Electric vehicles: unplugged or switched on?

Electric vehicles: unplugged or switched on?

Posted by

Martin Brown

February 2013

I have to say, I’m genuinely intrigued by BMW’s new i brand, and particularly the new BMW i3.

Not heard of it? It’s BMW’s electric small car built for so-called megacities.

Or, as BMW puts it, the very first electrically powered premium vehicle. It’s due here later this year.

I just feel that if anyone can make electric vehicles work – known as EVs – then it must be BMW.

But BMW will be swimming against the current if the i3 is a success.

EVs have not been the great saviour of the motor industry – or the planet – as they were once hailed, mainly due to their limited range (about 80 miles before a recharge is required).

And while there have been individual stories of businesses using EVs successfully, such as the Bruichladdich distillery on the island of Islay distillery with the Nissan Leaf, sales have been disappointing.

So do have EVs have a future? Well, of course they do, but perhaps not as significant as some industry pundits might have once led us to believe.

Only some 50,000 Leafs have been sold across the world, while Nissan missed its US target of 20,000 sales by over 50%.

And when former Volvo Cars chief, Stefan Jacoby, goes public with a highly sceptical view of EVs, then you have to take notice.

Mr Jacoby reckons that fear – fear of a dead battery – is the key to the failure of EVs to engage.

“If the battery goes down on their cell phone people feel really bad. If it’s your car in the middle of a traffic jam you will feel even worse,” says Mr Jacoby.

And not only that fear of running out of juice; but price too, is an issue, reckons Mr Jacoby.

The rise of petrol and diesel hybrids, along with plug-in hybrids and range-extenders, provide low emission fleet transport without the fear factor of running out of charge. And I suspect, as technology progresses, they will play an even greater part in the future fleet model mix.

So do have EVs have a future? Well, of course they do, but perhaps not as significant as some industry pundits might have once led us to believe.

I do see a role for EVs in urban cities as part of an integrated network, providing emission-free motoring where distance – ie the fear factor of running out of charge – is unlikely to be an issue.

But for mainstream fleet use, the current mix of diesel cars and hybrids – plus some of the opportunities presented by small size/high output low emission petrol engines typified by Ford’s 1.0-litre EcoBoost unit – will continue to take centre ground.

As they will, I suspect, for some time to come.


You also might like…

If you liked this article then check out our posts about similar topics

HMRC changes its decision on double cab taxation

Having last week announced that double cabs would undergo a significant change in tax treatment following a 2020 Court o...

Benefit-in-kind changes reclassify double cabs as cars not vans from July 2024

The benefit in kind treatment of double cab pick up trucks will change significantly from 01 July 2024 HMRC has decid...

Are you struggling to get the benefits promised for your fleet management?

Managing a large car and van fleet can be a Herculean task, especially as it's not the focal point of your business The ...

Fleet Alliance: the sustainable mobility provider

How do you encapsulate what a business is What’s the reason for its existence   It sounds almost existential - bu...

An easy guide to Electric Car Salary Sacrifice (2024)

Electric car salary sacrifice: it’s the lowest cost way to drive an electric car It sounds like there should be a cat...

Fleet outsourcing: five reasons why you should embrace it

What are the benefits of outsourcing my fleet management and why should I outsource to Fleet Alliance Also, what makes y...

Successive award wins put Fleet Alliance out in front for fleet management

It’s always a good moment when you win an industry award It’s palpable recognition for the team’s hard work, perse...

Star cars at the LA Show

While manhole covers were being sucked up at the Los Angeles Formula 1 Grand Prix (resulting in urgent track repairs and...

Ready to make the management of your fleet more efficient?

Request a call back


Or Call Us On: 0345 601 8407
Schedule a call back