Replacing the internal combustion engine (ICE) with cleaner electric vehicles (EVs) is something that many governments are promoting. This summer, Britan, as well as France, stated that by the year 2040 it will be illegal to run a car which is solely reliant on petrol or diesel. Morgan Stanley claims by 2050, fifty percent of the billion cars around the world will be battery-powered. With the cost of batteries falling, we will soon see the total cost of EV ownership reaching parity with ICE vehicles.
Car buyers concerns over charging costs and availability
According to Tom McGhie from Driver CPC Training company, Easy as HGV, “car buyers are worried about charging issues – where this can be done, the amount of time it will take – these factors remain a significant challenge for going electric (with the high prices being the primary concern). Buyers need to be assured of speed, as well as availability, for charging, otherwise, the EV revolution may be at a slower pace than expected.”
Things are improving with the existence of improved EV batteries with increased capacity. The expected norm is now a range of 190km or more. LEAF, Nissan’s latest edition which was released on 06 September, will be able to travel close to 400km before needing charging. The luxury Tesla Model S, launched in 2012, has a 500km range, the same as the new Model 3, a less expensive car created for the mass market.
The spread of EV ownership has also clarified another reassuring fact; how much people drive, coupled with the ability to charge at home, means there is only a rare need for public charging facilities. Eighty percent of European drivers travel less than 100km each day. In Britain, the average daily travel distance is 40km. In America, drivers cover around 70km each day.
Creation of fast-charging networks to reduce charging speeds
Investment is taking place by governments, commercial charging firms, and carmakers. Carmakers are able to make their vehicles stand out by offering exceptional charging. Tesla, which currently has a global network of 145KW ‘supercharger’ stations plan to increase this to 10,000. Such public facilities are able to charge the battery to 80 percent within 40 minutes (batteries cannot be topped up to 100 percent for technical reasons).
Various other car companies are also creating fast-charging networks, these are expensive to set up, but they decrease the charging speeds and it can take the same time it would to use a normal fuel pump. Nissan now has 4,000 fast chargers in its network. In the last year BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Ford have said that they will install a combined number of 400 public charging points within Europe which will deliver 350KW, this means a small car can be topped up to 75 percent full in four minutes and a large vehicle in 12 minutes.
London to create 1500 new charging points
For drivers who are not able to top up at home, governments are working towards the option for slower, roadside charging. Recently, in London, officials made an announcement for a plan to create 1,500 new charging points by the year 2020. An idea to allow streetlights to also be used as charging points is being considered by local authorities.
As more EVs are being purchased, companies which deal solely with providing charging services are making plans to make significant investments. According to Pat Romano of Chargepoint, Calfornia, the company which runs the most charging stations in the world, workplace charging is another way to meet the charging need. He said that “the investment of a few thousand dollars for equipment, as well as the electricity cost, is around the same price as employees having a cup of coffee each day, yet employers could provide workers with free charging in the work car park”. Chargepoint, as well as other commercial firms, may very well dominate charging away from home, perhaps because they have this as their main focus, unlike government and carmakers.
It seems very unlikely that a lack of infrastructure will stand in the way of the EV revolution. Some experts, within the field, see future car parks being full of charging-points as plugging in becomes the norm while regular fueling becomes unusual. Worries over range will then be something only remembered by senior motorists, as will the old phrase ‘fill up and check the oil level’.