The government’s ambition to clean up motor vehicles by 2040 is not ambitious enough, a leading energy expert says. Professor Jim Watson, head of the prestigious UK Energy Research Centre, said the target should be at least five years earlier, as in Scotland. The government is currently considering obliging new cars to run on electricity for at least 50 miles by 2040. The government said it would not discuss the issue before it had published its policy which is due soon. But ministers are facing competing pressures on the issue. Some UK car firms are telling ministers their proposed targets are unachievable, while others say the targets can easily be reached.
BBC 21st May 2018 read more »
The race to develop battery technology is not simply a question of finding ways to make electric vehicles easier to charge and more convenient to drive over long distances. Those are just factors in a complex game of global industrial competition and co-operation. The key issue is the location of one of the world’s most valuable manufacturing sectors: vehicle construction. EVs are coming. There are some 2.5m on the roads worldwide, and the International Energy Agency predicts that number will rise to between 40m and 70m by 2025, with the prospect of subsequent strong global growth driven by the combination of regulation of traditional combustion engine vehicle use and falling battery costs. EV batteries are built in vast gigafactories. China and Japan lead in the field and even Tesla’s operations rely on technology from Japan’s Panasonic. The plants need to be close to the main centres of vehicle production and the race now is to host the gigafactories that will serve the growing market. The chosen locations will shape the geography of the auto sector for de cades to come. The UK government may be too distracted by Brexit to pursue a long-term industrial strategy that creates a market and provides the skills, land and regulatory changes to attract investors. And Germany may not yet be ready to accept that the technology of the internal combustion engine, which goes back to Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, is being superseded. The stakes are very high – billions in investment over decades and tens of thousands of skilled jobs. In the rapidly changing energy world the prospect of securing a place at the heart of the new battery market is a glittering prize. Failure to do so will represent a serious loss of industrial strength.
FT 21st May 2018 read more »