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What’s preventing electric vehicle adoption from charging ahead?

As leading providers of traffic data solutions, traffic data collection and traffic management systems, at Clearview Traffic we keep a close eye on government initiatives involving walking, cycling and public transport.

Electric Charging Points

We’ve noticed that as well as promoting greater use of more environmentally friendly, sustainable transport options such as walking, cycling and public transport, many local authorities are driving forward their support for greater adoption of low and zero emission vehicles as part of Low Emission Strategies, Air Quality Action Plans, and Sustainable Travel Plans.

Push for more charging points

This support is most directly seen in the provision of more electric vehicle (EV) charging points, with now over 5,000 public electric vehicle charging points spread across the UK.

Work places, retail and leisure parks, airports and even some rail operators are now providing charging points within their own car parks. In many instances, the increasing number of charging points has been supported by the Government’s Plugged in Places scheme that provided matched funding to consortia of businesses and public sector partners for the roll-out of infrastructure for electric vehicle owners in eight areas across the country.

However, when you consider that there are more than 34 million vehicles on the UK roads, we still have a long way to go to achieve widespread adoption. But it’s not just the number of charging points that is hindering adoption.

EV technology is still alien to many of us

Whilst it is believed that the majority of daily journeys are less than 20 miles in duration, people still are still reticent to purchase an electric vehicle until there comes a tipping point in the equilibrium of convenience versus cost.

For many road users, that point will only come when the initial purchase cost of electric vehicles become comparable to traditional petrol or diesel powered vehicles and electric vehicles are capable of achieving the same amount of mileage as drivers can with a petrol or diesel vehicle.

For others, the fact that all charging points are not created equal just adds to the confusion and complexity. With three different charging schemes (Slow, Fast and Rapid) out there and a lack of interoperability between them means the driver does not have the same universal luxury of choice and convenience as they would have when needing to fill up a traditional diesel or petrol vehicle.

Sadly, EV technology has a way to go as yet before it has matured to the stage where it can compare favourably with traditional fuel vehicles, so it is perhaps understandable why the current inertia is slow to adopt change.

As Dr Stephen Ladyman has said in a number of his blogs, unless there are solid benefits to the citizens, widespread adoption will falter: it’s not helped by the abuse of the charging points that are available, and the change in culture and behaviour required of vehicle users.

Widespread adoption also requires behavioural change

As drivers we’re used to the practical convenience of being able to park up in one spot for the duration of our visit at a given location.

However, because of the lack of EV charging points, it’s not possible for users to simply park up, plug in, leave and only come back when they have concluded their visit. If they do this, it means that these scarce resources are being taken up by vehicles that aren’t charging, and thus not able to be used by others.

At present, to optimise the use and availability of these charging points, users need to work out (or be notified) how long they can park their vehicle in the bay until it is fully charged, then find their way back to the vehicle and move it somewhere else, so that the charging point can be freed up for other users.

This just isn’t practical for many people (especially business users) as it means making excuses to walk away from a meeting, returning to the vehicle, taking up more time searching for another parking space and paying again for parking before resuming the purpose of the visit.

In addition, the electric vehicle charging point spaces are often being provided without requiring any payment for parking – and therefore can be subject to abuse by non-electric vehicle drivers.

Better control of charging point use will help

Fortunately, there are smart parking solutions available that can monitor parking bay usage, such as our M300 range.

These can monitor the occupancy of the bay and when coupled to the actual use of the charging point, they can then flag up when vehicles have just parked up and are not being charged, or have overstayed in the space beyond the time needed to charge the vehicle’s batteries.

The information provided by the M300 system enables parking enforcement officers to be more efficiently directed to locations where users are either over-staying or misusing the electric charging bays.

This maximises both the revenue protection and the availability of the electric charging points, ensuring effective parking bay usage.

If you’d like to find out more about our traffic data solutions, traffic data collection and traffic management systems, please feel free to contact us here.

Author: |Date Published: January 2014

Links: Parking News / Commentary

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