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UK university fleets leading the way for EV uptake

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By Will Craig, Managing Director, LeaseFetcher

On 15th February 2013, nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah died in hospital after suffering an asthma-induced seizure. She lived just off the South Circular in Lewisham, a notoriously polluted stretch of road. 

Five years after her death, a report from Professor Stephen Holgate, an expert on air quality, highlighted a “striking association” between Ella’s many emergency hospitalisations and recorded instances of illegally high levels of air pollution. Professor Holgate’s report concluded with a chilling prediction: there was a “real prospect that without unlawful levels of air pollution, Ella would not have died.”

While Ella’s death is tragic, it is sadly not unique. Earlier this year, a new study from German researchers suggested 64,000 people a year die prematurely as a result of air pollution in the UK.

Despite strict regulations and testing, internal combustion engines (ICE) are still the main cause of air pollution. Even the newest ICE vehicles still pump out huge amounts of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter into the air.

Battery-powered electric vehicles, which produce no tailpipe emissions, are often hailed as the solution to our air pollution crisis. However, electric vehicle uptake is slow. Last year, just 2.53 percent of the cars on our roads were electric.

As hotbeds of innovation, many people expect universities to be early adopters of electric vehicle technology and drive progress from the front. And around the world, universities are taking great strides to clean up their fleets.

In April, the University of Georgia invested in 20 electric buses, eliminating 4.5 million pounds of carbon emissions annually. Florida State University is following suit, transitioning to a purely electric bus fleet. And late last year, Duke University announced its updated Climate Action Plan, which includes electrifying its buses and vehicles.

But how are UK institutions performing? Are our universities driving an all-electric revolution or persisting with ICE vehicles?

Over the past six months, we have compiled data on the fuel composition of the fleets of 110 UK universities obtained through Freedom of Information requests. 

In this report, we have highlighted five interesting findings from our research. While some points seem disheartening, others have sparked hope for positive change.

Diesel still reigns supreme.

The UK government has banned the sale of petrol and diesel cars after 2040 and there is substantial pressure to pull the date forward to 2035 or even 2030. Time is ticking to make the switch to an alternative fuel vehicle.

Most industry experts are agreed that electricity is the fuel of the future. Consequently, car manufacturers are investing heavily in electric and hybrid technology.

Volkswagen is determined to have 30 new EVs by 2025. Volvo announced it won’t sell pure-ICE cars after 2019. Ford recently invested $500M in Rivian, an electric truck-maker, who will help them develop future models. And by 2020, all new smart cars in Europe will be fully electric.

While EV adoption in the UK is increasing, diesel remains the dominant fuel type in most fleets. Across all universities investigates, diesel cars made up 69.9 percent of the fleets in 2018/19, down 1.6 percent from 2017/18.

For both 2017/18 and 2018/19, we discovered that nine percent of universities only had diesel cars in their fleets.

Our data shows that diesel is still the clear favourite fuel choice for university fleets but there are signs of a slow decrease.

Key Statistics:

  • Diesel powers 69.9% of UK university fleet vehicles.
  • 9% of the universities have an entirely diesel fleet.
  • The number of universities with no diesel cars increased by 1% since 2017.

Confidence in diesel is falling.

Our data shows that diesel is slowly falling out of favour with UK universities and the same can be said for the UK public as a whole. In fact, sales of diesel cars plummeted by 37 percent between March 2017 and March 2018, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

We carried out a supplementary survey on UK motorists to investigate public opinion on electric and diesel cars. Over 60 percent agreed that diesel cars are harmful to the environment and 60 percent feel that diesel cars also have a negative impact to the public’s health in terms of air pollution. Over half of our respondents said they are now less likely to purchase a diesel car than they were five years ago.

A similar pattern follows when we turn our attention to the university data. We can see that the number of new diesel cars bought by universities is falling.

Between 2017/18 and 2018/19, the number of diesel cars as a percentage of all fleet cars decreased by 1.4 percent.

Key Statistics:

  • Since 2017, the number of diesel cars in university fleets decreased by 1.4%.
  • 63% of people believe diesel cars are harming the environment.
  • 56% of people said they’re less likely to buy a diesel car now than they were five years ago.

Electric car uptake is growing — and fast!

While electric vehicles still make up a very small part of the UK market, uptake is accelerating.

