The fourth article in this series covers off everything you need to know about the UK’s charging infrastructure. We look at how easy it is for your employees to charge their electric vehicle (EV) at home and on the road and the support you can provide to help your employees adapt from re-fuelling to charging.
The charging basics
Making the move from petrol and diesel to electric vehicles might seem daunting, particularly when it comes to charging. However, since the introduction of the earliest EVs, the UK’s charging capability has come a very long way. So far that there are now more EV charging points than petrol stations in the UK.
Admittedly some areas, particularly cities, are better served than more remote parts of the country. However, with greater vehicle range and 8,000 charging locations, you’d be hard pushed to find a journey that isn’t possible in an EV.
Although much of the focus around charging has been on undertaking long journeys, the government expects 90% of EV charging to be done at home. This is a major education point as 53% of respondents to a recent survey thought it was impossible to charge your EV at home.
The good news for employees is that it’s easy and cost effective to install a charging point at home. Although it’s possible to charge from the mains, rapid chargers are up to three times faster providing a more convenient charging alternative to a mains socket.
Government grants are still available for employees and organisations to contribute to the cost of installing a charging point. You can secure up to £750 via the government scheme leaving around £250-£500 to pay depending on the type of charger being installed.
With your charging point ready to go, it’s as simple as pulling out your Ev’s charging stopper (a bit like removing a petrol cap), inserting your charger and plugging it in. And yes, thanks to a range of built-in safety measures, electric cars can be charged safely in the rain.
Making EV journeys easy
In addition to the huge number of charging points, there are also a wide range of tools help drivers plan their journeys complete with charging stops.
Some vehicles, like Teslas, make this ridiculously simple. Drivers just add their destination to the satnav and the car tells them how much charge is left, where they need to stop along the way and even provides a live update about which charging points are vacant.
Non-Tesla drivers will need to use free online tools, like ZapMap, to do the same. Simply create an account, add your vehicle’s make and model, postcodes for the journey’s start and end points and let ZapMap plan the rest.
Let’s look at this in more detail.
How easy is it to plan an 80 mile journey in an EV?
A one-way journey from Manchester to Birmingham is around 80 miles. In an e-Golf (real-world range 97 miles), assuming you have a fully charged battery as you leave and there are no traffic jams, Zapmap shows that you’ll need to stop and charge at or close to your final destination. There are multiple charging locations near Birmingham so you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Zapmap empowers you to specify that you only want to see rapid chargers so you can arrive, charge and leave with up to 80% of your battery charged within 30 minutes. The software also shows you the amount of battery charge you’ll have left by the time you arrive so you feel secure knowing that you won’t run out of electricity.
Simply hit ‘reverse route’ to plan your charging stops on the way back and ZapMap lights up with a large number of options. Select the one that suits you best and add it to your journey.
What happens if we change the vehicle? Hop into a Renault Zoe with a single charge range of 183 miles and you should be able to make it to Birmingham and back without needing to stop.
What about longer journeys?
Travelling 80 miles along the motorway is quite do-able. But what if your employees want to travel from London to Cornwall or Birmingham to Edinburgh - typical holiday journeys of almost 300 miles?
Right now there are two options. Drivers can:
- Stick to motorways and plan a few more stops on their journey than they would otherwise make in a fossil-fuelled car. Rapid chargers can quickly boost batteries from almost empty to 80% full in around 30 minutes depending on the size of your battery so you might only add two stops and around an extra hour onto your journey.
- Use the savings they’ll make on fuel to hire a combustion engine car for their holiday. Tusker EV drivers typically save around £750 a year so there will be plenty of money in the pot to fund a rental. While this isn’t ideal, this is only a stop-gap measure until battery and charging technology advances to become as convenient as re-filling a petrol or diesel car.
So, where is EV tech headed? Read the next section for a glimpse into the future.
Accelerating battery and charging technology change
There’s more good news on the horizon as EV batteries and the chargers they rely on are developing at pace.
In fact, charging technology is outstripping car battery capability. The first super-rapid chargers, that take just five minutes to charge a car battery, have now been installed. The only problem is that car batteries aren’t yet able to accept this level of charge. However, the next generation of EV models that will be designed to do so are already being designed and manufactured. Making a quick toilet stop and a five-minute charge part of the not-too-distant future.
Other technological advances are also in development that will make charging even more convenient. Take the tests being carried out in Coventry to enable EVs to be charged simply by driving down particular stretch of road. If this becomes viable, charging EVs will be even easier than re-fuelling fossil-fuelled vehicles is now.
How can employers support EV drivers?
Organisations can help new EV drivers to avoid rookie mistakes, like setting off with a part-charged battery, by providing education and charging points at work. While government grants still last, it’s possible to secure hundreds of pounds off the installation costs of charging points at home and at work. While charging points aren’t perhaps necessary at home, faster chargers are a definite requirement for workplaces.
As an employer, you can also help EV drivers by ensuring they have a good choice of EVs on your employee car benefit scheme. Ensure staff can access cars with larger batteries and a 200 mile plus single-charge range. It’s also a great idea to give drivers access to a charging club that covers multiple major providers so they can stop and charge wherever they are.
Charging is probably one of the biggest but most unfounded concerns when it comes to driving EVs. As battery and charging technology continues to improve at pace, drivers will be able to charge as quickly as they fill their fuel tanks today. And possibly simply by driving down the road without the need to stop. With more charging points than petrol stations, it’s time to put concerns about charging to bed and encourage more employees to go green.
If you found part 4 helpful, see below links to our other chapters:
Part 1: Overcoming the barriers: Cost
Part 2: Overcoming the barriers: Range
Part 3: Overcoming the barriers: Choice