Almost 265,000 electric vehicles (EV’s) could be found on UK roads by the end of 2019. A relatively small number in comparison to the total number of registered vehicles. While popularity is gaining momentum, many drivers feel that the practicality behind EV’s is still hindered by the UK’s charging infrastructure. We take a look at what options are currently available and what is being worked on to quickly increase charging choices for motorists.
If you’re lucky enough to live in a home where home charging is a viable option, you’re probably eligible for the OLEV Grant, which gives you £500 towards buying and installing your home charging point. If you’re in the market for a new electric car it’s also worth while shopping around and talking to dealers as some manufacturers offer free home charging points when you purchase one of their EV’s.
The RAC and Zap-Map recently analysed data which showed that the number of EV charging stations at supermarkets has doubled over the last two years. 608 supermarket locations now provide charging facilities as a handy option for drivers to charge their cars while shopping.
EV charging apps
There is now a good selection of apps to help EV drivers find charging points no matter where they are. The apps are useful in searching for the closest charging facility, as well as planning for longer drives where charging stops may be needed.
Zap-Map currently displays over 100,000 charging locations for drivers to choose between. While Plugshare also allows EV drivers to rate and upload photos of the charge points they’ve used, as well as share other useful information, giving the app an EV community forum feel.
Charging forecourt stations
Work began this month on a 2.5acre site near Braintree, Essex for a roadside forecourt with spaces for up to 24 vehicles to charge at once. Sustainable energy company Gridserve came up with the idea, which uses solar power and will look similar to a conventional fuel station.
Gridserve want to boost confidence in the EV market by improving the infrastructure and while the site, which is set to open in the summer, is the first of its kind, there are plans for 100 sites in total across the country.
Many automotive technology companies are now working quickly to implement more practical charging options. For example, Connected Kerb are set to trial a new induction charging system which works a lot like wireless phone chargers.
The wireless charging pads are fixed to the road and allow cars to be charge when parked over them. If the trial goes well electric cars could be retrofitted so that they are capable of charging this way.
Hybrid or plug-in hybrid options
Hybrid vehicles may be a great solution for those still unsure if a fully electric vehicle is right for them as they aren’t solely dependent on electric power and the means of electric charging.
Hybrids feature an electric motor within their powertrain which works alongside the existing engine to help deliver better fuel economy than a pure petrol or diesel engine. Plug-in hybrids have a larger, rechargeable battery so that the car is able to drive on electric power without burning fuel when charged. The internal-combustion engine then acts as a backup and kicks in to power the vehicle as and when it’s needed, so that you still have a drivable vehicle even if you can’t get to a charge point.
Many believed that the EV grant would be scrapped during the recent announcement of the government budget, however, in order to incentivise drivers, it will be maintained until 2023. While it doesn’t necessarily help with charging, it does nicely reduce the cost of the vehicle.
A total of £403m will be provided for plug in car grants and £129.5m for vans, taxis and motorcycles. The maximum grant amount has been reduced from £3,500 to £3,000 and it excludes cars with a value over £50,000. However, this shouldn’t affect the majority of potential EV buyers as this still covers a great selection of vehicles.
Within the 2020 budget it was also confirmed that £500m would be put towards the rollout of a fast charging network. One of the main aims of this is to ensure that drivers are never more than 30miles away from a rapid charging station.
If you’re looking to switch to a hybrid or pure electric car, why not find out how much you could earn for your old vehicle here.