Cecilia Routledge, global director energy & facilities for CTEK, shares her views on the key factors influencing EV adoption and the dement of the eV charging network.

Electric vehicle (EV) driving range and the availability of out-of-home charging have traditionally been concerns for drivers considering the switch to electric motoring. But, with battery development supporting considerably increased mileage on a single charge, and with the number of public and destination chargers in the UK up by a third year-on-year, these aspects are becoming far less of an issue.

While further development is still required in both these areas, for 2023, says global vehicle charging specialists CTEK, there needs to be increased focus on developing the interactive technologies required to build a cohesive, secure charging network that provides ease of access, ease of use and ease of payment for the growing number of EV drivers on Britain’s roads. 2022 saw another new UK record for electric vehicle sales, exceeding new diesel cars for the first time. In December EVs accounted for almost a third of new cars sold.

Waiting for e-roaming

There needs to be an industry-wide and Europe-wide commitment to rolling out e-roaming, which would give EV drivers better access to charging stations, in the same way that mobile phone users can simply access different networks as they travel around the globe.

A recent YouGov survey carried out for CTEK revealed that lack of e-roaming is a frustration for 59% of UK drivers. This is an even greater issue in Germany and France, where 67% and 62% of drivers respectively are frustrated by lack of e-roaming. It is less of an issue in The Netherlands and Scandinavia, where e-roaming is better established.

The technology for e-roaming is already in place, with Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI) protocol allowing the hardware at charging stations to communicate with the software that manages roaming.

So now we wait for charge point operators across Europe to take the next step.

The EU Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Directive (2014/94), adopted in October 2022 and to be fully implemented by 2027, requires that EV drivers should be able to choose which app they want to use to stop, charge and pay at any charging station across the EU.

As well as making things easier for consumers, e-roaming offers the possibility to harmonise prices, so charge point operators don’t charge more when you’re travelling than you pay with your home subscription. This too is likely to need legislation at EU level.

However, following the UK’s exit from the EU, clarification is needed as to how this would work for UK drivers travelling abroad, and for EU drivers visiting the UK.

Fintech needed to streamline EV charging and payment

EV drivers currently need to carry a wallet full of payment cards, numerous apps and RFID tags to access different operators’ networks and pay for their charge.

Collaboration is needed with companies in the worlds of finance and technology to develop a solution to this. And while this may seem trivial, the easier it is to use a service, the more likely it is that customers will have a positive buying behaviour.

Plug & Charge has the potential to fundamentally change the playing field for EV charging. Imagine when anyone, regardless of car brand, can plug in their car, the car automatically identifies itself and the charging cost is deducted directly from the driver's credit or debit card.

Safe and secure

Technology and cyber security go hand in hand, embracing more and more areas of our lives, including transportation. The UK Government introduced its Electric Vehicles (Smart Charge Points) Regulations in 2022, partly to tighten up cyber security and physical safety but also to ensure interoperability and smart functionality.

CTEK’s Chargestorm Connected 2 EV chargers have unique passwords, robust security protocols for user verification, software updates, a security log and encrypted communications, making them safe and secure.

This provides peace of mind for drivers in an increasingly technology-driven world where we are surrounded by a plethora of consumer ‘Internet of Things’ type devices, many of which do not have adequate security in place, leaving them vulnerable to attack by cyber criminals.

Electricity costs rising, but EV motoring still economical

Despite soaring electricity prices and general concerns about the cost of living, driving an EV can still deliver financial savings. Based on an average annual mileage of 10,000 miles, an EV owner charging their car at home is currently saving around £1,000 a year on fuel - about £1,030 compared to petrol, and £973 compared with diesel.

EV drivers may also be able to realise even greater savings if they’re able to take advantage of an off-peak EV charging tariff, which are available from some energy suppliers. And if you have solar panels fitted, you can produce your own energy and use it to charge your EV in a totally carbon-free way. Solar panels and electric cars often go hand in hand - and this really takes the cost of charging your vehicle, and your carbon emissions, to a completely different level.

Cheaper electric vehicles?

We know that the relatively high purchase price of EVs is a major barrier to adoption. According to the YouGov/CTEK survey, more than half (54%) of UK drivers who haven’t previously owned an EV are only willing to buy one if the price is less than £15K, with a further 17% setting £20K as their upper limit. With EV prices in the UK starting at £22K, it’s clear that cost remains a barrier for many drivers who would otherwise consider making the switch.