The future of electric cars

Have you heard the news? You have 22 years to prepare yourself. The government intends to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and it seems other nations will be joining us. France, India, Norway and the Netherlands have all pledged their own specific deadlines and China has also stated that they’re aiming for an electric future too.

Technology moves quickly these days and although 22 years is a long time, it’s safe to assume a lot will change within that period. While we can all probably agree that the reduced levels of exhaust fumes in our towns and cities will be a positive thing, what the future of electric vehicles (EVs) will actually look like is unclear.

Current situation

Charging station and car

Electric cars are starting to turn heads with sleeker designs, higher speeds and improved battery power. According to Auto Express, sales of pure electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids reached over 46,522 in 2017 - a increase of 27% compared to the previous year. Although Tesla continues to be an EV specialist, British company Dyson has recently announced plans to enter the market and it looks like the competition is heating up.

Many well-known brands such as Nissan, Volkswagen and BMW have electric or hybrid options. Some speed freaks are hotly anticipating the Jaguar iPace, Jaguar’s first all-electric SUV with a range of nearly 300 miles and 0-60 in a very rapid 4.5 seconds. All in all, it looks like EVs and hybrids are capturing the attention of both drivers and companies alike and will continue to do so.

What might change?

Design, style and trends will change as they always do. And as the technology that drives Formula 1 continues to progress, these advances will eventually trickle down to the average driver, so we can also expect safety features and materials to keep evolving too. But with electric cars, Formula E will prove to be a stronger influence, especially when it comes to battery design. Recent improvements in battery technology could mean an end to pit stops during races - for battery changes at least.

This evolution of electric batteries will be of particular interest to customers. After all, no one wants to run out of juice on the road, or be stranded miles away from an energy source. Which brings us nicely onto our next point...

Car design

Charging

Fast charge stand

The UK has already seen a rise in the number of EV chargers that are available for public use, particularly in cities. Statistics from Zap-Map state that as of 19 April, there were 5,564 public charging points in the UK. Companies such as Shell have already started installing chargers at their petrol stations so it’s safe to assume that this will continue, with independents also having to consider providing EVs at some point. Despite the increase in public chargers available, the UK’s charging infrastructure is still being determined and a number of trials are currently being carried out, including charging points that are connected to lamp posts.

All this extra charging is clearly going to increase the demand on the energy network, but luckily for us the National Grid is already on it. They’ve released their thoughts on the subject. They estimate that there’ll be around 9 million electric vehicles on the UK’s roads by 2030 and in February, the Financial Times reported that the National Grid is considering plans to install ultra-rapid chargers in key locations, allowing motorists to recharge their vehicles in just 5-10 minutes. The National Grid have also said smart technology will be key in helping manage the increased pressure on the supply network. This is something we’ve previously touched on too.

Recharge your batteries

Customers may already be asking themselves the following: can I charge my car at home, is it convenient and is it cost-effective? If you’re planning on getting a charging point for your home, you’ll need to consider how quickly you want your car to top up. Most chargers are classed as standard or fast; a 3kW charge point will charge a battery in around eight hours and a 7kW one will take a maximum of four hours.

There are a number of approved charge point models available to be installed in the home and at the moment, the government is offering some financial support to those who want to have one installed, but it’s worth noting that the grant is dependent on the car.

Batteries arranged in the shape of a car

Smart charging

Charging through the energy network

In the not so distant future, as our households and utilities become ‘smarter’, the Smart Grid will be able to charge your EV at the cheapest time of day (or night) automatically, thanks to ‘time of use’ tariffs. This is when off-peak periods are identified using detailed data from smart meters, allowing suppliers to identify lulls in energy use and offer a wider variety of cheaper energy tariffs.

So no need to set the alarm to plug in your car’s charger in the dead of night - the intelligent energy network could take care of that for you.

Are you thinking of getting an electric car or hybrid sometime soon? Consider a fixed-tariff. They give you lower unit costs and price-rise protection for a set period of time.


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