Driving The Future Adoption Of EVs
Increasing the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) has become a top priority worldwide as governments strive to hit ambitious carbon reduction targets. The number of early adopters of EVs is increasing rapidly around the world, with the International Energy Agency forecasting that the number of electric vehicles in use internationally will rise to about 125 million by 2030.
More steps are still needed, however, if fossil fuelled cars are to be phased out and EVs to become the vehicle of choice in 10 years' time.
Currently only one in four people would consider purchasing a fully electric car in the next five years, but as people become more environmentally aware, the idea of owning a low or zero emission car is becoming more attractive.
Potential adopters are being deterred by a number of factors - the cost of vehicles versus traditional fuel powered cars, insufficient charging points available, the time it takes to charge an EV, and also the limited models available.
Fully electric vehicles can often appear more expensive to purchase than traditional alternatives. This is because typically, the upfront cost is more widely considered when buying a car and drivers rarely think ahead and look at long-term running costs.
Car manufacturers are starting to bring a wider range of vehicles to market, but for those that can't afford a brand new EV, it will take a number of years for a wider range of more affordable, second-hand vehicles to be available.
As demand rises for EVs, the number of available charging facilities will need to increase significantly, and the usability of charging points will also need to be addressed.
On average, an EV can do approximately 133 miles on a full charge - which is convenient for local driving but limiting for those wanting to use their cars for longer distances. Drivers who use their vehicle for longer commutes are more likely to have to plan their journey around distances between accessible charging facilities, and potentially waiting if the charging point is low powered. A typical electric car (60kWh battery) takes just under 8 hours to charge from empty-to-full with a 7kW charging point, or up to 30 minutes for a quick charge.
One of the biggest challenges with EVs has been public charging. All public charging facilities require the customer to have a registered account in order to use that specific charging point. This results in the need for drivers to have multiple accounts, cards and applications registered with the charging point provider to ensure they can access all charging points when needed. Imagine being limited to where you can refuel your petrol or diesel car, depending on which account or card you hold with a major fuel supplier.
The UK government recently announced that charging points will need to have contactless card payment options by 2020 in a bid to attract new users and streamline payment methods. The introduction of a one card payment option is designed to make it easier for drivers to locate and access charging points and avoid the use of multiple smartphone apps or membership cards.
The new legislation means that by 2020, operators of new high-powered 50kW, electric vehicle charging points will have to offer a pay as you go debit/credit card payment option, as well as a roaming solution across the entire network.
From the perspective of the consumer (and the desire to remove obstacles to wider EV adoption) this can only be a good thing. Introducing a more streamlined and simplistic payment method will ensure ease of use across the entire charging network. Similar to traditional fuelling stations, drivers can simply top up, pay and get back to their journey.
Credit and debit card payments for fast chargers is a natural, and necessary evolution. Higher powered facilities will see a higher volume of drivers topping up for short periods of time, as opposed to waiting for a full charge, which can be time-consuming.
A higher-powered charger is a more costly investment so the increased technical complexity of accepting debit and credit cards is less of an issue. Additionally, the high-speed charging process is supposed to be more akin to traditional refueling, so the payment experience needs to be too. High speed charging will see a large number of drivers using the facility each day for a short period of time, as opposed to low speed on-street charging which may see one or two cars a day.
For lower power chargers, those less than 50kW, having a roaming card which covers all public EV charging point would be a more sensible option due to the increased technical complexity of introducing card payments. For example, a small 3kW charger on the street delivers lower power and therefore cost to an EV that may be plugged in all day.
The shift from petrol to electric
Whether you are a business considering EVs for your fleet or a consumer, incentives are available to help you drive onto that electric ladder. Governments across the globe are starting to introduce a number of incentives to encourage drivers to make the switch, and even help towards the upfront cost.
Although differing across countries, most incentives for EVs adopters, include tax rebates, exemption from congestion charges and even a reduction in parking charges. Some governments also offer a plug-in car grant to assist people with the initial cost.
Taking into consideration all these savings and future plans for EVs to streamline the practicalities of owning one, it is becoming clear that electric vehicles are just as affordable as combustion models and can actually work out cheaper long-term.
The automotive market is shifting, as vehicle costs start to fall, and choice widens. Governments around the world are working hard to increase the number of registered electric vehicles on the roads, making them more user friendly for new adopters. Whilst there is still some work to be done, advancements are continually evolving and the number of EVs purchased continues to grow year on year across the globe.