Consumers making switch
Electric surge causing a rethink in use of fuel
More charging points are being installed
Diesel is under scrutiny for the levels of nitrogen oxide emitted from vehicles, so much so that the UK government plans to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles by 2040 in a bid to clean up air quality.
As a result, the electric vehicle market experienced a record year in sales in 2017, averaging more than 4,000 registrations per month in the UK — a significant increase compared to 2013 figures, which witnessed 3,500 registrations over the entire year.
So, as the UK government encourages Britons to switch to electric and hybrid vehicles, what does this mean for traditional fuel sources?
Lookers, the retailer of used cars, explores what the future holds for different fuels.
Fuel price fluctuation
Around 38% of the UK’s total energy consumption is reliant on imported energy. Could our trading relationships be at risk after Brexit?
The pound fell by 20% against the dollar after the UK voted to leave the European Union – causing fuel prices to increase by around 10p per litre and experts to raise concern that Brexit could mark the end of cheap fuel in Britain.
The combination of higher crude oil prices and the devaluation of the pound mean Britain should expect higher fuel prices to become the norm.
Electric fuel station surge
Could a transition towards electric and hybrid vehicles see us eventually wave goodbye to traditional fuel?
A lack of charging points raises concerns for many drivers. However, in the past 12 months, the UK’s electric car charging infrastructure has evolved substantially to suit the lifestyles of many drivers.
Following in the footsteps of other countries, such as New Zealand, which are rolling out easier-to-find charging stations, the UK now has 20 companies and organisations installing and running nationwide or regional electric car charging networks.
Thanks to a multimillion pound deal with ChargePoint in May 2017, InstaVolt is also installing at least another 3,000 rapid charging points across fuel station forecourts across the UK.
Some researchers have also claimed they could have developed an ‘instantly rechargeable’ method that recharges an electric battery in the same time as it would take to fill a gas tank – a solution to one of the biggest headaches of electric vehicles.
Oil firms are also recognising the potential for growth into the battery-powered vehicle market.
BP has confirmed that it is adding more rapid charging points for electric vehicles into their UK fuel stations. Shell has already invested in several electric car infrastructure companies to install charging points at service stations.
According to The Guardian, the British oil firm, BP, is also investing $5 million (£3.5m) in the US firm Freewire Technologies, which will provide motorbike-sized charging units at forecourts to top up cars in half an hour.
The chief executive of BP Downstream, Tufan Erginbilgic, commented: “EV charging will undoubtedly become an important part of our business, but customer demand and the technologies available are still evolving.”
Whilst still evolving, 2017 was a record year not only in the UK, but on a global scale. In November 2017, global figures hit three million for the number of electric vehicles collectively on the roads with China proving to dominate the market.
Whilst oil firms such as BP expect the electric market to continue to rise, they hope the oil demand is not seriously affected – by cutting themselves a slice of the electric vehicle charging cake. However, firms are covering their backs if traditional oil demand does take a dip in line with the government’s plans to reduce harmful emissions and cut back on crude oil prices.
The cost of fuel looks to remain uncertain in the near future, though something that appears to be for certain is that both the high fuel prices and attempts to improve air quality in the UK will have a positive impact on the EV market, with success forecast to continue to surge in the years leading up to 2040.
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