The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the UK economy. GDP fell by the unprecedented figure of 20% in the month of April, and the Office for National Statistics has predicted that the economy will shrink by 11.5% by the end of the year.
No industry could remain unaffected by such a catastrophic shock, and the motor trade has been one of the worst-hit with showrooms closed and non-essential travel limited. Electrical work was reduced to emergencies only so EV charging installations stopped virtually overnight. Our own installation at the Replenishh site had to be halted.
But as lockdown restrictions begin to ease and people go back to work, it is not all doom and gloom. EV is still in a good place. We have identified five reasons to be cheerful, not fearful, about the road to recovery.
EV sales boost
While sales of petrol and diesel vehicles fell off an inevitable cliff in April and May, low or zero emission car sales did not fare as badly. According to figures released by The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, EVs represented 32% of the total new car registrations in the UK in April, and sales of pure battery operated vehicles (BEVs) fell by only 9.7% year on year, compared to at least 95% for every other fuel type. In May, while some activity returned to the market, BEVs were the only sector to not suffer a fall in sales from the same month in 2019. In fact there was a 21.5% increase in registrations compared to May 2019.
The world got greener, even for just a little while
Didn't we all hear the birds sing more during lockdown? With far fewer cars on the road and air travel at a virtual standstill, we got a glimpse in April and May of a less polluted world. This has made a difference to the way people perceive lower emission transport, according to research conducted by Venson Automotive Solutions. 45% of those questioned in the survey said that the improvement of air pollution levels worldwide had made them reconsider the prospect of owning an electric car. A further 17% said that the lockdown experience had confirmed their decision to switch to an EV. The sales figures for May in the UK would also appear to suggest the same thing.
Deadline for Homecharge Grant scheme extended
Installers will know that just before the lockdown came into force, the value of the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme grant was reduced from £500 to £350 in the Budget. As this change came at short notice a transition period was initially permitted, to give customers who had applied before 12th March 2020 the chance to still receive the £500 EVHS grant, if their installation was completed by 31 May 2020. However, due to the lockdown restrictions this transition period has now been extended until 5 April 2021
. Customers can be reassured that they will not be losing out on the lower price and installers will not be out of pocket for installations yet to be completed.
BIK tax changes now available
Company car drivers can now take advantage of the 0% BIK tax rate for zero emission vehicles, which came into force on April 1. It may have been forgotten amid the initial stages of lockdown, as many people found themselves being furloughed. But this will make a significant difference to the financial benefits of switching to an EV. It could save drivers up to £4,745 in road tax and BIK tax over three years compared to the costs of a petrol or diesel vehicle, for all new EVs with CO2 emissions of between 1-50 g/km and a range of over 130 miles registered after April 6 2020. Find out more here
Installations are resuming
The feedback we are getting from installers is that business is building back up. With the lockdown coming into force so suddenly many planned installations (including our own, pictured right) had to be postponed or curtailed, so there is a backlog of work that is now resuming. The contractors we have spoken to all report a steady increase in installation requests since lockdown eased, with customers having more confidence to spend and manufacturers being back in production.
The need for social distancing and making work as safe as possible is also being addressed. Crosstech Electrical told us: "We always have PPE present on our installations and have ensured that we are greatly aware of the shielded and vulnerable, making reasonable adjustments to facilitate the administration of the installation.”
Richard Mills, of West Sussex-based Mr Charger, feels that social distancing will not have a major impact on domestic work. "In terms of commercial installations, there can be more complexities which can mean additional precautions which increases time on site and higher PPE costs, but we are proceeding on a case by case basis. As long as it is managed correctly, observing social distancing shouldn’t be a major obstacle to getting the job done!"
It is still early days, but it is clear that the road to recovery will be less bumpy for the EV charging sector than others. If you have any thoughts on what the future looks like after lockdown, please post a comment below.