Of our surveyed motorists, 60% said they were either likely or highly likely to purchase an electric vehicle as their next car. Over 60 said they believe electric vehicles are necessary to combat air pollution and 78 percent said that electric vehicles are better for our health.

Since 2017, there was a 6.5 percent increase in the number of electric cars in university fleets. Moreover, the number of electric cars as a percentage of the whole fleet increased from 14 percent to 14.9 percent.

While electric vehicle adoption is rising, some universities are dragging their heels. More than one-quarter of universities possessed no electric cars in any of the years examined.

The progress towards electrified fleets is slow and steady but it is progress nevertheless.

Key Statistics:

  • Since 2017, the number of electric cars in university fleets increased by 6.5%.
  • 26.3% of universities possessed no electric cars.
  • 60% of respondents are likely to purchase an electric vehicle as their next car.
  • 65% of people believe electric cars are needed to combat air pollution.
  • 78% of respondents feel that electric vehicles are better for our health.

Universities are more willing to buy electric than individuals

Our data shows that universities are far more willing to adopt electric cars than the UK public as a whole.

In 2018, the electric cars made up just 2.53 percent of the UK automotive market. For universities, however, 14.9 percent of the entire fleet was electric. Universities are speeding ahead of general UK EV adoption by a staggering 12.37 percent.

But why the divergent figures?

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee examined the roadblocks in the way of consumers transitioning to electric vehicles.

Vehicle cost is the primary stumbling block. Unlike nations like Norway, where the government invests heavily in subsidies, the UK’s plug-in car grant was slashed in November 2018. It formerly covered 35 percent of the cost of the car.

In our opinion poll, over 70 percent of respondents said electric vehicles were only accessible to wealthy individuals. Nearly 80 percent said they would be more likely to purchase an electric vehicle if subsidies lowered ownership costs. In comparison, universities have dedicated fleet budgets and can justify higher up-front costs with long-term savings.

Battery capacity and an underdeveloped charging infrastructure are also key concerns for individuals. This investigation into charging infrastructure maps out the distance needed to travel to charging points. In rural regions in particular, consumers are generally not within a comfortable distance from charging points. 

Universities, on the other hand, are predominantly based in urban areas, which have access to public charging points. Additionally, most universities also own land or buildings, which allows them to install their own charging stations.

Key Statistics:

  • Electric cars comprised 2.53% of the UK automotive market in 2018.
  • 14.9% of university fleet vehicles were electric in 2018.
  • University electric vehicle adoption exceeds general UK consumer adoption by 12.37 percent.
  • 73% of people believe electric vehicles are only accessible by wealthier individuals.
  • 77% of respondents would purchase an electric vehicle if subsidies lowered the costs.
  • 73% of respondents believe that electric cars are best suited to urban areas.

Leading the way to electrification

In our survey, 78 percent of respondents said they think that universities should lead the way in the adoption of electric cars. But which institutions are making the greatest progress?

Based on a minimum of a 10-car fleet, we have identified the top five universities for electric vehicle adoption.

  • Kingston University: 64.3% of 14 cars.
  • Bournemouth University: 53.3% of 15 cars.
  • Manchester Metropolitan University: 51.9% of 27 cars.
  • University of Sunderland: 47.1% of 17 cars.
  • University of Kent: 44.1% of 68 cars.

These leaders demonstrate that with the right approach, UK universities can keep up the pace with their international counterparts when electrifying their fleets.

We also examined EV adoption by country. Based on having a minimum of a 20% electric fleet, we found that:

  • 49% of English universities were above the cut off.
  • 45% of Scottish universities were above the cut off.
  • No Welsh universities were above the cut off.
  • No Northern Irish universities were above the cut off.

English and Scottish Universities are clearly leading the way, with English Universities pulling slightly further ahead. These findings make sense when compared with the chargepoint distance data mentioned earlier as it highlights a significant lack of charging points in Wales.

Key Statistics:

  • Kingston University, Bournemouth University, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Sunderland, and the University of Kent have the top 5 electric vehicle adoption rates out of all 110 Universities examined.
  • English Universities have the highest EV adoption rates, with 49% of institutions with rates above 20% cut off.

Final Thoughts

Whilst the proportion of electric cars in university fleets is growing faster than diesel—and at a faster rate than the UK average—these fleets have a long way before they are fully green.

