Why we care about the transition to electric vehicles
The transition to electric cars is coming soon.
Transitioning from vehicles that run on petrol and diesel is not a choice. The government has put in place clear targets and deadlines that many industries are now working hard to achieve. From 2030 internal combustion engine (ICE) car sales will be banned, meaning that our use of electric vehicles is likely to see a significant boom.
As the electric car takes over as the primary mode of transport on our streets and in our garages, this will effectively signal the start of the end for cars which run on petrol and diesel. While this clearly presents significant challenges, it also creates a huge opportunity. Just because making the switch from fossil fuel to a more sustainable fuel is something we will all have to do, doesn’t mean it is something we wouldn’t, or shouldn’t, have been doing anyway.
At first glance it might not seem like the switch to electric vehicles would be of much importance to a bank, but these changes will have a significant effect across our business. The Group leases cars through Lex Autolease and finances cars through Black Horse and Online Car Finance – in fact, 1.1 million cars on the road today are leased or financed through Lloyds Motor business.
Unsecured loans are also offered through Halifax, Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland which are often used to buy cars. Recently, we’ve seen a huge increase in both interest and action as people look to take advantage of the broader range of hybrid and electric vehicles that have been entering the car market in recent years, and in 2020 one in 10 electric vehicles on the road was either financed or leased through Lloyds Motor.
We not only have a role to play in helping drivers lease or finance their new cars, but across the Group we work in partnership with businesses, industries and organisations involved in creating the whole ecosystem required to successfully transition to more sustainable transport. From small independent car dealerships through to manufacturers, and alongside the power providers and constructors of the supporting infrastructure, we all must work together to realise the UK’s ambition of driving change and creating a greener future.
Are the costs of buying and maintaining electric cars prohibitively expensive?
At the moment, we know that the list price of some Electric Vehicles can be a barrier to ownership, although there has been a recent positive shift in the number of more affordable models coming onto the market. We’ll explore the exciting range of models due to hit the market later on in this article. The government also offers a grant of up to £2,500 for pure electric vehicles to help towards the cost of purchase.
In terms of the warranty on an electric vehicle, because of the difference between engines and batteries/ electric drivetrains, there are significantly fewer working parts and as a result the warranty periods tend to be a lot longer.
Regarding the use of your electric vehicle, it’s important to note that the way an EV battery is measured is in kWh (kilowatt hours). One kilowatt hour is the same as one "unit" of electricity on your electric bill.
As an example, suppose you're on a tariff that costs 15p per unit, then you might spend £6 on 40 units. However, there are some excellent tariffs that are designed for EV drivers which give you a cheap time window at night to charge your car.
Another way to consider the relative costs is looking at cost per mile. Most EVs achieve somewhere between 4 or 5 miles per unit of electricity which is around 1p to 3p per mile. Compare that to a modern efficient engine, which may cost 10p to 15p per mile which, multiplied over the number of miles you may drive in a year can add up to a significant saving.
To help bring this to life we have looked at and compared an EV Nissan Leaf (110kw N-Connecta 40kwh) to a similar specification Ford Focus diesel car (1.5 Ecoblue 120 Zetec). The average fuel cost per month over the cars’ lifetime is £50 for the EV Nissan and £109 for the diesel Ford Focus. As you can see it could make quite a difference to your monthly outgoings.
Are electric vehicles really better for the environment?
In a recent LinkedIn poll, we asked our Lloyds Banking Group followers what they thought the greatest barriers to electric vehicle ownership were. As well as the given options of infrastructure, cost and driving range, we also heard feedback questioning how sustainable creating – and disposing of – electric vehicle batteries really is.
One user commented that their biggest concern was “Batteries! When they reach end of life, then what? Pile them up somewhere?”. They went on to talk about the worries around battery production too: “Whilst the car is marketed as eco-friendly, the production of the battery for it most definitely isn't. We're mining lithium at an unsustainable rate... The mining process also affects the ecosystem from where the lithium is taken”.
