Think tanks Bright Blue and Policy Exchange raise some useful policy proposals aimed at speeding up the rollout of electric vehicles (see story here). A couple raise questions.
Policy Exchange would see government offer competitive tenders and long term contracts for difference that would give chargepoint operators a guaranteed revenue. Local authorities would have teams facilitating the rollout, with special attention paid to motorway service stations and other ‘key locations’.
My plea to chargepoint operators is to not to rely on the current vehicle refueling network as the model to follow.
As New Power has argued before, one key to fixing range anxiety is to allow drivers to charge where they are, not make them travel to do it. A motorway service station has its place, but if the trip is for another purpose it might be better to put chargers wherever the travelers are going to spend their time (or even where we would like them to do so).
So make sure the charging offer can be extended to theme parks, National Trust car parks, shopping villages and all the other places people are really going when they make that motorway stop. That allows for much more slow charging, and a certain amount of timeshifting, to relieve the pressure on the grid. If the deal can’t be extended to those businesses directly, it should at least help third charging providers work with them, extending the focus from local authorities.
Bright Blue, meanwhile, suggests that city EV drivers who need to charge on the street should have a ‘hotline’ that would require local authorities to install a street charger in short order. That sounds great – but it doesn’t sound like the city I live in.
Many tricks - from leaving bins or cones in the space to hand-painting fake ‘disabled’ bays – are used to ‘reserve’ the space outside people’s houses, so imagine how that is redoubled with a charge point too. I can already hear the arguments if a strange car, or even a neighbour’s, took over the charger installed following the ‘hotline’ call for any length of time. Although in my case if I had the charger installed in a spot where I was parked it would move anywhere within a quarter mile at random.
Nice idea, but better to make sure a rollout on the public highway is properly public and not associated – even informally – with a particular user. And (see above) make sure many people are charging in other places where the spend time.