As other international institutions press forward with electrification, UK universities need to commit more firmly to switching if they are to keep up the pace.

Survey Methods and Data

Results for this poll are based on online survey responses collected on 30th April 2019 with a random sample of 100 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the UK, who drive a vehicle 3 or more times per week. The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Pollfish’s network of 570M consumers.

The data on UK university fleets was gathered by use of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All data was gathered by our in- house team of marketers and can be obtained upon request. 

Access to Data

To request a copy of our full report or a copy of the survey data, please email contact@leasefetcher.co.uk.

GUEST BLOG: Are we all driving Teslas now?

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You may have seen figures in the press recently that suggest that, after a lengthy period of relative consistency, the nation’s favourite car brands are changing. Yes, it would seem that the dawn of the electric car is finally upon us, with the Tesla Model 3 recording the third biggest number of UK registrations in August. 

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that the model muscled its way into the top 3 with 2,082 units registered in that month.

Well, it’s fair to say that more than a pinch of salt is required when assessing the reasons behind such a sudden ascent.

On the face of it, the model’s growing popularity surpassed that of household models including the Ford Focus, the Vauxhall Corsa and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, with only the Ford Fiesta and the Volkswagen Golf having more registrations in the month.

For a car that only began production in 2017, it’s an impressive effort. Furthermore, it would seem that the rise of the Model 3 has had an impressive impact on EV registrations overall, with sales of battery electric cars almost doubling year on year in the 12 months to August, from 9,000 in 2018 to 17,393 this year.

So, has the electric dream finally been realised and are we all now considering EVs for our next car? Have you got that salt handy?

As ever, it’s all about context. The current trials and tribulations faced by the motor sector have been well documented and it’s perhaps here where the real reasons for the Model 3’s impressive August SMMT figures lie.

The numbers show that the market as a whole saw new registrations dip by 1.6% to 92,573 in August. However, the context to bear in mind here is that August is traditionally a quiet month for registrations as the market’s emphasis shifts to the new September number plate. However, that doesn’t account for the 1,500 fewer registrations in August compared to the same month last year.

So how is Tesla bucking the trend? Has the EV manufacturer weathered the choppy seas of negative PR, only to be welcomed onto dry land to a cacophony of positive headlines?

Not quite. Those journalists perceptive enough to understand how registrations work and the delays that have dogged the production of the Tesla Model 3 have a slightly different take. 

The model is perhaps making up for lost time. James Baggot, founder of Car Dealer Magazine, put it best when he said:

“It’s worth noting that the SMMT registration figures relate to cars registered, not sold, in the month. Most Tesla Model 3 buyers put down their deposits years ago, so this is simply Tesla finally delivering a car they promised back in 2016.

“This was effectively the first full month of deliveries for the Model 3 in the UK. It has also caused an abnormal blip in the SMMT stats – electric cars are up considerably, but it’s unlikely to be something that will continue.”

So, with current market conditions perhaps flattering the Model 3’s perceived popularity in August, we may have to wait a little longer until the electric revolution is truly upon us. And, of-course, while pure-electric sales are on the up, they only represent a tiny 1.1% minority of annual car sales. 

However, it can be said that the industry has made huge strides in 2019. Car makers are now beginning to catch up as the pressure to move away from fossil fuels continues to mount, suggesting that prices for electric cars could also begin to fall.

Jaguar’s I-Pace sports utility vehicle won the world car of the year award this year, Nissan is finally beginning to talk about its new EV cross-over following the huge success of the Leaf, BMW has high hopes for its new electric Mini, while Volkswagen has been spotted testing its all-electric ID 4 SUV, one of the first EV’s in its much talked about ID series.

With Government emission targets not going away, the pressure on the industry remains. It will be interesting to see whether Tesla can stay in the headlines, for the right reasons.  

To discover our full range of electric vehicles from Motability Dealers, Lookers, visit lookers.co.uk.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

EVs three times more economical than petrol & diesel cars

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Electric cars travel up to three times the distance of their petrol or diesel rivals for the same amount of money.

With interest in electric cars rising, many potential buyers are left confused by the way running costs are explained, with ‘miles per kWh’ difficult to compare to ‘miles per gallon’.

Parkers.co.uk has developed a way of showing how far your car will go on a single pound – regardless of what fuel it runs on.

