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Go on…power into the fast lane

Apr 2016 Electric Vehicles | Comments Off on Go on…power into the fast lane
Go on…power into the fast lane

With the Government committing millions to ultra-low emission car use and the continual growth of charging infrastructure and technological advancement, the UK is one of the leaders in the electric vehicle (EV) revolution. Martyn Crabb at Rexel explains why it’s time for installers to take a piece of what promises to be a very lucrative pot

It is well known that the 2008 Climate Change Act established the world’s first legally binding climate change target. Under this, the UK has committed to reducing its greenhouse emissions by at least 80% (from the 1990 baseline) by 2050. These targets are in line with what scientists say is needed to keep the average rate of global warming below 2°C – a target commonly regarded as the threshold of ‘dangerous’ climate change.

Tackling carbon emissions in the automotive sector is central to this. According to the latest figures by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), more than 25% of the UK’s emissions can be attributed to the transport industry – an increase of 1% on the year before as rising demand outweighed carbon intensity improvements.

Cue an increased focus on the sector, with the UK Government recently pledging to ensure the majority of cars and vans will be zero emission by 2050 at the Paris COP21 conference.

Government boost for EVs

As part of this, the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) recently announced the winners of the ‘Go Ultra Low City Scheme’ who will share a pot of £40m to invest in the technology and initiatives needed to drive demand for low emission vehicles. These include London, Nottingham, Bristol and Milton Keynes and £5m of development funding for specific initiatives in Dundee, Oxford, York and north east regions.

In addition, the Government has also announced a long-term extension to the plug-in car grant, backed by a £400m package to treble the number of ultra-low emission vehicles on Britain’s roads. This means that from March, buyers of the greenest cars can save up to £4,500 off the overall purchase price.

Adding to the appeal for drivers yet to make the green switch, recent years have seen the average cost of an EV drop exponentially and it is estimated they could be cheaper than conventional cars by 2025.

Plus, while the previous limited charging infrastructure presented a huge stumbling block in the EV adoption plight, causing the widely publicised ‘range anxiety’, such concerns are certainly now being addressed. According to the ‘Zap Map’ (, there are now more than 10,000 public charging points across the UK – meaning consumers can rest assured that a charging point should never be too far away.

Of course, the most powerful argument for EV, however, is cost saving. On average, the Energy Saving Trust estimates that a full charge will cost around £2-3 and give a typical range of 100 miles. Driving 100 miles in a petrol or diesel car will cost around £12-18 in fuel, equating to six times the cost of the electric car. Better still, the cost savings are even greater when owners have access to an overnight low rate electricity tariff.

Not surprisingly, EV sales hit an all-time record last year. According to the most recent report by The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), more plug-in cars were sold in the first half of 2015 than in all of 2014. In fact, the UK has contributed almost a quarter of EV sales in the EU last year (24.3%), with almost 21,000 units. Only Norway, which offers a wealth of EV incentives, did better with 24,866 units, with 7832 of those (31.4%) in quarter three. And the consensus is that this is just the beginning.

Another string to your bow

This, of course, offers an expansive and growing new business opportunity for the traditional electrical contractor to diversify into and, in turn, reap the financial rewards.

To begin with, training is king and the good news is that there are plenty of courses specifically aimed at those contractors looking to diversifying into the EV sector.

The introductory EV charging course offered by NICEIC is designed to help contractors understand how to install EV charging points in compliance with BS 7671, the Electrical Safety Quality and Continuity Regulations and the new IET Code of Practice. It is run over just one day and offers the ideal route for those looking to get involved in the industry.

In addition, it is also important to work with a reputable supplier with expertise in the EV charging arena to ensure product quality, reliability and a best practice installation.

A range of factors will influence a consumer’s decision on which EV charger is compatible with their lifestyle and requirements; these include vehicle type, desired speed of charge and future proofing. Plus, when it comes to the new build sector, more and more local authorities are stipulating that, as part of planning permission approval, EV charging points must be considered – and in some cases mandatorily implemented – as part of a development.

With this in mind, Rexel has developed charging solutions to suit any vehicle and meet all legal requirements. These include various types of charging unit to reflect the mode of charging, whether residential, commercial or public charge point, or if the charging point is to be wall- or ground-mounted.

Our offer also includes standard charging units, ideal for the consumer taking regular short journeys, through to rapid chargers, which use a direct current supply to provide a typical 80% charge in 30 minutes – perfect for drivers on regular long-haul drives.

Exciting time for EVs

From further sector-specific EV solutions with data reporting requirements through to niche accessories and EV charging equipment, Rexel aims to provide everything a contractor starting out on the path to EV could need along the journey. Plus, our expert team are able to provide installers with informed advice and support each step along the way.

It is an incredibly exciting time for EV. Last year saw the market hit record sales, a figure which is likely to be exceeded this year as more businesses and consumers seek to embrace the financial and energy saving benefits of making the switch, and the consensus is that this is just the beginning.

For the shrewd installer, now is the time to act and get into the fast lane as EV continues to accelerate at a speed.

Rexel Energy Solutions recently launched Energeasy Drive – an online portal dedicated to all things EV, with tips, advice, demos and industry insight designed to help installers working in the EV sector.