Beauty and the beast

Beauty and the beast

By Darran Messem, Head of Transport

Last week’s transport disruption wasn’t just a crisis of bad weather; it was a crisis of communication. 

What surprised me most about my snow-hit heavily-delayed journey home from central London on Friday last week was that along the entire length of the railway line, which skirts the southern perimeter of Heathrow airport where 300 flights had been cancelled, the snow was less than an inch deep. An inch!

The ‘Beast from the East’, as this relatively tame (by global standards) snow storm has been called, highlighted fundamental weaknesses in the capacity and capability of the UK’s transport system, but it also revealed weaknesses in the system’s capacity and capability to communicate.

At the UK’s busiest train station – Waterloo – trains marked ‘delayed’ steadily progressed across the departures board before quietly dropping off, unannounced.  Not cancelled; just gone, only to be replaced by another scheduled service that would seemingly evaporate.  Occasional voice announcements over the public-address system were barely audible but none referred to the missing trains. Scarce station staff had little helpful information on whether services would run. One staff member briefly inspired hope by answering that a service would run, but shattered this brief glimpse of optimism by saying it wasn’t his job to share this information with the waiting passengers. Instead, thousands anxiously waited, with no information to go on. Escalators from Waterloo Road continued to pump people on to the concourse with no warning of the crowd blocking the top, creating an uncomfortable and dangerous crush. Without a hint of irony, Trainline, a popular train ticketing and service app, was confidently showing services running normally, and on time.

A lady desperately made a call to a loved one to say she couldn’t tell what was happening, so was intending to jump on any train heading south west, and the unfortunate person she was calling would just have to drive out in the snow and ice to collect her. Another made a similar call saying in the absence of information she was leaving to find a hotel for the night. Then, suddenly, a train was announced out of nowhere. A rush to the platform ensued. Those whose anxiety about a lack of information caused them to leave the station missed the train. The Times later reported one passenger from Bournemouth blaming a “complete lack of plan and a lack of communication” for the stress of her journey. ITV reported another passenger from Weymouth citing “no information for 13-odd hours”. “The guard keeps coming out to apologise but we’ve had no information about what’s going on”.

This wasn’t just a crisis of bad weather; this was a crisis of communication.

A crisis of communication

Let’s be clear, this is not a remote under-populated rural region we are talking about.  This is one of the busiest train stations in the world, serving one of the wealthiest and productive economic regions in the world, and linking the world’s financial services capital to, among other places, the world’s busiest international airport, and the home of the British Monarch, not to mention Legoland. We live in an information economy. Real-time live information about the price of cocoa in Africa is available on an ordinary phone, so why doesn’t the UK’s busiest train station know when the next train to Windsor will depart?

It’s not just a problem with the railways. An estimated 75,000 Britons were impacted by cancelled flights, but the only communication received by the majority was seeing ‘cancelled’ on the departure board. Many roads were blocked or closed, and drivers were advised to “check before travelling”, but check what? Ferries were cancelled, with no information on the expected next departure, as if, somehow, the storm might last forever.

One explanation is that this disruption is a symptom of fundamental economics. Snow-clearing machinery and capability cannot be as cost-effectively maintained to deal with the occasional extreme weather incident. Canada and Norway can cope with worse snow precisely because every winter there’s snow in vast quantities. It’s harder to justify investment for snow clearance. Investment in snow ploughs and heated points on railways is harder to justify when the temperature rarely drops below zero, particularly on a complex, dense network where the chain is only as strong as the weakest link and that link could be anywhere along its length.

Making the business base 

Nonetheless, there is an investment case to be examined. The Chief Economic Adviser to the EY ITEM Club, a UK economic forecasting group, is reported to estimate that the cost to the UK economy of weather-related disruption last week was around £1bn per day, and could halve GDP growth in the first three months of the year. The economy benefits, and society benefits, and every family benefits, from keeping people moving. Some simple improvements in communication last week could have helped protect the economy and the revenue of those relying on it.

