Oxford is due to have the world’s first zero emission zone. Oil giants Shell and BP have invested in electric vehicle charging point companies NewMotion and Chargemaster. The tipping point for EVs has started.
The Oxford EV Summit took place over 4-5 July 2018 and was organised by Oxford City Council in association with Green TV and Electric Drives. If you’re involved in the world of EVs and charging, and didn’t attend, then you need to read this EV Summit review. If you’re not yet convinced that the future is electric, then there’s even more reason to keep reading.
The EV Summit featured some of the industry’s leading speakers, with short presentations (PowerPoint slides were banned), and there were no Q&A sessions. This format may sound unusual, but there was method in the madness of this approach from event organiser Ade Thomas, who wanted time freed up for networking – and not just the ‘random’ networking that happens at other events – but ‘structured networking’, where active facilitation occurred to enable delegates to chat with people they wanted to meet. It worked brilliantly.
The driving force behind EVs used to be reduction of CO2 levels; today air quality is the key factor that will ensure the transition from ICE to EVs. A recurring phrase in the EV Summit was “there are no safe levels of air pollution”. Pollution from petrol and diesel vehicles is having an adverse impact on our health, and young children are the most vulnerable group. Based on this information alone, it’s difficult to see how any politicians will support petrol and diesel cars going forward. The risk of inaction is far greater than any risk that may result from driving forward quickly with initiatives such as zero emission zones.
The UK government has already announced a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2040, and the somewhat delayed ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, which is finally due to be published in the next two weeks, is expected to provide more clarity around the detail of what this means and how we get there.
Mathias Wiecher, Head of Ultra-Fast Charging & Infrastructure, E.ON, explained how mobility provides independence and freedom, and connects people. E.ON plans to help achieve this by providing high power charging stations between cities.
Natasha Robinson, Head of the Office of Low Emission Vehicles, confirmed that the UK government has the will to make the move to zero emission vehicles, and is aiming to offer a good, consistent product package – and the UK can learn from international examples such as Norway, where EV uptake has been successfully accelerated by government tax incentives.
Greg Archer, Clean Vehicles and Energy Director, Transport and Environment likened the current move to end pollution via EVs to the move to end horse dung when cars replaced horses as everyday transport. However Greg claimed that car manufacturers are not investing in EVs fast enough, and they’re certainly not promoting EVs through advertising and marketing; there are much higher budgets for petrol and diesel vehicles (BMW was the one company that was quoted as an exception to the rule). Dealers were also singled out for “actively discouraging” EVs. In contrast to this, there is huge investment in EVs in China; meaning that China is likely to be supplying EVs to us in the future.
Colin McKerracher, Head of Advanced Transport, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, quoted a number of figures due to the ban on PowerPoint slides at the event. Firstly, the cost of lithium-ion batteries is coming down by 18% every time production volumes double. This has translated to batteries costing $1,000 per kWh in 2010, reducing to $210 per kWh last year. That should result in fully cost-competitive EVs in 2025, when we should have 7 million annual EV sales. Colin also referred to China making a huge push with the production volumes of batteries and EVs. We’re also now seeing the start of city-level policies being the biggest driver of EV uptake.
Sarwant Singh, Senior Partner, Frost and Sullivan, agreed that we should see at least 7 million annual EV sales in 2025 – if not 10 million. And battery prices will drop to $100 per kWh. EVs will also encourage a further shift in car ownership business models, with subscription models becoming more popular.
Martyn Briggs, Vice President – Automotive Research, Bank of America, saw the cost parity of EVs with ICE happening between 2024 and 2030. Just in case there was still any doubt, China was once again mentioned as the leader in battery and EV manufacture. One of the most ‘re-quoted’ quotes of the day was Martyn’s statement that “public chargers are like public toilets – people need to know they’re there, but they don’t use them.” However 40% of people in the UK do not have off-street parking – so if the government wants us all to be buying EVs by 2040, where are people without off-street parking going to charge them?
Kit Wisdom, Head of Technical Services, Alphabet, has seen a continual upward trend with EV adoption, and 89% of EVs are financed rather than bought outright – which is a higher percentage than petrol or diesel vehicles – and more EVs are bought by the company car market than by retail customers. Government support is needed with Benefit in Kind tax; EVs attract 13% BIK during this tax year, which rises to 16% next year, then is due to fall to 2% in April 2020 (who comes up with these ideas in government?). There is currently no plan for what happens in 2021. Another issue that urgently needs to be addressed is that HMRC doesn’t recognise electricity as a fuel for mileage rates. Norway was cited as a good example of practical, consistent government support.
