Electric vehicle (EV) drivers in the U.K. are increasingly displeased not so much with vehicle charging networks but with a lack of accessibility, says Aidan McClean, co-founder and CEO of UFODRIVE, a European-based all-digital, all-electric car rental service.
McClean cites new data from consumer products testing company Which? that reveals nearly 75% of EV drivers are not happy with the UK’s charging network. Additionally, the firm reported:
- 40% reported that they’ve found chargers inoperable.
- 61% suffer difficulties making payments.
- 84% want to pay by card rather than by an app.
- 45% estimated they are at least a 20-minute walk from their nearest charger.
Growing discontent among EV drivers threatens the U.K.’s advances in alternative-powered transportation as well as its progress in meeting the 2030 ban on manufacturing new petrol and diesel cars, McClean argues. Cars are one the largest single contributors to carbon emissions in the U.K., and therefore essential to tackle in meeting the nation’s 2050 net zero pledge, he points out.
While a larger network of chargers, particularly fast chargers, is needed, data points to some more pervasive, harder to tackle, issues, says McClean.
A more connected and accessible, easier-to-use system is required. “Only then can Britain be confident it will be able to take part in the electric future that is so essential to a net zero economy, which in turn, averting the imminent climate crisis.”
Private investment on its own cannot resolve the issue, McClean maintains. “This isn’t a problem you can tackle with more investment alone – it needs sound, confident government policy, which can be followed up by sensible private investment.”
McClean describes the current charging network in the U.K. as “disjointed and dysfunctional.”
“There are hundreds of different charge point operators (CPOs), and new ones pop up almost weekly. There are different connector types, various payment methods, and multiple different charging apps. Some don’t show all networks, and only some show real-time charger status.
“Ultimately, all the charging infrastructure in the world won’t matter if you can’t plan, pay, or access it reliably.”
The UFODRIVE CEO believes the current term “range anxiety” should be renamed “user experience anxiety.”
“Arriving at a charger that’s behind a locked gate or is out of order or was marked “fast” but has been downgraded to slow for some unknown reason or is being used by a plug-in hybrid, are all legitimate reasons to have concerns about the electric revolution,” McClean explains. Concerns solely about range, when range is often above 300km, are not valid for the vast majority of users, he adds.
Sound planning and effective policymaking, led by the government and followed by private investment, can build a network that easily caters to all but the longest of intercontinental journeys and easily works with all models, apps and cards, McClean believes.
“To encourage people to make the leap to electric, charging should be as simple as, or even simpler than, filling your car with gas. Today this just isn’t the case.”