2021 was a big year for the EV sector. It felt like every other day, there were monumentous developments – from the announcement that every new home and office must have EV chargers installed, to EVs overtaking Diesels in new car sales.
But what will 2022 bring? We asked Gill Nowell, Head of EV at LV= General Insurance to shares her views on key questions. Here’s what she had to say:
What were the key developments in the EV sector in 2021 from your perspective?
On a global scale, the COP26 declaration on accelerating the transition to 100% zero emission cars and vans is the stand out development for me. Whereas a few years ago people tended to talk about ‘if’ we make the switch to electric cars and vans, the narrative has now changed to ‘when’. This commitment to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement ‘to work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emissionglobally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in leading markets’ is a clear signal that the world means business on the EV front.
On a UK level, the rate at which charge point operators are rolling out charging infrastructure is phenomenal. Gridserve is planning 100 electric forecourts in the next five years, whilst Osprey Charging has 150 rapid charging hubs by 2025 in its sights. And then there’s Motor Fuel Group which is rolling out a heady 500 rapid charging hubs by 2030. This is all very impressive – the trick will be to ensure that chargers are maintained and in good working order, that they are accessible (and well sign posted), and have contactless payment options. Perhaps controversially, I’m a fan of the occasional RFID card, especially when that card works across a number of charging networks. However, it’s always good to have the contactless option to hand as well.
What (if anything) were your biggest surprises?
The difference between the headline-making numbers of public chargers that we will need to satisfy demand by 2030 has surprised me. I have seen figures ranging from 280 to 480,000, to 2.3 million. There’s a train of thought that it’s too soon to put any kind of accurate figure on charger numbers, and in any event we should be focusing on charging capacity and ensuring that the right chargers are installed in the right places to meet demand, rather than numbers per se.
How do you think these trends will change in 2022?
I’ve been working in the world of EV, and advocating for them, for almost a decade. 2022 will see the beginning of the true normalisation of electric cars, supported by growing charging infrastructure and a growing understanding of driver needs and behaviours. We should also see more electric cars trickle down onto the secondhand market, thanks to the number of company cars leased under the favourable benefit in kind tax scheme. If there’s one thing we need more of, it’s more affordable electric cars. The used car market can help plug that gap.
What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for the EV sector in 2022?
What I haven’t mentioned yet is on-street charging, and making sure that rural areas are well-served by charging infrastructure. We still have a long way to go to make sure that rural areas don’t miss out, and that those people who don’t have access to off-street parking are not disadvantaged. Fairness in pricing will emerge as a key issue in 2022 – even with rising energy prices it is cheaper to charge at home, overnight, than to use a public charger. One small caveat here is that any calculations on this should take into account the upfront cost of a home charger, which is an outlay that EV drivers using on-street or public chargers don’t have to stump up for.
The elephant in the EV room is probably the semiconductor chip shortage, which is resulting in long lead times for electric (and all) cars. Whilst this is playing out on the global stage, there’s a huge opportunity to continue to help would-be electric car drivers overcome any concerns they may have on making the switch. Most people don’t know or think about electric cars, and misconceptions abound. That’s why it’s brilliant to be working on LV= General Insurance’s exciting new electric car proposition called ElectriX. ElectriX offers unbiased, evidence-based information on the basics, charging and costs to help people in their decision-making, ultimately helping people get on the road with an electric car. I’m looking forward to sharing more news about ElectriX with you, as 2022 unfolds.
Thanks again Gill!
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