If we are going to truly move to an electric mobility world, we need fundamentally more charging solutions, integrated into a wider sustainable network of charging infrastructure.

- Andy Lewis

Electric vehicles (EV) are set to radically disrupt the mobility sector over the next decade. Car manufacturers across the industry are staking a claim with significant investments in electric technology, and many pledging to phase out internal combustion engines altogether.

For future mobility expert Andy Lewis, investing in the vital infrastructure today will enable businesses to get on board with the electric vehicles that will be a mainstay of mobility within the next five to ten years.

“Businesses have said their main barriers to adoption (of EVs) are the cost of vehicles, lack of charging infrastructure and range anxiety”, he says. 

Examining the potential barriers to business in taking up electric vehicles, in questions put to members at part of a Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce QES, Andy has observed range anxiety, in part caused by a lack of charging infrastructure, as a central factor. 

Findings of the survey support Andy’s call that “business needs the infrastructure to be in place” to build the confidence to migrate fully to EVs. Yet there is still a question about how the public and private sectors can work together to deliver this vital core infrastructure.

‘Mobility 2030: Transforming the mobility landscape’, published in February 2019 identifies the need for an increased infrastructure of both soft and hardware. The acceleration of technology supporting interoperable service providers and charging points was identified as a crucial step in reaching the potential of electric vehicle take up in the UK. However, according to the report we are at a delicate tipping point: 

Infrastructure roll-out presents a dilemma, with the business case for comprehensive charging coverage largely unproven until mass take-up, which cannot happen without network scale.

The UK government has made funds available via a private/public charging infrastructure investment fund (CIIF), yet the report claims “far more capital will be needed.”

At present, home charging for EVs dominates, but this is set to be overtaken by public charging points as wider infrastructure is put in place. 

Beyond the physical charging point, we must also consider the supply of the electricity itself and ensure that demand on the national grid is managed, to deliver more renewable energy, at costs that positively respond to peaks in usage. 

Andy Lewis brings the current situation in to focus:

“The challenge today is that there are lots of different operators with their own software solutions and networks that don’t speak to each other. The industry needs to standardise to make the customer journey much easier than it is today.”

For this to happen he explains that interoperability is crucial: “operators need to work together to enable customers to prebook charging slots, plan journies, and to pay seamlessly.” 

This is beginning, with independent apps available that allow you to prebook, pay and map your journey through a single platform. 

These developments are essential if we are to achieve the kind of seamless, consistent experience that businesses require to be in a position to fully depend on EVs. Businesses will need the ability to accurately plan their charge, but also have full confidence that the supporting infrastructure can get them from A. to B. without issue. 

Andy Lewis is a consultant, electric vehicle expert and Lets-Experience-Electric campaigner.