Electric vehicles get ready to power ahead

21 July 2017

Since the prospect of electric vehicles came about, the market has been relatively niche with sales failing to compete with the dominance of petrol and diesel engines. However, that could all be about to change following various announcements from earlier this month.

With manufacturers, environmentalists and even whole governments starting to take decisive action, we take a look at the latest news stories putting the wheels in motion for an all-electric future.

Volvo shifts focus toward electricity

Manufacturing giant Volvo announced at the beginning of the month that it will cease production of petrol- and diesel-only engines from 2019. All new cars manufactured and sold by Volvo will instead utilise electricity in some form. The company plans to launch five new all-electric models between 2019 and 2021, while converting its range of conventional motors to hybrids.

Volvo prepares a new line of fully electric vehicles
Image credit: Volvo

The move addresses key factors like increased customer calls for electrified vehicles, as well as Volvo’s desire to minimise its environmental impact. Under the recently announced plans, the company aims for its operations to become climate-neutral by 2025 and notes a desire to contribute towards cleaner air quality in cities around the world.

The President and CEO of the Volvo Group, Hakan Samuelsson, has pointed out that the decision marks the beginning of the end for vehicles powered solely by fossil fuels. Mr Samuelsson announced: “We are determined to be the first premium car makers to move our entire portfolio of vehicles into electrification.”

It may come as little surprise considering the direction that the auto industry is moving towards. However, Volvo’s announcement has definitively signalled that an end is in sight for traditional motors, with this hypothetical future of electric cars on the way to becoming a reality.

French government puts it foot down

Just a day after Volvo’s announcement, the French government unveiled its intention to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by the year 2040. As part of the country’s overall plans to become completely carbon neutral by 2050, the newly appointed Energy Minister, Nicholas Hulot, presented the news alongside various other energy schemes and initiatives.

Other aspects of France’s Climate Plan include getting rid of coal-fired power plants by 2022 and strongly encouraging domestic energy generation in homes up and down the country. To help with the prospect of cutting down on the use of traditional cars, poorer households will also be offered financial assistance in a bid to replace older models that rely on fossil fuels.

Calling it a “veritable revolution”, Mr Hulot noted that the abolition of conventional vehicles would be a tough but reachable objective for French manufacturers like Peugeot, Citroën and Renault. He stated: “Our manufacturers have enough ideas in the drawer to nurture and bring about this promise… which is also an issue of public health.”

Despite the difficulty of the challenge ahead, this vision has put France among the world leaders in climate action and commitment to renewable energy. It could even lead to electric vehicles coming to dominate the market much more quickly than expected, as predicted by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

London to lose its diesel cabs

The TX model replaces traditional diesel-engines
Image credit: LEVC

The London Taxi Company (LTC) is gearing up to replace its iconic fleet of black cabs, swapping traditional diesel engines with the new electric model, the TX, which was unveiled last week. This ties in with LTC’s £325 million rebranding to become the London Electric Vehicle Company (LEVC) from September.

While the TX retains the look, feel and size of the classic design, the use of built-in eCity technology allows the taxi to largely run using battery alone. The inclusion of a small petrol-powered range extender allows the TX to travel for about 400 miles without needing to refuel or recharge – meaning a non-stop journey from London to Edinburgh or even Paris is entirely possible.

The TX line of cabs will also comply with new regulations set out by the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan. This requires all new taxis operating in the city from 1 January 2018 to be capable of producing zero emissions. Over time, it’s incredibly likely that this will lead to London’s 23,000-strong fleet of diesel-powered black cabs becoming gradually phased out, improving the city’s air quality in the process.

And it’s not just London that will see the new cabs taking to the roads. After securing its first international deal, the LEVC will supply the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam with around 225 TX vehicles. It is expected that the electric model will meet new air pollution regulations in the Netherlands, potentially opening the doors to taxi markets further afield in the near future.


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