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Time for EV

Sep 30, 2020

Samuel Goldwyn the legendary Hollywood power broker once declared “Give me a couple of years and I’ll make that actress an overnight success” and so it is with EV. So long the darling of the Prius generation and climate lobby, electric mobility has finally emerged onto the red carpet. This year we will see a convergence of factors previously not seen before. Battery innovation to address range concerns, increasing price parity with traditional vehicles, and continued aggressive regulation that means EV is becoming a real option for regular car buyers. A recent UK survey reported that 30% of drivers saw EV as a choice for them next time round and why not when in Norway EV’s already account for 50%+ of cars on the road. The genie is out of the bottle but the arrival of COVID-19 clearly disrupts, so what now?


The global pandemic and the creation of a new normal in all our lives has already seen massive change. Travel is down dramatically as digital working has become the norm, airlines are effectively closed for business and seeking government support whilst the oil price has gone in reverse with storage possibly more valuable than the asset itself. Now more now than ever the EV ecosystem needs to press on. The sector attracts evangelists and whilst the role of Tesla, and its devotees, is criticised one cannot deny their influence in re-defining an entire industry. The totemic people’s car company, VW, has finally launched the mainstream ID platform with thousands of units already built ready to ship. However they have only just signed a deals with German giant E.ON and Centrica in the UK to build out fast charging networks – surely we need more?  


We all want our cake and to eat it. The push to change our transport habits is complemented with a similar shift to renewable energy across the board with major suppliers restructuring their operations to suit and consumers more concerned about where their power comes from. Regionally the Nordics with their history of hydro, wind and a growing solar base have long been held up as examples to look to and whilst Germany withdraws from nuclear and other large countries such as the UK and France recommit the backdrop for EV adoption is complex.  All the while we are yet to understand what mass use and consumption looks like. 


Our work with Europe’s largest energy players including E.ON and Statkraft tells us that despite this uncertainty providers need to press forward with their efforts to create EV services, particularly the different types of charging networks. Not only is this category wide open with a large number of consumer and business start-ups critically the potential impact on the core business of power supply is too great to ignore by the main players. Some projections suggest that mass EV adoption could in fact be a threat to supply due to legacy networks, the variability of renewable sources and consumer behaviour creating massive stress to existing infrastructure. For a parallel think about the telecoms switch from analogue to digital comms and media services, for the large international players this it too big an issue to ignore even if building out highly localised consumer centric services seems alien or indeed unattractive.   


Strategically power operators must lead if they are to shape the end to end EV proposition, regulation and policy framework and manage the impact  of consumer behaviour. Further transformative innovations such as vehicle to grid and second life battery options are dependent on this insight. Recently we have all become used to a radically different style of government and lawmakers need to continue to shape and drive the EV agenda to provide an environment in which electric mobility can deliver a transformative customer experience based on a new service mix. Ironically the current scenario may only serve to accelerate this process.



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