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The 2035 Goal: Achievable or impractical?

The Government has recently announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2035. So, just how achievable and cost-effective is changing to electric vehicles and does the government have a clear and defined strategy in place?

The Governments statement that they expect most electric vehicles (EV’s) to be charged at home and by smart chargers, which should in turn limit peak demands, is a positive assessment of how to deal with our “all-electric” future.

During initial trials as part of the Electric Nation Partnership, it was found that when charging is delayed to suit the availability of supply, typical peak loads for home EV chargers equated to approximately 850W on average, which is significantly less than the draw from the majority of home chargers of 7000W. This reinforces the suitability of the previously defined government strategy which will help to minimise peak demands, but is this the whole story?

What is not so encouraging is the increasing restriction in the availability of cost-effective grid connections for new chargers made worse by the installation of single manufacturer rapid chargers by individual automotive manufacturers. For example, in London where an automotive retailer had a desire to install rapid/fast EV charge points for their customers. They are finding, due to the demand being taken up with previously installed superchargers, that the connection cost for the chargers is uneconomical. The negative impact of this is wider than just to those attending their dealers for a service, but will also be felt by EV owners who don’t have the ability of home charging or access to other cost-effective charge points.

It is also apparent issues may arise with charging when our modes of transport change, over the next 5-10 years it is anticipated that we will move away from personal vehicle ownership towards Mobility As A Service (MAAS). With the advent of autonomous vehicles (AV’s), ride-sharing and the rise of MAAS where AV taxi’s/minibuses, rail, and flight become increasingly interconnected, the demands on our network will change.

When MAAS is the norm the requirement for charging from rapid chargers could, instead of reducing the cost of running an EV in certain circumstances, be significantly more expensive per mile than our current crop of diesel/petrol vehicles (driver aside).

In an assessment of vehicle fuel costs that we at Rolton Group have carried out, we highlight in the following graph comparison of the current prices of fossil fuels versus the cost of electricity per mile for various charge costs from domestic through Tesla and on to Ionity. We have also shown the possible impact of future fuel duty and VAT on electric vehicles which will need to be recouped to ensure the government regains the lost revenue from fossil fuels. The method of how this is regained is open to discussion but it will still probably relate to distance vehicles cover and can make up a significant portion of the energy cost, be it fuel duty or VAT as shown in the graph.

What this graph indicates is that market forces on our vehicle charging network won’t necessarily deliver the most cost-effective or even economic outcome for us all. If the Government doesn’t address the on-street/fast-charging network so that they deliver cost-effective solutions the ensuing electricity costs, particularly when we add on fuel duty and VAT, could become overpriced monopolies which limit the use to the rich at the determent of the poor.

When MAAS/AV’s become widespread if they must rely on rapid charge points the financial benefits of EV/AV’s taxis could be negated, even when taking the driver out of the equation. Without Governmental input, it may not be genuinely possible to maintain a level playing field, particularly when infrastructure costs have the potential to be such a large proportion of the total cost of installing and operating EV chargers.

Without this input the outcome for the long term could be one of two scenarios; - One where rapid/fast EV charging is very expensive because it needs to recoup the significant investment leading to higher travel costs or secondly, where EV chargers will simply be too expensive to install in certain areas, resulting in patchy coverage.

The facts indicate that a clear, transparent, long term strategy is required which may well need to take back some responsibility for delivering cost-effective charging points for all. Therefore, ensuring the fuel poor and public in general are not priced out of the market. This will become even more important when the tipping point on fuel duty is met and the Government realises it needs to start recouping the £27bn!

Author: Chris Evans, Deputy Managing Director
Telephone: 01933 414 548