Polls show EV users ‘ignore public charging points’

by Janet Wood

Although the number of fully electric vehicles (EVs) in use is creeping up, “nobody is using the public charging infrastructure”, according to John Batterby, transport strategy manager at the Energy Technologies Institute.

Batterby was speaking at Utility Week’s Plugging into EV conference, and his conclusion was echoed by Jorg Lohr, senior manager of e-mobility at RWE, who said the experience of public points elsewhere in Europe was similar and there was “no case for public charging”.

Batterby said almost all current users were charging their vehicles at home overnight – a finding supported by speakers reporting on different EV trials. But Batterby highlighted some positives for an EV rollout from that finding, noting that “half of UK households are owner-occupiers and have off-street parking”. He said such people could be early takers of EVs.

He added that there was “no case for reinforcing the regulatory system”. His claim was seemingly supported by the experience of some trials in which users were given small incentives to defer charging from when they initially plugged in their vehicles (the early evening peak) to later in the night. Most drivers who were provided with timers delayed charging, experience from trials by EDF Energy and RWE has shown.

What is more, most users were “topping up” part-charged cars, so the charge period was nearer four hours than the eight expected.

But delegates questioned the safety of a rollout based largely on home-charging. Householders needed dedicated and properly earthed car-charging points to reduce fire risk, they said.

Delegates also said the government should have offered to subsidise charging points as part of the EV car grant, adding that energy companies should offer EV tariffs that include the costs of installing such hardware.

This article first appeared in Utility Week’s print edition of 15 June 2012.

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