Electric vehicles are the future – or are they already here? At the Next Green Car Awards 2016, electric vehicles won 10 out of 11 prizes, with pure electric, plug in hybrid, and hydrogen fuel cell models all crowned as category champions. Winners included the Renault Zoe Z.E 40, VW e-up!, Tesla Model X SUV, Kia Optima Plug-In Hybrid and BMW 225xe and 330e. The Riversimple Rasa won the Next Generation prize while the overall NGC Car of the Year prize went to the pure electric Hyundai Ioniq.
It’s clear that with so much choice available for plug-in vehicles across the range – from tiny city cars through to large SUVs – we’ll all be driving electric in the not too distant future. Did you know that there are currently over 75,000 electric vehicles on UK roads already?
According to a recent survey by Go Ultra Low, electric vehicle charging points at home will be a key feature for house buyers to consider when looking for a property within the next 20 years, with 49% of those asked making it a priority. 72% of respondents said that they expected electric vehicles to be the most common type of vehicle on their neighbourhoods’ drives.
Electric vehicle (EV) charging options
Currently, there are 3 types of EV charger available:
- Slow (or standard) charging – The most common method of charging electric vehicles uses up to 3kW of power and takes 6-8 hours or overnight. The first generation of public on-street chargers were of this type, and it’s also the type of EV charger you will be able to have fitted at home. Although you can use a standard single-phase 13 amp domestic 3-pin socket with a gun shaped (or 7 pin Type 2 Mennekes) connector at the vehicle end of the power cable, a dedicated EV unit should really be installed.
- Fast charging – By doubling the available current to 32 amps (to produce 4kW), it is possible to halve the EV charge time to 3-4 hours. This is the type of charger you are most likely to find in public and commercial places. Fast 3-phase EV charging delivering 7kW per phase to achieve a total of 22kW is less common and usually reserved for electric buses and lorries.
- Rapid charging (AC and DC) – Able to produce an 80% charge in ½-1 hour, rapid charging is available as AC and DC stations. Rapid AC chargers can supply up to 43kW but are still quite rare in the UK and only available on very few EV models. Due to their high power output, all units provide a tethered cable with a non removable Type 2 (Mennekes) connector. Rapid DC chargers work at up to 50kW, taking around 30 minutes to charge a vehicle. Units have a tethered cable with a non removable JEVS or CCS connector.
Public EV charging
There are now over 4,000 public EV charging locations in the UK – due to rise to 7,870 according to a report by Nissan – making it increasingly easier and more convenient to use electric vehicles every day. The forecast fast expansion of the EV charging network appears to be driven by two elements: ambitious plans from operators as well as the general growth in demand for electric vehicles.
To find out which public charging networks operate in your area, along with services offered and membership options, see the overview here. Or for a list of available public EV charging points in the UK, click on the map here.
EV charging at home
Fitting an EV charging point in your home isn’t difficult to do and may be the best long-term solution. Grants are available from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) towards the cost of purchasing and installing a home charging point for most electric cars and plug-in vehicles, under the Electric Vehicle Homecharge Scheme (EVHS).
You can claim for up to 2 charging points per household. Qualification criteria apply and you must use an OLEV approved installer to carry out the work. An official list of EVHS authorised installers can be found here. The grant will make a maximum contribution of 75% of the cost, capped at a total of £500. This brings the cost of a standard 3kW unit including installation costs to around £300, while a faster 7kW unit would cost nearer £400.
A draft EU directive expected to come into force by 2019 wants to see every new or refurbished home in Europe fitted with an EV recharging point. Meanwhile, by 2023, 10% of parking spaces in new buildings in the EU will also be equipped with charging points. The future, it would seem, is electric.
This article was written by Dakota Murphey, BA (Hons) marketing graduate and independent content writer for Wessex Garage Doors.