Report highlights challenges in driving people to buy electric cars

Posted On 28 Dec 2017 at 3:25 pm

A newspaper report has highlighted challenges facing organisations such as Brighton and Hove City Council as public policy aims to drive more people to switch to electric cars.

The biggest obstacle to buying an electric car is having no off-street parking at home, according to the report in the Financial Times today (Thursday 28 December).

About 43 per cent of British homes lack off-street parking, according to National Grid estimates, although the percentage in Brighton and Hove is believed to be significantly higher.

Electric car owners relying on public charging points have a growing but limited number of options.

According to the Charge Your Car website Brighton and Hove has just 20 public charging points. Half of them were put in place by the council.

The Electric Brighton website and some “zap maps” include more. electric Brighton said: “There are a total of forty-seven public charging points at fourteen locations around the city.

“The majority of charging points don’t charge for the electricity used, allowing for some of the cheapest motoring available.

“What’s more, six great locations even have free parking for vehicles using the charging facilities.”

The government has given grants to rail companies of up to 75 per cent of the capital cost up to £7,500 for each charging point that they instal in station car parks.

Brighton and Hove Buses, the Big Lemon bus company and local taxi operators are among the early adopters and have their own electric charging facilities.

They have been helped to make the transition with public money although Brighton still has air pollution problems, predominantly on roads dominated by buses and taxis.

The government wants to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2040 but sales of electric vehicles have been hampered by the lack of charging points.

A related worry for drivers is range – how far they can go before having to recharge their battery.

But if electric car ownership starts to soar, other challenges will also need to be addressed, the FT said, such as the risk of local power networks suffering power shortages.

Picture by Electric Brighton 

The report looks at using existing street furniture such as lampposts as potential charging points while flagging up trip hazards and, with older lampposts, heritage objections.

It flags up the potential use of induction pads or battery swaps and looks at where charging capacity could be added easily and be accessible.

Petrol stations, service stations, airports, supermarket car parks and workplace parking spaces are all explored.

There are, the FT said, cost implications for employers although – in terms of time – it makes sense for drivers to charge their cars while they’re at work.

Smartphone apps are making it easier for electric car drivers to find charging points – and check whether they’re in use and how much they cost.

But the experience in Brighton and Hove points to plenty of obstacles on the road ahead if Britain is to switch from petrol and diesel and make real our electric dreams.

  1. Nic B Reply

    I think you mean “Charge Your Car” not Charge My Car, and the reason for CYC listing fewer than the Zap-Map website is that they only list points that are managed or run by Charge Your Car, whereas Zap-Map is independent of the supplier/manager of the chargepoint.

    • Frank le Duc Reply

      Thank, Nic. You’re right. I meant Charge Your Car. My mistake – now corrected.

  2. Matt Reply

    There are lots of problems with charging EVs.
    At the Brighton free charging points cars are left plugged in when there are fully charged, certain owners use them instead of buying a parking permit.
    Non EVs park in charging places.
    To use different charging points you need a different access card for each company. There are many of these and it’s impractical, complicated and expensive to have them all. Before we get too far down this route we need a better system to use all the chargers with just one app or card.
    There are no fast chargers in Brighton. There are too many different types of plugs. Charging stations often stop working.

    To make this work we will need charging points on every street, with over-night charging it’s practical to use slower charging speeds.

    If you have off-street parking plug-in hybrids are your best bet right now as there’s no risk of getting stranded. In the next 5 years, we will see a crop of new vehicles with solid state batteries that charge very quickly and have many more miles range than the current EVs. Hopefully, the charging network will be up to scratch by then.

  3. Tim Haines Reply

    The bigger problem is that there is insufficient capacity in the electrical networks and national grid to support electric vehicles. If 20% of the country bought electric cars and plugged them in overnight the grid would fall over.

  4. Gen-x-1 Reply

    I think the biggest problem is the price of electric cars, once there are plenty of used ones about with decent battery life left, then people will start to look at them as an option. Your average family isn’t going to drop 30k on a runaround. There needs to be a cheap enough option, a proper car that isn’t a waste of space like the Renault twizzy.

    • Rolivan Reply

      Why do you think the Twizy is a waste of space?

  5. Leo Reply

    The industry is trying to run before it can walk.

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