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New study reveals the relationship between EV drivers and public charge points

A new report from SMS, which looks at the current experience of public EV charging, seems to suggest that the fabled ‘range anxiety’ has been replaced with ‘charge anxiety’ as EV drivers express frustration at the availability of public charge points.

The study spoke to over 1,000 UK-based EV drivers to explore their experience of using, and relying on, public EV charge points.

Plugged Electric Car Getting Charged

The lack of readily available charge points is so problematic that 67% of respondents said they would be prepared to pay, simply to reserve a charging bay.

33% would be prepared pay up to £5, 27% up to £10 and 7% would go beyond that to guarantee that they could charge when they needed to.

The study found that while 94% of those spoken to loved their electric vehicle, 67% said they wished they’d known more about public EV charging availability before taking the plunge.

A surprisingly low 5% of EV drivers say they only charge at home while 20% are entirely reliant on public charging.

70% said they still have limited public charging options in their area, leading to 81% of drivers having to wait for a public charge point. A third of them waiting between 30 minutes to an hour and 27% between one to two hours.

The pattern continues:

• 77% have been unable or unwilling to access a public EV charge point: 36% because they are out of order / broken, and for 27% it was that they weren’t available.
• 18% found the EV charge points were not compatible with their vehicle and 15% said they didn’t have their preferred payment option.
• 17 % have avoided using public EV charge points because the location didn’t feel safe.

Mark Winn, Head of EV Strategy at SMS explained: ‘Home EV charging may be on the rise, but it’s critical that the UK’s growing number of EV drivers have adequate access to fully functioning public EV charge points while they are on the move. However, in the race to meet EV charging expectations, targets and market share, companies have deployed – and continue to install – the wrong type of chargers, in the wrong location.

‘Added to this, the payment options are either substandard or created to monopolise the market, and infrastructure maintenance seems to be firmly off the ‘to-do’ list. This is creating a ‘perfect storm’ of customer dissatisfaction, frustration and charge anxiety for EV drivers, and the future of electric motoring in the UK is coming under unfair scrutiny as a result. We simply must do more.’

Suggesting that public EV charge point infrastructure can be beneficial to businesses, 49% had used a public EV charge point at a supermarket and 28 % at an out of town shopping centre or retail park.

Furthermore, 71% said that choose motorway service station based on past experiences and availability of EV charging influences

Mark Winn added: ‘While we need to exponentially increase the quantity of EV charge points in multiple locations this cannot be at the expense of their quality. Not all EV charge points are created equal and the type required varies depending on where it’s being installed and who is using it. EV infrastructure always needs to be planned with three Rs in mind: right time, right location and right speed. EV may be a nascent market, but this doesn’t mean that there is any excuse for providing the public with substandard EV charging solutions. If we want to avoid a public backlash against EV adoption, then greater due diligence must be applied to EV charge point installation deals.’

In response, SMS has published ‘Powering up public EV charging: it’s time to plug in the gaps’. The downloadable report looks at the current state of public EV charging in the UK. It’s designed to ensure that those responsible for public EV charging are armed with the information they need to drive the roll out of public charging forward. From residential and commercial developers and land owners, to local authorities, city and county councils.

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