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EVs in Scotland

Scotland and electric vehicles – what’s happening?

As Scotland continues to outpace the rest of the UK in (per capita) sales of electric vehicles, the demand by the motoring public – the majority of which is in full support of going ‘all electric’ – is for the entire industry from vehicle manufacturers to national and local governments and in particular those responsible for the country’s public and private charge point infrastructures – to ‘go that extra mile’ to make it happen quickly and smoothly.

In a recent survey by the Electric Vehicle Association Scotland – it is the voice of EV drivers north of the border – over 83% of respondents quote the purchase price of new EVs as a prohibitive factor in many people choosing to make the switch and over 43% said they want to see rapid development and growth of Scotland’s EV charging infrastructure… which EVA Scotland supports and is calling on national and local government and the charge point supply industry to respond. It’s now happening!

Director Neil Swanson says; “We are experiencing nothing short of a seismic change in our whole approach to transportation and Scotland is out there leading from the front in many aspects of not only sales but infrastructure support and creative industry developments.”

The Scottish government has now committed to seeing over 30,000 EV charge points across the country before the 2030 deadline announcing “a new vision” for the public electric vehicle charging network. It recently announced a £60m programme of investment – backed by more £millions in private sector monies – to ensure that Scotland will be ready for 2030, the time when there will be a ban of sales of all new petrol and diesel-powered vehicles and a predicted 500,000 EVs registered and on Scotland’s roads.

A bold move… and one which is now seen by Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland as totally feasible and a goal that has to be reached both by private, public and industry vehicle operators (including fleets).

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Mathieson said: “To meet our climate targets, we need these (cars and commercial) vehicles to be electric, and so we require a seamless network of public electric vehicle chargers, that works for everyone, all of the time.

“We need a just transition, where accessibility, availability and reliability is key and where no one is left behind from the positive shift to a zero emission transport system – including rural and island communities.”

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, there was a 24% increase in electric car sales from 2020 to 2021, with more EVs sold in Scotland in the whole of 2021 than in the previous five years.

Scottish Local Authorities and utility companies such as British Gas and Scottish Water are converting their fleets in record numbers – some as a priority, others as their petrol and diesel-powered vehicles outlive their uses.

In the far north, the island of Orkney is way ahead of the pack. Twelve years ago, the local Council produced its own strategy for a low carbon, integrated transport system. Now there are over 300 electric vehicles on Orkney’s roads, with the ‘Orkney Renewable Energy Forum’ predicting this will reach 1,000 by 2025.

All electric bus fleets throughout the country are transforming city centre environments… and new kid on the block – operator Ember – has introduced two EVs which now plough the longest EV bus service route in Europe – between Edinburgh and Dundee! Ember boss Keith Bradbury has just ordered a further 26 buses to expand routes from the capital west to Oban, Fort William and beyond and has invested in state-of-the-art charging hubs at either end of its routes.

Battery technology innovations north of the border by companies such as the Caithness-based AMTE Power together with MEP Technologies in Dundee (both have formed a consortium to exploit the latest technological advances in new cell developments and applications) are taking the EV industry by storm.

Electric fire engines have been developed in Cumnock, East Ayrshire by Emergency One Group Ltd while all-electric, all-terrain 4x4s by Glasgow-based Munro Vehicles are cutting a swathe in a niche EV market. Three years ago the company was founded with a simple mission: “to build the greatest all-terrain electric vehicle”.

Monro co-founders, Russ Peterson and colleague Ross Anderson, say they just loved the idea of buying a rugged electric vehicle for work, camping and exploring, but agreed that such a vehicle didn’t seem to exist yet. Russ says: “With reliable charging infrastructure emerging across Europe and beyond, we started to consider the possibilities.”

Anderson added: “We weren’t looking to re-invent the wheel. We’ve used straightforward and readily available components to minimise the cost of production and provide owners with an accessible means to maintain and repair their own vehicle.”

In July last year, SWARCO took over Charge Place Scotland’s back office operations which enable people to access over 2,600 publicly available charge points across Scotland.

Justin Meyer, Managing Director for SWARCO eVolt said: “We share a passion and drive with the Scottish Government, the Local Authorities and the private sector who are responsible for building the network, and are proud to have been actively involved with its development from the very beginning. Our charging technology has become the watchword for reliability and performance in a world that demands certainty, and our approach to smart charging through our e.Connect software solution will be at the heart of the ambition to build a truly world-class network.”

SWARCO’s successful projects already include the completion of project PACE– a joint Lanarkshire and Scottish Power Energy Network’s (SPEN) project which adopted a new, innovative funding mechanism to rapidly deliver charging hubs in urban and rural communities and triple the charger availability in North and South Lanarkshire. Each hub has been strategically placed to provide access for all including commuters fleet operators and residents.

SWARCO’s contract to run Scotland’s public electric vehicle charging network will be expected to run for a minimum of two years with the option to extend.

Taxi drivers in Glasgow and Edinburgh, realising changes to their service industry was changing fast, are about to experience the drives of their lives, courtesy of the Electron Garage in Glenrothes, Fife.

The company has successfully converted a tradition ‘London’ taxi from diesel power to all electric, saving cabbies 50% on the cost of buying a new taxi and will be offering test drives that EG owner Wayne Campbell says is “causing quite a stir”!

He says: “Whether you’re a died-in-the-wool petrol-head or a recent convert to electric-powered vehicles, there’s no getting away from the fact that by 2030 fossil fuel cars will be history! It leaves two options, sell your internal combustion engine (ICE) car and buy a new electric one or convert your existing fossil-fuel car with a battery-powered engine… that set me on the road to starting this business.”

Campervan conversions are becoming big business too.

Ground-breaking work by CampervanCo of Denny, Stirlingshire has put them at the forefront of leisure vehicle conversions to all-electric and it is in the final stages of an innovative breakthrough with a new super, low-emission Ford Transit Custom plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV)… plus an all-new zero emissions recreational vehicle (ZERV) due within the next 12 months.

Established in 2006, the company has been working closely with a range of partners that includes the Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen.

Although campervans and their conversions have been with us for decades, the pioneering work by CampervanCo brings a wide range of new technologically advanced concepts together.

CampervanCo’s owner and CEO, Gary Hayes explained: “We pioneered low emissions campervans, designing and commercialising the world’s first hybrid version. Currently, we are investing over £500,000 on research and development to bring zero emission recreational vehicles (ZERVs) to the marketplace that contain not simply lighting, refrigeration and cooking but heating and looking towards adapting renewable energy technology for RVs.”

Now Scotland’s premier campervan retailer and one of the UK’s largest, most respected importers of high-quality used Japanese vans, the company now offers the world’s first fully hybrid and tribrid 4WD vans that can reach remote places with unrivalled fuel economy.