Electric vehicles (EV) have been on the rise for a number of years and are beginning to take a significant section of the automotive market. Figures suggest that people are now noticing the benefits of running an electric vehicle as opposed to a petrol or diesel vehicle. The market averaged over 4,000 new registrations per month in 2017. Considering only 3,500 electric vehicles were registered in the entire year of 2013, the industry has witnessed significant growth over the past few years — with the popularity increase attributed to the developments in the industry that are slowly but surely overcoming the initial setbacks of electric vehicles.
The number of charging points around the UK, how long it takes to charge the electric batteries and the mileage range of the engine have always been issues for the EV market which have been deterrents for some car owners. However, the market has been working hard to overcome these issues. Nissan has recently launched its new Nissan Leaf with longer range and a one-pedal driving system. The new Leaf is said to be able to travel around 50% further on one single charge than previous models. The Nissan Leaf is already branded one of the most popular all-electric motors with over 283,000 sold since the model launched in 2010 — only coming behind the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The new updates to the Leaf could push it up to the top spot, now it is able to travel further without needing to be charged.
The innovative one-pedal driving system introduced by Nissan could be a game changer for the market. The system, which at the press of a button turns the accelerator into an e-Pedal, can function to start, accelerate, brake, and stop the vehicle. Whilst drivers can still choose to operate their vehicle with a separate accelerator and brake, the system, if used, will also provide added energy efficiency gains.
Here, VW dealership, Vindis explores what other developments the industry is experiencing and what effects they are having on the industry as a whole.
New charging locations
May 2017 marked the most charging points ever across the UK — there were more than 4,300 charging locations, with 6,700 charging devices and 12,500 connectors. However, if the popularity of EVs continues, we will need to continue to build more charging points to fill demand. And if we are to overcome the ongoing headache that is a full battery charging time of eight hours, we will need an influx of rapid charging points which can charge up to 80% of an electric battery in just 30 minutes, as opposed to slower charge points. Thanks to a multimillion pound deal with ChargePoint back in May 2017, InstaVolt are installing at least 3,000 rapid charging points on fuel station forecourts across the UK.
If we are to cater for the high demand for more charging points, we must also consider how much power will be needed for the charging points. According to the National Grid, peak demand for electricity could increase by 50%, if and when the nation switches to electric vehicles — which could be sooner than we think now that a new pan-European EV charging network has been announced, too. IONITY, set up by the BMW Group, Daimler, Ford, and the VW Group with Audi and Porsche, launched the network in early November 2017, and work on 20 ultra-rapid charging points has already begun as they target for 400 points across Europe by 2020. 2018 is forecast to see the network expand across more than 100 locations with the intentions of making long distance EV travel easier.
Batteries of the future
To keep up with competition in the market, companies are working hard to engineer faster-charging batteries. At the minute, the fastest charging batteries available, take up to 30 minutes at a rapid charging point to fully recharge. However, new research, as reported on by the Express, suggests a solution to this problem. Researchers claim they could have developed an ‘instantly rechargeable’ method that recharges an electric battery in the same time as it would take to fill a gas tank — a solution to the biggest headache of electric vehicles. This would revolutionise the EV industry, as battery life and its charge has been its biggest challenge. The new method is said to use fluid electrolytes to re-energise battery fluids — reducing the need for new infrastructure to support further recharging solutions.
As we get another year closer to the UK government’s 2040 target of eliminating petrol and diesel cars, we can expect to continue to see significant developments within the EV sector to overcome some of its biggest headaches and make EVs more appealing to drivers. If manufacturers can truly cut down the time it takes to recharge the battery, and develop batteries that can travel further, the industry could be revolutionised and experience an influx of drivers wanting to get their hands on an EV. Watch this space!