Many of you will have seen the BBC News article today declaring that a ‘patchy’ network of charging points is discouraging UK drivers from embracing electric cars.
- There just aren’t enough vehicles to buy
- Those that have bought, are charging at home
- Should it really be all about the numbers?
Making comparisons of the number of charge points in any local authority just makes no sense – how can you compare somewhere like Birmingham (with a population of 1.2 million) with somewhere like Rutland (39,000)? Should local authorities really just be scattering standard charge points all over their streets just so that they can say that they have ‘enough’?
What today’s cash strapped local authorities should be doing is being sensible with their investments and using data to make sure that they put the right equipment in the right locations where drivers will need them – in other words creating networks which are demand led.
Filling stations, like the type we have seen in Milton Keynes and the one opening in Sunderland very shortly, will be the future – placing multiple, rapid chargers, in key locations, easily accessible for drivers.
- There is a rapid charge point in every single motorway service station
With every single motorway service station covered with a rapid charge point (helping EV drivers to make longer journeys), I’m not sure how you can call the network ‘patchy’ in terms of geography. There may not be a charge point in every single town centre however we have to ask ourselves whether there needs to be.
- The private sector will make a difference
One thing I do agree with from this article is that if you compare local authority areas, there is definitely an element of patchiness. When electric car charge points began to be installed, this was a result of grant funding allocated through competitions. Some councils bid and were successful (in places where we have some very comprehensive networks), some councils bid and were unsuccessful, some councils didn’t apply at all. So yes, it has become an uneven landscape if we rely on the public sector.
However, like any market, now that we are beginning to see a demand, the private sector is stepping in. We’ve seen Shell and BP entering the market now and the likes of supermarket chains are installing rapid charge points for their customers. With this we’re seeing the rise of more ‘petrol fuelling station’ style stations – which will make a real difference to drivers in the future.
Electric vehicle charging technology is changing fast. When we first started installing some of the first charge points in the UK, the most powerful charge points were 7kW. Nowadays, as technology changes (on both the cars and the charge points themselves), we are seeing 175kW charge points available. It’s not sensible or feasible to rush in to install charge points everywhere – what we need now is for the public and private sector to work together an build an infrastructure for the future.
Zero Carbon Futures is an electric vehicle consultancy specialising in the roll-out of charge point networks.