The electric vehicle market has come on leaps and bounds in recent years. However, range anxiety remains a pressing issue for most prospective EV owners, and the manufacturers know it. A survey last year by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) showed that only 50% of consumers would consider an EV as a main car if it offered a range of 200 miles, but that figure rose to 90% if the range increased to 300 miles.
This is reflected in the success of cars such as the Jaguar i-Pace and Tesla Model 3 that have ranges close to or exceeding 300 miles. Each of the major manufacturers has achieved this by increasing engine efficiency and upping the amount of lithium used in their batteries. That said, adding more lithium to increase range comes at a price: they add to the cost of EVs for consumers, the extra weight affects the dynamic performance of the vehicle and, perhaps most significantly, adding more batteries adds to the CO2 emitted during EV production.
Some car firms have now started to push back against the trend for bigger batteries. Mazda recently launched its first electric production car, the MX-30, which has a 35.5kWh battery offering a claimed 124-mile range. While the range is smaller than that of most of the MX-30’s electric SUV rivals, the firm’s European R&D boss, Joachim Kunz, says it was developed with the concept of “right-sizing” in mind. He said, “We don’t believe a very big battery, which means a large and heavy vehicle, is the right direction for the future for two aspects: the environment and for being fun to drive. Battery production comes with very high CO2 emissions from the material extraction and production.”
Mazda’s decision is backed by data from the UK government’s National Travel Survey. It showed that the average car journey last year was 8.4 miles – a figure that hasn’t changed since 2009. Meanwhile, RAC Foundation research found that UK drivers average 10,377 miles a year – around 28 miles a day – with EV owners averaging 9435 miles.
Mazda isn’t alone in its stance. Boss of Polestar, Volvo’s EV spin-off, Thomas Ingenlath said that their vehicles would have ranges of around 300 miles in order to be “competitive” in the market but added the industry “cannot drift away in that race for range and really get into an irresponsible direction.”
The focus should instead be on creating fast-charging infrastructure to allow cars to be charged more quickly and easily. Through actions such as releasing its cars’ CO2 production impact and increasing the use of recycled materials, Polestar has made sustainability a key part of its marketing push. The question is whether buyers agree. According to KPMG’s Global Automotive Executive survey, 98% of industry executives see sustainability as a key differentiator, compared with 83% of consumers.
We are at a crossroad whereby we may be losing sight of the true purpose of electric vehicles. Are we really going to sacrifice the environmental impact of these cars to achieve extra range which is, ultimately, not required?
If you are interested about life with an EV but you have concerns about range or charging, please get in touch. A member of our technical team would be happy to discuss this and help put a plan together for an electric future. Call us on 0141 280 8890 or drop us an email at email@example.com.
Additionally, visit our website evchargepoints.com to see our range of products and services, and to read historical blog posts.