EV charging infrastructure improves, offers quicker charging

EV charging infrastructure improves, offers quicker charging
Martin Brown

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Martin Brown

March 2021

Here’s some good news. That impediment to electric vehicle ownership – the lack of infrastructure – is improving.

London leads the way with the greatest number of charge points per 100,000 of population, which perhaps is as it should be given its the most populous city in the UK, according to the latest Government stats I was looking over on Electric Vehicle Charging Devices.

But second is Scotland. What’s more, Scotland has the fastest-growing density of rapid chargers by some margin. Which is pretty good news for Fleet Alliance, headquartered in Glasgow.

Although I must admit I have not yet sampled a public charger.

Yet.

That’s because my electric Taycan arrived during lockdown so the opportunity to drive and explore has not been available to me. And with a charger at home, I have simply kept the car’s battery topped up with a home charge when necessary. I’m sure that will change over time as the pandemic restrictions are unwound and I get the opportunity to explore the car a bit more, and get out to tour some of Scotland, as well.

So I’m like the majority of EV drivers, who charge up at home (83% says the latest Zap-Map survey); however, where I differ (I’m part of the 10%) is that 90% of those drivers in the Zap-Map survey use public chargers as well.

And that’s where the public charge point mapping website reveals huge discrepancies in the type of service provision available to electric vehicle drivers: from the brilliant to the broken; from the rapid to the rank.

As electric cars start to become a fleet mainstream choice, what might have been acceptable to enthusiastic electric car pioneers is just inadequate now.

Top of the Zap-Map list for the best service was the Tesla experience, Tesla having understood that you need a fast charging, reliable network to encourage take-up of their vehicles. Exclusive to Tesla owners, it’s a bit like being in a business club. The facilities are seamless, the charging process part of your ownership experience.

For the rest of us, it’s concerning that drivers can turn up to an EV charge point and find it out of order, or tucked away in a corner with poor lighting and then have to struggle to download an app. Of course, a bit of forward route planning could help eliminate some of this, but even so you don’t turn up at a fuel station and find the pumps broken or located by overgrown shrubbery. Or have to download an app before you put the nozzle in the fuel tank – imagine that happening at the supermarket fuel filling station?

Now I do realise that action is being taken on all these fronts. The first all-electric forecourt opened in Essex at the end of 2020.  And a Government directive has ensured that all new rapid and ultra-rapid charge points from spring 2020 need to provide either debit or credit card payment facilities.

Which brings me around to one of the top three arguments that presents itself as a reason for drivers not going EV: and that’s infrastructure.

Yes, some of it’s not good enough. But the availability of rapid and ultra-rapid chargers is increasing quarter by quarter, month by month, and the lessons of those early chargers with their shaky reliability are being understood, rectified and acted upon.

The chart below shows the rapid growth of public charging points by speed from 2016 to 2021 YTD:

Sure, we can’t all have a Tesla experience. But many of the operators are getting better, the availability wider (think supermarket provision), and you can now charge your car quicker than ever before.

It’s progress. Maybe not quick enough for some, but the investment remains huge – BP Pulse has just committed £2 million to improve the UK’s legacy infrastructure, for example – and given that the majority of EV charging actually takes place at home (it’s convenient, and with special low-cost EV charge tariffs also much cheaper), there’s less and less reason not to take the decision to go electric.

We have done exactly that at Fleet Alliance. So if you want any help, you’re talking to the hands-on electric vehicle specialists. We can also help with advice on route planning so you go to the best and most reliable public charge points should you need. Although, on that latter point, I’ll defer to my more experienced colleagues. For the moment.


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