Heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires have dominated the headlines recently. Regardless, our new post-Covid freedom has, once again, inspired us to get moving, increasing emissions and further heating the planet. To cool things off, there is a broad consensus that the future transportation of people and goods will be in electric cars powered by sustainable energy. Of course, there are disagreements on how long full adoption will take to implement, but the whole world knows we are going that way.
Even Ford’s best-selling vehicle for the past 40 years, the F Series, has gone electric. And if the F series–the bastion of dust and diesel—is going electric, we all are.
How EVs are leading the charge
- In 2021, battery-powered cars represented under 10% of global vehicle sales. By 2030, the figure is expected to increase to 40%.
- The demand for EVs is expected to increase nine-fold by 2030.
- In Europe since 2017, the number of EVs sold has grown by an average rate of 61% per year—the fastest growing region across the globe.
- Globally, around one in every 12 cars sold is an EV—approximately 6.6 million cars.
- Of the EVs sold last year, 30% were plug-in hybrids. Although these have combustion engines, they are two times as efficient as regular engines. The remaining 70% were battery-powered engines, which are doubly as efficient.
The appetite for electric vehicles is being driven by the falling cost of purchase, better, longer-lasting batteries/range, government subsidies, and improved and more efficient charging networks.
Consumers are snapping them up faster than you can say "Tesla". Yet while Tesla was the darling of the EV market for many years, today, there are many different, exciting companies involved in EV charging and production.
Here are 19 of our favourites.
Charging EVs at home or work
Most owners charge their electric cars through either an at-home or at-work charging station. These charging points are, generally, the most efficient option for EV owners, thanks to their practicality and lower price. Also, they are safer, more energy efficient, and faster than public charging stations.
Here are five exciting companies involved in the technology.
Wallbox creates electric vehicle charging solutions that give users the power to control their consumption, save money, and live more sustainably. They offer a portfolio of charging and energy management solutions for residential and business use. These include home charging solutions with which you can pre-schedule a charging session.
They are also innovating for the next wave of EV charging and energy management, including vehicle-to-home and vehicle-to-grid, energy storage, and peer-to-peer energy transactions.
2. Myenergi Zappi
Myenergi Zappi allows you to charge your EV as a standard home car charger, using power from the grid. However, it also has optional charging modes which use 100% green energy generated from your own home Solar PV system or wind generation.
Customers use the Myenergi app, which allows them to set timers and use cheaper tariffs with their electricity provider.
3. Pod Point
Pod Point installs smart home charging points for customers of major car brands, including Audi, Nissan, Volkswagen, and Hyundai. Since 2009, they have manufactured and sold over 175,000 charging points across the UK. The company also installs chargers for workplaces and fleets and has worked with companies including Skanska, Mitie, and Pepsico.
In response to the UK government mandating that all new homes built must include an EV charge point, Pod Point works with property developers and managers like Barratt Homes, Savills, and Bellway to wire up their developments. The company has also developed a public network connecting EV drivers with over 7,300+ charging bays at locations including Tesco, Lidl, and Centre Parcs.
Andersen offers an intelligent and aesthetically stylish EV charging point, which is compatible with every electric and plug-in hybrid vehicle. Their solution includes their signature feature: an integrated cable to hide the charging cable and plug from sight when not in use. The Andersen A2 gives the customer the option to control the energy between their home and EV through solar panels.
The EV-Pow claims to be the world’s smallest smart charger. It functions through the use of software that allows starting, stopping, and scheduling through a mobile device. The EO Mini Pro can be tethered or socketed, and installation requires only one cable pinned to the wall.
It also offers additional capabilities that enable the optional integration of energy sourced from PV solar panels.
Public charging stations for EVs
With the phasing out of petrol and diesel cars in the UK by 2030 and in Europe by 2035, petrol stations will become as obsolete as stables. However, due to the lower ranges of EVs, the world needs to install millions of charge stations before it goes fully electric.
Here are some of the companies currently offering charging stations.
6. Shell Recharge
Shell Recharge currently only has 100 charging stations across the UK; however, the company offers at least 50kWh DC rapid charging. In addition, just under half of the chargers are super-fast 150kWh DC chargers. Charging £0.41/kWh, Shell is not the cheapest option, but the company does claim that its stations are supplied with electricity from 100% renewable sources.
The Tesla Supercharger network is located along the UK’s motorways network. However, it only works with Teslas, which can be charged in 30 minutes. Tesla is currently contemplating making its system compatible with other EVs, but only if they comply with Tesla’s legal requirements. The company generally charges £0.28/kWh, but the service is free if you own an early Tesla Model X/S.
Tesla’s alternative charging, Destination charging, is designed for slower charging when customers plan on parking their cars for prolonged periods. They might not be quick, but they are free—for Tesla owners, of course.
