Everyone seems to agree that a critical component of an effective scalable strategy to replace ICE vehicles with EVs is the creation of a more effective vehicle charging network.
We spend quite a bit of time working with local authorities in the UK. Some are struggling to devise coherent strategies for EV charging and others are doing a great job pushing the envelope and trying new things. In this blog we will explore what a good EV charging strategy should look like.
Decarbonisation of the road transport sector is a clear and critical priority for both national and local government in the UK. Road transport accounts for over 20% of all UK C02 emissions and vehicle related particulate matter is now understood to have seriously detrimental health effects, particularly for children. If the government is to have any chance of hitting its Paris Climate Accord targets for decarbonisation it is going to have to tackle ICE vehicle use.
Happily, government officials at all levels ‘get it’ and there is now a major focus on a shift towards active travel and (before Covid-19 intervened) public transport, as well as wide-scale switching of ICE vehicle use to EVs
The UK currently has around 9,000 charge points. It is estimated that it will need 500,000 by 2030, if the anticipated trend line for EV adoption is maintained.
The question is; where should these charge points be located? According to our ‘friends’ at Pod Point, around 90% of EV charging is done either at the home or at the office. This leaves only 10% to be done via public charge points.
These need to be strategically located to ensure that drivers have the confidence to know that they can set out on a journey and will not be stranded by an empty battery. We know that ‘range anxiety’ still plays a big part in the minds of car buyers (even though it is often nothing like the problem they fear). The big question is; where should public charge points be located?
Issues with EV charge point locations
There are some serious problems with the approach that has been taken to date in relation to creating an EV charging network. These problems vary from region to region but they include:
- Wrong types of chargers, often too slow and not worth using;
- Located in the wrong places with poor or restricted access;
- Difficult to use or restricted by RFID card use;
- Too expensive to use;
- Too expensive to install;
- May initially be free to use but expensive running costs mean they are shut down;
- Are poorly maintained and often not working; and
- May be located in a filling station where ICE vehicles block the charging bay.
In short millions of pounds have been spent on charge points that are not fit for purpose, there are some charge points that have close to 100% utilisation, where others have barely been used at all!
This is not a matter of ‘if you build it, they will come’. To be effective, charge points need to be the right kind of charger in the right location.
How can we do better?
A good strategy involves Local Authorities working in collaboration with local businesses in EV charge point adoption groups. This may involve creating a forum in which the Authority identifies key local businesses and asks them relevant questions about their likely EV charging needs, such as;
- How many employees use company vehicles for work?
- Do they currently use EVs? If so, where do they charge them?
- Do they have an EV policy, perhaps linked to the new Benefit in Kind rules?
- How do their employees commute to work?
- Do they have private car parking or do they use public car parks?
- Does the company deliver goods?
- Does the company have a depot?
During the forum share the challenges and opportunities with the group. Request feedback on the most useful locations and explore where the limited EV charging budget could best be spent. Seek a collaboration in which (perhaps) charge points are provided free to local employees and then used by the public when not needed by the company.
Undertake a fleet review to identify drivers who may benefit from an EV and ensure that the right infrastructure is in place to optimise the uptake.
How a CleanCar fleet review works:
- Identify the opportunity: we spend time getting to know the company, to find the ‘quick wins’, where an ICE-EV switch makes obvious sense.
- Data Capture: we track journeys using either a small GPS device or a smartphone app. This allows us to build a profile of vehicle use, i.e. the types of trips and the profile of parking. Only the driver gets to see individual trip detail, so privacy is protected.
- With the data we can prove whether a driver is suited to an EV and if so, which EV would best suit their needs and the potential cost and environmental benefits of making the switch.
- If a company is looking at several EV’s, we can also show the ideal charging requirements.
- A report is provided to both the driver and the employer outlining the benefits and the plan.
Collaboration between local authorities and businesses can help to identify the best strategy for EV charge point locations. By ensuring that the appropriate chargers are in the appropriate places, we can ensure that public money is being spent effectively and can facilitate the increased uptake of EVs.