But if that’s the only issue left to solve, it still sounds like we are close to fixing this?
Actually, really there are two other core considerations we need to take into account too.
The first is around pricing. If you have your own off-street parking and charging facilities – or if you are lucky enough to work for a progressive business that offers it – then typically that will be AC chargers. As we noted earlier, these are great when you can leave your car in the same spot for a few hours to charge – and because they run off standard electrical supplies, they tend to be cheaper too. Added to that, either as a private owner or a commercial fleet owner, you can choose to charge your vehicle off peak, furthering the cost-effectiveness.
But installing and running DC rapid / ultra-rapid chargers is more complex and expensive – so the charging prices go up. This creates an inequality imbalance between those with access to cheaper charging, and those reliant on the pricier DC chargers – either rapid or the even more expensive ultra-rapid.
Our experience at Mer deploying charging infrastructure across Europe is that penalising people because of where they live or work, and therefore what facilities they have access to, does slam the brakes on EV adoption. To be clear, we have the same tariff for rapid and ultra-rapid charging, so our customers don’t pay more.
However, the good news is that the Government is focusing on this issue, and their recent Transport Decarbonising Plan does offer a range of initiatives aimed at supporting businesses and particularly local authorities to roll out more accessible rapid and ultra-rapid changing facilities. These include:
- A £950 million Rapid Charging Fund for the roll-out of 6,000 ultra-rapid charge points.
- An On-Street Residential Scheme to support local authorities in installing EV infrastructure.
- And a new £90 million Local EV Infrastructure Fund. The Government has also said it will review the National Networks National Policy Statement to further accelerate EV rollout.
The second issue, which to be fair is an industry-wide work-in-progress, and which Mer is heavily involved with, is about ease of use.
Just as with petrol stations, we need to make sure that whichever EV charging facility a customer turns up at, they can use it without burden. We must ensure we remove barriers to EV adoption and having EV chargers where customers need specific accounts to use with specific payment solutions, does not help.
Instead, collectively, we must support widespread roaming agreements – so customers of one brand can use another’s facilities. At Mer, we are totally committed to this and have signed a number of agreements this year demonstrating that.
Furthermore, we also have to make sure that we simplify the recharging payment process too. By that, I mean it should be easy for customers to pay with credit / debit cards, and via mobile payments – not just via dedicated accounts with the charging provider.
The keywords here are ease of access and simplicity – boosting this will make the user experience for EV drivers so much better.
Any other points you feel are important for businesses or local authorities looking to support rapid / ultra-rapid EV charging infrastructure deployment?
Two last things. Firstly, power sources. Mer, as part of Europe’s largest renewable energy company – Norwegian giant Statkraft – is firmly committed to supplying our charging units with sustainably sourced electricity, using only wind, solar or hydro. Obviously, there might be occasions where this isn’t feasible for a business or council, but clearly as we look to drive down harmful emissions caused by internal combustion engines, we believe only powering EVs with environmentally friendly electricity should be a priority.
Lastly, no business or council should feel they have to solve this challenge on their own. The deployment of rapid and ultra-rapid chargers is far easier than it was even just a few years ago, but it can still be complex.
However, there are now dozens of organisations, like Mer, specialising in building out this infrastructure, and who already have the partnerships and experience in place to roll things out at speed and scale.
So, my last piece of advice would be, speak with these organisations – learn from them, work with them, and share the responsibility more collectively – as in the end it will be easier and better for all involved.
We have a dedicated EV charging infrastructure checklist that anyone can download, and which helps walk people through the process. It can be downloaded below.