Eric Ling, Engagement Manager, Vivid Economics, said EVs will be a case of “when, not if”. Battery costs will come down, so the price of EVs will come down, and the concern about the impact of EVs on the grid can be mitigated by smart charging. We need more public charging infrastructure, and it needs to be more visible, but people will primarily charge at home, especially when we have EVs with longer ranges.
Dr. Alexander Kotouc, Head of Product Management, BMW i, talked about the decision making that happened with the BMW Board back in 2007, when the brand’s 6-cylinder engine was its best-selling product, but a huge growth in urbanisation and mega-cities was forecast. It didn’t make sense to take cars that had been built for 100 years and just swap the ICE for an electric powertrain – and so the concept of BMW i was born. Alexander described electrification as the new normal – it will happen. BMW will still make cars for driving pleasure, and having the car take over the driving in a traffic jam will aid the driving pleasure.
Chantal Shearing, e-Mobility Manager, JLR, explained how, during the development of the Jaguar I-PACE, drivers covered the UK, testing the charging infrastructure: “Every customer touchpoint has been experienced”. So we look forward to experiencing in practice how this feedback has been incorporated in the I-PACE.
Dr Klaus Rechberger, e-mobility, Porsche, presented about the forthcoming Mission-E – now called the Taycan; as well as aiming for the best driving experience and performance of any electric car, the company also wanted a longer range and faster charging time than rivals: 15-20 minutes charging to give a driving range of 400km. Disruptive technology for the car was needed, along with charging infrastructure, in the form of Ionity – 400 ultra-rapid charge points across Europe to enable Porsche drivers to cover long distances easily.
Sylvie Childs, Senior Product Manager, Hyundai, talked about the forthcoming Hyundai Kona Electric with a 300 mile driving range and a starting price of less than £25,000 for the model with a smaller battery capacity. However Hyundai is also bringing out the Nexo in 2019, a hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, with a 400 mile range, designed to be a solution for high mileage drivers.
Prof Malcolm McCulloch, Head Energy and Power Group, Associate Professor, University of Oxford, talked about the issue of EVs and the grid, and started off with an explanation of energy v power: the amount of water in a glass = energy; whereas power = how fast you drink the water. In the UK there is more than enough energy; power is the issue. If EVs add a 20GW peak, then we need to be smart – ie. we need to move the 7pm peak to when there is spare capacity – eg. 3am. By doing this we can reduce the peak demand associated with the forecasted EV uptake from 20GW to a manageable 20MW.
Philippa Oldham, Head of National Network Programmes, Advanced Propulsion Centre, suggested that, to deal with air quality issues, we need joined-up policies for transport, health and energy – yet none of these areas currently have any government policies. The UK also needs to improve its balance of trade relating to the automotive industry, as we currently lag behind countries such as Germany. And Philippa was the only speaker to mention skills – new skills will be needed in the automotive industry to make the move from ICE to EV manufacture.
Charging and Infrastructure networking
Clive Southwell explained that NewMotion is Europe’s largest charging infrastructure provider, having installed over 34,000 chargers in 20 countries – yet for the users of the network, there is just one account for all 20 countries – something that is far from happening in the case of charging in the UK. NewMotion uses smart connected chargers, ready for new regulations coming in. The company is also running the world’s largest demand response-controlled trial in Amsterdam with 10,000 charge points. NewMotion is now a wholly-owned subsidiary of Shell, resulting in its growth plan being accelerated from a five-year timescale to just two years.
Mark Preston, Team Principal, TECHEETAH; Founder and Chief Strategist, StreetDrone, recounted how, back in 2012, Formula 1 said the idea of Formula E was ‘stupid’. Even the OEMs didn’t want to talk about electric motorsport. In the last four years everything has changed. As Formula E enters Season 6, 11 manufacturers are involved, including Porsche, BMW, Audi and Jaguar.
Ben Fletcher, Electric Vehicle Product Manager, Renault North Territory, Renault, explained how people are emotional beings, and we need to make them fall in love with their cars – and Renault is aiming to do that by getting people behind the wheel of EVs. People are interested in EVs, and EVs are becoming ‘normal’. Renault has so far launched four EVs, and, significantly for cities trying to improve air quality, an all-electric Master ZE van is about to come to market.
