The UK is reaching a tipping point in terms of the adoption of electric vehicles. As of May 2021, there are around 300,000 pure electric and a similar number of plug-in hybrids, while between 2016 and 2020 there has been an increase of 220% in the number of public chargers (Source: Next Green Car).
Plug-in vehicle sales climbed by around 140 per cent year-on-year in 2020, with hybrid sales up 12 per cent, and together these accounted for over 10 per cent of new car registrations in the UK, the third-largest electric vehicle (EV) market in Europe (Source: Statista).
Meanwhile, the Government has laid the foundation for further growth by introducing generous incentives for EV and raising the target proportion of EV in new vehicle production from 60 per cent to 100 per cent by 2030.
The barriers to the uptake of Electric Vehicles
Despite the evident popularity of EV, a series of consumer surveys, including one by the RAC, have shown there are three principal barriers to further uptake: range, i.e. how far electric vehicles can travel between charges; upfront cost, or the price of the vehicles vs equivalent internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, and infrastructure, that is, the local and national network of charging points, plus the availability of home charging.
Turning to mobile network data to help plan for EV
Technology improvements and increased volumes are continuing to increase the range and reduce the upfront purchase costs of EV. However, one of the key challenges remains: the infrastructure to help reduce range anxiety. Citi Logik believes that charge point operators, EV charging installers and local authorities would benefit from expertise in monitoring vehicle movements using mobile network data (MND). Helping businesses to more accurately plan and upgrade charging points will increase the return on investment, reduce customer range anxiety and improve the levels of customer satisfaction with facilities.
Range anxiety associated with EV
Many potential consumers suffer from so-called “range anxiety”, fearing that they will run out of battery before reaching their destination and will be unable to find a charging station in time.
In reality, 99 per cent of journeys in the UK are under 100 miles, meaning that drivers’ needs can easily be met by an electric car (Source: National Travel Survey 2019).
For those travelling further, there are over 20 models available with a quoted 200-plus mile range and some new electric cars come with a range of over 270 miles, enough to get from Southampton to York.
Matthew Davison, Finance Director of Citi Logik who has recently become a Tesla owner, said: “Five months into ownership, I have now realised what I perceived as a minimum standard of range exceeds what I actually require on a day to day basis. Ninety-five per cent of the time, my car sits on my driveway charging. I have the odd long trip, but it’s easy enough to combine comfort breaks with recharging the vehicle. Motor manufacturers are improving the range of electric vehicles every month in any case. It’s ironic, as nobody buys an internal combustion vehicle based on how big the fuel tank is.”
Motor manufacturers are improving the range of electric vehicles every month in any case. It’s ironic, as nobody buys an internal combustion vehicle based on how big the fuel tank is.
The cost of EV
While the purchase price of EVs is higher, running costs are far lower and the fact that EVs have fewer moving parts means that they are also much cheaper to maintain.
“The cost is not an issue for me,” Matthew said. “Because of the very generous tax incentives in place and the savings in fuel, road tax and service costs, I calculated that getting a brand new Tesla through a lease is cheaper than buying a comparable three-year-old petrol or diesel car.”
I calculated that getting a brand new Tesla through a lease is cheaper than buying a comparable three-year-old petrol or diesel car.
The initial purchase cost is also coming down due to improvements in manufacturing and better technology. “Manufacturers in China are selling Tesla-spec cars for half the price. Over time, these manufacturers will offer those vehicles to global markets,” Matthew said.
EV charging infrastructure
Concerns around infrastructure centre around two key perceptions: firstly, that there are not enough charging points, and secondly, that charging points are concentrated in London and other major cities.
In fact, 500 new chargers are being added to the UK’s road network each month, and drivers are never more than 25 miles away from a rapid charge point anywhere along England’s motorways and A-roads (Source: UK Government Office for Zero-Emission Vehicles).
Many EVs are charged at home, meaning that people with off-street parking can meet most of their charging needs while their vehicles are in their driveways.
As for regional differences, the reality is that all regions in the UK have seen increases in publicly available charge points in the year to July 2021.
Mobile Network Data to inform EV infrastructure planning
Matthew Davison noted that charging locations often required an electricity sub-station and an excellent connection to the national grid. A limited number of sites are likely to receive planning permissions, not just to build on, but to close major transport routes while the charging station is installed. In addition, each location costs hundreds of thousands of pounds. This makes the choice of sites a vital business decision for charge point installers and operators.
This is where Citi Logik can help support the transition to EV by providing critical information about the demand for EV charging. “Through mobile network data (MND) we have a very good understanding of journey types, duration and purpose – work commute or business trip or vacation – and dwell times when the vehicle is stationary,” Matthew said. “This will help with charging requirements. The infrastructure all has to be built. There are going to be a number of players building EV infrastructure and they are going to want to understand where to do that to maximise return on investment. That is the kind of data that Citi Logik can provide.”
Through mobile network data (MND) we have a very good understanding of journey types, duration and purpose – work commute or business trip or vacation – and dwell times when the vehicle is stationary.
Matthew added that a more in-depth analysis would be needed for the next stage of infrastructure development. “What we will be looking at is not just which routes, but how many chargers do you need on those routes? As the market matures, these questions will become more critical and the greater the need for data to support investment decisions will become.”
There are going to be a number of players building EV infrastructure and they are going to want to understand where to do that to maximise return on investment. That is the kind of data that Citi Logik can provide.
For more information about Citi Logik’s EV capabilities, please contact us.