Furthermore, UK Meteorological Office data shows that between 1980 and 2010 the average number of days of sleet and snow fall at Heathrow was nearly 4 in February and nearly 2 in March.  That’s approximately a 10% daily probability of sleet or snow. The probability of snow in the UK is greater than some might think.  

The head of long range forecasting at the Met Office reportedly briefed the Cabinet Office of the impending freeze four weeks ago. Apparently, the same shift in the jet stream that sucked Siberian winds over the UK preceded similar freezes in 2009 and 2013. How, I wonder, was this communicated and shared, and what was the level of awareness among UK transport operators this time last week?

The impending departure of a service is clearly known to the operator some time before this knowledge is available to the passenger.  This gap can be closed by linking information systems and operators through cloud-based services and network capacity. A definitive, authoritative UK rail information and ticketing online service and app could provide up-to-date information and alerts, drawing on a range of data sources to cover anticipated departures not just cancellations.

The difference between a cancellation and a postponement of a service is a hugely significant difference to an anxious traveller. Likewise, the estimated time of arrival at a destination is more important than the current extent of a delay.  These differences can be communicated through both staff and information systems with appropriate training, communication capability and above all care.

Across our entire transport system there is significant room for improvement in communication. In Beauty and the Beast a magical mirror enables Beauty to see in to the Castle of the heartbroken Beast, who Beauty then frees from the fairy’s curse. The UK doesn’t need a magic mirror, but it does need communication to break barriers and enable better flow of information and passengers, particularly in a crisis.  

Ten transport issues that can make or break your organisation, and how you should be thinking and communicating about them – Part 3

Ten transport issues that can make or break your organisation, and how you should be thinking and communicating about them – Part 3

https://dfml.co.uk/madanostaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/transport3-large.jpg

Transport underpins everything we do. Transport is also undergoing one of the most radical upheavals of any sector, and the stresses and strains of this upheaval manifest themselves in a plethora of issues and controversies, ranging from industrial disputes to radical technology development, from restructuring huge manufacturing systems to conserving scarce resources, and from integrated transport systems to individuals’ bicycles and roller skates. To manage this complexity, insightful and clear communication is key.

Madano has identified ten key issues impacting the transport sector: decarbonisation; air quality; electrification; infrastructure; congestion, efficiency and productivity; disruptive technology; new entrants; safety and services; trade and jobs; transparency, ethics and trust. All or some of these impact all economic sectors, all organisations and all people in one way or another. All need to be managed, in whatever sector an organisation operates.  

In this third and final article we look at the last five of these issues: disruptive technology; new entrants; safety and services; trade and jobs; transparency, ethics and trust. These are five ‘softer’ issues that are only just beginning to re-shape the global economy.

1. New entrants  

Among the 10 best-selling electric cars in the first six months of 2017 were the Zhi Dou D1/D2 and the BJEV EC180. Heard of them? The top 10 also included the Tesla Models S and X. Who ten years ago would have bet on that? If recent press reports are to be believed, within the next 10 years Google and Dyson will be selling electric cars, EasyJet will be flying electric planes, Boom will be the market leader in supersonic passenger jets, most parcels will be delivered by Amazon drones, and most taxis will be hailed by App. No company involved in transport can afford to think it cannot be put out of business by a new entrant.

2. Disruptive technology

Disruptive technology presents us with choices like semi-autonomous vehicles, driverless cars, car-sharing, App-based ordering and drone delivery. These changes in vehicle technology and interactive systems linking to vehicles will in turn change the nature of vehicle design, use and ownership, as well as the components and software that go in to the vehicles. Products will be delivered differently, and people will travel differently. Disruptive technology in transport therefore has the potential to render your entire business model obsolete. Or it can transform your business to a world leader in less than a decade.  

https://dfml.co.uk/madanostaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/disruptive1.jpg

