting from quite as low a base. And still, everyone will enjoy at least 100% growth.
Other challenges facing new EV drivers
There are a number of other obstacles to widespread EV adoption, besides the lack of charging infrastructure. Motorists might worry about an inability to travel very long distances on a single charge. As batteries become lighter and more energy-dense, this is a problem that might go away. There are significant engineering challenges to overcome along the way, but then manufacturers have never been better incentivised to do so.
There’s also the problem of looking after an electric vehicle. Since most mechanics in the UK are trained to deal with the sorts of cars that most people drive, there’s a limited number of options for people whose electric vehicles break down. Even if you book your MOT online, you might struggle to find an electrically qualified mechanic. But again, this is a problem that will go away if the uptake is widespread enough.
Will the national grid be able to cope?
If suddenly millions of motorists make a transition to drawing power from the grid, then that grid might find itself unable to cope with demand. You can imagine the sort of chaos that might result. Imagine the worst fuel crisis, except it’s going on in perpetuity. According to a report presented to the Join Transport Committee in the North East in March projected that the area has just 2% of the fast-charging infrastructure it will need to meet the expected demand in 2035. As such, it’s by no means a sure thing that the grid will have the necessary capacity.
While 2035 might seem like a very long way away, the pace at which the technology is now moving is incredibly quick. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, battery electric vehicles are enjoying a substantial rate of increase in market share, with 38% more registrations in 2022 than in 2021. At this rate of increase, we might see electric vehicles as mainstream sooner than we imagine.