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Are we there yet with electric cars? The EV story – with Wejo

A special podcast from Spotlight, the New Statesman’s policy supplement.

By Spotlight

In 2020, the UK announced the end of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. At the time, Boris Johnson’s government pledged £1.8bn to support greater uptake of zero-emission vehicles, including £1.3bn to rollout more charge points for electric vehicles nationwide.

Since then, the country has seen the biggest year-on-year growth in electric car registration for years. But there are millions of registered cars on the road in the UK – so how far have we come on the EV journey?

In the second episode of a three-part special partnered series with Wejo, the smart mobility tech company, a panel of expert guests discuss what’s standing in the way of greater uptake of EVs, in the UK and elsewhere.

Alona Ferber, editor of the New Statesman’s Spotlight policy channel, is joined by Richard Barlow, founder and chief executive of Wejo, Melanie Shufflebotham, founder and COO of the EV charging app Zap Map, Dale Vince, CEO of Ecotricity, and Philippe Vangeel, secretary general of AVERE, the European association for electromobility.

Real-time vehicle data is a key tool for policymakers and car manufacturers to overcome the challenges to electric vehicle rollout, Barlow told listeners on this episode. Wejo, via its EV operating system, “receives data from over 20 million vehicles live. The bigger problem we are seeing… is the demand on the grid is already exceeding the availability of power. That needs to be addressed.”

Such data, he said, can help energy providers and automotive manufacturers have more intelligence around the grid so that it can be upgraded appropriately. Barlow added that Wejo works “with numerous motor manufacturers in the US including General Motors, Ford, Volkswagen, Honda, amongst others”, and from the vehicle data the company receives “we understand how vehicles are all being used, and we understand in a real time environment, so we know within seconds the battery status of a vehicle. We know when it’s being charged.”

More than range anxiety, the bigger challenge for uptake is that, as the data shows, “people come home at the same time”, which is a challenge for the grid.

The next episode of this special series explores the autonomous vehicles future that is nearly here. Click here for the first episode.

[See also: At a critical moment, Britain has no plan for its car industry]