Highways UK | Setting the record straight on EVs
David Hytch, head of innovation and strategy at Franklin Energy, is on a mission to dispel some of the negative urban myths surrounding ultra-low carbon and zero emissions vehicles.
The inexorable drive to change the vehicle fleet to low and ultra-low carbon and zero emissions continues at pace. Sometimes louder in its opinions are the arguments and reasons not to do it now. But electric vehicles, both private cars and the range of commercial vehicles from delivery vans to double decker buses, are with us and being used in increasing numbers with the charging infrastructure to support them evolving as rapidly.
Going through the process of installing the first EV charging network in Greater Manchester in 2012/13, I wanted to draw on the progress being made in smart ticketing such as tap and go, account-based ticketing and the ability to use any service or mode with a single token, smart card or App. It was not technically possible then, but the latest generation of systems are more than able to support this, provided the appropriate approach and willingness to concentrate on the driver’s requirements and not just a drive for getting posts in the ground.
From the earliest installations the ability to match the time to fill at a petrol station has been the benchmark with which EV charging has been challenged. In response the vehicle powertrain technology and the charging systems have evolved to reduce the time for charging, but I also believe there is an increasing recognition that EV drivers are developing different behaviour. In addition, the development of charging hubs and the introduction of new types of facilities with business services to provide time for a break and catching up on work.
The supply of energy for EV charging is a topic which provokes a wide range of opinion, possibly not just in the pub, ranging from the imminent collapse of the system to an inherent longer-term danger of energy poverty. Needless to say, neither of these scenarios is accurate. The use and expansion of renewables is able to play a particular role in the energy supply for EV’s, the development of smart charging which brings a capability of balancing the demand and ensuring a vehicle is able to be ready for its next trip. The actions of the supply and distribution sectors will be crucial, and signs are they are aware and willing to invest.
Within companies the impact of EV’s on company car policy is being felt. Whether HR, operations – expense driven, or fleet and leasing departments, the business case for EV’s is getting stronger all the time. The total cost of ownership and running expenses are quite different from traditional although there are some use cases where today the indication is still for diesel. Taxation treatment will be changing next April 2020, and again needs to be factored into decisions about company car ownership and allowances.
There have been a string of stories and urban myths around EV and PHEV whether or not they work, their practical range, the cost and reliability. As with any new method – trains scaring livestock, cars needing to be led by men with red flags, or iron hulled ships being too heavy to float, there is always a settling in time. We are on the brink of this for EV now and with the numbers of vehicles on the road, the types available for private and commercial use growing almost every week, this is a good time.
David Hytch is an independent consultant and non-executive director of Franklin Energy. As a member of the Highways UK advisory board David has convened a distinguished panel for the EV session in the Jacob’s sponsored main theatre including Phillip New, CEO Energy Systems Catapult; Laura Rainey of National Grid; Oliver Johnson from ABB; Vicky Edmonds, joint-head of OLEV and Ross Fairley, partner with Burges Salmon to discuss these and other issues around EV charging, energy supply and growing the infrastructure.
Highways UK is free to attend, but please register in advance here