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EV infrastructure plays catch-up

Anila Siraj explores some of the challenges around providing adequate charging infrastructure for the coming wave of electric vehicles

Traditional gasoline and diesel cars are being ushered out and paving the way for an electric future. What’s more, rising fuel costs, environmental concerns and low fossil fuel resources have all influenced brands’ electric strategy, such as Ford increasingly upping electric vehicle (EV) investment to match government goals—the Ford Fiesta range was scrapped to focus on their up-and-coming electric range.

Audi is doubling down too launching its cheapest EV yet with the new Q4 E-Tron SUV starting at US$45,000. Taking action now for a greener future is a mindset being adopted by many businesses and a catalyst in the acceleration to electrifying roads. However, investment must not come from the manufacturers alone.

Ensuring the infrastructure is readily available and reliable

If EVs are to become the norm, and for looming government bans on new gasoline and diesel cars to be successful, it is important that they commit to providing the resources needed to reach this goal. With drivers already expressing frustrations around charger availability, they must also work alongside businesses to give drivers the confidence and provide potential customers with the reassurance they need to make the leap.

Ionity is establishing a high-power charging network across Europe

According to recent Kalibrate research, 57% of drivers get nervous about running out of charge, meaning there is a hesitancy to purchase an EV. And the fact that two-thirds are always on the lookout for new places to charge shows that the appetite is there, but the infrastructure is lacking.

In the UK, EV charging has already created great opportunities for businesses and many can expect to reap the rewards of benefits provided by the government. But neither should be solely responsible for the entire infrastructure roll out—retailers and manufacturers have been advised to use data to their advantage when creating an EV strategy, and so the government should look to do the same.

With EV uptake only growing, it is clear that infrastructure must drastically improve—and that the current figures will not cut it.

Finding the pieces before completing the puzzle

Being able to refuel EVs on longer journeys is an ongoing worry of many consumers and a limiting factor in the wider adoption curve. The number of public charging points is growing, which is encouraging. This bodes well for the future of EVs but the cost-of-living crisis and increased energy prices could impact EV users and charging at home.

As technology has improved and with more electric models being manufactured each year, big name brands must reassure drivers that switching to an electric car is just as reliable as using an ICE vehicle—highlighting the benefits of EVs in the long term is what will make them more desirable to consumers—indicating that they will be saving money over time.

Investment must not come from the manufacturers alone

Leading on from this, lowering the price points of these vehicles to make them more accessible will be key, especially in a time where consumers are being frugal and increasingly conscious of budgets. Finding the right balance between all of these factors will make for a happy customer, and make sure everyone is on track to reach the ambitious goals of many governments, despite unpredictability in the economy.

The roads to EVs are electrifying

The future will be purpose-built, with electric-only forecourts and chargers on every street corner. But while that reality remains decades away, it’s an exciting opportunity for those that embrace EVs. In the retail, leisure and hospitality sector, the move to electric presents a huge investment opportunity.

A Kalibrate survey found that more than half (57%) of businesses are seeing increased sales or revenue as a result of their EV strategies, which is why the likes of Costa, Sainsbury’s and Lidl have invested and diversified services. Taking into account the amount of time it takes for an EV to charge to 80% using a fast charger—at least 20 minutes—compared to how quickly one can fill a tank of gasoline, there is an added opportunity to fill downtime with groceries, fast-food, wi-fi and other services that help pass the time. This presents a win-win situation where retailers can benefit from a captive consumer and drivers can make use of more charging points, eradicating the anxieties that were there around not being able to find a charger in range.

Any investment, however, requires a well-informed decision based off data to understand consumers’ behaviours and preferences. Going in blind will only add to the current infrastructure dilemma. We must first learn to walk before we can run at the speed of light, or in this case, electricity.

The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Anila Siraj is Director of Alternative Fuels at Kalibrate

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