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Giving EVs an extra push forward
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Giving EVs an extra push forward

Chancellor Phillip Hammond provided some much welcome additional impetus to help businesses adopt electric vehicles (EVs) in his autumn statement. 

The chancellor announced that charging infrastructure installed by companies to support EVs will be eligible for a 100% write-off against tax. The government also announced an additional £390 million of support measures including a £600 subsidy for companies to install double charging points at business premises.

This, coupled with sobering warnings from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles makes the case for the adoption of EVs stronger than ever, with many saying that the dawn of a new era of motoring is finally upon us.

Accelerated market growth

With a £4,500 contribution from the government towards a battery electric vehicle and £2,500 towards a plug-in hybrid, the carrot has never looked juicier for buyers and this has helped boost sales to record levels over the last 18 months. Add in the fact that vehicle choice is on the up as more (and better) electric models hit the market and it’s easy to see the reasons for such accelerated growth.

With over 40 models to choose from there are now around 90,000 EVs on British roads, growing from around 20,000 in the previous 24 months. Go Ultra Low, a partnership between government and leading electric vehicle manufacturers, forecast that by 2027 one half of all new car registrations will be plug in. This amounts to over 1.3m new EVs sold every year. 

Health issues out in the open

Poor air quality is fast becoming recognised as a major cause of early death and much of this is brought about by the NOx emissions generated by diesel cars. In early 2016 the Royal College of Physicians reported that over 40,000 early deaths in the UK are caused by poor air quality.

London and many other UK cities consistently and seriously breach air quality legislation and this is recognised as a major concern. To help combat this London is imposing a daily charge on “dirty” vehicles entering central London from September 2020 in its Ultra Low Emission Zone. Many other UK cities are expected to follow suit and the cities of Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico recently announced they will ban diesels completely from 2025. It is widely expected that other cities will follow their initiative.

Car manufacturers are poised to support this major shift with an increasing focus on EV vehicles and continuous research and development to support lower emissions targets.

Technical leaps and bounds

The past 12 months has seen unprecedented developmental leaps in the design of electric vehicles, one of the most impressive being the show stopping increases in battery performance and therefore range. The Renault Zoe has nearly doubled its range over the last year and can now achieve a real-world range of more than 150 miles with similar increases achieved by other manufacturers.

Such capability is not going to be restricted to luxury cars and the £25,000 Tesla Model 3 will have a similar range, which is also expected to be matched by new models from mainstream manufacturers such as VW and others. Such cars are likely to be available for little more than the cost of the equivalent combustion engine car with significant reduction in running costs. 

A refreshing experience

At a day to day level, the annual fuel costs of EVs are less than a quarter of the running costs of a petrol and diesel car. Servicing costs are also significantly reduced due to decreased use of brakes as a result of regenerative braking and no engine or gearbox oil to replace or top up.

Whilst operating an EV is a little different to driving a combustion engine vehicle and does take a little getting used to, once adopted it is a much more satisfying and enjoyable experience.

As well as being safe in the knowledge that you are doing your bit to help the environment by reducing emissions and improving air quality; smelly petrol stations will be a thing of the past, making the EV experience a breath of fresh air in more ways than one.

But it’s not just the lower running costs and environmental benefits that make EV such an attractive proposition; the performance and smoothness of an EV makes a conventional car feel rough and noisy in comparison, something you don’t need to be an eco-warrior to fully appreciate.

Charging into the future

Charging is fast, safe and easy with most EV owners charging at home overnight. The government offers a £500 subsidy for the installation of domestic charging points, meaning you can easily have a unit installed in your garage or driveway for around just £200. An overnight charge for a car such as a Nissan Leaf or BMW i3 only costs around £3 compared to around £15 for the equivalent mileage on a petrol or diesel car.

Home charging can be supplemented by charging at work or at one of the 11,000 public charging points across the country. As a motorist that has been 100% electrically propelled for some two years now and having clocked up around 50,000 miles without visiting a petrol station, I can say that driving an EV is something I would not want to ever give up. It clearly is the future.

Within 3-5 years we expect to see charging points at every supermarket, railway station and hotel and in visitor bays of every company. The current number is estimated to grow to over 50,000 by 2020 and already many new office and retail developments are equipping up to 20% of their parking bays with charging points soured on by planning regulations.

We are all in this together

Whilst the measures announced in Mr Hammond’s autumn statement are welcome, the government should be doing much more to support the UKs transition into this new, healthier and more positive era of motoring. At present the government seems to lack a joined up and robust approach in this area and can often send out conflicting messages and ultimately confuse buyers.

At Chargemaster we work closely with organisations such as the AA and manufacturers such as Mitsubishi Motors and many others in calling for a consistent policy from government covering fiscal levers such as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), Benefit in Kind and other tax incentives.  This can be done with no net cost to the Treasury by slightly increasing taxes on combustion engine cars and increasing the support for EVs.

We would like to see the following actions taken by the government:

  • The development of a five year plan that clearly articulates the vision for EV take up and has consistent and medium term tax incentives
  • A clear statement of EV take up targets for 2017,2018, 2019 and 2020 (this is fundamental and it is difficult to understand why government does not take a lead in this)
  • Clear communications to motorists and more support to persuade car buyers that the ultra-low emission route is the right one and the benefit this brings.

We are all in this together and the sooner we clean up our cities and reduce the effects of harmful gasses the better. The motor industry is doing its bit by investing in the design and manufacture of some truly amazing vehicles and infrastructure providers such as Chargemaster are investing in multi-million pound national rollouts of charging points.

But ultimately if we are going to tip the scales in favour of EV and a healthier planet for all, we need greater and more consistent support from the government.

David Martell's photo

David Martell Founder and chief executive of Chargemaster

David Martell is the founder and chief executive of charging point manufacturer and operator Chargemaster, which partners with BMW, Mitsubishi, Mercedes, Renault, Nissan, Audi, Qualcomm and Toyota and has shipped over 50,000 charging points from its factory in Luton.


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