Other users voiced similar concerns:
“I’m concerned about the environmental impact of cobalt and lithium extraction on the local communities and of the issues with the end of life recycling (or not) of the batteries.”
“Are there enough metals for the batteries? are they ethically mined? How long will the batteries last? How eco-efficient will the recycling be?”
“I don't feel they are a genuinely good environmental alternative, due to the life span of a battery and the extra pollution caused in mining of materials for the batteries.”
While these are valid concerns, there are many environmental benefits of owning an EV car. While more CO2 is produced when manufacturing an EV compared to an equivalent petrol or diesel car, because EVs are extremely efficient, they pay this CO2 back very quickly.
If you compare a petrol or diesel car to the equivalent EV in the UK today over 150,000 miles, the EV will be responsible for around two thirds less CO2.
For example, on a VW Golf sized EV purchased and used in the UK would be responsible for around 25 tonnes of CO2 over its full life. An equivalent petrol car would be responsible for 80 tonnes of CO2.
Most modern EV batteries (the ones being sold in cars right now) will outlast the rest of the car (over 250,000 miles). The batteries often then have a second useful life in energy storage before they go on to be recycled and made into new batteries.
The ICCT (International Council on Clean Transportation) report on “Effects of battery manufacturing on electric vehicle life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions” found that “Electric cars are much cleaner than internal combustion engine cars over their lifetime. We find that a typical electric car today produces just half of the greenhouse gas emissions of an average European passenger car.” And “Battery manufacturing life-cycle emissions debt is quickly paid off.
An electric vehicle’s higher emissions during the manufacturing stage are paid off after only 2 years compared to driving an average conventional vehicle, a time frame that drops to about one and a half years if the car is charged using renewable energy”. This was the position in 2018, and this position is improving as technology improves and our national energy supplies utilise more and more sustainable energy.
Did you know that electric car charging points are now
twice as numerous
as petrol stations?
Are there enough charging points the UK to support long car journeys in an electric vehicle?
This was another key area of concern for our LinkedIn followers, with 32% of our poll-takers stating that they considered charging point concerns to be their biggest barrier to electric car ownership. 17% said that poor driving range was their biggest worry.
While there are an increasing number of areas with excellent charging infrastructure currently in place, especially in and around towns and cities, rural areas can present charging blackspots where the infrastructure is not yet established enough to enable a full transition to electric. However, this is improving rapidly and a lot of tourist destinations (cottages, caravan parks etc) are actively installing and adding the option to search criteria on their websites.
Zap Map can show you all available charging stations, and also has real time updates as to whether there is an issue with a charger so that you don't have a wasted journey e.g. the charger is out of order or due to local supply conditions it may not be charging at the rate it should. You can view all the charging points in your area or places you visit regularly to see if it would work for you.
- Take a look at Map of charging points for electric car drivers in UK and you might be surprised how prevalent public charging is these days (and growing fast). Chances are, wherever you're going, there's likely to be an option
- You might be surprised to learn that electric car charging points now twice as numerous as petrol stations and that is just one year after we got to the milestone of charging points being the same number as petrol stations. Electricity is available pretty much everywhere that humans have built on, so this infrastructure is relatively easy to build out
- If there is no charging point and you're staying away for a while, e.g. at a holiday cottage, camp site or with a family member, often a 13amp socket is a viable option (assuming they have a socket that can be reached from the driveway of course)
- On those long journeys, the overwhelming majority of motorway services have charging stations.
How long does it take to charge an electric car? And will my electricity bill go up?
There are still concerns around how charging a car will work in practice, especially for those living in dense urban areas. One LinkedIn user asked: “I live in a terrace house and charging is a big concern which really needs to be addressed. How will flats and terrace streets charge their cars?”
There are a few ways to charge an electric car, and how long they all take exactly depends on the size of the car’s battery. To charge your car at home, you’ll need a charging station fitted (it’s much quicker and safer than plugging in to your regular electricity supply, although you can do this too). A 3kW unit will typically take around 8-12 hours to fully charge an electric car, while a 7kW unit will take 4-8 hours.
