Paving the way for EVs

It’s almost globally accepted that to combat the effects of climate change society needs to adapt, habits need to change, and we need to put a stronger focus on reducing emissions.

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Where do we start with EVs?

There are several initiatives in place to help with this, from Net Zero goals set by businesses to people researching and developing new technologies to re-use, repurpose and recycle more to reduce the drain on natural resources. Motoring has been looking at this need to evolve, with hybrids, alternative fuels and electric vehicles being showcased increasingly more. It’s this necessary shift away from a reliance on traditional fuel that needs to be supported.

The UK has an ambitious plan in place to help tip the balance towards ultra-low emission vehicles. From 2030 the plan is to no longer sell new petrol or diesel cars, phasing them out in favour of electric, with the phasing out of hybrids by 2035. This represents a seismic shift in the way we travel, plan journeys, refuel and even park our cars.

In the grand scheme of things, eight years isn’t a long time, and the infrastructure needed to support such a major change needs to be in place to make sure EV charging is effective and accessible for everyone.

The expansion of electric motoring

By the end of March 2021, there were 38.6 million licensed vehicles in Great Britain, with 568,000 of those being registered for the first time during the first three months of the year. Within those first three months 59,000 ultra-low emission vehicles were registered, while this is a major increase on the previous year it still only represents a little over 10% of the new vehicles on British roads.

While the growth in uptake of EVs is positive it’s still a long way from becoming the main option for motorists in the UK. If that expansion is going to continue, or even increase there seems to be a need to assuage some of the general doubts about electric motoring that the public might have.

Those include:

  • Infrastructure
  • Range anxiety
  • Cost

For EV to expand, any doubts the public have about the ability to charge their vehicle when they need to will have to be removed. Charging a vehicle takes longer than simply filling up at a petrol station. Planning recharging around overnight stays or looking at destinations that would enable topping up a vehicle’s battery could counteract this. For that to work, you not only need for the infrastructure to be in place, but also for chargers to be readily available.

Those chargers also need to fall within the range of a motorist’s specific vehicle. This means that journey planning suddenly becomes dictated by the ability to recharge your car. Until a robust infrastructure is in place across the UK this can make trip planning much more difficult and might only serve to add to range anxiety, especially when visiting areas with fewer chargers.

There’s also the cost to consider, how much do you pay for charging? Is it included in the bill for an overnight stay in a hotel? Do you top up your car in a bay whilst at a restaurant or other destination, is that included in your bill or ticket price, or is it a separate charge managed by a third party? Is it more cost-effective to the consumer to have an electric vehicle over a traditional petrol car? Although new cars won’t be produced it stands to reason there will still be a huge demand for second-hand vehicles that rely on the existing infrastructure we have with petrol stations and services.

There’s a need to build a sense of increased convenience with EVs. The obvious benefit is you can recharge at home, often for very little cost. But that reliability and ease of access needs to be much more widespread, which doesn’t mean purely building more chargers, but repurposing existing space and thinking a bit more creatively.

An obvious target for this is the car park.

How can car parks adapt to (and capitalise on) EVs?

The RAC Foundation reported that British vehicles spend roughly 23 hours a day parked. 23% of that time is spent parked away from home. This represents workplaces, multi-storeys, retail parks etc.

Existing spaces are a crucial part of any attempt to build our EV infrastructure. Car parks in particular are going to be vital. Destination parking, quick top-up charges and overnight recharging can all be facilitated with the right premises and the right tools in place.

Car parks need to adapt. EV chargers aren’t cheap, and businesses might be put off by lengthy leases. hoosing to invest in them is potentially a big step for a business. By looking at fuel analysis data you can gauge how much use they will stand to get and the impact they will have on your site.

This data can be gathered through ANPR systems, using vehicle registration details to understand the different fuel types using your site. This allows you to assess over time how many electric vehicles are using your car park. If it’s an increasing amount, then it might be worth looking at including some EV bays on your site.

Charging bays don’t just add to a wider EV infrastructure, they also provide a car park with several benefits:

  1. They demonstrate to your customers that you have a focus on green initiatives. The environment is an important CSR (corporate social responsibility) cause and one that lots of people get behind, giving you something new to promote and engage your customers with.
  2. It opens opportunities for new revenue streams – pre-booking parking already exists, but pre-booking to use an EV bay or paying to park overnight in a specific bay to recharge a vehicle, are all options allowing you to monetise parking spaces in whole new ways.
  3. It increases dwell time. It takes longer to recharge a car than to fill up a petrol tank. The by-product of this is a motorist needing to spend more time on site. This can lead to more customers in stores, cafes, restaurants, as they pass the time while they wait for their vehicle to charge. This means they have more time to shop, browse, eat, and spend, which can be a huge lift to revenue.

