LCV2019 shows that Low Carbon Transport is growing, aligning and developing


As a relative new-comer to Cenex, I had the privilege of attending my first Low Carbon Vehicle (LCV) show at Millbrook 2 weeks ago.

Cenex is an independent not-for-profit consultancy, only employing  30-something people, but as the event showed, we certainly pack a punch when it comes to LCV.  So here’s my take on the event this year:

It’s growing. 

Over 4,700 people attended this year, representing strong year-on-year growth.  By Friday morning, my voice felt like I spoke to nearly half of them on the Cenex stand!  288 companies were exhibiting, representing a diversity across the supply chain from the ICE, low carbon and automation sectors.  And whilst 44 international delegations were received officially, the internationality of the show was evident to anyone watching the corridors.

It’s a far stretch from what my colleagues report of the early days when Cenex had just established itself as the UK’s first Centre of Excellence for low carbon and fuel cell technologies.  This year, there was a buzz in the air as Gartner’s Trough of Disillusionment feels like it’s nearly behind us for Electric Vehicles at least.  The heady heights of the so-called Slope of Enlightenment await!  At LCV, EVs seem normalised; definitely expected; excitedly anticipated; perhaps demanded too!  And all indications are that the level of interest is only going to grow further.  Good luck to our events team as they try to squeeze people in next year!

It’s aligning.

I was surprised by this.  Working previously in the Smart Home and Internet of Things industry, I have attended a range of conferences and struggled to see a thread through the disparate or downright contradictory conclusions that speakers reach from their very interesting and valid tests.  As I chaired the ‘Consumers and Smart Charging’ session, I was struck by the alignment of views about driver and charging behaviour.  Whether WPD’s Electric Nation, TRL’s Consumers, Vehicles and Energy Integration or FleetCarma’s Canadian project, Charge the North, our presenters were articulate, concise and insightful – drawing many of the same conclusions.

These projects are showing that with the right incentives presented in a friendly and accessible manner, consumers are more than happy to adjust their charging behaviours within reason.  They lose little from it (they’re usually asleep!) and they often gain as a result (whether directly through cheaper miles or indirectly through lowered grid constraints).  I understand that presentations in other sessions were similarly complementary.

It’s developing.

Transport is becoming the dirtiest sector in terms of air pollution impact in the UK.  Overall emissions may have dropped 43% on 1990 levels but Carbon Dioxide equivalent emissions from the transport sector have grown since 2013.  With a net zero legal target looming in 2050, LCV2019 highlighted that solutions for the decarbonisation of transport of all types goes well beyond the Electric Cars that we often think about.  I saw hybrid vans, electric tractors, gas-powered HGVs, autonomous (electric) road sweepers and numerous battery and hydrogen early-stage technologies.  At the back of our stand, delegates could test electric two-wheelers which proved speedy and fun, illustrating that the solution is not simply to replace one car with another differently-powered car.  Active and more personalised modes of transport could do a lot to ease the number of four-wheelers on our roads.  Which of course helps lower consumption of particular materials and saves us time with congestion.

If you went, hopefully you saw and felt the same.  If you didn’t, I’d be interested to hear what I missed (and ponder why I missed it).

If you didn’t come, you missed my shameless plug for E-Flex – we’re still recruiting – and there’s always LCV2020 to look forward to.  See you there!