Electric charging, what’s the point?

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Global professional services firm, Grant Thornton, recently produced a report, delving into the future of electric vehicles (EVs).

Has cross-party commitment to EVs led to its growth in the UK?

In the short-term, cross-party commitment to EVs has led to an uptick in growth of EVs, quickly becoming less of a novelty and more of a valid option for the everyday motorist, however the transition in the long-term is expected to be industry and consumer-led.

Do you believe it is realistic to have all automobiles being zero emission by 2040?

The shift in consumer habits and ultimate transition to fuel-efficient motoring is a means to an end, and with the legislation in place and committed investment, the target to have all automobiles effectively at zero-emission by 2040 remains achievable, though challenging.

Will EVs become commonplace in businesses across the UK?

We would expect EVs to become commonplace within acute sectors that carry large fleets (ie logistics and facilities management), as first movers start to witness the economical and CSR benefits. In the longer term we anticipate that adjacent sectors will follow suit as petrol and diesel cars are phased out, prompting a change in consumer behaviour.

What is needed for EVs to be more widely accepted by businesses?

Despite UK Government support, EV adoption is considered nascent with businesses making faint signals to convert without any demonstrable execution.

To bridge this gap, Norway successfully combined subsidisation and taxation on gas and diesel vehicles to support a transition to EVs. Be that as it may, we recognise that aggressive taxation may not be as effective in the UK as the country is more reliant on its oil and gas reserves.

However, our view is that for EVs to be more widely accepted by businesses, they must become more economic for the majority through both subsidies and punitive measures.

Are more charging points needed? What needs to be done to make this a reality?

Electric charging infrastructure is an important incentive to change customer behaviour and alleviate any ‘charging anxiety’, however, infrastructure to support the electrification of vehicles is still considered under-served.

To bridge the gap, private initiatives are becoming commonplace, including a joint venture between Daimler, BMW, Ford, and the Volkswagen Group, that aims to expand the charging network by installing and operating up to 400 stations by 2020 across Europe. This will include the launch of 40 charging stations in the UK.

To further improve the density of the UK’s charging network, we endorse the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) and initiatives to create an interoperable, secure and robust network that allows EV users to charge at any station.

Who is driving the EV industry in the UK?

The confluence of government action, greater attention by OEMs, rising customer acceptance, and ingenious suppliers is driving the EV industry throughout the UK, and globally.

Has there been a lot of M&A activity in the EV market? What major companies are leading in this market?

Oil and gas companies are the most active buyer pool, as oil majors look to diversify their product offering towards renewable energies, and future-proof traditional petrol and diesel service stations through the transition to multipurpose electric stations.

Charging station manufacturers and operators of scale have become key targets for oil majors over the past five years. In 2017, Shell acquired New Motion to accelerate its initial plans of installing rapid charging points across its forecourts, preparing itself for an EV-led market.

Rival oil giant BP completed a similar investment through the acquisition of Chargemaster in June 2018 for £130m.

ENGIE, a multinational utility company, acquired EV-Box in 2017, and more recently ChargePoint Services for £20m, as the company pursues its ambition to become a leader in green mobility solutions.

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