As 2030 and the ban on new ICE vehicle sales moves ever closer, the challenge of meeting demand for electric vehicle charging points becomes ever greater. The SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) estimates the UK should be installing about 500 new public chargers per day to meet demand. We’re currently installing about 800 chargers a month!
About 40% of UK households can’t install an EV charger at home, so about 15 million motorists could potentially be reliant on the public charging network.
These motorists are about four times less likely to own an EV. Research by Connected Kerb suggests that, for most, the switch becomes realistic only if they can achieve the following three benefits of charging at home:
- Reliable – bookable and consistently working.
- Practical – able to leave the car plugged in and return when convenient – ideally while at home, overnight.
- Affordable – closer to home tariff rates than public charger rates.
Some on-street public charging offers this – for instance where kerbside chargers have been installed right next to people’s homes. But unless those chargers are also bookable and cheap to use, they don’t actually remove the blocker.
Workplace charging, supported by OZEV grants, can also play an important role and tip the balance towards EVs for some motorists. Charging at work carries many of the benefits of charging while asleep – but not everyone drives to a workplace with a dedicated car park.
The missing piece of this jigsaw, which can plug that gap quickly and cheaply, is Community Charging.
Community Charging quite simply means using existing community resources – chargers, space, infrastructure, people, or finance – to enable members of that community to run electric vehicles.
While there are a seemingly impressive 50,000 public chargers already in the UK, this is dwarfed by home chargers, which already number over 700,000 and are growing by over 500 per day. Moreover, those chargers are in residential areas, unused for over 90% of the time, come with their own parking space, and are already paid for: exactly the factors needed to fulfil the three criteria of reliability, practicality, and affordability.
Co Charger is a collaborative scheme and app that enables someone with a charger to rent it out, on a regular basis, to a small number of neighbours so they can make the switch to an electric car. The company works with the public sector and automotive stakeholders to raise awareness so the inability to charge at home is no longer a reason to buy fossil-fuel vehicles. The scheme offers a free, non-disruptive, and immediate means to scale the UK’s available charging infrastructure and will self-scale as EV ownership grows. It has the potential to add tens of thousands of charge points to the UK’s capacity within months just for the cost of raising awareness.
Community Charging is the only way of quickly and affordably ensuring EV ownership is viable for all UK motorists at the rate driven by consumer demand and legislation.
Because it utilises existing resources it has the potential to bring the EV transition forward by years compared with Home, Work, and Destination Charging alone.
All that is needed to deliver this huge boost to sustainable motoring is for Community Charging to become a part of the narrative, planning and support of the UK’s charging infrastructure. Local and central government, the automotive retail sector, utilities, and charging equipment manufacturers all need to promote Community Charging so that it can help to create millions of new EV users for everyone’s benefit.