Electric Cars Providing A Boost For The Industry As Mercedes Benz Joins The Fight
A package of financial aid from the UK government to ramp up the infrastructure for electric cars has left the sector poised to boost the already buoyant UK motor industry. Add to this the raft of improved models being launched by major manufacturers – prestige giants BMW and Mercedes have entered the market – and electric power is set to make a strong industry even stronger.
The UK’s electric car policy
Up until recently, demand for electric cars in the UK had fallen behind most other European countries and the US despite the stiff vehicle emission standards and the overwhelming need to continue the fight against CO2 emissions and environmental pollution.
According to this piece based on a government think tank report from 2013, Britain could miss out on job creation opportunities, economic growth and the chance to export to a growing global market if it doesn’t strongly support electric car use.
Issues affecting electric car use
A barrier to a wider adoption of electric cars has been the fact they require charging frequently and there aren’t many charging points across the UK. Then there’s the time it takes to charge them – a socket at home is slower than a more heavy duty three phase set up – and for many this means electric cars can’t be considered.
Car manufacturers are developing models that can last longer between charges, along with technology that makes the most from an existing charge. For example Mercedes Benz’s entry to the UK market, the B-Class Electric, re-uses power claimed from braking and has a ‘sail’ type function where the car doesn’t use power in certain circumstances such as travelling downhill.
The German prestige manufacturer is also working on an electric sports car to rival the desirable Tesla Model S. The stylish Mercedes is said to have a range between charges of some 250-311 miles.
How is the Government helping?
The government has launched a £500 million five-year investment programme in the ULEV (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle) industry.
A total of £43 million will be invested in the charging infrastructure by increasing the number of charging points in various locations such as along A-roads and at railway stations and hospitals. Grants for electric car owners to install charging points at home will be available, and some £100 million has been earmarked for a raft of green vehicle projects including the development of more lightweight construction materials and electric public transport vehicles such as buses.
Is it helping?
The popularity of ULEV’s is rising now with sales of plug-in hybrid cars (as distinct from all-electric models) rising four-fold, and the government launching initiatives such as ‘Go Ultra Low’ to inform and advise the public.
The Government is ambitiously aiming for all cars on UK roads to be a ULEV by 2040, taking it from being a niche corner of the market to a dominant force that attracts everyone from learner drivers through to wizened veterans.
It’s exciting for the car industry as the Government is working closely with them on these ambitious plans, and the ULEV is a definite chance for manufacturers to innovate and capitalise on what’s likely to be a boom market.
By embracing a technology that is innovative and green at its very core, the car industry is getting support from the state and a boost that it might otherwise have struggled to achieve.