Cruising Electric Avenue could prove a logistical nightmare Mar 1 2018 Electroblog Print Article Mar 1 2018 Electroblog Just about every car manufacturer is loudly trumpeting the fact they are going to get heavily into producing electric vehicles (EVs). Not only that, they are making bold commitments on quantity and timing. Volvo for instance is saying it will only make electric vehicles from 2019 and General Motors reckons it will be selling one million of them by 2026. Crystal Ball Gazing There’s nothing wrong with that sort of corporate crystal ball gazing providing its backed-up with a sizeable portion of pragmatic logistics that will turn it into reality. I started thinking along these lines after a recent conversation with the managing director of a dealership that sells cars made by a global manufacturer that is positioned in the top five car makers. His concern when it comes to EVs, and I have to say mine as well, is how does somebody living in a terraced house in a city, or in an apartment in a very tall block, charge their EV? This is a very real practical question and here are some statistics to amplify the point. In the UK 26% of the population live in terraced house so would have to rely on street located EV charging points. A further 17% live in flats and would have to do the same. So at present the UK car population stands at 38 million with 43% of our citizens living in accommodation where the majority of properties do not provide off-street parking. Is this a problem? Not at the moment. Currently there are 135000 EVs in this country and 15000 charging points. Put another way that’s one charging point for every 9 EVs which is OK. But bear in mind driving the Way-of-the-Watt represents less that 0.5% of the 38 million vehicles on UK roads but this figure will change by 2030 when studies predict there will be approximately 10 million. A Million Charging Points To maintain the current ratio of one charging point to 9 EVs will require a nationwide infrastructure of over 1.1 million charging points be available at street level. Off course not all EVs are charged at street level because owners have properties with driveways and a private charging point from their home electrical supply. In fact a large proportion of the current EVs are charged at peoples’ homes. This comes as no surprise. EVs are not cheap to buy or to insure (Insurers were found to be charging up to 50% more to cover electric and hybrid cars, according to research) so it is logical that people who have decided to ride the electric highway are wealthy enough to own a property with its own driveway. EVs Not Only For The Rich That all has to change if car makers are going to achieve the market penetration on the sale of EVs they are predicting. Middle and lower income buyers will have to be accommodated. You cannot have EVs entering a position of financial elitism. So how is an adequate EV charge point infrastructure going to be created to really cope with the future EV population? One welcome initiative is from The Office for Low Emission Vehicles which has decided to continue the On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme, to increase the availability of a plug-in vehicle charging infrastructure for residents who do not have access to off-street parking. The additional funding includes £2m for 2018/19 and £2.5m for 2019/20. A Financial Pimple This is a laudable project but financially it’s merely a pimple on an elephant’s hindquarters compared to what’s really required to meet vehicle charging requirements by the year 2030. Industry pundits have put the real cost of providing a practical nationwide EV charging network at £530 million. So unless al lot more funds are found to meet that figure, coupled with more reasonable insurance costs, car manufacturers may find themselves with stockpiles of EVs they cannot sell. And the current thinking by some organisations that streets only need one or two EV charge points is totally ridiculous and lacks any real forward-planning vision. Just consider that well-known area of flats in London called the Barbican. It has around 4000 residents. Imagine the squabbles if there were only a couple of EV charging points to keep that lot cruising down Electric Avenue. And just to add a topical wintery note, electric cars do suffer from reduced range in winter with some losing about 20% of their summer range. Something else that will put pressure on those scarce roadside charging units. By Paul WhytockPaul Whytock is European Editor for Electropages. He has reported extensively on the electronics industry in Europe, the United States and the Far East for over twenty years. Prior to entering journalism he worked as a design engineer with Ford Motor Company at locations in England, Germany, Holland and Belgium.