Businesses across the board took a hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the transport industry took a particular knock as travel dried up and fuel demand dropped. However, now that economies are beginning to grind back into action we’re seeing the transport sector picking up once more and within that, electric vehicle (EV) uptake. According to EV-Volumes a total of 265 million new EVs were purchased during the first half of 2021 – representing an increase of 168% compared to 2020, while the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reported in July that it was the third time EV’s have overtaken diesel in registrations over the past two years.
As nations turn their attention to greener systems as part of their pandemic recovery plans, so we’re seeing legislation and investment reflect a growing interest in sustainable transport options. We took a look at what’s new in the EV and alternative fuel world, and how global economies are making space for a decarbonised system.
The UK’s Hydrogen Push
The UK Department for Transport this week announced a £2.5m research and development funding for a range of hydrogen-powered transport options in the Tees Valley. Located in the North East of England, the valley was chosen due to its status as a hydrogen hub for the UK, producing over 50% of the nation’s hydrogen.
Among the vehicles tested will be hydrogen buses, delivery vans, forklift trucks and emergency response vehicles. As well as investigating the emission-reducing capabilities of these alternative fuels, the range and refuelling time of hydrogen-based vehicles will be tested.
“By harnessing the power of hydrogen technology, we can pave the way for its use across all transport modes, creating cleaner, greener and more efficient transport systems across the UK,” said Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in a statement.
The nation has previously announced its intentions to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030, and hybrids by 2035. As such the majority of cars on UK roads by 2050 will be either EV’s, hydrogen-based, or harnessing other non-fossil fuel tech.
Australian EV tax Could Pump the Brakes on Uptake
The states of South Australia and Victoria are introducing road user charges for EV users, in a move that some have warned could deter potential buyers.
The new tax in Victoria is anticipated to come into effect from July this year, and will see a 2.5 cent charge for every kilometre travelled. South Australia is expected to bring in similar measures next year. The announcement has not been met with enthusiasm, with an open letter signed by organisations such as Hyundai, Volkswagen, Uber and the Electric Vehicles Council, describing the tax as the “worst electric vehicle policy in the world”.
Similarly, a poll published by The Australia Institute last week found that seven out of every 10 South Australians (69%) said that the introduction of a Road User Charge would make them less likely to purchase an EV, despite 73% agreeing that the electric alternative is good for climate, human health and the environment.
As global economies report increasing sales of EV’s – led by the Scandinavian nations of Norway, Sweden and Iceland – there are fears that disincentivising EV sales would set Australia back on the global stage.
Malaysia inks deal to establish 1,000 EV charging stations by 2025
Last week, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute and the Malay Vehicle Importers and Traders Association of Malaysia, aimed at stimulating EV uptake in the country.
The nation has seen a lack of incentives to accelerate EV deployment – until now. The new deal will aim to establish 1,000 DC fast-charging stations in the next four years, up from the nine currently in use across the country. DC stations are rapid charging, powering up a vehicle in around one hour as opposed to the eight hours needed in AC charging stations.
In addition to the new charging stations, the two collaborators will co-develop battery management systems, as well as service center networks for the charging ecosystem. An Electric Vehicle Center of Excellence is also to be established through the partnership, with this center coordinating the EV initiatives.