Electric vehicles: Charging ahead

Electric vehicles produce lower emissions than those with internal combustion engines, and could be an effective way to decarbonise the transport sector.

Electric vehicles have come a long way in a relatively short time. With the necessary technology available, the task now is to ensure widespread adoption and enhance affordability, argues Peter Durante, managing director of technology and innovation at Macquarie Asset Management.

“The pace of EV adoption will, ultimately, be driven by a range of factors such as price, legislation and the buildout of supporting infrastructure,” he says. “We have already seen EVs go from representing a couple of percent of total car sales across Europe in 2019 to nearly 20 percent [in Q3 of this year].

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“As prices drop, model availability increases, charging infrastructure gets built out and consumer interest grows, there is potential for that growth to continue in line with various regulatory ambitions and industry aspirations.”

In October, the UK government announced it was investing up to £1 billion ($1.4 billion; €1.2 billion) to support the electrification of vehicles and infrastructure, including a zero-emission vehicle mandate, as part of its net-zero strategy.

Gran turismo

In the same month, Durante drove from London to Palermo in Sicily and back to understand the state of EV charging infrastructure across Europe. The 6,300km (4,000-mile) journey in a Tesla Model 3 saw him drive through eight countries over 10 days.

“It goes to show that long-distance travel in EVs is now not only possible, but relatively easy in some markets, as high-power charging infrastructure has [been] developed by automakers, energy companies and dedicated charging companies,” he says. “That will need to continue to expand in line with EV sales growth, as will publicly accessible slow charging to cover most daily driving for those without dedicated off-street parking.”

Looking forward, there will be more focus on consolidation of the market, says Durante: “As the market for EVs grows, automakers will also need to explore collaborations to better integrate charging options into onboard navigation systems.

“Drivers should be able to set their charging preferences and plan multi-route stops using different charging infrastructure providers, as opposed to feeling tied to one provider, as many do today.”