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An EQC and an e-Niro near Oxford Street, London


Electric Cars Everywhere! Observations From A Recent Visit To The UK

Every month I look forward to reading Jose Pontes’ China sales updates and keenly follow the evolution of the Chinese EV market as it is probably the best bet for supplying affordable mass market EVs for the global market in the near future. I also look forward to Dr. Maximilian Holland’s sales updates for the United Kingdom.

In southern Africa, we drive on the same side as the United Kingdom and Japan. Therefore, the UK and Japan are the main source markets for used vehicles coming into the region. Unfortunately, sales of EVs have been very low in Japan so far, and the only model you can really get from Japan in decent volumes is the old Nissan Leaf, which is not ideal for this part of the world due to battery degradation issues. The Nissan Leaf does not have an active thermal management system for the battery pack, which is not great for hot and sunny southern Africa. Excluding South Africa, where the importation of used vehicles is not allowed, 90% of vehicles brought into southern Africa are used vehicles. The United Kingdom therefore presents the best place to source some used EVs for the southern African market in the near term.

From the updates I see from articles posted here on CleanTechnica, sales of EVs in the UK are on fire! In March, the Tesla Model Y was the top selling vehicle across all fuel types and the Model 3 was a close second! I recently traveled to the United Kingdom for the first time in 5 years and I was really keen to see the change since my last visit. On my last trip in 2017, it kind of felt like I had to search for electric vehicles on the road and in parking lots. It was quite a fun game to play “spot the EV.” I would see several first generation Nissan Leafs here and there. Tesla Model Xs and Model S variants were also some of the EVs I would see driving by once in a while. The plug-in hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander was another model I would spot every now and then.

On this recent visit, it really seemed like there are now electric vehicles everywhere you go in London and around the south coast of England where I spent most of my time. Right from my arrival at Heathrow, I was very happy to see quite a few MG 5 electric station wagons being used as taxis. On the M25, it was such a joy to see a lot of EVs. It felt like I didn’t have to play spot the EV anymore as they were popping up all the time. Kia e-Niros, Hyundai Konas, the 40 kWh and 62 kWh Nissan Leafs, Jaguar I Paces, Mercedes EQCs and EQAs, BMW i3s, and of course a whole lot of Teslas! In fact, I would see so many Tesla Model 3s I would joke with my family that they are so common in the UK it almost feels like they are the new Toyota Corollas.

A VW ID3 and a Hyundai Ioniq

In the cities and towns I visited, I would regularly spot a lot of electric cars. It was quite common to see 3 electric cars stopped randomly at the same intersection: at the traffic lights or going about the many roundabouts (traffic circles). It was such a joy to see some of the models I see regularly on the internet but now up close in real life. The Mokka e, the Tesla Model Y, the MG ZS EV, VW ID 3 and ID4s, Audi eTrons, Porsche Taycans, Hyundai Ioniq 5s, loads of Kia e-Niros and BMW iX3s were some of the ones I spotted quite often.

It was also good to see free charging stations (7kW) at the local Tesco where one can shop and charge as shown in this video. It really did seem to me like there were now EVs everywhere. It was really good to relate what I always see in the sales updates on CleanTechnica. It got me thinking, if I saw so many EVs in England and the penetration of EVs is still relatively low there compared to Norway which is now recording monthly sales figures with plug-in vehicles having about 90% market share, how awesome would it be to walk around the streets of Norway!

Images by Remeredzai Kuhudzai

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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.


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