As the mercury begins to drop and autumn approaches, InstaVolt’s Tim Payne reflects on how the summer of 2018 has been one of momentum for the electric car market.

This summer has seen many winners – not least the England football team and the UK tourism industry, which has been boosted by consistent balmy temperatures. But perhaps one of the less assuming victors celebrating a summer of success is the country’s electric car industry.

While the holiday season has been in full swing there’s been no let up in momentum for electric cars. Month after month we’ve seen further positive news that suggests the electric revolution is well underway and at InstaVolt we’ve been watching with a growing sense of optimism.

New laws make charging simpler

Perhaps the most significant announcement of the summer came in the form of the Government’s Automated and Electric Vehicles Act, which was passed in July. The act brings new laws which will help to improve the country’s electric charging infrastructure and make it simpler and easier for drivers to charge up.

It’s something we’ve been keen to see for a long time, with our entire ethos founded on easy access to simple and rapid charging for all. It’s why all of our chargers are available to use on a pay-as-you go basis, simply with the tap of a contactless credit or debit card.

July also saw the launch of the Government’s Road to Zero Strategy, which confirmed its ambition to see at least half of new cars to be ultra low emission by 2030 as part of its plans to make the UK the best place in the world to build and own an electric vehicle.

The launch came with the promise of a £400m Charging Infrastructure Investment Fund to help accelerate the roll-out of charging infrastructure by providing funding to new and existing companies that produce and install charge points. It’s further good news in the race to create a reliable public charging network.

Continued rise in EV sales

Sales of electric cars continued to rise throughout the summer, with August seeing record numbers of EV registrations. During that month, one in 12 new cars sold in the UK was a plug-in. Almost 7,500 electric or hybrid cars were sold, an increase of nearly 89 per cent compared to the same period in 2017.

We’re very encouraged by these latest figures from the SMMT. As more and more drivers are embracing electric cars we’re working hard to make sure they have access to the simplest and most reliable charging out there.

Fuel industry takes action

We’ve been used to the automotive industry making big announcements about electric cars over the last few years. What’s been interesting about this summer is we’ve seen oil and fuel firms set out their stall too, with actions and not just words.

In June BP purchased electric vehicle charging firm Chargemaster in a move that signalled its understanding of just how quickly the EV revolution is happening.  Weeks later, Shell’s chief executive backed calls for the UK to bring forward the ban on sales of petrol and diesel vehicles.

We’re very much ensconced in the forecourt industry, with petrol stations being one of the key locations we’re installing our rapid chargers. The feeling we’re getting from those we’re speaking to is that it’s time for forecourts to evolve and prepare for the growing number of EV drivers. Having a reliable public charging network is vital to support them and forecourts are a logical place drivers connect with topping up.

Electric vehicle R&D gets £106m turbo charge

The summer’s big finale for EV news came courtesy of Theresa May, who today announced a £106m funding boost for the research and development of zero-emission vehicles. Speaking at the first ever Zero Emission Vehicle Summit in Birmingham she set out a vision for Britain to ‘lead from the front’ in phasing out petrol and diesel cars – she hopes by 2050. It’s an ambitious target but, with investment there to support the goal, it could well be achievable.

The £106m fund announced by the PM will be dedicated to advances in low-emission vehicles and hydrogen technology, with a further £500m to be invested by key industries in the sector – creating more than 1,000 jobs across the country. We’ll be working closely with battery and EV manufacturers to ensure we’re fully briefed on any advances they make as a result. InstaVolt is very much about providing a future-proofed solution that works long into the future so it’s important that we understand how electric cars are changing and therefore how our chargers need to adapt.

What’s next?

This summer has very much been one of setting up the electric vehicle market for the future. With improved legislation and heightened investment, the industry now has the building blocks it needs to make the UK a leader in electric vehicle production, use and charging.

What will be interesting to see is just how quickly this takes place. Companies like InstaVolt, which are independently owned and funded, are able to move with real pace when it comes to installing electric vehicle chargers. Being nimble has been a real advantage to us and our customers, who love our simple approach to charging. Since installing our first chargers 12 months ago, we’re soon going to install our 200th charger and we plan to continue our roll out program with similar momentum in 2019.

We’ll be interested to see if larger firms and organisations within the public sector can hit the accelerator on their plans as quickly. This week there’s been criticism of some councils for slowing down installation of EV chargers, with SSE claiming thousands of new points are in bureaucratic limbo. We hope this is a temporary blip in the installation of chargers, as the quicker we can provide a reliable public charging network, the quicker we can convince drivers to go electric.

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