This Week's VOLT | New Cars in Norway, Swiss Battery Tech and the London ULEZ

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Let’s get stuck into some E.V news.

NEW E.V CAR SALES IN NORWAY SET A RECORD

We kick off this week’s VOLT with a some staggering stats, and a massive round of applause. Norway, a country that is known for it’s glut of North Sea Oil and Gas, has taken E.V adoption to record levels. 58.4% of all new passenger car sales in March were zero emission. That’s 10,728 (not including 4 Hydrogen) Electric cars out of 18,735 new registrations. That is staggering to think considering E.V’s made up 2.7% of all cars registered in 2018 in the UK. Naturally, the next question is why? why has a country that is so rich in fossil fuels, with an environment that is hardly ideal for E.V’s (think of how much range you must lose in the winter!) turned itself into a E.V paradise. Before we go any further, it’s worth noting that out of the 10,728 new registrations, over 5,000 were Tesla Model 3’s. No other manufacturer managed over 10% of sales.

Tesla Model 3 sales hit 5,000 in March.

Tesla Model 3 sales hit 5,000 in March.

INCENTIVES

Unfortunately improving air quality and in turn, helping to reduce global warming isn’t enough for the vast majority of people to take up an E.V on it’s own. Government grants and incentives to take up zero emission vehicles are not exclusive to Norway, with many other countries opting to offering a sweetener, even the government right here in Blighty offers £3,500 against a new E.V purchase, however Norway has approached it’s incentive scheme a little differently. All new car registrations are taxed, based on the vehicle type, emissions, weight etc. These taxes are waived for Zero Emission vehicles, making other fossil fuelled and non plug in hybrids much more expensive.

Zero Emission cars also qualify for reduced tolls and ferry fees, which are abundant in Norway, and even free parking. In Oslo, the amount of parking for normal cars is being reduced all the time as well, making it not only cheaper to own an E.V but more comfortable. There are numerous articles online of Norwegians claiming its cheaper to buy and run a Tesla in Norway than a Toyota Prius. I’ve done a bit of basic research on Tesla’s site and the price differences between a Model S 100D is roughly £12,000. To be fair, Norway is one of the richest countries on the planet based on GDP per capita, but just because you can afford a Tesla, doesn’t mean you’d buy one. What the government has done in Norway is change a nations point of view, through numerous incentives, but mainly financial. I bet their charging network isn’t half bad either.

SWISS BATTERY BREAKTHROUGH?

Innolith’s Energy Battery technology claims 621 miles of range, per charge

Innolith’s Energy Battery technology claims 621 miles of range, per charge

There doesn’t seem like a week that goes by when we hear some new news about the latest fantastic battery that will revolutionise the way in which we charge and use our Electric Vehicles. This week such news comes out of Switzerland, and a company called Innolith.

Dubbed the Energy Battery, Innolith have claim that they have developed the worlds first 1,000 Wh/kg rechargeable battery, which may mean absolutely nothing to most people, so what’s the fuss about then? The current batteries used in the Model 3 Tesla are rated at 250 Wh/kg, with plans due to increase this to 330 Wh/kg over time. So we are talking about a battery 4 x as energy dense than the current Tesla options. In terms of range, Innolith claims that it would mean 1000 km (621 miles) per charge. But that isn’t the only perk. Innolith also claim that they use an inorganic electrolyte in their batteries, as opposed to organic electrolytes that are used in Lithium-Ion battieries. Removing the organic electrolytes removes the fire risk associated with Li-Ion and also allows greater stability as the most reactive components are removed.

Innolith expects their tech to be available within 3-5 years and will be bringing the Energy Battery to market via an initial pilot production in Germany, followed by licensing partnerships with major battery and automotive companies.

LONDON’S NEW ULEZ ZONE

London’s ULEZ (ultra low emission zone) is now active

London’s ULEZ (ultra low emission zone) is now active

There’s a new charge in town and it’s set to clean up. Well that’s what we’re hoping anyway. I think it’s pretty obvious to most people that our great capital city isn’t exactly the cleanest place to live and work. Traffic is horrendous at the best of times, and although the congestion zone has been a success in most parts, it still doesn’t stop the glut of dirty vehicles pouring through the city on a daily basis. ULEZ is going a step further. As a very rough guide, and I mean rough, Petrol vehicles pre 2006 and Diesel vehicles pre 2015 are the offenders and as such will be charged £12.50 per day on top of the £11.50 congestion zone. The idea is to not only encourage cleaner vehicle use, such as E.V’s but to also as a deterrent for making the trip at all.

The Zone is in operation 24/7 and the TFL estimates that around 40,000 vehicles will be affected every day. That’s £500,000 per day in charges. TFL hopes that the new scheme will help lead to a reduction of toxic emissions from road transport by 45% in 2 years. It’s thought that about 60% of vehicles driving through the zone in March were already compliant and wouldn’t face charges. I think it highlights a real need for better technology in the commercial vehicle sector. With Hybrid buses all about London, the smaller Vans repairing and supplying London’s businesses are where thing s need drastic help. Although there are small Electric vans on the road, such as the Nissan E-NV200, there isn’t anything that is realistic for the majority of “Transit Van” drivers. Mercedes and VW both have Electric versions of their Vito and Transporter vans launching in the not so distant future, but there isn’t a steady stream of accessible used vehicles for those with less money to spend. I’m sure there is plenty of demand from those who can afford them, but I also feel for the small businesses who are trying to make ends meet. Hopefully the ULEZ will go some way to kick starting the Electric commercial vans sector, opening up options for everyone.