There are many factors currently affecting the evolution of transport, including air quality concerns, decarbonisation, autonomous vehicles, advances in energy storage, population movement into urban areas, smart cities, the need for reverse logistics, online retailing and now the new Clean Growth Strategy.
Of all the sectors in the economy, transport is the one which is undergoing the most rapid change at the moment. Having been a laggard compared with the evolution of electricity generation, it is now looking to catch up fast. Headlines very recently have been:
- All Volvo cars to be electric or hybrid from 2019
- Dyson plans to launch electric car in 2020
- France to ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040
- Electric bus sets record with 1,101-mile trip on a single charge
- London’s ultra low emission zone arrives in 2019
- Diesel vehicles to be banned from Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico by 2025
- Volkswagen offers UK drivers up to £7,000 to scrap diesel cars
- More fully electric buses to run in London in drive to clean up air
- EasyJet plans to use electric planes for short haul flights within 10 years
- World’s first zero-emission hydrogen train to begin operations in Germany
- Paris orders battery-overhead electric locomotives
- British Airways tries again on waste-based biofuels
- Electric vehicle charge points to outnumber petrol stations by 2020 in UK
- Oxford plans to leapfrog London with world’s first Zero Emission Zone
- Government launches proposals to boost charge points for EVs
- Evolving global supply chain risks must raise red flag for EV manufacturers
The fundamental question is whether this has made any difference to the original broad vision for the clean transport system, involving electric cars for personal use and short haul logistics, hydrogen or biomethane in heavy goods vehicles for longer trips, the complete electrification of railways and biofuels for aeroplanes.
The recently announced Clean Growth Strategy places a major focus on the decarbonisation of transport with 33 per cent of the money being spent on that sector. In particular, there will be innovation funding for autonomous vehicles and charging infrastructure for EV to complement the Automated and EV Bill announced in the Queen’s speech. Despite saying that “ULEVs on the market today are already an attractive proposition for a significant proportion of motorists”, the plan proposes to spend £1 billion supporting the take-up of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV), including discounts on upfront costs on the purchase of an electric vehicle. More than £840m of public funds will be funnelled towards low-carbon transport innovation to accelerate new fuel uses, while the Strategy claims that Government will work with industry to develop an Automotive Sector Deal to accelerate the uptake of zero-emission vehicles.
The UK has faced numerous warnings that it will miss crucial 2020 transport targets and significantly damage its global reputation as a climate leader unless “major policy improvements” are rapidly enforced. Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “The Clean Growth Strategy reinforces our clear commitment to reduce emissions across the UK and to end the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2040. An Energy and Climate Change Select Committee report from September revealed that in the UK the share of renewables in transport fuel has flatlined at 4.75%. The Clean Growth Strategy pledges to “develop one of the best electric vehicle charging networks in the world” to help decarbonise the transport sector.
So with all this happening in the next few years, will it still be the current major car manufacturers making cars, albeit of the new type, with one or two new incumbents like Tesla? Will it be predominantly the existing major energy companies providing the new biofuels?
While in the long run it may well be the major players today operating in the brave new clean transport world of tomorrow, it is more than likely that they will have achieved that position by buying companies that have taken the lead technologically and in the market with the solution of choice. This then provides a ready and willing exit point in the near future for investors who have financed the companies which have developed the leading solutions.
Is there a risk that significant investment will be made in the deployment of new technologies that become stranded, such as the effect on the domestic EV charging infrastructure if autonomous vehicles take off?
This event will take a close look at the indicators for choosing the winners in this race for the technological and market-ready solutions. Which areas are the clear favourites and which are the outsiders which could nevertheless be very rewarding? Which routes run the highest technological risk?
This event will be ideal for investors, financiers, low emission transport supply chain, technology developers, consultants, vehicle manufacturers, fuel manufacturers and distributors, logistics companies, transport professionals, sustainability consultants and other professionals, local authorities and other public sector officials, advisers, media and other intermediaries.