The surge in electric vehicle (EV) sales since the easing of COVID lockdown restrictions has been a rare positive piece of news during such testing times.
The government’s carbon net zero targets have been in place for a number of years, but more recent developments appear to have focused minds on what needs to be done by individual citizens.
Recent figures show that sales of EVs grew by almost 80% in 2021 and the major manufacturers are racing to get ahead in the green revolution – sparking some fantastic innovation.
But while well-worn issues such as range anxiety have been addressed by this advancing technology, one major hurdle remains for millions of motorists who would love to ditch the combustion engine in favour of battery power.
Namely, where they can practically charge an EV to make the adoption a smooth transition.
For those who live in properties with private driveways it’s a fairly straightforward process: install a private charging point – often with the help of a grant – that can provide battery top-ups overnight.
But for the 25% of UK households without off-street parking, it’s far from simple.
Trailing wires across pavements is not safe and can leave you liable for personal injury claims.
There’s also the issue of vandalism, leaving you with a potential repair bill and short of charge for an urgent journey such as a work commute or school drop-off.
That means around 6.7 million homes would rely on public charging stations. But this is where cost becomes a major stumbling block.
Research carried out by British Gas found that only 21 councils in England and Wales allow motorists to top up their batteries for free.
What’s more, there is a ‘postcode lottery’ of not only free charging but where there are enough public charging points to make buying an EV a realistic proposition.
According to the study, motorists in the South of England pay 28% more than those elsewhere, including across the border in Wales.
Local authorities offering free public charging include Woking in Surrey and Leeds in Yorkshire.
Meanwhile, drivers in London and the South East, the South West and East Anglia can pay up to 7p per kWh more than those in Wales, the North East and North West.
To be honest, it’s a right old mess.
There is funding available to get things moving, but many councils have not even applied for the On-Street Residential Chargepoint Scheme.
According to the Government: “The purpose of the scheme is to increase the availability of on-street charge points in residential streets where off-street parking is not available, thereby ensuring that on-street parking is not a barrier to realising the benefits of owning a plug-in EV.”
Obviously there is no perfect answer, but there are a number of things that can be done in the relatively short-term that would make a big difference.
More EV plug-in points need to be installed in locations where people can easily keep themselves occupied while their vehicle is charging – namely town and city centres instead of the current trend for out-of-town locations that only service those making longer trips.
EV charging points at workplaces are also key. It’s where most people are likely to be able to leave their vehicle hooked up for longer periods, thus eliminating the need for fast-charging points. There are grants for these, too.
Newer technology such as overhead charging points being trialled in the Netherlands, lamppost and wireless kerbside charging also have the potential to contribute to the solution.
It’s clear, therefore, that there are developments and plans in place to help solve the issue of EV charging for those people without driveways. There is also, dare I say it, a will to get it done.
But, put simply, the pace of progress is far too slow and will require a major combined effort by both public and private bodies to push ahead the change we all want.