In this guest post, André Dias, CTO of cloud-native charging infrastructure software provider, Daloop, sets out why worrying about where to charge up your EV is a waste of time
Electric vehicles (EVs) are rapidly gaining momentum. The global EV market was valued at $163.01bn in 2020 and is projected to reach $823.75 billion by 2030. The UK, meanwhile, has seen more EVs purchased in March 2022 alone than in the whole of 2019.
Likewise, the government is getting behind the transition to EVs and has introduced a law proposing that all new residential homes and buildings have the required facilities for an EV charge point. This is good news and a necessity because, as EVs start to become mainstream, reliance on a roadside, on-demand fuel supply model won’t be cost-efficient or effective and it certainly won’t meet the increasing demand.
That’s not to say that EV adoption has reached anything nearing a tipping point yet. For government efforts to expand adoption, the electric charging network and infrastructure needs more investment to ensure the target of installing 300,000 new EV charging points by 2030 is reached. But adapting infrastructure to bring charge points to the spaces that vehicle users already frequent, such as retail parks and homes, makes the switch to EVs far easier both practically and psychologically.
Without a doubt, the transition away from combustion engines is well underway. The trends show that increasing numbers of businesses and consumers are planning to switch. According to research from BP, 43% of managers and 41% of drivers expect to make the switch to EVs within two years.
A survey published in May by tyre manufacturer Bridgestone revealed that 67% of motorists intend to transition to EVs. Additionally, over the past year, we have seen Ford, Nissan, Renault, and Mitsubishi commit to massive investments in EV production, alongside luxury carmakers Mercedes-Benz, Bentley, and Jaguar-Land Rover announcing pledges to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
But what are the cultural changes that need to occur for a successful and confident transition to EVs? And is range anxiety a red herring?
I say this because most of the barriers to widespread EV adoption appear to be around charging infrastructure and range, with much debate around how far you can travel before you need to plug in and the anxiety that causes drivers. In other words, if you’re in an EV and have concerns that you’re not going to make your destination (or a charge point), then range anxiety may kick in.
If you’re constantly comparing the distance to your destination with the projected range of your vehicle when driving, you can only really think of it as anxiety if the calculation troubles you. But I would argue that this is exactly the same feeling you get when you’re red-lighting, running on fumes and not sure whether you’ll get to where you need to be in a vehicle with a combustion engine.
Range anxiety isn’t a new concept: it existed long before EVs. Probably even to some extent when true horsepower was used to move people and goods around. Water, food, and rest were needed before a journey could continue.
The difference being now, because we have grown accustomed to an on-demand roadside fuel supply model, we struggle to imagine mobility in any other way. Perhaps we should focus more on “change” anxiety rather than just on range and explore the inevitable steps that organisations and individuals will need to take to change not only their behaviour but also their working practices.
The reason I say range anxiety is a bit of a red herring is that, in my experience, there are other less apparent considerations that truly make or break a fleet electrification strategy.
For example, when a workplace needs charging infrastructure, whether in depots, office car parks, or the homes of fleet vehicle drivers, ill-considered installation can often be prohibitively expensive, removing the potential cost-benefit that, alongside sustainability objectives, may have led to the decision.
The installation of charge points for a fleet effectively creates a private charging network. In other words, it’s only accessible by authorised vehicles, but many don’t consider how they’ll be used practically.
It’s normally essential for operational vehicles to be prioritised over staff vehicles, so businesses need a reservation system to ensure priority vehicles can charge when they need to. Alongside this, strategies typically include the provision of energy into some kind of benefits package, or have a charging and reporting mechanism for it, as it will inevitably be seen as benefit-in-kind.
In many cases, fleet vehicles are kept overnight at the driver’s home, complicating overnight charging. Depending on their own circumstances, drivers will have vastly different capabilities to install chargers where they live. If a charge point is installed, the question of who pays for the installation arises, and what should happen if the driver moves? What if they don’t own the property?
The key consideration for any business looking to adopt electric mobility is oversight. Regardless of the planned infrastructure, businesses need an intelligent software solution that links vehicles, charge points, energy, and the driver to ensure that they maintain control.
A data-driven management platform can prioritise charge points in offices and depots for commercial vehicles, ensuring that these vehicles have enough journey charge on any given day.
When fleets combine their electrification journey with smart analytics, sustainable mobility becomes not just a possibility, but a more efficient way to operate fleets. So, what is all the fuss about range anxiety?