In November last year, the Government announced its plans to bring forward the ban on new fossil fuel vehicles from 2040 to 2030 following assurances that the UK’s infrastructure will be ready to cope with the shift to electric cars. But is it and are we ready to take on the challenge?
Road Vehicles account for around 19% of all UK emissions and worldwide, car pollution is cited to be one of the major causes of global warming due to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions. Whilst we are seeing big changes in automotive manufacturing, there are still worrying concerns about the infrastructure that is required for the UK to become ‘all electric’ and there are some statistics surrounding the production of EV’s that should be a cause for concern.
In September 2020, Polestar published their real-world CO2 figures for their 2 SUVs versus a petrol Volvo XC40, and the results were quite eye-opening.
Manufacturing of the Polestar 2 creates 24 tonnes of CO2e, compared with just 14 tonnes of CO2e to make a petrol-engined XC40. The extra CO2 is largely attributable to the production of the battery pack needed for the EV.
Over a lifetime of 125,000 miles, Polestar says, the XC40 releases another 41 tonnes of CO2 through the use of fossil fuels which is where you can imagine the electric 2 starts to make some headway in the emissions stakes. But, even if using purely renewable power to charge the Polestar, you would still need to travel 31,000 miles before the EV’s carbon footprint becomes smaller than the petrol XC40.
EV’s are clearly about short term pain for long term gain.
In 2019, the UK Government unveiled a £1.3bn charging infrastructure commitment after reports suggested that the UK needed to install 5 times as many EV charging points to help meet our net-zero targets.
Zap-Map tracks the number of EV charging points in the UK and according to them, as of today, the total number of locations that have a public charging point installed is 15105, the number of devices at those locations is 23609 and the total number of connectors within these devices is 40680.
Additionally, the number of rapid public charging point installed is 2876, the number of rapid devices at those locations is 4399 and the total number of rapid connectors within these devices stands at 10221.
The UK needs to install 700 charge points per day to switch to EVs by 2030. According to Zap-Map, we are currently installing them at the rate of 971 connectors per 30 days which suggests we are falling well behind the targets needed for infrastructure to cater to demand.
To put this into perspective, there are 40.4m cars, vans, trucks and buses on UK roads today.
Our biggest sticking point isn’t within automotive manufacturing; it is battery production which is where the UK has its biggest issue. Currently, we don’t have the battery manufacturing capacity in the UK to support our own EV market.
Britishvolt is building the UK’s first Gigafactory in Northumberland and aims to be up and running by the end of 2023. There are also plans for a second gigafactory to be built in Coventry, but this is very much in the initial stages and would not be ready until 2025.
Whilst the efforts being made within automotive manufacturing to reach this 2030 target should be applauded, there are still many hurdles to cross to make this a smooth transition and the finger seems to be firmly pointed at both infrastructure and battery production. We will be keeping a keen eye on the progress being made in these areas…