It is common knowledge that the Scottish government is looking to go independent from the United Kingdom and also introduce a number of new business sectors into the mix. As a consequence, yesterday’s announcement that energy giant SSE is set to invest £2.6 million into an electric car charging station program has gone down very well. So, is Scotland set to become an electric vehicle powerhouse?
The SSE program
The energy giant has confirmed plans to offer households across Scotland the opportunity to install electric car charging station at their homes free of charge. This is likely to encourage more and more people to even consider electric vehicles amid concerns in the past that charging stations were few and far between and long journeys were nigh on impossible.
The company is also targeting leisure centres, council car parks and ferry terminals up and down the country which could ultimately see each and every electric car driver on a Scottish trunk road no more than 50 miles away from the nearest charging point. There will likely be some form of navigation system introduced in the medium to longer term which would alert electric car users to charging stations in their vicinity.
Could this open up a new industry for Scotland?
There is no doubt that the £2.6 million plan could potentially put Scotland on the map with regards to electric vehicles, especially across the UK. It also seems likely that demand for electric vehicles is set to increase in 2013 and beyond and it is potentially an enormous industry. Whether or not Scotland does go independent, with the poll due in 2014, is irrelevant but the fact that the Scottish government and businesses operating in the country are being proactive rather than reactive has gone down very well.
Renewable energy and environmentally friendly energy operations have long been at the centre of the Scottish government’s plans for the future. If, as many expect, the introduction of a comprehensive charging station network does encourage more electric vehicles to be acquired in Scotland then the potential is absolutely enormous.
Is the economy holding back electric car sales?
Many sceptics of the electric vehicle market have pointed out disappointing sales over the last two or three years amid suggestions that the sector is losing its shine. However, the fact is that the electric car market has been impacted by the worldwide economic situation and indeed the local economic environment in the UK and Scotland is not exactly conducive to introducing a new and relatively expensive technology.
As and when the worldwide economy picks up, and all of the Western world economies follow, we will likely see a significant increase in electric car sales and if Scotland has a network of charging stations in place it will be set to benefit more than most.
The Scottish government and a number of companies operating in the country have been fairly proactive as opposed to reactive in recent times. Targeting the electric vehicle market is a calculated risk but many experts believe that so much money has been invested to date that we have effectively gone past the point of no return. It will be interesting to see whether other areas of the UK and indeed other countries throughout Europe follow the lead of the energy giant SSE which is being backed by the Scottish government.