Electric vehicle (or EV) total ownership costs could be cheaper than conventionally powered cars by 2025. As car drivers look for ways to reduce the cost of motoring, EVs could well be the solution.

While some manufacturers have had a few hiccups recently, this trend is gathering momentum. Fast.

As an independent garage, are you geared up to maintain these cars?

 

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We may have spent a few years doubting the EV; citing ‘range anxiety’ and the lack of charging points as very real objections to electric cars by the everyday motorist.

For a start…

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Battery prices are now much cheaper (65% lower than in 2010 with predictions of continual price falls over the next couple of decades)
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There have been huge improvements in technology and development
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There’s a much wider acceptance of alternatively powered vehicles
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These are all building the foundations for change…

Then you’ve got the big Tesla unveil (of the model 3) earlier this month presenting the future of comfortable, fast and finally, mass-market affordable travel.

We’re on the brink of an electric revolution!

Cost of ownership is falling

Research published recently by Bloomberg New Energy Finance suggests EVs will be cheaper to run in most countries by the 2020s which means increasing numbers of motorists will be ditching diesel and petrol cars for EVs purely on cost.

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According to the study, sales of electric vehicles are forecast to reach 41 million worldwide by 2040.

To put it into context, that would be 35% of new light duty vehicle sales and is almost 90 times the equivalent figure for 2015.

Last year it was estimated there were 462,000 EV sales, which may not sound much, but it still represents an increase of around 60% compared to 2014.

Currently, 1.3 million EVs have been sold worldwide, but whilst sales are increasing, they still only represented less than 1% of light duty vehicle sales in 2015.

Impact on oil industry

The implication of the EV revolution is much wider.

The growth of EVs by 2040 will mean they will represent a quarter of all vehicles on the road, which, in turn, will see demand for petrol and diesel fuel (and therefore oil) plummet by an estimated 13 million barrels of crude oil per day.

Instead, 2,700TWh of electricity would be needed, the equivalent to 11% of global electricity demand in 2015.

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Cheaper to run

Calculations on total cost of ownership in the study show these cars will be cheaper to run than internal combustion engine cars by the mid-2020s, even with fuel economy improvements of 3.5% per year.

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Battery electric vehicles, or BEVs, vehicles which rely solely on their batteries to provide power, include the current best selling model the Nissan Leaf.

The first generation of long-range, mid-priced BEVs will be available in the next 18-months with the launch of the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3, according to the report.

There’s also half a million UK motorists suited to electric motoring who would transform the market overnight if they switched.

In a Go Ultra Low survey of over 2,000 UK drivers, the research showed that half of them drive no more than 15 miles per day, 98% of them travelling less than 100 miles daily – within the range of EV’s and easily achievable in a plug-in hybrid.

The study revealed new car buyers were increasingly seeking lower running costs, and were twice as likely to rate fuel economy as their main concern compared to when they bought their first car.

Go Ultra Low, the joint government and automotive industry campaign, believe that the 1.4% electric car share of the market would rocket to over 20% if drivers matched their stated purchase considerations and driving habits to the 30+ plug-in cars available right now on the market.

The UK market

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In the UK, new registrations of plug-in cars increased from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 50,000 at the beginning of 2016, according to statistics from Nextgreencar.com which has been supplemented by an increase in the number of models available.

Each of the UK’s 10 best-selling car brands now offers an EV as part of their model range.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show UK motorists are sold on electric cars with sales having risen dramatically during the past 12 months.

An average 2,400 EVs were registered each month in 2015 compared to just an average of 500 at the start of 2014.

 

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2016 is already out-performing last year and EVs now make up just over 1% of the UK’s new car market.

The SMMT have just announced that in the first quarter of 2016, a record 10,496 vehicles were registered, up 22.7% on the same period last year.

 

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The Nissan Leaf remains the country’s favourite EV with almost 10,500 vehicles registered by the end of September 2015. Mitsubishi’s Outlander PHEV is the best-selling plug-in vehicle with more that 14,000 sold last year by the end of Q3.

Similarly, the network of charging point connectors has increased from just over 1,000 in 2011 to more than 10,700 in April 2016.

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What does it mean for independent garages?

Whilst yet to gain a significant share of the market, the march of the EV is in no doubt.

For the independent garage owner, ignoring its rise could prove catastrophic.

By contrast, preparing now with EV and hybrid training as the first swathe of vehicles begin to find themselves in the hands of second or even third owners, could prove to be a worthwhile investment.

Getting trained for the revolution

 

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Specialist training is a must. A report in the Independent warned that mechanics without the right training undertaking service, maintenance and repair on EVs could even be risking their lives and those of their customers.

The Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) wants new regulations to ensure mechanics are properly trained to work with electric motors and warns of a skills shortage of trained EV mechanics.

EVs can contain circuits running at more than three times the 230 volts found in the mains supply, if not handled properly, there’s a risk of electrocution and fire.

 

 

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The IMI, which has called for all mechanics to be registered, estimate there are about 180,000 car mechanics working in the country.

Only 40,000 are on the IMI’s professional register and whilst many of the remaining 140,000 are likely to have been trained, the figure could include those who have taught themselves or had very little, if any, training.

According to the IMI, there are only 1,000 people trained to fix Electric Vehicles in the UK with another 1,000 currently being trained.

With government encouraging the take-up of EVs and hybrids, the IMI has warned of a skills shortage already. With a government goal of all new cars in Britain being electric by 2040, unless something radical is put in place to plug the skills gap, the situation will only worsen. The IMI are calling on the Government to make it illegal for unregistered technicians to work initially on EV cars from 2016 with the scheme being rolled out for all technicians by 2020.

The IMI recently commissioned a report from Loughborough University, published yesterday, containing several words of warning for Westminster.

The report claims that up to 320,000 jobs could be created and £51bn per year generated into the UK economy from electric vehicles. But only if the Government acts strategically to make charging low emission cars convenient to drivers, and to make sure there are enough qualified people to service and repair them.

Report author Jim Saker sums it up well: “Without proper regulation a skills gap will emerge with only a limited number of technicians working in the franchised sector being able to service and repair new technology vehicles. If this trend is found to be true then it is likely that the independent sector of the retail automotive sector will decline. This will mean that the market will fail to open up and develop to the benefit of the UK economy.”

In conclusion

  • Electric vehicles aren’t going away, they are massively on the rise in the UK
  • Act now to ensure your garage can handle the new tech
  • Getting trained on EV’s and hybrid technology would give you an advantage over other garages
  • Government needs to act soon with new regulation covering EV’s