• Sustainability
    • Environmental
    • Transition to Net Zero

The fight for EV adoption

  • Article

What will it take for the population at large to switch to electric vehicles in the UK? A roundtable event led by HSBC UK and DLA Piper laid bare the reality of how to align differing priorities, logistics and technology to facilitate such change – though much can yet be achieved with a progressive transport policy geared towards convenience, technology and enlightened driver attitudes.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are not only here, they’re an increasingly normal part of transport infrastructure for both consumer and business markets. And yet the sweeping policy advances needed to make them a fully integrated feature of modern urban transportation bring their own challenges.

HSBC UK’s roundtable event in Birmingham revealed the complexities of such challenges among experts – including how and where to locate EV charging points for drivers, and the knock-on effect for infrastructure and the grid. And while zero-carbon targets are theoretically achievable by the mass electrification of vehicles – currently forecast to outsell petrol and diesel by 2027 – it’s the cities that harbour wider emissions issues. They already account for between 40% – 70% of Green House Gas emissions, as estimated by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), but could better deal with emissions if concerted action is taken with cleaner transport in combination with educating drivers on the need for behaviour change.

Employing an EV infrastructure

Part of that behavioural change should be more straightforward than it is currently viewed by road users, according to event panellists. Consumer fears about lack of charge or long charging times for their vehicles are often overplayed as the potential is there to provide a mix of home-to-workplace/shopping district charging points, and strategically-located sites that can accommodate longer journeys. Additionally, the estimated average daily mileage is comparatively low at 22 miles, with the annual average in England only reaching 7,600 .

Flexible options are seen as key to a solution that people are most likely to adopt with confidence. And the transition to wide EV use, say the panel, also needs to be fair to communities across the length and breadth country – not just in the well-served urban districts of the biggest cities. Part of the answer lies in smart use of data, from which the analysis of demand and behaviour should reveal those areas most deserving of attention in a bid to widen coverage.

Do we have the power?

The UK Government’s announcement of a ban on diesel and petrol car sales from 2040 has put EVs into even sharper focus. But can the power system cope with an overnight boom in EVs? While smart charging and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) could help make system savings and contribute to economic grid decarbonisation, concerns may grow among users about the lack of autonomy that comes with giving up control of the charging and discharging of their EV battery, and by how the vehicle driving and charging data will be collected and aggregated.

The panel felt that the route out of these concerns lies in reshaping the grid to suit the future rather than retrofitting EV use to how it looks at present. Consumers have widely differing preferences and may have no incentive, for example, to feed energy back into the grid.

Affecting behavioural change

While the smart distribution of charging points across a nationwide network is fundamental to incentivising drivers in the switch to EVs, the panel agreed that other behavioural factors need to be addressed in selling such a change. City congestion remains a nagging problem which is highlighted in HSBC’s Future Cities – Cut Congestion, Lift Growth report. Urban congestion currently costs around $1.7tn a year in the developed world, a figure that could be nearly 30% higher by 2030 unless the problem is tackled.

With a high proportion of emissions resulting from road behaviour, teaching new habits that re-position vehicles as energy consumers as well as conveniences are key to raising awareness.

HSBC UK’s part in the future

Also at the event was Natalya Tueva, Director of Sustainable Finance for HSBC UK. In explaining the role the bank can play in aiding the fight against emissions, she said: “HSBC UK is committed to helping businesses transition to a lower carbon economy, for example through our commitment to provide $100bn of sustainable financing and investment by 2025. According to the EU Commission, transport accounts for almost a quarter of Europe’s Green House Gas emissions being the main cause of air pollution in cities, with road transport representing over 70% of all Green House Gas emissions from transport.

Natalya added that HSBC UK’s Green Lending proposition – available for a minimum loan of £300,000 – will “help businesses access finance to support their sustainability projects.”

For more information on what HSBC UK is doing to help businesses like yours secure a lower carbon future, contact your Relationship Manager today.

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