If you’re out and about, you can plug into a public charging station. Many of these are rapid chargers that can get your power levels up in around 20-40 minutes.
The cost of charging an electric car depends on your electricity supplier, the vehicle you’re charging and when you do it. Unit costs are usually lower in the evening and night time, so it’s best to do your charging then. You might also want to consider switching to a renewable energy supplier to make running your car as green as possible. Some companies offer specific EV tariffs.
Public charging units usually require you to have a subscription to use them, but pay-as-you-go stations are available. Some supermarkets and public car parks offer free charging, as do lots of work places. Whatever you pay will almost always work out cheaper than petrol or diesel. Apps, such as Zap-Map and PlugShare, can help you find which chargers are local to you, how much they charge and how to pay.
How fast is the range of EV models growing in the UK?
There are new EVs being launched all the time, such as Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, Peugeot e2008 and Ford Mustang Mach-e, with the Tesla Model Y coming out in the UK later this year.
There are also a few seven-seater models for families needing that extra space such as the Tesla Model X or Nissan eNV-200 (which is a van but can be bought as a people carrier version), or again, the Tesla Model Y will have a 7-seat option when it comes out.
If it's luggage space that's your motivation, don't forget that most EVs have more space inside than equivalent sized petrol cars. Some even have a "frunk" (front boot) where the engine normally is, and quite often you get a lot deeper boot because there's no rear differential, and there's more passenger space inside because there's no transmission tunnel through the middle of the cabin, so what you think is a 'smaller' car might be just right for you anyhow.
"We need the government, the energy and the motor industries to all work together to ensure that we have the confidence of the public as we make the transition to electric vehicles."
How does the driving experience of an EV compare to an petrol/diesel car?
Electric cars are not slower than petrol/diesel cars and can be a lot of fun to drive. Here’s why:
- If you’ve charged your car overnight, there will be no petrol station visits hampering your journey - you leave home with >200 miles range each day
- Electric cars are smooth and quiet, and you won’t miss the engine noise!
- You can pre-heat the car from your phone app so the ice is melted, and the cabin is warm before setting off in winter
- While in summer, you can pre-cool the cabin before your journey
- The network is getting better to use and places like Tesco etc offer free charging - You can get an additional 30 miles range while doing the weekly shop
- They are much better for the environment - EVs are zero emission at point of use and are significantly less than petrol or diesel cars if you take the whole environmental impact into consideration
As for how enjoyable they are to drive, some EVs owners were happy to share their thoughts on our LinkedIn poll:
“No barrier here, very happy with my e-Tron and wish I’d got one sooner.”
“I have an all-electric car and it's fabulous. It's very quick… My next car is all-electric again, as once you have driven one you won't go back. It's a different drive, I love it!”
“We already own 3 Electric Vehicles for local driving - the acceleration great for such a small car.”
As a Group, we are well prepared for the transition from ICE cars to electric vehicles, but it will need the government, as well as the energy and motor industries, all to work together to ensure that we have the confidence of the public as we make the transition.
We want to work with the policy makers to ensure we can establish an attractive market place for used BEV as well as work to expand the UK’s charge point infrastructure. As a leading UK provider of greener fleets for businesses, and enabling access to more environmentally friendly vehicles for our customers, we are confident that we can help meet the challenge of keeping the nation moving in a more sustainable way up to – and beyond – 2030.
Senior Manager, Motor Sustainability in Retail Bank
Meryem has over 20 years in the financial services and motor finance market. Now she's responsible for leading the sustainability agenda for the Motor Finance and Leasing division of Lloyds Banking Group – Lex Autolease and Black Horse with the goal of transitioning to a zero emission fleet by 2030. Meryem has significant involvement in key market coalitions and industry bodies shaping policy to drive forward wider Electric vehicle adoptions.
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