SOLVING THE CHARGING POINT DILEMMA With the goal set, it is now up to manufacturers and the government to lead the general public along the electric superhighway to change. The automotive industry is investing heavily in this new technology, and a wave of new EV models are launching, with some of the world’s biggest car manufacturers scrambling to lower carbon dioxide emissions of their products. Businesses also have an important role to play by

investing in EV charging infrastructure and moving their fleet towards electric vehicles. Grants have also been offered to councils and businesses to install charging points in local communities and private car parks, hoping to preempt the forecasted rise of EVs. Moreover, the Government announced that employees with company cars that are purely electric or hybrid (able to travel 130 miles on a charge and emit less than 51 g/km) will pay no benefit-in-kind (BIK) tax in 2020/2021.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT TRANSFORMATION While we wait for the ‘hockey stick’ uptake that is expected when consumers become more comfortable with EVs and the infrastructure is in place to support them, municipalities can be the best adverts for EVs by providing electric public transport. With their stop-start short distance route characteristics, city buses are ideal for converting to electric transport and some of the country’s larger cities are well on the way towards making the transformation. One such city is Cardiff, which is already on board

infrastructure Moreover, a far from trifling £48.5bn will be

needed to upgrade electricity grids to cope with the extra demand. As it currently stands, even if a greater number of people did own EVs, it’s possible the electricity grid wouldn’t have enough energy in its system to charge them. VINCI Energies, via its Omexom business, works with transmission systems operators to upgrade the electricity network infrastructure so that it can cope with the surge in demand caused by the energy transition. This involves the refurbishment of existing lines; connection of new renewable energy onto the grid, as well as making the grid smarter so that it can efficiently and reliably store and distribute energy across the country. According to Deloitte UK, the EV market is

expected to reach tipping point in 2022, when the cost of ownership of battery operated vehicles (BOV) is on par with its internal combustion engine counterparts. This is also likely to be driven by the ban on selling new petrol, diesel or hybrid cars in the UK, which has recently been brought forward from 2040 to 2035, under the latest government plans, as well as access restrictions for these cars in major cities worldwide.

❱❱ Billions of pounds needs to be spent on UK charging infrastructure to meet the demand when new EV sales pass the tipping point, above left; Birmingham Airport has charging infrastructure in place for pantograph equipped electric buses

with its electric bus fleet and last September, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced that two of London’s bus routes were to become exclusively electric. London currently has more than 200 electric buses, making it Europe’s largest electric bus fleet, and this will grow significantly in 2020 as Transport for London (TfL) has awarded contracts to operators for a further 78 electric double-deck buses. Airport transport is another prime area for

electrification. Much of the road traffic in airports is captive, rarely straying from the confines of the airport perimeter. With the right infrastructure in place, the many different vehicles used for airport transport can be electrified, including service buses. One example that is making this change is

Birmingham Airport, which has a new fleet of all- electric Volvo buses serving its passengers. To charge the fleet, Actemium Coventry recently completed the installation of landside fast charging ABB pantograph systems in front of the terminal. While there are undoubtedly social, economic and

technical hurdles that need to be resolved, there is a general public consensus that EVs are the most sustainable transport solution of the future. Perhaps still only a small fraction of the total vehicle population, with a wider choice of products and the electric infrastructure to support them, EVs are nonetheless set to become the dominant form of transport in the decades to come. T&TH

April 2020 /// Testing & Test Houses /// 25

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