Select's Electric roundup covers all the latest news from the fast-moving world of electric. This month, we take a look at the biggest stories from April. Could there be shoots of green from an exceptionally difficult month for the industry? We look at the future of EVs, what the pandemic means for emissions in our big cities, the continued growth of alternative fuel and there's a special mention for the surprise UK city leading the line in charging infrastructure.
EVs shining light in month of industry upheaval
The shifting sands of the UK automotive industry continues unabated, despite the huge uncertainty resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) which has squashed consumer buying power and ground halt to automotive production across the globe. But the latest figures provide signs of cautious optimism, particularly for the growth of electric and low emission cars.
New research from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) indicates there are now over 750,000 zero and low emission vehicles on UK roads.
That’s over half a million hybrids, 144,335 plug-in hybrids and 92,913 battery electric cars. That represents a year-on-year growth of over 25%. In contrast, petrol vehicles grew by just over 1% while diesels continued to fall as the latter experiences the biggest slump in its history.
COVID-19 could accelerate alternative fuel
Experts are predicting that the chaos of COVID-19 could encourage people to take emissions and the air quality in our largest cities more seriously. Various links have already been drawn between serious cases of COVID-19 (which primarily affects the respiratory system) and air pollution.
Suggestions are that COVID-19 may be more severe for those living in areas with poor air quality, such as big cities and towns. Early research published in The Guardian showed that the link between the two seems stark – with air pollution known to cause or worsen issues such as asthma, diabetes, lung cancer and heart disease. All of which have been noted as significant risk factors and can cause further complications when coupled with the new novel Coronavirus.
Sources have already begun to speculate that going forward to keep air quality at sustainable and healthy levels we could see a huge reversal in the way we get around our cities and an acceleration of incentives such as 'low-emission zones' and 'congestion charges'. As the world comes to terms with a new normal, transport in our cities could be in line for a major upheaval in the next few months and years.
The new normal: Under 1 in 10 want to return to old ways
YouGov has suggested that incredibly just 9% of Britons want life to return to ‘normal’ once the nationwide lockdown is lifted. The polling company conducted a survey of over 4,000 people to shed light on public perception of life during the lockdown. With outdoor activities limited and the normal freedoms that residents have come to expect severely impinged – many people have found there to be hidden benefits of the UK lockdown.
Air Quality may become one of the biggest talking points once the UK and much of the world heals from months of Coronavirus lockdown and social and economic strife. Data published in Air Quality News, an online journal focusing on air pollution, showed that NO2 emissions had halved across the UK's largest urban areas. With cleaner air, more diverse wildlife in abundance as well as stronger relationships between individuals being forged, we could indeed see a further acceleration of alternative fuel vehicle usage, a renewed environmental focus and much tighter local communities as the country emerges from the worst crisis in a generation.
The 'Life-cycle' Myth - Electric cars account for 60% less emissions than petrol and diesels
Not-for-profit organisation Transport & Environment (T&E) has found that electric vehicle emissions account for just one third of the emissions of an equivalent petrol and diesel. T&E found that throughout Europe, electric cars account for around 60% less emissions over the course of a life-cycle.
A T&E source was quoted saying that this will even “improve over the next few years”, as the trend in the market further swings towards electric power.
The data was produced in response to growing speculation and rumour that over the course of their life, electric cars will emit just as much emissions as petrol and diesel rivals, due to their demand for electricity. T&E have burnished this, claiming that data to calculate this often uses out of date information and life-cycle measuring methods. The organization went as far to say that in some cases, reporting of this has been “deliberately misleading.”
Coasting to victory - Southampton leads the line for EV chargingThe South Coast could prove to be a hotbed for electric car take-up. That comes following a survey conducted by Euro Car Parts which found that London was the most inadequate when it came to measuring charging infrastructure against demand.
Southampton has had a 13% increase in charging spots, pipping London due to its relatively low population and slower take-up of EVs. London has increased its charging stations by a staggering 66% to around 4,000 individual chargers but this is seen as a huge deficit on the over 120,000 EVs that are registered in the capital.
Euro Car Parts investigated the UK's 12 most congested cities and cross referenced this against population and the number of registered AFVs (alternative fuel vehicles).
Lack of charging points is often cited by would-be electric and hybrid drivers as a barrier to getting behind the wheel of these cars, with Euro Car Parts concluding that greater investment into the UK’s public charging network was essential if the Government was to achieve its “Road to Zero” which aims for 70% of newly registered cars to be low-emission by 2030.