Charging network is the ‘weak link’ to electric car uptake claims RAC boss

INADEQUACIES in the UK’s public charging network threaten to hamper the uptake of electric vehicles, the RAC Foundation has warned.

Electric car charging GETTY

'The charging network threatens to be the weak link', says Steve Gooding, director of the RAC F

Inadequacies in the UK’s public charging network threaten to hamper the uptake of electric vehicles, the RAC Foundation has warned.

The transport policy and research organisation has cited factors such as a lack of standardisation of charge points, as well as a “quantity rather than quality” approach to developing the public electric vehicle (EV) charging network as being potential deterrents to EV uptake.

It also found that as of June 2017, one in eight public charge points were out of action at any one time.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Almost every day companies are announcing their latest foray into the electric car market but the charging network threatens to be the weak link.

“Although four out of five electric vehicle owners are able to charge at home, a robust public charging network is critical for enticing people to make the leap to ‘pure’ electric.”

Gooding argued that the government’s forthcoming Automated and Electric Vehicle Bill, which was promised in this year’s Queen’s Speech, was a perfect opportunity for these issues to be addressed.

He added: “Few of the nation’s 30 million car owners think twice about the process of refuelling with petrol or diesel: pull on to a forecourt, flip the filler cap, insert the nozzle and a couple of minutes later the job’s done.

“Not so with plug-in electric cars, where you need to find the right charger at the right location with the right tariff scheme. Even then, it needs to be serviceable and not already in use by someone else.

Electric car charging PH

The Polar charging network is already standardised in providing a Type 2 socket

“The danger is that the future of the electric car suffers the equivalent of bed blocking in the NHS, with queues of frustrated drivers stymied by the lack of adequate, widespread, reliable refuelling opportunities.”

However, Chargemaster – which operates the Polar public charging network – was quick to refute the RAC Foundation’s findings.

David Martell, CEO of Chargemaster, said: “It’s inaccurate to say that the public charging infrastructure is not keeping pace with the uptake of EVs in general.

“The majority of the [Polar] charging network is already standardised in providing a Type 2 socket for standard and fast public charging, with rapid chargers almost universally providing the three types of rapid charging cable used by electric vehicles.

“If there is a ‘weak link’ in the uptake of electric vehicles, it is consumer perceptions, which are almost always changed by actually trying an electric vehicle.”

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