Helping to deliver a greener Scotland

by Stuart Milne

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

Picture of Jerry Stewart - Co-Director of Eagle CouriersHOW far have electric vehicles come and how far do they still have to go?

Electric vehicles have seen a growth in popularity over the past few years, as the technology develops, prices reduce and charging points become more common. They have even become something of a status and a style symbol with Tesla ownership providing drivers with more than a sliver of kudos.

In the political sphere the race to boost electric vehicle numbers is also hotting up.

While many Governments worldwide (including Scotland’s) have major aims to cut emissions drastically over the next few decades, there is still a long way to go.

What is the current landscape in Scotland?

Holyrood has already set out their plans for the promotion of electrical vehicles in Scotland.

One of their more ambitious targets is to make all towns, cities and communities free of emissions by 2050. Currently, the government offer a 35% discount on new electric vehicles with a 20% discount on vans which could translate to savings of between £4,000 and £8,000.

Who should we look to for inspiration?

Norway has caught the world’s attention in the electric vehicles sector, topping the table in electric vehicles per capita. Some may think that this small country is punching above its weight but, in truth, the world’s most populated countries, such as China and the US, lag well behind in numbers.

But Norway’s success didn’t happen overnight: the government have been vigorously promoting electric cars for the last 30 years.

The Norwegian government has heavily subsidised the buying of electric vehicles. Some of the benefits of purchasing an electric vehicle include: no purchase taxes, no charges on toll roads or ferries and, interestingly, access to bus lanes. Heavily taxing petrol cars, as further encouragement for people to convert to electric, cannot be underestimated as a motivation.

Other countries more typically seen as innovators, Germany and Japan, are also making strides towards widespread conversion as well and Japan now have more car charge points than petrol stations. This is undoubtedly a significant sign of change in the country.

Germany, on the other hand, are around the same level as Scotland, subsidising purchases of new electric vehicles to boost sales and reach the target of doubling the number of electric cars on roads, to one million, by 2020.

What comes next?

So how close are we to seeing all-electric fleets delivering to your doorstep? It could still be some time, and with the Scottish Government’s target not scheduled to be reached until 2050, we still have a few decades of development and change planned.

Charging ports, government support and even the vehicles themselves will need to improve to make them a more viable option than petrol and diesel alternatives.

With the average distance an electric car can travel at 100 miles, this would probably not effect local deliveries too greatly.  However, charging can take up to eight hours so more substantial journeys, from Aberdeen to Edinburgh (127 miles) or Glasgow (146 miles) and return between Scotland’s two biggest cities (102 miles) for instance, will not be easily overcome without fairly considerable delays to recharge.

Eagle Couriers do see electric vehicles as the future. We are committed to being an energy efficient company and have even been nominated for a VIBES Green Transport Award this year.

Regularly trialling electric vehicles, sadly, we have simply not yet been able to make viable business sense of an electric fleet.

We welcome the day, in the not-too-distant future, when battery charges and storage are faster, more convenient and longer-lasting so that we can lessen our impact further and play a bigger part in the solution.


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