Despite 2015 being dubbed ‘the year of the electric car’, with record sales of electric vehicles (EV) in the UK, current public opinion still suggests we are a nervous nation when it comes to migrating to electric fuel solutions. But with the climate debate more pressing than ever before, and the pressure in the aftermath of the Paris climate summit to find alternative fuels to combat global warming, it’s time for EV to be adopted on a wider scale. Here Kevin Norman, senior product marketing manager at Newey & Eyre explores the drivers and accelerators behind the electric vehicle revolution
After a year of record sales for EV, it seems that the UK is finally waking up to the benefits of EV. Despite EV having already proven popular across the world for several years now, with global body Electric Vehicle Initiative (EVI) reporting that the United States already had over 275,000 registered electric cars and vans by the end of 20152, sales in the UK suggest we are finally catching up. In fact, figures from last year show that the UK is now streets ahead of the rest of Europe in its adoption of alternatively fuelled vehicles.
A combination of government grants, easier charging and an increase in the availability of electric models, as well as the financial and energy savings attached, has seen a migration to EV become more attractive to road users in the UK. This is clearly reflected in the EV sales figures from last year, with a reported 400% increase in the vehicles registered from March 2014 to March 2015, with over 23,000 EVs registered in the UK during the first half of the year alone.
Wide spread public opinion towards EV, however, is somewhat out of step with this impressive growth in sales from the last year. Research from the Department of Transport has found that, in 2015, over half of the people surveyed had not considered swapping their vehicle for an electric alternative, with 21 per cent stating they would definitely not be buying an EV in the near future.
The Department of Transport’s research outlined that the main reason deterring people from going electric is the issue of charging the vehicles, with most of those that weren’t considering a switch to EV putting this down to a lack of knowledge or availability of charging points in their area.
The latest efforts of the government – the ‘Go Ultra Low City’ scheme – however, are sure to help put EV into the mainstream and change opinions in its favour. The winning regions, announced earlier this year, have received funding to make the respective areas more EV friendly, with a £40m investment to build out their infrastructures to include rapid charging hubs, EV lanes and earmarking around 25,000 EV parking spaces to name but a few incentives. While not everyone may be convinced by EV just yet, steps like this will go a long way to boosting its popularity and encourage other authorities to help make electric vehicles more attractive.
It appears then there is not only still an education process to go through to show consumers the real benefits of swapping to electrically-powered vehicles, but also a need to make the transition to EV as easy and accessible as possible. Despite this opinion, there are in fact a whole plethora of affordable charging facilities available for EV users that are not only easy operate, but incredibly easy to install and maintain.
With this in mind, it’s time for installers to get savvy and promote the easy transition to EV to be able to take full advantage of this lucrative opportunity. It’s now a chance for installers to go beyond the traditional role of electrician and act as an advisor and, somewhat, champion on the subject to help gravitate mass opinion in favour of EV.
For an electrician that is yet to delve into the world of EV, there are many training courses specifically aimed at those looking to diversify into the sector. A good recommendation is the introductory EV charging course offered by NICEIC which is designed to teach contractors how to install EV charging points in compliance with BS 7671, the Electrical Safety Quality and Continuity Regulations and the new IET Code of Practice. It takes just one day and offers the ideal route for those looking to get involved in the industry.
Once you’ve gotten to grips with the installation process, it’s important to source a reputable supplier with a genuine expertise in the EV charging arena to ensure the utmost in product quality, reliability and, ultimately, a best practice installation.
There are a range of factors that will influence a consumer’s decision on which EV charger is compatible with their lifestyle; these include vehicle type, desired speed of charge and future proofing.
Plus, when it comes to the new build sector, more and more local authorities are stipulating that as part of planning permission approval EV charging points must be considered – and in some cases mandatorily implemented – as part of a development.
With this in mind, Newey & Eyre has developed a range of Newlec charging solutions. The offer includes various types of charging units to reflect the mode of charging, whether it is a residential, commercial or public charge point, or if the charging point is to be wall mounted or ground mounted.
For the domestic user, one choice is the Newlec Wall-Pod: EV Ready unit. Providing a low-cost, future proof solution, this charger not only charges in Mode 2 format but doubles up as an outdoor IP65 rated domestic 13amp maintenance socket, while being easily upgradeable to the full Mode 3 fast charging format. For the contractor, further benefits include exceptional ease of install and adherence to all legal requirements – plus, it’s available in brick-matching terracotta to ensure aesthetic appeal.
Equally, in the commercial domain where chargers are subject to vast use, robustness of design and optimised security is a must. The Newlec EV SecuriCharge is a heavy duty, hard wearing and vandal resistant wall mounted EV charging unit, specifically designed and manufactured for public facing and exposed locations. Available in 1way and 2way, 32amp (7.2kW) single phase charging versions and featuring Type 2 IEC 62196 charging sockets: Mode 3 IEC61851-1 compliant communication protocol, SecuriCharge is ensured to meet the full breadth of charging requirements from the majority of car manufacturers. It is also easy to install and maintain, and compliant with all EVs and PHEVs, manufactured in compliance with BS7671 Wiring Regulations and comes with a one year guarantee.
There is no doubt the move to EV is rapidly picking up pace, and is set to grow exponentially over the next few years as the climate debate hots up. While the public may still be of the opinion that migrating to electric fuel is difficult and costly, installers should use this as an opportunity get up to speed with the technology and educate customers on the ease of the transition, to stay ahead and benefit in the long run from this rapid revolution.