Just a couple of years ago, that heading would have run in a different order and ended with a question mark. Not any more. Time has moved incredibly fast for the automotive industry and within a decade the Electric Vehicle (or EV) will absolutely dominate the global market for passenger cars.
The recent announcement by iconic brand Jaguar that 2026 would see it cease production of petrol and diesel-fuelled models sent shock waves through the industry. It also came as a shock to car enthusiasts who might have been expecting a more gradual transition.
With Jaguar and its Land Rover affiliate getting ready for the switch to electric-only, Bentley, Ford, Porsche and others also looking down similar routes there is now nowhere for other major brands to hide from onrushing change. In fact, that change is already evident in some segments of the market.
Data supplied by industry analysts S&P Global confirms that sales of fully electric motor vehicles throughout the European Union during 2020 increased by 137 percent. This was despite the worst set of conditions for economic activity and motor vehicle sales since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Total global sales of EVs during 2020 topped 3.4 million units; a 43 percent gain on 2019.
In China, which was set to become the world’s leading adopter and source of EV technology, sales slowed due to COVID-19 lockdowns. Yet they still managed a 12 percent increase that brought 1.34 million new, fully-electric cars to Chinese roads.
By comparison, Australia’s uptake of fully electric vehicles and even dual-engined Hybrids remains inordinately slow. This is in contrast to our rapid adoption of other technologies and concepts, such as smart phones and watches, video conferencing, online shopping and of course the generation of household power via solar panels.
Convenience is a major issue for those considering ownership of an EV and so is cost – although not the cost of running one of these vehicles once a way is found to fund the initial purchase.
In contrast to local experience, countries that are chilly and overcast for large parts of their year are rapidly filling with EVs and charging bays have popped up in every carpark. That power isn’t cheap either, or particularly ‘green’, yet a country such as Norway which obtains just 9 percent of its electricity from renewable sources reports than 54 percent of new cars sold during 2020 were electric.
Convenience: is defined by the way Australians currently use petrol or diesel-fuelled vehicles. We find a road on a map to work out how long the journey will take and where to stop for lunch and overnight. Perhaps we book a motel but unless travelling to the most remote regions we would never consider not being able to buy fuel when we needed it. Not so if you own an electric vehicle.
Due to Australia’s slow EV uptake, the installation of charging points along interstate travel corridors has been equally slow and a bit haphazard. Stick to the main highways and you will find a rapid charge point every few hundred kilometres, with some motels along the way having them as well. However it pays to call and check before leaving on your journey.
The problem arises when you want to take your economical EV away from those main highways; perhaps visiting friends who live in regional towns along the way but still a couple of hours’ away from the Hume, Pacific or Newell.
Heading into areas with few large towns and no major service stations means you may struggle to find a charging point. Parking overnight with a lead running from car to the outlet that fires up your morning coffee kettle will replenish the battery to some extent but perhaps not enough to get you safely back to the main road with its Fast-Charging stations.
To be continued…. when we look at the possible options for those entering the EV market, the benefits and downsides….