Covid has sparked a heightened sense of environmental awareness that bodes well for the upcomimg diesel and gasoline internal combustion bans planned by certain markets. Yet, while usage is booming—EVs accounted for an 11.6% share of UK new car sales in 2021—the pandemic has created other more intractable problems.
A hangover of major supply chain issues is creating lead times of up to 50 weeks for some parts, including automotive chips. Meanwhile, companies of all sizes are only just beginning to emerge from the crisis of survival mode, with a renewed focus on neglected EV goals. Add in fuel shortages and a cost of living crisis, and the upshot is that many consumers and businesses alike are poleaxed. While the desire to switch to electric is there, consumers risk being deterred by the rising cost of EV home charging and uncertainties over range.
There is, however, a countercurrent, namely a new cohort of EV players helping to tackle these pain points.
Being able to retain and reward EV talent in a fiercely competitive market will be crucial to meeting the challenges ahead
From Spotify to Audible to Netflix, consumers have become accustomed to the easy-on, easy-off subscription model. This is translating across to services such as Onto, which allows drivers to experience different EV models from just one month at a time. Onto aims to make it as easy as possible for customers to switch to EV, with zero charging or service costs, to remove that core fear of trying.
Other pioneers have their eye on the flip side of the problem: keeping pace with rocketing demand. Infrastructure in many markets is simply not robust enough to cope with even the current spike in EV adoption. But companies such as Zap-Map are paving the way to stronger interconnectivity. Zap-Map is tackling range anxiety with a platform that has mapped 95% of public points on the UK’s charging network (its 300,000+ members also provide insights to refine the product). It is joined by Bonnet, a subscription platform that connects users to Britain’s estimated 40 UK charging networks and offers 24/7 support, to make the process more seamless and competitively priced.
Bonnet is also collaborating on the UK’s Rural Electric Mobility Enabler to tackle charging blackspots in less populated areas, including national parks. The latter counts in a category of nationwide property partners that will be key to developing future EV fleet and commercial capabilities.
With companies such as LEVC revolutionising the iconic Black Cab market, and ABB’s new Panion tool designed to enable the management of EV fleets, we now need to connect the dots by thinking about the installation of fleet-only infrastructure at supermarkets or service stations. As well as supersizing EV potential commercially, this will also enable a trickle-down effect at all levels of the market.
As far as infrastructure scaling is concerned, industry innovators would also benefit from keeping tabs on tech learnings in the luxury high-end EV landscape in areas such as Formula E and space exploration.
The UK is currently breaking free from pandemic cutbacks to play catch-up against a tidal wave of EV adoption. Awareness of the scale of this obstacle is urgently needed to help address it. So too are smart solutions for fleet infrastructure. Being able to retain and reward EV talent in a fiercely competitive market will be crucial to meeting the challenges ahead.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
David Mitchell is Managing Director at digital design and engineering consultancy Futurice UK
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