Automakers triple battery life and offer 15x more model choice

According to a new study by the Society of Motor Vehicle Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

When Britain’s first mass-produced battery-electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF, was launched in 2011, only nine plug-in car models were available in the UK, less than one in 1,000 total registrations.1 Today, more than 140 plug-in models are available, representing around one in five new cars sold this year, with another 50 models expected to launch by the end of 2022.2

SMMT will showcase this wide array of choices at its annual Test Day driving event on Tuesday, with 33 manufacturers demonstrating more than 100 models at Millbrook Proving Ground, including 42 plug-in electric models at the racetrack. Hundreds of media guests will test the high-level performance, safety and technology features of the latest cars, vans, vans and taxis. They will also benefit from first-hand experience of the dramatic improvements in battery electric vehicle technology, with the battery electric vehicles on display traveling an average of 257 miles on a single charge, more than triple the 74-mile average available during the Test Day in 2011.

This expanded range is a direct result of automotive industry ingenuity and investment – and the trend will continue, with all major UK car manufacturers and importers having committed to decarbonising their model ranges, whether whether saloons, SUVs or hypercars, with another 150 new and updated plug-ins due to be delivered to the UK market by 2025.

Newly introduced for SMMT Test Day 2022, the Work Vehicle Zone, where 15 trucks will be tested – almost half of them zero-emissions – having undergone significant technological advancements over the past decade. These larger and heavier vehicles are vital to the UK economy and its green transition, with similar timelines to electric cars and vans, despite their very complex mechanical and infrastructural challenges. However, truck manufacturers are already offering innovative solutions, with gigantic batteries and plug-in hybrid powertrains, hydrogen fuel cell and fast-charging capability to suit their diverse transportation uses.

As electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes have become more visible across the UK – alongside the gradually growing presence of charging stations at petrol stations and along roads in cities and on motorways – the Infrastructure has failed to keep up with demand and could stifle greater uptake, with 75% of motorists saying there are not enough public charging stations to meet their needs.

Further investment in charging station infrastructure is therefore essential to ensure that all consumers in all parts of the UK can be sure that they can charge their electric vehicle when and where they want. The government’s new EV infrastructure strategy launched last month was a positive step towards meeting consumer needs, but there must be binding targets for the delivery of charging stations that match the latest ambitious mandates on production of electric vehicles in order to provide this fundamental infrastructure before the needs.

Mike Hawes, Managing Director of SMMT, “The ever-increasing number of electric vehicle models launched by manufacturers since 2011 shows how far Britain has come, with investment from industry driving innovation at an ever-faster pace. With nearly 200 electrified models expected by the end of the year, automakers are delivering on their ambitions of zero and ultra-low-emission mobility, as motorist demand for these vehicles increases month on month.

“To turn this burgeoning demand into a mass market, motorists need choice, affordability and the confidence to charge. The UK has an ambitious timetable to achieve net zero and road transport must shoulder the greatest burden to achieve this goal. The industry is up to the challenge, but we need all stakeholders, including government, charging station providers and energy companies, to deliver on the manufacturers’ commitment by providing the right incentives and l competitive infrastructure that guarantees an emission-free future.

1 Plug-in cars available in the UK, 2011: Aixam Mega, Citroën C-Zero, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Nissan Leaf, Peugeot Ion, Reva G-Wiz, Smart Fortwo Coupe, Tesla Roadster, Toyota Prius

2 2011: 1,082 plug-in electric vehicles, 0.1% market share; 2021: 190,727, 18.6%; Q1 2022: 93,926, 22.5%.

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