Lack of residential chargers are major barrier to electric vehicle adoption

MOTORISTS are deterred from switching to electric vehicles because they do not have access to chargers at home, according to a recent report.

To understand how charging infrastructure can be designed around user needs, ConnectedKerb, an EV infrastructure company, carried out a detailed survey amongst 500 people who were EV owners or interested in EV ownership. This gave insight into what convinced people to buy, and what needs to be done to win over waverers. It concluded that access to charging where cars were already parked – but not public rapid chargers – was a key factor in decisions to buy.

EV drivers want to charge whilst parked, not at a charging station

64% of EV owners do the majority of their charging overnight, with a few more doing it at other times at home.

Only 11% do it at public rapid chargers, 5% at ultra-fast chargers, and 5% at work, mostly those who do not have a place to charge on their property.

61% of EV drivers – mostly those who charge at home – said public chargers were only useful when they were away from home.

Chris Pateman-Jones, CEO of Connected Kerb, told Connected Car: “This shows that EV drivers charge at home if they possibly can. They use public chargers only when their preferred option is not available. They do not think like petrol vehicle owners, going to a fixed location to ‘fill it up’ – once people buy an EV their mindset quickly switches to wanting their car to charge whilst it is parked, so that it is charged when they get in.”

 Current charging infrastructure disincentivises EVs uptake

The research suggests that the current focus on rapid charging infrastructure disincentivises EV uptake. For those who charge at home, 67% would not have bought an EV if they did not have home charging. Of those who could not charge where they parked, 91% said they would if they could.

Of those who do not own EVs, 40% said they did not have somewhere to park it overnight where they could charge it, and this was a barrier to purchasing. 30% specifically said they were disincentivised because charging would be too much hassle. On the other hand, 89% would be encouraged to make their next car purchase an EV if they had access to a private space – on-street or at work – where they could charge while parked.

What do these findings mean for the future of EV infrastructure?

Wednesday’s budget announced £500 million over five years to implement rapid charging hubs. Connected Kerb commented that, while well-intentioned, it’s backing the wrong horse.  Pateman-Jones commented: “67% of current EV drivers would not have bought an EV if they did not have access to overnight charging, that is a massive red flag. Rapid chargers are more expensive and less convenient – inconvenience deters uptake. Focus must be redirected to on-street residential and workplace charging that reflects existing charging behaviours and incentivises more people to transition to EVs.”

Pateman-Jones concluded: “This also risks creating a two-tier system, where wealthy people with driveways have EVs, whilst poorer areas are trapped with polluting petrol and diesel vehicles.  If we want to go from a few early adopters to near total EV uptake in 15 years, the ideal would be for everyone to have a home charger. But since this is impossible for those without a driveway – up to 62% of the population – we need alternatives that meet the same expectations of charging whilst the vehicle is parked. Charging infrastructure should focus on large numbers of slow chargers where people already park their cars – on street or in work car parks – with ultra-rapids at natural breaks on long journeys such as motorway service stations. The inconvenient and expensive public chargers that people have to drive to, and wait around for, will become a thing of the past.”

Other research findings in the report included:

  • Future EV charging points need to be less obtrusive as numbers increase (59% EV owners and 78% non-EV owners agree)
  • Charging points should be integrated into roadside infrastructure such as bollards or parking signposts to minimise visual impact (80%/84%)
  • EV charging points need to be adapted for users with disabilities (84%/84%)
  • EV charging points with a short lifecycle, which go to landfill, need to become more sustainable and should be made of sustainable materials (92%/92%)