Alternative Fuels - What happened in January 2024?

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#Alternative Fuels, #EV
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Some interesting news to kick off 2024 with artificial intelligence playing a key factor in the discovery of a new material for electric vehicle batteries, and both BT and KIA releasing new information about projects that may have an impact on whether people switch over to electric. We will also be talking about how even the fastest electric charging option can be cheaper than refuelling with petrol.

Artificial intelligence discovers lithium replacement for electric vehicle batteries 

Microsoft and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have been using artificial intelligence (AI) to find a replacement for lithium to use in EV batteries, allowing them to be produced cheaper. Sourcing Lithium isn’t easy and requires mining which is both expensive and environmentally challenging but the introduction of this new substance into EV batteries will make production more environmentally friendly and cheaper which could convince even more people to swap their regular fuel and petrol vehicles for electric vehicles.

This new substance which is said to be able to potentially reduce lithium use by up to 70% has been given the name temporary name of N2116, it is currently being tested and has already been used to power a lightbulb. Advanced AI was used to narrow down 32 million potential inorganic materials to just 18 in less than a week, which if done using traditional lab research methods could’ve taken more than 2 decades. The discovery of N2116 is an example of how effective AI can be, and knowing the potential it has, is exciting for what it can do for the future.

Kia announces electric van line-up set to launch in 2025

Kia has released information about its commercial van line-up that will be released in 2025 and will consist of 4 vehicles, 2 of which are for taxi and passenger carrying and 2 for logistics. All vehicles will have KIA’s new Platform Beyond Vehicle (PBV) which allows fleets to use external data such as route or delivery information and connectivity between vehicles to allow for less downtime and enhanced cost-effectiveness. The vehicles will also be equipped with ‘easy swap’ technology giving drivers more flexibility for vehicle functions. 

This means that you will be able to swap the upper body between different ‘life modules’ for example, a taxi body can be swapped for a delivery van body for when the driver might be working or to a personal recreational body for weekends. They are all connected to the base via hybrid electromagnetic and mechanical coupling technology which are positioned behind the ‘driver zone’.

BT trials using green street cabinets to power electric chargers

In what could become a network of tens of thousands of EV chargers across the country, BT are repurposing some of its green street cabinets into kerbside charge points with 2 charging sockets, with the potential for another 2 sockets to be installed when the green cabinets are decommissioned. The first charging point will go live at the end of January but will only be accessible by BT group and Openreach drivers. 

BT are hoping that giving access to kerbside chargers will help motorists make the decision to buy an electric vehicle as they can use them if they do not have access to a home charging kit. There are currently 90,000 green street cabinets across the UK and BT is planning on potentially transforming 60,000 of them into these kerbside chargers, boosting the country’s EV charging network by 53,000 charge points which will help with the nationwide transformation from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric.

The trials were originally planned to commence last year in Belfast, but had been delayed , however,chargers are expected to be up and running within the next few months. 600 chargers are being installed over the next 18 months with trials expected to last for two years. The trials will be used to look at cabinet locations, power availability and customer accessibility as well as experience.

Fastest electric charging option is now cheaper than petrol

Ultra-rapid charging during off-peak hours (11pm-8am) is now cheaper than refuelling with petrol even with the recent drop in pump price over the last few months. Data shows that petrol prices dropped to the lowest point in 2 years in December, with it costing around 13.54 pence per mile (ppm) compared to ultra-rapid charging in off-peak hours which is 12.88ppm making it around 0.66ppm cheaper. Whilst the price of off-peak charging is low, the cost to charge your EV throughout the day rose by as much as 3p/kwh.

Over 2023, the price of electric charging has been relatively stagnant with not a lot of movement compared to volatile petrol and diesel prices.

2024 certainly has started with a bang, and with budget updates, a potential new Government and a growing emphasis on alternative fuels it looks like it will be an exciting year.

EV charge cards

If your fleet contains electric vehicles or if you’re looking to make the switch, then register your interest in an EV charge card today. We also have a fantastic selection of fuel cards for petrol and diesel vehicles which you can compare here.

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Matt Dodds
Head of Strategic Sales and Partnerships

With over 14 years of experience across two of the leading fuel card companies in the UK, Matt Dodds joined RFC Edenred to help lead the development of products to support our customer's move to EV and other alternative fuels, a transition he feels passionately about.