Electrification? There’s a lot of work to be done
No sensible person can deny that the movement towards electric cars is inexorable and that their widespread usage is inevitable. Earlier this year, the UK government announced a policy decision that no new non-electrified cars would be sold after 2040. Just recently, the city of Oxford’s local council declared that, by 2035, only electric vehicles will be allowed inside a newly-created zero-emissions zone. Other built-up areas will surely follow suit.
Now this is all well and good. The environmentalists must have a spring in their step. And these dates are still some way in the future. It’s just as well they are. Because, frankly, the UK is nowhere near creating an infrastructure that will support such a transition. The number of electric vehicles on our roads is increasing - this year just over 94,000 have been registered, a jump of over 34% on the same period in 2016. However, the number of charging points is not keeping pace with this. Recent research has indicated that, in the UK, Greater London has the most with 2,984 having been sited. This is a drop in the ocean compared with the number of cars in daily use in the capital. The same piece of research also said that many of these were unreliable, being either out of order or having cars using them as parking spaces. This is borne out by a couple of neighbours of mine who constantly complain about the difficulty of finding available charge points.
London is also the metropolitan area with the greatest number of homes with no off-street parking available for residents. The figure is estimated to be 63% and these people will be obliged to seek public charging points. But where? Okay, I don’t drive an electric car but I do live in London and I couldn’t tell you where my nearest charge point is , not if my life depended on it. Maybe that’s because I’m not looking for them, or perhaps because they’re just not there.
Apparently, over three-quarters of existing electric vehicle owners are deterred from buying another because of the lack of, or unreliability of, UK charging points. The government’s recently-published Automated and Electric Vehicle Bill requires motorway service areas and large fuel retailers to install such facilities but who lives on a motorway or close to a major filling station? Truly, there is much work to be done before this elephant can dance.
Simon Duval Smith
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