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Electric car models to
triple in Europe –
but UK may miss the boat

Electric car models to triple in Europe – but UK may miss the boat

Published: 14th August 2019
Area: Corporate & Commercial
Author: Jack Fowler

The increase in electric car models in the UK so far has been slow – due largely to the double barrier of inadequate charging infrastructure and the price premium on EVs.

But new research from IHS Markit suggests that carmakers are now fully committed to producing more cars, as they estimate production of electric vehicles will triple by 2021.

Most of these cars will be produced in Germany, France, Spain and Italy and the UK cannot afford to be left behind, but it looks like it might be should we leave the EU without a deal.

What is clear is that the UK’s charging infrastructure is currently woefully unprepared for this increase, and as such consumers could remain reluctant to purchase EVs despite the advantages.

A greater choice of EVs in UK showrooms and on the roads may force both the private and public sectors to take a look at charging infrastructure options, refitting current petrol stations with charging points, increasing vehicle charging ports in the home or investing public money in a national charging infrastructure scheme. Inevitably, this would put greater demands on the grid, but can it cope?

Implications for the Grid

If EV numbers in the UK were to treble, it would have a grid capacity problem. The UK neither has the generating capacity or network capacity to handle the demand surges of three times as many electric vehicles as it does now.

Incentivising consumers to charge their vehicles in off-peak hours is one potential solution, however, will this be enough given the predictions in recent reports, which suggest that EV production in Europe will triple by 2021?

National Grid stated that the network requirements of EVs won’t be as demanding as feared. Nevertheless, National Grid may still need to revise its forecasts for peak demand increase.

No-deal Brexit

Should the UK leave the EU on 31 October without a deal, it is likely these EVs made on the continent will not be offered to the UK market, as the UK cars sold will not make up part of the car manufacturers’ quota of EVs they must produce under EU emissions regulations.

Ultimately this forecasted rise in EV production is not demand-led, in that it is being forced by EU regulations changing manufacturer’s behaviour. There is not yet the consumer-led market demand for EV’s in the UK. However, by 2040 – if the price of EVs come down and battery technology gets better – there could be a sharp rise. The grid will therefore have a problem if it doesn’t develop some solutions soon.

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