UK needs to swiftly amplify accessibility of chargepoints

Written by Mr. Kunal Sawhney, CEO, Kalkine Media

Building an efficient electric vehicle (EV) landscape is not only about making the vehicles affordable to purchase and own, but it also entails several other factors, including the post-sale services, charging infrastructure and availability of chargepoints in rural and semi-urbanised localities.

The government of the United Kingdom, alongside the major EV manufacturers and ancillary suppliers, are collectively working to increase the perceived value of the vehicles that can encourage more consumers to buy eco-friendly vehicles in the present decade, thereby supporting the nation’s plan to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2030.

The elimination of all the fossil fuel powered passenger vehicles by 2035 from the roads will be pivotal in bolstering the broader objective of attaining a net zero status by 2050.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has laid out several measures to make sure that there is an ample number of EV chargepoints in the country by the time the authorities put a ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.

According to the CMA, the availability of EV chargepoints has been increasing relatively well at locations including private parking garages, driveways, shopping centres and workplaces, but several parts are still facing problems that can hinder the government’s plans of embargoing the sale of new petrol and diesel cars.

A potential delay in the near-term objectives, including the ban on petrol and diesel cars, can certainly extend the timeline of the larger objective of becoming net zero nation by 2050. At the moment, the rural jurisdictions only account for a handful of EV chargepoints, mostly due to lower investment, while the roll-out of on-street charge stations by the local authorities is witnessing very slow growth in the installation.

As far as the driver’s ease is concerned, a large section of car owners, including the commercial drivers, will rely on the on-street chargepoints as nobody has sufficient time to detour to a shopping centre every time when the vehicle needs a backup, while workplaces can only establish a few chargepoints due to space constraints.

As of now, the total public chargepoints in Yorkshire and the Humber per head are quarter as compared to those available in London. Recharging your vehicle certainly requires a high amount of time as compared to refilling with petrol or diesel, as a result of which, it can be burdensome for drivers when there is an emergency.

The level of difficulty and frustration in accessing a chargepoint can abate the apparent enthusiasm amidst the car buyers, it could even lead to an immense disappointment and will eventually diminish the number of people who are looking forward to switching to an EV.

The transformation at such a large scale unequivocally requires added advantages, and, at the same time, there must be ease of switching to EVs from the conventional vehicles and age-old habit of quick refilling. Furthermore, the vast difference in the prices and tariffs set by privately held chargepoints can induce concerns about the reliability of charge stations.

As the EV ecosystem passes the nascent stage, people often find it difficult to compare prices for recharging the vehicles. In order to facilitate an experience like a refuelling station, the authorities are required to ensure that the recharging stations must have quick service chargepoints and transparent pricing.

All the operations chargepoints should be easy-to-locate, the working condition should be updated regularly in EVs that have a lower buffer of energy as compared to petrol or diesel vehicles. Along with this, the charging experience should be simple and quick to pay, with no obligatory requirement of signing up or registration and an abundance of payment options.

Uniformity of chargepoints should also be maintained as with the limited number of stations, the country is not in a position to bifurcate the recharging places for different types of vehicles. As per the estimates of the competition regular, the present count of chargepoints in the UK stands at 25,000, while more than 10 times this number will be required if the government wants to eliminate the petrol and diesel vehicles within the predefined time period.