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Electric Vehicles: The Engine of the Green Revolution

The transport sector is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, accounting for roughly one-quarter of global emissions according to the United Nations

As the UK grapples with climate change and sets its sights on net zero targets, a sustainable transport revolution is brewing, and electric vehicles (EVs) are in the driver’s seat.

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The UK’s Electric Charge

The electric revolution isn't just about individual cars. The UK government has set ambitious targets to become a world leader in electric vehicles. One key target is to end the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. This policy shift, coupled with financial incentives for EV purchases, is driving a surge in EV popularity.

According to zap-map, as of April 2024 there were over 1.1 million fully electric cars on UK roads. That number represents a significant jump, with nearly 315,000 battery-electric cars registered in 2023 alone, an 18% growth from the previous year.

The picture gets even brighter when we consider all plug-in vehicles, which include both battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs). In total, there are over 1.76 million plug-in cars registered in the UK, showcasing a remarkable 41% growth in combined BEV and PHEV registrations in 2023 compared to 2022.

This trend suggests a significant shift away from PHEVs towards BEVs, with consumers increasingly confident in the capabilities of pure electric vehicles.

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Electric dream or pipe dream?

While the uptake in EVs is clear to see – the UK’s charging woes still loom over the industry. The government aims for an ambitious 300,000 public chargers by 2030, the current pace of installation might leave drivers stranded. To reach this target, estimates suggest a daily installation rate of around 100 to 110 chargers, significantly higher than the current pace.

According to a recent study by Believ, local councils are struggling to implement EV charging plans. This could significantly delay reaching the government's hefty target. The biggest obstacle seems to be a lack of funding. While the government has released some funds, many councils say it's simply not enough. This lack of funding creates a vicious cycle, as some people are hesitant to buy EVs due to concerns about the availability of charging points, which in turn discourages further investment in charging infrastructure.

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North East in the driver’s seat

The UK’s electric vehicle revolution is being fuelled in part by the iconic Nissan plant in Sunderland. It’s the biggest car manufacturer in the UK and a major employer in the region. Significantly, the Nissan plant is not resting on its laurels. The company has invested heavily in transforming the facility into a world-leading electric vehicle hub and this ambitious project focuses on producing electric vehicles, developing battery production capabilities, and incorporating renewable energy sources like solar power to create a more sustainable manufacturing process.

The Nissan plant is a big example of how established car manufacturers are adapting to the electric future, and the North East is right at the heart of it.

Despite some uncertainties, the road ahead for EVs is bright. With continued support, technological advancements, and increasing consumer acceptance, electric vehicles are poised to become the dominant mode of transport in the UK. This shift will be a cornerstone of the nation's journey to net zero.

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