If you read the motoring press you will see that while interest in electric cars is beginning to build, one of the major concerns amongst consumers is the fact there are limited recharging networks around the world. The fact is that the creation of a gasoline refuelling network took over two decades to complete, with stations having to be built from scratch, whereas a worldwide electricity network is already in place. Is it simply just a case of plugging into the network and recharging stations will be instantly available?
Over the last couple of years we have seen governments around the world introduce a number of incentives for companies, local authorities and individuals to effectively “build” their only charging station. This is starting to have some impact upon confidence in the electric car market but the pace of development and growth is in many areas of the world painfully slow.
The power is there, simply plug into the network?
The fact that the electricity network criss-crosses under our feet everywhere we go should in theory take away much of the pain and the expense in creating a viable and reliable recharging network. However, for a number of reasons this is not the case and we will now look at what is actually holding back a recharging network for the electric car market.
Electric car sales
We are facing a stereotypical quandary in the shape of “what came first, the chicken, or the egg” because without electric cars on the road there will be limited use of electric car recharging stations which will reduce the return on investment. The lower the return on investment the less chance that companies and individuals will roll out yet more charging stations which plays upon the confidence of motorist looking at electric vehicles and will ultimately assist in subduing electric car sales.
This is perhaps one of the main reasons why governments around the world have introduced an array of financial incentives, both for consumers and businesses, involved in the electric car industry. Indeed there have also been multimillion dollar investment programmes in an array of electric car charging stations around the world as a means of kick-starting the industry. There is a growing consensus that the industry is here to stay, this time is not a false dawn but so far we are missing the magic ingredient to really push ahead with electric car sales.
Who pays for electric car charging facilities?
There are a number of companies around the world who have taken advantage of the move towards electric vehicles and indeed introduced an array of new and groundbreaking technologies into their own recharging facilities. However, amongst the general motoring public there is sometimes an assumption that they will not pay for the “electric to recharge their batteries” or any charges will be subsidised by the government.
The reality is that governments around the world cannot go on subsidising the electric car industry and indeed the electric car recharging network sector forever and a day. It makes sense to subsidise both ends of the sector in the early days whether this is via cheap electric, tax rebates for electric car purchases or some other form of incentive, but how long will it last?
Only a couple of years ago it could take literally 12 hours to recharge the batteries of your standard electric vehicle which in reality is no good to anybody who is running out of “fuel”. Charging times have slowly but surely reduced over the last couple of years and indeed there are a number of “superfast charging systems” which can partially or even fully recharge your batteries in just a couple of hours.
It is perhaps the ability to partially recharge your batteries to give you extra mileage which could be the key to the door of future success for electric car sales. If for example you have a vehicle which has a capacity of 100 miles per full charge, and you are 20 miles from home, then a partial charge of say 30 min could effectively give you enough capacity to get home. Indeed, there are some recharging systems, albeit technologically advanced and relative expensive at the moment, which could possibly charge your batteries even quicker.
The reality is that until we see a significant rise in electric car sales it is unlikely that businesses and individuals will invest in recharging stations. There is also the fact that some of the older technology associated with recharging stations is now “out of date” and we need to roll out superfast charging systems as soon as possible. The more superfast charging systems which are available the cheaper they will become to build and the more stations will be created.
We must also take into account that many motorists automatically assume they will have their batteries charged for “next to nothing” which may not necessarily be the case. Commercial recharging stations will require a return on their investment and until this particular box is ticked we will likely see limited uptake of charging stations ahead of a surge in electric car sales.
The pieces of the jigsaw are there, the picture is nearly complete but we now need to find that magic touch and that magic key to bring it together!