As the U.K. moves toward the 2030 ban on sales of new gasoline and diesel vehicles, the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure is accelerating to meet demand. Fully electric vehicles outsold diesel models for a second consecutive year in 2022, with total EV sales up 40%.
While charging infrastructure is expected to keep pace with car sales to deliver scale (the industry aims to double the size of the public charging network in 2023), this scale must not come at the expense of building charging sites that are safe and accessible. Creating places where EV drivers feel comfortable and confident will help make that transition to electric as smooth as possible.
Charge point operators (CPOs) play a part in this.
Before a single charger is installed on a site, the host car park and surrounding areas is a key consideration. When CPOs have complete control over where to build a site, they select locations with high foot traffic, ideally placing the charge points near the main amenities on the site, to create a busy environment at all times in which drivers feel safe.
By having shops, leisure activities, cafés and restaurants next to an EV charging site, drivers not only can enjoy more while charging but also can expect to be near someone or somewhere to go for help if a problem should arise.
Many drivers already are using EVs for their daily commute and long-distance journeys, and this will increasingly become the norm. This means using public chargers early in the morning or at night while it is dark (especially in the winter months). Ensuring charging sites are well-lit both overhead and at the charger itself is crucial for driver safety and comfort. Where needed, chargers also can be covered by closed-circuit television (with signs reiterating this message), either from the existing car park or additionally installed.
The number of chargers available at a site is high on the list of EV drivers’ requirements when looking for a place to top off their vehicle’s battery. Installing multiple chargers in a location not only allows more drivers to charge at the same time, but also helps create a busier and therefore safer charging environment.
Technology can be deployed to ensure that drivers are not left queuing for a charger or charging for a long time. This will reduce any potential tensions or conflicts among those who might have had to wait at a site with fewer chargers. Load-balancing technology ensures the electricity supply to each charger is prioritized by the requirements of the vehicle, meaning that all chargers are outputting at optimal power and no power is wasted, getting more cars charged and drivers back on the road quicker.
An easy-to-use, straightforward payment process not only makes EV charging more seamless, it also makes it a far more comfortable experience by minimizing the time required to start a charge. Simple payment methods, such as contactless, mean drivers can pay for their charge with just the tap of a card, allowing them to carry on with their journey quickly.
CPOs also can call on the expertise of independent organizations to support the creation of safe charging sites. ChargeSafe, for example, is a leading public-charging endorsement body that independently inspects EV charging sites. Once inspected, ChargeSafe provides a rating for the site, with safety forming a central pillar for this.
By signing up with organizations such as these, CPOs and their landlord partners can take meaningful actions to improve the personal safety of their sites, receiving constructive feedback from both customers and objective, independent assessors. This feedback can form the basis of the design, placement and construction of future charging sites, maximizing the lessons learned to continuously improve the safety of EV drivers using public chargers.
Ian Johnston (pictured, above left) is CEO of Osprey Charging, one of the U.K.’s largest public EV charging networks.