The figure – dubbed ‘miles per pound’ (mpp) – reveals how much a car can travel for £1 of petrol, diesel or electricity.

The study found the Kia e-Niro First Edition and the Renault Zoe 65kW are the most efficient models on sale in the UK today, with the cars capable of travelling 33.1 miles per pound (mpp) of electricity.

This is more than three times as far as the most economical version of the Ford Fiesta (9.3mpp), the UK’s best-selling vehicle, when using official testing figures.

With the average UK motorist driving around 7,150 miles per year, they would spend just £216 over a 12 month period if they charged their Kia e-Niro or Renault Zoe from home.

The Tesla Model 3 Standard Range was the third most economical, covering 32.3mpp, while the Volkswagen e-Golf was fourth on 30.8mpp.

Parkers.co.uk calculated the cost for electric cars based on home charging prices rather than using public charging points, as costs for public charging can vary wildly.

The mpp data is also only available for cars on sale since 2017 and that are also currently available to buy.

For this reason, the Hyundai Kona Electric, which could travel 30.8mpp, does not appear on the list as it is sold out due to high demand.

Keith Adams, editor of Parkers.co.uk, said: “We created miles per pound as a way of demystifying the running costs of electric vehicles (EVs) because above and beyond their range, and how long they take to charge, there is little uniformity in how carmakers express just how much energy these cars use.

“As interest in EVs becomes more widespread, there remains a lot of confusion around running costs but the MPP figure generates a figure that is relatable to anyone.

“In a nutshell, it tells you how much it costs to drive any EV after plugging it up at home and topping it up on domestic electricity.

“In addition, miles per pound should help drivers who know how many miles they cover in a year to work out up-front fuelling costs, and possibly choose a more expensive electric car over its petrol counterpart.

“Taking fuelling costs into account, monthly costs for internal combustion engine (ICE) cars and electric vehicles (EVs) are much closer than the gap in list price might suggest.

“On something like a Volkswagen Golf, going electric will save you around £70 per 1,000 miles.

“And interest is rising. People are searching before they buy. Traffic to our Electric Cars section has grown by 80 per cent since the beginning of 2019, and it’s continuing to accelerate strongly.”

Parkers.co.uk based the price of electricity on the cost per kilowatt hour on a domestic tariff, while petrol and diesel is based on the AA Fuel Price Reports.

The mpp metric has been launched as the EV market continues to grow.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), sales of purely electric cars are up by more than 200 per cent in 2019, with the market share increasing from 0.7 per cent to 2.2 per cent.

Keith Adams added: “As range improves, electric cars are becoming a more and more enticing option and the miles per pound tool really drives down how cheap these zero emission vehicles are when you’re on the road.

“While it’s easy to be put off at the price of an electric car, when you look at it from a monthly costs perspective the prospect is all the more attractive.

“The running costs are low, there is zero road tax and, from next year, zero company car tax, too.”

Test your knowledge on the cost of car journeys here – https://www.parkers.co.uk/what-is/mpp-miles-per-pound/

The Top 10 most efficient pure electric cars:
1. Kia e-Niro First Edition – 33.1mpp
2. Renault Zoe 65kW – 33.1mpp
3. Tesla Model 3 Standard Range – 32.3mpp
4. Volkswagen e-Golf – 30.8mpp
5. BMW i3 – 30.0mpp
6. BMW i3S – 29.2mpp
7. Tesla Model S Long Range – 30.0mpp
8. Nissan Leaf 62kWh – 26.9mpp
9. Smart EQ Fortwo Coupe – 26.9mpp
10. Tesla Model X Long Range – 24.6mpp

The UK’s Top five standard hybrids for mpp
1. Toyota Yaris – 10.1mpp
2. Toyota Corolla – 9.5mpp
3. Kia Niro – 9.3mpp
4. Lexus CT – 9.5mpp
5. Suzuki Ignis 1.2 Dualjet – 9.3mpp

The UK’s Top 10 petrols and diesels –
1. Honda Civic Saloon 1.6i DTEC (D) – 10.8mpp
2. Ford Focus 1.5 EcoBlue (D) – 10.8mpp
3. Honda Jazz S 1.3 i-VTEC (P) – 10.3mpp
4. Dacia Logan MCV Blue dCi 95 (D) – 10.3mpp
5. Kia Ceed 1.6 CRDi (D) – 10.1mpp
6. Suzuki Celerio 1.0 Dualjet (P) – 10.1mpp
7. Dacia Sandero Stepway Blue dCi 95 (D) – 9.9mpp
8. Mercedes-Benz A 180 d (D) – 9.3mpp
9. Mercedes-Benz B 180 d (D) – 9.1mpp
10. Citroen C3 Aircross BlueHDi 100 (D) – 9.1mpp
ENDS

IFS: New taxes required to replace fuel duty

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The rise of electric vehicles combined with current government polices towards less fuel duty mean new taxes will be required to plug an inevitable funding shortfall.

