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The future’s electric - will you be there?

Volkswagen ID
Volkswagen's electric ID will go on sale in 2020 and they are anticipating over one million units sold by 2025

Electric vehicles have been slowly making inroads but not yet, to any significant effect. Anyone who saw the launch by Volkswagen at the Paris Motor Show will know that things are set to move up a gear.

What was so special? Well they debuted their electric ID concept car at the show which is expected to be on sale in 2020. But this is so much more than a new car coming on the block. The intention is to price aggressively and to be comparable with say, a diesel Golf. This is just the start though. By 2025, Volkswagen expect to have sold over a million units. And that’s not counting all the Audi, Seat and Skoda variants that will no doubt be available.

According to Volkswagen, this will be a real game changer like both the Beetle and the Golf were before. This is Volkswagen reinventing itself. There will be a comprehensive range of vehicles within this concept which will include varying power, varying fuel range and different bodies including a modern day update of the original VW camper van.

Volkswagen claim that ID is a highly automated electric car that will cover a distance of 400 to 600 kilometres on a single battery charge, with 80% recharge in half an hour. The production version of the ID is due to be launched in 2020 at a price on a par with a comparably powerful and well-equipped Golf. It has been designed to be a compact all-rounder that will help to make electric cars the ‘everyday’ choice.

The ID is jam packed with automation and will develop into a fully autonomous vehicle. And that’s just Volkswagen. There isn’t a manufacturer out there who isn’t developing this market.
So what’s this got to do with us?
In the next few years, probably very little but looking further ahead, the make up of our vehicles, whether that’s components or materials is changing at a terrific pace. If we are to survive and prosper, then we need to embrace what’s happening and start to plan and influence to ensure that there will be a role for the dismantler - why shouldn’t there be?

I am sure you are aware of the developments and investment that continues to flow into post shredder material separation. There is a school of thought that says the best way to reprocess cars is to shred them up and separate the materials. This makes sense to the manufacturers, after all they want to keep selling new cars and new parts for those cars. Removing used parts sales is not an issue for them.

Then there is the sheer level of technology that is being designed into cars. All these systems, whether it's built in leds into soft fabrics, automatic, parking, lane changing and braking, right up to full autonomous operation, can only be resold if we understand what’s happening.

To keep us in the game we shall have to think a great deal more about technical training for our staff. This is an area where a body such as MVDA could play a crucial role but to bring the industry affordable training they would need many, many more members to get the costs to add up. But without training, we shall flounder.

Another fly in the ointment for the dismantler could well turn out to be Brexit. EGARA, the body that represents the MVDA and other European trade bodies at EU level have done well to maintain the pressure on officials and keep the fact that re-use is always better than recycle in front of them. We won’t have that benefit anymore and will be at the mercy of whatever the officials believe is best here.

All I can conclude is that we as an industry in the UK need to start protecting our future now as it will be too late if we leave it until it happens!

April 2017

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