8. BP Pulse
BP Pulse has over ten years of experience in EV charging. With over 8,000 public charging points, it is one of the UK’s largest networks. Customers can choose from pay-as-you-go options, or businesses owning fleets can choose a subscription package offering lower prices through a centralised fleet management account.
For pay-as-you-go customers, the price starts from £0.26/kW or £0.20/kWh with a free subscription. For commercial customers, the subscription is £7.85/month, with prices starting from £0.16/kWh.
Ionity is a pan-European EV recharging network which offers ultra-quick charging solutions. In the UK, the network is concentrated on motorways, and the chargers can provide speeds of up to 350kW with a CCS adapter. If the car supports this technology—which, currently, most do not—Ionity claims to be able to charge it in eight minutes.
Super-fast charging is, however, not the cheapest option, costing £0.69/kWh
10. Source London
Source London offers over 1500 charging points across the UK’s capital. Customers must book a charging slot using a mobile app, and the price also includes the cost of a parking space. As the solution is designed for customers to leave their cars parked for more extended periods, the charging speeds are slow: no faster than AC 22kw.
Prices start at 7p/minute for a pay-as-you-go customer or 5.9p/minute after a one-off payment of £10.
Electric vehicles: cars, trucks, buses
Although the first EV prototypes were developed in the 1830s, electric vehicles have only recently moved from being seen as fringe vehicles for the eccentric to viable options. And our guess is that it will only be a few years before a large number of vehicles are manufactured electric as standard.
While relatively recently there were very few EV options, companies are now designing electric sports cars, buses, freight trucks, and family cars. One name dominates the EV world; however, the vehicles are now made by all traditional motor manufacturers as well as some exciting new starts ups.
With no introduction needed, Tesla is the world’s leading electric car designer and manufacturer. The company almost single-handedly took EVs mainstream, and it has contributed to revolutionising motoring. Tesla also develops EV charging and solar panel technology.
12. Volta trucks
Volta trucks design the Volta Zero: the world’s first purpose-built full-electric 16-tonne commercial vehicle specifically created for urban freight distribution. The Volta Zero is designed to be the safest commercial vehicle, protecting vulnerable road users and a significant contributor to the future vision of zero-emission cities worldwide. The truck will be delivered in 2023.
13. Switch mobility
Switch mobility develops various electric vehicles, principally (single and double-decker) electric buses. The vehicles have an AI-powered digital twin (a virtual replica of a physical device), which allows the company to monitor, diagnose, and continually optimise every vehicle. Additionally, from speed restrictions to automatic emergency braking, Switch’s vehicles communicate with the world around them to ensure the highest levels of safety.
Arrival is anomalous in the EV world as its business model does not look to make money early by selling high-end vehicles. Instead, it is focusing on making lightweight, cheaper commercial vehicles. At the time of writing, Arrival is currently working on producing an electric van for UPS.
Canoo has designed a modular electric platform purpose-built to deliver maximum vehicle interior space that is customisable to support a wide range of vehicle applications for consumers and businesses. This opens up exciting possibilities, especially for low-volume specialist vehicles like fire engines or ambulances.
Wallmart has just signed a definitive agreement to purchase 4,500 of Canoo’s all-electric delivery vehicles.
Rivan focuses on developing trucks and long-range adventure vehicles. The company has received backing from Amazon and Ford and is due to roll out its first models later this year. Design and sustainability are at the heart of everything Rivan does.
Their battery packs are designed to be easily removed from the vehicles and either recycled or used in “second life” applications such as stationary storage. And the interiors of the vehicles are made from 100% animal-free materials with mid-life repairability and end-of-life recyclability planned into the design.
Volvo is known for having a commitment to responsible luxury, using recycled materials and minimising waste. The Swedish company’s offer includes two complete electric cars in addition to five plug-in hybrid models. Its goal is to make at least half of its vehicles fully electric by 2025.
18. Faraday Future
Faraday Future’s goal is to break the boundaries between the Internet, IT, creative, and auto industries with electric vehicles that integrate new energy, AI, Internet, and sharing models. FF's vision is to create a shared intelligent mobility ecosystem that empowers everyone to move, connect, breathe and live freely. The company says their vehicle will have a range of over 300 miles per battery charge, be able to operate autonomously and have zero gravity seats.
Proterra designs and manufactures zero-emission electric transit vehicles and EV technology solutions for commercial applications. It wants to make public transportation more sustainable and fuel-efficient with its buses, trucks, and heavy-duty vehicles. The company tries to help governments and corporations become less dependent on fossil fuels as they move towards electric power.
While the world is getting hotter, scepticism about electric vehicles is cooling off. The race is on between established companies and challengers as to who can provide the best electric vehicle solutions for private and mass transport using clean energy and sustainable technology.