Disruptive Behaviour

3. Safety and Services

Expectations of customer service and passenger safety are shifting. Road transport has for decades been a big killer; for many companies their number one safety risk. But added to the RTI (Road Traffic Incident) in Health and Safety Reports are now vehicle hacking, data misuse, phone use and vehicle software failure. In contrast, some new technology services are so reliable that expectations of service are being recalibrated. New vehicles are no longer ‘worn in’, execution should be instantaneous, issuing (like tickets, care hire keys and boarding passes) should be on demand, connectivity (on board, mid-sea, in-flight, underground) should be constant. Companies not meeting these rising expectation will at some point be caught off-guard by a customer complaints backlash. And don’t expect it to be in the form of a letter; it will be in the firm of a Tweet addressed to millions. Can your customer service team cope? 

https://dfml.co.uk/madanostaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/disruptive2.jpg

Consumer Backlash

4. Trade and Jobs

In any transformation there are winners and losers. And thus there is conflict. The recent transatlantic spat over Bombardier’s production of a perfectly decent aeroplane and Boeing’s concern to safeguard its domestic market is as much a reflection of the transformation of transport technology as it is of protectionist nationalistic ideologies in central Government. The fallout from Monarch’s collapse, PSA’s purchase of GM’s Vauxhall/Opel division, Ryanair’s flight cancellations and the recent fall in UK car production have been amplified in all cases by the anxiety of jobs and trade.

5. Transparency, ethics and trust

The VW emissions scandal hit the company and sector hard: $20 billion in provisions for fines according to most reports, and trust in large corporations is at an all-time low. It wasn’t just Volkswagen. Audi, Mitsubishi and Suzuki stand accused too. Yet while the bottom-line has been impacted by fines and compensation payments, the impact did not manifest itself in sales. This is arguably because consumers can no longer bother to care, and in the short term don’t know where to turn. Likewise in transport industrial relations disasters like Ryanair’s flight cancellations, Royal Mail’s industrial action, and Tube and Rail drivers’ strikes, customers bounce back. But over the longer term this creates huge opportunities for the careful operators who do manage with integrity and do manage brands well.

These five issues affect all organisations, not just those directly engaged in transport. They have the potential to render your car, your fleet, your business model, and even your industry, obsolete.  They offer the potential to transform productivity and to create life-changing disruption, as well as life-changing opportunity.  They are each therefore worth making a plan for. Yet many organisations treat transport as an activity outside their operation, not fully realising that their own activities require it, their own business models are dependent upon actively managing it, and their own risk-reward profile (and therefore shareholder value) is inextricably linked to it. 

Transport underpins everything we do, and it is going through a transformation that presents both risk and opportunity for everyone.  In this series of three articles Madano has identified ten key issues impacting the transport sector:

  • Decarbonisation – the ongoing quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport
  • Air Quality – the health imperative to reduce concentrations of oxidants of nitrogen and of particulates in the air
  • Electrification – the accelerating trend towards electric vehicles and electric re-charging points
  • Infrastructure – an array of key construction projects targeting increased connectivity and economic growth
  • Congestion, efficiency and productivity – the interlinked challenges of increased congestion and static productivity
  • New entrants – non-traditional competitors threatening established business models
  • Disruptive technology – new technologies creating new channels of communication, distribution and delivery
  • Safety and Services – changing expectations of safety and service in transport operations and services
  • Trade and Jobs – the battle for growth and employment
  • Transparency, ethics and trust – the increased risk/reward profile resulting from technological and social change.

Organisations have a responsibility to define their position on these issues in their transport policy and strategy. They owe it to their shareholders, employees and customers to be clear on the strategy they are pursuing to navigate the ten transport issues we’ve identified.  Failure to get this right not only neglects potential financial opportunity from the unfolding transformation of the transport sector, but also presents operational and strategic risk from being wrong-footed by developments. It adds to the risk of serious and life-threatening damage to our climate, air quality, economy and social services. All organisations, not just transport ones, should be analysing these issues, and findings engaging and creating ways to communicate about them to their staff, customers, investors and stakeholders.   

