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Electric Cars: Charging to Success?

24/09/2014
Electric carsThe automotive industry is currently entering one of the prevalent periods of development since its inception. I’ve been privileged to work with several major manufacturers’ electronics departments, and for the past few years there has been a noticeable sense of progress and development at an unprecedented pace as new technologies emerge across the sector.

One innovative revolution to the automotive industry is the advent of electric cars. I was recently in the market for a new car and despite an electric car being a serious consideration, there were numerous reasons why I decided now was not the right time to ‘go electric’. However, my market research gave me adequate insight into the electric car business. Bentley recently revealed it will be launching the Bentley Hybrid Concept – the first of its kind in the luxury automotive sector. It is encouraging to see a company like Bentley leading the way and I believe it will inspire the luxury motor industry in terms of the production of electric and hybrid cars. Bentley’s new car is set to cut emissions by 70% compared to its non-hybrid models, whilst by 2020, 90% of Bentley’s cars will be available as an electric hybrid. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in the market for a Bentley but there were several other financially attainable choices to consider within the electric and hybrid industry.

What are the advantages of an electric/hybrid car?

The main advantage of electric cars is the drop in carbon emissions. However, there are far more benefits that you may initially be unaware of. I was surprised to discover how many exemptions electric cars are eligible for, including no road tax, no vehicle excise duty, no company car tax and no congestion charge. There is also free parking in many locations, and in large cities tens of thousands of free-to-use charge points are being built.

In terms of running costs, there will obviously be an increase in your electricity bills. However, it works out far less expensive than running a petrol car; a G-Wiz electric car costs approximately 1.35p to the mile whilst the petrol average (at 40 miles/gallon) is 12p a mile – a significant difference.

Disadvantages

I came to the conclusion not to buy an electric car based on two main deciding factors. A Nissan LEAF was more than twice as much as a similar-sized petrol car, even after the £5,000 customer incentive provided by the UK government. Considering the limited range of the battery before it runs flat (motorways are unfeasible) and the cost to replace or rent batteries, there are caveats to electric cars that do not justify the high price. Furthermore, to learn that an electric car’s range is affected by the temperature was discouraging – a difference of over 40 miles in with a 20°C variant isn’t very appealing.

The price and range of electric cars will undoubtedly improve as competition and development increases, but at the moment these issues limit the scope for large-scale acceptance by the public. Hopefully, when I am next looking to buy a car, going electric will be a more realistic option.

What does the growth of zero-emission cars mean for the oil and gas industry?

It is easy to assume that electric cars will have a substantial impact on the oil and gas industry as a whole, but this won’t necessarily be the case. Electricity production is heavily reliant on fossil fuel – considerable amounts are generated from gas. Moreover, almost half of the UK’s electricity is originated from gas, whilst 30% of USA’s electricity is created from gas and is expected to rise to 35% by 2040. Countries around the world are looking to strengthen their position in the production and consumption of gas and the rise of electric cars will only add to this ever-growing necessity.

At Fircroft, we understand the challenges and impacts that technological developments can have on the oil and gas industry. Our work with some of the biggest clients in the sector means we are constantly aware of the latest opportunities. If you’re interested in taking a look at our current vacancies, you can view them here.

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