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Sustainability

Future mobility news: April 2021

What’s new in the world of low- and zero-carbon transport.

What happens to old electric car batteries?

As part of its ‘Journey to net zero’ series, authors writing for the National Grid blog have examined what happens to old EV batteries once they are no longer fit enough for propulsion. Answering such questions as how electric car batteries work and how long they can be used in an EV, it goes on to look at how they can be reused and recycled.

“As electric cars take pole position on our roads – reducing greenhouse gas emissions and noise pollution compared to cars powered by fossil fuels – the race is on to find ever better recycling methods to unlock their full green potential,” the authors write. “The current methods of smelting and leaching will be finessed in coming years, as will the battery designs to optimise the separation and recycling process of end-of-life batteries. In the UK, the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) has launched a £7m competition for on-vehicle solutions that address challenges associated with the transition to zero-emission vehicles, including improving sustainability.”

EV or gas… which is the greater polluter?

A YouTube video devoted to asking whether EVs out-pollute internal combustion engines is doing the rounds. Based on prevalence of misinformation claiming that EVs are less clean, user GasTroll has collaborated with the Fully Charged Show team to debunk some of the claims.

The video is well worth a look:

Grant rules changed for EV support

The UK’s Department for Transport has announced changes to the plug-in car, van and truck grant. As more people opt for EVs, the grant has been updated to target cheaper models and reflect the greater range of affordable vehicles on offer. From 18 March 2021, the government started providing grants of up to £2,500 for EVs on cars priced under £35,000.

Transport minister Rachel Maclean said: “The increasing choice of new vehicles, growing demand from customers and rapidly rising number of charge points mean that, while the level of funding remains as high as ever, given soaring demand, we are refocusing our vehicle grants on the more affordable zero-emission vehicles – where most consumers will be looking and where taxpayers’ money will make more of a difference.

VW charges up for the future

German auto giant VW has unveiled plans to install six battery factories in Europe with a total production capacity of 240 GWh (gigawatt hours). Operated as a partnership investment model, the ‘gigafactories’ will form a central part of its vision for investment by 2030, alongside setting up 18,000 fast charging points in Europe. It said that co-operations have been agreed in Europe with the UK’s BP, Spain’s Iberdrola and Italy’s Enel.

Herbert Diess, chairman of the board of management of the Volkswagen Group, said: “E-mobility has become core business for us. We are now systematically integrating additional stages in the value chain. We secure a long-term pole position in the race for the best battery and best customer experience in the age of zero-emission mobility.”

UK’s international e-bike imports increase in 2020

E-bike imports enjoyed a spike last year, according to Bike Europe, which reported 125,317 e-bikes were imported in the first 10 months of 2020; 50,626 from the EU and 74,691 from outside the EU.

However, figures may have changed during the Brexit transition period as importers manage the altered landscape. The Bicycle Association advises businesses to be aware that the EU’s CE mark, which signifies health, safety and environmental requirements standards, will cease to be used at the end of December 2021. It will be replaced by the UKCA mark

Mini to go all electric by 2030

BMW is going to make the much-loved Mini – launched in 1959 in the aftermath of the Suez Canal fuel crisis – all electric by 2030. With some extensive analysis provided by the Electrek news site it appears that new petrol/diesel models will cease in 2025, as part of BMW’s commitment in 2018 to produce 12 all-electric models by then. The UK, home to the Mini brand, has also committed to 2030 as being the end for production of new petrol/diesel cars.

Electric Highway gets a boost

Electricity generator Ecotricity and sustainable energy operator GRIDSERVE are to co-develop updates to the Electric Highway – Europe’s first nationwide charging network. Ecotricity launched the Electric Highway in 2011 to enable early electric cars to drive the length and breadth of Britain. With the onset of improved charging standards from 7 kilowatts (kW) to today’s new 350kW, and the increased range of vehicles to more than 300 miles, the new updates to the highway mean a doubling of capacity, greater choice of connection types and limited installation of up to 12 points boasting the latest 350kW standard. Hitachi Capital (UK), a shareholder in GRIDSERVE, will provide the funding.

Change to plug-in grants for vans and trucks

The government has tempered cuts to grants for smaller plug-in trucks and vans by increasing the grant available on plug-in trucks greater than 12 tonnes. Plug-in van customers were supported with 20% reduction on the vehicle purchase price, up to £8,000. But fleets will now receive 35% of the purchase price for small vans, up to a maximum of £3,000 and 20% for a large van, up to a maximum of £6,000.

The new small truck grant (3.5 – 12 tonnes) covers 20% of the purchase price, up to a maximum of £16,000. But the new large plug-in truck grant (greater than 12 tonnes) will now offer support funding of up to £25,000, instead of the previous £20,000.

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