Darran Messem is Director of Transport and Sustainable Development at Madano

Madano helps clients define strategy and deliver their objectives through insight, creativity and communication in complex highly-regulated sectors including transport, transport, building and infrastructure, and healthcare.

Ten transport issues that can make or break your organisation, and how you should be thinking & communicating about them – Part 2

Ten transport issues that can make or break your organisation, and how you should be thinking & communicating about them – Part 2

https://dfml.co.uk/madanostaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/transport22-large.jpg

Missed part one? Read it here.

Transport underpins everything we do. Transport is also undergoing one of the most radical upheavals of any sector, and the stresses and strains of this upheaval manifest themselves in a plethora of issues and controversies, ranging from industrial disputes to radical technology development, from restructuring huge manufacturing systems to conserving scarce resources, and from integrated transport systems to individuals’ bicycles and roller skates. To manage this complexity, insightful and clear strategy and communication are key.    

Madano has identified ten key issues impacting the transport sector: Decarbonisation; Air quality; Electrification; Infrastructure; Congestion, Efficiency and productivity; Disruptive technology; New entrants; Safety and services; Trade and jobs; Transparency, ethics and trust. All or some of these impact every economic sector, all organisations, and all people in one way or another. All need to be managed, in whatever sector an organisation operates.  

In this article we look at the first five of these issues: decarbonisation, air quality, electrification, infrastructure and congestion, efficiency and productivity.  These are five very tangible ‘hard engineering’ challenges shaping whole economic sectors today. 

1. Decarbonisation

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transport has been a policy priority for nearly a decade, since the passage of the UK Climate Act and arguably before. Yet despite the reduction in UK new car CO2 emissions from 181g/km in 2000 to 120g/km in 2016 (SMMT data) recent government data showed UK transport emissions are rising, driven largely by commercial vehicle traffic volumes, much of it associated with the delivery of online products and services. The decarbonisation target remains, and as the deadline looms the action on greenhouse gas emissions will increase. Paris has banned petrol and diesel cars from 2030. London will cease buying purely internal combustion engine public transport vehicles. San Francisco’s city attorney is calling on the oil industry to be held liable for climate change. Decarbonisation will continue to be one of the major forces restructuring transport for the next twenty years, with profound consequences consumers, retailers, manufacturers, policy-makers as well as transport operators. The focus to date has been on road transport, but as the regulators wrestle with delivering reductions the big guns will swing to cover aviation and shipping; two modes of transport relatively un-touched so far.

2. Air Quality

Diesel vehicles are reported to kill 38,000 people prematurely each year due to the failure to meet official limits in real driving conditions.   Chinese-made goods bought in western Europe and the US are reported to have killed more than 100,000 people in China in one year alone as a result of the air pollution associated with their manufacture. Policy instruments – like London’s new Toxicity Charge for road vehicles – are emerging to address the problem, partly in response to legal challenges.  Such policies – a £10 charge for driving a dirty vehicle, for example – are blunt instruments, designed to tweak the consciousness of buyers, users and the ultimate beneficiaries (consumers, employers) of transport and force change upon them.  Simply relying on  charge, without mandatory vehicle change, risks delaying vehicle upgrades to new and better technology, and risks penalising drivers of older cars who are the least able to pay.  Ultimately bringing air quality emissions within recommended limits will depend on significant changes to both the vehicles we drive and the way we use and drive them. Electrification, automation, and improved utilisation will all be accelerated by this pressure. This will be so particularly if attempts to pinpoint liability are successful. The London toxicity charge is payable by the driver, so is the driver liable for the pollution, and the resultant health impact?  If San Francisco can hold oil companies liable for climate change, can local authorities hold you liable for air pollution in areas where your car or fleet operates?  

https://dfml.co.uk/madanostaging/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/car1.jpg

Who’s liable?

