By Alister Hamilton, Chair, EVA Scotland
In the Autumn of 2017, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the Scottish Government would phase out the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032, eight years ahead of the government at Westminster.
That was the single biggest ‘news day’ the electric vehicle industry in Scotland has had. It put a tangible date on something which most Scots saw as something they didn’t need to think about just now, or perhaps at all.
The reality is that we do need to think about it now, for a whole host of reasons. There are, it almost goes without saying, good environmental reasons to think about switching to an electric vehicle (EV), and they could be the basis for a Scottish Policy Now article in their own right.
However, there are other practical and financial reasons to make the switch. We are seeing more and more EV infrastructure in our daily lives - at the supermarket, at service stations, in new build housing - and that is only going to continue until it reaches the point where it almost seems inconvenient not to have an EV.
Energy companies are increasingly reacting to the change and are beginning to provide specific tariffs based on charging an EV at home, which ties in with smart meters and the whole ‘smart’ home agenda of lifestyle companies.
And perhaps most practically of all, car manufacturers are rapidly altering their production to include more EVs in their fleet, and we expect that long before 2022 they will be selling the same model of car with a choice of either a battery or an internal combustion engine (ICE), with the EV being cheaper to buy and cheaper to run.
If, as we expect it will be, this is combined with a technological advance in batteries which removes the so-called ‘range anxiety’, the camel’s back will be broken before 2032.
The question for us, is how can Scotland lead the way?
The Electric Vehicle Association (EVA Scotland) was founded a decade ago by a small number of EV enthusiasts but is now expanding its membership rapidly. It now has around 1,000 members, and serves to represent them, and the industry in general, in public life, and to advocate for switching from ICE to EV.
There is much to be done. The Scottish Government and Transport Scotland should be commended for their policy ambitions, which include not just the 2032 target, but the Electric A9 and the 2025 Switched on Towns and Cities programme.
This is a step in the right direction, but with only just over 10,000 EVs in use in Scotland at the moment, we have a long way to go to be able to call ourselves world-leading, in the way that a country such as Norway, which registered its 200,000th EV last year, can.
That is where EVA Scotland hopes to make a difference. There has been little or no public voice at the head of the switching movement, and we hope that as we move into the 2020s - the decade where the change must happen - we can be that voice.
By Alister Hamilton, Chair, EVA Scotland
TIGER WOODS, CALMAC'S CARBON CUTTING EFFORTS, ELECTRIC VEHICLE EXPANSION AND REVITALISING THE CLYDE AND GLASGOW CITY CENTRE
Brexit is off the front pages. At least for a day, replaced by golfer Tiger Woods after what many in the game think is the most remarkable comeback in the sport’s history.
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