UK public electric vehicle (EV) charging needs a major reboot if it’s going to be ‘fit for our EV future’, a new report from SMS plc has revealed.
The lack of availability and accessibility of current EV charge points, coupled with damaged infrastructure, incompatibility and inadequate payment options is causing frustration amongst UK EV drivers. As a result, over two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents are prepared to pay a premium to reserve a public charging bay to ensure they can power up their vehicles. Just over a quarter (27 percent) are willing to part with up to £10, and 33 percent up to £5. A further 7 percent would even be prepared to go higher at over £10, all to avoid ‘charge anxiety’.
The study of over 1,000 UK EV drivers by SMS explores the current customer experience of using, and relying on, public EV charge points. Despite an almost ubiquitous love of their EV (94 percent), 67 percent of UK EV drivers wish they’d known more about public EV charging availability before they’d transitioned to electric.
It uncovers that although we’re seeing an exponential growth in the home EV charging market, a mere 5 percent of respondents rely solely on this option to power their vehicle. In reality, a fifth (20 percent) of EV drivers surveyed remain completely reliant on public EV charging due to having no charge points available to them at home or at work. A further 33 percent use public EV charge points a lot, with 31 percent only sometimes, and only 15 percent stated ‘rarely’.
Surprisingly, 70 percent of EV drivers still have limited public charging options in their area. This leads to a staggering 81 percent of EV drivers having to wait for a public charge point, with a third spending 30 mins to an hour (30 percent), and 27 percent between one to two hours before they could access a much needed recharge.
It doesn’t end there, of those surveyed:
- Over three-quarters (77 percent) have been unable or unwilling to access a public EV charge point. 36 percent stated that this was because they are out of order / broken, and for 27 percent it was simply that they weren’t available.
- An additional 18 percent of EV drivers found the EV charge points were not compatible with their vehicle, and for 15 percent they didn’t have their preferred payment option.
- Worryingly, 17 percent of respondents have avoided using public EV charge points because the location didn’t feel safe.
- 68 percent of EV drivers admitted it is stressful to always have to think about public charging availability when they take a long journey.
Mark Winn, Head of EV Strategy at SMS explained: “Home EV charging may be on the rise, but it’s critical that the UK’s growing number of EV drivers have adequate access to fully functioning public EV charge points while they are on the move.
“However, in the race to meet EV charging expectations, targets and market share, companies have deployed – and continue to install – the wrong type of chargers, in the wrong location. Added to this, the payment options are either substandard or created to monopolise the market, and infrastructure maintenance seems to be firmly off the ‘to-do’ list.
“This is creating a ‘perfect storm’ of customer dissatisfaction, frustration and charge anxiety for EV drivers, and the future of electric motoring in the UK is coming under unfair scrutiny as a result. We simply must do more.”
Interestingly, the SMS study points out that public EV charge point infrastructure doesn’t just benefit drivers, it can be a huge boost to businesses and the local economy. Within the last year, of those polled:
- 41 percent used EV charge points in a public car park. Almost half (49 percent) had used a public EV charge point at a supermarket and 28 percent at an out of town shopping centre or retail park.
- 29 percent accessed public EV charge points when staying overnight at a hotel for business and the same number (29 percent) when staying overnight at a hotel for leisure.
- Two-fifths (40 percent) had charged up at a motorway service station. Interestingly, nearly three-quarters (71 percent) stated that past experiences and availability of EV charging influences their choice of motorway service station.
Mark Winn added: “While we need to exponentially increase the quantity of EV charge points in multiple locations this cannot be at the expense of their quality. Not all EV charge points are created equal and the type required varies depending on where it’s being installed and who is using it.
“EV infrastructure always needs to be planned with three Rs in mind: right time, right location and right speed. EV may be a nascent market, but this doesn’t mean that there is any excuse for providing the public with substandard EV charging solutions.
“If we want to avoid a public backlash against EV adoption, then greater due diligence must be applied to EV charge point installation deals.”
In response, SMS has published ‘Powering up public EV charging: it’s time to plug in the gaps‘. The downloadable report looks at the current state of public EV charging in the UK. It’s designed to ensure that those responsible for public EV charging are armed with the information they need to drive the roll out of public charging forward. From residential and commercial developers and land owners, to local authorities, city and county councils. After all, the UK government has made a promise that 300,000 EV charge points will be available up and down the UK by 2030. In the same year, it plans to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel vehicles – however, 88 percent say public EV charging needs to improve if UK drivers are to be encouraged to transition to electric.
A free copy of the report, and blueprint, can be downloaded here.