It is vital that planners of towns and cities recognise that the strategy for electrifying transportation is not one that can be solved alone, says Chris Evans.
Despite the huge growth of electric vehicle (EV) charge points over the past eight-years, there has been no cohesive national strategy for EV charging, resulting in a myriad of different facilities and some locations remaining poorly served. Understanding the diversity needed to create a sustainable charging infrastructure, as well as what will be most suitable both now – and in the future - is crucial.
The challenge developers and policymakers have faced is to use new technologies, engineering and experience to deliver smart solutions that meet the evolving needs of drivers, homeowners and businesses by implementing a future-proof infrastructure.
Which is why the government’s commitment to inject £37m in a bid to develop the UK’s electric charge point infrastructure, is a welcome sight. The struggle to locate available and operational fast charge infrastructure still remains one of EV owners’ biggest apprehensions and there is no doubt that the uptake of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) has been hampered by the current, unreliable network.
Amongst the government’s commitments, the development of new solar forecourts, induction charging and, in particular, a project leveraging the existing Virgin Media physical and online infrastructure to deliver cost-effective and wide-spread charging, is probably the most welcome of the innovations. This, in conjunction with a simpler method of payment, could be the game-changer in the drive to increase UK-wide update of BEVs.
The provision of inductive charge solutions or ‘Scalextric-type’ connections will be a huge benefit to those that rely on mobility for their business, from taxi drivers to delivery drivers, as well as in the long-term where people will require charging points, but don’t necessarily have the luxury of owning a driveway. It’s a solution that will encourage the uptake of EVs beyond the early adopters into the mainstream.
This kind of ‘Scalextric-style’ solution may seem far off for some, but Sweden has already installed the world’s first e-road with success, and a similar system is being tested in China. Infrastructure developers must consider a rapidly growing array of new and emerging technologies to meet our increasing demand for power.
The news of the investment was delivered on the one-year anniversary of the ‘Road to Zero’ strategy, which, according to the government, has driven a 60% increase in BEV registrations this year, compared to the same period in 2018. Whilst it is positive to see the sales figures rising, the reality is that BEVs still account for only 0.95 per cent of the market share.
There is no argument that charging up the electric vehicle revolution and investing in technologies to transform the experience for EV drivers will accelerate the UK on its mission to a greener future, but it’s vital that the planners of our towns and cities and any future developments recognise that the strategy to electrifying transportation is not one that can be solved alone.
Chris Evans is deputy managing director of Rolton Group.