EV Charging network situation 2021

Introduction

The current EV Charging network situation shows that the infrastructure market is young and fragmented. However things are improving, the biggest change being the entry of Gridserve into the market. Gridserve has introduced the first of 100 Electric Forecourts – entirely new sites – and also purchased Ecotricity’s Electric highway network. Ecotricity had the worst reputation and Gridserve is now in the process of replacing their chargers with the latest models whilst doubling the points in the process.

Home charging

The average residential charge (what it costs to charge at home) is £0.14/kWh. However with the right tariff and timing can even be FREE sometimes.

Deloitte says currently around 90% of electric vehicle owners have access to private charge points at home or at work, however by 2030 this will mean that 43% of car owners will not have a driveway or access to private charging.

Local area charging

Given that batteries can store 200 miles worth of charge, as a general rule it’s not necessary to charge on a daily basis.

For those needing an alternative to Home charging there are the following possibilities:

  • Lamp post charging and Pop-up chargers – Contact your Council
  • Communal charging – Contact your Landlord
  • Timeshare on a neighbour’s charger – Try Co-Charger and Plug-Share.
  • Car park charging
  • Supermarket charging – Often free

Some of these can be found on Google maps.

Charging at work

For many businesses, installing a charge point at work is an excellent way for them to do something pro-active about reducing the carbon impact of their business. What’s more, they can make use of the Government’s Workplace charging scheme to reduce the cost of installation. If you drive to work and would like a charge point installed there, talk to your employer to see if they’d consider it.

How do people with no driveway charge their electric cars? – Electric Brighton

Chargers away from local area

For most motorists the majority of journeys can be powered from an overnight charge at home or close by therefore not requiring En-route (Transit) charging. Around-town chargers at supermarkets, coffee shops

Unlike with Petrol stations there is a huge variety of places to charge whilst you’re doing other things.

  • Motorway Service stations
  • Electric forecourts – Gridserve
  • Coffee shops – Costa Coffee
  • Fast food restaurants
  • Pubs
  • Visitor attractions – National Trust

Number of chargers

Autocar says: Currently there are 13,702 public chargers with a total of 23,280 connectors across the UK, according to the latest data from popular charging locator app Zap-Map

Deloitte estimate that the UK will need around 28,000 public charge points and to invest a further £1.6 billion in the infrastructure by 2030.

Number of networks

The sheer number of charger providers is one problem. Zap-Map lists more than 50, each with their own network and, sometimes, their own monopoly of a location. Ecotricity (now Gridserve) for example, signed exclusive agreements with motorway service station operators such as Welcome Break

Unreliability

A snapshot provided by ZapMap for 29 May 2020 showed that almost a quarter of chargers were out of service. Of those, 7.5% were flagged up with a problem while 16% were not communicating their status, leading Zap-Map to assume they were not working. Ecotricity has been singled out multiple times for the poor reliability of its chargers.

Payment

To foster loyalty, a charger provider might require you to become a member and pay a monthly fee in return for cheaper charging. That might work fine if you stay in that network but, with more than 50 charger operators, it’s almost impossible. 

Autocar reports Conservative MP Bill Wiggin, who tabled a Private Members’ Bill to try to bring some order to the payment system. “Electric vehicle users in the UK are currently disadvantaged compared with our European neighbours due to our lack of an interoperable payment system for EV charging,” he told parliament in November last year. 

How charging should be

Deloitte: The opportunities around electric vehicle charge points in the UK – July 2020

Autocar: Unreliable charging infrastructure preventing EV rollout Research suggests quality, not quantity, is the problem for Britain’s charging infrastructure

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