3. Electrification

Electrification of transport is not only a strategy for the tackling climate change and cleaning the air; it is also a strategy for motor manufacturers to sell a whole new generation of vehicles, a strategy for new entrant manufacturers to overtake existing suppliers and establish leadership positions in a global industry, and a strategy for electricity suppliers to supplant oil companies.  The stakes could hardly be higher.  Electric vehicle global market share has been projected by some analysts to reach 80% by 2025.  However in the UK, which is relatively advanced in the adoption of electric vehicles, the market share for pure electric vehicles remains below 1%, with a market share of circa 2% for electric and hybrid vehicles combined. Many hurdles remain, which will receive intense political and commercial focus in coming years. The key ones are the provision of recharging infrastructure to enable recharging where and when it’s needed, and the development of batteries able to store sufficient energy and charge rapidly without adding weight.  Depending on the success of each, it remains to be seen how much additional electric generating capacity is required to charge the vehicles despite electric vehicles being inherently more energy efficient, and how this capacity will developed.  

4. Infrastructure

Most infrastructure projects are also transport projects, and most infrastructural shortcomings relate to transport infrastructure provision. Better roads, railways and train lines are aspired to nearly everywhere, but the resultant environmental impacts are not. In the next 20 years in the UK, Heathrow’s third runway, Gatwick’s second runway, HS2, Crossrail, Crossrail 2, Hinkley C, Birmingham City Centre, and electric car charging points will continue to fill the news, generate controversy, suck-up resources, inform house purchasing decisions and vehicle ownership patterns, and help facilitate the transport transformation. There will be significant winners and losers. Which are you?

5. Congestion, Efficiency and Productivity

It’s well known that stagnant productivity is one of the UK’s greatest strategic challenges. When average traffic speeds in the capital city grinds to a stupefying 9 miles per hour it hardly helps. Neither does a succession of tube and train strikes. Traffic jams alone are estimated to cost the UK economy £9 billion per annum.  While our airports reach record passenger throughput levels, trains reach record passenger utilisation and roads reach record traffic levels, efficiency declines and productivity falls. Time, energy and human motivation are unproductively expended, and shortcomings in mobile technology provision (think 5G and wi-fi on the move) don’t help. As our population steadily rises, the requirement to address congestion, efficiency and productivity increases, with potentially huge rewards for organisations delivering solutions.

These five issues affect all organisations, not just those directly engaged in transport. They have the potential to render your car, your fleet, your business model, and even your industry, obsolete.  They are each therefore worth making a plan for. Yet many organisations treat transport as an activity outside their operation, not fully realising that their own activities require transport, their own business models are dependent upon actively managing transport, and their own risk-reward profile (and therefore shareholder value) is inextricably linked to transport.  Every organisation involved in transport needs a strategy to mitigate the risks and capture the opportunities, and a stakeholder engagement plan to ensure this is achieved.

In the third article in this three-part series we will look at the next five issues: disruptive technology; new entrants; safety and Services; trade and jobs; transparency, ethics and trust. These are five ‘softer’ issues that are only just beginning to re-shape the global economy.

Darran Messem is Director of Transport and Sustainable Development at Madano

Madano helps clients define strategy and deliver their objectives through insight, creativity and communication in complex highly-regulated sectors including transport, energy, building and infrastructure, and healthcare.

Ten transport issues that can make or break your organisation, and how you should be thinking & communicating about them – Part 1

Ten transport issues that can make or break your organisation, and how you should be thinking & communicating about them – Part 1

madano.com

Transport underpins everything we do. Our daily commute, weekly shop, routine business trip, visit to friends and family, and annual holiday, all depend on transport. For many, the machine we drive is integrally associated with our views of ourselves, and others’ view of us. Transport is one of the key economic and operational sectors in any developed economy. In the UK transport directly contributes round 6% of UK gross economic value added (House of Commons research), directly employs 1.4m people, and is the lubricant for the bulk of the economy. 

