Last week, World EV Day marked a global celebration of all things e-mobility and an international dedication to an emission-free electric future of mobility. It symbolises the great struggle the world is facing today, with climate change taking centre stage.
Electric vehicles have seen a meteoric rise over the last few years, with people finally understanding their place in the world. Although they require a different approach and mindset to petrol and diesel vehicles, people are now prepared to make the switch. But are we doing enough?
To find out more, I speak with IONITY CEO, Dr. Michael Hajesch, who is proud of how far the industry has come.
“Celebrating World EV Day is a great way of recognising the need for change and highlighting the work that has been done so far – from a reliable and fast charging infrastructure to the latest innovation in the electric vehicle sector,” he says. “Driving an EV across Europe should be the new normal, and it is our mission to support the transition and bring high-power electric vehicle charging to everyone, everywhere.”
EV awareness has improved, but it needs more support from the wider automotive industry. It is no good if we only have a handful of automakers, most being newer ones, that are backing the EV revolution. But how can the industry do better?
Well, says Hajesch, we must all be accountable for the long-term problems we have created since the automotive industry’s inception.
“The past decade saw endless awareness-raising efforts of the climate change crisis by governmental and regional authorities, international organisations, NGO’s and private sector actors alike. However, we must all step up our game and take our share of the responsibility,” he says.
“In the case of the automotive industry, which alongside the energy production sector is the sector that has to improve the most, this means significantly reducing CO2 emissions from cars and other transport vehicles.”
We need to make sure that consumers are aware of the progress that is being done in the sector. For example, there has been an extremely positive investment in the R&D of EVs, such as design, battery systems, charging facilities, infrastructures and energy sourcing.
EVs are no longer a ‘new’ innovation; the early adoption stage is over and now it is time to target the wider global market. It is no longer about “if” but “when.”
Today, there are very few obstacles to having a battery-driven EV as a single household car. Most new EVs boast ranges of between 300-400 km, with figures increasing at an exponential speed. In parallel, charging facilities and technologies are also improving to steadily reduce charge times and range anxiety. One solution provider being, of course, IONITY.
“We at IONITY have taken upon ourselves to play our part by establishing a pan-European infrastructure of high-power fast chargers. We currently have 272 charging stations along the main European highways, with 51 additional locations currently under construction. The aim is to get the 400th charging station rolled out by the end of 2021,” says Hajesch.
“This means that EV drivers are now able to drive across the continent without any fear of falling short of charging facilities; Depending a little on the model of the car in question, they will be able to plug in and get a full charge in a matter of minutes. And for those individuals who, like me, are concerned with their carbon footprint, we have ensured that all our energy comes from purely renewable sources.”
Next year, European consumers will have 200 different pure battery-driven models to choose from, which clearly highlights the new market demand. So, although we still have a lot to do from an educational and infrastructure perspective, EVs are well on their way.
Driving Adoption Rates
Hajesch believes that driving an EV should – and will – be the new normal. Whatever the hesitations or needs of the consumers, he wants to help make the switch as easy and seamless as possible.
“We at IONITY are dedicated to being there for current and future generations of EV drivers connecting Europe with reliable, green high power charging stations along European motorways,” he says. “Our aim is to educate on e-mobility and further facilitate innovation in the field to make it an obvious and accessible option for anyone, anywhere across Europe.”
The continent has quickly established itself as a leader in the global EV market, thanks to a surge in battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. By the end of 2019, there were approximately 1.7 million EVs on European streets, with even more demand earlier this year, before the global pandemic.
Despite this, EVs do not experience the same demand in other areas of the world, which makes it difficult for the industry to work towards CO2 emissions goals.
“CO2 emissions and climate change see no geographic boundaries, so the solution must be approached on a global level,” adds Hajesch
Other than educating the public on EVs, the charging infrastructure will be the biggest driving factor for EV adoption across the world. Without this, there is little reason for people to ditch their internal combustion engine vehicles.
It is straightforward; increasing the availability of charging stations alongside long-distance routes, speed of charging or regulations in plug types will have an effect on the consumer behaviour.
“Discussing the EV adoption rates is not possible without having a closer look at the EV-charging infrastructure,” continues Hajesch. “At IONITY we are putting all our efforts in the development and extension of the high power charging network to eliminate range anxiety and guarantee seamless connectivity between the metropoles of Europe. The certainty for consumers not to get “stranded” while traveling with an EV should certainly help improve EV sales figures.”
Ultimately, the EV industry remains young and dynamic, being an extremely exciting time for all involved. We are going in the right direction, but it is about accelerating this change. The climate will not wait around for us to recover from our mistakes. And, for the automotive industry, EVs could very well be the golden ticket to a zero-emission future.