While the Japanese authorities recently announced a $1 billion investment in recharging stations, the UK government is currently undergoing a £37 million investment programme. This is just the latest in a long line of government financial initiatives around the world to encourage the take-up of electric vehicles and a move towards more environmentally friendly modes of transport. Sales in the UK to date have been fairly slow, with around 4100 plug-in vehicles on the roads but the UK government believes the EV industry is a 20 to 30 year project which will eventually pay dividends.
UK Transport Minister Norman Baker confirmed that "the trajectory of sales is fine and I'm relaxed about it" although EV manufacturers may well prefer a quicker take-up of this new technology.
Is the UK government pushing EV sales enough?
Despite the seemingly relaxed approach of the UK government there is much going on behind-the-scenes and indeed Nissan UK recently announced plans to introduce electric vehicle manufacturing at its highly successful Sunderland plant. When you also take into account that the UK government has put aside £37 million to encourage the installation of the recharging stations this does not seem to be the actions of a government sitting on its hands?
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "While the likes of IKEA already have a program in place to increase the number of EV charging stations on their US premises, would you recharge outside a Tesco supermarket in the UK?"
If you look across the water to the U.S. who will see that EV sales are starting to pick up and indeed they are ahead of the rate of growth seen in the early years of hybrid vehicles. Hybrids were initially seen as a stepping stone towards the electric vehicle market but figures recently released show that more and more motorists are now willing to jump from traditional petrol/gasoline vehicles to their electric powered counterparts.
While many people in the UK may not be aware, more and more areas of public transport are seeing the impact of electric power from trams to trains, from taxis to buses with more new electric vehicles coming online every month. We have also seen the introduction of electric vehicles into the public sector although there is significant scope for greater use in this particular area.
The fact is that the more familiar motorist become with EV charging stations and electric vehicles on the road, the more likelihood of them considering this particular mode of transport when they next change their vehicle. It is also worth noting that the UK government, again along with many around the world, has also introduced an array of financial incentives for those looking to more environmentally friendly modes of transport. These financial incentives will not last forever but they are likely to last at least until the EV industry is on its feet in the UK and able to fend for itself.
While on the surface the UK government is "relaxed" with current sales targets for plug-in electric vehicles, behind-the-scenes there seems to be more going on than you might imagine. The introduction of EV vehicles into the UK has been relatively slow but if we look across the pond to the U.S. you will see a similar scenario just a couple of years ago. We can only hope that EV sales pick up to the extent that they have in the U.S. and motorists embrace this new mode of transport to the same extent as their US counterparts.