Even in the digital age, delivery of a product ordered online generally relies on an inefficient internal combustion engine based on a nineteenth century design. But in the next ten years transport patterns will change as drivetrain technology overcomes both fossil-fuel and human-intervention dependency, and demand for previously-unseen benefits from the transport transformation take hold.  Transport is undergoing one of the most radical upheavals of any industrial sector, and the stresses and strains of this upheaval manifest themselves in a plethora of issues and controversies, ranging from industrial disputes to radical technology development, from restructuring huge manufacturing systems to conserving scarce resources, and from integrated transport systems to individuals’ bicycles and roller skates.

In the last few weeks alone, we’ve seen Ryan-Air tell 400,000 passengers of cancelled flights, the Mayor of London accuse Volkswagen of contempt for Londoners, Ford recall 400,000 vehicles for safety and compliance issues, Monarch collapse, Stagecoach lose the South West Trains franchises to First Group and MTR, Volvo launch a new car brand, train companies face new requirements to remove diesel engine units, and the postal unions clash with Royal Mail management. 

Such issues present huge opportunity for organisations navigating the changes well.  They also present immense potential for misunderstanding, misreporting and therefore conflict. In the IT industry, when Microsoft needs to improve its software, users receive an ‘update’, yet when Ford needs to improve its cars users receive a ‘recall’.  When Jaguar Land Rover recently increased in-house production of engines rather than buying them from another manufacturer, the move was reported as “Fears for jobs as Jaguar cuts contract”, not “Jaguar invests in increased production”. Even well informed industry observers could be excused for fearing there’s a chaos of disorganisation and conflict in the industry rather than feeling reassured there is a managed progression. So what are the key issues, and how can clear strategy and communication help? 

madano.com

Recall, or Update?

At Madano, we believe organisations must get their strategy and communication on transport right, even if they are not typically ‘transport’ organisations. To manage the issues and opportunities developing in transport, insightful strategy and clear communication are key. We’ve identified ten key issues impacting the transport sector:

1. Decarbonisation – the ongoing quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport
2. Air Quality – the health imperative to reduce concentrations of oxidants of nitrogen and of particulates in the air
3. Electrification – the accelerating trend towards electric vehicles and electric re-charging points
4. Infrastructure – an array of key construction projects targeting increased connectivity and economic growth 
5. Congestion, efficiency and productivity – the interlinked challenges of increased congestion and static productivity
6. New entrants – non-traditional competitors threatening established business models 
7. Disruptive technology – new technologies creating new channels of communication, distribution and delivery 
8. Safety and Services – changing expectations of safety and service in transport operations and services 
9. Trade and Jobs – the battle for growth and employment 
10. Transparency, ethics and trust – the increased risk/reward profile resulting from technological and social change. 

These ten issues affect all organisations, not just those directly engaged in transport. They have the potential to render your car, your fleet, your business model, and even your industry, obsolete.  They offer the potential to transform productivity; to create life-changing disruption, as well as life-changing opportunity.  And social media has the potential to amplify the effects. They are each therefore worth making a plan for. Yet many organisations treat transport as an activity outside their operation, not fully realising that their own activities require transport, their own business models are dependent upon actively managing transport, and their own risk-reward profile (and therefore shareholder value) is inextricably linked to transport.  Every organisation involved in transport needs a strategy to mitigate the risks and capture the opportunities, and a stakeholder engagement plan to ensure this is achieved.

In the next two articles in the three part series, we will be looking at these 10 issues in more detail.  The second article in this series will focus on five very tangible ‘hard engineering’ challenging shaping whole economic sectors today: decarbonisation, air quality, electrification, infrastructure and congestion, efficiency and productivity.  The subsequent article focuses on five ‘softer’ issues that are only just beginning to re-shape the global economy: disruptive technology; new entrants; safety and services; trade and jobs; transparency, ethics and trust. We will argue that all organisations, not just transport ones, should be analysing these issues, and finding engaging and creating ways to communicate about them to their staff, customers, investors and stakeholders.   

