We must make EV to go-to transport choice, says Nissan

European governments must get involved by investing in smart city solutions to help spread of electrification in the auto industry.

That’s the clear message spelled out by Nissan at its third future mobility strategy event, Nissan Futures, this year held in Oslo, Norway. And chairman of Nissan Europe pulled no punches in calling for governments to step up to the mark if they want a cleaner, greener transport industry.

Speaking at the event, he cited Norway’s progressive approach to electrification where the world’s largest electric recharging station can charge 28 vehicles at a time within 30 minutes. Also, with government incentives including free parking in inner cities for EVs, one-in-two new cars sold in the country are now electric.

Willcox said: “Many governments throughout Europe should sit up and take notice because the time is to act now to give people a reason to go electric. We have already invested $5Bn (£3.8Bn) to make this happen now we believe it’s time for governments across Europe to help consumers and businesses make the right choice. They need to think smart when it comes to these problems of environmental issues.”

Willcox pointed out that commercial urban traffic has boomed in recent years and now make a significant contribution to the polluted air being endured by city dwellers. He said: “If you look in at the UK there are now about 4% more cars on the roads today than in the year 2000 but there are 38% more vans and light commercial vehicles. I believe the reasons for that are because of the ‘Amazon Affect’. There’s been a boom in online shopping with more people choosing to shop on the internet for groceries, books and gifts, there are more delivery drivers on the road.

“Just in the past five years, van traffic has increased by 12%, three-times more than cars and four-times the increase in heavy goods vehicles. So this is an area we can make a huge difference if we are serious about reducing carbon emissions.”

Willcox said it’s for the government regulators to provide the essential incentives to both consumers and business users to make the step towards electrification. He said: “Now it’s time for governments to step up and support this drive and they need to think electric to incentivise delivery drivers to go green and make a significant positive impact on our towns and cities. To give businesses no option but to choose the sustainable option because 16% of all CO2 pollution in our cities now comes from vans. Over the next decade we should plan to eradicate that.

“A change must come and it will take more than car companies to make it happen. Industry, businesses, drivers, governments and city planners need to work together to create smart solutions for smart cities.”

Willcox said Nissan firmly believes electrification is an unstoppable wave that will dominate the auto industry in the near future. He explained: “This will be a decade for disruption for our industry unlike any other. A decade when those who embrace the challenge of change will be the ones that come out winning. Ten years from now we predict more than 30% of cars sold in Europe across our industry will be electric in some form. I believe that’s a very conservative estimate. If you consider the current market share of electric vehicles is 1%, we call this the ‘acceleration of electrification’.

“We believe we will see the same adoption rates that were seen 100 years ago when the combustion engine car went from gimmick to absolute necessity. This means we have to start rethinking everything we know about driving, commuting and powering our world. It’s a seismic shift, a giant leap forward that will be pinpointed by historians in years to come as a key moment when things advanced in a new way and shaped the way we lived.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in London. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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