Are there enough charging points?

Isn’t one of the problems with electric cars that there are not enough places to charge up?

By Will Dron on July 20, 2011 12:36 PM

The results of two electric car trials – by CABLED (Coventry and Birmingham Low Emissions Demonstrators) and MINI – showed that electric car owners rarely charge up while out and about because they charge at home overnight and their daily journeys are were quite short.

In the CABLED trial, three quarters of daily journeys took less than 20 minutes, with just two percent of them requiring more than 50% of the battery charge. So in the vast majority of cases, drivers left their homes with more than enough juice for a return trip.

Further surveys show that 80% of European motorists drive less than 63 miles in a day, and the average daily distance driven in the UK is just 25 miles. With 100 miles range becoming the current industry standard for EVs, that would mean you'll almost always be charging at home.

So there's a seriously compelling case for not needing a lot of on street charging points, and rather debunks the idea of ‘range anxiety’.

However, other research by charging point manufacturer Elektromotive shows that two thirds of people are more likely to buy electric cars if there are more on-street charging points. This is for two reasons: firstly, charging points on the road will fill people with confidence that they can top up easily in case they get caught short (however unlikely), and secondly not everyone has off-street parking at home and so need a place kerbside to plug in.

And consider this – there are only a handful of electric cars on the road now meaning many charging points are used very infrequently, but that will change as more vehicles hit the road. According to independent projections, hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles will be on our roads by 2020, with that figure accelerating over time. There will need to be enough charging points in carefully selected high-density areas to service all these extra vehicles just in case a top up is needed on the move.

So we do need public charging points, most usefully of the high-powered fast charging variety, but if you do have an off-street location at home to charge an electric car then you’ll find you actually very rarely need them, and the number of public chargers should not greatly affect your buying decision.