Battery electric vehicles – uptake slow but the masses are coming…

It’s been an interesting week for those following news about battery-electric vehicles (BEVs). A study by a Parliamentary Action Committee (PAC) suggested the government lacked a plan for 100% zero-emission car sales by 2035. Meanwhile, the SMMT revealed that just under 200,000 of the 36 million cars on UK roads were battery-only.

BEVs have been available for sale for quite a while. However, following the collapse of the diesel market, carmakers have started taking them seriously. Why? Because the European Commission has set individual targets for each manufacturer based on the CO2 emissions of their vehicle fleets. The average for them to reach by the end of 2021 is 95g/km. If they miss these targets, they’ll be fined €95 per gramme over their goal, multiplied by the number of cars they sold in 2020 and 2021 – that could amount to billions of euros. 

As the automotive industry relied heavily on diesel engines to meet these targets, the collapse of the market means they urgently need something else – and BEVs are the answer. But the uptake has been slow. Instead, hybrid models have helped most carmakers meet their targets so far – so why, therefore, are they still pursuing batteries, and should we be more ready for the incoming surge? 

Future vision

The issue is not the targets for 2021, but rather 2025 and 2030. Without diesel, most carmakers will just scrape through. As an example, last year saw the introduction of the 95g/km rule, but as a buffer, carmakers were let off the highest polluting 5% of new cars registered last year. Fines were imposed for missing the target, and Volkswagen Group did so, by just 0.5g/km.

Therefore, the huge effort to meet restrictions leaves some balancing on a knife edge. Now consider this, in 2025, the CO2 target for 2021 is reduced by 20% for 2025, and by 37.5% by 2030. If carmakers are struggling now, then they really need to push BEVs

This is why, in the next couple of years, we are going to see a flood of battery models coming to market. For the UK, it is unlikely there will be such a push for hybrid and plug-in hybrid (PHEV), although these sales will continue on until 2035. In Europe, there is no set date for ending internal combustion sales, with some countries, like France, proposing 2040, and others not even considering the option.

For example, the aforementioned VW Group launched a slew of BEVs in the last 18 months. The ID.3 and ID.4, Audi e-tron and e-tron GT, Porsche Taycan, Skoda Enyaq, SEAT Mii electric, while the Bentley brand will go electric-only. 

Ford, the market leader in the UK, has stated that from 2030, all vehicles will be battery-electric, and it will start phasing-out internal combustion models from its line up from 2026. This is a bold statement from a carmaker that has only just launched its first mass-produced BEV – the Mustang Mach-E (the Focus Electric was never a mass-production model). To help with its goal, it has formed a partnership to build some cars on VW’s MEB platform. Would you ever have believed Ford and VW partnering to build cars? Yet the new targets have carmakers worried…

Impact on the aftermarket

For the aftermarket, the situation is the same as it has been for years – but the time to act is running out. Garages and technicians need to train. 200,000 cars may not be a lot, but a recent OFGEM report states that one in four consumers is considering a BEV purchase in the next five years. 

If we take the 36 million car parc as the consumers, that means by 2026, there could be nine million BEVs on UK roads. Quite an increase from the 200,000 currently. 

And on the subject of the 200,000 – 109,000 of these were registered last year. By April 2020 – and COVID-19 had a huge impact on sales, there had been 19,630 BEVs sold in the country. In the first four months of 2021, there were 40,931.

The onslaught has started – if you’re not trained, or don’t have a trained technician in your business, you need to act fast. Be prepared, and don’t be left behind…

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