We roundup the latest news from a busy month so far in the electric car world, including Scotland's charge to a greener future, the ongoing surge in EV sales, Apple's intriguing self-driving car developments and the English coastal county setting the pace for charging infrastructure.
Scotland leads England and Wales in charging coverage
At a time when good news is hard to come by, the electric car drivers of Scotland will be pleased to find the nation’s charge point count has topped 1,500. The Scottish government announced the milestone during the dying weeks of 2020, confirming the installation of a charging network on the A9. The news means Scotland can boast almost 40 public charge points per one hundred thousand people, compared with fewer than 30 in England and fewer than 20 in Wales and Northern Ireland.
Europe becomes new EV hub
That news came just days before CleanTechnica reported record electric and plug-in hybrid car sales in Europe during the month of November. According to the website, sales of plug-in cars – both plug-in hybrid and full electric – grew to 116,000 in the 11th month of 2020, up almost 200% on the same month in 2019. The Renault Zoe was the most popular model, followed by Volkswagen’s new ID.3 and the electric Hyundai Kona.
Model 3 tops UK charts
Here in the UK, meanwhile, electric vehicle sales hit 108,000 for the entirety of 2020 – an almost threefold increase on 2019. Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed electric vehicles accounted for 6.6% of all new cars sold in the UK last year – up from 1.6% in 2019. Unlike the European market, the Tesla Model 3 was the top seller in December, and not just among the electric contingent. The electric saloon pipped the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Fiesta to number one spot, racking up almost 6,000 sales.
Apple enter autonomous vehicle race
And it sounds as though Tesla’s success will be monitored closely by Apple, after Electrive reported rumours Apple would make the move from snazzy smartphones to autonomous automobiles. Although rumours have flown about an electric car before, Electrive has quoted a Reuters report suggesting Apple will launch its own vehicle with driverless capabilities. The company has already dabbled in the autonomous arena, but Electrive says the Reuters report suggests Apple wants to develop technology that could be installed in third-party vehicles. However, the report also suggests Apple’s car is a long way off, with a potential launch in 2024.
But while Apple might or might not be concentrating on an autonomous vehicle, the Verge reports Volkswagen has been building a charging robot, which is designed for use in car parks. Complete with a cute set of eyes and an adorable collection of beeps, the robot is designed to live in car parks, waiting for the call of an electric vehicle in need of power. When the car ‘hails’ the robot, it grabs a battery from a waiting store, then drags it to the waiting car. The battery power is then transferred to the car, before the robot returns to its docking station, dodging other traffic and pedestrians along the way.
Dorset gets charging network boot
Not that those new charging robots will be needed in Dorset, where the council has announced 44 new electric vehicle chargers will be arriving. Some 18 Dorset Council-owned car parks will receive 22kW chargers from February, powered by 100% renewable energy. The council says the charging points will fully charge an electric vehicle in less than two hours, at a cost of “approximately £12.50”. However, normal car parking charges will apply while cars are filling their batteries.