Tony Douglas, Head of Brand, Marketing & Communications, Mobility Services, BMW, looked back to when BMW Mobility Services started, with zero customers, and contrasted that with today, when the business has 22 million customers. BMW Mobility Services aims to provide solutions to the challenge of moving around the increasingly urbanised population centres of the world. Just as airlines don’t want their planes sitting on the runway, we can achieve better utilisation of another high value asset – the car. Tony acknowledged that there are many highly disruptive players in the mobility market including Uber, Google and Apple – all with the aim of owning the operating system for mobility services involving autonomous cars. Companies such as Google have started with no revenue, but have then scaled up – the same business model applies during preparation for the autonomous age.
Steve Ives, Head of Competitions, Office for Low Emission Vehicles, reminded the audience that the UK government is aiming to end the sale of new conventional petrol and diesel cars by 2040 – from the point of view of the car manufacturers, that could be little as two car lifecycles away. OLEV is supporting this transition through funding a variety of measures ranging from ULEV taxis and buses to charging infrastructure. Steve gave the example of last week’s acquisition of Chargemaster by BP (as well as Shell also being in the same marketplace with NewMotion) as demonstrating real momentum behind the agenda.
Another development last week was the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill getting through Parliament. This will give the government important powers in relation to charge points, and will result in smart charging being mandated to help avoid pressure on local electricity networks at peak times.
Steve also referred to the Road to Zero strategy, which is due to set out the government’s ambition in the area of ultra-low emission vehicles to 2040, again promising that this document would be released shortly.
Finally, Steve flagged up the International EV Summit being held in the UK in September, hosted by the Prime Minister.
Mark Daly, Senior Transport Planner, Nottingham City Council presented about Go Ultra Low Nottingham, which is implementing a wide range of initiatives, including expanding the charging network. One challenge with such charge point projects is that with a lack of revenue going forward, many charge points can fall into disrepair. Nottingham has aimed to reduce this risk by ensuring the groundworks are owned by Nottingham, so the council has control of this element in the future. Another innovative Nottingham initiative is the ULEV Experience, offering events, fleet reviews and EV loans to local businesses.
Lloyd Allen, Go Ultra Low West Project Manager, Bristol City Council, explained Bristol’s approach, which also includes funding for more charge points, as well as focusing on freight and on-street EV car clubs. Market research carried out Cenex and the Energy Saving Trust showed that range anxiety is now becoming less of an issue, but infrastructure is important, particularly making it easy to access. Recharging technology also needs to be smart, contactless and inter-operable. People don’t want membership or monthly fees, just a flat rate for charging.
Alan Clarke, Uber, described how the company is moving to an electric vehicle fleet. The Uber X fleet in London will be fully EV or Hybrid by 2020 – that means 20,000 vehicles being replaced. This policy will be rolled out to other cities in 2023, and by 2025 every vehicle will be a full EV in London. All Uber vehicles nationwide will be pure EVs by 2028.
Mai Strunge Jarvis, Environmental Quality Team Manager, Oxford City Council, suggested that there is mounting evidence that there is no safe level of air pollution – ie. the legal limit is not safe. Air pollution, although invisible, triggers other medical conditions – and stunts the growth of children’s lungs. Therefore Oxford has plans for the world’s first zero emission zone, with one clear purpose: to result in cleaner air to breathe. This will start in the city centre in 2020, and will expand to a wider area of the city in 2030. It will mean that petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned from entering the zone. Oxford City Council is currently working through the range of challenges and opportunities from this initiative.
This was the first Oxford EV Summit, and the innovative format worked well. It was clear that the team responsible for air quality at Oxford City Council has bright and bold ideas. The entire EV Summit event created the feeling that we’re right on the edge of a huge shift in terms of perception of air quality issues and a rapid rise in the adoption of EVs. Coming away from the EV Summit you can’t help but think that Oxford’s world-first zero emission zone will open the floodgates for other cities around the UK – and the world – to follow with similar initiatives, with the consequential rapid rise in EV sales. Delegates at the Oxford EV Summit Conference, including supporting car companies such as BMW, Hyundai, Nissan and Renault are likely to be ready for this shift; when this happens – and we believe this will be at a faster rate than many have predicted – there are many companies out there that are likely to be left behind. Now is the time for big, disruptive ideas to give us more sustainable transport and a healthier environment.
If you attended the Oxford EV Summit and now have a thirst to find out more – or if you couldn’t attend and you want the latest updates about low emission vehicle policy developments – then the next event on your radar should be the LowCVP Conference 2018, which takes place on 12 July in London and looks at ‘people, policy or product – how far can consumers take the drive to zero emissions?’. Find out more about the LowCVP Conference 2018 here.
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