• Could battery powered cars be more drain than gain?
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Could battery powered cars be more drain than gain?

A couple of big news stories caught our eye recently here at Big Motoring World. One was the announcement by Volvo that they will only be launching new hybrid or electric cars from 2019 (you can read more about this in our other post this week), and another that the new French president Emmanuel Macron’s government has promised that diesel and petrol cars will be banned in France by 2040.

Serious business

They’re both significant, not least because it shows just how seriously the industry - and national governments - are taking the process of moving away from selling cars that run on fossil fuels and towards a new generation of electric and hybrid vehicles. The electric revolution is really happening then - and of course we welcome any technological advances that will leave us with a greener and more sustainable industry in the future. But are there other implications of the move towards electric vehicles that may not such a positive impact? Recent comments by industry experts suggests that perhaps there are.

Support required

Stewart Reid, head of innovation at Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks points to the need for the utilities industry to think hard about how more electrical vehicles on the UK’s roads will impact the country’s electrical supply infrastructure. “There are two ways we can support the increasing number of EVs (electric vehicles) charging on the network – the first is to do traditional network reinforcements, such as installing new infrastructure and upgrading capacity. The second is using a smart solution, such as demand side management.” The comments reflect that any substantial rise in the number of electric vehicles on the UK’s road network will require a considerable investment in the infrastructure to support them. There are currently around 4,000 publicly accessible charging locations with 13,000 plug sockets - and it is estimated that number will rise dramatically to 80,000 by 2025.

A different approach

Making sure that this infrastructure is in place will require action from those in charge of local power networks, but also a change in behaviour from drivers. Most of us are used to filling up our tanks at a petrol station and then not doing it again for while - electric vehicles are more likely to be quickly topped up regularly rather than in one long visit. And while the national power network will likely be able to cope with the increased demand due to electric vehicle charging, problems might arise when demand is high at peak times. Working out how to deliver the right infrastructure for electric vehicles, where it’s needed most and with the capacity to cope with these surges, will be the next huge challenge for the industry.