AN ‘Airbnb’ approach towards charging can help support UK public charging infrastructure, says Emma Loveday, Senior Fleet Consultant at Volkswagen Financial Services UK (VWFS).
While the increasing adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is positive, it means more needs to be done to support the rollout of public charging infrastructure – not only to meet customer demand, but to also meet the UK’s goal of no new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.
Despite drivers becoming more accepting of the switch to electric, negative sentiment towards public charging remains both in the media and wider industry. More charging points are needed to meet growing demand.
Government commitment and investment in charging infrastructure must continue, but there’s an existing solution to help alleviate demand and fill gaps in the public network – community charging.
As of the end of April, there were 42,566 public electric vehicle charging points across the UK, according to latest statistics from ZapMap. There’s an estimated 10 times more installed at people’s homes and workplaces. Some of those are already available to use by the public, but by opening up more we will be able to significantly support supply, introducing a further 400,000 charge points to the network.7
Loveday said: “Not all drivers will be able to install a home charging point. As the adoption of EVs increases more drivers will be solely reliant on the public charging network. Introducing an Airbnb style of community charging, whereby private individuals make their own home chargers available to others when not in use, could help alleviate some of the anxiety facing EV owners and the industry regarding the speed of the infrastructure rollout.
“There are also significant geographical discrepancies when it comes to charging point availability. For example, if you holiday in a tourist hotspot location like Cornwall, public charging options are thin on the ground. In the height of summer, demand will be huge. However, home garages and driveways are often plentiful in those areas, meaning there’s likely to be a much higher provision of home chargers. By opening those out for others to rent, you suddenly get a lot more options.
“If you visit family in a rural area, which we know have less charging infrastructure than cities and urban areas, this creates more of a challenge. However, neighbours with bookable home charge points can provide the charging lifeline needed.”
“The benefit to EV drivers is that it provides a cheaper and more readily available alternative to public charging. Rapid charge points currently hold a premium in the same way as petrol or diesel does at motorway services. The benefit to home charger owners is that being able to rent out their charger, at a fee decided upon by them, helps offset the installation cost.
Loveday added: “An additional phase of community charging rollout could see businesses take a similar approach. We are already seeing charging points in places such as supermarkets so you can charge while you shop. But businesses like gyms which have clear peak times in the morning and evening will have an empty car park in the middle of the day. They can charge a fee for use of their charge points and create an additional revenue stream for themselves, and even more choice for EV drivers.”
“In a time where we sadly see recurring headlines about public attacks of violence, especially towards women, community charging offers a solution which many will feel is a safer alternative to sitting in an isolated car park while their car charges. Being in the community, off road, near a home with people inside and lights on, and in a residential area, will feel more reassuring for a lot of people.
“Additionally, car parks statistically have a higher risk of collisions and vandalism. This risk can be reduced by parking on somebody’s drive, helping drivers having worry less about damage to their car.”
Loveday said “Community charging is not ‘an instead of’, it is an ‘in addition to’. Even if everyone with home chargers opened up access to electric vehicle users, the UK would still need major support and investment from the government to get us to where we need to be.”