LONDON – A study of electric-vehicle charging infrastructure and its use in the U.K. threatens to puncture prospects of mass adoption of EV technology.
Research conducted by the RAC Foundation reveals nearly all current owners use public charging sites rather than home chargers, despite about one-in-eight of them being out of commission at any one time.
The report by the transportation policy and research group points the finger at government initiatives that promote quantity of charging points rather than ensure the quality of the service is maintained.
The foundation’s report also cites a lack of standardization of connectors and charging protocols, saying it has resulted in a bewildering array of types of charge points, connectors and tariffs which are poorly presented to the public.
On a more positive note, the report expects EVs will start becoming available in volume from about 2020. These will be ideal to provide local energy storage at charge points to ease pressure on the grid.
Yet the latest infrastructure statistics are not encouraging for the sectors of the auto industry gambling on an EV solution in the near future. As of June, there were 4,476 public EV recharging sites with a total of 6,913 devices and 12,849 individual connectors. This compares with about 8,500 gasoline stations.
The report highlights the need for improved understanding of the types of charging required by both battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and how this needs to be matched to customer demand.
The rapid uptake of EVs required to meet the government’s recent confirmation that no new wholly gasoline- or diesel-fueled cars can be sold after 2040 will only happen if there is a significant change in the approach to providing an adequate national charge point network.
The Committee on Climate Change has said that for the U.K. to reach its emission-cutting goals, 16% of new cars sold in 2020 should be ultra-low-emission vehicles. In 2016 the proportion was 1.4%.
It calls for grants to be offered to providers of charge points at highway service areas who also install energy-storage units to ease the pressure on the existing power supply. It also says charge point operators should be required to cooperate on shared methods of payment; time limits on repairs of faulty recharging equipment should be set; and fines for non-compliance should be imposed.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Almost every day companies are announcing their latest foray into the electric car market, but the charging network threatens to be the weak link.
“Although four out of five electric vehicle owners are able to charge at home, a robust public charging network is critical for enticing people to go electric and make the leap to ‘pure’ electric,” he says.
“Manufacturers can do much to make EVs attractive to a mass audience, but responsibility for getting the charging infrastructure ready lies largely in the public sphere.”