That’s according to a study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which asserts that cutting fuel duty by 2p per litre in the upcoming Budget would cost £1 billion a year in lost revenue.

That’s on top of the £5.5 billion lost since 2010–11 arising from the a failure by government to increase rates in line with CPI inflation.

The FSI says revenue from fuel duties now stands at £28 billion a year, which is 1.3% of national income. Revenue peaked at 2.2% of national income in 1999–2000. Had it remained at that level, the exchequer would currently be getting an extra £19 billion.

In addition, the FSI says the government’s commitment to reaching zero net emissions by 2050 means that revenue from fuel duties will completely disappear over the next few decades.

As such, the FSI says new taxes are required which can gradually replace fuel duties. These should reflect at least distance driven, and ideally vary according to when and where journeys take place. As a result, those driving in busy places would pay more, but the majority of journeys would be taxed less heavily than at present.

Rebekah Stroud, co-author of the report and a Research Economist at the IFS, said: “Cuts to fuel duties over the last two decades have contributed towards revenues’ being £19 billion a year lower than they would have been. Another 2p cut, as reportedly mooted by the Prime Minister, would cost a further £1 billion a year.

“The bigger challenge is that revenues are now set to disappear entirely over coming decades as we transition to electric cars. The government should set out its long-term plan for taxing driving, before it finds itself with virtually no revenues from driving and no way to correct for the costs – most importantly congestion – that driving imposes on others.”

Image by IADE-Michoko from Pixabay

‘Range & charge point anxiety’ a prevailing urban myth among fleet drivers

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

While many company car drivers are genuinely interested in the benefits of driving an electric vehicle, the UK’s charging structure still creates concern for 69 per cent of those motorists polled.

The findings, from a survey by Venson Automotive Solutions, come as Nissan reports there are now more EV charging stations (9,199) in the UK than conventional fuel stations (8,396) and the Department for Transport reports that at present, the UK has a network of more than 24,000 public charging connectors in nearly 9,000 locations. 

In addition to highlighting a wide misconception that there is a lack of EV charging points across the UK, the Venson survey also reports preconceptions regarding limited battery range which came a close second; 57 per cent of those surveyed reported this was still a barrier when considering an EV.  

However, according to Go Ultra Low, the range of 100% electric cars is rapidly improving. Huge advances in battery technology and falling costs mean this will continue to grow.  Today, virtually all Go Ultra Low pure electric cars can drive over 100 miles with ease on a single charge; some of the latest models are closer to 200 miles or more.  

Alison Bell, Marketing Director at Venson Automotive Solutions, said: “With charging and battery range concerns abated, EV fleets should now be far more appealing to businesses.  The revised BiK charges which sees zero-emission electric vehicle tax liability for company car drivers fall from 2 per cent to 0 per cent for the tax year 2020-21, will also appeal to company car drivers which should boost demand for EVs in the next 12 months.”

Further good news is that 86 per cent of motorists surveyed said that a ‘lack of clarity in terms of ownership implications as a company car driver’ is a thing of the past, and more than two thirds of drivers said that they had a good understanding of the costs and convenience of owning an EV.  

Dealerships are also making it easier for fleet managers to promote a charge towards electric – only 13 per cent of motorists cited lack of ‘try before you buy’ options as an obstacle to purchase and only 5 per cent of people surveyed said they are worried about manufacturer lead times in acquiring an EV.  

Bell concluded: “Whilst our survey findings confirm a greater willingness by company car drivers to adapt to an EV world, there are still some ownership concerns. 41 per cent of people we surveyed expressed concern over the practicalities of being able to charge their vehicle at home.  And 30% per cent said they had concerns over service, maintenance and repair costs.”