Darran Messem is Director of Transport and Sustainable Development at Madano. 

Madano helps clients define strategy and deliver their objectives through insight, creativity and communication in complex highly-regulated sectors including transport, energy, building and infrastructure, and healthcare.

Read part 2 here

Why electric vehicles present the ideal communications debate

Why electric vehicles present the ideal communications debate

Written by Oliver Buckley, Associate Director in Madano’s Energy Practice.

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are the hot topic of the moment.

Recent media announcements have brought EVs to the front pages, rather than the business pages as we’re normally accustomed. We’ve seen EV announcements recently by Tesla and Volvo as well as a UK Government commitment to ban cars with internal combustion engines from 2040.

The dizzying array of viewpoints on EVs highlights the disjointed approach to their introduction. 

EVs in the media

According to the media which have covered EVs in a positive light, they could be:

  • the solution to the UK’s air pollution crisis.
  • the principal form of passenger transport once petrol and diesel cars are banned in 2040.
  • a source of battery storage to work in conjunction with local electricity grids.

However, some media have covered EVs negatively, saying that:

  • the positive impact of EVs on improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions will be negligible.
  • the amount of CO2 required to make, use and dispose of lithium-ion batteries negates any carbon reduction benefits they bring.
  • the UK could not produce enough electricity to charge all plugged-in EVs at peak times. 

This presents the perfect scenario for communications professionals. There are two fiercely contradictory sets of arguments, both of which come across as logical. And for a non-specialist without access to data on these topics, it’s genuinely difficult to come to a concrete viewpoint.

No time to waste

In the case of EVs, assessing the ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the wrong debate to have. That’s because change in the sector is already happening at a blistering pace. There’s no time to sit around and debate the merits of more or fewer EVs. They’re here and the market is growing. 

Sales of EVs are expected to sky rocket in the coming years. There were 2 million EVs on the road globally in 2016. The International Energy Agency (IEA) expects an electric car stock of 9-20 million by 2020 and 40-70 million by 2025.

It surely makes more sense to see the benefits of this step change in car purchase choice and to simply make it work.

Did people try to block the expansion of the internet because of worries about fraud or privacy? No. Having access globally to a world of information was too powerful a notion to be held back by worrying about the negatives. That’s not to say that those worries are totally overlooked.

EVs – the next digital revolution?

And so we can apply that approach to EVs:

Should we worry about the limited range of batteries on a single charge? One would expect batteries to become better and cheaper over time. Tesla’s ‘Model S’ car now has a range of 300 miles and, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the cost of lithium–ion battery packs has fallen by 73% since 2010.

Should we worry about a lack of charging points in relevant locations? Simple economic theory suggests that if enough people demand something then a market will naturally develop, with or without the help of government. It’s surely only a matter of time until petrol stations on the motorway or in towns introduce charging points to the forecourt. From 2011 to 2016, there was almost an eight fold increase in the number of charging points available in the UK according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) and this trend will undoubtedly continue.      

Should we worry about the electricity burden on the grid when everyone gets home from work between 5 and 7pm and plugs their car into the grid to charge? Lots of cars suddenly charging in close proximity could in theory create localised grid problems, however there can surely be no excuse for grid operators to not start preparing for this now. Besides, people will very quickly learn to programme their device to start a charge outside of peak hours when fewer cars are charging and electricity prices are lower.

The EV communication challenge

EVs may not solve every problem but data from well-respected organisations show that they will play a significant role in the future of our transport and energy systems. Communicating the change will certainly feature myriad negative voices, however I expect the positive voices to drown them out.

Madano Energy is a team of energy communications specialists which advises clients in an era of profound market disruption as the global energy sector decarbonises, decentralises, digitises and democratises. If you would like to discuss how the changes in the energy market could affect your organisation we’d be delighted to have an introductory discussion. Please contact me on [email protected] or 020 7593 4018. 

error: Content is protected