Will Geneva 2018 be the turning point for EVs?

No. It won’t be. It will certainly be big for EVs, but until we get to a point where 51% of the cars on show are EVs, then we won’t be there in my opinion.

However, in terms of public perception of EVs and the idea that they will take over entirely from fossil fuels, this may indeed be it. Jaguar, Audi and Mercedes will all unveil either prototypes or full production EVs. But I see this trend where people still don’t fully understand that EVs are here to take over. They think of them as an accompaniment to an ICE car. A second car for running errands around town. I’m hopeful that the I-Pace, e-Tron Quattro and eQC will change that. Tesla already should have, but many still have never heard of Tesla and seeing it from established luxury ICE car makers should make a difference. Perceptions won’t change overnight but I don’t think it will take that long.

Make no mistake, Geneva will be huge for EVs, but most likely 90% of the cars shown there will not be electric. Which for me will be deeply frustrating and depressing. It may take until 2020 before we get to that magical 51%. It may happen sooner, and I really hope I’m wrong, but I think 2020 is a reasonable assumption.


My Upcoming EV Predicament – Renault Zoe Owner

I currently have a Renault Zoe with the original 22kwh battery pack which I can get around 100 miles out of in summer. I love my car, but at the end of my PCP deal which runs 2 years from October 2016-18, I have a predicament.

Renault have said that my car is worthless and that I can’t trade it in using the guaranteed future value. I had bet on this trade-in because I knew the Zoe Z.E. 40 would be more expensive than what I paid before, and even then I was stretching my finances due to wanting an EV so much.

There are other issues too. When I got my current Zoe, the PCP options were either 2 or 4 years. There was no way I was going to do 4 years. 2 was ideal. This time, 3 years is the only option. The Renault Zoe is a fantastic car, but it is undeniably old at this point. It hasn’t really been updated significantly other than the battery size since 2013. If I was to sign up until 2021, I would be paying through the nose for a car still with only 22kw charging ability. And let’s not forget Apple CarPlay. I know it might seem trivial, but it matters.

Two things in the EV world that are widely known are that battery costs are coming down massively every year, and that type 2 AC rapid charging is not a standard for the future. By 2021 I would be paying so much more than the going rate for batteries. It would be Hinckley Point-esque financially. Not only that but I wouldn’t be benefiting from the rapidly expanding charging network. Even if 43kw rapid AC continues to be expanded, which it may do because of it being included on some rapid charging units, then I would still be stuck charging at 22kw. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, and I have done long road trips with this speed. But in 2021, I doubt I would still be enthusiastic about the prospect of using that.

The problems don’t stop there. I’m a car fan, and while admittedly, this may not be the most convincing reason I’ve given for my decision, I like switching things up. After 2 years driving the Zoe, I’m sure that I’m going to be ready for the next chapter in my driving life. But once I hand the car back, what next?

There seems to be a dearth of small, affordable EVs coming in 2018, which is truly depressing. My best hope at the moment is one or two new small EV hatchbacks being announced at Geneva in March and perhaps being released early 2019. That would mean around 6 months without a car.

It wouldn’t be the end of the world. I can cycle to work, I could take taxis or the bus. I could even use an app like Turo to hire someone else’s car. With me currently working part time, it’s a definite possibility and all of those options should cost me less than my current monthly car payment.

However, I don’t want to drive an ICE car, and these options are all limited in that regard. In this area, we can’t get Uber and our local taxi company still requires cash, which I generally no longer carry. They also are behind the times in terms of propulsion as I mentioned. They use diesel saloons, and that fuel bill must cut massively into their profit margin. Hopefully they’ll realise how much they could be saving and buy some next gen Leafs in the next 9 or so months.

Buses are diesel, noisy, vibrate incessantly and are always late, so perhaps a no go there. Turo and other more traditional car rental services are also EV challenged at present. Enterprise, Hertz etc should realise the cost benefits sooner rather than later, and Turo can only get better as more people buy EVs and realise how great they are for sharing. The traditional rental places are so far behind the times that it’s still difficult to get a small automatic car from them. And that would be another issue for me. I chose to take an automatic only test in order to save time and money on driving lessons.

The only option that is guaranteed to work and be ICE vehicle free is cycling. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be pleasant. Worthing isn’t a cycling town, and the road network is woefully inadequate to support large numbers of riders. We have narrow roads, wider and wider SUVs by the day, and parked cars clogging up both sides of many streets. Then there’s the weather. I have ridden a scooter to work previously, and although it is perfectly doable, it’s not always the most fun in the cold, wet and dark conditions you often encounter. Cycling may actually be better as you at least don’t have a visor that can fog up to the point where you’re practically guessing where that traffic island is. And you’re also not going as fast, so less of that biting wind chill.

So what’s the point of this post? Well, mainly to vent my frustration at the lack of choice and affordability in EVs by this point in time. But also to show that there are other options that can work well, especially for people who have no inherent love of driving and vehicles, as I do. (Although I do accept and welcome our autonomous driving future).

Even though I’m making this decision which will be a bit painful in the short term, I know that it’s the right one to make. We’re in that odd empty period before the EV market really explodes, and in my situation, I’m just unlucky to be stuck in the middle of it.

The Weak Performance of EV Makers

Imagine Tesla selling only one car and not bringing anything else out or even announcing another car for 4 or 5 years. Then imagine that car getting almost no support from their sales staff. Then imagine the Supercharger network didn’t exist. Now imagine other companies who have infinitely more manufacturing experience and many more times the amount of money available to them. Yes, companies like that exist in 2017. It’s crazy to think about.

BMW are the first company I think about that fit the bill completely. But at least they’ve offered an EV of some description for years. How many companies out there have failed to even release a single one by now? See my last post for a very long list.

My Prediction For EV Sales Growth

I think EV sales are going to explode in the coming years. Most forecasts are extremely conservative. Of course the more of a vested interest an organization has in fossil fuel, the more conservative the prediction. But even institutions that heavily favour the move to electric such as Bloomberg are still far more restrained than I predict.

Below is my prediction for EV sales percentage in the UK between now and 2025.

  • 2017: 2%
  • 2018: 3%
  • 2019: 4%
  • 2020: 8%
  • 2021: 16%
  • 2022: 32%
  • 2023: 64%
  • 2024: 80%
  • 2025: 99%

This is just my guess and it’s very difficult to come up with a perfect prediction. But I think that as we have got to 2% already with only a few cars on the market, and with so much talk about EVs now, it seems inevitable that the growth will really accelerate in the coming years.

2020 seems to be the key year when lots of new models will be available, and by that time they should be price competitive with ICE cars, even before considering running costs.

Shortly after that, there should be another big boost as the manufacturing capacity for battery packs increases when big numbers of gigafactory style battery plants start popping up all over the world.

Between now and 2020 there should be significant growth, but there likely won’t be enough battery factories or different models of car available for it to go above 5%. Although I hope I’m wrong.

Even just today, Zap-Map said that they’re seeing an explosion of extra traffic on their website one day after the new London T-Charge (don’t know what the T stands for) comes into force.

So in conclusion, I have no real idea how quickly the change will happen, but what we do know is that it will be a lot faster than any of the predictions out there from mainstream organisations. The best prediction I’ve seen was from Pod Point CEO Eric Fairbairn. Obviously you would expect the CEO of a charge network to be optimistic, but that’s just what he genuinely thinks based on the information he has available to him.

He talked about this at an event recently and it was great to watch it and see someone just as passionate about this as I am, and someone who feels the same impatience at the pace of progress. We always want more immediately.