Switched on Scotland: A roadmap to widespread adoption of plug in vehicles

2 Vision

2.1 Roadmap Vision

The following vision statement is taken from the Roadmap, and sets out its ultimate objective. It builds on the Scottish Government's commitment to achieve almost complete decarbonisation of road transport by 2050, and emphasises that all relevant public and private stakeholders can play an active role in facilitating this transition.

By 2050, Scottish towns, cities and communities will be free from the damaging emissions of petrol and diesel fuelled vehicles. A significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be accompanied by marked improvements in local air quality, noise pollution and public health. Scotland will also enjoy increased energy security and new economic opportunities through leadership in sustainable transport and energy technologies.

A key ambition is that by 2040 almost all new car sales will be near zero emission at the tailpipe and that by 2030 half of all fossil-fuelled vehicles will be phased-out of urban environments across Scotland. Plug-in vehicles running on Scotland's abundant green electricity will make a substantial contribution to this. Electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles will be widely used as part of a sustainable transport system and will support progress towards a cleaner and smarter energy grid.

Actions taken in the early market up to 2020 will see increasing adoption of plug-in vehicles and establish foundations for long-term growth. This will be delivered through the commitments of all relevant public and private stakeholders and driven by increased awareness and confidence in the technology. Change will be made actionable through promotion of the opportunities and incentives for adopting plug-in vehicles, as well as developments in the necessary skills and business models.

Progress will be further supported by having a network of recharging infrastructure in place across Scotland by 2015, which will develop to meet the needs of the market.

2.2 Outlook

As a developing market, progress towards this vision is expected to proceed in three phases: Launch, Growth and Take-off of markets for plug-in vehicles (Figure 1).

Figure 1 - Three phases of market penetration of plug-in vehicles

Figure 1 - Three phases of market penetration of plug-in vehicles

Reflecting on the Launch phase up to 2015, there was a four-fold increase in the number of plug-in vehicle sales in Scotland between 2013 and 2014, and a further increase of over 50% to 2015 (Figure 2). Cars eligible for the Office for Low Emission Vehicles' (OLEV) Plug-in Car Grant, now account for 0.6% of all car sales in Scotland.[1]

Figure 2: Sales of plug-in grant eligible ULEV cars and vans in Scotland (Source: Department for Transport)

Figure 2 - Sales of plug-in grant eligible ULEV cars and vans in Scotland (Source: Department for Transport)

This data supports the Roadmap vision that actions taken in the early market will see increasing plug-in vehicle adoption. There have been a number of initiatives to support this growth, which have targeted public and private sector organisations as well as individuals. There has also been a range of activity designed to increase awareness and confidence in the technology. These measures are summarised throughout the rest of this review document.

We are now entering the Growth phase and need to ensure that different strategies, support and actions are deployed over time to respond to the changing requirements of the market and to sustain adoption and use of plug-in vehicles.

Looking beyond 2020, to the Take-off phase, a recent review of independent plug-in vehicle uptake forecasts from a range of manufacturers and industry experts broadly suggest that the 2020s will see both a decrease in cost of plug-in vehicles and a corresponding increase in uptake. Some key insights are summarised below.

  • Audi expects 25% of the vehicles it sells to be battery electric vehicles or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in 10 years' time (by 2025)[2]
  • Nissan expects a major inflection point in plug-in vehicle sales sometime between 2019 and 2021.[3]
  • Bloomberg predicts that the 2020s will be the decade of the electric car. By 2022, plug-ins will cost the same as their internal combustion engine counterparts, providing a boost to sales. By 2040, 35% of all new vehicles sales will be plug-ins globally.[4]
  • A  2015 International Clean Council on Transportation review of 16 projections of plug-in vehicle sales in the US, EU, China, Japan and the world found a wide range of projections. Generally, studies which assumed ongoing technological advancement and policy projected plug-in vehicles to account for between 20% and more than 50% of sales by 2030. However, studies considering less policy support and technological advancement projected the share of sales to be between 5% and 10% in the same timeframe.