Largest electric vehicle trial will have London buzzing

London set to host 3,000 electric vehicles in new study with Uber and Hitachi

Jake Stones
30 Nov 2018
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A study that will see 3,000 electric vehicles (EVs) roll onto the streets of London has just been given the green light, marking the approval of the largest trial of commercial electric cars in history.

Called, “Optimise Prime” the programme will bring together some of the biggest players in the power and automotive industries in the hope of bettering individual and business uptake of electric vehicles.

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Optimise Prime is set to begin in early 2019 and will run for three years in the city of London. Given the green light by UK energy regulator Ofgem, the project leads are technology solutions provider Hitachi Ventura and electricity distributor UK Power Networks. The UK was selected for Optimise Prime because of its commitment to EV development, aiming for 60% of all car sales to be electric by 2030 - although currently it’s a pretty weak 1.7%.  

EVs can now match combustion engines for daily use, and have even wowed in the racing world, too, but without a good infrastructure of charging points, they’re still just a great idea rather than a viable alternative. Optimise Prime aims to plug the gap by providing accurate information on how to design the most efficient infrastructure for EVs in cities.

Working with Uber and Centrica, the study will seek the best locations for depots and on-the-road charging points, as well as reviewing home integration. What’s more, Optimise Prime will assess how these systems will be used at different times in the day. This will aid in coping with a high demand of use, making the purchase of electric cars more desirable for both businesses and individual users looking to drive electric.

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With 58% of vehicle purchases in the UK currently coming from UK businesses, there’s an onus on the project coordinators to make this work on a commercial scale. For instance, Uber, which operates 65,000 cars in the UK, claims it wants to be entirely electric by 2025.

As well as helping with the automotive industry, this study is vital to meeting carbon reduction targets for the UK. If EVs can be successfully integrated into UK society, they could offset the use of London’s bus fleet running for four years.  

A potential new EV network could help in supplying electricity to over one million homes, making Optimise Prime appear an even brighter idea. Moreover, with interest and investment from players across the electric and automotive industry, it’s got the right energy behind it, too.

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