Are you ready for 2040? The age of the internal combustion engine (ICE) ends in just 21 years, when the government’s 2017 decision to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars comes into force. Happily the number of electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK is already growing rapidly – from around 3,500 new registrations in 2013 to nearly 60,000 in 2018. There are more than 210,000 EVs now on UK roads.
Growing consumer and commercial appetite for EVs is only half the story, however. Even with the range of new pure plug-in EVs improving, a step change in the availability of electrical connections needed to refuel them is essential to making EVs truly viable alternatives to fossil fuel-burning cars. Accomplishing this will require building not only a network of charging stations to rival fossil-fuel forecourts, but also home charging units, installations in public car parks, office garages and on the street.
According to a report from Emu Analytics, the UK Government has allocated £440 million to delivering charging infrastructure and related R&D. But its analysis suggests the UK needs an additional total of 83,500 charging points by the end of next year – up from around 16,500 in 2018 – to meet demand as EV sales ramp up.
“It’s about getting charging electric vehicles into people’s everyday life,”
Engenie: out of the bottle
Even back in 2013, Jeremy Littman recognised that an EV future would require precisely this type of infrastructure investment. And that’s why he founded Engenie, which specialises in developing, installing and running rapid charging stations.
Engenie rolled out its first stations in 2016 and now operates a growing number of managed EV top-up and destination facilities around the UK. Drivers don’t need membership or pay connection fees to use their chargers. They operate via normal contactless payments. They provide electricity sourced from suppliers who generate power entirely from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, too.
“It’s about getting charging electric vehicles into people’s everyday life,” Engenie CEO Ian Johnston told the BBC. “Many people will charge a vehicle at home or work where it’s parked for a while – they can leave it plugged in for four to eight hours at a time on a slow charge. But rapid charging devices can give you around 80 miles with just a half hour charge.”
That’s why Engenie’s expansion strategy has centred on commercial landlords, local authorities and property developers. “If you think about a charge taking 15 to 35 minutes, where would you want to spend that time? Not at a service station,” said Johnston. “So it’s about the infrastructure at the locations where you’re charging, too.”
Engenie is also looking into add-on services such as local offers or wifi and streaming, to make the recharge time pleasant and productive wherever the charger is located.