The Venson Automotive Solutions ‘Plug-In Vehicle Guide’ is free and can be downloaded here. 

Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay

Government wants all new rapid chargepoints to offer card payment by 2020

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The government wants to see all newly-installed rapid and higher powered chargepoints to provide debit or credit card payment by spring 2020.

One year since the launch of its Road to Zero Strategy, the government has signalled it expects industry to develop a roaming solution across the charging network, allowing electric vehicle drivers to use any public chargepoint through a single payment method without needing multiple smartphone apps or membership cards.

To date, government and industry have supported the installation of over 20,000 publicly accessible chargepoints in the UK, including more than 2,000 rapid devices, making it one of the largest charging networks in Europe. There are now more locations where you can charge your car than there are petrol stations, with almost every motorway service area having at least one rapid chargepoint.

To increase confidence in the charging network and reduce range anxiety the government says it’s working with industry to make chargepoint data freely available, helping drivers easily locate and access available chargepoints.

Future of Mobility Minister, Michael Ellis, said: “The government’s vision is for the UK to have one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world, but we know the variety of payment methods at the moment is a source of frustration for drivers.

“It is crucial there are easy payment methods available to improve electric vehicle drivers’ experiences and give drivers choice. This will help even more people enjoy the benefits electric vehicles bring and speed up our journey to a zero-emission future.”

Business and Industry Minister Andrew Stephenson said: “Initiatives like this are essential as we move towards a net zero economy, making it easier than ever for people to own and use electric vehicles.

“Investing in batteries, technology and infrastructure through our modern Industrial Strategy and Faraday battery challenge will ensure the UK leads the world in the global transition away from fossil fuels while supporting the future of our automotive industry.”

The announcement comes as BP Chargemaster, the operator of the UK’s largest public charging network, has taken what it says is a major step forward for industry by committing to introducing card payment on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers. It will also retrofit its existing UK-made rapid chargers with the technology over the next 12 months.

David Newton, CEO at BP Chargemaster, said: “As the operator of the UK’s largest public charging network, including the greatest number of rapid chargers, we support the government’s vision for all new rapid and ultra-fast chargers to support contactless bank card payment.

“We will be going one step further, not only by introducing this facility on all new 50kW and 150kW chargers from today, but also by committing to retrofit our existing UK-made rapid chargers with this technology over the next 12 months.”

The move follows the Prime Minister’s announcement last week that the government wants to see the development of a high speed electric vehicle charging infrastructure nationally; with the Office for Low Emission Vehicles to lead a review on the vision for the network.

The government has made clear that if the market is too slow to deliver improvements across the entire network it is prepared to intervene to ensure a good deal for consumers by using powers in the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act.

Image by Goran Horvat from Pixabay

Diesel car sales continue to fall as electric rises

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Diesel car sales in the UK fell by another 242,000 in the last year, from 930,000 to 688,000, far outweighing the 131,000 rise in petrol car sales.

That’s according to new data from accountancy UHY Hacker Young, which says the diesel emissions scandal and subsequent ‘demonization of diesel’ has now led to two consecutive years of sharply falling diesel car sales, with this year’s 26% decline matching the 26% fall in 2017/18.

Petrol sales were up by 10% in the past year.

The 688,000 diesel cars sold in the past year represent just over half the 1.27 million sold in 2015/16, prior to the diesel emissions scandal. In the wake of that scandal, several taxes and charges were introduced to discourage diesel car purchases, including increases in car tax and company car tax for diesel cars, and a £12.50 daily charge for most diesel cars to enter the London’s new ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’.

The biggest jump in new car sales in the past year has been seen among battery electric vehicles – ‘pure’ electric vehicles that use no fossil fuels at all. This category saw sales rise 41% from 13,000 in 2017/18 to 18,500 in 2018/19.

3,200 of these battery electric cars were registered by Tesla in the past year, down 24% from 4,200 in the previous year.

The first quarter of 2019 saw the biggest-ever quarter for sales of battery electric vehicles, with 7,000 new vehicles registered. The primary driver was Nissan’s new Leaf model.

Hybrid electric models, such as the Toyota Prius, saw sales rise another 26% to 92,000 in the past year. The category now makes up 4% of all new cars sold.

Paul Daly, automotive partner at UHY Hacker Young, said: “Diesel sales have now almost halved in the two years since the emissions scandal – this has changed the landscape of new car sales completely.

