Support for the transition to zero emission vehicles


Gill Nowell from the newly formed Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) England discusses its recent research, which shows people in England are generally in support on phasing out petrol and diesel vehicles in pursuit of cleaner air

Registrations of new electric vehicles are skyrocketing in the UK. According to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, July 2020 saw a 259 per cent increase in new registrations of fully electric cars and vans, compared with the same time the previous year. The total car parc of electric vehicles (both fully electric and plug-in hybrid) stands at nine per cent of all car sales in the UK in July. Set against a backdrop of a 97 per cent decline in overall new car sales in the UK over the same period, the appetite for electric vehicles is as clear as the air that we would all like to breathe.
Electric vehicles are probably still a relatively new concept to many people in the UK. Challenges in perception remain, such as those over range anxiety, cost and purported lack of public charging infrastructure.
However, with the vast majority of automotive OEMs committing to electric drivetrains, and new makes and models being launched on an almost monthly basis, the UK has seen the number of electric car options catapult from just a handful a few years ago, to over 100 available to choose from today. In terms of numbers, back in 2013 there were just 3,500 electric cars on UK roads; today there are almost 250,000.
Battery size and therefore range on a single charge is increasing, with the majority of models now offering between 100 to over 300 miles of range – with start-up companies such as Rivian in the US promising 400 miles’ electric range for its all-terrain vehicles.
And watch out for Lucid Motors, with a purported range of 517 miles on a single charge for its forthcoming all-electric luxury sedan.
Safe to say, that the majority of electric cars can now travel around 200 miles on a single charge, and when we consider that most people only drive an average of 25 miles each day, this is more than enough to satisfy most drivers.

But what of charging infrastructure?

People with off-street parking tend to charge at home, overnight. For the 40 per cent of households without access to off-street parking, charging hubs and on-street charging solutions are emerging. Workplace and destination charging also have a key role to play in the ‘charging mix’. Motorway service charging is set to become more reliable, with updated and ‘partnered’ infrastructure being planned to offer more charging stations across the UK.

Electric fleets

Fleets of course will have a hugely important role to play in the decarbonisation of road transport in the UK. With company car drivers paying zero Benefit in Kind for 2020-2021 if they choose to go electric, the incentive is demonstrably significant, and presents a great opportunity for fleets to make the switch. The rapidly increasing range and choice of EVs is also a key driver for the transition to zero tailpipe emission transport for fleets, as well as the steady improvement in charging infrastructure. It is evident too, that with the government’s Plug-in Car grant no longer available for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, more drivers will opt to move to EVs with the associated grant incentive.

EVA England

Mass adoption of electric vehicles in the UK is becoming a reality. With this in mind, Electric Vehicle Association (EVA) England has been set up. Inspired by similar associations in Scotland, Norway, the Netherlands, Canada and the USA, EVA England is committed to providing a voice for EV drivers in England, with a focus on personal car drivers.
The founding group first met in March 2020 before being fully incorporated as a Community Interest Company in early June 2020.  
The founding Board of Directors is a diverse group from a range of professional and personal backgrounds, with over 15 years’ experience in the EV and automotive industry; all directors are united in the need for a consumer voice for EV drivers in England.  
The aims and objectives of EVA England are to promote electric vehicle use in England, as well as promote the environmental and health benefits to the public in England.
It also aims to represent the interests of current and prospective electric vehicle drivers in England and serves to provide services to electric vehicle drivers in England.
From the outset, EVA England has been keen to accelerate the transition to green mobility to understand the requirements and opinions of EV drivers in England. The immediate need for a unified consumer voice has been further compounded by the powerful influences of the motor, electricity generating and distribution, and renewable energy industries.

EVA England survey

EVA England has conducted its own survey in order to understand people’s views about the UK Government’s planned phase out date for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, with 82 per cent of respondents believing the phase out date should be brought forward from 2035.
EVA England’s survey of 1,114 individuals - who were predominately drivers or prospective drivers of EVs, as well as other drivers who have not yet made the change - was designed to inform the organisation’s core views.
Responses to the survey were primarily secured in collaboration with the 35-plus regional electric car clubs in England, largely thanks to the EV Groups Nexus.
The survey highlighted that 82 per cent of respondents in England believe the phase out date for ICE sales should be moved to an earlier date than 2035, and 65 per cent of respondents in England support a 2030 phase out date.
Ninety-six per cent of all respondents believe an earlier phase out would have a positive impact on public health.
A majority (72.9 per cent) of survey participants believe that an earlier phase out date would positively affect the UK economy.
74 per cent either agree or strongly agree that the motor industry will be able to supply enough electric cars to meet demand.
78.5 per cent of participants do not believe an earlier phase out date would put unfair pressure on the automotive industry and its employees.
Based on the results of the survey, EVA England will be encouraging the government to bring forward the phase out date for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans to 2030.
Other popular actions highlighted by the survey include the government introducing a scrappage scheme for petrol and diesel internal combustion engine cars, and the continuation of grants, as well as to implement a loan scheme.

Implementing a seamless payment scheme for charging would also be helpful, as well as faster investment by local authorities in public charging infrastructure.
Respondents were in general acutely conscious of the health benefits of lowering air pollution and the urgency of the UK’s need to meet the 2050 commitment, with 96 per cent of respondents agreeing that an earlier phase out date would result in better public health.
EVA England looks forward to continuing to grow and offer a consumer-focused voice to EV drivers in England – and to opening up to members later in 2020.