The EV revolution is (almost) already here

If you were a motorist in London or the UK during September, you’ll probably recall with bitter memories the long lines of cars, congestion, and imminent dread of not knowing whether you’ll be able to fill your car up the next time you visit a petrol station. Queues and congestion are nothing new for London’s motorists, but empty petrol stations and not being able to drive was something different, and one could not help but feel frustrated at the lack of availability for something so essential to many and envy for those who can take public transport or own an electric car.

September’s fuel crisis was another problem to the growing list of struggles for motorists in the UK. Fuel prices are at an all-time high, cars are getting more expensive, and if motoring activities mean driving to London and your vehicle doesn’t comply with the regulations of the newly expanded Ultra-Low Emissions Zone, you’ll be facing a hefty fee each time you enter.

With these challenges in mind, one cannot help but wonder why to bother with petrol and diesel anymore. In September of this each, at the height of the fuel crisis, electric car sales rose by 88% compared to sales from the same month in 2020 and online searches for electric cars rose by 75% in the same period according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Though the pandemic exaggerated the difference in sales as a result of lower sales in 2020, there is an obvious trend in sales away from fuel-powered vehicles; and a walk through the streets of London today and the sight and humming of electric cars, vans and buses is clear evidence that consumer demand and the economics of driving has already brought the EV revolution to London’s streets.

With the UK government's commitment to phasing out new petrol and diesel car sale from 2030 and the explosive growth of the electric vehicle market, the EV revolution for the rest of the UK is coming very soon. Lower costs in production, sale price, and running costs for electric vehicles are making EVs more affordable for the average motorist. Along with the rising operational costs for fuel-powered cars, EVs are already past the point of being the economical choice of vehicle for most consumers, with exception to vehicles brought in the second-hand market. According to the UK’s Department for Transport, even without a government mandate on car sales, at least 50% of cars sold in the UK will be EVs by 2030 simply due to economic forces and market demand.

What’s holding back the EV revolution from truly taking off is the practicality for many consumers to choose electricity as an alternative to petrol or diesel. This means investment in expanding infrastructure to accommodate EVs in the form of charging points. EV charging infrastructure has a big advantage over fuelling stations that has yet to be truly realised in that chargers can be installed almost anywhere with an electricity supply. Car parks, driveways, street sides or anywhere a car can be parked could be equipped with a charger. However, as of now, charging an EV is impractical for many, due in part to the limited availability of public chargers for fast charging during journeys; but more notably due to access to home charging points, particularly for those without a private parking place. Personal EVs primarily remain the luxury of those with a drive and a private charger. Explosive growth in the number of easily accessible, near-home, and on-street charging points everywhere across the country is needed to match the expected growth in EVs in the coming decade if the UK is to match its growing demand for EVs. Maybe then, a cleaner, greener, healthier and petrol-station-queueing free future will be an everyday reality.


Iwan Pritchard