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Improvements for the electric vehicle industry

28th January 2018 Print

The electric vehicle industry is celebrating a record year for new registrations in 2017 — averaging over 4,000 new registrations per month in 2017. Considering only 3,500 electric vehicles were registered in the entire year of 2013, the industry has witnessed significant growth over the past few years — with the popularity growth attributed to the developments in the industry that are slowly but surely overcoming the initial setbacks of electric vehicles (EVs). 

However, progress is likely to come to a stand-still if the industry challenges aren’t overcome. Thankfully, the UK is working hard to provide more charging points across the country, whilst manufacturers work to improve battery life and mileage range. Nissan has recently launched its new Nissan Leaf with longer range and a one-pedal driving system. The new Leaf is said to be able to travel around 50% further on one single charge than previous models. The Nissan Leaf is already branded as one of the most popular all-electric motors with over 283,000 sold since the model launched in 2010 — only coming behind the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The new updates to the Leaf could push it up to the top spot, now it is able to travel further without needing to be charged. 

Further developments in the industry include Nissan’s one-pedal driving system which is expected to transform the driving process as we know it. The system, which at the press of a button turns the accelerator into an e-Pedal, can function to start, accelerate, brake, and stop the vehicle. Whilst drivers can still choose to operate their vehicle with a separate accelerator and brake, the system, if used, will also provide added energy efficiency gains. 

Here, VW dealership, Vindis, discusses what developments appear to be in the pipeline for the industry. 

How will we provide more charging points?  

As the industry grows, so does the demand for more charging points across the UK. By May 2017, there were more than 4,300 charging locations, with 6,700 charging devices and 12,500 connectors. However, if the popularity of EVs continues, this won’t be enough to fill the demand, meaning we need to continue to build more. And if we are to overcome the ongoing headache that is a full battery charging time of eight hours, we will need an influx of rapid charging points which can charge up to 80% of an electric battery in just 30 minutes, as opposed to slower charge points. Thanks to a multimillion pound deal with ChargePoint back in May 2017, InstaVolt is installing at least 3,000 rapid charging points in fuel station forecourts across the UK.

But can our current infrastructure keep up? Probably not. If the National Grid is to be believed, peak demand for electricity could increase by 50%, if and when the nation switches to electric vehicles, meaning we will also need a new infrastructure. This could be sooner than we think now that a new pan-European EV charging network has been announced, too. IONITY — set up by the BMW Group, Daimler, Ford, and the VW Group with Audi and Porsche — launched the network early in November 2017, and plans to work on 20 ultra-rapid charging points have already begun as the group aims for 400 points across Europe by 2020. 2018 is forecast to see the network expand across more than 100 locations with the intentions of making long-distance EV travel easier. 

Faster charging batteries 

Currently, petrol and diesel cars still trump electric vehicles for the time it takes to refuel. The faster charging batteries available right now, still take up to 30 minutes at a rapid charging point to fully recharge — however, new research, as reported by the Express, suggests a solution to this problem. Researchers claim they could have developed an ‘instantly rechargeable’ method that recharges an electric battery in the same time as it would take to fill a gas tank — a solution to the biggest headache of electric vehicles. This would revolutionise the EV industry, as battery life and its charge has been the biggest challenge for the industry. The new method is said to use fluid electrolytes to re-energise battery fluids — reducing the need for new infrastructure to support further recharging solutions. 

The UK can expect to see more developments in the electric market industry if it wants to continue the success. As the UK government continues to outline its plans to reach its 2040 target of eliminating petrol and diesel cars, the demand for EVs should continue — if they are able to overcome some of the vehicle challenges and make EVs more appealing to drivers. If manufacturers can truly cut the time it takes to recharge batteries, and develop batteries that can travel further, the industry could be revolutionised and experience an influx of drivers wanting to get their hands on an EV. Watch this space!