By Jonathan Woodthorpe, head of e-mobility at npower
David Cameron recently announced that he believes the UK needs more windfarms to generate enough electricity to power electric vehicles (EVs), with the endgame of eventually replacing petrol cars. While a long-term view for EVs is needed, businesses don’t need to wait for the future for EVs to become reality – the technology exists to take advantage now.
As we know, rising fuel costs, carbon reduction commitments and the desire for a more sustainable future are combining to put traditional road vehicle use under the spotlight. Individuals and companies are seeking alternative and sustainable solutions offering all of the flexibility, cost effectiveness and convenience they are used to in their traditional mode of transport. EVs sit at the heart of the long-term answer.
The favourable cost per mile comparison between petrol/diesel powered vehicles and electricity driven transport - as well as the environmental benefits - are already well proven. But it is the additional exciting and recent developments in the technology used to establish an electric vehicle infrastructure that should make the business world sit up and take notice.
Indeed, the recent announcement that London is set to get its first all-electric minicab fleet as soon as the second quarter of 2013 is a clear signifier that EVs are finally set to prove their fleet credentials.
RWE – parent company of npower - has pioneered the development of a standardised approach to ‘smart charging’, which has the acceptance of all American and European vehicle manufacturers. For the first time, ‘smart charging’ has been defined and characterised and technology developed by RWE meets the requirements of this forward-looking standard. Such technology aligned to this standard leads the way to fully automated and standardised communication between the electric vehicle and the energy charging infrastructure. In essence, it enables all aspects of the charging process to be captured, managed and controlled.
This technology can help encourage users to charge their vehicles at specific times to potentially deliver cost savings to the user and avoid unnecessary pressure on the grid. Likewise, it will be possible to link energy use for recharging to renewable sources of energy generation, making the energy used to power the vehicle highly sustainable. For businesses looking to drive their green CSR credentials further, this should be an appealing prospect.
There are currently many initiatives across the UK such as the Government’s ‘Plugged in Places’ scheme, which have been implemented to stimulate the electric vehicle market in regional locations, delivering charging point infrastructure and incentives to help remove some of the barriers. In addition, npower is busy rolling out a series of ‘Juice Points’ across the UK to ensure the ability to recharge is readily accessible for as many as possible.
Companies looking to benefit from the many advantages offered by electric vehicles either for fleets or for their employees, need to be thinking five to ten years down the line to stay ahead of the competition. By seeking out the expertise and the advanced electric vehicle technology solutions that exist now, companies will not only be addressing transport cost pressures they face today, but will also be tackling the important sustainability challenges of tomorrow.