The UK's Plan For The Electric Car Revolution
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The UK's Plan For The Electric Car Revolution

Posted in Car News On By Connor Clayton

What exactly is holding back the EV revolution? Let's take a closer look as to why, and what the UK's plans for the future are.

In the year of 2019, the UK will try to fulfil a very humble aim - work out all the ways we are quite clearly unprepared to move on from conventional petrol & diesel engines, and how we can make this change permanent. We're going to be the host of the world's largest trial of electric vehicles - known as the codename: OPTIMISE PRIME

This trial will be unusual to first glance, as the focus will not necessarily be on the vehicles themselves, but more on the infrastructure that can make them convenient to use.

If we have a national grid that already only produces 5% more power than it uses, what's going to happen when we're all returning home from work and plugging in our electric car to charge?

This needs solving first! Not a lot of point investing in electric vehicles if theres not enough power to use them...

Roughly 3,000 electrically-powered vehicles will be deployed in the second half of 2019, with data collected to be analysed to asses the impact they are having on grids in urban, rural and suburban areas across the east & south of England.

Here's the main problems we need to overcome.

The Current Infrastructure 

At present, there are about 155,000 electric vehicles in the UK - most are privately owned and high-end. One of, if not the biggest problem, for making the electric car market a success is simple - the infrastructure is not there. 

There are either lots of cases of charging points not working or taken by someone else - the infrastructure isn't able to deal with more than a few vehicles at a time.

This project is aiming to look at mainly commercial vehicles - such as those used by large company fleets. Hopefully this will kickstart the electric car industry, given that around 60% of all vehicles sold in the UK are commercial. 

Given that the usage of business vehicles is predictable, unlike private cars, meaning charging could actually be controlled to even out the slack on the network.

Range Anxiety

The battery range just isn't there yet - it's too inconvenient. Long-distance drives in electric vehicles is still pretty much a gamble, that or it takes very precise planning. Planning ahead to find a charging point that's compatible, or simply relying on finding one... it's not a problem most people are willing to take on.

The government's target is 60% of new cars sold in the UK being electric by 2030 - that's looking unlikely unless there's some serious investment to address the range problem. 

Identify areas that lack charging points and plug the gap, also work out where high-capacity, faster charging points would be most useful for the public. Address these two areas and it's a huge step in the right direction.

Charging Points

Quite simply put, charging points around the UK are not yet standardised. They all vary in terms of the available charges, charging speed, wattage & connections all pretty much all over the place. 

Nationwide support is obviously there if you drive a conventional petrol/diesel engine, and you can head out comfortably knowing you'll come across a fuelling station if you need one. 

Nowhere near the same for electric!

If You're Not Tesla, You're Playing Catch Up

Tesla's success and the progress they're making in the electric vehicle industry is frankly, ahead of it's time. Especially now they're bringing their focus to producing models around the £30,000 mark.

Quite simply, this means all other car manufactures are playing catch up and are not able to make strides in the industry anywhere near as easily as Tesla. 

Given this, it's quite simply not practical or economical for operators to make the switch. As such, the purpose of the project will be to demonstrate how smart technology solutions can enable this, and can perhaps lower the barrier to the electric car market.

The Optimise Prime project aims to open-source the world’s largest electric vehicle dataset, which should help everyone from urban planners to power grid engineers and, of course, the public.


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