Fake News

4 mins read

What are the issues that are holding back the adoption of electric vehicles? Dunstan Power talks misinformation and false narratives with Neil Tyler.

Credit: ByteSnap

Dunstan Power is the founder and Managing Director of EV charger design consultancy, Versinetic, but he’s probably better known as the founder of ByteSnap Design from which Versinetic was spun off.

Versinetic provides EV charging design services, software and solutions and is involved in the development of workplace smart charge solutions, public electric vehicle charging infrastructure and fleet charging stations. It works with a wide range of manufacturers and assemblers of EV charge points as well as large scale installers.

The global electric vehicle (EV) market has seen a significant slowdown in demand, compared to recent years, and our discussion  focused on what Power believes to be the issues behind this.

“We saw a rapid increase in the demand for EVs during 2021/22. The technology was improving, batteries were getting smaller and cheaper and, in fact, batteries today are a third of the size they were 10 years ago and can last much longer. At a recent event in Australia, we were talking to a Tesla driver who had managed to clock

up an impressive 700,000km suggesting that today’s batteries will outlast the vehicle, which was not necessarily what was expected just a few years ago.

“But today, there is much more negativity around the market and increased competition, especially from Chinese EV manufacturers, has generated price pressures that are making it harder for European manufacturers to compete. Chinese, and Indian manufacturers, have focused on the production of more economical models while the likes of VW and BMW are more wedded to high end vehicles making it much harder for hard-pressed consumers to move from petrol vehicles to EVs.”


According to Power there is also considerable misinformation in the media about EVs which has raised doubts about their effectiveness and that has had some impact on take-up amongst consumers.

“We’re seeing plenty of false narratives and considerable anti-EV rhetoric both in the media and across social media and there is a real concern that this could significantly slow the EV transition,” he warns.

Power believes that a lot of this misinformation is being driven not only by the fuel lobby but also by vehicle manufacturers who have been much slower than their Chinese rivals to adapt and develop cheaper vehicles.

 “Too many of the big players are still wedded to the petrol engine and have been unable to make EVs profitably. We need to see cheaper vehicles here in Europe and at the moment most of the EVs produced here come with all the 'bells and whistles', they’re very high end, unlike their Chinese rivals who tend to offer far fewer features and are simply EVs.”

Critics of EVs point to high purchasing costs, range anxiety, reliability issues, and a lack of availability as putting off buyers.

According to Power, “There’s a huge amount of 'rubbish' said about the industry and most of it can be easily discredited. A lot of this is all about the automotive industry buying time, but the tide is only going in one direction. Fossil fuels will need to be replaced.”

In terms of range anxiety, for example, he suggests that bigger batteries are not what is required.

“When l was in Australia this issue was raised. When I asked how far most people travelled it was just 80 miles, on average. Here in the UK, it’s just 17 miles and only 8 miles in London. We don’t need bigger batteries but rather smaller cars, that need smaller but more efficient batteries.

“In terms of reliability EVs have far fewer moving parts than traditional vehicles. The engine management system sees far more failures in petrol vehicles than in EVs.”

A lot of nonsense has been said around the environmental impact of EVs too, according to Power.

“Whether that’s the weight of vehicles causing tyre pollution or vehicle fires, so much misinformation has been spread through the media, which is not serving us well, and much of it can be easily discredited. But the trouble is this ‘backlash’ from the usual suspects and the negativity they create around the industry has made people nervous, and that’s not been helped by – here in the UK – the government’s decision to delay the move to EVs.

“You need a strong domestic market. Take Norway, as an example. They have some of the world’s biggest EV charging companies as a result of a strong local market in which they can sell and from which they can learn.”

Across Europe from Germany to France and the UK there has been a slowdown in EV adoption.

“That’s not been helped by higher energy costs as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” Power concedes, “but many countries have also withdrawn subsidies or are failing to use their respective tax systems to encourage buyers.”

According to Power what’s holding back the roll-out of EVs is the lack of infrastructure and the costs of the cars themselves. “Those are the real issues,” he believes.

Charging infrastructure

Good infrastructure is critical and governments should be investing in ensuring that service stations provide EV chargers – both standard and super-fast, argues Power.

“Here in the UK, the government set a target of 80 percent of service stations having EV chargers by the end of last year but missed that, hitting just 30 percent.  Where there is a good mix of super chargers and regular DC chargers you start to address the issue of range anxiety. There are one million EVs on the UK’s roads. If you are a Tesla driver you have good infrastructure that encourages usage.

“Why not introduce fines of £10K for every non-functioning EV charger or even better, establish nationwide EV charger 24/7 maintenance providers?

“Most charging is at home, it’s the cheapest form of charging. But that’s an infrastructure issue that needs to be addressed when you consider the fact that here in the UK 40 percent of homes lack off-street parking.

“There is no magic bullet but there’s a lot of innovation taking place. We’re focused on addressing EV charging problems and coming up with solutions that involve getting power to the car – whether via street lighting or the pavement – as well as helping clients to stay up to date with the latest standards," says Power.

“Another issue is payment charges and that requires better regulation to simplify payments and to make the process more transparent. Why not encourage the roll-out of a national charging app which would share app costs amongst EV charger providers?

“Finally, we have to look at how power is controlled, distributed and stored and that is a big issue. But I believe that EVs can be part of the solution. Today, bidirectional, or vehicle-to-grid (V2G) charging could let EV owners charge at overnight off-peak rates then sell power back to grids at a profit during peak hours.”

Talking to Power there is certainly a sense of frustration at the pace of development but, in our conversation, it was clear that solutions are available – whether that was smart electricity meters, the use of artificial intelligence or better modelling by innovative energy companies – it just needs the will to use them.