The Apple iPhone was released in 2007, with many deriding it as an expensive and less advanced mobile phone than others. What was seen in the years after was a massive uptake in smartphones across the world, huge advancement in mobile phone technology and the once derided iPhone becoming the most successful tech product of the twenty-first century.
What happened to mobile phones fifteen years ago is currently happening to electric vehicles (EVs) – they are here to stay and will be the vehicles the majority drive in the UK over the next 20 years.
There is still a huge amount of work to do to make sure the public is on board with this switch to EVs. While the government has set an ambitious target to ban the sale of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, currently sales of EV’s only account for around 10% of vehicle sales every month.
The cost and limited range of vehicles are often spoken about as the main hesitation to EV adoption. However, charging infrastructure is also one of the problems stopping a huge proportion of the driving public from making the switch to EVs.
A recent study by the AA found 99% of drivers were wrongly concerned about range anxiety with many overestimating how often they would drain their EV battery.
Range anxiety is a concern for EV drivers with private driveways and private off-street charging, but for the third of UK homeowners who don’t have this luxury, public charging anxiety becomes the true stumbling block to EV adoption.
Charging infrastructure in the UK is improving, with Ofgem recently investing £300 million to increase the number of rapid charge points. While any investment in charging infrastructure is positive, we need immediate action to resolve continuous issues drivers without private driveways face.
Drivers considering buying an EV should not be asking themselves questions such as “what will happen if I can’t find a charger close to home?” and “how will I know the charger is working before I arrive?” Understanding what the public charging issues are and how businesses can support in ironing out these problems will be key to increased EV adoption.
Charging Network problems
There has been a huge amount of investment in charging infrastructure across the UK, but it is still lacking in the level of coverage needed to put people’s minds at ease. Findings from GoCompare’s recent study found that by 2030 there will be 197 EVs per rapid charger in the UK.
There is still a huge amount of work to do to increase coverage, but this is currently in the hands of 40 different charge point providers. While it's great to see private investment in this green clean technology, drivers often need separate RFID cards, apps, or other subscriptions to use these public charge points. This can often cause confusion and annoyance to anyone who is looking to charge their car.
Reliability and customer service can also be seen as issues for EV drivers. Many complain about the problems when signing up to a particular charge point, arriving at an available charging station but then finding out it doesn’t work. The worry for many is that when this happens, they won’t have enough battery to drive to another available charge point. These problems can manifest into drivers feeling they have made a mistake in deciding to switch to an EV and telling their close network about these issues.
Technology and Investment can solve these issues
Public charge point providers need to use technology to their advantage to offer a better service. Delivering a reliable and easy-to-use network of chargers will alleviate many concerns drivers have around public charging.
Technology is advancing - products are coming on the market that allow EV drivers to use several different charge point providers through one simple app. Creating a more streamlined approach will allow those who have to rely on public charge points more flexibility when looking to charge their car.
This also comes at a time when big businesses are looking to improve the UK’s charging infrastructure and availability. Shell is planning to install hundreds of thousands of new charge points in the UK, while Tesla is opening up its rapid charge points to any vehicle in the coming months. Offering easier ways to use the UK’s disparate public charging network and providing more charge points across the UK will alleviate the pressure and concern many have towards public charging.
There is unfortunately no one way we can end charging anxiety for those without private driveways. What is positive to see is the level of investment and the interesting ways technology is being used to alleviate this stress. There’s no doubt those without private driveways may have more questions and concerns before making the switch, but with future technological charging advancements being consistently developed, we should see charging anxiety become a problem of the past.