“Between the negative perceptions of diesel engines among buyers, and the Government’s moves to discourage diesel through tax, it’s unlikely that diesel sales will recover in the foreseeable future.

“This is a shame, as the latest Euro 6 diesels actually make a compelling environmental case, especially for higher mileage drivers.

“Manufacturers and dealerships will have hoped that petrol sales would make up for the shortfall, but that simply hasn’t happened.

“The accelerating sales growth of battery electric vehicles is great for the small number of manufacturers who have a credible challenger in that market. However, that market is still only a tiny fraction of new car sales overall.

“The real disruptor to the market at present remains hybrids, and battery electric vehicles still have a big gap to close to change that.”

Image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay

EV charging sites outnumber petrol stations

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

New figures from Zap-Map have revealed the extent of the UK’s electric vehicle revolution, with the number of public charging locations now surpassing petrol stations for the first time.

Data from Zap-Map shows that as of 22 May, there are 8,471 charging locations across the UK, hosting a total of 13,613 charging devices.

In contrast, as of the end of April, there are currently only 8,400 petrol stations in the UK, a figure which is continuing to decline.

Zap-Map says there has been huge growth in the UK public EV charge point market in the past 12 months, with the number of locations increasing 57% in that time.

In parallel to the increase in number of charging locations, new technologies are becoming available which offer higher charging rates.

Whereas most ‘rapid’ units are rated at 50 kW, enabling a standard EV to be fully charged in 40 minutes, the latest ‘ultra-rapid’ units are capable of up to 350 kW; ready for the next generation of longer-range electric vehicles.

The expanding network supports an increasing number of electric vehicles on the road, expanding from only 3,500 cars just six years ago, to more than 210,000 currently.

Analysts forecast that by the end of 2022, at east 1 million EVs will be in use in the UK, a figure backed by government policy that looks to electrify all new cars and vans by 2040.

Ben Lane, co-founder and CTO at Zap-Map, said: “The public and private sectors are now investing heavily in the UK’s EV charging infrastructure to ensure that there are sufficient charging points to support the growing electric fleet. This month’s milestone reveals of the rapid pace of change already underway as the age of the combustion engine gives way to an all-electric era with vehicles offering both zero-emissions and a better driving experience.”

Yodel invests £15m in green fleet

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Parcel carrier Yodel has announced a £15.2m investment in its fleet, designed to reduce the environmental impact of its road-based operations.

The investment includes new vehicles and trailers as well as technology to improve efficiency and safety.

The firm has taken delivery of an all-electric 7.5 tonne light-duty truck, the first in its fleet.

The Mitsubishi FUSO eCanter will initially be based at Yodel’s customer delivery depot in Hayes, and used across London.

It will be put through its paces to ensure that the subsequent electric vehicles are deployed in the right locations. Silent and emission-free, the state-of-the-art vehicle has a load capacity of up to four and half tonnes and is powered by six high voltage batteries.

The carrier has also invested in Microlise technology for all its tractor units and trailers, a total of more than 1,300 assets. This software monitors factors such as speed, location, and road traffic levels. It reports back to Yodel’s business control tower, allowing the team to view the network in real-time and adapt to dynamic conditions.

Microlise’s Android-based DriveTab tablet devices act as the main interface for driver communication and navigation. Journeys can be planned and monitored by the business control tower and instructions sent to the driver, while driving style can be evaluated and feedback provided to optimise performance. Yodel has already seen a seven per cent improvement in fuel efficiency since the introduction of the technology.

In addition, Yodel has fitted every tractor unit with a Microlise panic button, enabling drivers to alert the business control tower of an emergency. The carrier is also trialing a number of dashboard camera systems for its tractor units, to aid incident investigation.

Yodel is also looking to expand its urban bicycle delivery offering. It currently uses bicycle couriers to deliver parcels in central Oxford, Stevenage, Hereford and Brighton with plans to introduce them in Birmingham, London and Manchester soon.

Andrew Peeler, CEO of Yodel, said: “This large-scale investment in our fleet is designed to improve efficiency and minimise the environmental impact of deliveries. I’m delighted that we’ve introduced electric to our fleet this Spring, and we have plans to expand our use of both pedal and electric power this year.

