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Gill Nowell, Head of EV at LV= General Insurance, reflects on her time spent at Fully Charged LIVE 2022 and the progress that’s being made in the electric vehicle (EV) sector.

 

 

It was a pleasure to take part in a panel session at Fully Charged LIVE, hosted by Robert Llewellyn, in the esteemed company of Kate Tyrell, Sara Sloman and Tom Callow. ‘What the FUD and how to fight it’ saw us covering the usual concerns around cost (LV=’s total cost of ownership work through its Electric Car Cost Index plays a key role in combatting this particular issue), range and charging infrastructure. 

A show of hands from the audience told us that around 80% of them were EV curious – it’s really important for us to keep on providing reassurance and knowledge on electric cars. Most people are still new to the idea, and through our work on ElectriX we have an important role to play in nurturing them along the journey, as we invite them to take the first steps into electric driving. On the FUD front, the next 12 months will see us continuing to reassure and support people as they begin to think about making the switch to EV. With only 1-2% of the total car parc in the UK being battery electric, we have a long way to go. Let’s not forget this.

Vehicle to Innovation

Exciting times as ever for electric cars and associated technologies! Fully Charged LIVE has demonstrated an astonishing array of emerging innovation, as more companies dip their techy toes into vehicle to home, to grid, to load. I would love to see this sort of technology become commercially available in the next 12 months. And as the energy crisis nudges more and more people into thinking about how they can reduce their energy consumption, using the car as energy storage starts to take on a whole new level of sense. Anything that can be done, cost effectively, to help consumers reduce their electricity bills, is to be welcomed.

Crunching the numbers

My original prediction for price parity of ICE with EV was 2023. I may need to backtrack on that with a new forecast of 2025, due to the infamous semiconductor shortage and the supply chain blockages due to the war in Ukraine. So our focus for the next 12 months on this front should be helping consumers look at total cost of ownership (TCO), rather than focusing on the sticker price of electric cars. LV= research tells us that 45% of people in the UK see cost as a barrier to getting an electric car. I referenced the LV= General Insurance Electric Car Cost Index briefly above, that we worked on with the brilliant Dr Euan McTurk; if we delve into this a little deeper it tells us that three of the 13 electric cars that were compared with their petrol / diesel equivalents (Nissan LEAF, MG5 Long Range Excite and the Mini Electric Level 1) work out cheaper whether bought outright, leased or purchased via PCP. As for running costs – they are almost half that of ICE cars. Plus, seven of the 13 cars we researched are cheaper across a four-year lease term and four of them are cheaper on a three-year PCP agreement. So until we see that upfront cost come down across all electric cars, let’s talk about the TCO.

Let’s break it down

TCO has a huge part to play in helping overcome the upfront cost issue, as we’ve already considered. But if we go one step further, breaking down overall costs into manageable monthly payments might be the way to go for many customers. This not only applies to the cars themselves in the form of leasing, but increasingly to other products and services in the EV ecosystem as well – home chargers, for example. I think we’ll start to see this more and more, with ever more attractive bundles or packages emerging to save customers the pain of a big upfront bill. I spotted a few interesting propositions of this ilk at Fully Charged LIVE. Looking forward to others coming to market.

Community spirit

My lasting impression of Fully Charged LIVE in 2019 was one of Fully Charged LOVE – the EV community spirit was strong! I’m happy to report that it grows stronger with each Fully Charged event. There are so many unsung heroes of the EV community who spend countless hours fighting the FUD online, helping others who have questions about electric cars, charging, batteries and so on. It’s a real treat to meet many of these amazing people at the event, many of whom have singlehandedly converted dozens of friends, family and strangers to EV. It’s really important that the voices of the EV community are heard within Government and beyond, and so this year it was fantastic to meet James Court, the new CEO of EVA England. And let’s not forget the dozens of local and regional EV groups, under the umbrella of the EV Groups Nexus, plus the UK Electric Vehicle Owners Club. I’d encourage anyone new to electric cars to join their national and local EV group. It’s a brilliant way to meet other electric car drivers and ask questions. And of course there’s always ElectriX, which has an Ultimate Electric Car Guide that you can download for free, plus lots of other information to help people make the switch to an electric car.

To test drive or not to test drive – is that the question?

There were a bewildering number of test drives on offer, in a good way, at Fully Charged LIVE this year. I had a very pleasant test drive in a Kia EV6. However research that I’ve recently carried out indicates that around a third of people buying (or leasing) an electric car have never even sat in their EV of choice, never mind having a test drive in it. I suspect that this trend may continue, particularly as uptake continues to increase and people start to renew their electric car lease. Once you’ve driven an electric car, you can be pretty sure that the drive experience in any of them, will be good. It then comes down to cost, range, build quality, cabin and boot space, and aesthetics – all of which you can glean from manufacturer websites and online reviews. The alternative view might be that as supply chain blockages… unblock… and cars become more readily available for test drives, then people will revert to try before you buy. An interesting one to keep an eye on.