An ever-growing charging infrastructure means owning an electric vehicle is becoming increasingly feasible, no matter where you live.
The electric vehicle (EV) market in the UK is on the up, with more and more people opting to replace their petrol and diesel motors with clean plug-ins and hybrid cars. In 2015, some 28,155 hybrids and EVs were registered in the UK – last year that number had more than doubled to 59,911.
The benefits of EV ownership are well-documented – these cars are considerably cheaper to run and have a significantly lower impact on the environment than their fossil fuel counterparts. Technology’s increasing focus on sustainability means that many of these models have been designed with the highest specs and coolest features in mind, too.
Traditionally, EV uptake has been hampered by two factors: limited range and a lack of places to charge. But this is changing. The average EV now boasts a range of 181 miles, according to NewMotion, and is growing every year. At the time of writing there were 28,147 charging points around the UK according to charge-point locator Zap Map , and that’s rising – 741 have been added in the last 30 days alone. At the same time, the current government has pledged an additional £2.5 million to local authorities to help pay for more than 1,000 new charge points on residential roads.
So if you’re thinking about purchasing an EV, but are reluctant to make the jump because you’re concerned about the logistics involved in juicing it up, it’s time to reconsider. With over 10,000 public charging locations in the UK, there are now more places to plug in an electric car than there are petrol stations. Below are all the charging options available to EV owners – there’s bound to be one that works for you.
Charge your EV at home
Over 60% of people have a driveway or garage so the majority of people plug in their car at night at home. If you have access to off-street parking – for example, a private driveway or courtyard – then you can install your own home-charging point. According to the Energy Saving Trust, this costs around £1,000 or less. However, the government offers a grant that will cover up to £500 of this, while drivers in Scotland can claim an additional £300 through Energy Saving Trust Scotland. Fully Charged has a very comprehensive guide to choosing the best charge point for your home.
If you don’t have your own driveway, it’s not as straightforward to charge your vehicle, but infrastructure is improving. The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) is pushing its On-street Residential Chargepoint Scheme (ORCS) to increase the availability of charge points for owners that don’t have off-street parking. Some 23 councils around the UK successfully applied for on-street residential charge points in 2018/2019, with a further 25 approved for 2019/2020.
Charge your EV at work
Charging your EV at work makes a lot of sense, because just like charging at home, the car is parked for an extended period during the day. On top of that the majority of commuters drive less than 30 miles to work every day, so at-work charging offers convenient top-ups as and when necessary.
Of course, not every employer will offer EV charging facilities, but as an increasing number of businesses turn their attention to fulfilling sustainability criteria, and as more cities tackle air pollution, installing charge points will become a priority for many. Plus, grants, leasing initiatives and enhanced capital allowances make electric fleets and charge-points a more attractive investment. Pod Point has written a comprehensive white paper on enabling workplace EV charging – it could well be worth taking some time to gauge interest in EV charging among your peers and colleagues, and making a case for facilities to HR.
Charging your EV while out and about
While most EV charging is done at home or work, there’s a wide range of public charging networks designed to provide additional charging support and the ability to extend journey distances. There are at least 20 different companies running nationwide or regional EV charging systems, positioned in a variety of places, from supermarkets and outlet stores, to motorway services and petrol stations. According to the BBC, the average distance between these public points in England is 3.8 miles, although in rural areas distances can be a lot more.
The number of public charging points is always increasing, so range anxiety will soon be a thing of the past. However, this brings about its own issues. These charging networks are typically run by energy firms and other companies after a slice of the growing EV business, and you’ll have to sign up with each one you use. Some operate ‘pay as you go’ systems, while others require subscription services. Take a look at Zap Map’s real-time charge point map to discover which companies operate facilities near you – you can even plan a route based on your preferred provider.
EV charging options in the future
As electric vehicles become increasingly mainstream, we can expect to see a richer and more plentiful charging infrastructure developing alongside. Right now, most facilities take the shape of traditional charging points, but there’s already lamp-post charging in the works, not to mention trials of induction pads (aka wireless charging), while earlier this year Virgin Media announced that it would start using its network of underground cable ducts and street cabinets to install kerbside charge points – and there’s considerable potential for similar companies to follow suit. Soon enough, charging your car will be as easy as plugging in your phone.
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