“In addition, we have invested in technology to calculate the most efficient routes and evaluate our drivers’ driving style to further reduce our carbon footprint. 

“Our CollectPlus service helps to minimise congestion and pollution by consolidating deliveries to local stores, which customers can then pick up at their convenience. We are also striving to ensure that every home delivery is successful on the first attempt through the use of enhanced tracking and our Inflight service, which allows customers to redirect or reschedule if they realise they are going to be out when their delivery is due.”

The fleet announcement follows Yodel’s £1m investment in a bespoke semi-automated sorter at its Wednesbury site at the end of last year. The sorter, dubbed Merlin, has enhanced the speed and efficiency of sorting irregular shaped items and improved safety by reducing manual handling.

EVs should be ‘only option’ by 2035

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The UK can end its contribution to global warming within 30 years by setting an ambitious new target to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has said.

In its latest advisory, the Committee states that by 2035 ‘at the latest’ all new cars and vans should be electric (or use a low- carbon alternative such as hydrogen).

If possible, it says, an earlier 2030 switchover would be desirable, reducing costs for motorists and improving air quality. The Committee says this step could could help position the UK to take advantage of shifts in global markets.

It has told the Government it ‘must continue to support strengthening of the charging infrastructure, including for drivers without access to off- street parking’.

Ten years after the Climate Change Act became law, the Committee says now is the right moment to set a more ambitious goal – it asserts that achieving a ‘net-zero’ target by the middle of the century is in line with the UK’s commitment under the Paris Agreement; the pact which the UK and the rest of the world signed in 2015 to curb dramatically the polluting gases that cause climate change.

Scotland has greater potential to remove pollution from its economy than the UK overall, and can credibly adopt a more ambitious target of reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) by 2045.

Wales has slightly lower opportunities than the UK as a whole, and should adopt a target for a 95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, compared to 1990 levels.

The CCC says its recommended targets, which cover all sectors of the UK, Scottish and Welsh economies, are achievable with known technologies, alongside improvements in people’s lives, and should be put into law as soon as possible, the Committee says.

Falls in cost for some of the key zero-carbon technologies mean that achieving net-zero is now possible within the economic cost that Parliament originally accepted when it passed the Climate Change Act in 2008.

The Committee’s report, requested by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments in light of the Paris Agreement and the IPCC’s Special Report in 2018, finds that:

  • The foundations are in place throughout the UK and the policies required to deliver key pillars of a net-zero economy are already active or in development. These include: a supply of low-carbon electricity (which will need to quadruple by 2050), efficient buildings and low-carbon heating (required throughout the UK’s building stock), electric vehicles (which should be the only option from 2035 or earlier), developing carbon capture and storage technology and low-carbon hydrogen (which are a necessity not an option), stopping biodegradable waste going to landfill, phasing-out potent fluorinated gases, increasing tree planting, and measures to reduce emissions on farms. However, these policies must be urgently strengthened and must deliver tangible emissions reductions – current policy is not enough even for existing targets.
  • Policies will have to ramp up significantly for a ‘net-zero’ emissions target to be credible, given that most sectors of the economy will need to cut their emissions to zero by 2050. The Committee’s conclusion that the UK can achieve a net-zero GHG target by 2050 and at acceptable cost is entirely contingent on the introduction without delay of clear, stable and well-designed policies across the emitting sectors of the economy. Government must set the direction and provide the urgency. The public will need to be engaged if the transition is to succeed. Serious plans are needed to clean up the UK’s heating systems, to deliver the infrastructure for carbon capture and storage technology and to drive transformational change in how we use our land.
  • The overall costs of the transition to a net-zero economy are manageable but they must be fairly distributed. Rapid cost reductions in essential technologies such as offshore wind and batteries for electric vehicles mean that a net-zero greenhouse gas target can be met at an annual cost of up to 1-2% of GDP to 2050. However, the costs of the transition must be fair, and must be perceived as such by workers and energy bill payers. The Committee recommends that the Treasury reviews how the remaining costs of achieving net- zero can be managed in a fair way for consumers and businesses.

Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said: “We can all see that the climate is changing and it needs a serious response. The great news is that it is not only possible for the UK to play its full part – we explain how in our new report – but it can be done within the cost envelope that Parliament has already accepted. The Government should accept the recommendations and set about making the changes needed to deliver them without delay.”

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