EV SECTOR IN 2022: RIORDAN HART, EV CHARGING BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER AT SEARCH CONSULTANCY

In the second part of our ‘EV Sector in 2022’ series, we’re delighted to welcome Riordan Hart to the VOLLT Blog. Riordan is EV Charging Business Development Manager at Search Consultancy, and his LinkedIn content is extremely popular within the EV sector. Here’s what he had to say:

What were the key developments in the EV sector in 2021 from your perspective? 

2021 has been a particularly tough year for the automotive industry as a whole, whether caused by COVID, lockdowns or the chip shortage. However, I have personally been surprised by the growth of electric vehicles this year and the increase of their market share.

According to vehicle data supplied by the SMMT, there has been an undeniable movement towards EVs in 2021, especially when considering a lot of this has come from pure battery electric sales. This is doubly impressive when taking into account the issues within the wider industry.

In my opinion, I feel 2021 was the year that EVs moved from the fringe into the more mainstream market, with perspectives of more and more consumers changing to see them as a viable option when purchasing a new car.

I personally noticed a lot more EVs on the road and noticed a lot more public charging stations, including electric forecourts, especially in the second half of the year after the fuel crisis.

For me, the key developments have been the increase in vehicles on the roads, and the visibility of charging infrastructure in my local area (Manchester).

There has been an increase in availability of EVs from both traditional and non traditional automotive manufacturers, however, it is going to be very hard to knock Tesla off their perch. They are synonymous with EV, delivering close to 1m vehicles worldwide in 2021, a 90% increase on 2020.

From Search’s perspective, we have seen the growing need for a reliable installation partner for charging technology. As such, we plan to create custom built workforces which will help source, train, manage and retain a skilled workforce. Our solution is also very commercially viable when compared to sub contracting to multiple installation partners.

What (if anything) were your biggest surprises? 

The biggest surprise for me this year has been the ingenuity within the industry. New technologies have been developing at an astonishing speed – it’s very hard to keep up with the new developments and daily breakthroughs in technology.

Some of my favourite breakthroughs are the super fast charging technology that’s been developed by the likes of ABB with the ability to charge your car in a very short time. I believe charging technology like that being available to a wider audience will be key in encouraging the wider public to adopt EV and reduce range anxiety, until attitudes change.

Another development I was surprised by was the developments in battery technology, with companies like Mercedes developing batteries with a range of over 600 miles. However, with this we also need more education as not everyone will need this size battery – it’s important to educate against the usual urge just to buy the biggest even if it’s not necessary!

I was also very impressed with the electrified roads technology and I can see this being something that will be used a lot in the very near future, it was very exciting to be learning about the early stages of something that has so much potential.

How do you think these trends will change in 2022? 

I think 2022 will continue the trend of innovation we saw in 2021. It will be interesting to keep track of the innovations within the industry, as it is so fast moving. I’m curious to see if any tech becomes obsolete already in the new year as it has been outpaced by a superior alternative – I am hoping we can leave slow and dumb charging options in 2021. I don’t think there is any excuse to still be fitting these products in 2022.

I think EV adoption will continue to grow in 2022. I am already reading reports that are predicting that EV uptake for 2022 may come close to doubling the 2021 figures. This does depend on a few factors however, such as the semiconductor shortage being sorted and the grant being cut coupled with rising energy prices.

However, more and more awareness is being raised about EVs and more manufacturers are gearing up to increase their EV offering in 2022 allowing the consumer more choice. The continued growth of public infrastructure will also encourage more uptake. I also think that business fleets will continue to move increasingly towards electric.

It will be interesting to see if any other companies can rise to meet Tesla as an industry leader. I think it’s very important for the traditional automotive manufacturers to cement themselves as a viable option relatively early on. Volkswagen seem to be doing a good job of this with the ID range. I think 2022 will continue to see the growth in choice of EVs, and will hopefully bring a truly affordable EV to the masses.

I think another key aspect of 2022 will be the wider implementation of Vehicle to Grid (V2G) technology in chargers. I have noticed a lot more focus on V2G tech towards the end of 2021, and I think it’s a great selling point for EV chargers and to own an EV in general. This technology allows EV ownership to be a lot more cost effective, and I think more and more companies will incorporate it into their chargers going forward until it is industry standard.

What do you see as the biggest challenges and opportunities for the EV sector in 2022?

I think a challenge for the industry is reliable installation of charging technology. As more and more people take up EVs, resources will be stretched thin and we foresee that cost of installation will rise when employing sub contractors – a result of supply and demand. Due to demand, quality may also decline as resources are stretched thin meaning sub contractors may further sub contract elongating the chain of command and ultimately the control you hold over the install. Search’s custom built solution is designed to avoid these issues.

Another challenge that may affect EV uptake is the cut to Government grants for EVs – the UK is already behind its European counterparts in terms of incentives to go electric, yet it has one of the most ambitious targets. Let’s see what the Government does to encourage uptake in 2022.

The lack of a skilled workforce may also cause an issue in 2022. The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) has warned there is a deficit in the EV skilled workforce in comparison to the growth in electric vehicles. If all the new EVs can’t be serviced and repaired safely, consumer confidence could be severely undermined.

In terms of opportunities however, 2022 could present the chance for a truly affordable EV to be brought to market – if a car with good range and features is released at a price not too dissimilar from an average petrol model, I believe that this will massively drive uptake of EV.

I am looking forward to seeing what periphery industries develop off the back of mass scale EV adoption – I believe there will be some unique opportunities that present themselves when EVs are used on a mass scale, and companies will spring up to plug whatever gaps may appear.

I am also excited to see which new players will enter the market in 2022. There have long been rumours of Apple entering the EV market, however, 2022 may be a bit early for the reveal of the direction they are taking. Sony have also recently announced their proposed entry into the EV market, so it will be interesting to see what they can come up with, along with any other companies that decide they want to enter into this space.

Thanks again Riordan!

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