UK and Germany leading Europe’s electric vehicle revolution

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10 March 2015

LONDON: Large scale development of electric cars in the UK could cut national oil imports 40% by 2030 and save drivers £1,000 (over US$1,500) a year in fuel expenses according to new research, which reflects trends being seen in the rest of Europe - where UK is closely followed by Germany for low carbon mobility growth.  

According to 'Fuelling Britain's future', a new report published this week by the Cambridge Ecometric studies under the commission of the European Climate Foundation, the UK’s electric vehicle (EV) sector received a total £17.6 billion (US$26.5 billion) investments between 2003 and 2013, illustrating how a decade of innovation and bold initiatives has boosted the industry.

London will even be home to the grand finale of the global Formula E race on June 27-28, which began in Beijing last September. Formula E, the first all-electric vehicle championship, is a member of The Climate Group and CDP’s RE100 campaign, which supports global companies committed to going 100% renewable.

Campaign Director of RE100 Emily Farnworth commented on the partnership: “The Formula E championship is a great opportunity to show that, even in sports such as car racing, renewable energy has a role to play. We are witnessing a constant rise in creative initiatives that showcase the role of renewable power in the field of transportation, such as the journey of the Solar Impulse Two. We welcome every effort to spread awareness about how this sector can contribute to a low-carbon economy.”

Electric vehicles in Europe

The rest of Europe is not lagging far behind the UK in electric vehicle growth. At the end of last year, the European Automobile Manufacturer Association revealed 75,331 new EVs were registered in the EU countries in 2014, representing a 36.6% rise on the previous year.

However, the UK registered the largest increase in the year (+300.8%), followed by Germany (+70.2%) and France (+29.8%). Norway also registered 19,767 new electric vehicles last year, more than doubling the number compared to 2013 (+140,8%)

There are numerous benefits of a large scale development of low carbon mobility. From an environmental perspective, even when electricity is produced from fossil fuels, EVs can potentially reduce GHGs emissions by 20% to 30% over conventional cars.

Pollution free cars

The combustion-free electric engine also reduces the concentration of pollutants in the air (mainly nitrogen oxide and particulates), which brings substantial health benefits.

The 'Fuelling Britain future' report estimates there is the potential for a 47% drop in carbon emissions by 2030 and £1 billion (US$1.5 billion) saved from the National Health Service due to reduced respiratory diseases. 

But these benefits will not happen on their own. Consumers’ 'range anxiety' concerns, stemming from poor-charging infrastructure as well as high costs of vehicles, must be properly addressed in the coming years.

Recognizing these issues, last year the European commission published a 'directive for the deployment of the alternative fuels infrastructure’, which provides the legislative framework for EU Member States to put in place a minimum infrastructure for alternative fuels, such as recharge stations.

“Alternative fuels are key to improving the security of energy supply, reducing the impact of transport on the environment and boosting EU competitiveness", said Commission Vice-President Siim Kallas, european commissioner for transport. "With these new rules, the EU provides long-awaited legal certainty for companies to start investing, and the possibility for economies of scale.”

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by Arianna Tozzi

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