Shipping challenge of electrical vehicles grow as they overtake diesel sales



The demand for lithium-ion batteries is developing at a rapid pace, as virtually every type of Electric Vehicle (EV) overtake diesel units in the new car market, but their presence on ships and planes are a concern for insurers.

While the UK new car market declined 15.8% in April, battery electric car registrations were up 40.9%, with plug-in cars anticipated to account for more than a quarter of the market in 2022 and with 1.72 million cars expected to be registered during the year, that equates to 430,000 lithium batteries of assorted sizes to transport to the assembly line.

We realise how confusing the new abbreviations are for alternative fuelled vehicles, so we thought we’d best put together a quick guide to explain what a BEV, HEV PHEV and MHEV actually is.

BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle

All aspects of the traditional diesel or petrol engines have been replaced by electric motors and the EV carries very large lithium battery packs to power the car.

HEV – Hybrid Electric Engines

In simple terms the Hybrid is a traditional combustion engine that works alongside an electric motor, with the battery pack on-board charged by the engine and most manufacturers offer a Hybrid, with Toyota’s Prius being an iconic example.

PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Car

The bridge between a regular hybrid and full electric (EV) has on-board battery pack, with a typical range of 20-40 miles, and has an engine to take over when the battery runs out.

MHEV – Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles

The small electric motor assists the traditional engine, generally at low speeds to keep the emissions down as well as providing additional power for systems such as the Air Con and engine cooling systems.

UK new car registrations fell by 15.8% to 119,167 units in April, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), despite showrooms being open for the entire month, unlike the previous year which saw lockdown restrictions in place until 12th April.

Global supply chain shortages, of which semiconductors are the most notable, have continued to constrain the delivery of new vehicles.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV) registrations continued to grow in April, with 12,899 of the latest zero emission cars joining UK roads, an increase of 40.9% on last year and taking a 10.8% market share overall, with electrified vehicles representing 27.9% of all new car registrations during April.

And then there are hydrogen power vehicles and much more technological based creativity to consider as the world continues to speed up alternative production to the combustion engine, soon to become a distant memory with the ambitious global government policies. 2030 – the end of an era in vehicle production and procurement in the UK.

Our automotive team handle the movement of thousands of EV’s and battery components every month, by all modes of transport. With finished cars typically transported by specialist RoRo vessels, aircraft and in containers for sea transport, including the use of refrigerated equipment, to maintain ambient temperature levels, for additional safety precautions.

Lithium batteries, are used to power electric vehicles, because they have exceptionally long lives and are rechargeable, but they can heat up and combust if faulty and after a lithium battery fire in the cargo hold of an aircraft in 2010, legislative changes regarding the safe transport of lithium batteries was introduced.

Classed as ‘dangerous goods’, lithium batteries are subject to extensive international legislation. Their shipment via road networks is regulated within Europe by ADR 2017 regulations, and the rail equivalent to that is RID. Air freight is subject to IATA guidelines and sea freight falls under the remit of the IMO’s International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code.

Transport requirements for road and sea-freight are very similar, and usually less restrictive than air freight requirements. There are also rating and labelling requirements, which means shipments should come with watt-hour rating marks, handling labels, and transport documents.

If you would like to learn more about our handling and long-standing safe transportation of all types of EV’s, or discuss any other aspect of our immense car industry experience, please contact Ian Tubbs, Automotive Manager at our Birmingham HQ.