What does today’s electric vehicle market look like?

posted on 18/10/2023
  • Overview
  • What’s the current situation?
  • What are the different types of EV solutions available?
  • Difference between WLTP and real-world range
  • What about E-fuels?

If your organisation is considering switching to electric vehicles (EVs), you’ll likely want to know a little more about the current EV landscape, what different terms mean and what’s available on today’s market. Here, we break down all the essential information – keep reading to find out about the different types of EVs available to you and your fleet.

What’s the current situation?

The EV market has seen rapid growth in recent years. Back in 2020, EV sales went up by 186% and they continue to rise annually. 40% of all new models are now available as plug-ins, or exclusively electric. By 2035, there’ll be a ban in force on the sale of petrol and diesel only vehicles (with Internal Combustion Engines, or ICEs for short).

What are the different types of EV solutions available?

BEVs don’t have a traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). Instead, they run on battery power alone and are rechargeable. They are among the cleanest cars available with zero tailpipe emissions, which is why they’re exempt from Clean Air Zone fees.

Quick facts on BEVs:

  • Powered solely by a rechargeable electric battery
  • Can recharge through regenerative braking and coasting
  • Emit zero direct exhaust or tailpipe CO2 emissions
  • Lowest company car Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) tax rate – currently at 2%
  • No congestion zone or Ultra-low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) charges

These vehicles have both an ICE and an electric battery as power sources. The battery tends to be smaller than BEVs which limits the amount of energy for pure electric range. PHEVs are largely seen as a stepping-stone EV option.

Quick facts on PHEVs:

  • Use both an ICE and an electric battery
  • Battery can be charged by plugging a cable into an external source
  • Can recharge through regenerative braking and coasting
  • More efficient than hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), but best suited to short journeys
  • Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) rates are higher than fully electric vehicles, but lower than other hybrids and much lower than traditional ICE vehicle

More commonly known as self-charging hybrids, HEVs also have an ICE and an electric battery which selectively charges the engine. This powers the vehicle up to 15-20mph before the ICE kicks in. It’s important to note these batteries are not rechargeable by anything other than the ICE.

Quick facts on HEVs:

  • Uses both an ICE and an electric battery, charged by the ICE only
  • No plug-in ability for electric charge
  • Can recharge through regenerative braking and coasting
  • Benefit-in-Kind (BIK) rates are higher than a PHEV
  • Sometimes called ‘active hybrid’ or ‘self-charging hybrid’

‘Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles’ (MHEVs) also exist and use a small electric motor to provide additional power for ‘stop / start’ functionality. They can’t be powered using the battery alone.

These are advanced vehicles powered by a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. Because of the chemical process, they don’t need to be recharged via an external electric source – they are fuelled by a supply of hydrogen. These vehicles are similar to ICEs in use, but take less than five minutes to refuel, with the average range being 300–500 miles. However, with a lower energy efficiency rating than BEVs, many manufacturers have diverted resources away from FCEV production, choosing to focus instead on battery-powered vehicles.

Quick facts on FCEVs:

  • Zero CO2 tailpipe emissions
  • Fully powered by electric, produced from chemical energy (usually hydrogen)
  • No ability to plug in – can only be refueled at a hydrogen filling station
  • Less efficient use of energy than BEVs, with more significant losses during energy processes like conversion
  • Low availability and low take-up

Which manufacturers supply EVs?

Manufacturers of all automotive types are getting involved in EV production, developing products as diverse as sports cars to LCVs. Some of the biggest names in the automotive industry, like BMW and MINI, have a thriving EV portfolio – while other lesser-known brands are introducing new concepts to disrupt the market.

As a multi-make business, Alphabet is here to help you discover which cars and commercial vehicles are the right fit for your business needs.

What’s the difference between WLTP and real-world range?

When it comes to electric driving distances, it can be difficult to calculate the figures. And this can often cause charging anxiety. But understanding the difference between the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) and real-world range will help you get the most miles out of your EV fleet.

WLTP-certified range is a measure which all EVs in Europe are tested against. This procedure measures the range of a vehicle travelling at an average speed of 28.8mph in summer from a 100% to 0% state of charge. This helps you compare different EV makes and models, in terms of fuel consumption as well as emissions. The EVs with the highest WLTP range will go the furthest.

Conditions, of course, can vary. Weather, road conditions, weight and driving behaviour all impact results, so WLTP ranges will always be slightly at odds with real-world range, but it’s useful as a like-for-like comparison. In general, an EV can achieve between 80% and 90% of its quoted WLTP range figure when used in the real world. So, keep this in mind when exploring electric options for your fleet. And to get the most miles out of your batteries, encourage drivers to make small changes, like travelling light, coasting to a stop and ensuring smooth driving with less acceleration and deceleration.

What about E-fuels? And what exactly are they?

E-fuels is an emerging term for producing traditional fuel using renewable, electric-based energy. The idea is to offer longevity to existing ICE vehicles that use petrol or diesel. As a synthetic alternative, E-fuels can be blended with ‘traditional’ fuel or replace it altogether, helping to reduce overall emissions. They’re not widely available or affordable at the moment, but we may see this shift in the coming years.

Focus should remain on using the lowest emissions-emitting vehicles possible – and shouldn’t delay company plans to introduce EVs. Some people claim E-fuels are ‘CO2 neutral’ because they ‘capture’ the same amount of CO2 from the atmosphere during production as they burn. But this still means CO2 will be emitted and add to pollution, reducing air quality in towns and villages. Therefore, E-fuels are likely to be approved for ‘special use’ cases only.

Interested to learn about new disruptive players in the market, or looking for advice on which makes to include for your drivers with complex journey types? Get in touch with our team to discuss how to move ahead on your Road to Zero.

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