In the near future, there will be a requirement that car parks have EV charging in place. The government has outlined a need for rapid chargers at motorway services but other car parks, such as in busy shopping areas and multi-storeys should also look at their potential EV offering.

Planning travel around where you can top-up the charge in a car is going to be a major consideration for motorists, the reliance can’t purely be on motorway services. Destinations, from supermarkets and shopping centres to attractions and event spaces, are going to all need to do their part to ensure the right infrastructure is not only in place, but convenient and dependable.

A woman charging her electric car at a charging point

Are we going to have the right infrastructure by 2030?

By 2030 there are going to be an estimated nine million electric cars on UK roads. The uptake of EVs depends on the ability to recharge. Range anxiety, the mileage you can get from your vehicle, is a major cause for concern for many consumers, so alleviating that worry is crucial.

As of July 2021, there were 24,374 public EV charging devices available, with 4,551 of those being rapid chargers. The RAC estimated that there were already 239,000 fully electric vehicles on UK roads, with 100,000 of those registered in 2020 alone. This means that demand for chargers in public spaces already stands to far outweigh the amount in place.

Range anxiety relates to the fears motorists have about the distance they can cover in their vehicle. It’s not as easy to refuel if you run out of charge in the middle of nowhere for example. Therefore, charging infrastructure is crucial, a study conducted by Nissan highlighted that car prices and concerns about access to charging points were major factors that currently dissuaded motorists from making the switch to electric vehicles.

The number of chargers isn’t the only concern, there is also the issue of reliability. Typically, a car park will have a small number of charging bays, if one or all of them are out of order you suddenly have an influx of motorists unable to charge. This can be distressing for the driver, especially if they are in desperate need of a recharge. That anxiety and stress can then lead to complaints from the motorist towards your business and cause them frustration as they must find another place to top-up their vehicles battery. This process continues until the chargers are fixed. The issue with this is that by the time this happens the reputational damage can already be done.

Reliable and available EV chargers hinge on the technology in place being less prone to issues. This could be accomplished by housing the equipment in something that stands up to abuse such as vandalism, or by having more effective monitoring in place.

Being able to monitor and diagnose issues with a charging unit, before they hamper availability, can help ensure they are working and continue providing the convenience and peace of mind motorists need. Giving people the confidence in the ability to recharge when they’re away from home is going to be critical in ensuring the uptake of electric vehicles is successful.

How future proof is EV infrastructure?

Technology improves over time, from mobile phones to cars there’s a constant change and improvement. But could this impact the infrastructure that’s planned for or in place already? What if there’s a sudden step change in EVs?

This could be anything from a new way of charging to another alternative way of powering a car.

Infrastructure would have to adapt, but keep in mind that new ideas and technologies take time to become widely used. The chargers that exist and are being installed now are designed to charge older vehicles as well as those that are emerging on the market.

As manufacturers move away from petrol and diesel vehicles there is bound to be new ideas and technologies that emerge, but the focus is on the existing ways of working and the current infrastructure requirement. Motorists need to be confident that their investment in an electric vehicle is a sound one, which is why chargers still cater for older vehicles.

Changing your approach to travel

The UK is on the cusp of embracing a major change to how we think about travel, seismic shifts are happening at a legislative and technological level with the aim being to protect the environment for future generations. Several service providers are appearing to help create the necessary infrastructure that the country is going to need going forward.

ParkEV is one of those providers, however they operate with a different approach. One of the biggest issues businesses and drivers will encounter is access to bays. Much like other specialised use bays, such as parent and child, many charging bays find themselves being taken up by motorists without an electric car.

This restricts availability, generates complaints, increases range anxiety, and limits access to charging infrastructure. Until we’re at a stage where there is an abundance of chargers this is an issue that needs to be taken seriously. This is where Bay Enforcement can be a major asset. By housing an ANPR camera within the charger, or on a nearby monitoring bollard, it’s possible to protect those bays, keeping them free from misuse and available for genuine drivers who need them.

Introducing… ParkEV

The ways that the world approaches greener ways of thinking and travelling will be filled with innovative ideas and adaptations to existing ways of operating, it’s an exciting time, working towards an important goal.

To find out more about ParkEV or how you can do more to prepare your car park for a greener future, click below…