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If 2011 was the dawn of EVs what will 2012 be?

19 December 2011
If 2011 was the dawn of EVs what will 2012 be?

By Robin Haycock, Head of Transport, The Climate Group.

December 19, 2011. 

What a year!  It was badged as the dawn of the EV with credible cars appearing, infrastructure, grants, technology, trials and real people buying cars.

Disappointments? Yes. We didn’t sell as many cars as we hoped for, but maybe we should have realised that would happen. We are now questioning some of our views based on real life experience but that’s expected. Not bad so far, room for improvement, and a great year to come.

2012 has so many possibilities but my EV predictions (this is meant to be an EV blog after all) are as follows: 

  • Fleets are going to play a massive role in the raising of awareness and the uptake rate. In the UK 52.2% of new vehicles sales are for fleets and the leading business brands get duty cycle and business sense.  It’s going to be great as the gap filler between the early adopters and the mass market - watch this space!
  • An increase in the range of grants (PICG in UK) might mean we see a surge in uptake for light duty vans. The Renault Kangoo comes to market and I already think it is going to make an impact, but if grants head that way as well, they are going to be a popular choice for business. I drove one and I was impressed.
  • We are going to see a refocusing of cities away from public recharging infrastructure and into the new drivers for the EV world. They got way too fixated with on-street recharging, and I think we all know that was an overreaction to the range anxiety issue.
  • New vehicles adding to the incredibly capable banner-carrying EV champion: the Nissan Leaf.  It’s going to be fabulous to see new products challenge the Leaf supremacy, making 'credible choice' the EV statement of 2012.
  • Private investors take over from the government drive. Better Place has been making good progress in its target markets and will expand. In the UK,  we have seen private infrastructure challenging the Plugged-In Places and we are starting to see the local pools of infrastructure join up to an early whole system approach with white lists forming and between schemes working in harmony.

The Climate Group is a global organisation and we will pick up the pace with our Clean Revolution campaign. It looks like we are going to take the transport challenge forward strongly. Closer to my UK home and my blog though, I see some interesting changes and opportunities for 2012. 

London will host the Olympics with BMW as the Official Automotive Partner showcasing a range of plug-in vehicles as well as clean diesels and low emission gasoline’s. They will expand their offering through the iBrand into bicycles and some seriously low carbon and low energy i-cars, making the electrification of transport centre stage during the most watched sporting event in the world. I spent time getting to know their whole philosophy this year and I am convinced that these types of product entries will change how people perceive EVs (the main issue as far as I am concerned).

2012 will see the London mayor campaign, it will be interesting to see how much of a campaigning issue transport becomes. TfL have been a great leader in the last three years on Electrification of transport,  I have high hopes for another surge of activities even in these difficult times.

2012 will also see two key roles change over to a new watch.  OLEV gets a new leader and we will see whether the team can go onto further great things from the solid base built by Michael Hurwitz a good friend and colleague over the years.  Michael created OLEV and worked internal government processes well as he managed the task of creating a department with a vision to take EVs forward in the UK. Much has happened over the last 3 years: the creation of a need for action; the development of a new department with funds and passion; the building of a team of dedicated people to make it happen; and the bringing together of the players in this world working together to a ‘profits up carbon down future’ (to steal a strap line from The Climate Group history). What does the new OLEV leader need to do in 2012?  My advice would be to read the building EV evidence, plan a new set of driving initiatives, pick up the baton left by a great leader and run as fast towards that moving horizon before the sun comes up behind us and kicks us all in the butt…  

And LowCVP will get a new MD.  The group did some great things in the early years and has an incredibly strong core. Being a tripartite relationship between NGOs, government and businesses can provide for uncomfortable moments, but by working through these complex relationships great things can come forward. The future could be bright if they find the key drivers and push forward hard with passion.

What else?  Next year I will expand the blog to a wider discussion on sustainable mobility based around access, but until then my final prediction will be that I increase my bicycle collection with my first titanium frame… how many bicycles is the optimum in any person’s collection?  … One more than you currently have…

Merry Christmas and a fantastic low carbon new year… profits up carbon down to all!

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